Review – Game of Thrones S08E03: “The Long Night” (Spoilers)

Game of Thrones S08E03: "The Long Night"
  • Writing - 10/10
  • Acting - 10/10
  • Overall - 10/10
User Review
2.67 (15 votes)


The Night King arrives at Winterfell with his army. Jon, Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, Tyrion, and the others prepare for the fight of their lives. (Spoilers)


The Battle of Winterfell Begins

Game of Thrones has had its share of battles throughout its eight seasons. But nothing—nothing—compares to this one. 

At the halfway point of the season, it’s a good place to show the final confrontation with the Night King, no matter how it turns out. This episode was all battle and no nonsense. We saw our favorites fight, doubt, tire, and fight again. In a night full of surprises, Game of Thrones gave us everything we needed.

Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

The Buildup

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones S08E03 The Long Night
Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones S08E03: “The Long Night” (HBO)

Because the previous two episodes have set up this confrontation with the Night King, there wasn’t much left in the way of suspense. But the way they shot the first scenes really got you feeling nervous (as if you weren’t enough already). It was a pretty typical pre-battle setup. Close-ups of Sam’s hands wringing, characters exchanging long, meaningful glances and deeps breaths as they look out over the castle walls. 

I was especially worried about the characters that were out in front of Winterfell—namely Brienne, Podrick, Jaime, Grey Worm, Tormund, and Jorah. These characters were most of the ones expected not to survive the battle. I’ll tell you who makes it later on. There was hardly any dialogue during this, which almost made the whole thing worse. All we could do was go through it with the characters. It was terrifying.

The Battle

Front 1 – The Walls of Winterfell

This battle was where most of our attention was. The armies lined up. The archers manned the wall. Most of our favorites were in this part. The beginning was a little odd, as Melisandre was actually the first to arrive at the castle. She confronts Jorah, and then gives the Dothraki a special advantage—flaming swords. I was a bit confused by her appearance, but she did prove to be helpful as well as her usual ominous self. Her primary interest was in Arya, which I found a bit frightening. 

So much happened after the dead began their assault. At first, the army of the living did pretty well, although the Dothraki were swallowed up basically as soon as they charged forward. After the dead were fully engaged with the heroes, things got more interesting. I won’t go through a blow-by-blow here because it’s too much, but I will try to hit the highlights.

The fight outside the walls did not last long. The amount of dead was overwhelming. We got a lot of our faves saving each other in dire moments, like Brienne and Jaime as well as Brienne and Pod. Edd Tollett defended Sam, and unfortunately didn’t live much longer after doing so. He was the first major casualty of the night. Personally, I wasn’t super attached to him, but I was sorry for Sam.

After the dead broke through, with the undead giant, we lost little Lyanna Mormont. The giant knocked her aside, but she charged him again and he grabbed her, breaking her back. In her final moments, she ran him through with a dragon glass blade, saving everyone around her. I was MAD about this death. It was heroic, to be sure, but she did not deserve it.

Front 2 – Inside

Arya fought very hard, sneaking around rooms as she hid from the Walkers. Beric Dondarrion and the Hound were nearby. Just when the Hound was ready to give up, his resolve wavering, Beric reminded him of Arya. The two came to her aid and helped her hurtle down the hallways of Winterfell in a sequence that felt a little bit more The Walking Dead than Game of Thrones. When they reached safety, where they met Melisandre, Beric succumbed to his wounds. Melisandre stated that he had fulfilled his purpose from the Lord of Light—protecting Arya. In a particularly rousing moment, she reminded Arya, “What do we say to the god of Death?” to which our girl replied, “Not today.” Arya’s part in this was my favorite part of the night, but she wasn’t quite done yet.

Down in the crypts, Sansa and Tyrion hid with the people who couldn’t fight. There was a horrifying moment where the Night King raised the dead around him—like the soldiers and Unsullied who were slain by his old army—but it also included the dead in the crypts. I actually screamed. It was a horror movie. It created a sweet moment between Sansa and Tyrion, though. As they hid, they clasped hands. Tyrion kissed the back of hers. It was almost romantic. I loved that scene because even though my heart was about to beat out of my chest, it was a second of relief.

Front 3 – The Sky

On the ground, the armies fought back the army of the dead, and Jon and Daenerys duked it out with the Night King among the clouds atop their dragons. The Night King created a winter storm in the clouds, which made it difficult for the dragons to be useful on the ground, but they were still able to pursue the main enemy. This part was just stunning. At one point, Jon and Dany hover above the clouds with the moon and stars around them and it was so lovely to look at. 

The dragons going after it were also exciting as hell to watch. It was like Top Gun only way cooler because, y’know, DRAGONS. In the confusion, both Jon, Dany, and the Night King were removed from their fiery steeds. Jon, eager to defend Bran, heads to the godswood. He tries to confront the Night King, but is stopped when he has to fight his raised-from-the-dead comrades. Dany finds Ser Jorah, and grabs a dragon glass blade. They fight side by side among flames and the dead. Jorah, to Dany’s heartbreak, is slain. Emilia Clarke did some of her best acting here. She ugly cried over Jorah’s body. I’m not even a big Jorah fan, and this had me emotional.

Front 4 – The Godswood

All of this was to, of course, protect Bran from the Night King. Bran stayed in the godswood throughout the battle, protected primarily by Theon Greyjoy. Because the Night King is so powerful, he makes it to the godswood. Bran stays calm. He tells Theon he is a good man. Theon then, knowing exactly what’s going to happen, charges the Night King. The Night King stabs him, and Theon falls defending Bran.

The showdown of a lifetime happens. The Night King slowly approaches Bran. Beautiful, intense music plays as the two stare at each other. Jon is not going to make it in time. Theon is dead. The other protectors are dead. The Night King reaches for his blade.

Not on Arya Stark’s watch. Arya—the baddest bitch in Westeros—leaps from behind the Night King, Valyrian steel dagger brandished. The same dagger used by an assassin to attempt to kill Bran back in season one. The Night King grabs her by the neck, and for a moment, hope is lost when she drops the dagger. Luckily, she catches it in her free hand, and jams it into the Night King’s gut. He falls. The rest of the dead fall. The battle is over. My jaw is on the floor. 

What’s to Come on Game of Thrones

Another surprise at the end was when Melisandre walks out to the field after the battle. Dawn breaks over the horizon and she strips down, removes her red jewel, and collapses on the ground, dead. Honestly, good riddance. After she burned Shireen Baratheon, I was done with her. I don’t know what this means in the long run, but it could be nothing.

I really thought we were going to lose a lot of people this episode. While losing Theon, Lyanna, Jorah, Edd, and Beric was sad, I was relieved that most of my favorites were still around. Brienne, Jaime, Podrick, Davos, Arya, Sansa, Tyrion, Jon, Daenerys, Bran, and Tormund all made it. It came very close, but they all made it. I’m thrilled, but I know they’re not out of the woods yet.

That being said, the war is far from over. Those left are still going to have to head to King’s Landing and deal with Cersei. Jon and Dany also must confront the issue of his lineage. We will have to see the resolution of those things in the coming episodes.

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