What do we want from the end?

This is always a sensitive issue and the story of the TV series probably offers more vicious and unsuccessful endings than fully satisfying ones. Even in his rare best television series, an uncontrollable and heavy plot that can unfold over several seasons, more characters, plots, themes and threads can be interwoven than ever before. The longer the program is broadcast and the greater the scope of the story, the less chance of a perfect ending.

And the question becomes even more difficult when we talk about a story like the Throne Game, which has so consciously defied narrative expectations. Most people talk about the death of our obvious protagonist, a Baylor of the squadron, when they realized it was a different story. But I came back recently and wrote a lot about the first three episodes, and I was reminded that the Game of Thrones has taught us to look at it from the start. Finally, the first photo of the pilot introduced us to three people who will all be dead in a few minutes, and the last photo showed the (obvious) murder of an innocent 10-year-old boy. In these little stories, and in hundreds of others, the show has shown us that the usual rules of storytelling – the rules we instinctively understand and consume from countless fairy tales in our lives – will not help us here.

However cynical and wise we may think, we all have certain expectations of storytelling imbued with thousands of years of narrative experience: the indelible archetypes of heroes and villains, the usual ways of telling searches and character arches, a fundamental belief in a coordinated system of justice consisting of reward and punishment. These old rules of storytelling shape most stories and tell us exactly what a story should look like when it is finally finished.

But the throne game has built its reputation in many ways on preventing these often shocking expectations. Sometimes the surprise show was sophisticated and powerful. (Ned Stark’s death and the Red Wedding are surprises that now seem as necessary and inevitable as any narrative cliché.) Sometimes these moments are considered unfounded, even sadistic and cruel. (Logically, the rape of Sansa Stark should not have come as a surprise, but it is now an example that the series has gone too far on the side of realism) For better or worse, however, the Throne Game has repeatedly warned us that it does not intend to follow the worn out streets paved by the previous storytellers.

As we approach the end of this long story, we must ask ourselves what a satisfactory conclusion to the throne game would look like.

Do we want the show to end the way it started, questioning our expectations, traumatizing our visual experience and preventing our long-awaited hope of a happy ending? Does this last season have to be a confirmation of all our worst fears about the chaos in the universe? Should it be confirmed in a definitive and cruel way that the implicit order of fiction – in which we have all felt so comfortable – has always been a lie? The real world is pretty chaotic, confusing and hopeless: Do we really want a fiction that reflects the side of pessimism or even nihilism?

Or do we want to make sure in the last chapters of this last season that all our expectations have never really been rejected, just postponed? Do we want the heroes we love so much to break the circle of the long-awaited and deserved victory after so much suffering and grief? Do we, who are programmed not to trust history, want the rules and order to be restored? One of the reasons we go into fiction – whether we know it or not – is that we want to find an order in it that we don’t see in real life. Don’t we want the story to take shape? So that the arcs of the figure form a full circle? At the last minute, you assure me that your whole fight – and our whole fight – was worth it? Don’t we want a happy ending?

How you feel about the Long Night, written by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and director Miguel Zapochnik, may depend on how you feel about these things. A few hours before the episode was broadcast, #TheBattleofWinterfell was on Twitter when the entire universe seemed to be preparing for the emotional slaughter predicted by the social media platform. The week before, countless articles said how likely it was that each character would fall for the king’s army of the night.

And to be honest, some of the predictions about the fruit in question were true: Some of the bookmaker’s favourites, including Dolori Edd, Berik Dondarrion, Lianne Mormont, Jorah Mormont and Theon Greyjoy, sacrificed themselves for the cause as planned.

Lianne Mormont in GoT 8x03 - Long Night.

But that – along with Melisandre and the allegedly rare and underused Phantom – was the set of numbers mentioned in the butcher’s bill for this episode, and I’m not sure it represents an emotional slaughterhouse. (Among them, only Theon had an important character bow.) Meanwhile, others who fans seemed to think were safe – including the Grey Worm and Missanday, Tormund, Podrick Payne and Tartu’s new knight Ser Brienne – were making sure he was incredibly safe in battle. And, of course, all the characters whose death could be a real surprise in the Red Wedding – Sansa, Arya, Tyrion, John, Dani, and so on. – are also included. – remained steadfast at the end of the battle. As in the no less ridiculous last season behind the wall, most of the really important characters were surrounded by an invisible force field of the author’s defense, so that somehow they seemed unharmed, even though their death – as so often – seemed absolutely inevitable.

