The Battle of Winterfell has arrived.
And so have the spoilers, so go run and hide in the crypt if you have not watched the episode. (Or go here.)
In an epic and chaotic conflict, the Night King and his army of the undead have finally arrived to do battle with the forces of the living. And what a pounding, punishing fight it is. There’s plenty to talk about, think about and explicate, and here are our top five moments.
The army of the living battles the forces of the Night King in Season 8 , Episode 3 (Courtesy of HBO)
Jon Snow and Daenerys view the forces of the Night King in Season 8 , Episode 3 (Courtesy of HBO)
SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsSansa and Arya Stark view the battle from atop Winterfell (Courtesy of HBO)
Jon Snow battles the forces of the Night King in Season 8 , Episode 3 (Courtesy of HBO)
1) Redhead Redemption: The Red Woman Melisandre redeems herself after long being seen as a fraud or at least a severely deluded magical (or maybe not so magical) sorceress. After her misadventures of Stannis Baratheon, which led him to his doom, few saw her as a real player in the battle against the Night King. But with a flick of her Bic, the Red Lady conjured up some flaming arakhs for the Dothraki horsemen (which led to one of the night’s many visual feats as those flaming blades get extinguished). She also gives Arya some choice words that have a major role in the night’s work. And then her old pal Ser Davos sees just what becomes of her.
2) The aria of Arya: An aria is a piece of solo virtuosity, and for most of the evening Arya was a one-woman killing machine, taking on the invading zombie army in open combat, in close quarters and in a totally creepy set piece inside a room filled with the undead. And then she got down to business, which involved saving the day and ending the night. You know what we mean.
3) So many dead, so few dying: This was a brutal episode in a series know for its brutality: Whole armies wiped out, entire swaths of undead set ablaze, plenty of gore, blood and more. Even as there were some powerful endings — we salute you Lyanna Mormont, killer of zombie giants — plenty of the A-team (and B-teams) were bloodied but unbowed at episode’s end. Even scenes we thought could only end in everyone onscreen dying left lots of survivors (of the big name cast anyway). But those we lost: Ser Jorah, Theon Greyjoy, Beric Dondarrion and Lady Lyanna were all pretty epic.
4) Dragon downsizing: At the end of the episode, it looks like there are certainly not 3 dragons anymore, possibly not even 2. That’s still plenty, but it definitely changes the power dynamic for the survivors.
5) A throng of fire and ice: There was plenty of both in this episode, from the flaming swords and spiked battlements of the living to the frosty horde of undead and the blowing frost and ash that turned much of the episode into a roaring, low-visibility assault. But the best bit of fire and ice in the whole episode had to be the sequence by the weirwood tree in which the elements of flaming arrows and slippery dragon glass ultimately led to the Night King being turned into a tray of ice cubes and his undead army dropping dead.
What did you think? Did that epic battle seem endless or cut short when Arya showed up? We may have been asking ourselves, ‘Wait, that’s it?’ even after 70 episodes and a nearly 90-minute stabfest — which is not a bad thing. It just means we want more.
And thankfully, there’s a few more episodes to go.