This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for since we first saw the white walkers, the battle to end all battles, the moment when we learn, I hope, what happens when the living finally do battle with the dead and there is no escape.
The hype meter is off the charts!
In the moments before the show begins I feel like it’s like a big football game you’ve been building to all year.
No pressure, but I’m expecting the greatest 1.5 hours of television ever made.
So here we go.
Game of Thrones reaction show. https://t.co/X5m4s0RpjL
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) April 29, 2019
1. The entire episode is a symphony of death.
The script for this episode will contain very few actual words of dialogue, it’s almost entirely action.
We learn this early on when the first seven or eight minutes is just the camera following the different characters as they prepare for battle.
The silence is broken when Sam stands beside Ed on the front lines: “Aww for fuck’s sake, took your time,” Ed says.
The tension on the front lines of battle is broken by the arrival of Melisandre, the red witch, the old woman with the spectacular boobs so long as she keeps her necklace on.
2. “Tell them to lift their swords,” she says to Jorah of the Dothraki hordes on their horses.
Then she intones her magic chant and lights all their swords on fire.
The lord of lights, baby!
Davos opens the gates for Melisandre even though he knows she convinced Stannis to burn his daughter, Shireen Baratheon.
But just as we expect a confrontation between the two of them she chillingly says: “There’s no need to execute me Sir Davos, I’ll be dead before the dawn.”
She then locks eyes with Arya, which is a throwback to season three, episode six, the last time Arya and Melisandre were in the same place.
3. The Dothraki attack!
And they make Pickett’s Charge look like genius.
Bad ass catapults of fire accompany their attack, but then, slowly, all the Dothraki swords go out.
Rough start for the home team, this is like going down 28-0 in the first quarter.
Also, who is leading this army? Why are they attacking at all?
4. The white walkers attack the foot shoulders, but Daenerys and Jon come to the rescue on the dragons and rain down fire on the white walkers, appearing to have decent success until a winter storm rolls in and makes it impossible to see almost anything from the dragons.
Meanwhile Arya sends Sansa to the crypt with a piece of dragon glass.
“I don’t know how to use it,” Sansa says.
“Stick them with the pointy end,”Arya says.
5. Theon and his crew from the Iron Islands are with Bran by the tree, but so far nothing is happening there.
Back outside the castle walls Ed dies after saving Sam’s life and Sam runs when Ed is killed by the white walkers.
His watch is over, at least.
I glance down at my phone, it has taken nearly thirty minutes for a major character’s death to occur.
6. The army all runs back into the castle, defeating the entire purpose of ever having been outside the castle gates to begin the battle.
Seriously, why not put everyone on the castle ramparts to begin with?
I don’t want to Monday Morning Quarterback here, but this is a highly questionable battle plan.
7. Melisandra lights the trenches with her lord of lights chant at the last possible moment allowing Daenerys to see the ground once more and pour down fire upon the white walkers from the dragon.
At this point in the battle, Melisandre is the clear MVP.
But what would have happened if she hadn’t shown up?
8. Back down into the crypts we go.
“At least we’re already in a crypt,” Varys says by way of reference to the fact they might die.
Tyrion says he might be able to make a difference if he weren’t in the crypt. Sansa says he’d die, “There’s nothing you can do.”
“Maybe we should have stayed married.” Tyrion says.
“You were the best of them,” Sansa replies.
“What a terrifying thought,” says Tyrion.
Sansa says their marriage wouldn’t work because of the dragon queen and the fact that Tyrion would have divided loyalties. At this point Missandei jumps in to defend Daenerys and we’ve got a continuing feud in the works here. Assuming, that is, anyone survives.
9. Back at the tree of life, Theon attempts to apologize to Bran.
Creepy Ass Bran won’t allow it: “Everything you did brought you where you are now, where you belong, home.”
Bran wargs into the three eyed raven once more and flies over the battlefield to the Night King, who appears to be riding the ice dragon.
The white walkers start laying down on the fire to put it out and provide cover to allow them through the fire wall.
The Night King arrives now and Jon rises up to dragon battle him.
Meanwhile Arya is wrecking everyone as the Hound freezes at the sight of fire.
10. The giant white walker breaches the castle door and Lyanna Mormont, the young girl, stabs him in the eye as he crushes her to death.
DRAGON BATTLE IN THE SKY!
Although, honestly, is it just me or is it almost impossible to tell what in the world is happening in the dragon battle?
It’s dark and I can barely tell which dragon is which.
11. With the castle having been overrun we next see Arya hiding in Winterfell as the dead march around her.
It’s like a walking dead episode now as she attempts to avoid the white walker zombies.
The Hound and Beric Dondarrion are still alive too and they all three meet up inside the castle.
Except down goes Beric for the 20th time and this time he won’t be coming back to life.
Inside the castle room Melisandre appears and repeats what she told Arya back in season three.
Only now the blue eyes comment has much more resonance.
“What do we say to the God of Death?”
(Here’s my big issue with Melisandre, her faith in the lord of lights was lost when Stannis was defeated — which proved her predictions don’t always come to fruition — yet now this prediction pans out? This feels like a weak plot point to me, honestly.)
