Re: GOT S8 03, looks like I’m arriving late to the party here. What follows will mostly seem like a rehash of what any number of web-sites have already stated/observed, but I wanted to offer some of my own feedback. Sorry in advance for the length (understatement). All told, I guess it sort of encompasses what would have been a series of responses to the string at hand.
· The palpable sense of doom at almost every turn – from the get-go (any subsequent life or death jests by Tyrion’s notwithstanding).
· The way Winterfell was lined with dragonglass at almost every turn. Gendry certainly got “busy” this past week - in more ways than one!
· Melisandre lighting the Dothroki swords at the onset of their ill-fated attack/charge.
· Extinguishing of said swords by the wights/White Walkers, and in VERY short order. In a few seconds, that long-distance camera shot told more than any close-up action sequence ever could (not that this was “good” for the Dothraki).
· The fact that, aside from the Sansa-Tyrion scenes in the crypt, there really was no “rest” at all for the Winterfell defense/occupants. This is/was as it should be. Remember, the dead “never tire.” Jon hammered that concept home many, many times the past couple seasons. Yet the episode pacing was still quite good (meaning the battle wasn’t always at 1000 MPH). Credit Benioff and Weiss for a good (yet some would say expedient) script and the Director for some really masterful direction.
· Beric Dondarrion’s (ultimate) sacrifice for Arya. He was a question-mark for a long time, but the last two seasons saw his worth (contribution) to the (ultimate) cause flesh out nicely.
· John not trying to (heroically) “help” others late, e.g., Sam, as he desperately tries to reach the Godswood and Bran. Denying instinct (to save his friend), he actually saw the long game there, but Viserion wasn’t playing. Jon got pinned down and there was nothing he could do about it. Given his “opponent” was a wight ice dragon this surely made for any agonizing position for him to be caught in.
· The Hound cowering as the circumstances grew more dire (and the fire increased). This was in character. Only Beric’s exhortations and Arya’s courage/well-being was able to pull him out of that particular funk. Assuming he and Gregor/The Mountain get it on before it’s all said and done (the show can’t possibly deprive us of that... right?) I’m going on record here as saying that fire will be a key component regarding that outcome, too.
· Theon’s character arc had a fitting end (hint: maybe bring more arrows to the party next time, bro’).
· Most of the dragon sequences. The cloud cover the Night King wrought made their airborne tangles really hard to follow. Except for the occasional close-up on the human/dead combatants, only Dany’s white hair (and coat) helped in, for example, identifying her/Drogon.
· Jamie seemed to get lost in the battle sequences. Then again, it’s his left hand doing the fighting, so it’s not like he’s a sword whiz anymore.
· I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more of Brienne and her battles, too – you know, since she’s recently been knighted and all.
· Despite Edd’s heroics, seems like Sam shoulda been killed, like, a dozen times or more. A complete liability on the battlefield (and make no mistake, I like his character – just not in a traditional “fighting” sense).
· Jon seemed a bit aimless at times, but that sort of comes with the territory. Is/was an episode/writing thing more than his (proven) courageous character.
· I love Davos’ character, but he was reduced to a non-factor in this battle. As he should have been, I suppose. Like Sam, fighting’s not in his character.
· The darkness. I have an old Pioneer Elite plasma, so I know I’m oodles of technological generations behold the current crop of TVs (er... it cost me more than $3k+ back in the day, tho’, so was pretty top-notch back then), but I’ve heard many complain about the blacks on their more current LCD’s/LED’s, etc., with this episode. Then again, the battle took place in the “dead” of the night (ha-ha), so what can a person really say here? it was always going to be difficult to follow.
· Bran warging on a raven and then disappearing until he came back to commend Theon at the very end. Would like to have seen Bran offer a bit more immediate feedback to us on, well, just about anything.
· The Night King smirking (if only marginally) when Drogon’s fire doesn’t affect him. IMO, he shouldn’t have had that emotion in his repertoire - at all.
· Nothing on how Ghost fared (or, rather, helped – he’s in the trailer for S3 04). After that initial shot of him, maybe it was so brief that I missed it?
· Melisandre lighting the Dothroki horde’s swords just before the onset of their ill-fated attack. Cool shite.
· Extinguishing of said swords by the wights, and in VERY short order. In a few seconds, that long-distance camera shot told so much more than any close-up action sequence ever could.
· Lyanna Mormont going down... and taking a Giant wight with her. As gruesome as her death was, did we really expect her to go out in lesser fashion? It may have been a bit formulaic (David vs. Goliath... yet both die), but I felt it was a very satisfying end to an exceedingly formidable foe.
· Jorah's demise defending Dany late. IMO, that has always been in the cards, so not difficult to predict. She was toast without him. To not have him die that way would leave a lot of people hollow.
· Arya bad-assing almost everyone, yet playing the “quiet” scene in the library, etc., to perfection. Despite being an accomplished agent of death, her fear was considerable.
· Arya killing the Night King. At least the knife bad-assery was set up in a past episode.
