The Battle of Winterfell.
Going into this episode, I wondered how things would begin. Would we things start in the middle of the pitched Battle of Winterfell? The Night King’s horde descending on the field? No, things start quietly. No one talks for the first few minutes. We’re taken through the goings on inside Winterfell following Sam. He’s handed a dragonglass weapon. We see the hustle and bustle of pre-battle Winterfell. Everyone is grim.
When the camera reaches Tyrion, it starts following him walking through the camp. Bran is being led to the weirwood tree. Davos surveys the view from atop the wall, same as Sansa and Arya.
Dany’s dragons take flight. Is Dany on one? Is Jon on the other? The army of the living line up outside the gates. Everyone is silent. Question: why don’t any of the famous people wear helmets? Or a least warm hats?
Jon and Dany dismount the dragons atop a rise and survey the battlefield.
Fire Fire Fire
A rider approaches Winterfell. It’s Melisandre! How did she get through the dead? She tells Friend Zone to tell the Dothraki to lift their swords. She blesses their arakhs with a prayer in High Valyrian. The arakhs all ignite. All the mounted riders now ride with flaming blades.
Davos commands for the gates to open to let Mellie Mel in. Davos is the first to meet her. Mel predicts that she’ll be dead before the dawn. She has a lingering eye contact with Arya before screams fills the night. The Dothraki ride outward, Jorah with them. They’re like a flaming arrow being shot across the battlefield. Trebuchets launch flaming balls ahead of them. Ghost charges with the Dothraki riders. A wall of darkness meets the Dothraki. The lights of their blades quickly extinguish. Oh fuck.
Until the sounds of hoofbeats and men fleeing back to Winterfell. The surviving Dothraki are broken men. Friendzone makes it back alive. Where’s Ghost?
Fly, Dragon, Fly
Dany goes to mount Drogon. Jon tells her that the Night King is coming. She says the dead are already here and takes off on her dragon.
The screaming horde thunders back to Winterfell. Greyworm smartly puts his helmet on. The Unsullied seem immediately overwhelmed. It’s no fight. It’s an evisceration. Brienne falls quickly, but Jaimie saves her. Drogon sweeps in from above, his fire the only thing keeping this a fair fight. Jon answers with more dragon fire, the two of them burning the dead as quickly as they can. Jon spots the White Walkers watching from afar. An ice storm engulfs Jon and Rhaegal. The same storm rains down on Dany and Drogon. Winter is here.
Arya tells Sansa to go down to the crypt. She hands her a weapon and instructs her to “strike them with the pointy end.”
They’re fighting the dead in a white out blizzard. Good lord.
Theon guards Bran at the weirwood tree with a contingent of men.
Who will die first?
Jorah is kicked from his horse. Our favorites all fight valiantly and viciously. Who will be the first to fall? Ed saves Sam and is rewarded with a sword through the back. Sam runs.
Sansa enters the crypt and finds Tyrion, who drinks. There is nothing to do down there.
Rhaegal can’t see. He’s flying blind, hitting trees. He runs headfirst into Drogon! At least it wasn’t Viserion. Unfortunately for the living, they can’t burn the battlefield if the dragons can’t see the battlefield.
The living call to fall back. The gates open. The alive stream inside, the dead on their heels. The surviving Unsullied protect the treated as much as they can. Grey Worm has survived this far. Will he make it back inside the wall alive?
Arya launches arrows into the dead, saving the Hound.
Pray for fire.
Grey Worm calls to light the trench. Davos gives the signal. Unfortunately, Dany cant see them. The bowman try to light the trench, but their fires won’t catch. Grey Worm makes eye contact with Mel. Unsullied form a barrier for Mel to walk through. She makes it to the trench and prays, and prays, and prays. Oh boy. Has the Lord of Light abandoned her? Her prayer is answered just in time and the trench forms a wall of fire around Winterfell.
In the crypt, Tyrion wishes he was up top. He says he might see something the others don’t. Sansa is mopey, saying the only reason they’re down there is because none of them can do anything. When Tyrion jokes that maybe they should have stayed married, Sansa says he was the best of her husbands. Awww.
Theon apologizes to Bran for everything he did to him. Bran wargs into a group of ravens. They fly and find the Night King riding his dragon. But is he flying to Winterfell? The dead walk into the trench one by one, dousing flame where they can. Soon they make a walkable patch over the trench. Davos calls swordsmen to the walls.
The Ice Dragon Cometh
Viserion the Ice Dragon descends onto the battlefield.
The dead climb up each other to get up the wall. The living swordsmen send the archers higher up the wall to remove them from harm.
Brienne saves Jamie from a group of undead. Sam is almost devoured again but is saved just in time. The dragonglass weapons disintegrate the dead nicely.
Clegane hides from the battle ever since the trenches lit up. Arya doesn’t have that fear though, taking out a dozen dead in less than a minutes. Beric calls for Clegane but it’s no use. Arya is knocked senseless into a wall. That’s what it takes for Clegane to reenter the fight, Arya needing help.
A giant storms through the gate, swatting troops aside, including Lyanna Mormont. The Little Bear gets back on her feet, charges the giant and is crushed in his grasp. But not before she can stab him in the eye with a dragonglass weapon, disintegrating him immediately.
Dany and Jon fly above the storm. Icy flame attacks them. The Night King guns for Dany, but Drogon outflies him.
Metal Gear: Arya.
Arya is in a silent castle, bloodied but alive. The dead have followed her. She stealthy moves about the library like this is a Metal Gear: Solid mission. I half expect a red exclamation point to light up over a wight’s head if it spots her. She hides under a table (why couldn’t it have been a cardboard box?). She uses noise distraction to get around them (just like MG:S!), but walks right into a wight. Luckily she walked into him with her weapon. The dead pour into her new room and she runs. But they run too.
