The latest episode of Game of Thrones received criticism for being too dark, but the people involved with the production of the show have responded with a defense for the darkness that permeated the Battle of Winterfell.
"The Long Night" was the episode of Game of Thrones that featured the long-awaited battle between the White Walker army and the forces of the living. The Battle of Winterfell took place over the course of a single night, which gave the armies of the dead an advantage, as they don't need the light to be able to see. The same is not true for the audience sitting at home, however, and many fans took to the Internet to complain about the poor lighting in the episode and how it ruined their viewing experience.
Fabian Wagner was the cinematographer on "The Long Night" and he has worked on other episodes of Game of Thrones in the past, as well on shows such as Sherlock and on movies such as Justice League. Wagner spoke to TMZ about the creative choices regarding the lighting on "The Long Night" and why they were made. According to Wagner, the creators of the show wanted "The Long Night" to be dark in order to give it a claustrophobic feel and to make the experience as disorienting for the viewer as it is for the characters.
Wagner also believes that the viewers might not have been watching the episode under ideal conditions. Game of Thrones is a show that is intended to be watched in as high a quality as possible, yet a lot of people watch it on mobile devices or on laptop screens. There are also a lot of people who stream the show and Wagner believes that HBO's compression of the episode is also affecting its visuals.
The fact that the Battle of Winterfell took place at night makes a lot of sense in terms of the story and how the armies of the dead would have an advantage when attacking under cover of darkness, but it also makes things a lot easier to film in regards to special effects. The darkness makes for a scary atmosphere as the approaching enemy force is hidden from sight, which is also handy for budgetary reasons, as HBO doesn't need to fork out the cash for an army of skeletons.
"The Long Night" had some fantastic horror set pieces tied in with the epic scope of the clash between the living and the dead, but there were some people who had their viewing experience ruined by the poor lighting. The producers of the show have defended their artistic choices and it's hard to refute the logic behind them (both from a practical and story perspective), but it still made it hard for some people to enjoy one of the high points of Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones season 8 airs Sundays at 9pm ET on HBO.