There was a fleeting moment that I absolutely loved, but only in passing. At the lowest point of the battle it is literally raining in the courtyard of Winterfell. Jon Snow, fighting in the chaos, passes Samuel Tarley, who lies helplessly on his back over a pile of dead bodies, surrounded by whips, and screams at the top of his lungs, and Jon continues. He doesn’t stop to help his friend: He can’t, even if it looks like Sam’s being torn to pieces. It was such a big moment for me, but in hindsight it turned out to be useless, because Sam miraculously survived the battle))))

The only truly amazing deaths in this episode, and the only ones that really disrupted the narrative expectations, were the death of the King of the Night himself, all his followers – the White Walkers, his dragon, and his army of the dead. We spent seven and a half seasons preparing for this conflict, and most of us probably assumed that this war – the Great War – would absorb most of it last season. I don’t think so. The last time Westeros came across the Long Night, thousands of years ago, it lasted a whole generation. But this time, the night is surprisingly long.

Here’s my question: Were you disappointed or relieved? Because whether you reacted to the Long Night as a well-deserved highlight or as an anticlimactic outing, you can tell a lot about the kind of spectator you really are.

I admit it: When I installed this cardboard dichotomy, I found that I could see both sides of my perch at the top of the fence. On the whole, however, I tend to have a series of disappointments. My heart may have been happy at some well-guided moments, but my head and my intuition tell me that the Long Night is one of the worst episodes in the history of the throne play in every respect.

She can’t see us! – Value of the Davos Sea

February 2012

My biggest problems with the Long Night of course have to do with the content, but let’s start by solving the technical problems.

Season six of the Bastard Battle is the last time that the Game of Thrones has tried to do something that even remotely resembles the size of the Long Night. It was far from my favorite episode in the show, but it certainly looked spectacular. It was absolute visual chaos, but Sapochnik brilliantly used this senseless chaos to immerse us in what we would feel on the battlefield, resulting in an episode that, although not intellectually satisfying, allowed for an intensely powerful, essentially visceral viewing experience.

However, the long night doesn’t seem spectacular. Too much of the 80 minutes of work looks like nothing. I’ve watched this episode three times on three different screens, and each time it was played like a grainy, dirty mess on the big screen. (Adjust the brightness settings as much as you like: As anyone who has tried to take a screenshot of this episode can testify, no problem with the settings will change the fact that this episode is damn dark) So forget about the emotional moments – all the nuances of the character have been sacrificed from the start – but the actions themselves are almost impossible to understand.

None of this is a coincidence. Directed by Miguel Zapochnik – also directed by Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards – he is rightly involved in the battles and is also responsible for other beautifully filmed episodes such as The Winds of Winter. And the cinematographer of the Long Night was for a long time director of the photography of the throne play Fabian Wagner, who exposed and borrowed the same episodes. So this crew knows exactly what they are doing, and that of course means that the grainy darkness of the Long Night was a conscious creative decision. Just as the bastards plunged us into the chaos of the battlefield in the blink of an eye, the Long Night apparently decided that darkness was the best way to plunge us into the intense uncertainty of a besieged castle.

I understand the intent: That’s right. But it’s not working. There are big shots scattered throughout the long night, and there are times when you can see where they’ve gone. (In addition to the strategic stupidity of the Dothraki attack, this is probably the best example of how Long Night wanted to use their dirty visual canvas for a strong emotional impact, ignoring the strategic stupidity of the Dothraki attack and watching helplessly from a distance as their fiery Arachas emerge one after the other). But for too much of the episode we’re just disappointed and desperately trying to find the information on our screen. If we can’t really understand what’s happening in a scene and can barely understand who’s fighting (or dying) in the image, it doesn’t immerse us: He’s holding us back. It’s just hard to invest in the story when the visual story is so incredibly gruesome. So the Long Night, which should have been the most exciting episode in the history of the throne room, is actually a bit boring.

