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Recap / Game of Thrones S8E3: "The Long Night"

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A frightened Sam is handed a pair of dragonglass weapons and ushered to the front, while Tyrion and Varys follow the non-combatants into the crypts. The Unsullied march orderly into position outside the walls of Winterfell while Sam takes up his position next to Dolorous Edd, and the Hound with Gendry reach the front line together.

In the plan to protect Bran while he lures out the Night King to be destroyed — kill the Night King, kill the Army of the Dead — Jon and Daenerys meet on a cliff overlooking Winterfell. They survey their forces while Sansa and Arya do the same from the battlements. The first arrival to their lines is not a White Walker, but Melisandre, returned from Essos. She lights the arakhs of the entire Dothraki Khalassar aflame with the magic of the Lord of Light before uttering a word of encouragement to Grey Worm and the Unsullied. Davos has the gate opened for her, and she informs him that there is no need to execute her as she will be "dead before the dawn." Melisandre locks eyes with Arya atop the battlement for a few seconds before Arya goes to watch the Dothraki charge.

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Jorah and the Dothraki (with Ghost in tow) charge into the darkness, their flaming arakhs creating a sea of orange for both the forces of Winterfell to see and Jon and Daenerys to observe from their cliff. The catapults launch flaming meteors into the black mass of faceless undead as the Dothraki impact the lines. From above and behind, their allies watch as their lights are extinguished in a matter of seconds. Jorah, along with a few ragged survivors, return almost entirely on foot, a few of their horses scattering across the lines of infantry now preparing to take the full force of the Night King's army.

Daenerys mounts Drogon but Jon urges her to stick to the plan, "The Night King is coming." Dany replies, "The dead are already here," and takes off toward the battlefield with Jon following on Rhaegal. Ser Jaime, Ser Brienne, Sandor, Gendry, Pod, Tormund, Beric, Samwell, Edd, and Grey Worm all stand as a literal wave of the dead encompasses the front lines. The Northmen and Knights of the Vale are overwhelmed almost immediately, though the Unsullied mount a heroic defense. However, Jon and Daenerys appear from the sky on Rhaegal and Drogon and carve the frontlines with dragon fire, strafing tracks of wights.

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Jon attempts to make a strafing run against the line of White Walker commanders, but is hindered when a blizzard is summoned, knocking him askew. Drogon, nevertheless, is able to continue strafing the horde as Arya hurriedly orders Sansa to the crypt, giving her a dragonglass dagger and telling her to "stick them with the pointy end" before drawing her bow to defend Winterfell.

In the Godswood, Theon Greyjoy and Alys Karstark stand with the Ironborn armed with bows and arrows, prepared to defend Bran as they await the Night King. Outside, Jorah is thrown from his horse and joins the other heroes, who form a relatively solid pocket of defense. Edd narrowly saves Sam from a wight, only to be stabbed in the neck from behind, dying with Sam's name on his lips as the latter flees.

Sansa arrives in the crypts with the non-combatants, including Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, Gilly, and Little Sam. They try to speak, but none of them seem able as morale is low, so Tyrion takes to his wine instead.

Jon, unable to see through the fog, crashes through the tops of the trees atop Rhaegal before colliding with Dany and Drogon. Neither the viewers nor the riders can tell where the other is due to the reduced visibility, or if the Night King and Viserion wait just through the clouds.

The infantry outside the gates break. All of those remaining alive outside the wall retreat inside, except for the Unsullied who remain to cover the retreat. Jon lands Rhaegal atop the walls of the Godswood, where he can see and protect Bran, who is waiting to lure out the Night King. In Winterfell, the army floods through the gates and all of the major heroes except Edd make it back inside. Arya protects the Hound with flaming arrows as Grey Worm, with anguish, destroys the barricade and leaves the majority of his men to die defending the rest of the army.

The Unsullied put up a valiant defense as the living desperately try to light the trench aflame or signal the dragons to do so, but through the fog neither is successful. The Unsullied fall back a step as each line of their soldiers is ground away by the waves. Meanwhile, Melisandre exits the gate with guards to light the barricade herself. As the last of the Unsullied remaining outside the barricade fall and Melisandre chants desperately to light the trench as wights come closer and closer, the wooden barricade suddenly comes alight, casting Winterfell in the brilliant light of a ring of fire that halts the oncoming wights. This gives Dany a beacon of reference to regain her orientation inside the blizzard.

In the crypts, Varys makes bleak jokes as Tyrion desperately tries to come up with a reason to be in the battle, "If we were up there, we might see something everyone else is missing. Something that makes a difference." He and Varys argue before Sansa bluntly tells Tyrion that there's nothing he can do. Wit, stewardship, and diplomatic ability won't help in this fight, and Sansa says that the only heroic thing they can do is acknowledge that. Tyrion and Sansa discuss the idea of their marriage, but Sansa says it wouldn't work. When Tyrion asks why not, Sansa remarks, "The Dragon Queen. Your divided loyalties would become a problem." Missandei, offended, coldly interjects, "Yes. Without the Dragon Queen, there'd be no problem at all. We'd all be dead already."

Theon tells Bran that the trench has been lit. He apologizes once again for what he's done. Bran stops him, telling him, "Everything you did brought you where you are now. Where you belong. Home." Bran says he must go now and his eyes turn white, his vision disappearing into the eyes of his ravens. Bran sends them north, past the Night King, who's riding Viserion covered with the blizzard.

