Game of Thrones: Did “The Long Night” Live Up To The Hype?


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Game of Thrones is known for appalling its viewers with bloodshed. The Long Night, the third episode of the show’s eighth and final season, didn’t quite fulfill this standard.


Several characters met their fates in the episode, including Dolorous Edd, Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Jorah Mormont, Theon Greyjoy, Melisandre, and finally, the Night King. In an unforeseen twist, Arya Stark surprised fans by stabbing the Night King with a Valyrian steel dagger, shattering him into an oblivion. But why Arya? Although many events in the show foreshadowed that it was Arya’s destiny, she was never the antagonist to the white walkers. In fact, this battle was Arya’s very first time meeting the white walkers. Fans were also disappointed that the white walkers, who have been the biggest threat to Westeros since season one, were eradicated in one stab.

Personally, I thought that Arya’s execution of the Night King, saving Bran with the same dagger that was intended to kill him, was an extremely clever twist to the episode. It was genuinely surprising.  But looking back on many of her scenes, it appears that it was Arya’s destiny all along.

At times, it was difficult to understand what was going on in the episode. Much of the action was foggy, especially the scenes of the aerial dragon warfare. Overall, the episode was far more visually dark than it was emotionally.

There was one aspect that I definitely thought was missing from the episode, and that was Game of Thrones’ iconic ability to be ruthless. Fans have seen it since the disturbing tragedy of the “Red Wedding” in season 3. For a show that killed off the protagonist in the very first season, the climactic battle had a surprisingly short list of deaths. All of the central main characters made it out unscathed. Even deaths of several secondary characters were not truly gory or shocking. In early seasons of the show, the brutal deaths of characters such as Ned, Catelyn, and Robb Stark, Joffrey’s poisoning, and the fate of Oberyn Martell stunned and horrified fans– and frankly, as probably the most hyped battle of all eight seasons of the show, the Battle of Winterfell did not match the standards set by the show’s previous seasons for utter ruthlessness. Although The Long Night provided a dramatic conclusion to the longstanding threat of the undead, it failed to make fans truly grit their teeth the way that Game of Thrones is known so well to do.