(It is also interesting to know whether an increase in the size and production budget of the Throne Game would in any way affect the end result. In the second and fourth season, the Blackwater and Wallwatchers, led by Neil Marshall, also fought at night. In terms of size and number of locations involved, these were real battles compared to the Long Night, but they were also miracles of efficiency and a thorough, clean and well thought-out story. We knew at all times where everyone was and why it was important, and how the fate of our heroes struggled with any strategic gain or loss. On the other hand, the Long Night seems to overflow with its own massive proportions at the expense of its content).

Is the visual approach of Sapochnik and Wagner realistic? Sure, I guess. After all, it’s a chaotic night siege in which tens of thousands of fighters fight through fire, smoke and a huge blizzard. Maybe we shouldn’t see it. Not only, as soon as possible. But that’s part of what’s so frustrating about the Long Night: For some reason, the makers have decided to scrupulously respect visual plausibility in an episode that ridiculously ignores realism in all its other aspects.

Everything you’ve done has brought you where you are now, where you belong – Brandon Strong

Theon Greyjoy in GoT 8x03 - Long Night.

In seven seasons, the Game of Thrones managed to create relatively thin character arches – arches that could be played both large and small, on complex, winding, sometimes backward paths.

In De Lange Nacht, however, all subtlety and complexity is sacrificed to the self-evidence and narrative inevitability that one usually tried to avoid in the throne room. Yes, the battle is big and hard: Everything goes wrong and plunges into total chaos. But despite this apparent chaos, each character ends up exactly where it should be, fighting to protect the people they care about most and doing exactly what they’ve always had to do.

Eventually Jaime and Brienne will of course fight side by side, back to back, to save each other and satisfy their shippers. Of course Theon has to die to protect Bran and Winterfell: In the end Theon committed his greatest sins against Bran and Winterfell. (The gods will help you, Theon Greyjoy, Ser Rodrik said to Theon long ago in his last words. Now you’re really lost. So only by repairing it can Theon be redeemed). Of course, the Dog, whose salvation really began with his dissatisfied attachment to Arya Stark, will now finally take her and save her from a new evil. And of course Jorah Mormont will die to protect his beloved Daenerys, because he had to from the moment he met her.

October 2010

I don’t want to say that none of those moments didn’t touch me or that they were even badly executed. I have always loved Jorah, and since he clearly never intended to marry Dani, death for his protection was the best fate one could wish for him. I never liked Theon, but after all his terrible fatal flaws, dementia and lack of self-confidence, it was strange to hear that Bran reassured him that he was both at home and a good person. Jaime/Brienne and Arya/Hand are my two favourite couples who have been rewarded the most in all the throne games, so it only seemed fitting that they would support each other in this last show.

(I especially appreciate the fact that Edd died to save Sam.) After all, Edd and his brothers let Sam die at First People’s Fist a long time ago when they first met the White Walkers. Yeah, we left them. Ed told Sam later. They’re big and slow, and we didn’t want to die. So Ed saves him and now closes the loop in the arc of relationships, which is much less obvious than most others in this episode))).

But the way things seemed so appropriate is exactly the problem. Each death was given its best death; everything seemed predestined; everything was designed to serve the fans to the fullest and to do maximum justice to the bow character. Everything you’ve done has taken you where you are now, where you belong, Theon told me. This is the philosophy to which play on the throne has always been linked, but rarely has it been expressed so openly or demonstrated so crudely.

So I come back to the question I asked at the beginning: Is that what we expect from these latest episodes? If Jorah Mormont had died along with everyone else in that first (and strategically inexplicable) dothraki tax, would it have been more realistic – and much less predictable – but would he have been right? Could he have died heroically to save someone else – Sam, or John, or someone he didn’t even know – or should it have been Danny? As fans of this story, didn’t we want him to have his heroic moment? Do you think Ian Glenn’s performance over eight seasons deserves a satisfactory bribe? In other words: Did history demand that Jorah die when he died, and if so, do we have nothing against the spectacle of the throne suddenly being a spectacle inferior to such demands?

