Game of Thrones: Was the Battle of Winterfell a King-Size Disappointment?
Well, one of the biggest weekends on the 2019 pop cultural calendar is officially behind us, and all over America, fanboys and haters alike are hashing out their differences.
Both Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones‘ Battle of Winterfell saw the deaths of some beloved characters, but GoT being GoT, it’s not surprising that some viewers expected even more carnage.
Obviously, the remainder of this article is dark and full of spoilers (We miss you already, Melisandre.), so proceed no further if you have yet to watch Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3.
(Which was surprisingly not titled “The Battle of Winterfell,” but is instead officially known as “The Long Night.”)
The stakes and the expectations for the episode could not have been much higher.
It was the most expensive Game of Thrones to date with a whopping 85-minute runtime.
Marketing materials promised the longest continuous battle sequence in film or television history.
From a narrative standpoint, the episode would conclude the Night King/White Walker storyline that was set into motion in the show’s very first scene.
Fans hoped the installment would also deliver some big-time emotional payoff and set the stage for the series’ final three episodes.
On some of those promises, the show inarguably delivered (that was certainly one very lengthy battle), but others … maybe not so much.
On Twitter, complaints were plentiful — granted, that’s always the case with Twitter, but the response to “The Long Night” seemed even more mixed than usual.
One of the primary beefs was the fact that the episode very much lived up to its name.
It was long, and it was very, very dark. Literally.
Many viewers complained that they had difficulty following the action due to the low lighting.
Others complained of jump cuts and the visual anonymity of the combatants.
Yes, it made sense that the dueling armies were all attired so similarly, but combined with shadowy motif, this often made it difficult to tell who was swinging the sword and who was being cut down.
Speaking of violent death, some fans felt there just wasn’t enough of it.
Or more accurately, they felt more top-tier characters should have met their demise.
Sure we lost Jorah Mormont, Theon Greyjoy, Lyanna Mormont, Melisandre, and the Night King, but this is a show that’s never been shy about offing major players, and with just three episodes remaining, fans understandably expected the Battle of Winterfell to reduce them to sobbing shells of their former selves.
That might sound like an unpleasant experience, but it’s part of what’s kept us coming back to Westeros for the past eight years, and for many viewers, “The Long Night” lacked the emotional gut punch they had been simultaneously dreading and hoping for.
But the most serious concerns might have to do with the direction of the series from here.
As thrilling as it was to see Arya reduce the Night King and his army to a pile of shards, it was an ending that raised more questions than it answered.
Presumably, the remaining episodes will focus on the battle for the Iron Throne, but as a villain, is Cersei any match for an undead king with an army of zombies?
Is there any way to rescue the remaining episodes from feeling an anti-climactic afterthought?
Game of Thrones has always been a series that trafficked in surprises, but the biggest surprise of all might be showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss pulling off a conclusion that will leave the majority of the show’s viewership feeling satisfied.
Of course, with the emotional sadism these two have demonstrated over the years, that may not be the ultimate goal.