Title: Game of Thrones: “The Long Night” Review
Release Date: April 28th, 2019
(This review will contain spoilers. So, if you have not seen the latest episode, I cannot recommend you read any further. Also, Game of Thrones is a show with a ton of characters and developments throughout. Although I will talk about most of these major developments, this will not be a scene for scene review)
There are only 2 complaints I have after this episode. Don’t worry, this is one of the easiest 5 out of 5 reviews I’ve ever written. I just want to get my minor complaints out of the way early. First, I wish that the White Walker generals had more to do here. With all of this talk about the Valyrian steel swords being strong enough to kill the Night King and his generals, it would have been cool to see Brienne, Jaime, and Jorah take on some of the generals to pay off that fact. My only remaining issue is that we have to wait another week to see the next episode.
The intro to this episode was absolutely mesmerizing. In a one-shot take, we see the likes of Sam, Tyrion, and Grey Worm as they prepared for the upcoming battle. Melisandre returns and upgrades the Dothraki, to no effect (it’s an epic visual as well with the fire going out as the undead overwhelm them).
So, yeah. People die here. A lot of people. Maybe not the likes of Jon, Arya, or Dany but we had a few prominent names taken off the board. Theon’s death was probably the most emotional for me, which is a shock considering how terrible he used to be. His arc was complete. His transformation from an arrogant guy with no redeeming qualities to the cowardly Reek to a more heroic Theon has been quietly one of the best arcs in Game of Thrones. He died protecting Bran, the kid who he betrayed and threatened to kill all those years ago. Bran’s line thanking Theon was the real kicker, reassuring him that he had truly redeemed himself after all of the heinous acts he committed to the Stark name.
Jorah’s was also heartbreaking as he almost made it long enough to survive the Great War. Just like Theon, Jorah died protecting someone else. Jorah’s character hasn’t been nearly as compelling as Theon but he was still a likable figure in Game of Thrones. It helps that Iain Glen has been spectacular in the role over the past 8 seasons as well.
Lady Mormont dying, especially the way she did, was a real surprise. This kid hasn’t had much screentime but she quickly won over the audience due to her brutally honest demeanor and Bella Ramsey’s excellent portrayal of the character. You can bet that fans will be mad about this one for a while. Yeah, it sucked that she died and temporarily got brought back as a Wight. But, at least she got to take out a freaking giant before she died.
Beric and Edd’s deaths were fine. I wasn’t really attached to either of these characters and was way more invested to the people surrounding them at the time of their deaths. With Edd dying, Sam had to step up and fight (which, he actually did). Arya hated Beric for his actions all those seasons ago. Yet, Beric gave his life so Arya and The Hound could escape. The same goes for Melisandre. She served her purpose and helped the living win the Great War. If she didn’t go out like a Jedi Force Ghost here, the only other arc she possibly could have had is a swift death scene courtesy of Davos.
I was surprised (and happy) to see that Brienne, Pod, Tormund, and Bran all made it through “The Long Night”. Brienne, in particular, just had a big episode last week where she achieved a life-long goal. I guess that her relationship with Jaime is going to be played up here in the next few weeks as they are probably making a return to King’s Landing to deal with Cersei. Speaking of which, I’m interested to see how Bran is used for these remaining episodes. The Night King and the Great War have been his entire purpose for years. Is he willing to help Dany and Jon take the throne from Cersei?
Jon and Dany had no falling out. No major issues or miscommunications to speak of other than the dragons headbutting each other. But, even that can be attributed to the ice storm. They both had a lot to do here, whether that be providing support via dragon fire or in the heat of the battle. I was pleasantly surprised that Jon wasn’t the one to take out the Night King and save the day. In fact, there’s a case to be made that he wasn’t really one of the MVPs of the episode. Don’t get me wrong, Jon is one of my favorite characters. I just like to see my expectations to be subverted from time to time. It’s safe to say that this episode succeeded in that regard.
So, let’s talk about the real MVP of the Battle of Winterfell, Arya.
For the most part, she was the most focused and composed hero in this fight. She took on many Wights with her sweet new weapon before switching it up by increasing her sneaking ability in the corridors of Winterfell (Sorry, had Skyrim on my mind for some reason). Seriously though, that scene where Arya is trying to navigate around multiple Wights with only a dagger was intense. Everything was on point here. Maisie Williams’ acting. The atmosphere created due to the cinematography. And the eventual save from Beric and The Hound.
With those feats alone, Arya was one of the most impactful characters this week. But, she didn’t stop there. Using the dagger that was meant to kill Bran Stark when he was in a coma all the way back in season 1, Arya kills the Night King and saves Westeros. She does this using the move we saw her use on Brienne last season too! Just like the Arya stealth scene and the intro, this was absolutely beautiful. The slow build up as we see that our heroes are doomed. The Night King and his generals making their way to Bran as they confidently walk through all of the destruction they’ve created. But, what makes this work so well is that music. For me, the music put it all of this tension together in a neatly wrapped bow. It’s a gut reaction but this may go down as one of my all-time favorite scenes from Game of Thrones. Actually, I could probably say that for this episode as a whole.
Every season, we as the audience count Cersei out. Last season was no exception. I for one thought that she would be dead by now or at the very least, undead. However, she’s survived it all. It’s a jarring move to take the Night King out so quickly but make no mistake, Cersei is worthy of being this series’ final villain.
Verdict: “The Long Night” was everything I wanted it to be and more. This was Game of Thrones at its peak. Amazing action. Excellent characters and tension. Dire situations where anyone could die at any time. With the White Walker threat now gone, Game of Thrones is now in a very unpredictable place and that might be for the best. One final fight is seemingly on the way now. This one should determine who finally sits on the Iron Throne.
- Epic action
- Major deaths
- Tension-filled scenes where you felt that nobody was safe, regardless of their family name
- That ending and the music that accompanied it
- Theon's moment and his overall arc
- Pretty much everything else except for 2 things
- White Walker generals were underutilized
- Not mentioned in the review but Tyrion and Sansa's subplot didn't really have me invested