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sure I don’t know. I feel torn, and because of my many successes from one day to the next, I have always imagined other scenarios that would be better or worse if, and I wonder if, they were. We all loved Lianne Mormont, for example: She was a unique, unique joker who made actress Bella Ramsey convincing enough to get several performances. But she was also a 10-year-old girl. Yes, it was incredible to see how she attacked and shot a giant in the last few minutes, but it was also a bit absurd, and I think her death could have been even more powerful and penetrating if that giant had crushed a brave soldier in a more realistic way.

Or was it, for example, Jaime Lannister and not the inevitable Jorah Mormont who finally defended Dani when she was desperately surrounded by fighting? It seemed less obvious, more complex and more interesting – the Kingslayer who killed Aerys II regains his honour by joining Aerys’ daughter – but would it be just as much fun?

Or imagine that Theon Greyjoy didn’t accuse the King of the Night of defeating, but of committing heroic suicide to redeem himself, but instead turned around and ran away, like he left his sister at the end of Stormborne. Again there will be a certain narrative logic – it will fit perfectly with the figure of Theon – but this time in a way that, as in the play of the throne, shows that man is so wonderfully complex in his imperfections and that salvation is always an imperfect work in progress.

Sansa Stark in Goth 8x03 - Long Night.

Or… Is there an even more difficult question? If everyone in the Winterfell crypt died, how (frankly) does it make sense that they died? (In the end they were trapped with a group of fighters because they were locked up unarmed and without real fighters). What if we never saw what happened in the crypt before it was done? What if the battle against the King of the Night had succeeded and our heroes had triumphed and at the moment of their unexpected victory had opened the tomb to find the bodies of Tyrion, Sansa, Varys and Gilly and all the women and children, including the sweet little girl with the scars of the burns on her face? It would be an old-fashioned Throne playing moment that would be both deeply logical and deeply shocking. It would even have a certain thematic integrity, because the series has always acknowledged that the innocent and powerless are usually the ones who suffer when kings and queens go to war.

Such a Pyrrus victory would be made for an overwhelming and destructive moment on television. It would also have been unspeakably terrible and would have cost us the company of some of our favourite characters from the last three episodes. Would that be right or wrong?

I admit, I know, to one of the worst forms of revision: not to revise the episode that we had, but a hypothetical episode that we did not have. But the episode we got was so crucial that it ended up being unsatisfactory. The battle itself was terrible in theory, but we didn’t feel too bad: We barely saw it, and it was over too quickly, and the emotional cost of losing the characters was too low.

I’m not one of those nihilistic, bloodthirsty Game of Thrones fans who believe that the only way to end this story honestly is to kill everyone, and if royal nightlife brings us a sinister victory. I have always maintained that even in the darkest hours it was a fundamentally human, even life-affirming series that offered temporary hope and the promise of imperfect salvation. But in the end the Long Night minimizes the meaning of this hope and salvation and makes this last conflict between the forces of life and death too easy, too fast and too dependent on traditional trophies. Not everything should work out well. Not all the main characters must have survived. Not all men who died should have had a glorious death. There should be some surprises. There must have been consequences for terrible decisions. There must have been losses that hurt.

Not today. – Arya Strong

Arya Stark in GoT 8x03 - Long Night.

Here’s one last question for you, what if the King of the Night breaks Arya’s neck like a twig?

This is, I think, the last setback for the imagination of the nihilists in this episode, the last moment when their darker favorite season of the last part of the Game of Thrones could pass. The Night King could have killed Aria, killed Bran and moved away from Winterfell to conquer the rest of Westeros – and above all, a handful of survivors in a desperate hunt.

But of course it isn’t, thanks to Arya’s skilful hands and a fast knife with a Littlefinger Valyrian steel dagger. (One wonders why the plan wasn’t always to have Arya kill the Night King – she certainly seems better suited to the task than Theon Greyjoy – but that doesn’t matter now). By putting a sharp end to the Night King, little Arya Stark – not the promised prince or princess – can end the Long Night and save mankind, alone in the realm of time.

