You know how we do when it comes to battle episodes: To emoji battle at Winterfell!
There were about 14 minutes and exactly 45 English words spoken in the time before the White Walkers finally got on-screen. In those 14 minutes, we saw our favorite eyes get bigger and bigger with the anticipation of certain death — or did we? I couldn’t see a goddamn thing thanks to winter (it came! like a thick wool blanket dropped over our tv) and the moodiest of mood lighting.
And then, the Red Woman appeared. No idea how she bypassed 10 billion White Walkers, or how she kept warm with a Red Riding Hood cloak in the middle of four winters, or where her magic comes from beyond a fiery god we’ve never seen, but this is Game of Thrones, y’all. Logic need not apply.
She lights up the Dothraki’s arakh and then IT’S TIME TO GET LIT, FAM. Our horselord battlegods ride fearlessly into the night, weapons ablaze, Ser Jorah and his sexy sword, swording sexily beside them. There’s a tiny bit of hope that the first wave of Dothraki warriors will make a dent in the White Walker situation.
Hope is an asshole. Their fiery weapons and, let’s be honest, the entire Dothraki race of people get extinguished in about 30 seconds. It was a very cool visual and very disheartening. I know they’ve helped Dany along the way here and there, wearing suede vests into battle and giving her gravitas, but this seemed like a quick and dirty way to go after traveling across the seas for her. Those poor horsies. RIP, Dothraki people.
This is where Jon and Dany decide to go off the plan and were mostly useless for the rest of the episode. Jon gets lost in a blizzard, Dany and her dragon set fire to the dead in large swaths, which doesn’t seem to make a real dent. Those two just kind of had their own thing going the whole time, which didn’t make a ton of sense to me.
Time for battle. I did not enjoy or understand it, much like real life war. I watched for ten minutes and then got a headache. Only one more hour of this shit to go!
Pour one out for Dolores Edd, who saved Sam in battle only to be stabbed in the back and then Sam runs away. Always playing it cool, that Sam. The Red Woman lights up the trench with her firehands, which is an exciting five-minute distraction for the White Walkers and not much else. They break through in a matter of minutes and clearly someone showed them the movie World War Z for inspiration. The Unsullied, who have a reputation for being Super Cyborg Warriors who don’t need food, sleep, or wangs, primarily hold their position. I don’t see a ton of action on their end besides “Spears up!”
We go to the crypts, a place so safe they had to remind us of that 20 fucking times from a bunch of different people. Sansa and Tyrion chat away in there, as one does when waiting
to die in the crypts for war to end.
Theon and Bran have a nice little weirdwood chat.
Theon: I want to say sorr–
Bran: ok byebye
Theon: Where are you g–
Bran: +CROW TIME+
Then he goes full-on Billie Eilish and wargs into a murder of crows. I don’t get the sense he is warging to be helpful — much like every fucking scene Bran has been in since being pushed out a window — so this feels like it’s for viewers to remember that he can do that, even if it’s just a joyride.
Lyanna vs The Giant
In what was surely the most David versus Goliath parallel in this series of underdogs, Lyanna Mormont dies taking out the biggest undead asshole of them all. Pour a tiny one out for this ten-year old with the biggest balls in Westeros.
We join Arya in the library — I’m sorry, how did she get there? and why? also, Winterfell has a library? — and then she almost bites it a few times. The Hound and Beric join her and there’s lots of dark corridor fighting — Beric with his totally extra sword (men must love that it’s humongous AND ALSO ON FIRE), which sadly does not save him from eventually being dead. Pour one out for Beric Dondarrion. He had a voice I could listen to forever.
Arya and Melisandre meet again.
Arya: You said I would shut many eyes forever and gurl, did I ever.
Mel: Brown eyes, green eyes *pause for effect* and blue eyes.
“What do we say to the God of Death?” NOT TODAY. Loved that Syrio Forel callback. He is the person who taught Arya some of her greatest moves (STAY TUNED!).
