Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Game of Thrones - The Long Night

"The Long Night" provides the extended battle between the Night King's (Vladimír Furdík) army and the North as the undead arrive at Winterfell. Aside from the opening few minutes, showcasing the growing tension prior to the battle's beginning, and few shots of those hiding in the catacombs for safety - including a couple of nice moments between Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Sansa (Sophie Turner), nearly the entire episode is focused on the battle itself. Some well-known characters fall, but there's surprisingly little death concerning the core characters. I thought there was even money that Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), or Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) would fall given the contentment each found the previous week (often foreshadowing death on the show). Speaking of which, given his talk last week with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), Jorah's (Iain Glen) death was one of the easiest to predict, and the character goes out in heroic fashion defending his queen to his dying breath.

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) earns a bit of redemption in his stand protecting Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) against the undead, although (like Jorah) recent events seemed to suggest he would likely be one to fall. The fact that the entire battle with the White Walkers lasted only a single episode (the storyline has been teased since the very first episode of the series) may be a bit of a surprise, but there's still quite a bit of story to finish in only three remaining episodes. Melisandre's (Carice van Houten) return provides for one of the most visually effective moments as the witch lights the Dothraki's swords only to see them snuffed out in a handful of seconds by the overwhelming horde descending on Winterfell. The night battle in limited light combined with the snowstorm and the frantic action creates some muddy action sequences that does detract at times from the impressive size of the battle, but the episode does jump around enough to offer alternate fights - one of my favorite being Arya (Maisie Williams) sneaking around the castle trying to stay one-step ahead of the zombies.

And speaking of Arya, she steals the episode kicking some serious ass and then sneaking in to take down the Night King and save the day. Of all the characters on the series, she has my favorite arc. As expected, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys both survive meaning, along with the fight south, the two will have to come to terms about who may eventually sit on the Iron Throne. Honestly, I expected more carnage among the main players but understand that the writers may have wanted as many arrows still available in their quivers as the show turns its attention back to the fight against Cersei (Lena Headey). With only three episodes remaining, I'd expect next week to be the lead-in to the battle, followed by the battle itself, and then the finale to wrap up all the remaining storylines. Cersei's plan of allowing the North to weaken its stance fighting the undead seems to have paid off, while she has been busy bolstering her forces. The again, the North just successfully beat an army of the undead... can a Lannister, even one as devious as Cersei, really hope to do better than the Night King?

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