The Game of Thrones, Battle of Winterfell episode has exceeded expectations.
The final clash was full of tension, release, goosebumps, heartbreak and intimacy. It mixed genres, shots and planes of action as it shifted from the chaos of the fighting in and around Winterfell to the claustrophobic terror of the crypts to the dragon fighting in the winter sky. But that’s why we watch the show, right?
The dragon action, in particular, was often hard to track. But in the end, despite the scale of the clash and the endless hype we’ve been hearing about the 55 nights of shoots that went into filming it, the Battle of Winterfell actually exceeded expectations. Moreover, each scene tended to nicely tie together long-running story elements.
After hearing so much about the Unsullied’s awesomeness more than shown in Daenerys’s interminable adventures in Essos, it was a thing of pride to see the spearmen hold the line against the dead when other regiments were routed.
Arya’s slayage offered the most payoff. Though we’ve seen her shut many opponent’s eyes previously, her hail of staff-whirls and well-timed stabs justified all those mopping scenes at the House of Black and White in Season 5. She felt like the right character to kill the Night King because she was the one who had trained for this moment the most. She had faced death, to face death.
The death toll included some predictable such as Theon and Jorah. And less predictable, like Melisandre. Each death though, was deeply felt and in service of individual purposes, one of the episode’s big themes. Jorah died the way he would have wanted, protecting his beloved Khaleesi. Theon and Lyanna met heroic ends, Edd bought it by becoming the first of several people to save Sam. Beric saved Arya so she could save everyone else and.