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'Game of Thrones': Epic 'Long Night' was dark and full of terrors

'The Long Night' was dark and full of terrors.
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

What do we say to the god of death? Not today.

This phrase rang true, surprisingly, for most characters who we expected to die in the Sunday night’s epic Battle of Winterfell. 


The third episode of Game of Thrones’ final season was a gripping hour and 20 minutes of claustrophobic battles, an intense sense of defeat and strange lighting choices that made some crucial scenes a bit hard to see. 

Was it the greatest television episode ever? It definitely ranks high on our lists.

Let’s break down “The Long Night.”

Arya defeats the Night King

Mark Bergin: Arya Stark defeats the Night King in a blade switch that paid homage to when Bran gave her the Valyrian steel dagger back in season one. Remember, the dagger was the same one used in an assassination attempt on Bran during that season.

The blade switch also paid homage to Arya’s training with Brienne of Tarth.

People on the internet were comparing it to Michael Jordan’s famous up-and-under hand switch in the 1991 NBA Finals and to LeBron James’ chasedown block in the 2016 NBA Finals.

However, I felt slightly robbed that we didn’t get a one-on-one sword battle between Jon Snow and the Night King.

Chelsea Tatham: I’m one thousand percent fine with not having a one-on-one sword battle between Jon Snow and the Night King. Jon came to battle, the Night King came to destroy. It also wouldn’t make sense for the Night King to be defeated in a traditional man-on-man fight. The entire battle showed the Night King and his army are essentially undefeatable by standard military tactics. They don’t play by the rules of war.

But neither does Arya. She has spent her life fighting -- and killing -- those who have told her she couldn’t do things because she’s a girl.

Well, Valar Morghulis -- all men must die. And Arya is no man.

Who died in the battle of Winterfell?

RIP to Jorah Mormont, Melisandre aka the Red Woman, Theon, Beric Dondarrion, Edd and Lyanna Mormount. Count us among those who fully expected Brienne of Tarth, Jaime Lannister and Tormund to die in the Battle of Winterfell before the start of the episode.

Jorah Mormont

Bergin: As sad as Jorah’s death was, no one has ever defined the friend zone more than his character. His love of Daenerys Targaryen is unmatched.

Tatham: I’d say his dedication for Dany goes way beyond his love for her. While it may have hurt his feelings, Jorah was the only father/older brother figure she ever had. And while she established her fierce independence and penchant for leadership early on, Jorah was always one of the very few people she could fully trust. It was heartbreaking to see her lose him, but I’m glad she was the one there when he died. 

Melisandre aka the Red Woman

Bergin: Despite failing Stannis Baratheon in previous seasons and burning his daughter at the stake, let’s quickly review Melisandre’s accomplishments.

  1. She brought Jon Snow back to life.

  2. She mysteriously shows up in the front lines just ahead of the battle of Winterfell

  3. She lit thousands of swords at once. Imagine how much more quickly the Dothraki would have been wiped out without fire swords.

  4. She lit the trench at Winterfell when Drogon and Daenerys got lost in the blizzard created by the Night King.

  5. She helped defeat the Night King. She motivated Arya to remember her training. “What do we tell the God of Death? Not today.”

Milisandre decides to take off her magic red necklace before dying of old age.

Tatham: I never had a strong opinion about Melisandre other than questioning what her motives were. But, she had a direct hand in helping two of the show’s most important characters fulfill their destinies -- Jon Snow coming back to life and learning his true identity, and Arya killing the Night King and winning the Battle of Winterfell.


Bergin: The Night King kills Theon and his men while they tried to keep Bran safe in the Godswood of Winterfell.

I had previously written any screen time featuring a member of the Greyjoys was a waste at this point in the show. I was wrong. Theon might have the best character arc of anyone on “Game of Thrones.”

Tatham: I wouldn’t have wanted Theon to go out any other way. As Bran described, Theon was a good man, and he died in his true home.

Beric Dondarrion

Bergin: Arya does not kill the Night King without Beric’s sacrifice fighting off wights inside Winterfell. Now we know why the Lord of Light brought him back from the dead. Lighting his sword on fire always got me fired up. He’ll be missed.


Bergin: There are two members of the Night’s Watch left: Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly. Here’s hoping they burn Edd’s body in the battle’s aftermath like he requested.

Lyanna Mormont

Bergin: Her tombstone should read: “Here lies Lyanna Mormount: Giantslayer.”

Tatham: I plan on naming my daughter after Lyanna. She was probably the tiniest soldier, but she killed a freaking giant -- a dragon glass dagger straight to the eye in her last breath. 

Questionable battle strategy

Bergin: Two things really stuck out with me:

  1. While the Dothraki fight best riding their horses in an open field, why send them out for slaughter to the White Walkers at the start of the battle? The Night King can turn the dead into White Walkers. Someone should have pointed this out in the battle preparations.

  1. Why would they put the women and children in the Crypt of Winterfell? Again, the Night King can turn the dead into White Walkers. How many members of the Stark family are buried in the Crypt? This could have been a deadly decision.

Tatham: I honestly did not think that prediction would even happen. It sort of ticked me off, but it gave us that sweet, (almost) last moment between Sansa and Tyrion. He really was the best of her terrible husbands.

What happens now?

Bergin: The Clegane Bowl is still on! The series has long teased an epic showdown between the two Clegane brothers, the Mountain and the Hound. It looks like since the Hound survived the battle of Winterfell, he will have the chance to face his brother in a one-on-one battle.

Next week's’ trailer shows both Drogon and Rhaegal are still alive. Ghost is also still alive. It means no one died that we didn’t see die in “the Long Night.”

I’m disgusted Cersei Lannister does not have to face the White Walkers at all.

Tatham: Don’t worry, she’ll get her comeuppance soon enough. 

After facing a literal army of the undead, I have no doubt Jon and Dany’s surviving army can obliterate the one in King’s Landing. Cersei may have a Mountain, but Jon and Dany have Arya...and dragons.

More Game of Thrones

Who lives, who dies, who wins 'Game of Thrones'?

Reunions, dragons, elephants star in Season 8 premiere

'Game of Thrones' episode 2: A love letter to characters who will probably die soon

Battle of Winterfell: Who will die and who will survive 'Game of Thrones'?

Like Mark Bergin on Facebook and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email him at mbergin@wtsp.com.

Like Chelsea Tatham on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email her at ctatham@wtsp.com.

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