Arie’s journey here is indeed one of the best materials of the Long Night, partly because it offers a much-needed contrast to the haunting and enlightened massacres that take place elsewhere. In the middle of the war, Game of Thrones presents this little Arya horror film that makes them sneak furiously into Winterfell. Though sometimes too much like a video game – to sneak into the library and patrol the zombies to the next conservation area – it offered a welcoming, peaceful space that could be breathed in by the people from the chaos at the top.

It also offers some of the only moments of the real work of the character in this episode. Just last week we heard Arya bragging about his zeal to deal with the threat. (I know death, she tells Gendry quietly.) He has many faces. I’m looking forward to it.) But I also said last week that Aria’s talents with Gendry form a humanizing moment by deliberately humiliating her scary face. And we see some of them now because Arya is not a cold-blooded ninja in these scenes: Traumatized, sedated and depressed, she walks like a very frightened and vulnerable young woman through the halls of her house. She’s still not wrong – she’s a real jerk, but these scenes also remind us mentally of Aria, whom we met in the first season: a little girl nervously chasing cats in the guts of the Red Camp.

Here I tend to delve deeper into the entire bow of the character Arya: from her first heroic fantasies, through her many teachers and father figures, to her emergence as a murderer, to Winterfell’s Godswood, where she finally puts her skills at the service of life with death. I’m tempted to do it because I don’t really like it: Although I’m glad that Arya has become the hero of the Long Night, I don’t like the idea that his whole trip was worth bringing him here. It’s too easy to erase all his suffering and many terrible things. In the end, it is an exaggeratedly simplistic version of the salvation the dark and restless figure she has become.

But I’m moving him to a later position because we haven’t finished with Arya Stark yet. That’s the best I can say about the long night: It’s not the end of the Game of Thrones series, and – except for the relatively insignificant characters who died – it’s not the last word for anyone.

I don’t know what that means. – Sansa and Sam at the branch.

Brandon Stark in GoT 8x03 - Long Night.

Because as amazing and disappointing as it was to realize that the Long Night was the obvious end of the story of the White Walker, I realized later: The more I thought about it, the more relieved I was.

For the Long Night would be a disastrous end of the throne game. Even if the technical problems were not so frequent, even if the character components were not so predictable, and even if the end result was not so general and unusually rosy for this series, this episode would be a bad farewell to the series as a whole.

My long-standing readers know that I haven’t had much patience for the magical elements of the throne play. Don’t get me wrong: I love Danny’s dragons without size; I love all the combinations of magic and tricks that make Arya Stark look like Walder Frey; and I can even appreciate that Melissandra gives birth to a demon in a dark shadow, kills Joffrey from afar with leeches, or wears the glamour that hides her former witch’s body. I see the White Walkers as an unknown and scary metaphor for death, and I love their huge, glowing polar bears. It’s just for fun.

But the series’ years of attempts to inject all this nonsense into functional mythology have been rather weak. Poor Bran has taken over most of the mysterious Mumbo Yumbo show, half smoked, with less and less success. I don’t know what that means, Sansa told her to the royal court when he posed to her again as the three-eyed raven. I don’t know what that means, Samwell Tarley told him, when Bran explained the same thing to him in The Dragon and the Wolf. Nobody knows what Bran, the three-eyed raven, is, at least I’m sure Benioff and Weiss do. (It is assumed that George R.R. Martin is aware of this, and maybe he’ll tell us about one of those decades).

It wasn’t until the last episode that we first heard that the goal of the King of the Night was to deliberately destroy the three-eyed raven, because it was a reminder for the whole world. Brian Coghman wrote a good speech for Sam that almost made sense, but I tend to believe it was Benioff and Weiss who tried to give Bran a look back at the whole plot of the eight seasons in this final battle against the forces of darkness. (Because, let’s face it, Bran was completely useless in every other way). You might think, for example, that an omniscient clairvoyant would be of some strategic importance to field commanders, but for some reason they decide it works better as a distraction than military intelligence). This kind of retrospective rewriting of mystical scenarios is familiar to spectators of such disappointing endgames as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost of Galactica the Battlestar, and is immediately recognizable as authors who try to understand what has always been vague, poorly planned and underdeveloped.

