Before you start reading, this post is dark and full of spoilers!!! Close it and come back after you have seen the episode if you don’t want to see anything before watching!
Annnnd breathe! Episode three of the final season of Game of Thrones featured the battle we’ve all been waiting for, in which the Night King, his loyal White Walkers and a huge army of corpses descended on the people of the north in a brutal battle for Winterfell.
There was huge anticipation for this episode. Many a beloved character was involved, the show spent years leading to it, and it was to be a literal life or death battle for all involved. Thrones of course is no stranger to big battle sequences over the years, but this one was set to be the biggest of all. So much so, that you would be forgiven for being worried that it being such a huge moment for the show, that maybe they would fail in pulling it off.
From the chaotic fighting in and around the grounds of Winterfell, to the claustrophobic feeling of dread in the crypts, to the thrilling dragon vs dragon fights filling the sky above it all, it certainly made for tense viewing…even if you had to reach for your TV remote to adjust the brightness at times in order to catch every moment of violence, gore, death and unexpected plot twist (seriously, why so dark?).
Here’s 8 talking points to mull over before episode four next week:
In the run up to this episode, most of us were expecting a LOT more of the beloved characters to fall in battle than what actually did. Many will not be happy, and will even see it as a cop out not to kill off more characters given the brutality of the fight and the (seemingly) unstoppable enemy.
But given Arya Stark’s unexpected slaying of the Night King in this episode (saving Bran with the dagger that was used back in season 1 by an assassin trying to kill her brother, which was a nice touch), it makes sense to keep more alive than dead. We still have three episodes left in the series and a battle with Cersei’s army ahead, so many are likely to die fighting that last great war before the credits roll on episode six.
And just because we didn’t see some of the heavy hitters like Tyrion, Sansa, Brienne, Tormund or Jamie perish as we thought we would, it doesn’t mean we didn’t say goodbye to some big characters.
Theon Greyjoy has been around since the very first episode of season one and been on quite a journey of redemption over the years. He wasn’t one of my favourite characters, and his death wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it was a courageous and fitting one, protecting Bran and fully redeeming himself for the wrongs he committed. And, it will be interesting to see how Yara takes the news!
Ser Jorah Mormont died as he lived, fighting to keep Daenerys, his Queen and the love of his life safe from the oncoming horde of wights. Another character who has been around since the very beginning, it was a bittersweet end for the knight!
Another character who committed atrocities but ultimately redeemed herself before her passing was Melisandre, who arrived in the nick of time to lend a hand in the battle with her fire magic, and to guide Arya Stark to the destiny she foresaw for her back in season three. The closing moments of the episode which saw her remove her ruby amulet and walk willingly to her death, her part in the fight against evil finally played out, was a moving scene.
Lyanna Mormont died a brave and poetic death at the hands of a reanimated giant…the smallest fighter crushed to death by the biggest, in a nod to the biblical story of David and Goliath. The young character has only featured in a handful of episodes over the past 3 seasons, but she made a huge impact on viewers. Her death might be seen as fan service, but it was certainly a fitting one, allowing her to go down as she lived, fighting!
Beric Dondarrion died for the final time, having been brought back numerous times throughout the show by the Lord of Light. Originally on Arya’s kill list, he fulfilled his role by protecting her from the Wights. His death scene is also interesting in that he was surrounded by Arya, who originally wanted to kill him, as well as Melisandre and the Hound, two others who had been on Arya’s death list throughout the shows run. It shows how it was always supposed to play out as it did.
Edd Tollett, A.K.A Dolorous Edd might not be as immediately familiar as the above, but he was a significant death. As the last Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, he has served alongside Jon since season two, and died a heroic death in saving Samwell Tarly on the field of battle.
Finally, we basically said goodbye to the entire Dothraki army in a chilling scene at the very start of the fight. The Dothraki were seen as ferocious warriors. Back in season one, King Robert remarked that anyone would be a fool if they chose to face the Dothraki in an open field, and in season 7 we saw them tear apart a portion of the Lannister army with ease. To see them completely wiped out in seconds by the army of the dead really set the scene for what was to come.
Sansa and Tyrion
They were forced into marrying each other in an earlier season, but Sansa and Tyrion have always had a great amount of respect for each other. And this latest episode appeared to hint at there being something more romantic between the pair than first thought.
Down in the crypts as the battle rages above, Sansa remarks that Tyrion was the best of her fiancés/husbands (which to be fair wouldn’t be hard. Joffrey and Ramsey wouldn’t exactly be getting nominated for person of the year). She goes on to say that it could never work between them because he would have divided loyalties to her and Daenerys. But, that’s the only reason she gives for why is wouldn’t work, implying she does in fact care for him or is even possibly attracted to him.
