*okay technically this episode is titled “The Long Night” but to me it will always be The Battle of Winterfell, so there you go. Also, I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but it might be best to just read this after you see the episode.
Now I know I don’t typically review television episodes on my blog, but after last night, I HAVE to talk about the Battle of Winterfell, the episode the entire series has been building towards since the pilot (when we first saw the White Walkers). No matter what happened, this was going to be one of THE major climaxes in the overall story. For a long time I thought this battle would be the final climax, and it very well could be in the book version of the story. However, the show writers clearly felt differently as this episode arrived with three more still to come.
First I want to make it clear that I absolutely loved this episode. It’s not perfect, I too thought there were a few scenes where the lighting was a bit…off…which made it difficult to see here and there, but in all fairness the battle took place at night, so it’s supposed to be dark.
Now I need to talk about the Army of the Dead and how much they terrified me. It might have seemed obvious to most, but it took me almost five whole seasons to realize that Game of Thrones has a zombie apocalypse as a major plot point. That the wights are zombies is made abundantly clear in this episode. The way the dead move and clamber to get over walls and obstacles at times reminded me of scenes straight out of World War Z (admittedly not as extreme but based on similar principles).
And then there was THAT scene in the Winterfell library. I think that will go down as the most terrifying scene in the entire series, even more than THAT scene at the end of “Hardhome.” Part of what makes the library scene so scary is the silence (minus the sounds of the wights). In this scene, silence means survival for a certain character, and for almost the entire scene I hardly dared to breathe. I both love and hate this kind of scene because on the hand, it draws me in so that I feel the character’s terror. But on the other hand, a scene like that is perfect for a jump scare, and I hate those the most.
I knew going in that I was not emotionally prepared for the death toll this episode would bring and I was right. As we all predicted, we had to say goodbye to more than a few characters, some that I expected, and others that had me screaming at my television because I didn’t want them to go. That being said, from what I could tell by the end of the episode, more of my favorite characters actually made it through alive than I initially thought. This is likely because there’s still at least one major battle to go before the series ends for good.
Now you might be wondering how I feel about THAT moment at the end of the episode (if you’ve seen it you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about). Of all the ways I thought that character arc would end, I never imagined THAT character would be the one to end it. I always assumed, and I think many others did as well, that it would be Dany or Jon, or a combination of the two, that would strike the final blow. And again, that may be true in the book version of these events, we simply don’t know yet. The show has left out several plot elements that are likely vital to the book’s endgame. That being said, in hindsight, it seems obvious now that THIS scene was predicted all the way back in season 3, which means perhaps the show writers know something about the books that we don’t.
In the end, I found the Battle of Winterfell to be very satisfying, an emotional ride to be sure, but one that ended in just the right way. It’s hard to believe there are only three episodes to go before the story ends, but as I go think about this. If they put the Battle of Winterfell HERE, in the middle of the season, in the name of the Old Gods and the New what on earth is still to come?
Once you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought about the Battle of Winterfell in the comments below and have a great day!
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