More as to Arya... So many people on the Internet are so up in arms and are going ape-sh!t about how she got past the White Walkers in the first place, blah-blah blah. FFS, of all the people on the show she was far and away the most trained person as an assassin, so these movements are effectively second nature to her. Moreover, more than any other (living) character, she was “comfortable” around death. Did we expect Sam to kill the Night King instead? Pod? Davos??? After all, he (Sam) started it all off by being the first to kill a White Walker early on in the show. IMO, what would have been cool is if Arya leapt, the camera cut to a slo-mo on her and she was instead one of the people she had dispatched (in other words, she was wearing someone else’s face) and was in the act of pulling it off with her non-knife wielding hand... only to get stopped in mid-air in much the same fashion that she actually was. A bit gratuitous, I know (if it’s not a face that serves a purpose for the scene, then what’s the point?). Anyway, as stated, dropping the knife to her other hand had already been set-up in a previous episode, so this was at least a somewhat believable way to get past the Night King’s formidable defenses (reactions). He sensed her coming up behind him after all (uh... on second thought, maybe she shouldn’t have yelled).
Ultimately, I think this was a fitting kill. The fact that it seems to have killed off 100% of the White Walkers/wights serving underneath the Night Kings reign is both a fortunate (for those left living) and unfortunate outcome (for some of the show’s more blood-thirsty, reaaalllly Long Night fans). Honestly, I don’t think there was any middle ground here (“deathly” survivors), lest we have another situation wherein Frodo (Arya) throws the One Ring (valyrian steel blade) into the fire (The Night King’s chest/stomach) in Mount Doom (Winterfell) and HE dies... yet all the remaining White Walkers and wights (orcs, trolls, etc.) survive and then simply scramble aimlessly away from the front Gate (also Winterfell). Beyond that, having Jon do it would’ve been far too obvious (predictable). No one was more singularly qualified to take on death than Arya, so, IMO, how that scene/act played out made the most sense, yet still delivered a pretty cool surprise.
At least two other things I would’ve like to have seen:
· Sansa having to take out a wight from her family’s crypts. That would’ve been really tough emotionally (not to mention physically)... and perhaps even tougher identifying to us who it was – you know amidst the darkness and overall chaos. Upon “ordering” her to the crypts, it sort of felt like Arya also gave her that dragonglass for a reason. If nothing else, I could’ve maybe seen her saving Tyrion (from behind) while he (drunkenly) grappled with someone larger than him?
· This may be heresy to some, but if you truly wanted some additional shock value, you’d have also had (wight) Hodor eventually leading the Night King to Bran (I know, I know, the mark on Bran is all that’s needed there, but still...). Seeing such a beloved character in this fashion (his death episode was fantastic/moving GOT stuff) would’ve really shook up the crowd (show fans). Maybe Bran would’ve even had a thing or two more to say like, “dude, I still can’t understand what you’re saying – even when you’re all dead and stuff.”
Ultimately, to me, this felt like a satisfying battle episode. Anyone who knows anything about GOT knows that Night King/White Walker/wight angle, while quite compelling in of itself (the prospect of human annihilation in the Seven Kingdoms is a pretty Big Deal, after all), is nonetheless mere window dressing to the “living” aspect of the show. The family interactions and feuds (and lies... and greed... and debauchery, etc.) is, far and away, what really drives this epic show. In my mind, the Long Night therefore necessarily had to be a Short one. What, are we to wait decades for Resolutions to that (as the books suggest)? Some people need to divorce their mindsight of the TV show from the books. There has already been notable divergencies between the two, but without GRRM’s last two books in our hands, by definition, we’re (deeply) in unchartered territory.
Say what you want about Weiss and Benioff. Personally, I think they’ve done a bang-up job, i.e., given the (extremely) finite number of episodes we had left - you know, when they announced the show would be ending in 2 shortened seasons, i.e., after Season 6. In that vein, anyone who’s disappointed as to how “easy” it was to kill those nasty undead folks should maybe stick to (bad) George Romero reruns. As a side-note, do we even “know” if GRR Martin has confirmed that Arya will similarly be the hero in the books? I highly doubt he woud give that away, but I dunno...
I will say that I was wrong on a couple of counts. Like many, I predicted Edd, Ser Jorah and Melisandre’s deaths. Not difficult there. I was, however, surprised that Lady Lyanna went down, too. Even in already discounting Ser Jorah’s past, House Mormont is in absolute tatters. I also had Brienne and/or Tormund biting the dust. Oh, and definitely Grey Worm. Don’t get me wrong - I’m glad they’re all still around – but I think they may all go eventually.
Those characters aside, who do you think goes amongst Jon, Dany, Sansa, Tyrion, Jamie, Cersei, Qyburn, Davos, Varys, Missandei, Sam, Pod, Gendry, Yara, Euron, Bronn, the Hound, the Mountain... (I’m probably missing a person or two)? I dunno. But I’m sort of thinking that after Jaime kills Cersei (originally, I had Arya killing her – as Littlefinger – but I have my doubts that she gets the TWO most important kills of the show), he is somehow killed himself. In this instance, I don’t think Brienne then also dies. I also think that either Jon kills Dany or Dany kills Jon... or one of them kills themselves (more likely Dany – out of love for her nephew? Or even madness???
Whatever the case, I think Tyrion survives. Varys dies (duh). Euron, too (double-duh). Qyburn and the Mountain, as well (triple and quadruple duh?!). And maybe, just maybe, either Arya OR Sansa. Not sure which. I guess the “bittersweet” part of the ending everyone is alluding to could theoretically be isolated solely between the Dany and Jon (major) characters, but there will probably be more. IMO, this brings in the Arya/Sansa death dilemma. Regardless, as it has been already this season, the next three weeks should be “epic” to watch...