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The Battle Against the Living and the Dead: A Review of “Game of Thrones” Season 8 Episode 3

Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)© Home Box Office
Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011) © Home Box Office Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011) © Home Box Office

The great battle has finally begun against the Night King and his army. There were so many good things about this episode, and yet there were some things that I was not sure about. Firstly though, has anyone noticed that in each episode, the opening credits are tailored to what is occurring in the episode? For example, in the first episode, the wall had been taken down. Whereas, in episode two and three, I noticed that there is an army surrounding Winterfell, therefore vaguely foreshadowing what is to come in each episode.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. “Season 8 HBO GIF by Game of Thrones”. 5th March 2019. Giphy

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie. “Season 8 HBO GIF by Game of Thrones”. 5th March 2019. Giphy

David Benioff and D.B Weiss did an amazing job writing this episode. I found the story-line worked perfectly with including all the important characters, insignificant moments. The first big surprised of the episode is the fact that it is the first time we see Melisandre (Carice van Houten) since season 7 episode 3! She plays a big part in aiding the army with fire, thus helping to somewhat stall the White Walkers. Unfortunately, it does not stall them by much. Moreover, as per we see all of our major characters, however some more in detail than others. This episode, in particular, is filled with drama, sadness, and a lack of comedy that we witnessed in the previous episodes. One particular moment that made me tear up was Theon’s (Alfie Allen) death. However, it was done perfectly in that he died fighting for the Starks are he begun doing so in season one. Moreover, despite reunions already occurring in the previous two episodes, it was nice to see that some of them were fulfilled more in this episode. For example, both the Hound (Rory McCann) and Beric (Richard Dormer) aim in protecting Arya (Maisie Williams) which I thought was lovely in showing their care for her more than a ‘reunion hug’ may have shown. Similarly, it was nice to see Podrik (Daniel Portman), Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) fight together and at certain points save each other. I think one of the saddest points was the fact that Jorah (Iain Glen) died by Dany (Emilia Clarke), defending her as he had done since season one. Ongoing, I can confirm that one fan theory was correct regarding the crypt. It was thought that the Night King would raise the dead, including those in the crypt, and he did exactly that. Therefore, those in the crypt that were meant to be protected were in harm’s way, which was both creepy and disturbing. However, we did not reunite with Ned Stark as presumed. In addition to that, we do see Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) turn into a White Walker, after heroically dying whilst killing a giant- thus ending the line of House of Mormont. Moreover, Eddison (Ben Crompton) dies saving Sam (John Bradley) and then was also brought back as a White Walker. This feature is almost disturbing for those in battle, as they watched their friends die and then come back as one of their zombie-like enemies. Interestingly enough, regarding the Night King, it is clear that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was not the Azor Ahai as many believed. Instead, it is Arya that fulfils the prophecy by killing the Night King, thus making her the prophesied princess, not ‘prince’ as we all expected. It has been speculated that she used her faceless abilities and framed as being one of the Night King’s lieutenants. This is perhaps why the camera-shot focuses on one of the lieutenants before showing Arya charge at the Night King. Lastly, something that I found interesting, was the fact that despite Melisandre claiming that she will die, it was not due to fighting in battle as I suspected. Instead, she revealed her true self to Sir Davos (Liam Cunningham) whilst walking into the snow to die at her own accord.

Kit Harington in Game of Thrones (2011)

Kit Harington in Game of Thrones (2011). Image via IMDb.

In this episode, it features one of my favourite GOT directors being Miguel Sapochnik. This is mainly due to all the episodes he directs being equally amazing, and powerful. For example, Sapochnik is an Emmy winner for ‘Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series’ for my favourite GOT episode being The Battle of the Bastards. As a result, I already had high expectations for this episode, and I was not disappointed. The episode begins with a follow-shot that effectively leads to different characters starting with Sam to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Theon. This shot, in particular, adds to the realisation of that the battle is about to commence as, in the background, we see many characters preparing such as Lyanna Mormont. However, the most uncomfortable part is through the use of close-ups on faces and hands that emphasise how the nervous and panicked the characters seem to be. Furthermore, the first act is filled with silences, and the scenes continuously refer back to the dark emptiness beyond the wall, thus creating an eerie tone to the episode. One thing I must say is that the lighting was not great in this episode. I found myself having to really stare at the screen, just to make out which character was which. Arguably, this could have been done purposefully in order to add to the hectic atmosphere within a battle. However, it did make the episode hard to watch and somewhat less enjoyable. Despite that, regarding the long-distance shots, the scenes worked effectively with the lighted swords, and in a way, made the scene look pretty.

Onto music. Though the episode is filled with silences, the music is still present – though barely audible. This adds to the effect of the unknown, and the rising tension. Moreover, when the army stations themselves, drums can be heard, again adding to the lead up of a battle. The first full break through the silence, however, is when the Dothraki march into battle. Between their yells and the sounds of horse hooves against the snow, they achieve in overpowering the eerie silence. At this point, the music becomes fast-paced and frantic as the battle commences. Throughout the episode, the music dances around the scenes in order to imply certain feelings and emotions. In particular, when the characters are at an almost defeated moment, in which there is a rise of new White Walkers, the noise of battle becomes almost muted and is overrun by a piano theme and faint, muffled screams.

Overall, I thought this was a great episode, and dealt with the battle effectively. In addition, considering White Walkers have played a big part in the last eight seasons, I wasn’t impressed that they were killed off in a matter of one episode. I do not think this factor was as fulfilling as it could be, and it is a shame if that is the last of the white walkers we see. Moreover, from the preview of episode four, we hear Dany say ‘ We have won the Great War, now we will win the last one’, therefore showing that we can expect a new war with Cersei (Lena Headey) to commence. Furthermore, though lots of question were somewhat answered, there is so much that has been left unanswered:

  • Why did the Night King want Bran?
  • Who is going to win the Game of Thrones?
  • Why did Melisandre have to do?
  • Why has Arya not fully used her faceless abilities?
  • Is the Volonquar prophecy (the one that states that Cersei’s younger brother will kill her) going to happen?
  • Is the Azor Ahai prophecy true?
  • Where did Gilly and Little Sam go?

Images via IMDb.

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