The Long Night

Hello survivors of “The Long Night!” Surprisingly, the bloodbath of main characters did not occur. For those in the Contest of Thrones, we will review who met their god(s) at the end of this episode. But before we get to that, let’s recap.

1.Even though there was a longer episode, I was expecting that we’d get into the fighting right away. We do build some tension before the battle begins seeing some last minute preparation and one more key player returning to the board.

2. That returning player is the Red Priestess, Melisandre. When we last saw her towards the end of Season 6, Ser Davos had discovered that she was the driving force in the death of Princess Shireen. Jon Snow banishes her from the North under penalty of death

She has returned to Winterfell to do what she can to help in this battle with the dead.

And help she does. Her first act is to add fire to the weapons of the Dothraki. The sight is spectacular, and steels the resolve of the Dothraki. I was under the impression that the plan was to wait for the enemy to engage and for the heroes to stay put. This seems to go out the window with the Dothraki’s new confidence and their charging to meet the Army of the Dead.

3. We quickly learn that this move is a poor choice as the flames of the Dothraki are quickly extinguished by a still not visible enemy.

A tribute to the fallen Dothraki

4. To be clear, most of the Dothraki are dead in this initial push. Ser Jorah was among those leading the charge, and we do see him with a handful of Dothraki running back to Winterfell.

5. Daenerys and Jon see the flames of the Dothraki go out. As these are Dany’s people she throws out phase 2 of the plan. Both she and Jon are supposed to wait for the Night King with his dragon so they can engage him together. Instead, Dany jumps onto her dragon and enters the battle. Jon follows suit.

Daenerys says, “The dead are already here.” She doesn’t know how right she is!

6. The wait for the Army of the Dead is excruciating. You can see on the faces of the heroes, certain doom is looming, but when it arrives it is so much worse. You can hear this in so many of the screams, especially Brienne!

7. Dany and Jon help stay the onslaught with the dragons before a magical storm confounds things. Arya sends Sansa with a blade of dragonglass down to the crypt. When Sansa explains that she doesn’t know how to use such a thing, Arya imparts her first lesson in blades: “Stick ’em with the pointy end!”

8. We all love Samwell, but we see Alliser Thorne’s warning come to fruition. Sam’s hesitation eventually gets someone killed, and that is Edd Tollett. During the first episode, I referred to Edd as the Wedge Antilles of this show. So much for that idea

9. Things look bleak. Dany and Jon crash into each other while on the dragons because of the storm. The retreat is sounded. You have to hand it to the Unsullied as they hold their posts, guarding the retreat of the northerners.

10. Let’s assess the practicality of Jon screaming for Daenerys while flying on a dragon in the midst of a magic blizzard.

11. Speaking of which, the magic snow is keeping the wood in the trenches from igniting. So clearly, respond to magic with more magic and send out the Red Priestess

The spell is taking some time to work, and you can see Melisadre’s faith buckle, but she stays her ground until the last second and her prayer to the Lord of Light is answered. The trench lights and holds the Army of the Dead at bay.

The Lord of Light gets the job done.

12. So while we are here, let’s measure the impact of the old gods and the new. The old gods seemed to have put us in this whole predicament. One can say it was the old gods and the Children of the Forest, who worshiped them, who created the Night King. So A+ for effort and impact! The old gods have also given us the Three-Eyed Raven, another key player.

I can’t think of the new gods directly impacting anything. Their contributions seem to be some pretty words for wedding and knighting ceremonies. Oh, they are the source of 2 trials by combat with debatable results.

The Lord of Light seems to be the biggest player of all the GoT deities. He mobilized Stannis and his forces. Through Melisandre’s demon spawn, the Lord of Light eliminated Stannis’ biggest rival, his brother. By the way, what happened to that Shadow Demon anyway? That thing was conceived and birthed. It can’t just dissipate into nothing, can it?! Is the Shadow Demon wandering Westeros in search of his mother?

