At 82 minutes long, Game of Thrones Season 8’s third episode entitled “The Long Night” is the longest episode that the series has ever put out, and Lord of Light was it epic. Taking place entirely in Winterfell once again, the Army of the Dead have arrived and thus began the long fight for survival. Because so much happened, it’s best to just get right to the events and breakdown of “The Long Night.” (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
“The Long Night” Summary
Winterfell prepares for its greatest battle in a thousand years. As Tyrion makes his way to the crypts and Theon wheels Bran to the godswood, the rest of the battlement take their positions. Outside on the left flank, the soldiers of the Vale are led by Brienne, Jaime, and Podrick, while the right is made up of Northmen (except the Mormonts who protect the grounds). In the middle Grey Worm command the Unsullied, while Jorah and Ghost the direwolf lead the Dothraki in front.
Out of the darkness, Melisandre appears and lights the Dothraki’s arakhs on fire. Davos meets her as she enters Winterfell, and assures him she will die come dawn. The vanguard charge into the darkness, but the faded lights show that a majority of them are devoured by the wights; only Jorah and a few Dothraki return. The wights then attack, and soon enough the dragons breathe fire upon them, as Jon and Daenerys abandon their plan to draw the Night King out.
A great snow cloud covers the sky, causing the dragons and their riders into confusion. Arya sends Sansa to the crypts, where the women and children (and Tyrion & Varys) hide. Dolorous Edd becomes the first major casualty trying to save Sam from a wight. Seeing how immense the enemy is, everyone retreats into Winterfell with the protection of the Unsullied. Because of the cloud, Daenerys is unable to set a man-made trench on fire, so Melisandre prays to Rhollor and the trench catches fire.
Down in the crypts, Sansa bluntly tells Tyrion there is nothing they can do but hide. In the godswood, Theon asks Bran for forgiveness, but Bran comforts him. Bran wargs into crows and sees the Night King flying on Viserion. The wights forge into the fire, attacking Winterfell. Everyone scatters to fend off the dead; Sandor gets a panic attack, but is alarmed when he sees Arya in trouble. Lyanna Mormont gets crushed by an undead giant, but not before stabbing it in the eye.
Arya tries to hide inside the castle, but is chased by wights. Sandor and Beric save her, but the latter succumbs to multiple stab wounds. Melisandre reminds Arya of their past conversation, an echoes the words of her former teacher Syrio Forel about the god of death. The Night King descends upon Winterfell and hovers by the godswood. Seeing him, Jon chases him on Rhaegal and an aerial battle ensues. Daenerys on Drogon cast the Night King down, but Jon also lands on the ground.
Daenerys commands Drogon to burn the Night King, but he is immune to dragonfire and makes his way to the godwood. Jon tries to chase him, but the Night King raises the dead for Jon to fend off. Daenerys burns away a path for Jon to run to Bran. Wights attack Drogon which causes him to fly away and leave Daenerys on the ground; but Jorah comes to protect her. Down in the crypts the dead also come to life, and kill some of the innocents.
The Night King arrives in the godswood, with Theon the only Ironborn left defending Bran. Bran thanks Theon, who charges into the Night King but is overpowered and killed. Jon tries to make his way to the godswood, but Viserion blocks his path. As the Night King is about to strike Bran, Arya jumps on him – though the Night King catches her, a swift move allows her to stab him which kills everyone in the army of the dead. Jorah succumbs to his wounds, much to Daenerys’ sadness, and Davos watches as Melisandre walks out of Winterfell, aging to her death.
“The Long Night” Breakdown
This was promised to be the biggest battle in television history, and did it deliver on that promise. The Battle of Winterfell really took inspiration from the Battle of Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, while some of Arya’s scenes were reminiscent of World War Z. It should not come as a surprise though that the biggest threat to everyone is vanquished halfway through the season because George R.R. Martin always believed the series revolved around the Iron Throne.
Speaking of which, Daenerys actions in the beginning of the battle mirrors Jon’s during the Battle of the Bastards in Season 6. Back then, Jon was suppose to lure Ramsay Bolton out because they were outnumbered – but Ramsay drew Jon out with Rickon, causing him to abandon the plan. The Dothraki were the first people Daenerys ever commanded, and seeing them slaughtered caused her to abandon the initial plan to draw the Night King out and fight two dragons against one.
Sansa was right when she said she and Tyrion could not be in the battle. Though Tyrion has minimal experience, he would surely die against the undead thus better to be in hiding. Sansa has grown smarter over the years and knows her place is with the people, not to fight. But she still stands firm on her thoughts about the North under Daenerys, the remaining episodes will show how this predicament will sort itself.
Death at Winterfell
About all the major characters who died came to a full circle at their passing. Theon died protecting Bran after taking Winterfell from him in Season 2, Jorah died protecting Daenerys just as he promised, and even Melisandre returned to help out in the little bit she could – that is before she eventually die as she foretold in her even more brief appearance in Season 7. All that remains is if her premonition about Varys will come true, seeing as he survived the crypt.
And finally, the killing blow came from arguably the best killer in the land – Arya Stark. Just in the previous episode she told Gendry she knows what death looks like, and she looked forward to seeing a new face of death. Melisandre only affirmed this when she said Arya would also close blue eyes and echoed Syrio Forel, “What do we say to the god of death?” to which the answer remains “Not today.” Most of the characters have survived a truly immense battle, and death has come and gone – for now.