And now: DRAGON BATTLE. Have you ever seen a bald eagle mating ritual? It’s called “the cartwheel courtship flight” and that’s exactly what dragon battle looks like. It gave me the spinsies. Kind of sad to see these siblings go after one another but again, one is a traitorous ice turd and the other is Rhaegal.
The Night King gets tossed off his dragon, as does Jon. The Night King does a little undead shimmy after failing to be killed by Dany’s dragonfire, which reanimates the dead — ours and theirs — and then Drogon gets evil hop-ons and it’s every queen for herself. Blue eyes upon blue eyes open across the battlefield and holy shit, is this show about colonialism?
Dany is saved by Ser Jorah and oh my god, is this battle still fucking going because Justin is asleep on the couch and I’m well into my second panic attack.
IN A SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS, IT TURNS OUT THE CRYPTS WEREN’T SAFE AFTER ALL, YOU GUYS. QUELLE SURPRISE.
So there was this touching moment between Sansa and Tyrion as they hid behind a crypt while everyone was being eaten alive by old ass Starks. They seemed to shore up their nerves and went out to… well… do nothing. They didn’t show them doing anything, really. Just being brave for the sake of bravery? I would’ve stayed behind that crypt, well-hidden. I AM 100% AFRAID OF ZOMBIES, NO SHAME IN THAT.
Theon was wonderful and truly heroic until the very end. God, I cried so hard. I think his story arc was one of the bigger rollercoaster rides of this series, and I am glad he redeemed himself. Not sure why he had to run 50 yards towards certain death but there it is. Pour one out for Theon. Alfie Allen is a truly gifted actor.
You know how they say New York was itself a character on Sex and The City? I remember reading articles about how it was “the fifth member,” and if you never saw that series, it was also an epic HBO show filled with queens and battles and backstabbing and uncomfortable clothes. Well, this is how I feel about Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones soundtrack. Battle sounds being bombastic enough, the soundtrack throughout the episode was good but definitely supportive background music.
But from Sansa and Tyrion’s crypt moment until the end of the episode, the music was incredible. Very sparse piano — the song is called “The Night King” — but it conjured up so many emotions for me: the futility of their battle, the sadness of losing people, the chaos of war. I felt connected to each individual we all care about on the show. Despite having a slight Westworld ring to it, I think Ramin Djawadi did an amazing job conveying what hopelessness and haunting grief feels like. The only other time they’ve used just piano in a scene was Season 6, ‘Light of The Seven,’ where Cersei blows up the sept. His song set us up so well for the surprise ending.
We follow Jongon Snowgaryen around a hazy battlefield strewn with Winterfellers and the undead and a weeping Sam. I kept waiting for Jon to do something useful, so when he finally stood up in front of Viserion, I thought “Oh, this should be interesting!” (Narrator: It was not.) He just like… yelled at Viserion. I’m no dragon expert, but I don’t think shaking your fist at them is super effective as a battle tactic.
Not sure if you heard the shrieking around the world, but Arya shanked that chilly Night King in a very satisfying way. Not even going into how bonkers she looked, flying through the air like Crouching Killer, Hidden Arya — I was here for it, however it happened. Bran just sat there being Bran. Did he even blink the entire episode?
I so enjoyed Ser Jorah as a character and also an old guy thirst trap. He died defending his lady love who friend-zoned him for eight whole seasons. Pour one out for Jorah Mormont — I guess the line has died out now? Dany crying over his body was the saddest shit ever. She has spent so much of this series being a do-whatever-it-takes bad bitch but that scene felt like she was just a young girl again, crying over one of her only trusted friends in the world. Cool, now I’m crying again. WILL THIS RECAP NEVER END??
Melisandre walks into the dawn, takes off her magic ruby necklace, and dies a 400-year old witch in the Winterfell snow. Pour one shadow monster out for this bih, who saved the day a few times in this series and showed us all what Satanic childbirth in a cave is really like.
Last thoughts: Brienne, Podrick, maybe Tormund or Ser Davos, potentially Sansa or Tyrion should have died in this episode. No way all of our faves besides like four people stayed alive after a battle of this size. I’m glad they’re still kicking but it doesn’t feel right.
AND NOW MY WATCH IS DONE.