We open on Winterfell, where everyone’s moving into position for the Long-ish Night.
Sam’s got the shakes because he gave his sword away. Tyrion’s uncharacteristically silent. Bran the Bait is being wheeled to the Godswood, where he will literally do f*ck all for 80 minutes.
We see Davos, Sansa and Arya on the battlements. The dragons overhead. The Hound, Gendry, Edd, Brienne, Jaime, Pod, Gendry, and the Unsullied on the ground. The Unsullied arrange themselves into formation outside the walls, and it’s at about this point I turn to my husband.
Me: Um….can you, like…see anything?
Husband: Not really.
We take turns alternating between standing and sitting to see if changing angles helps. My husband tries covering the windows. Nope. We give up and just kind of squint at stuff until the Red Woman appears and lights shit up a bit. And that’s one of two (minor) criticisms I have of this amazing episode; I know the night is dark and full of terrors, but I would have liked to see the terrors a bit better.
The Red Woman works her Valyrian voodoo and lights up the Dothraki’s swords. Pan to everyone looking suddenly hopeful and revitalised…except Edd – who looks like he’s getting a hard on – and Ghost, who visibly shits himself. And that’s what happens when you neglect your direwolf for years on end, Jon. He becomes neurotic and hates fireworks.
Davos rushes to greet Melisandre with a quick execution. Melisandre’s all ‘don’t bother, dude.’ I’m very torn about the Red Woman. She burnt Shireen, but man she rocked this episode.
Melisandre spots Arya and they stare at each other meaningfully until the prophetic subtext causes their eyes to pop. Jorah, Ghost, and the Dothraki ride off into battle while everyone else watches on expectantly. Then there’s lots of screaming, but the Dothraki tend to scream either way, so that could be a good or bad thing.
Their flames go out one by one.
It’s a bad thing.
Everyone back at Winterfell: ‘Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.’
Me: ‘Still can’t see anything.’
My Husband, the battle nerd: ‘Why did they send their cavalry in first?’
High on the hill of We-Just-Broke-Up, Jon tries to stop Dany from jumping on Drogon and saving people…because that would get in the way of everyone dying needlessly for Bran. No, wait – he’s worried about the Night King. Dany, clearly already in the spitting-rage stage of the breakup, wrenches away from him and proclaims ‘the dead are already here!’ No shit, Dany. They just ate your Dothraki army.
Grey Worm – looking totally bad ass, I must say – dons his helmet. The Unsullied raised their spears and yell SPARTAAAAAA! Brienne tells everyone to stand their ground. The dead rush out of the darkness and descend upon them. It’s at this point where things get difficult to recap. Namely because a) I can’t see for shit, and b) you can only write ‘Blood! Death! Dismemberment! KA-POW!’ so many times before everyone gets bored.
So from here on in I’m simply going to writing FIGHTING ENSUES! and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Things pretty much go to shit until Dany arrives on Drogon and lights the wights up. It helps…until a White Walker-generated snowstorm hits, making visibility even worse.
Dany and Jon get lost.
Arya sends Sansa to the crypts to die.
Sam nearly gets his face eaten off, but Lord Commander Dolorous Edd saves him. Then he dies. Goodbye, Edd. Now your watch is ended.
Sansa rushes to the crypts to fill everyone with a sense of hopelessness. Man, if Cersei were here the wine and snark would be flowing like honey. That woman knows how to party when the odds are down.
Everyone except for the Unsullied retreats from the battlefield. I literally cannot see SHIT right now. Archers try and light up the trenches, but it’s too cold and Dany’s still fucking around in the clouds. Just freaking land, woman.
Red Woman to the rescue; she breaks out the Valyrian again, but damn it’s hard to concentrate with all the inconsiderate ice-zombies and noisy dying people around. Still, she manages to light up the trenches just in time and creates a fire wall around Winterfell. Whilst incredible, I feel I should point out that the budget for this single shot could have created twenty proper to-scale Ghosts. This is why we can’t have nice things.
To the Crypts, where Tyrion feels his talents are wasted down in the dark. Frankly I agree; he could be up on the ground unstupid-ing Dany and Jon.
Tyrion and Sansa flirt. Sansa says it could never work between them; he’s Team Targaryen. Missandei points out that everyone would already be toast if it weren’t for Dany. Would they though? The dead may not have breeched the wall in the first place if it weren’t for Dany being there. Just saying.
Theon and Bran in the Godswood. Theon, realising he’s ON THE LIST, tries to apologise to Bran.
Bran: I’m going to go now.
Me: Ohhh Bran’s finally going to unveil his powers and do something useful!
Yeah. No. Bran settles in for a nice warg-nap instead, leaving everyone to die for him. Via his bird brain we catch a glimpse of the Night King atop Zombie-Viserion. Then we’re back to the trenches, where the dead start walking into the fire to create a bridge.
Davos: Cheeky fuckers.
Jon watches from afar on Rhaegal and does literally nothing about it. The Night King shows up behind him.
Davos: Man the walls!
Some guy: Man the walls!
Another guy: Man the walls!
Arya: Man the walls!
Winterfell loudspeaker: WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE MAN THE FUCKING WALLS.
The dead breech the wall. FIGHTING ENSUES. Jaime and Brienne manage to have sexual tension even whilst being mauled by zombies. The Hound freezes with PTSD. Arya kicks arse waif-style and makes me like the House of Black and Boring a lot more than when she was actually there. Lyanna Mormont takes on a giant; he squeezes her like a dog’s squeaky toy. She takes him out with a dragonglass spear to the eye, and it’s pretty bad ass.