But that’s okay: I’m not even that guilty of those omissions. Benioff and Weiss inherited the three-eyed ravens, the wise prophets of the trees, and the magical children who carried sacred shells of the original material, and they worked as hard as they could with them. But their decision to end the plot in the middle of last season, so that the last three episodes could focus on the human level of the Game of Thrones, tells me that they have never been as interested in the mambo jumbo as I am.

Melisander in GoT 8x03 - Long Night.

(See also: Melisandra and her self-assured but infallible prophecies. This woman was wrong about almost everything she said, and her decision to go into the snow and die at the end of the Long Night seems to be another sign of the mystical devotion of the Creators. I don’t know what that means, they are talking about the fact that her whole story didn’t make her more important than the promised Zippo lighter. Just let them lie down and die, they seem to have said that I fully support this decision).

Now, I’m free to admit that I could be wrong about all this. Maybe the mythology of the Throne Game will get a lot of attention in the last three episodes, and all those things about ravens and prophecies will eventually get a perfect meaning. (I doubt it, but I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.) Anyway, for me it’s never the most developed or exciting part of this series. Now, the only brilliant thing that Benioff and Weiss have achieved with Long Night seems to be that they can focus on what they do best in the last three episodes.

I will not leave my people. – Sansa Strong

Sansa and Arya in GoT 8x03 - Long Night.

Namely: Maybe the last three episodes of the Throne Game are about people, not monsters and prophecies. And despite my disappointment in this episode, it is a very good surprise.

I spent most of my last contribution talking about what a people program means to me in the first place, so I won’t (often) repeat myself here. But I come back to the question of what we expect from the end and try to answer it myself.

Because of my general feelings about the weaknesses of the supernatural mythology of the series, as well as my own atheistic preferences, I probably feared for about four seasons that everything would fall on the gods and the prophecies and wizards of the magical trees in the final game of the Throne Game.

And for me, this is a bigger problem than worrying about the end or dissatisfaction of a certain subgroup. After all, it is a matter of order and chaos and the idea of some form of cosmic justice in action. We know that most stories have an order built into their narrative DNA, a guaranteed bow that can be long, but that inevitably bends to justice, the thirsty happy ending. One of the things that distinguishes the Throne Game from many other themes in each genre is the rejection of this narrative inevitability.

If you think this is a happy ending, Ramsey warned us a long time ago that you weren’t paying attention. I think many fans have taken this as a guarantee that the series will have an unfortunate ending, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. (Let’s not forget that Ramsey was a psychopath, not necessarily the best judge of the literary order). But by eliminating any guarantee of a happy ending – for everyone – the Throne Game has given his characters space and freedom, complex, contradictory and deep, fascinating and imperfect. As I have said before, this show does such a fantastic job by showing the consequences of individual decisions taken of one’s own free will, usually for very personal reasons, that I would fundamentally reject any idea of predestination, of cosmic forces at work setting our pieces in motion like chess pieces to ensure a fair result. For me, the Game of Thrones was always better when it focused on a character rather than a story.

So what the Long Night did brilliantly, despite all its many faults, was to get rid of all these predestinations and cosmic matters of justice in order to reach a happy ending – and only halfway through the season’s finals. Believe me, if you want what the gods have consecrated, then all these people will be in this place and right now they are fulfilling their specific functions in this special battle to save all humanity. But now mankind has been saved, and they have all reached their goal and had their predetermined moments as heroes. Today they are all simple people again, who have to decide who they will be and how they will live, and who have to decide in every choice, big or small, whether to make their society better or worse.

Yeah, Arya Stark killed the Night King and became the savior of mankind. But today, Arya Stark is still a traumatised girl, barely out of puberty, who for half her life has known nothing but blood, pain and anger. She will have to find out who she wants to be and accept what she has done and if she can be really happy.