Observing the battle, the Night King extends a clawed hand, and around the flaming trench, the Wights heed their master's command and begin to throw themselves on the barricade to create a bridge of corpses across the flame, allowing them a route to the walls. The heroes rush to defend the battlements as Jon spots the Night King coming in from above, atop the undead Viserion. The Night King disappears upward, and Jon pursues him into the sky.

The defenders on the wall engage the undead as they climb up the parapets, and Brienne saves Jaime from a horde after his nearby guards are wiped out and they fight as Back-to-Back Badasses. Jorah rescues Sam as the undead make a significant breach over the battlements, flooding into the courtyard where they meet the next wave of traps and defenders, led by Beric with his flaming sword.

The Hound calls it quits, leaning against the wall in defeat as everything around him succumbs to fire and ice, but Arya proves herself a one-woman army atop the wall, singlehandedly holding the entire breached section. For a moment, it seems that the castle is holding, but then a Wight Giant barrels through the gates, swatting Lyanna Mormont aside and wreaking havoc in the courtyard.

Unable to continue holding against the swarm, Arya takes a blow to the head and retreats, her spear lost. Beric convinces Sandor to rejoin the fight by pointing to Arya's desperate struggle, as Lyanna fearlessly charges the wight giant. The wight giant picks her up and crushes her body in his hand but, with her last breath, a dying Lyanna plunges a dragonglass dagger directly into its eye and they both fall to the ground, dead.

High above, in the clouds, Jon and Dany pursue the Night King out of the fog and into the moonlit sky. The Night King feints, managing an ambush from below that allows him to isolate Dany and Drogon, but the pair prove superior in aerial combat leading the Night King to instead dive back into the clouds and try again.

Arya stalks through the interior of Winterfell, managing to evade the notice of even the dead for quite some time until the sound of dripping blood from her wounds reveals her position and she flees the library in a panic. The noncombatants in the crypts below hear the sounds of fighting outside and then, panicked, dying defenders beg to be allowed into the crypts, before those noises fade into silence and death.

Beric and Sandor arrive just in time to save Arya from a wight. Beric hurls his sword to save Arya and he is repeatedly stabbed by the undead while grasping the walls of the corridor, using his body as a shield to prevent the Wights advance long enough for Sandor to get Arya to safety. As they flee into a hearth-lit room, Beric stumbles in behind them, dying with a contented expression for the final time.

Melisandre, present in the room, tells Arya that Beric was brought back for a purpose that has been served. She tells Arya that she has shut brown eyes, green eyes... and blue eyes. She whispers into Arya's ear the same question that Syrio Forel asked her so long ago — "What do we say to the God of Death?" Arya responds, "Not today," and runs out a side door, resolute.

Theon, Alys, and the Ironborn defend Bran heroically as the dead continue their assault on Winterfell. The Night King and Viserion, disengaged from Jon and Daenerys, breathes blue flames onto the tops of Winterfell, destroying a small section of the wall utterly with dragonfire — before Jon and Rhaegal attack them in midair. The two dragons tear at each other, with Rhaegal tearing apart his brother's skull while Viserion repeatedly slashes and bites his still living kin with fangs and talons. Neither is able to defeat the other until Dany and Drogon arrive, which forcibly dismounts the Night King, ripping Viserion a few times before letting the wight dragon fall (still animated for now) into the walls of Winterfell. Jorah hears Drogon's cry and immediately heads outside the castle.

Daenerys and Drogon find the Night King, standing alone. Daenerys zeroes in on him and says, "Dracarys," bathing the Night King in a solid twelve seconds of Drogon's dragonfire — which he emerges unscathed from with a grin, to Dany's horror. He flings his spear, narrowly missing the fleeing Queen and her dragon, before marching toward the walls through the corpse-ridden field.

Grounded from Rhaegal's fall, Jon pursues the Night King silently from behind, desperately hoping to end the Army of the Dead and this battle once and for all. The Night King notices Jon a hundred yards short and turns, preparing to raise every dead body in and around the castle. Jon tries to charge the Night King before the corpses can rise. However, as Jon races to the Night King, he sees the dead around him fully re-animate, blocking his target. With only a short distance left, Jon is surrounded by wights.

All of the dead in Wintefell reanimate — ALL of the dead. Edd, Lyanna Mormont, and the Dothraki, but also the dead in the crypts, who begin slaughtering any of the women and children they can reach.

As Jon is about to be overwhelmed, Drogon bathes the area in flames, buying him time to get inside Winterfell for Bran. Daenerys spends too long on the ground, however, and Drogon is swarmed by wights, causing him to throw her off in a panic as they attempt a Death of a Thousand Cuts on his back. All of the many, many dead that Drogon shakes off land around Daenerys, who watches in fear as they get up and begin to surround her. Jorah beheads the first to arrive, ushering his Khaleesi away with Heartsbane in hand, taking her close to the fiery trench in order to avoid being surrounded.

In the courtyard, the remaining defenders are gradually being overwhelmed, with pockets of the more skilled defenders (Brienne and Jaime, in particular, holding a Back-to-Back Badasses stance on the battlements) holding out while Jon fights and kills his way through the wights as he desperately tries to reach Bran.

Theon runs out of arrows (having killed easily fifty or more of the wights with rapid shooting that would make Legolas proud) in the Godswood and switches to a spear to continue his defense, now entirely alone with Alys and the Ironborn dead. Sansa and Tyrion desperately hide with a few of the survivors in the crypts, with Sansa readying her dagger for a last stand as piano begins to play and Tyrion kisses her hand.

