"Episode three will be phenomenal."
This is how I ended my discussion on episode two last week. So did the Battle of Winterfell deliver? If you ask me, sadly the answer is no. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of awesome individual moments throughout the episode (which I'll write about below) but as a whole, I feel the Battle of Winterfell didn't live up to the hype. I'm not sure if I can explain it, but I just didn't feel the same intensity or suspense I did while watching other battles from previous seasons.
Anyway, let's talk about all the awesome moments first.
"Protect the retreat! Stand your ground!"
Huge props to The Unsullied. When everyone else was retreating in a panic, they stood their ground and gave everyone as much time as they could to allow them to retreat to the castle. Loyal till the very end.
Lady Lyanna Mormont
"I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me."
A fan favourite, Lady Mormont is the perfect personification of a Malay proverb - kecil-kecil cili padi. Roughly translated, it means small but packs a punch. And Lady Mormont packed one hell of a punch. Her no-nonsense attitude and fierce loyalty was what we've known her for all this while, and now we'll remember her as a zombie giant slayer. The way she stayed on the battlefield with her man, shouting out orders rather than hiding in the crypt is exactly what we've come to expect from her. Her tenacity and ferocity with which she charged at that giant and stabbed it in the eye with her dying breath was the stuff of legends.
No words needed
One of the best things about Game of Thrones has always been the script. Great writing, great dialogue. So it's rather remarkable how good episode three progressed despite the severe lack of dialogue. Other than in the crypt, every other bit of dialogue was basically military commands or talk of prophecies, such as the conversation between Melisandre and Arya. Telling a story without words and dialogue is a remarkable feat, and for that I think episode three did very well.
"Everything you did brought you where you are now. Where you belong. Home.
I had hoped that Theon's return would have a huge impact, and it sure did. His redemption is complete. He stood his ground after all his men fell. He defended Bran till the very end. His character development was incredible, one of the best of the series, and he will always be remembered as a hero.
What can I say? Arya being the one who killed the Night King wasn't my most obvious choice, so it was a real surprise to say the least. The writers managed to sneak in some last gasp suspense when he actually caught Arya mid-jump, but that slick dagger drop to her right hand was smooth. Arya's training has paid off, she's grown from a little girl to a fierce warrior who took out a whole bunch of undead and killed the Night King. Legendary status achieved.
So those were some of the best parts of the episode. Problem was that the episode was long. 80+ mins to be exact. Perhaps I didn't like it as much because of that? If it was a regular episode instead of an episode-long battle scene I think it'd be fine, but being as long as it did could have diminished the overall impact of the battle. Also, there were some really silly moments during the battle. What was the purpose of the Dothraki charging into the darkness right at the beginning? Suicide squad much? And why did it feel like having two dragons was completely pointless? And who's idea was it to hide in the crypt with all the dead bodies when a supervillain with the power to raise the dead was coming?
Lastly, not related to the actual plot itself, but the production of the episode. I watched it on my laptop and was confused about why it looked so bad. I could barely make out anything for a large duration of the episode. I know it was night and it was snowing heavily, but what's the point of making an episode that viewers can't see? I thought it could've possibly just been a quality problem that stemmed from me watching it on my laptop (though previous episodes have all been fine), but then I saw everyone complaining about it on Twitter. My dad even complained about it, and he was watching on a 4K TV. Clearly, there was some poor editing and production errors in this episode, and it only contributed to my overall feeling of dissatisfaction with it.
This weekend was supposed to be epic. Avengers: Endgame delivered, but Game of Thrones dropped the ball in my eyes. We have three episodes left and with the Night King dead, the only thing left to settle now is who will sit on the Iron Throne by the end of it all. That itself is a disappointment to some, who expected the Night King to be the final boss battle, not Cersei. I'll reserve judgement about this until the series concludes, but I really hope the final three episodes will be better than the Battle of Winterfell.