Down in the crypt, they can hear faint sounds of wights above. Soldiers slam into the crypt door, begging those inside to open the crypt door. Smartly, they don’t. The screams fade.
Clegane and Beric stalk silently through the castle. They find Arya. Beric loses his flaming sword saving Arya. He buys Clegane and Arya enough time to escape before he’s overrun. Arya fights her way to Beric, but Clegane grabs her. Beric strikes a Jesus on the cross pose as he holds back the wights. The three of them manage to lock themselves in a room but Beric isn’t long for this world. Mel is in the room. She says, “The lord brought him back for a purpose. Now that purpose has been served.” Saving Arya?
They’ve barricaded the door. Mel asks, “What do we say to the god of death?” Arya answers, “Not today.” Arya runs, leaving Mel and Clegane together.
Theon Greyjoy: Hawkeye
Theon and his men fire flaming arrows at wights but there are way too many of them. The ice dragon descends on Winterfell blowing through a wall. Jon and his dragon attacks. The dragons are in a pitched battle. I’m not sure if either dragon is walking away from this one. Viserion lunges for Jon. Dany knocks the Night King off his steed and Drogon bites through his undead brother’s neck. Rhaegal makes a crash landing in the snow.
There are more bodies on the ground now than on their feet. The Night King spies Dany from below. Dany lights him up. The flames fade and he’s still standing like the Terminator. He smiles. Uh oh. He picks up his ice javelin but misses Dany on his throw. Jon makes a run at him from behind. The Night King turns to face Jon. Single combat? Nope, he’s raising the dead all around Jon, and the dead are ALL around Jon. Oh fuck.
Those oh so safe crypts.
The dead in Winterfell rise, including Little Bear Lyanna and Ed. Whoever picked these two as wights in their death pool, you’re looking good.
The Night King turns his back on Jon, and marches into Winterfell. The White Walkers stroll inside behind him like it’s the start of Reservoir Dogs.
In the crypt, the Starks of long ago come out to say hello to the living. It turns out the crypt is not actually the safest place. Surprise, surprise. Everyone runs.
Theon’s men light up wights in the Godswood. Bran is safe for now, still warging about.
Jon fights through his horde. Drogon makes a quick save from above, burning the battlefield. Wights jump on top of Drogon. They’re hacking and slashing him. Take flight! Take flight! Dany falls off him. Drogon is swarmed by wights, covered in them as he takes flights. They drop to the ground and eye Dany as their next target. Luckily for Dany, it’s Friend Zone to the rescue!
Jon fights his way to Bran, killing wights where he can. Sam lives, lying on a pile of the dead, stabbing any wights who come near.
Theon is out of arrows. He grabs a spear and fights off the dead.
The crypts are the safest place
The Stark dead are feasting on the living in the crypt. Sansa and Tyrion hide behind a stone casket. Is it Ned’s? Is he about to come out and say hi to his daughter. Tyrion kisses Sansa’s hand. He readies himself to face whatever is waiting around the corner for them.
Viserion attacks the yard.
Jamie and Brienne are overrun. But at least they’re still alive.
A wight stabs Jorah, but he still stands.
Theon’s last stand
If Theon falls, Bran falls. He’s the only defender left standing. The Night King and the White Walkers stroll to the weirwood tree. Bran unwargs. He tells Theon, “You’re a good man. Thank you.” A tear rolls down Theon’s cheek and he charges the Night King. The Night King breaks Theon’s weapon in two and takes him down immediately.
Jorah defends Dany until his last breath, amazingly getting back on his feet.
The Night King approaches Bran. He stares Bran down.
Jon hides from Viserion. As it finds him, Jon weaponless, stands up to Viserion, shouting into the dragon’s face. We cut to…
The Night King reaches for his weapon. Arya uses her mad assassin ups and jumps down onto the Night King! He catches her midair, but she drops her blade to her other hand and stabs him in his icy belly with Littlefinger’s dagger. The Night King shatters!
The producers promised us one more “Holy shit!” moment this season, and this has to be it, right? Arya killing the Night King!
The White Walkers immediately shatter and fall! Viserion shatters and falls! The wights fall. Sadly, Jorah falls too.
Mel walks into the field, taking off her enchanted choker. Davos watches as she turns into an old lady and falls dead to the ground in the snow as the sun rises.
Wow, pretty much everyone of importance survived The Battle of Winterfell. I mean, RIP Ed, Theon, Jorah, Bear Girl Lyanna and Beric. But I won’t lie, I’m surprised the death toll isn’t higher. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of other people died in tonight’s episode, but they were all just background. I can’t help but get the feeling that the Game of Thrones showrunners pulled their punches here. After Brienne’s knighting last episode, I for sure thought she wouldn’t survive tonight.
I also didn’t think Sansa would make it out of The Battle of Winterfell alive, but instead spend eternity in that Winterfell crypt with her ancestors. Speaking of the crypt, it was heavily foreshadowed that this would be not nearly as safe a place as characters thought it would be last week. And while the Stark dead did rise while the living were locked in the crypt with them, no one of note died down there. I mean, even Varys survived! Come on! Then again, we of course need characters alive for the last three episodes, but do we need this many?
For the past few weeks, I have been wondering who will the one who kills Cersei? Would it be Arya or Jamie? Now that Arya killed the Night King, I can’t help but think that Arya will take out the Mountain, but that it will be Jamie who kills Cersei, living up to both the kingslayer and kinslayer monikers.
Did you miss last week’s recap of The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms?
Billy Henehan writes for The Beat. In his free time, he likes to hunt down foreign language reprints of Todd McFarlane Spider-Man comics.