THE BEGINNING OF THE END
It’s around this time that what can only be described as a threnody begins playing. It is very reminiscent of the theme called “The Light of the Seven” which played in the moments leading up to Cersei blowing up the Sept of Baelor in season six. The background sounds of the battle are muted to bring the music to the forefront of the action. Jon is trying to get to the Godswood but Viserion is trying to kill him, despite being badly damaged and missing half his face. Daenerys is almost killed until Jorah shows up, defending her from the wights surrounding her as best as he can. This is his defining moment, this is why he was brought back from Greyscale, why he fought so hard to get back to Daenerys no matter how many times she sent him away. He proved his love to her, and so inspiring were his actions that even Daenerys picked up a dragonglass sword and began killing wights. But they were overwhelmed and Jorah, despite his skill, was overwhelmed.
Theon did his absolute best to defend Bran and was the last one standing in the Godswood. He ran out of arrows but showed his skill with a spear as he killed at least a dozen wights. Then they stopped attacking because it was time. The Night King had arrived with his White Walker generals. Bran woke from…whatever he was doing. He told Theon earlier that he had to go, and he warged into some crows. He was not much use to anyone. At this point, Bran thanks Theon and tells him he’s a good man. Theon understands that his death is moments away, but he goes out fighting. For a castrated man, Theon certainly shows a lot of, um, chutzpah.
Meanwhile, in the crypts, the dead are waking up and smashing through their tombs. I also called this in my prediction article for this episode. I mean, this wasn’t much of a leap considering how many times the crypts were said to be safe in the previous episode. Tyrion had mentioned that he might be of use in the battlefield, maybe he’d see something that would help turn the tide in their favor. Both Sansa and Varys contradict this, although Tyrion’s point about his wits during the Battle of the Blackwater helped turn the tide despite the wound he suffered.
Tyrion and Sansa have a moment where they admitted that they might have been able to make their marriage work and when we see them hiding behind a tomb later, they certainly seemed to have some chemistry between them. Then they each pull out dragonglass blades, Sansa’s having been given to her by Arya earlier and when she said she didn’t know how to use it, Arya called back to season one when Jon gave her Needle way back in the second episode of the series, saying “Stick them with the pointy end”. At this moment, I seriously thought they were entering into a suicide pact. They both looked desperately frightened and the screams of the other hiding in the crypts as they were being killed by undead Starks had surely sapped all of their hope. Instead of killing themselves, they ran to where the survivors were hiding.
THEON COMES FULL CIRCLE
Cutting back to the Godswood, Theon charges the Night King and is quickly dispatched. He dodges Theon’s spear attack and snaps the weapon in half, then stabs it through Theon’s stomach. It takes Theon a few agonizing moments to finally die as he lies on the ground in agony. It seems that even in his most heroic moment, Theon was destined to suffer beyond what anyone should.
The Night King is slowly walking towards Bran now, and there’s nothing between the two of them. Bran shows no emotion as per usual. We cut to Jon, attempting to get through Viserion’s fiery attacks, but he has no luck. Finally, he accepts that he will not get to the Night King before he kills Bran and he stands and screams at Viserion, presumably ready to die. Going back to the Godswood, still in slow motion, we see the Night King reaching back for his ice blade. One of the White Walkers accompanying him seemed to notice something as his long hair is disturbed and he turns in that direction. Behind the Night King, we see Arya leaping at him! She understood what Melisandre was telling her when she said that she would close blue eyes – the very thing I screamed at the television when it happened; Arya’s going to kill the Night King?!
He turned at the last second, catching the leaping Arya by the throat and her left hand before she could drive her Valyrian steel dagger into him. She then shocked everyone, including the Night King by executing the very same move the displayed in her sparring match with Brienne as she dropped the blade from her left hand into her right and buried it in the Night King’s chest – in the exact same spot as where the Children of the Forest planted the dragonglass that initially created him.
He exploded, and just as was predicted by Beric, all the other undead warriors began falling like dominoes. All our heroes who had been pushed past the limits of human endurance as they fought for not only their lives but the lives of everyone on the planet were suddenly able to stop fighting. The wights that had been clambering over each other in order to scale the walls of the castle stopped and dropped like marionettes that just had their strings cut. The White Walkers exploded in a manner similar to their master and creator. Viserion was charging up and about to scorch Jon when it too simply dropped to the ground.
THE SUN SHINES ON THE AFTERMATH
At this point, the sun is finally rising, and the Battle for Winterfell has ended. This episode is called The Long Night which has a dual meaning. On the one hand, it refers to the last time the Night King laid siege to the world of the living and on the other, it refers to this particular night which may only have lasted a few hours but certainly felt like the longest night any of our heroes have ever experienced. As the episode comes to a close we are treated to a couple of truly emotional moments. First, we see Daenerys crying over a grievously wounded Jorah. He tries to speak, to tell her how he feels or maybe to tell her it was an honor for him to give his life to save her, or that he loved her, or to simply call her Khaleesi one last time. Sadly, he is unable to speak and his mouth moves silently as his last breath escapes his body. She laments his loss, devastated and Drogon lands near her, shielding her with his long neck and wing as he comes to a resting pose that could be called a hug – as much as a giant dragon can hug a human.
For our final scene, we watch as Melisandre walks past the Hound and out of the castle. Davos is there following her with his hand on a dagger. I fully believe that he intended to kill her, following up on his promise to her after the Battle of the Bastards when he confronted her about Shireen Baratheon’s death. She seems not to notice him, but she does take off her ruby necklace and drops it into the snow. It seemed to lose its luster, or maybe that was just my eyes playing tricks on me. She slowly walks and rapidly ages as she walks into the snow-covered field. Finally, she drops to the cold earth, her true age finally catching up to her and she dies just as she promised she would.
This was not only the longest episode in the series, but it is also one of the best. Like Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards, this episode is rated 9.9 out of 10 on IMDb, and I find it difficult to disagree with that rating. Miguel Sapochnik directing a battle is like Michaelangelo creating a statue from a block of marble. I’m a huge fan of his. This was an amazing episode, and probably the greatest battle I’ve ever seen put on screen. I cannot wait to see what happens next.