We were promised that the Battle of Winterfell would be the biggest and longest ever captured on camera.
We were not disappointed.
The third episode of Game of Thrones‘ eighth season, “The Long Night” started quietly and ended with a bang.
The episode began with the focus on preparations for the battle to come. Sam (John Bradley) nervously wanders around the castle yard. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) looks nervous, and Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) watch the preparations from atop the castle walls.
With the ranks of the living forming outside the walls of Winterfell, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) made her return. Using her red magic, she lit the swords of the Dothraki ablaze.
The Dothraki charge the coming dead but to no avail, as the army of the dead overwhelms them and continues to make their way to Winterfell.
Enter The Night King
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon (Kit Harington) take the dragons Drogon and Rhaegal to higher ground. But seeing the Dothraki perish leads Dany to join the battle (and for Jon to join her), setting fire to the dead army and seemingly turning the tide.
But a huge wall of snow and wind heralds the arrival of another wave of dead soldiers, blinding Jon and Dany and making way for the entrance of the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) and the undead Viserion.
Finally, the dead breach the walls and begin to swarm the castle. With the Hound (Rory McCann) hesitant to join the battle, Arya (Maisie Williams) takes out dozens of the dead by herself.
Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) stands her ground as an undead giant enters the fray. The giant picks her up and begins to crush her, but the Little Lady of Bear Island manages to stab him through the eye with a dragonglass dagger. Lyanna falls dead, meaning I got at least one right in my Battle of Winterfell predictions.
Eventually, she leads the dead further inside the castle and winds up trapped in a room of the castle with Melisandre, the Hound, and a mortally-wounded Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer). Melisadre informs Arya that Dondarrion was resurrected for “this purpose.”
As this has been going on, Dany and Jon have continued to battle the Night King in the sky. Eventually, the Night King falls from Viserion and plummets to the ground.
Last Stand In The Godswood
Dany corners the Night King, and Drogon lets loose with his fire, only for the Night King to emerge unscathed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Night King raises all of the dead from the battle, replenishing his forces.
Now it’s a mad dash to the Godswood, where Theon (Alfie Allen) is guarding Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright). Jon tries to chase the Night King but can’t fight his way through the hordes. Also, for some reason he’s acting like this is the first time he’s ever seen a giant army of reanimated dead people.
Down in the crypts, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) find to their horror that something else is rising from the dead. The dead Starks rise as well, and they start crashing through the walls of the crypts.
Wait, why did they hide from the army of the undead in a hole filled with dead people?
After a long, slow march, the Night King makes his way to the Godswood. Theon rushes with his dragonglass spear, but the Night King isn’t having it and runs Theon through.
“The ‘All Is Lost’ Moment!”
Back outside the walls, Dany falls from Drogon and seems to be easy prey for the dead. But Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) defends her to the end. And it is the end for Ser Jorah, as he falls to the White Walkers.
Jon finally makes his way just outside the Godswood, but Viserion has the entrance blocked. With blue fire everywhere in sight, there’s now nothing standing between the Night King and Bran.
All seems lost, as the Night King draws his sword to slay Bran when, Arya runs in and stabs him with her dragonglass dagger, killing the Night King. And as he shatters, all of his battle droids shut down.
Where the series goes now with its final three episodes is anybody’s guess. As Dany notes in the trailer for next week’s episode, “We have won the great war. Now we will win the last war.”
How does Dany move on without her closest protector? Will there be a resolution to Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne? Will Cersei get her elephants?
See you next week as we find out.
All images courtesy of HBO.