Back to the dragons, wheeling in the sky above the clouds. Viserion blasts Drogon: Teach you to be mom’s favourite!
Arya steals through the Winterfell library and tries to dodge wights. This scene is very World War Z, a movie that gave me a hernia. I’m just not great with zombies. Or films about possession. Or anything with clowns or dolls, which pretty much rules out half of Netflix.
Arya manages to escape the library only to run into more zombies. She runs. Zombies pursue. Beric and the Hound show up, and Beric’s mortally wounded whilst protecting Arya. Arya and the Hound find Melisandre just casually hanging out in front of the fireplace. She says Beric has served his purpose.
Arya: You told me I’d kill a bunch of people, and man – were you right.
Melisandre: Brown eyes, green eyes…and BLUE EYES.
Arya *suddenly understanding her destiny*: Wooooot! SUCK IT, Jon!
And here we reach the point where my nerdal lobe explodes, because I loved Syrio Forel and am still hoping he’ll pop up again before the series ends. A girl has hope.
Red Woman: What do we say to the God of death?
Arya: …not today.
Arya runs off towards eternal awesomeness. Theon prepares to defend Bran from zombies. Let them have him, Theon. The Night King shows up on Zombie-Viserion and blasts Winterfell. Jon and Dany manage to knock him to the ground.
Dany: Watch me burn this motherfucker.
The Night King: …kind of tickles.
Jon: Here, let me try!
Jon creeps through the field full of dead guys in hot pursuit of the evil dude that can raise dead guys.
I reach the conclusion that Jon needs a full-time carer from now on.
The Night King raises his hands. The dead rise. The Night King’s White Walker entourage arrives at the gates of Winterfell. Have you noticed there’s only 12 actual White Walkers?
We cut to the crypts, where ancient Stark ancestors join the zombie party. So much for Tyrion’s ability to pick up on things other people don’t. Dude, the entire internet knew this was going to happen.
Dany rescues Jon from the newly-raised dead, which is nice of her. She’s clearly going to give it some time before she tries to kill him to ensure her claim.
Dany: ‘Jump on Drogon. That way we can get to Bran without you having to fight wights or get torched by Zombie-Viserion.’
Jon *runs off * ‘BRAAAAAAAN!’
Dany just sits there, oblivious to the zombies crawling all over Drogon like ants on a dropped sausage. Drogon shakes them – and Dany – off. Oops. This highlights that without her dragons, Dany has pretty much zero survival skills and absolutely no fighting skills. I wonder if Cersei will manage to make use of that?
Dany’s rescued by Jorah. Jon makes it back to Winterfell. Theon holds the line in the Godswood. Everyone in the crypt is getting eaten except for Tyrion and Sansa, who hold hands and gaze meaningfully at each other. A new theme from Ramin Djawadi kicks in, and I think it even beats the music from that time Cersei torched all her enemies.
We head into a montage. I don’t care what anyone says; montages are the shiznit.
Tyrion kisses Sansa’s hand and prepares for imminent death.
Jon enters a bizarre time loop that makes him run continuously around the yard like some sort of chicken.
Dany picks up a sword and fights alongside Jorah. Brienne and Jaime get the shit beaten out of them. Sam cries. The White Walkers enter the Godswood, led by the Night King. Theon spots him.
Theon turns to Bran. His eyes glisten. Oh, Theon. Your character arc is probably my favourite of all time, next to Darth Vader.
And maybe Daniel Larusso.
Bran: You’re a good man, Theon. Thank you for dying for me.
Theon: But I’m still ali—
Theon rushes the Night King. That goes as well as you’d expect. The Night King approaches Bran.
Me: Kill him.
Jorah gets butchered protecting Dany.
Jon, sick of people thinking he’s stupid, stands up and screams at Zombie-Viserion. Solid plan, Jon.
The Night King stares at Bran. Bran stares at the Night King. A whisper of air lifts the hair of one of the Whitewalkers, who clearly GHD-ed before he came. Quiet as a shadow.
The Night King reaches for his sword. Arya appears over his shoulder. The Night King turns and catches her. I puke a little in my mouth. Arya drops her blade, catches it in her other hand, and stabs him. ARYA FOR THE WIN!
The White Walkers explode. Zombie-Viserion and the dead crumble. A million man-babies cry out about the unfairness of it all and blah-blah-blah-Azor-Ahai and what-about-Jon.
Jon can barely do his own buttons up. Chill out.
For me, if there’s any issue with how this ended, it’s not that it was ‘too easy’ or that it didn’t clearly adhere to the mythology set up in the books. It’s that I was never really clear on the stakes – on what we stood to lose if the Night King killed Bran. And not just because Bran’s kind of a dick and I wouldn’t have felt anything if he died. I was just never sure what the broader implications were. Erasing the ‘memory of history’ is kind of abstract and not something I’d necessarily lose sleep over. That’s why books exist, and they kill way fewer people than Bran.
But hey. IMHO the awesomeness of seeing Arya’s arc fulfilled in such a satisfying way more than makes up for it.
Jorah succumbs to his wounds. Dany cries and feels guilty about all those times she sent him into exile. The Red Woman walks out of Winterfell and promptly dies. Farewell, Red Woman. You were evil…yet somehow awesome.
NEXT WEEK: Cersei! Sansa! Arya! Jon! Dany giving a rousing speech! Cersei, looking smug… this isn’t going to go well.