Jon is halted in his progress by Viserion, who lets loose a seemingly unending stream of blue flames, pinning him behind a wall. Jorah is stabbed multiple times as he and Daenerys (who has taken up a dragonglass sword herself) desperately fight back to back.

Across Winterfell, the battle seems lost. Viserion ravages the inner courtyard, crushing battlements and towers with his bulk as Jon flees the last breaking gates. Theon fights off wights only to be entirely surrounded by White Walkers and the Night King himself. Jorah takes so many wounds he can barely stand, though every second still sees Heartsbane cut down another wight as he protects Dany. The last few defenders are overwhelmed in the courtyard and, in as neutral a tone as ever, Bran tells Theon, "You're a good man. Thank you." Wordlessly, Theon Greyjoy charges the Night King with his spear, only for the Night King to break the spear and impale him, leaving Theon slumped dying on the ground.

The Night King approaches Bran, who only stares into the distance in silence. Jon opts to face Viserion to at least die standing, even as he's forced behind small cover to avoid being incinerated. Standing over Bran, the Night King reaches for his sword to put an end to the Three Eyed Raven once and for all, and it seems there's no one left to stop him.

A gust of air disturbing the hair of a White Walker is the only warning the Night King has as Arya plunges down upon him. He whirls, catching her by the throat and holding her Valyrian dagger back — only for her to drop it to her other hand and drive it into his chest. With a crackle, he and all of the other White Walkers shatter. Viserion, standing over Jon, collapses into disarticulated bones as undead everywhere turn back into motionless corpses. The last few ragged defenders of the castle and the surviving women and children of the crypts look on in stunned silence as all of the dead fall around them.

Jorah collapses in a devastated Daenerys's arms, unable to even speak a last word before dying, having protected his Queen to the last. As Daenerys, utterly heartbroken, sobs over Jorah's body, Drogon lands beside her and lays his head down in mourning.

Melisandre and the Hound survey the battlefield as the first light of dawn begins to crack on the horizon. Melisandre exits Winterfell as Davos follows, sword in hand in order to strike her down, but she sheds her heavy cloak and walks out into the cold morning, past the hills of shattered bodies, where she leaves her necklace in the road. Davos watches as Melisandre walks, rapidly becoming her true ancient age. She takes a few more harried steps and then she, herself, collapses into dust in the morning snow.


Tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The scenes in the crypts are spent listening to the chaos above ground, with the various characters commenting on it. Until the dead in the crypts rise.
  • Action Survivor:
    • While Daenerys isn't a trained fighter — having spent most of the series winning her battles from the backs of dragons — she picks up a sword when she's grounded and does quite well, cutting down wights in a Back-to-Back Badasses moment with Jorah.
    • Arya and Ser Davos spend some time atop the walls of Winterfell surveying the battle. Then their position is overrun by wights. We watch Arya scramble away and start doing some ninja stuff... with no idea what happened to the Onion Knight, who professed last episode to having very limited martial skills and is now being swarmed by zombies. Despite this, he appears at the very end of the episode, none the worse for wear.
    • Samwell Tarly likewise survives the battle, despite switching back and forth between holding his own and hyperventilating.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Sansa tells Tyrion if he were out fighting he'd be dead because all his witty remarks wouldn't save him or unearth a new battle strategy. He quips in turn that they should have stayed married. She does admit he's the best husband she had.
  • Always Save the Girl: Invoked. The Hound is petrified with fear out of the proverbial hell outside of Winterfell, brimming with fire and the dead, but as soon as Beric points him to Arya, who's fighting for dear life to escape the dead's clutches, Clegane rouses to save her. He may not feel like saving himself or anyone else, but he will always protect Arya.
  • Ambiguous Situation: As of the end of the episode, it's unclear if Arya was the "Prince that was Promised" that Melisandre foretold or The Unchosen One Spanner in the Works with her killing the Night King. On one hand, Melisandre never even hinted that the Lord of Light favored anyone besides the candidates she had chosen to be the Prince: Stannis, Jon and Dany. On the other, Melisandre was wrong about Stannis being the Prince, and she gives Arya her Heroic Second Wind. In any case, Arya doesn't care about titles or prophecies; she's just relieved Bran is alive, as are her other surviving siblings, and the day is won. As such, it's unclear whether the prophecy was fulfilled in the first place, whether it consists of events that go further down the line, or the prophecy is simply not true.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Courtesy of the Night King, every person who died defending Winterfell before he was cast off of Viserion is raised to try and kill everyone inside of it. This includes Dolorous Edd and Lyanna Mormont.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Near the end of the battle, Gendry and Tormund have killed so many wights that they are fighting atop a pile of them even taller than they are.
  • Attack Its Weak Point
    • Lyanna Mormont stabs a wight giant in the eye.
    • Arya stabs the Night King in the heart. She may not have known it, but that's where the Children of the Forest inserted the dragonglass that created the Night King.
  • Back for the Dead: Melisandre, who shows up to inspire the defenders, offers some helpful advice that assists them in winning the day, and then passes away once the Night King is defeated.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Brienne and Jaime fight back to back on the wall, Jorah and Daenerys fight on the ground, and Gendry and Tormund mow down wights while standing on a pile of corpses.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Melisandre says there won't be a need to execute her because she will die at dawn. We take this to mean the wights will get her. Instead, after the battle is over, she sheds her magical youth and succumbs to old age.
    • Melisandre had previously stated that she would die in Westeros just as Varys would, yet Varys survives the battle. As such, it's unclear whether he'll die in the wars to come, or just succumb to old age/natural causes in Westeros.
    • The ominous White Walkers from the previous episode serve little to no purpose in the battle other than to direct the wights' attacks, and all of them succumb without ever engaging in combat when the Night King is struck down by Arya. Out of possibly a hundred being shown before, only about a dozen storm Winterfell.
    • Played with. In spite of the numerous death flags established during the previous episode, a surprising amount of main characters survive the battle, namely Brienne (having been knighted), Jaime (having been warned by Bran that he may not survive), Grey Worm and Missandei (promising each other a future together at Naath), Arya and Gendry (having had sex hours before), and Sam (being Sam). The actual character deaths shown play it straight, though.
    • Only one wight giant is shown to storm Winterfell and no wighted fauna is used, even though several examples of both were shown in previous seasons (such as the wight polar bear that causes Thoros's death). The legendary giant "ice spiders" from the books make no appearance, either.
    • For a moment, the scene where Tyrion and Sansa hide behind a tomb and take out their obsidian daggers could have been interpreted as them enacting a Suicide Pact, only to be shown moments later that they intend to fight their way out.
  • Battle Couple: A few cases.
    • Jon and Daenerys, being each other’s Dragon Rider wingmen and fighting alongside each other when strafing wights, battling the Night King and Viserion mid-air, and trying to locate the Night King in order to destroy him.
    • The highly subtextual relationship between Jaime and Brienne could also make them qualify. They fight as Back-to-Back Badasses against the wights, save each other's lives repeatedly, and aren't seen apart for pretty much the entire episode.
    • When the dead Stark ancestors rise to attack the non-combatants hiding in the crypt, Sansa and Tyrion resolve to hold them off together and qualify because their marriage was technically not annulled and they renewed their (platonic) regards for each other.
  • Belly-Scraping Flight: Jon's dragon flies so low while pulling out of a dive that it knocks the snow off the trees.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The final battle against the White Walkers, with very few breaks from the action in its 83-minute runtime. It's not only the biggest fight in the series, it was hyped by HBO as being the single largest battle in the history of moving pictures.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • As soon as he's grounded and free of wights, Jon's first instinct is to run and protect Bran.
    • Arya lands the killing blow on the Night King to rescue Bran.
    • A symbolic example in Theon (who was raised as a foster sibling to the Starks, but decided to forsake them for his blood relatives), who finishes his redemption by charging the Night King in a suicide attack to buy Bran a few more seconds of life.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The armies are utterly crushed and Bran is alone in the Godswood. Cue Arya Stark making a suicide run on the Night King and killing him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Countless people are dead, including beloved stalwarts like Theon and Jorah, but the Night King is killed, the White Walkers are destroyed, the living have prevailed and, against the longest odds imaginable, the dawn is won.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Subverted. Theon and the other archers in the Godswood eventually run out of arrows, leading them to be overrun by wights.
