Games of Thrones
Final preparations are made and the time for battle has arrived. The armies of living square off against the armies of the dead and Westeros will never be the same.
There are many key moments as the tide of war ebbs and flows throughout this episode. The majority of the Dothraki horde, with weapons set ablaze by the Red Priestess Melisandre, charge the army of the dead while the rest of the forces watch those light slowly extinguished. This moment sets the tone for the rest of the battle, which is full of back-and-forth, parry-and-thrust moments as we see beloved characters fall while others rise, all leading to the final confrontation between Bran and the Night King in the Godswood.
This episode was a fascinating episode on a number of fronts. As fans prepared for Sunday, the internet lit up with prayers for the inevitable dying. Death has been a crucial piece of the DNA of Game of Thrones and it was rightly expected in the bloodiest battle we’ve seen to date yet I can’t help but feel as though this episode left some deaths on the table, so to speak. No Lannisters, no Starks, and no Targaryens were among the final toll, a somewhat surprising development given each families propensity for dying.
Those lost include:
Dolorous Edd, cut down while saving Samwell’s life on the field of battle. His watch is ended.
Lyanna Mormont. Our fierce Baby Bear was slain by a zombie giant that broke through the gates, but in true Bear fashion, the smallest among us slayed the giant on her way out. Her watch is ended.
Beric Dondarrion. After all of his resurrections, Beric is brought down in the service of helping Arya work her way through the castle, freeing her to go about her crucial business in the Godswood. His watch is ended.
Theon Greyjoy. The most tumultuous character arc of the series ends beautifully as Theon guards Bran’s life to the bitter end, throwing himself at the Night King in a last attempt at redemption. His watch is ended.
Jorah Mormont. Ser Jorah overcame much in his life, from disgrace and exile to disease, all leading him to this moment, where he can stand on the field of battle and protect the queen he loved so dearly. It was a Knight’s death in the end. His watch is ended.
Melisandre. The will of the Lord of Light led the Red Priestess to where she was needed the most– she provided light in the darkness, fulfilled her destiny, and then went off to rest. Her watch is ended.
And finally, there is the Night King. The question of who, if any, would slay the Night King has been on everybody’s minds for years. In the end, Arya manages to get the jump on the Night King and not a single person should have been surprised. The writers and director did a clever job of moving about these final moments, cutting between characters people have long theorized to be the one to end the war, all the while using misdirection to keep the focus off of Arya until the moment had arrived. While much of the focus across fandom is on the deaths, the poor lighting (it was truly poor), and Arya’s triumph, these narrative gymnastics that allowed for this unsurprising moment to still be a surprise should be recognized.
As I watched the “Behind the Episode” feature, two comments struck me. The first being that Lyanna Mormont was only intended to be featured in a single scene but the crew loved the actress so much that they found ways to keep her involved. The second was a mention that they had decided Arya would deliver the final blow to the Night King about three years ago. Both of these statements, in different ways, seem to link back to the most prevalent theme (in my opinion) in all of the series– Destiny. The litany of prophesies, decrees, birthrights and so on throughout these years with the characters is endless. Each of this episode’s deaths seemed to be, in some way, an indicator of a destiny achieved. We have seen this numerous times in the past, most notably with Hodor.
If we are inclined to believe that Bran, being in a past vision at the moment of Hodor’s seizure that turned him from Wylis to Hodor and set him on the path to live up the name, potentially in that moment affected the past in order to provide him defense in the present, creating some sort of a closed time-loop in a sense, the question of Bran seems to expand exponentially. When we look at Bran in this episode, sitting in the Godswood doing a whole lot of nothing, criticism comes easy. But what if I told you that he’s been moving pieces around the board this whole time? How is it that Benjen Stark is always conveniently present when Sam, Bran, or Jon needed rescue, but is missing all the rest of the time? Like with Hodor, perhaps Bran has a means of manipulating events? It’s just a theory, and perhaps a wild one, but if the final three episodes head in the direction I suspect, it’s a theory that I wanted to share so that I could revisit in later installments.
No rest for the wicked as Game of Thrones barrels through this final season, tying up loose ends and pushing the characters to the brink.
Game of Thrones Ep803: The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 8/108/10
Production - 5/105/10
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