The Lord of Light (LoL for short now) seems to have significant power over death. Beric Dondarrion returns to life multiple times. Jon Snow is brought back by the LoL. We will try to ignore that misstep with the Princess Shirrene, but it does seem that the LoL is by far the winner of the deities in GoT.

13. We check in with those in the crypt. Tyrion is getting restless. He should appreciate that he doesn’t have anything to do right now except brood and crack jokes. I give him credit as they are funny and witty. It’s been obvious, but I am certain that Tyrion must be a riot at parties… parties where the celebrant isn’t murdered.

Sansa doesn’t provide a lot of encouragement, pointing out that everyone in the crypt is pretty much useless. I hope the young girl who has volunteered to defend the crypt doesn’t hear her.

I think this is an interesting contrast to the Sansa from Season 2. During the Battle of The Blackwater, when she was in similar situation locked away with the other women and children, Sansa makes great effort to keep morale high, offering to lead the group in song. She is able to do this even with Cersei taking jabs at her.

No songs from Sansa this time around. The situation of course is more dire (see what I did there?). And this version of Sansa has seen a lot more than the one in season 2.

14. So Bran wargs into a bunch of ravens… but why? By the way, a bunch of ravens is a conspiracy of ravens. He doesn’t report any of his finding to anyone? Does he just need a break from Theon?

15. I was told (by hours of TV and other mythical stories) that magic fire was one of the hottest and strongest things out there. I guess magic fire has met its match with a pile of zombie bodies. And thus the White Walkers begin to breach the walls at Winterfell.

16. When all seems darkest, Arya enters the fight and does what you think a super assassin would do.

17. And one of my least favorite parts, Lady Lyanna Mormont is flung aside by a zombie giant. She is physically broken from her injuries, but still charges the giant one more time. This last effort is worthy of any of the last stands you have ever seen or read about.

18. Dragons fighting.

19. The tone shifts to horror as Arya is somewhere inside Winterfell, trying to avoid the Wights who have decided to go into stealth mode as well. I’m not sure what changes, but we jump into full panic mode and Arya goes running.

20. Sandor, Beric and Arya are now reunited. I’ve never seen Arya so terrified. Beric fights like a man on a mission, and you might say he is. He is wounded several times, and I suppose only a man who has overcome death several times would be able to overcome such grave wounds. The trio make it to safety behind a barricaded door to provide enough time for Berric to fade away (figuratively… this isn’t Star Wars).

Melisandre reveals that she has been seeking refuge in the same room. Arya recognizes her and decides crossing a name off her list isn’t a priority. The Red Priestess explains that Beric was brought back from the dead many times to serve a purpose. We can surmise that that purpose was to save Arya. Melisandre moves onto Arya’s purpose, which is to put some people to SLEEP! Sorry, poetic license there. Actually, it was to “shut many eyes forever.” Melisandre mentions shutting blue eyes and it hits Arya as to what she must do next.

21. The Night King, riding Viseryon, now takes the battle to Winterfell, unleashing blue flame on the castle. He is engaged by Jon (riding Rhaegal) and Dany (on Drogon). The Night King is knocked off his mount and Rhaegal crashes, throwing Jon off as well.

Dany is still on Drogon (claiming the high ground) when she spots the Night King. Dracarys she orders! And well, you knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. Everyone note, dragon fire won’t cut it for the Night King.

22. Jon recovers from his crash in time to see the ineffectiveness of Drogon’s fire on the Night King. He draws Longclaw, intent to take the fight to The Night King. Jon takes the stealthy approach, probably remembering that slow and steady wins the race. Unfortunately, the Knight King notices Jon and he raises his arms, just like in Hardholme. That’s right! All those dead bodies, more fodder for the Army of the Dead. Even Lady Mormont, turned into a Wight!

I guess we can criticize in hindsight. Someone should have been assigned to burning the bodies. I’m pretty sure this is covered in the first year at Hogwarts.

23. It’s right about now that we realize that the crypt might not be the best place to hide, especially when the dead is your enemy. Thankfully we don’t see a reanimated Ned Stark or anyone else we would know.

