HBO Most: Game of Thrones, The Long Night Review

Waiting for some action. Photo: HBO.

I toyed with the idea of putting out a Game of Thrones recap every week. In the end I abandoned that thought as I did not want to bore you. We are a Travel & Reviews website after all. Aren’t we?

This one though I couldn’t let go.

I prepared for this week’s Thrones by reading back a few chapters from A song of Fire & Ice. I also watched the cold opening of the show’s very first episode.

Will, Gared & Waymar Royce of The Night’s Watch set out beyond the wall to find a group of Wildings. Instead they & we get to meet The White Walkers for the first time.

This clash between the dead & the living has been a long time coming. Eight whole seasons in fact. Everything & I mean everything has been leading up to this moment.

In The Long Night , Game of Thrones exceeds expectation’s & more than lives up to the hype.

Last week, the genuinely moving, A Night of The Seven Kingdoms marked a real return to form for the show. It was the best episode in years.

That was until today. The Long Night pushes, The Rains of Castamere, Hardhome & Baelor close as the greatest hour in Game of Thrones history.

Granted I have only watched it once. I will sit through it again tonight & my thoughts may be slightly different. For now, though I am sticking with my gut feeling.

The Long Night had everything.

It was an exhilarating episode of television that left this particularly writer breathless & my adrenaline pumping. .

Undoubtedly there will be detractors of the episode out there & yes you can nitpick, but this is a thrilling television spectacular that is unrivaled in the history of the medium.

After our gang sat around the fire last time out we expected many of our favorites to meet an untimely demise at The Battle of Winterfell.

Who lived & who dies?

We will get to that later.

As the fighting begins, Melisandre makes her return & set’s aflame the Dothraki’s arakh’s before they ride into battle. Led by Jorah, the horsemen charge towards the army of the dead. The black night sky is set ablaze & soon the flame extinguished as the Dothraki are slaughtered. This is a truly haunting moment of terror. The fearless warriors did not stand a chance.  Jorah Mormont & what is left of his men, retreat to Winterfell.

Ghost advances. Photo: HBO.

My only question is why was Ghost with the Dothraki & where is he now? I love that wee Dire wolf man.

Anyway, getting back to the conflict.

The Unsullied & Greyworm show their metal by heroically defending their fleeing comrades.  They too are engulfed by the army of the dead although Greyworm just about survives. Many of us thought he was a goner after A Night of The Seven Kingdoms. He will outlive us all.

High above the battlefield, Dany & Jon mount their dragons & set off to save the day. It doesn’t quite work out like that as a winter storm engulfs them & they soon encounter The Night king & Viserion. A Dance of dragons ensues. The Night king is knocked from his ice dragon & he falls silently through the air.

The Watchers on The Wall. Photo: HBO.

Inside the castle, Tyrion & Sansa huddle together with Varys, Missanedi & Gilly in the crypts. What could go wrong? A lot as it turns out. They are in a grave yard after all & the enemy has the ability to raise the dead.

The fight continues above ground where The Hound cowers in terror as fire burns all around him  Sandor deserted The Battle of the Blackwater in season two due to his fear of fire. ‘We’re fighting death. You can’t beat death’.

Sam is saved from a knife through the back by Dolorous Edd. Edd pays with his life. Sam spends most of the skirmish on his back, in tears. A dead giant kills Lyanna Mormont.

The battle scenes are chaotic, ultraviolent, intense & disorientating. There have been a few gripes that it’s hard to get a sense of what is going on. That’s partly due to the very, very dark cinematography & the mayhem that is unfolding in front of us. But isn’t that the whole point? Director, Miguel Sapochnik does a fantastic job of getting us inside the characters heads. It would be utter bedlam & you would have little idea of what was going on around you. For me that worked splendidly. Sapochnik helmed Hardhome & The Battle of The Bastards. He knows what he’s doing.

Now back to The Night King. When Dany finally hunts him down, she cries ”drakarys” but our antagonist is immune to Drogon’s fire. He gives a small hint of a smile, walks through the flames as Jon gives pursuit. With Jon closing in, The Night King turns & raises the slain. He leaves his wights to deal with Lord Snow.

Dany comes to Jon’s rescue & The King in The North runs to help Bran who is in The Godswood with Theon & a small band of Ironborn. They valiantly hold off the dead until only Theon remains.

A good man. Photo: HBO.

The tension is almost unbearable. Beric sacrifices himself for Arya & The Hound. Jon is trapped in the Winterfell courtyard. Jamie, Podrick, Tormund, Brienne & Sam are about to be picked off. Dany is surrounded with only Jorah standing between her & death.

The Night king makes it to The Godswood & kills Theon. This is not before Bran provides Theon with absolution, “Everything you did brought you where you are now…home”.

At this moment, I have to say I knew how things would turn out. That’s not me being a smart arse after the fact. That’s me sitting on my bed on a gloomy Budapest morning & connecting the dots.

If the Night king kills Bran & with our other heroes about to die, then the show is essentially over. (The only characters we would have left are Cersei, Euron & Robert Strong.)

I did not know who would conquer the long night. I should have.

It is a girl called Arya. We last saw her receiving inspiration from the most unlikely of sources. Melisandre prophesized that Arya would shut many eyes back in season three. She reminds Arya that some of those eyes would be blue of color.  The Young Stark dashes to the Godswood.

Arya, soaring through the air, grasping her dagger & the Night king grabbing her around the throat is a jaw dropping sequence. Now people can call bullshit on it all they want but if you’ve followed Arya’s journey in both the books & the show then it all makes sense. She has gone from a bullish young girl to a faceless assassin. The faceless men are the ninja’s of Westeros. They are pretty badass.

Arya escaped Kings Landing after her father’s death, survived Harrenhal & traveled all the way to Bravos & back.

In to the woods. Photo: HBO.

For her to shatter the Night king into a thousand little pieces all adds up. She kills him with a Valyrian blade dagger. The same dagger had been intended to slit Bran’s throat way back in season one. The same dagger started the war of the five kings. This was a fitting ending to The White Walkers threat. With one thrust of Arya’s knife, The Night King & all those who follow him are destroyed.

On the side of the living we may have expected more to die . Melisandre perishes in the snowy wastes outside Winterfell. Jorah & The Little Bear meet their maker. Theon, Beric & Doloros Edd are gone too.

Three more episodes to go. I may even write another recap next Monday. Until then…   

What do we say to the God of Death?

Game of Thrones season 8, The Long Night is available to watch on HBO Go Hungary now.

Check out a trailer for the episode below.

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