  • Breaching the Wall: Setting the trenches on fire gives the defenders of Winterfell a momentary reprieve from the hordes of undead... before groups of wights just start sacrificing themselves to put out the flames and create paths through the wall of fire for the next wave.
  • Breast Plate: Sansa's leather armor. Unlike Lyanna Mormont she has no intention of being on the front lines, so it's likely she's imitating Cersei's martial appearance at the Battle of Blackwater.
  • Call-Back:
    • Back in "Battle of the Bastards", Wun Wun was able to breach Winterfell's gates by himself by virtue of being big and strong enough to just smash right through them. Here we get a redux of that when a wight giant reduces the gates to splinters in a single charge.
    • The Night King raises his arms in the same manner he did at Hardhome to raise the dead. Jon recognises the move and tries to rush the Night King in time before he can finish the move, but finds the dead starting to rise — trying but failing to cut the Night King down before he's surrounded by new undead.
    • The Night King retaliates at a dragon attacking his forces by hurling an ice spear; like their previous encounter, Drogon narrowly avoids Viserion's fate by jinking at the last moment.
    • For book readers, the death of Jorah Mormont is reminiscent of the death of Roderick Dustin (AKA Roddy the Ruin) during the Dance of the Dragons. Dustin was the commander of the Winter Wolves loyal to Rhaenyra Targaryen, and is widely considered one of the greatest Northern commanders of all times, if not the very best, due to his rate of success and fulminating attacks to the enemy. During the First Battle of Tumbleton, Dustin was stabbed multiple times, but drunk with the heat of battle, he was said to not have felt his wounds; even having lost an arm during the battle, he was able to personally slay the foe commanders of the battle, considerably damaging the enemy's martial strategy. Just like Roddy the Ruin, Mormont dies accomplishing his mission as his queen's Reliable One and Paragon.
    • The last time mid-air combat between dragons happened, it took place precisely during the Dance of the Dragons at the Battle above the God's Eye at Harrenhal, a one-on-one battle between Prince Daemon Targaryen and his villainous nephew Aemond, who killed each other and plunged with their dragons into the waters of the lake below. The corpse of Aemond and his dragon mount were found decades later, but Daemon himself was never found, leading to mass speculation that he might have survived and fled Westeros with his mistress. These were not the last living dragons, though, as it would take ~20 years for the last Targaryen dragon to die.
    • Sansa's conversation with Tyrion in the crypts is an echo of her own conversation with Cersei during the Battle of the Blackwater, who told her then to be more realistic and accept her fate, although Sansa is considerably less morbid and more sober than Cersei at the time. There's also the moment of their impending doom, where Cersei had chosen to kill Tommen and then herself to avoid being captured, while Sansa, alongside Tyrion, choose to fight their way out together. This shows that at the very least, Sansa learned something positive from Cersei's awfulness, and is proactive from those teachings.
  • The Chains of Commanding: At one point Jon sees Sam being overwhelmed by wights, but doesn't go to help him because he's running for the goodswood to kill the Night King.
  • Character Death: Qhono, Dolorous Edd, Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Theon Greyjoy, and the Night King die in the battle. Every wight and White Walker die after the Night King is destroyed, including Viserion. Jorah Mormont and Melisandre die after. Alys Karstark is also presumed dead, as she was with Theon in the Godswood defending Bran.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Valyrian steel dagger used in the assassination attempt on Bran that started the entire war is used by Arya to land the killing blow on the Night King, saving the life of the very person it was originally meant to kill.
    • Subverted with the dragon glass dagger Arya gives to Sansa. When the dead in the crypt begin to rise, Sansa draws the dagger ready to defend herself. She never gets the chance, though, as Arya kills the Night King and destroys all the wights.
    • Subverted in the duration of the episode. Bran wargs into a murder of crows and sends them north, past the Night King, but what his intentions were by doing so were not disclosed during the episode, as he is still warging until mere moments before the Night King appears at the Godswood.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
  • Combat Pragmatist: Rather than face Jon, who is wielding a weapon that could kill him, the Night King raises all those killed during the battle so Jon will have to fight through them.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind
    • Arya shoots a flaming arrow into a wight coming up behind Sandor Clegane. He returns the favour later by rousing from his Heroic BSoD to go rescue her along with Beric.
    • Jon is about to be overwhelmed by the newly risen wights when his Violently Protective Girlfriend turns them all into ashes.
    • Arya saving not only Bran, but the entire battle.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Beric gets one as he blocks the corridor with his arms outstretched to buy Sandor and Arya time to escape.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Dothraki horsemen, charging the Army of the Dead with no support beyond a few flaming trebuchet projectiles, are wiped out in under a minute even with flaming swords.
  • Cue the Sun: After the dead finally fall for good, the sun rises on Winterfell, signifying the end of the Long Night and that the living have won the War for the Dawn.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Sansa tells Tyrion that he was the best of her husbands. Tyrion says that's a terrible thought, though it's clear from his tone he still appreciates the gesture.
  • Darkest Hour: Towards the end characters are dying left and right, the wights are overrunning Winterfell, the two dragon riders have been seperated from their dragons, and the Night King breaches the Godswood with only Theon to protect Bran.
  • David vs. Goliath: Lyanna Mormont vs. the undead giant.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When Sansa points out to Tyrion they wouldn't work as a couple because "The Dragon Queen" would divide them and cause problems between them, Missandei, who is in the crypts with her and Tyrion, stands up for the woman who is risking herself and her army to defend them and the North:
  • Death Glare: Daenerys gives the Night King a furious one before ordering Drogon to Kill It with Fire, given that as the Mother of Dragons, she's confronting the murderer of one of her children.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • For the first time since the loss of Drogo and Rhaego, Daenerys is reduced to inconsolable sobbing when Jorah dies in her arms.
    • Subverted with Sandor, who is ready to lie down and die against the unending horde of the undead, until Beric points out that Arya is still fighting and needs help.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts:
