Jon and Dany flying their dragons through a blizzard and not being able to see anything at all was a perfect metaphor for this episode.
There was a lot of fighting, a fair amount of dying and an ending that will be talked about for as long as the Seven Kingdoms exist.
Obviously the only place to start is at the end. The Night King — and therefore his entire army — is defeated thanks to the heroic actions of Arya Stark. This was a somewhat shocking and sudden end to what seemed like the dominant storyline of the entire show, but if next week’s previews are any indication, we really are done with the dead and shifting back to the dead-on-the-inside (Cersei) and the battle for the Iron Throne.
The first sign that Arya might end up being the saviour was when Melisandre returned to Winterfell and, after using her magic, set all of the Dothrakis’ arakhs aflame, locked eyes with Arya as she rode into the castle.
Melisandre had long believed in the prophecy of the Prince that Was Promised, and while her accuracy has been questionable at times (Stannis — lol), she seemed more sure of herself on this occasion.
Their paths cross well into the battle as they find each other in a temporarily fortified room, after Arya makes some narrow escapes, aided greatly by the Hound and Beric Dondarion. It’s been many years since they saw each other, way back in season 3 when Melisandre took Gendry for her leech experiments, and she told Arya that they would meet again.
“You said I’d shut many eyes forever,” Arya tells her, noting that she was correct. Melisandre’s reply: “Brown eyes, green eyes and blue eyes.”
As the wights fight their way into the room, Melisandre asks Arya: “What do we say to the god of death?” “Not today,” Arya responds, a direct callback to the words of her original sword-fighting instructor back in season 1 in King’s Landing, Syrio Morel.
How exactly did Arya get in position to deliver the death blow to the Night King as he approached Bran in the Godswood?
Did she just mosey on past those White Walkers with the long, stringy hair that really seemed to serve no purpose at all? Was she wearing the face of a White Walker, which would almost make those two seasons in Braavos worth it? (Almost.) And most importantly, what did she enjoy more — having sex for the first time or killing the Night King and saving all of humanity?
The weapon Arya used to kill the Night King was the Valyrian steel dagger that she also used to kill Lord Baelish, the same dagger that was used in an assassination attempt on Bran back in season one, which Baelish said was the work of Tyrion Lannister, which was a lie that helped escalate the animosity between the Lannisters and the Starks that gave rise to everything we’ve been watching over the past eight years.
Plenty of characters met their end during the Battle of Winterfell, but a lot fewer than maybe most of us expected. Jorah Mormont, Lady Lyanna Mormont , Theon Greyjoy, Dolorous Edd, Beric Dondarion, a whole lot of Dothraki and Unsullied, and Melisandre.
They may be bloodied and battered, but from what we can tell the following all survived the battle of Winterfell: Jaime Lannister; Brienne; the Hound; Gendry; Tormund; Davos; Podrick; Samwell; Grey Worm. It’s somewhat shocking but it does set up some sibling showdowns in these final few weeks. Jaime and Cersei will surely come face to face one last time, while the long-anticipated Sandor vs. Gregor “Clegane Bowl” should be one of the combat highlights of the season. (And hopefully fought in daylight.)
In the non-human category, it’s hard to tell if we’re down another dragon. Once Jon got knocked off Rhaegal, the scaly creature was attacked from dozens of wights who were able to take him down. Is that enough to kill a dragon? We didn’t see him officially dead, so we’ll count him as alive for now.
And the same goes for Jon’s direwolf, Ghost. It looked bad for him out on the battlefield, but we’ll assume he’s okay.
Where do Jon and Dany go from here? These two spent much of the battle adrift on their dragons, unable to see what was going on below them until the Night King and Ice Viserion attacked. They didn’t let the recent revelation about Jon’s parentage affect them on the battlefield, but it will certainly be an issue going forward.
The Washington Post
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