I cannot write about this episode without going into specifics so, be warned… this night is dark and full of spoilers.

“The Long Night” is an episode that begs… nay, demands to be experienced twice. It is exhausting… After two episodes where I complained that nothing was happening on this show except for set-up without payoff, “The Long Night” comes along and says, “Oh, you want things to happen? Here are things! Here are all the things!”

The episode, which is probably, and I’m really not exaggerating, 90 percent battle, really is something to sit through. Watching long-standing characters get cut down in battle, some expected and some not so much…

I would have bet good money on Theon getting dead in this episode and he has a very appropriate end, defending the family he once conspired against and receiving the words that he seems to have waited his whole life to hear. It was powerful and a perfect end to his long-suffering character.

Lyanna Mormont, I have to admit, is not a character I would have put money on as I was reasonably certain that she was immortal and that she would glower at the dead and they would all collapse into dust through sheer terror, but her death was all kinds of awesome, taking down a Wight Giant with her in one final act of defiance in the face of death. It was shocking, but it’s Game of Thrones, so…

Jorah was another character I was certain would bite the big one and he did it in a way that I was certain he would. I’m not complaining here because, if he would have died in any other way, I would have been disappointed. Defending Daenerys to the death, not giving up the fight until he was safe… it’s what he wanted and deserved.

I also would have put money on Melisandre, but would have been wrong about how she was dispatched. It was… beautiful in a way, casting off her glamour and walking out into the winter landscape, her illusion of beauty giving way to her true withered form and then collapsing into a pile of flesh and bone… she was done. Her purpose was finished.

Let’s be honest, too… Melisandre is the episode MVP for lighting the trench and making it so we could actually see what’s going on.

The battle itself was brutal, horrible, and everything that battles should be to keep them as realistic as a battle that involves zombies and dragons can be. The largely lacking score, the script that allowed the characters to be terrified — genuinely terrified — and desperate to survive just made eveything seem more real. Even the unshakable characters like Greyworm and Arya were driven to frightful limits and seeing them and several others scared out of their wits brought a whole new level of horror to the scene.

If I had to pick one thing to complain about, it would be the opening battle scenes, shot so dark and so shakily that, honestly, I couldn’t tell what was happening or who was getting killed. I honestly thought Podrick died twice… even with the brightness turned up on my monitor. Thankfully, this was corrected in due course. I know the night is dark and full of terrors, but dang…

I know that the Night King getting killed off before the end of the series given that he was set up to be the final boss, but you gotta admit that was amazing… foreshadowing from all the way back in Season 2. Folks, Arya deserves that Iron Throne… if I were Cersi, I would be wetting myself right now.

This was an exhausting, emotional, and brutal hour and a half of television, but for the first time this season, I feel that Game of Thrones has finally arrived.

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Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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