Game of Thrones season 8 episode 3 review The Long Night: Arya Stark, Lyanna Mormont are little girls who win wars
Game of Thrones season 8 episode 3 The Long Night review: Battle of Winterfell brings one of the most spectacular battles scenes ever shot for television. With the lives of Arya, Jon Snow and Daenerys at stake, it is one pivotal moment in the show’s history. Rating:4/5.Updated: Jul 29, 2019, 19:00 IST
Director - Miguel Sapochnik
Cast - Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams
Rating - 4
That’s it people. We’ve done it. Over the weekend, we survived not only the end of Avengers saga but also the dark night of Battle of Winterfell that was long coming on Game of Thrones season 8. Except, that’s just how long it lasted. One night.
HBO finally unleashed upon Game of Thrones fans the one episode – the Battle of Winterfell -- that is being called the biggest war scene ever shot for film and television -- over 55 nights — and it was just as spectacular, dreadful and hopeless as we deserved. Although, I am in half a mind to deduct a point for making me squint through the entire, unintelligibly dark episode. Was that an intended pun on the darkness that we were about to witness? We’d never know.
Watch the Game of Thrones episode 3 trailer here:
The Long Night, as is the title of the episode 3, had perhaps the best beginning to a battle episode through the show’s eight seasons. The opening long shot was well used to establish the fear in the hearts of men, the preparedness of little girls, soldiers taking positions and wise men taking cover. The fear, the anticipation, the long wait and the beating hearts were all reflected in the stellar music by Ramin Djawadi. The music simply sounds like a nervous beating heart at first but soon transitions into one that is ready to explode out of your chest. After the sweet but sombre silence and singing of the previous episode, The Long Night brought all the chaos that we didn’t really expect and yet, not the deaths that we already prepared for.
Last week, I read several tweets about how Battle of Winterfell will be a cakewalk for the living. They had the dragons, the Dothraki, the Unsullied and a big bunch of knights. Meanwhile, on the other side, there was just an army of brainless zombies led by a dozen White Walkers that even Samwell Tarly could stab easily with a shard of dragonglass. Cakewalk indeed.
Except, it wasn’t. Even when Jon Snow was wielding a lone sword against the Bolton army or getting crushed by his own men, things never looked this hopeless. As the Dothraki marched towards the dark unknown and their fiery arakhs were extinguished in a matter of seconds, the realisation came all at once: we’re in the endgame now. Ser Jorah returned with his bloodied face and only a handful of men and we realised that we do not know the rules of this episode. An entire army swallowed whole? Surely they are breaking a lot of hearts tonight.
From then on, the tempo and the kills kept rising. The dead came in waves and before we could realise it, several secondary characters were sacrificed at the altar of a Game of Thrones battle scene. But the episode, as dreadful as it had seemed throughout, resulted in just a few casualties that we know we would get by soon enough. The rewards that were reaped at the end, seem to have come cheap considering we lost not a single main character in the process. Now I loved Ser Jorah and Theon just as much as any other fan but their deaths do not really balance the scales now.
And in between the Battle of Winterfell, where were all the protagonists? Taking shelter behind coffins, getting lost in a fog, hacking the minds of crows and playing hide and seek with zombies. Jon and Dany took a backseat on their dragons as the makers decided to devote most time and importance to Arya Stark. She showed her skills as a master fighter at the ramparts, chopping up several wights all at once. She lept through roofs and swung from others, proving that she is indeed one of the best warriors defending Winterfell. However, over the course of the last two seasons, we seemed to have forgotten that Arya did not just learn how to fight in her time away from home. She also learnt lessons in life and more importantly death, lessons that are more important that any neat knife trick.
So when Melisandre — an unannounced but welcome guest — reminds her of a lesson most important of them all, it was the one that saved the day. What do we say to the god of death? Deal with Arya Stark.
Together, Melisandre and Arya won the night and also brought an eerie but beautiful end to the former’s story. She did her good deed in life before walking into the sunrise and collapsing as a magical but weak old witch. We had forgiven her for setting a little girl on fire after she brought Jon back to life but as she lit up Dothraki swords in one of the ‘coolest’ moments of the show, faced death to light the trenches and finally, showed Arya the right path. I had not been expecting Melisandre in the episode but what a great treat it was to have her by our side.
As for where we are with the story right now, it does leave a lot up in the air. The Night King and the long, single night of winter are behind us but there are warmer places to deal with. With half their army lying dead in Winterfell, it will be a tough task for Jon and Daenerys to beat Cersei and her army of Greyjoy fleet and the Golden Company. But even the dragons must be tired of battles by now. They must need rest for a few weeks. So do we.