Game of Thrones Review: “The Long Night”

Author: Cameron Fairchild

(This review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones)

Howdy, Westerosians!

That was a lot, right? At least it felt like a lot. 90 minutes of TV, the Night King is dead, and the zombie apocalypse I thought this whole thing was building to actually wasn’t really building to that at all! Arya, essentially the main character of this episode (besides Melisandre, and the crushing darkness of the episode which has furiously divided Twitter yet again), springs out of nowhere- like for real where did she come from/ she’s a death ninja it doesn’t matter- to deliver on a decade’s worth of badassery and kill one of the show’s biggest bads. Like last episode, GOT is still a little bit too mired in trying to create an apocalyptic tone while not entirely delivering on the heft required of that apocalypticism, and while roughly all of the Dothraki are dead now, only a handful of named characters dropped on the way to the Night King’s death, and really only those who are convenient to kill because they don’t have an embattled or specific relationship with Cersei, the remaining major antagonist whose return was teased at the end of this episode. And that’s all basically fine, as long as the final three hours of Game of Thrones can deliver the person-to-person conflicts which the Night King subplot all but sidelined. Still, it makes “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and “Winterfell” feel all the more disposable, preemptively mourning a bunch of characters who did not die.

Perhaps that’s all looking too far ahead. How was this episode itself, Cameron? You may be asking, although you probably have your own ironclad take because this show generally means more to the people who would read this kind of thing than it ever really has to me. I think that while “The Long Night” was super dark and at times indiscernible on my little iPad screen, the real criminal here isn’t the cinematography, which I think was largely effective and interesting in casting an entire battle in night, with all the muddiness and confusion and horror (see Arya’s foray into the Winterfell library that more than recalls Jurassic Park or Alien) that that entails. It’s the editing, man, it’s those dragon scenes that just kinda spin in circles for the whole episode, and it’s the general disregard the later seasons of this show have had for spatial clarity. Starting strong with the battle lines that quickly corrode under the massive force of the dead, by the time the hull of Winterfell is breached, characters seem to fade in and out as the episode needs them to, compromising any real sense of danger for all but the minor characters who do bite it. The crypts are the perfect example of this, eerily calm at first and then, by the time the dead inevitably emerge to attack the unprepared women and children and Tyrion, they just as quickly get cut away from, only to inflict no damage on anyone in close quarters. There was no threat! Everything’s fine.

With the Night King and his dead army gone, “everything’s fine” kind of feels like the vibe, now. No way a single Northerner who survived the onslaught of the dead (which also seems to wax and wane in number as the episode demands, straining plausibility that anyone would have survived at all) is anything less than a match for Cersei’s army, let alone Arya, who has murdered a demigod now, basically. I am interested to see if the show can match the stakes presented in “The Long Night” as it heads into its actual endgame, and will be even more interested if Cersei’s demise, which feels inevitable, is not among the final moments of the show. “The Long Night” opens up the kind of possibilities I was hoping for the show, even if its own execution was about as messy as the rest of the season has been in leading up to it.

RIP Corner:

Theon Greyjoy was arguably the biggest loss of the night, dying nobly to protect the keep he once betrayed. Theon has been a piece of sh*t for most of GOT’s run, and I’m glad he had the chance to redeem himself.

Melisandre saves everyone’s life like three times over in this, sacrificing herself to the Lord of Light, or whatever, to set fire to the barricade and stave off the dead, while also encouraging Arya’s big moment. A similarly noble end for a character who has occupied both sides of GOT’s moral scales. RIP to all the Dothraki she gave fire to. Guess they didn’t know what to with it, idk.

Jorah and Beric die. Cool! Not super invested in either of them, so it’s whatever.

MVP Lyanna Mormont, who is like, seven, gets to stab a giant in the eye on her way out. Hell yeah. Lyanna Mormont was super cool, and it sucks that she gets crunched to death, but what a way to go out!

Someone named Dolorous Edd? Ok.

Night King and Viserion. Inevitable, I guess.  

Theory Corner:

  • Arya’s definitely not gonna die. She’s too powerful!!
  • Daenerys probably isn’t going to murder Sansa. Seems like Cersei is too pressing a concern, but I have been wrong about how important Big Bads will be in this season before.
  • Daenerys might kill Jon, though. “Long Night” keeps those two mostly on the back-burner, and honestly if she kills him to secure her place, good on her. Weekly reminder that Jon sucks and I would like him to die please, given that his moralistic influence on everyone else has made most of the character dynamics in this show incredibly dull.
  • Cersei probably definitely isn’t going to win, but man I am still here for it if she does. She let the Northern Army get hacked to pieces by the Night King, and now she can reap the benefit of isolationism. At least we can hope.
  • Euron better get stabbed in the face by Yara though. He’s gross.


CAMERON FAIRCHILD | People keep saying this episode wasn’t as effective a conclusion to GOT as Avengers: Endgame was for the MCU, but like? This isn’t the last episode? Calm down | KXSU Arts Reporter

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