    • When the Night King raises those killed in the battle, dozens swarm over Drogon and attempt to stab him to death. Drogon has to fly in order to shake them all off, which unfortunately dumps Daenerys in the process.
    • Jorah is stabbed multiple times, but keeps fighting until he's absolutely sure that Dany is safe.
  • Defiant to the End: Multiple characters when faced with certain doom. Lyanna Mormont stabs a wight giant in the eye as it crushes her, killing it along with dying herself. As Jon is about to be fried by Viserion in the end, he stands there and roars at him, unafraid. Theon, faced with certain death at the hands of the Army of the Dead and the Night King, charges at the latter to protect Bran.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Arya stabbing the Night King using sleight of hand.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • The battle plan of the defenders of Winterfell is anywhere between Hollywood Tactics and Too Dumb to Live. It's as if they forgot that they have a fortress they can be protected by, and that the enemy has reserves.
    • The plan to hide the noncombatants in the crypts backfires; when the Night King raises the dead above ground, those entombed below emerge and give chase to Sansa, Tyrion, and the others, slaughtering everyone they can catch.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • In spite of all their planning, Dany and Jon are veered off the original plan by the Night King as the Dothraki are crushed and a winter blizzard is summoned to combat their efforts.
    • The Night King didn't expect Arya to drop her dagger and stab him with her other hand.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Jorah dies in Dany's arms as she weeps for him.
  • Dies Wide Open: This is the case for almost every major character death that we see up close.
  • Digital Destruction: The choice of lighting for the episode, combined with the low bitrate used by streaming services to save bandwidth, ended up causing such bad compression artifacts and color banding for numerous viewers that large parts of the episode were almost incomprehensible due to the loss of detail. It currently remains to be seen how high quality Blu-ray master will fare, and whether further postproduction will improve the situation.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Night King meets his end in this episode, leaving Cersei as the only remaining Big Bad of the series.
  • Divine Intervention: The Lord of Light intervenes thrice in the battle:
    • Through Melisandre's prayer the Dothraki's weapons, and later the trenches' kindle, are set on fire;
    • Beric Dondarrion was revived multiple times by the Lord of Light in the past in order to save Arya's life during the battle, and through Melisandre, Arya gains the motivation to singlehandedly strike the Night King down.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: While hiding from the wights, Sansa makes a decision to pull out the dagger Arya gave her. She gives Tyrion a meaningful look, as he kisses her hand and pulls out his weapon in turn. They then turn to fight.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "The Long Night" refers to both the actual length of the night and the fact that it's the second great battle for the dawn.
  • Driven to Suicide: Having accomplished her divine mission, Melisandre allows herself to die via Rapid Aging.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dolorous Edd dies early in the episode, being stabbed through the head by a wight right after pulling Sam to his feet.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • Lyanna Mormont, who charges a wight giant, is picked up and crushed in its grip, and in her last moments stabs a dragonglass dagger into its eye to kill it.
    • Theon and his men kill numerous wights, with Theon in particular being the last man standing and managing to kill many more wights even after running out of arrows. When the Night King arrives to kill Bran, one can see Theon's refusal to cave in to his fear, buying the precious few seconds needed with his life. He paid the Iron Price for his redemption.
    • Beric rallies the Hound to help him rescue Arya from getting overwhelmed by wights, and dies in the process.
    • Jorah, who takes stab after stab from the wights for his Khaleesi, only letting himself die after the wights drop dead themselves.
  • The Dying Walk: With her purpose accomplished, Melisandre simply walks away from Winterfell, taking off the necklace that preserves her life and youth as she does. She continues walking forward until she collapses and dies.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted; Jaime or Sandor or Theon's sins might have been set aside, but Davos is not in a mood to forgive what the Red Woman did to Shireen. When he sees Melisandre has survived the battle despite what she said earlier, he follows with the clear intention of executing her. Turns out her words were Not Hyperbole.
  • Event Title: The episode takes place in the dead of night.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: With Jorah and Lyanna dead, House Mormont is officially extinct. Likely also applies to House Karstark, since Alys was last seen in the Godswood with Theon and Bran.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Lyanna Mormont sees herself up against a wight giant who is smashing everyone around it. She responds by planting her feet, screaming at it, and then stabbing it in the eye when it picks her up and crushes her.
    • Theon, facing down the Night King, charges him head-on. The Night King simply breaks his spear and stabs him with the broken half.
    • Bran only stares up at the Night King as the Night King approaches him. No reaction, no fear, only acceptance. Arya jumps in to save him, though.
    • Trapped by Viserion with no way to get past or kill the undead dragon, Jon chooses to die standing on his feet and bellows defiance as Viserion's jaws open to blast him with fire.
    • With the battle ended, Melisandre calmly walks out of the city, drops her Glamour, and ages until she withers and fades away.
  • Facial Dialogue: Arya sends Sansa to shelter in the crypts, and she arrives to find it already full. Tyrion walks up, his face a clear mask of curiosity. Sansa is unable to find the words... And that's all Tyrion needs to hear.
  • Facial Horror: During their scuffle in the sky, Rhaegal ends up ripping the left side of Viserion's face off, which affects how he uses his fire. Of course, since Viserion is a wight, it doesn't keep him down long. A marvellous closeup of the damage can be seen as Viserion bears down on Jon.
  • Flaming Arrows: Justified for once. There are great balls of fire launched from trebuchets too.
  • Flaming Sword:
    • Melisandre uses her magic to set the Dothraki swords on fire to be able to stand a chance against the wights. They're still slaughtered.
    • Beric has his usual flaming sword and uses it to its fullest extent to take down wights.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The overall series being focused on the Iron Throne and not the magical threat which this episode has confirmed, has been subtly hinted at by the promotion. The tagline for Season 8 is "For the Throne", the poster for the season is also a merge of Drogon's scaly forehead and the Iron Throne, and where earlier seasons had the credits end on the Wall signifying that as the big Story Arc in that period, for Season 8, the closing image has been the Iron Throne.
