As I mentioned in my post for last episode : your expectations will always be shattered – for better or worse!
Pretty much every soul (sans those “1% of population” who don’t watch the show) were hyped up for this big moment. The battle being teased since literally the first frame of the pilot episode was finally happening. The biggest threat and villain to the realm were facing off our characters who were destined to exist in this very moment. We had no clue what the Night King is upto. The fate of any of the characters were uncertain (or at least we were made to think so). Add to it the hype created by HBO for being one of the longest episode featuring one of the longest battle scenes ever in television and film history, we were definitely in for the treat.
Then, the episode happened. And things, as usual, didn’t at all turn out as expected. All it took to kill the Night King was valyrian steel and a ninja. No major character deaths. All of the hundreds of theories looming around the Night King since eternity was squashed in 10 seconds flat. As a reddit user most aptly puts it –
So, was it really shocking that death and defeat – two things we normally associate with this show, was sacrificed and the makers “played it safe”? It was, for me, initially. But as I thought more about it watching the videos, reading articles related to the episode, the more I felt the story is in right direction. Let me explain why.
We were wrong in assuming important characters will be dead in the battle. If you see the pattern of important deaths that has occurred till now, it has all been in times when we least expected it. Ned’s execution, Red Wedding, Purple Wedding and the blast of Sept – all of them were products of internal schemings and devious plans or through natural causes (Khal Drogo, Robert Baratheon). But they seldom lose their life in big battles.
While in battles, you were almost made to believe a character dying but then there is someone turning in as a savior which, at worst, leaves a scratch on our favourite characters.
Tyrion saved by Tywin during Blackwater, Jon being rescued by Arryn troops brought by Sansa during Battle of Bastards, Jon being saved again from the wrath of the wights by Daenerys, Jaime saved by Bronn during Battle of Goldroad and so on. It’s always the lesser important characters – Ygritte, Hodor, Rickon, Wun Wun, Barristan Selmy – who get killed in these events.
And this has exactly what happened in this battle – couple of (kinda) important but lesser centralized characters were killed off in the attack. The way the show has been written is – from what I could deduce by following it – main characters will either be killed off in a snap (Endgame pun intended) or the characters will complete their arc, find closure before dying.
There was no way they could kill Jon and Dany because of their ongoing romantic drama. Tyrion, Arya, Jaime have been around right since the beginning and hence losing them in a battle won’t be satisfying. There are a few they could actually done with – Brienne, Pod, Tormund, Clegane and even Bran. But them not dying only means they have a better role to play in the episodes to come. Specially Bran, who hasn’t been living up to the hype and buildup being given to him since couple of seasons and who was expected to be the key to this battle. Something tells me he isn’t done yet.
Talking of characters living up to the hype, we had Melisandre joining Winterfell seconds before battle began. In the episode 1 post, I pointed out that we needed all the magics at our disposal in order to beat the Night King. Glad this one came out to be true!
We always thought that the prophecy and moral behind the story revolved around humans neglecting the environmental issues raising under their eye as they are busy fighting off each other. What this episode has indicated now – is the sheer cruelty of humanity is still trumped by nature’s forces. Maybe there is an end to our environmental woes, but humanity continues to poison its own existence? Maybe Cersei was the bigger villain all the while? Maybe this wasn’t a song of Ice and Fire being narrated, but a Game of Thrones at play? It’s important that we see the overarching message being tried to spread from the occurrence of these plots. Because even with all its weakness, showrunners David and Dan never shied away from it.
The thing that impressed me the most is the indications all along that Arya was destined to kill the Night King. When Melisandre first meets Arya during Episode 6 of Season 3, she reiterates the same words which she said on her second meet :
The slayer of Blue eyes indeed! Wonder who has green eyes though. They better be careful around her.
It doesn’t end here. Does that trick of passing on the dagger from one hand to another and going for the kill seem familiar to you?
It’s even more interesting when you see who passes on that dagger to Arya. And the exact place where he does that!
It was indicated all along. But apart from some unpopular theories, many of us failed to see this coming. Even the words said by Syrio Forel makes more sense in the world.
All the training – about her becoming a “no one”, training to be a skillful killer, walking quiet as a shadow, quick as a snake and calm as still water – culminated into this 10-second kill.
Final words to the execution of this historic Battle – which felt enormous, yet personal. Yes, it was dimly lit and bit confusing (with the Dragons, specially). But it was the Long Night arriving after all. It has to be dark and full of terrors. 11 weeks, a crew of 750 and $11 Million. It all seemed worth it.
The Great War has ended (or are we made to think so?).