24. Jon is nearly overwhelmed, but Dany brings Drogon to the ground to rescue him by hurling fire at the dead. While this saves Jon, it puts Dany and Drogon at risk. Drogon is covered in Wights in a matter of seconds. One of the last things we see is Drogon flying away with dozens of wights weighing him down. Dany is nearly killed, but is saved by Ser Jorah.

25. We cut back to the crypt. Sansa and Tyrion share a moment as she pulls out the dragonglass blade that Arya gave her. The music they play at this moment led me to believe that we were about to witness Sansa calling it a day in a defeated suicidal display akin to Zoe Kazan’s story in Netflix’s “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”

What you need to do if things go wrong

26. All seems lost. Everyone is fighting heroically, but clearly they are all exhausted and the Army of the Dead has no limit. Jorah is wounded. Jon is pinned down by the ice dragon.

Theon, having defended Bran to the last wight, is now faced by the Night King and his lieutenants. Theon can tell that the end is near. Bran returns from his warging session (thanks for nothing, Bran!) in time to reassure Theon that he has redeemed himself.

I’m thinking the next thing Bran should have said is “Don’t go charging in like you’re thinking. Hang out here for the next 3 minutes, and things will work themselves out.” I say this as Theon is so easily dispatched by the Night King. Does it even matter what he does in the next 3 minutes?

No day, but today!

27. And what does happen in the next few minutes. Jorah dies defending the love of his life. Jon is playing cat and mouse with the ice dragon. Arguably, this provides the distraction Arya needs to enter the Godswood and slip past the White Walkers for an epic leap towards the Night King. There is some drama, but the girl with no name gets the job done, ending the Night King’s terror as all the Wights and White Walkers he created are destroyed.

28. The last thing we see is Melisandre walking away from Winterfell. She sheds the amulet that seems to be the source of her long life. Davos sees her age before his eyes and as she predicted, having done all she can, she is dead before the sun rises.

So let’s bring out your dead. Honorable mentions.

  • All the Dothraki. It’s hard to believe that this whole culture, which was such a big part of the show at the beginning is all gone.
  • Edd Tollett, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. By my count, he was the 1,001st Commander of the Night’s Watch.
  • Lady Lyanna Mormont. She was only supposed to be in one scene, but she was so awesome, they kept putting her back in. With her death and Jorah’s, does this end the Mormont line?
  • Beric Dondarrion, former leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Brought back from the dead many times to protect Arya.
  • Viserion. Once the alpha of Dany’s dragons, his fire was turned against her and her allies. The blue fire was super cool, but once the Night King went out, so did he.
  • Melisandre, see #28. What else can you say? Such a complex character. Driven by faith and the highest confidence that you’ve got it right, so much so that you do pretty much anything. This is why people fear religious zealots I suppose. And while she is taken down a notch and that is satisfying, how she has to fail is so terrible for sooooo many people. I guess I would say it is admirable that she gets back on the horse, finds her faith again, and gives everything she has at the end.
  • The Night King. He almost had it. His plan was flawless – Overwhelm with sheer numbers and MAGIC! But don’t count out a species faced with extinction and a girl that has no name.

And scoring points in the “Contest of Thrones.”

  • Ser Jorah Mormont. Many people have said this. He went out doing what he always wanted to do – protecting his queen and the woman he loved.
  • Theon Greyjoy finds his redemption seconds before the Night King makes quick work of him. I will stand by my point that his death was unnecessary. Some of my friends have joked that in the 14 million possible futures, the Night King is only defeated in the one where Theon dies.
Stark: How many [futures] did you see?
Strange: 14,000,605.
Stark: How many did we win?
Strange: One
  • An interesting development in the contest. We have a lot of characters left and becoming a wight is no longer a possibility. In fact, none of the point scoring characters became a wight. I’ve been bamboozled!

Sorry this one was late. See you on Revenge of the 5th for Episode 71!
Justin Ledesma, Protector of the Action Figures

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