The Battle for Winterfell is quite possible the face-off we’ve been waiting for the entire series. The third episode of Season 8 is fantastic and didn’t have my finishing a box of tissues like I feared. One thing I particularly liked about the battle sequence is that it has a different texture than the Battle of Blackwater Bay and the Battle of the Bastards and other battles.
This episode’s use of fire and music were majestic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it won an Emmy.
Highlights of this Episode
The Redemption of Melisandre
Despite Davos’ warning that he would kill her if he ever saw her again, Melisandre stayed true to her mission of helping to defeat the Night King as the Lord of Light has commanded her and returned to fight.
She lights the Dothraki’s blades, which were almost instantly extinguished when the Army of the Dead slaughtered them. She also just manages to light the trenches in the nick of time, right before the dead can charge Winterfell’s walls.
More than anything, it feels like Melisandre came back to shepherd the hero of the series — Arya — to her true purpose. More on this in a bit.
Davos never gets the chance to avenge Shireen’s death though since once the battle is over, Melisandre removes her necklace, turns back into a withered crone in the snow, and dies in the snow.
To Melisandre’s credit, she has made mistakes (burning people alive) but at the end her heart and mission are pure.
It was nice to see Sansa and Tyrion united again. Sansa describes him as the “best of them” (presumably her dead husband and ex-fiance) — although Ramsay and Joffrey aren’t exactly stiff competition. Well, they are now…
Everyone knew that the corpses and skeletons in the crypt would come back to life, so sadly it wasn’t a surprise when they did. Still, it was kinda fun seeing them pop out of the walls. I think Martin really likes his 1950s Monster Mash-type horror (as do I)…
The Last Stand of the Little Bear
Little Lyanna Mormont makes her last stand by charging a blue-eyed wight giant. The giant squeezes her to death, but not before the ruler of Bear Island stabs the giant in the eye with dragonglass and ends him.
Making the Dead Rise
Like many people guessed, when the Night King made the fallen soldiers rise, the dead in Winterfell’s crypts rose too.
It’s not clear yet (to me) how many died when this happened. But in a medieval world that cares so much about legacy, it’s really something that Stark ancestors would almost kill the sheltering Starks (and Lannisters).
Apart from the Dead, the other showstealer are the dragons. There’s not much you can say about them except, “Wow.” They are amazing and their death spirals are breathtaking.
Beric Dondarrion Dies So Arya Can Live
After Beric sacrifices himself so the Hound can save Arya, Melisandre tells Arya that she is not bringing Beric back since after many deaths, he has fulfilled his purpose. Beric survived all of this time so he could rally the Hound to remember he cares about Arya and enable the Hound to save her.
To inspire Arya, Melisandre invokes Syrio Forrel by saying, “What do we say to the God of Death?”
Not Today & The Three-Eyed Raven
Arya runs out of the hall to the godswood, where it ends up being Arya and not Jon who ultimately kills the Night King. But this is not before Theon heroically charges him and dies.
Arya sneaks up on the Night King, tricks him by dropping Littlefinger’s Valyrian Steel dagger and then catching it with her lower hand and stabbing him in the gut with it.
Tonight, Arya has become a warrior and not just an assassin. And curiously (or perhaps not so curiously) the dagger that started this all, is what ends it.
- The entire Dothraki horde — Their light has been permanently extinguished, perhaps for the better.
- Dolorous Edd — The Night’s Watch commander dies fighting.
- Lyanna Mormont — Squeezed to death by a dead giant of all things. But, not before she kills him by stabbing him in the eye.
- Jorah Mormont — Dies protecting the one he loves: Daenerys.
- Beric Dondarrion — After being brought back to life many times, Beric served his purpose by saving the Hound who in turn saved Arya.
- Theon — Theon is almost certainly dead after the Night King impaled him in the gut. Before Theon charges the Night King, Bran gives him absolution by telling him he is a “good man” and thanking him.
- All of the Army of the Dead
- The Night King and the white walkers
- The ice dragon
Ultimately the fate of many is still unknown… well at least unknown to people who have my quality of TV set…
- Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth
- Gilly and Little Sam
Interestingly, Jon and Daenerys didn’t have as significant of a role in this battle as you might think. I mean they did fly the dragons and all, but it’s nice to see others in the limelight.
Jon tried valiantly to get to Bran before the Night King, but he just doesn’t make it. Symbolically, there’s a reason for this, but I’ll save it for a book if I ever write one.