The final season of Game of Thrones has six episodes. And with the battle of Winterfell having come and gone, it is time to take a breath and consider how the first half of the season has fared.
I was not quite as charmed by the debut episode as I would have liked. Sure, it had its merits, but I also felt like it was mostly set up. The same can be said for the second episode. Game of Thrones spent its first two hours of the year essentially bringing all its characters together.
Every face that mattered came to Winterfell. Every reunion we cared to see was finally had. Old scores were not necessarily settled but they were addressed appropriately. The war against the Night King was looming over the horizon. So it made sense to put the grudges aside, at least for the moment. It could be argued that those first two episodes were the calm before the storm, deliberately paced, positioning our favorite characters to take their final bow.
Brienne’s knighting was probably the highlight, not to mention Jon Snow’s reunion with Arya. And I think we all loved that drinking scene with Tyrion, Tormund, Jamie and the rest of them. Eventually, ‘The Long Night’ arrived and things took a turn. All that tension, all that build up, it gave way. The Army of the dead finally launched their assault on Winterfell.
Hordes of wights tore through ranks of Unsullied and Dothraki. Dragons took to the sky. Fire and ice clashed on a wintry field. Blood was spilled. The director of this episode sought to
accurately represent the chaotic and claustrophobic nature of war, and he succeeded.
The highlight of that entire episode – to me at least – came in the final minutes, with Jon Snow sprinting through the streets of Winterfell as corpses literally rained from the sky, given new life by the Night King. And then it was over. Arya killed the Night King. His army faded, and…well, everything is now ruined, to an extent.
‘The Long Night’ was supposed to give us the most ambitious battle in the show’s history. But it only succeeded in dividing fans. The writers of this show designed ‘The Long Night’ to essentially pay off the buildup of the first two episodes What’s On... of this season.
But for fans, ‘TheLong Night’ was supposed to be the culmination of several years of speculation and debate. The idea of Arya ultimately killing the Night King looks cool. No doubt most viewers were shocked to the core. But that scene also spits in the face of the Game of Thrones lore. All that talk of prophecy and Azor Hai and the Prince that Was Promised, and the Lord of Light, it means nothing now.
None of it paid off; years of exciting analysis surrounding the signs that essentially placed both Dany and Jon at the center of a millennia-old conflict, and the show just poured it all down the drain.
I cannot really predict what the show will do next or where it will go. But my faith in its ability to deliver a satisfying conclusion to all the plot threads is currently nonexistent. At this point, they seem to care more about spectacle. Still, I will watch till the end.