Yes, Jaime Lannister redeemed herself by fighting alongside the living. But Jaime Lannister is also a complicated man with a long history of despicable acts and a very unhealthy loyalty. Now that the battle against the dead is over, what life will there really be?

Yes, John and Dani have brought many different (and very controversial) people together to save the world, but they still have to fight about who will actually rule the world they saved and on what principles.

Yes, people like Sam and Brienne, who fought to preserve their unique identity in a world that did not appreciate their acquired recognition and their important role in the fight against death. Now they need to see if there’s still room for them in life.

Everything that will happen as a result of the war with Cersei and Eurora for the control of the kingdoms may seem anticlimactic compared to the war with the demons of the magical snow and the army of the dead. But – without a monstrous supernatural thread that makes every decision easy – all these things are the struggle of normal human existence. It is a real daily struggle against oppression, against objectification as well as against selfishness and cruelty. It is a dirty, complex and endless war against all the human forces of darkness, within us and around us.

And now, as in most cases in the Game of the Throne, it’s the only war that matters.

Additional reflections and preferred elements

  • I rejected the invitation to comment on the terrible military strategy, partly because it was written in more expert places, such as here. But the Dothraki’s accusation was particularly ridiculous, both strategic and narrative. It seems that the series decided that the Dothraki would serve their purpose and sacrificed them in one fell swoop in exchange for a good effect (the flame was extinguished) and a subtle emotional motivation for Dani to give up the master plan. (And since the Dothraki make up about 85% of the people with the skin colour in the Throne Game, this is particularly unfortunate).
  • The whole trench lighting sequence was driving me crazy. (Easy, Melisander, you’re a great drama queen.) And I’m the only one who thought some kind of forest fire could be useful to protect Winterfell? I’m sure it’s easier to turn them on. (My main canonical explanation is that all pyromaniacs are probably dead and that forest fires are too dangerous to spread at any distance, but still).
  • Despite my general mood for this episode, there have been some good things. No wonder most of my favorite moments have been stolen from me by human conversation. The renewal of Tyrion’s relationship with Sansa, which was so unreasonably frozen in Winterfell, was a certain highlight of the scenes in the crypt. They were the best of them, says Sansa, which means they were the best of her men and admirers. (Considering that this company includes Joffrey, Loras, Ramsey and Littlefinger, I don’t know if that’s a big compliment, but it was a nice time).
  • And I love Dog and Arya’s relationship, even though it’s as awkward as this. We’ve already seen the Hound escape from Blackwater: Put him on a burning battlefield and the scared little boy inside him will come out. Fuck the city, fuck the Royal Guard, fuck the King, he said the last time he left the battlefield, but he can’t say fuck Arya, who immediately rushed to his side and ended up with her under his arm for safety.
  • Although I prefer quiet, interpersonal moments, I have no heart of stone: There were also fantastic visual moments and sequences. Among the favorites: the Dothraki, Jora and the Phantom, who rush under a barrage of flaming shells; Arya, who jumps into battle for the first time; Viserion, who greets the court and lets a blue flame escape from his half-breaking throat; and the great moment when Dani and John fly above the clouds and experience a brief moment of beauty and silence before the King of the Night and Viserion find them.
  • While commenting on the things that worked in this episode, Ramin Jawadi’s score deserves to be scolded. (It’s a pity that I’ve commented so little on Jawadi’s remarkable work over the years: my only excuse is that I’m not crazy about music and I don’t know how to talk about it properly). I especially enjoyed the moment towards the end of the fight, when everything seemed hopeless and Jawadi only took the piano for the second time in the history of the show, after his fantastic and sinister Light of Seven theme since the opening of the Winter Winds in season six. This sound accompanied Cersei, who deals with all family matters, so we know it’s not a good sound: Indeed, there is a growing feeling that all hope can be lost.
  • Even assuming that the Allied army will be destroyed after this episode, I don’t understand how Cersei and Euron could organize a great battle against a few dragons. But I think next week we’ll see how the Great War ends and the throne play resumes.

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