…well, I didn’t see that coming.
No, seriously, I did not see that coming. Did not see the Night King dying three episodes into the final season. Granted, there are only six episodes in total, so maybe that’s less surprising than it feels. But still. I need to process this fully.
I will say they did a great job foreshadowing Arya’s triumph throughout the episode. All the lingering shots, the moments with her, Beric, and Melisandre especially. And it does make sense that Arya is the person the Night King would overlook. He’s so fixated on Jon and Dany (not without reason) that Arya the assassin completely slips by. And, okay, I loved that she dropped the blade and picked it up with the other hand. That was some badassery right there. And 100% in character.
I loved all the callbacks between Arya and Melisandre. Honestly, Mel’s reappearance in this episode was pretty excellent all round. She did what she meant to do all along—she fought off the Night King (whose realm is dark and full of terrors), saved Winterfell, and now her watch is ended. And I liked that Davos was the one who saw her in the end; it brings their conflict to a good close.
I had hoped that someone (Sansa? Tyrion? Varys?) would pick up on the idea that hiding in the crypts, a place that is by definition full of dead bodies, is a bad idea. But nobody seemed to get that until it was too late. Unless Varys did, and that’s how he was able to save all those kids. I would not put that past him at all. All the moments between Tyrion and Sansa were lovely.
I don’t know anything about military tactics, but it seemed to me that all the POC in this show got short shrift. The Dothraki had an impressive start but got taken down in seconds; the Unsullied lasted a bit longer, but mainly existed to save white people. I’m fairly sure that both Missandei and Grey Worm survived (thankfully), but seriously, that was a lot of non-white characters being slaughtered, in some cases twice over.
(Also, I know everyone was complaining about the lighting in the episode, but seriously, I could barely see a thing during most of the outdoor battle scenes. At least the indoor ones were somewhat better lit.)
My husband and I had made a variety of predictions of who among the main and supporting characters was going to die in this episode, and three of our choices appear to have hit: Jorah Mormont, Theon Greyjoy, and Beric Dondarrion. I had pegged Sam for dead but am glad he’s still around. Was worried about Brienne and I’m very relieved she didn’t die.
But I guess my main quibble is this: how is this not the climactic battle? Are we meant to view Cersei as the Big Bad, or is she just the dregs to be cleaned up afterward? I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter throwing around the Scouring of the Shire, and, depending on how they frame it in the episodes to come, that may well be an accurate assessment. But it does seem a bit…early…for the Long Night to come to an end. On the other hand, the show cut most, if not all, of the prophecies from the books, so it wouldn’t necessarily surprise me if the books flip the order of the battles so that King’s Landing comes first and Winterfell second. The end result will, presumably, remain more or less the same, but the thematic push would be different.
Given that we opened the series (book and TV) with the White Walkers, it does seem strange that we don’t close with them, that the death of the Night King isn’t the major catharsis at the end. But I’ll be curious to see where things go from here.
My money is still on Jaime being the one to kill Cersei, and I at least think Bronn will finish him with Chekhov’s Lannister Crossbow more or less as soon as he does the deed. Jaime and Cersei came into the world together; I don’t see them leaving any other way. What I want is for Yara to kill Euron, just for a nice bit of closure, but I don’t hold out too much hope for that, unless she reappears in the next episode to join Daenerys and Jon on their way south.
I guess, as per my recap of the previous episode, I just don’t want to see a pointless fight between Daenerys and Jon. It’s unworthy of both of them. Granted, if they take each other out, maybe that means the Seven Kingdoms split up into the separate territories they ought to have been in the first place. We’ll just have to see how things go.