12. The Night King falls off his dragon and then Jon crashes down too, setting up what seems likely to be a final battle between the two.
But first Daenerys sees the Night King and rains down fire from her dragon upon him.
“Dracarys,” she screams.
Only the fire does nothing to the Night King, who smiles at her, walks out of the fire, looks at Jon, and once more slowly raises his arms to lift the dead back to the not-dead army. Only now all of those who died fighting the white walker army are his soldiers too, including a chilling shot of little Lyanna Mormont becoming a white walker.
Jon, knowing what will happen as the Night King raises his arms because of the battle between the two sides in the north — remember that incredible eyes locking scene between the two as Jon escapes in a boat — rushes toward the Night King, but the dead rise up and block his way.
13. The dead in the Stark crypt come back to life.
Score one for me here on the prediction.
Sansa and Tyrion hide together as the dead wreak havoc on the living in the crypt.
Tyrion kisses her hand. WE’VE GOT A WHITE WALKER LOVE CONNECTION!
14. All of the men of the Iron Islands are dead except for Theon, who remains by the tree of life defending Bran.
He fights gallantly to protect Bran, but the Night King and his coterie have arrived.
Bran says, “Theon, you’re a good man. Thank you.”
Which is as close to letting us know Theon is about to die as is possible.
Theon, channeling the Charge of the Light Brigade, rushes forward — seriously, was this the longest one man charge ever? — but the Night King grabs his spear, breaks it, and kills him with it.
15. Meanwhile Jon Snow has been fighting the Ice Dragon and having no success.
At the same time Jorah is trying to defend Daenerys who for some reason landed her dragon amid the white walkers.
So there’s no one left to defend Bran.
Meaning Bran and the Night King are poised for their epic confrontation.
I’m on pins and needles as the music soars.
Then, from out of nowhere, Arya with the Valryian steel dagger!
Yep, it’s the same dagger Bran gave her when he said he had no use for it. The same dagger we’ve known about since season one when it was used to try to kill Bran after he was pushed off the castle walls by Jaime.
So the Night King dies from this stabbing and everyone who served him disappears, as we believed would happen based on what we learned last year.
Daenerys cries as Jorah dies and Melisandre takes off her necklace and dies in the snow as dawn falls on Winterfell.
16. This was an incredibly entertaining hour and twenty minutes of television, but I have to be honest with y’all, I found it relatively predictable and ultimately not as satisfying as I’d hoped it might be.
And I think that’s my biggest issue with the past several seasons of Game of Thrones. The show that made its name on the idea that no one was safe, has turned very predictable.
Worst of all, the intelligence behind the show hasn’t shown itself much this year.
We spent eight years on the white walkers and the Night King and then, in ten seconds, Arya kills him and this aspect of the plot is over.
What were the Night King’s defenders doing? How did she get so close to him with no one else noticing? The Night King blew a 3-0 series lead and a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. I expected better from him, less of a choke job.
Honestly, there are so many different ways this final scene could have been better. The most glaring issue, for me, is we need to see how Arya got out of the castle and ended up there. The leap in story from her being trapped with The Hound and Melisandre in one of the castle rooms to suddenly appearing to fight the Night King is just too substantial. What if Arya had disguised herself as a white walker? What if Arya and the Hound had arrived to find Theon alone with Bran and Arya had disguised herself as Bran or even hidden under his blanket? What if Bran had killed himself, causing the Night King to die as well? There are so many directions this could have gone that would have been much more fulfilling and more interesting than Arya killing the Night King out of nowhere.
As is, the Night King died and we don’t know anything else about him that we didn’t know years ago. I feel like his narrative is left unfulfilled. One of the most intriguing characters in TV history went out like a glass-jawed bitch, HBO’s own Darth Maul.
Plus, the Night King died so quickly, I felt like we needed a more epic confrontation.
Truth be told, I wanted Jon to fight him and wouldn’t have minded if Jon had died in the battle.
But most of all, I wanted there to be some sort of revelation about his motives, his desires, where he came from. I wanted him to be something other than a metaphor of icy death.
A man worthy of the Internet memes he inspired.
Game of Thrones made its reputation, in my mind, not on dragons and the undead, but on the manifold ways humans fight over power. The battle for the Iron Throne has gone from a series of grand master’s battling in a chess tournament to a game of Uno.
And what about the deaths of the living? Sure, Ed, Lyanna Mormont, Jorah, and Theon died, but do any of those deaths really feel like they changed the course of the show? When Ned Stark got his head chopped off, Joffrey choked to death, and the Red Wedding massacre happened the entire trajectory of the show was altered.
In fact, did those four deaths change anything at all?
I don’t think so.
Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, Sansa, Bran, Arya, The Hound, Lady Brienne, Tormund, Sam, Gilly, and Jaime all survived. Even Grey Worm and Missandei survived.
It doesn’t feel like we lost much of anything.
The more integral you have been to the plot, of late, the less likely you are to meet an untimely demise.
Even Daenerys’s two dragons appear safe.
So we march on to King’s Landing for the epic battle with Cersei, but I’m left feeling a bit unsatisfied. Because the most unpredictable show in the history of television has become downright predictable.
And I don’t like that at all.