Ever since the first scene of Game of Thrones, fans were anticipating the confrontation between the Night King's Army of the Dead and the forces of the living in Westeros. After the growing threat of the dead broke through the Wall, the battle finally came in "The Long Night," the final season's third episode.
Like much of the final season, "The Long Night" was hugely divisive. Many fans complained about the darkness of the episode, the anticlimactic feel, and the strange character choices. However, it was also viewed as a thrilling and epic battle like nothing seen on television. Here are some of the things in "The Long Night" you might have missed.
10 The Title
Like many of the episode titles for the show, "The Long Night" can be interpreted in a number of ways. The first and most obvious interpretation is about the battle itself. The entire fight takes place at night and, with the Westeros army outmatched and outnumbered, it promises to be a very long night.
However, the more interesting interpretation comes from Westeros' history. The Long Night refers to the first time the White Walkers invaded Westeros and turned the lands into perpetual winter. The period ended when the White Walkers were pushed back by the heroes of the era.
9 Three Genres
The behind-the-scenes work in this episode might be even more compelling than the actual battle itself. The showrunners were aiming to achieve something huge with this battle, creating the biggest and longest battle sequence in television or film.
In order to make such an extended battle interesting, they decided to split the episode up into three stages, each represented by a different genre. The lead-up and kickoff to the battle is a suspense film. The sequences inside Winterfell is a horror film. And the final act is an action film.
Though he died in the first season of the show, Ned Stark remained a significant part of the story ever since. His presence is even felt in this episode and represented in a very interesting way.
After Ned's death, his giant Valyrian steel sword, Ice, was melted down and forged into two separate Lannister swords. One was given to Jaime who gave it to Brienne. The other was given to Joffrey which Jaime took after his death. During the battle, Jaime and Brienne are seen fighting back-to-back, representing the two halves of Ned's sword defending his home of Winterfell.
7 Arya On The Ropes
One of the criticisms with the character of Arya Stark in the final seasons was how the character seemed to become this unstoppable force. After years of training in a variety of fighting styles, it makes sense that Arya was a more than capable fighter, but she was starting to feel beyond human at times.
This episode actively tried to reign that feeling back as Arya was put in a position that was too much for her to handle. While she is certainly an asset in the battle, the showrunners tried to make her seem scared, hurt and overwhelmed again. This could also be a way of misdirecting her final attack.
6 Beric Dondarrion's Sacrifice
Though he has been a smaller supporting character in the show, Beric Dondarrion was a very interesting character. He was the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners and was known for being resurrected several times after dying in battle.
Beric met his final end, sacrificing himself in the battle to save Arya Stark which was apparently his purpose all along. Oddly enough, Beric is already dead in the books, having also sacrificed his life to save a Stark lady. Beric gave his own resurrection abilities to Catelyn Stark to bring her back to life after her death at the Red Wedding.
5 Not Today
One of the many surprises of this episode was the return of Melisandre. Though her predictions in the past have not always been accurate, the Red Woman returns to help with this fight against the dead and seems to know exactly how it is going to end.
It is Melisandre who knows the purpose of Beric's sacrifice and why Arya is so important. She reminds the young Stark of her previous prediction that she will shut many eyes, including blue eyes. As a final way of helping Arya understand her purpose, she asks "What do we say to the God of Death?" echoing the words of Syrio Forel from Season 1.
4 Body Count
One of the main complaints that fans had with this episode was the lack of death of the main characters. As the series was winding down, many expected this massive confrontation would mean the cast of characters would be trimmed down considerably. However, fans complained that even with the overwhelming army of the dead, only supporting characters died.
While the logistics of so many characters surviving might be hard to take, this episode did in fact have the highest body count in the series. Not only did significant supporting characters like Lyanna Mormont and Beric Dondarrion die, but also characters who had been around since Season 1 like Edd, Jorah and Theon.
3 Arya's Stealth
Another controversial aspect of the episode was the twist that Arya was the one who killed the Night King. While not everyone was thrilled with the moment, the show had established that she was probably the most capable assassin in the show. They even hinted at the moment several times leading up to this episode.
When Arya and Jon reunite in the first episode of Season 8, she silently sneaks up on him in the Godswood, just as she does to the Night King. And the final move of dropping the dagger and catching it with her other hand was a move she used on Brienne previously.
2 Birth And Death Of The Night King
The Night King was one of the most intriguing characters in the show, as he was shrouded in mystery. However, we did see some revelations about him as the show went on, including his origins. In a flashback, we see that the Children of the Forest stuck a dragon glass dagger in a man's chest to create the Night King.
Appropriately, this also echoes how the Night King is unmade. Arya, armed with a Valyrian steel dagger, stabs the Night King in that same spot, killing him and his army.
1 Bran's Plan
Many fans were quick to point out that Bran was of little help in this episode, despite having the most extraordinary abilities. However, looking back on the episode, it becomes clear that Bran had already put this plan into motion long before.
When Arya and Bran reunite in Season 7, he gives Arya the dagger while in the Godswood. He was setting up the Night King's death already. When the two enemies finally come face-to-face, you can almost see an expression on Bran's face that he knows he has won.