For Tyrion’s part, if you remember back to episode two and his fireside chat with Jamie before the dead arrived, he said that returning to a life of bedding whores wouldn’t be an option for him anymore were he to survive the battle. I think we are supposed to assume that Tyrion has fallen for Daenerys, but what if being reunited with Sansa has stirred up some feelings for her?
The two are well established at this stage as being two of the smartest players in the game of thrones, so they would make a formidable pair, if a somewhat unexpected one, even after everything that happened with them.
“Stick ’em with the pointy end”
When Arya sends Sansa to the crypts as the battle starts, the scene is filled with callbacks to earlier seasons. Sansa is reluctant to leave, wanting to support her people. Her bravery is in direct contrast to the cowardice shown by Joffrey back in season two during the Battle of the Blackwater when he retreated to his chambers while men died fighting for him. It serves as another reminder of the progression of Sansa’s character from weak princess to strong ruler. She also has a moment that calls back to that season two battle when she is in the crypts. Down there, she tells everyone that there is noting that any of them can do to stop what’s coming. Back in season two, Sansa rallied the women during the Battle of the Blackwater with prayer and song to keep their spirits up. Here, she’s older and wiser and knows it’s pointless.
Arya eventually manages to convince her to go to the crypts by giving her a dagger to protect herself should the dead reach them. In another callback, she advises her sister to “stick em with the pointy end”, which is exactly what Jon says to her when he gives her Needle before leaving too join the Night’s Watch. Not only is it a nice callback to the first season, I think it could also possibly foreshadow something down the line.
It’s long been thought that Arya will be the one to kill Cersei. But now that she has had a huge moment in killing the Night King, what if this moment falls to Sansa instead and she uses the dagger Arya gives her? Or, what if she confronts Cersei at the final battle for the Iron Throne with the intention of killing her, but Cersei manages to subdue her. Then just as Cersei is about to kill her, Tyrion intervenes and kills her to protect Sansa? After all, Cersei dying at the hands of one of her brothers has long been a theory, just as much as the Arya kills her theory.
Cersei now has the upper hand
Speaking of Cersei, she took a huge gamble when she left those in Winterfell to fight the dead alone. If they had won, then the Night King would be coming for her now with an even bigger army and she wouldn’t have a hope of stopping him.
But as we know now, her gamble has payed off. The battle at Winterfell wiped out the Dothraki, and took a good chunk of the Unsullied and Northern armies as well. Not only that, but the dragons likely took on some damage during the fight that they won’t quickly recover from. So Daenerys, Jon and co. are heading into battle at a disadvantage, given that Cersei has the Lannister army, Euron’s fleet and 20,000 new recruits from the Golden Company. Doesn’t look like she will be getting those elephants, but even without them, she has a stronger force at present. Not to mention the hundreds of barrels of Wild Fire hidden away beneath the surface of King’s Landing for her to use if she so wishes.
Even if Yara Greyjoy manages to reclaim the Iron Islands and sail some ships to King’s Landing to join the fight, the odds are currently tipped more in Cersei’s favour.
Was Bran happy at the end?
Bran is extremely weird, we all know that. But did it seem like he wasn’t entirely happy at Arya killing the Night’s King at the end and saving him? It looked to me like he smiled at her as if to say “well done, you did it”. But, then his face drops immediately after. Could there be something else to come that he hasn’t told anyone about? Or is it just a case of Bran being Bran?
She has been annoying as hell in the two episodes previous to this, swanning around Winterfell expecting everyone to bow to her. But I have to say, I loved the scene when she pick up the sword and actually fought with Jorah against the wights instead of just expecting him to protect her.
But then I saw something that looked a little off. Watch the video below, at around the 6:30 mark…does she shove Jorah into the path of the sword? Or is it just a case of some dodgy editing? I’d like to believe it’s the editing, but they have been laying hints to Daenerys being a ruthless, mad Queen for the last few seasons, so maybe it’s not! What do you think?
Remember that season seven convo between Varys and Melisandre in which she told him she would return to Westeros because she was destined to die there, just like him? Well, they were both present at the battle, but only he came out alive? Could the vision she had of his death be false? After all, when she looked into the fires in the past, she had been wrong in what she predicted. So was she wrong this time? Or will he die a gruesome death before this seasons end?
The score is always perfect in Thrones for setting the scene. And was it just me, or did it sound like the Joker’s theme from The Dark Knight was playing to increase the feeling of dread in the opening stages of the battle at some points? Have a listen from the start to about 1:10 below to know which bit I’m talking about:
Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djwadi actually worked with Hans Zimmer on the Christopher Nolan Batman series, so perhaps he has used a sample of that in this weeks episode too. Or maybe I just imagined it!
Did you enjoy episode 3? How do you think the rest of the series will play out now that the Night King has been defeated?