    • Melisandre never seeks nor inquires about Jon or Daenerys during the battle, focusing on aiding the ground forces and later seeking Arya. This implies that either the prophecies about Azor Ahai and/or The Prince That Was Promised were not fulfilled, or consist of events subsequent to the Battle of Dawn, or at the worst, that the war against the Army of the Dead has not been yet won. Out of those touched by the Lord of Light, it's not yet know whether Jon fulfilled his purpose by being revived, or whether the Hound's purpose was to protect Arya.
    • In the middle of the fight inside Winterfell, Jorah suddenly hears Drogon's cries and immediately heads out; after Daenerys is shaken off by Drogon and about to be swarmed by wights, Jorah is able to reach her (so his timely appearance is not nearly as surreptitious as it's shown).
  • Forgiveness: Arya has fully forgiven the Hound, shown when she saves him from a wight. Melisandre is on her list, but Arya listens to her Meaningful Echo, takes it to heart, and goes to save Bran. She also seems to forgive Beric when he dies buying the time for Sandor to get her to safety.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Aside from the examples shown in What Happened to the Mouse?, a White Walker notices a faint breeze coming from his right side just before Arya rushes the Night King. This means that Arya flew past the Walker, silent as a feather falling, and attacked the Night King almost completely unnoticed by the dozen White Walkers and hundred wights. That's freakin' stealth right there!
    • Just for a second it's shown that Sam survives the battle at Grey Worm's side, implying that Grey Worm played a significant part in saving his life.
  • Friend to All Children: When the dead in the crypts rise up, Varys is seen hiding a group of children in one of the alcoves. When the wights all die later, he is then seen leading them back out while holding one young boy's hand.
  • Frontline General: Pretty much every named character from the nobility is this. The Night King also becomes this in contrast to the other White Walkers. While they are content to sit back and let the wights do the fighting, the Night King rides in on Viserion, fights both Jon and Dany, and eventually breaches Winterfell's Godswood to kill Bran personally, albeit only after there's almost no one left to oppose him.
  • Giant Mook: The wight giant that smashes the gates of Winterfell, kills Lyanna and gets destroyed by her.
  • Handicapped Badass: Jaime, Beric, and Davos fight valiantly despite their disabilities. You could also make a case for Theon and the Unsullied, though their disability doesn't hinder their capabilities for combat.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Unsullied Hold the Line at the cost of their lives so everyone else can retreat behind the fire moat before it is lit.
    • Beric dies giving time for Arya and the Hound to retreat. Melisandre suggests that this was the whole reason why he was brought Back from the Dead by the Lord of Light so many times.
    • Jorah dies defending Daenerys from the wights. He survives to the end of the battle, but succumbs shortly after.
    • Theon buys Bran a few more seconds, making a charge at the Night King as the last man standing when surrounded by the Army of the Dead.
  • Heroic Second Wind: After Beric dies, Arya takes a moment to catch her breath. Melisandre finds her and reminds her what Syrio Forel told her once. This motivates Arya to rejoin the fight.
  • Hold the Line: Uttered by Brienne, but ultimately it is the Unsullied being true to their reputation who do not take one step backward, and the majority even allow themselves to be cut off by the fire moat as to give the other defenders more time to retreat.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The tactics employed by the defenders of Winterfell display... little common sense, to say the least. It's as if they were written mostly for Rule of Cool (the Dothraki charge) and to rapidly increase the death toll to further the plot (the Dothraki charge again, and pretty much everything else).
    • The best thing to do during a siege is to stay behind the walls as real life and even countless siege fictions have demonstrated. Especially since practically offering more corpses to the army of the dead by having cavalry and infantry directly confront said army without bottlenecking it with extra defensive layout is anything but a great idea.
      • Even worse, it's a Plot Point when the defenders suddenly remember that the style of warfare they've been training in their entire lives involves defending from atop the castle walls.
      • Castles, fortresses and other strongholds do not automatically fall once their walls are down, and are designed so that defenders can continue to fight back against attacking forces from the inside even after the walls or gates are scaled or breached. There should have been far more troops inside Winterfell so that they could fall back to the keep and towers and continue the fight even after the wights started scaling the walls.
    • The Dothraki light cavalry start the battle by charging head-on into the enemy. Frontal light cavalry charges can work in Real Life if the enemy is easily demoralized and spread thin, but the enemy forces are entirely made of Fearless Undeads and are concentrated into a horde so large we never actually get an understanding of its size. The Dothraki are completely butchered as a result. Given the Horselords' proficiency with bows, they would have been better off ditching their horses and providing archery support on the walls. (What's even more frustrating is that David Benioff & Dan Weiss claim that this plan was signed off on in-universe. It's one thing to invoke the Doylist explanation that the Dothraki swords getting swallowed by the night is a really cool visual, but to imply that there is a Watsonian explanation for this sort of Trial-and-Error Gameplay, from commanders who should know better, is quite another.)
      • Alternatively, the Dothraki could use their speed and their proven ability to loose arrows off horseback at a full gallop to attack the wights with flaming or dragonglass arrows and then quickly move out of harm's way, a tactic used by the real-life Mongols against slower infantry to devastating effect. The wights have no ranged weapons and their numbers would be repeatedly whittled down by such attacks, all the while diverting their attention away from Winterfell. This strategy would also keep the Dothraki numbers largely intact until they were needed later.
    • There are far too few archers on the battlements and on top of the towers. Real-life castles and fortresses have firing slits so that archers can shoot without being exposed. Since the wights have no ranged weapons whatsoever, any archers with fire or dragonglass arrows would have been able to cut down the wight ranks with impunity until the wights scaled the walls.
    • Despite having trebuchets that can hurl flaming projectiles into the ranks of wights, the living use them just once. This one at least has some justification: someone can briefly be heard giving the order to cease fire to avoid hitting the Dothraki, and by the time anyone realizes they're needed again, it's because the wights have closed to grappling range and it's a little too late.
