Warning: This recap contains nothing but spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. If you are reading this before seeing the episode “The Battle of Winterfell”, you are doing it wrong.
The Battle of Winterfell doesn’t have a St Crispin’s Day speech. No William Wallace, or Aragorn, or President Whitmore tries to rally the troops and reassure the audience that victory is at hand. Almost everyone is going to die and no one is going to convince us otherwise. But, don’t despair. There may come a time when you’ll be able to say “I haven’t seen a 10-year-old stab a giant zombie in the fucking face today.” TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY!
The rest of this series better be shot in daylight, because I can’t tell a bunch of dudes in dark clothing from a bunch of monsters in dark clothing, in the dark. The night could be filled with terriers for all I can tell during any action shot in this episode. So I want noontime battles with brightly colored home and away jerseys from here on in. Agreed?
So, a lot of crazy shit that I did not predict happens. First, Melisandre just strolls up and sets all the Dothraki arakh on fire, which looks super cool from the battlements and pumps them up so much that they charge into the darkness with Jorah Mormont, Ghost, and I assume, Leeroy Jenkins. Qhono’s expression when they reach the undead buzzsaw is the first of many trouser-ruining moments. Almost a baker’s dozen surviving Dothraki return, closely followed by a firehose of piranha. Oy.
As the dead attack, Dany rains fire on them. Arya sends Sansa to the crypts, which everyone on Twitter told her was a stupid place to hide from dead people. As if the dark wasn’t murky enough, a magic blizzard sweeps in, reducing visibility to sweet fuck all. This really isn’t fair.
Sam starts off fighting fairly well (by Sam standards), but he freezes after Edd rescues him. Edd is killed (+1 to my tally), and Sam runs away. The living fall back to the castle and Lady Mormont opens the gates while the Unsullied cover the retreat. The wights are momentarily delayed by the stakes in the fortified trench, and the call goes out to light them up, but the dragons can’t see shit in the snow and the wind extinguishes flaming arrows. Finally, Melisandre uses magic to fire the trenches, which really should have been twenty times wider.
In the totally safe crypt, Sansa and Tyrion have a date? I mean, yeah, they’re hearing the end of all life in Westeros happening above them, and (surprise) they have to hide from Sansa’s dead relatives for a little bit, but there was a lot of shit the Syrion folk will be holding on to for the rest of the season.
Theon and his Ironborn are guarding Bran in the Godswood. Theon really wants to apologize for the whole murder and arson stuff, but Bran brushes it off like he did with Jaime. You know he’s run the scenario over and over like Dr. Strange and is too chill for drama. In fact, he’s gonna warg into these crows and go taunt the Night King into coming to the Godswood.
Of course, the wights manage to breach the five yards of flaming no man’s land, just in time for the Night King to make a fashionably late appearance. Jon flies off after him as everyone tries to keep the dead from coming over the walls. That doesn’t work, and the fighting moves inside. Arya flees the swarm and tries to go stealth mode indoors, but needs the help of Beric and the Hound to escape. Beric is mortally wounded (another point for me!) and Melisandre appears just to remind Arya she is bad-ass. Speaking of bad-asses, Lady Mormont dies stabbing a giant zombie in the fucking face. Tormund who?
Theon and his Ironmen burn through all their arrows defending Bran while Rhaegal and Viserion tear into each other above them. The Night King falls and Rhaegal crash-lands. Dany and Drogon torch up the Night King and he brushes it off like he’s a Targaryen. Jon tries to engage hand-to-hand, but Nighty just raises every corpse on the battlefield and walks away. All our living characters have a quiet “oh shit” moment and we see our friends rise as wights while the White Walkers stroll through the gates.
The Stark dead claw their way out of their tombs, because of course they do. Drogon is overrun with wights and flies off, dropping stiffs like he’s in the Brand New Heavies. Jorah saves Dany as Jon tries to get to the Godswood. He passes everyone I predicted would die, still alive and stabbing dead jerks.
Theon fires his last arrow and he picks up a spear to fight. Dany and Jorah fight in a circle of dead, as Sansa and Tyrion run through the crypt and find the hiding survivors. Viserion pins down Jon with blue flame, while Brienne, Jamie, Pod, Grey Worm, and the rest fight to a quiet piano.
The Night King rolls in with his slo-mo homies as Theon kills the last wight. Bran returns from his brain-vacation to thank Theon, who charges Nighty and quickly dies (+1). Bran locks eyes with NK and they share a telepathic creepy guy moment. The Night King reaches for his sword and ARYA STRAIGHT-UP FUCKING MURDERS HIM! HOLY SHIT! She comes flying in and he catches her by the throat and knife hand. She does the old drop-switch move and shoves six inches of Valyrian steel into his tummy. He and the Walkers explode into ice cubes and all the zombies fall down dead.
As the lucky living stand up, mortally wounded Jorah dies in Dany’s arms and Drogon curls around them. Melisandre quietly walks through the piles of the slain and drops her magic immortality jewel in the snow before aging to dust.
I got a probable 5 out of 11 on my dead pool. Ghost is MIA, but I’m sure we’d have seen a wolf wight if he’d been killed. We kept almost everyone alive, except every soldier, Dothraki, Knight of the Vale, and Unsullied without a verified Twitter account. How are they going to fight Cersei with a commuter bus full of fighters? And who’s going to clean up this mess? Sure, they have a couple dragons, Yara’s ships, four or five Valyrian swords, and a Three-eyed Crow. And an Arya. Oh, right. They have Arya and she’s done with her save the world detour. Time to finish up that list.
Go to bed, kids. We’ll see you next week.