Spoiler Alert: This post contains major spoilers from Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3 “The Long Night”
We anticipated the Battle of Winterfell, and by God, HBO didn’t disappoint. We were taken through a roller-coaster of emotions — one moment we were tossed a glimmer of hope, and the next moment, we saw this hope snuffed out. (Melisandre lighting Dothraki arakhs and what followed after comes to mind.) Trepidation took over our bodies; death came for our favourite characters in the dark.
We fell in love with once villainous characters as they channelled their energies into fighting for dear life and the living. It started with Melisandre, the Red Woman, approaching the Dothraki forces, with caution plastered on the faces of Ser Mormont and Ser Davos. However, she proved why she served the Lord of Light, because soon the arakhs of the Dothraki army lit up. And we were like, “Yeah, enough fire for the dead,” until our excitement was cut short.
And then there was Theon. Dynamic Theon. Theon who taught us that people can change, that redemption isn’t always out of reach, that home is where loyalty lies. And though his death was a sad one, we were happy he got the closure he needed and deserved when Bran said to him, “Theon, you are a good man. Thank you.” So we say thank you too to Theon for being such a great, dynamic character.
What George R. R. Martins and the whole HBO team have done with this episode is to prove to us that we indeed know nothing; all we have are guesses and questions. Why did Bran warg off during the heat of the war? Why were Jon and Dany mostly clueless throughout the entire night? We could see they had no strategy even after they had fought the army of the dead in the previous season. We expected them to do better, to have an idea of what the Night King was capable of, having encountered him/it before, but we only ended up losing another dragon (or have we? Rhaegal is around in the episode 4 trailer). But that smirk on the Night King’s face when he showed Dany that he was also “The Unburnt”. Damn.
We must also applaud the producers of this show for successfully directing our focus Jon, Dany, and Bran as the most probable characters to defeat the Night King, while they sprung up the element of surprise with Arya. Seeing Arya kill the Night King took us back down memory lane to the Melisandre’s parting statement in Season 3.
“I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes stare back at me; brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever,” Melisandre had said.
Obviously, we had been given clues all along, chief amongst them being when Bran gave Arya the Valyrian Steel at the weirwood tree; same spot where she killed the Night King. It’s fascinating seeing Arya go from the cute little assassin we all loved, to the cute little dove that stopped our hearts for a second when she got laid to the saviour of humankind. Who would have thought?
(However, the writer of this piece isn’t totally surprised by the heroine role of Arya considering the feministic sub-themes infused in GoT’s latter seasons. From Daenarys to Cersei to Catelyn to Sansa to Arya to Lyanna Mormont, we’ve seen women being depicted as powerful characters.) And oh! Lyanna Mormont. The brave one. The beast slayer. We’ll miss her adorable sternness and audacity.
The interesting thing about the deaths in the Battle of Winterfell is that they were saddening, yet satisfying. We are satisfied in the knowledge that all the dead characters developed into fullness, and left the scene when their assignments were done. So we say thank you to Beric Dondarrion killed by the wights, Melisandre who faded into dust, Lyanna Mormont killed by the giant wight, Ser Jorah Mormont killed by the wights, and Theon Greyjoy killed by the Night King. RIP Edd Tollett, whose watch ended.
(The writer isn’t oblivious of the personal tone of this piece, and how the reader may be wondering if this piece is about a film or about a real event. Game of Thrones is more than a just a TV show. In this moment, it is has become a part of our lives. A religion. No wonder all Twitter trends are currently GoT related.)
Now that the Battle of Winterfell is done and dusted, we know there is another war coming. We can only sit back and anticipate another dark night (or day) full of terror.
Gideon writes because the pen is neither shy nor nervous. Torn between his craft—writing, and his profession—pharmacy, he finally decides to relegate pharmacy to second place. His story, “Until Yesterday” was featured in Vanguard Book of Love Stories; an anthology of short fiction published by Vanguard Literary Services, with an introduction by Otosirieze Obi-Young. He is a feature writer for Bella Naija, and his works have appeared in Kalahari Review and Type/Cast magazine. He is currently a content creator for Crystalinks Investment & Services, an investment company in the UK.