      • There's no justification for keeping the trebuchets and catapults in front of the trenches and most of the troops and leaving them to be overrun so swiftly.
      • There are no trebuchets or smaller catapult-type weapons like onagers to hurl heated or burning shot from within the Castle's walls, so that when the front line of catapults is overrun, all of the artillery firepower is lost. Hurling single large flaming projectiles is more useful against buildings than against infantry, where multiple smaller shots inflict injuries and deaths against multiple targets. Wights are vulnerable to fire, and hitting multiple wights with heated or flaming projectiles would set them all on fire and thin their numbers down much faster.note 
    • Regarding the foot soldiers, only the Unsullied and the Vale soldiers carry shields. It could've been wiser to equip everyone else with shields. (Past a certain point in history, shields weren't used anymore because advances in plate armor and bladeworking had rendered the BFS more valuable than the Knightly Sword and Shield... but nothing is ever discussed about whether such advances have occurred, nor the soldiers' comfort with alternate fighting styles, nor whether a BFS — prized because it can get through an opponent's armor — is all that meaningful when fighting undead, who neither need nor wear armor.)
    • There's also no dedicated anti-infantry flammable defenses such as burning oil, hot liquid pitch/tar, and other tricks that have been used on the Wall for centuries and shown onscreen being used by the Night's Watch in Season 4 — and those would have been extremely useful against wights since they burn faster than dry shrubland. Tossing some of this down a wight ladder would burn the whole lot in one go.
      • Made worse when seeing the many large funeral pyres in the next episode from right after the battle, which proves that the defenders weren't short of wood or other flammables that could have been put to great use against the wights.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Having originally volunteered to remain in the crypts with Gilly, Sam, at the last minute, resolves to join his Night's Watch brothers on the front lines of the battle. This has the unfortunate side effect of leaving the refugees in the crypt largely defenseless when the dead begin rising. It also plays a part in Edd's death, since Edd being distracted by Sam allows a wight to get the jump on him.
    • Tyrion chafes at having to wait in the crypts with the women and children, insisting that his help could be crucial like at the Battle of Blackwater. Sansa has to talk him out of doing something stupid.
  • Hope Spot:
    • A moment mentioned by the showrunners happens when the Dothraki get their arakhs lit on fire by Melisandre and charge with determination, only to be mowed down by the Army of the Dead minutes later.
    • After the three-way Dragon Rider battle, Daenerys finds the Night King on his own while she still has Drogon and tells him to attack. Drogon uses his fire breath and the show's opening theme triumphantly plays... and then cuts out once the fire dissipates and the Night King is shown to be unharmed.
    • Subverted. Arya sneaks up on the Night King for an attack In the Back, providing a second of hope. But he notices and catches her in a Neck Lift, and for a second it seems he will crush the life out of her. Then she improvises by dropping the knife to stab him with her free hand, just as she did when sparring against Brienne last season, shattering him.
  • Human Ladder: The wights are able to overwhelm Winterfell's defenses by just swarming the walls in such numbers that they can climb right over them, using each other's bodies as support.
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed:
    • Jorah just keeps going and going when defending his Khaleesi against the newly raised horde of wights surrounding them. Once the corpses all fall truly dead with the demise of the Night's King, he finally succumbs to his wounds and Daenerys can do nothing but hold him and weep as life leaves him.
    • Beric makes sure that Arya has made it to safety before he finally collapses from his injuries and dies.
  • Idiot Ball: The Night King is a Load-Bearing Boss. He should have stayed behind his otherwise unstoppable forces and allowed them to kill every last remaining member of the resistance. Instead his nigh invincibility gave him a level of confidence bordering on arrogance, which led him to face his enemies personally. His need to taunt his enemies left him exposed and allowed Arya to strike the finishing blow.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Tyrion does this to Sansa before they decide to fight their way out together.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The Night King ends Theon's attempt at a Heroic Sacrifice by snapping the spear Theon is wielding in half, then impaling him with the broken half.
  • Inelegant Blubbering:
    • Sam is visibly afraid for his life throughout the battle.
    • Daenerys can't contain her grief over Jorah's death and mourns over his fallen body in the battlefield after the Army of the Dead is defeated.
  • Ironic Echo: The Night King was created by being stabbed by a girl (a Child of the Forest), and is destroyed by being stabbed by a girl. In the books, Bran even thought Leaf looked like Arya when he first met her.
  • Irony:
    • Way back in Season 1, Bran was nearly killed by an assassin sent by Littlefinger with a Valyrian steel dagger. This dagger would have eliminated the future Three-Eyed Raven, which was what the Night King had set out to do, but instead, it kills the being who had set out to kill the Three-Eyed Raven, meaning that Littlefinger is technically indirectly responsible for the survival of House Stark and arguably for the salvation of Westeros.
    • Before the Battle of Castle Black, Dolorous Edd asked for the last man alive to burn the dead, as he didn't want to come back as a wight. Sadly, he is killed, and does come back as a wight, albeit briefly.
    • In the previous season, Daenerys burned Lord Randyll Tarly and his heir Dickon, almost dooming their house. Sam, the last Tarly male (though still disinherited as of now) gave the family's precious Valyrian sword Heartsbane to Jorah, who uses it to save Daenerys's life.
    • The "safest" place in Winterfell is considered the crypts, so all non-combatants are placed there. When the Night King raises the dead, that includes the Starks entombed in said catacombs, who break out and kill several innocent and unarmed people.
    • Speaking of the crypts, the mortal remains of the very Starks that defended the North for millennia are now used to kill the innocents taking refuge in there.
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: The Night King emerging from dragonfire unscathed, looking Daenerys straight in the eye with a twisted little smirk on his face evokes this.
  • Jump Scare: Not with any music, but at one point, Arya turns a corner and comes face to face with a wight, and we hear a stabbing noise... only to find that she had stabbed it with her dragonglass dagger out of reflex.
  • Keystone Army: In the moments right after the Night King is slain, every White Walker explodes just like him in a shower of ice shards, and every wight under their collective control drops dead where they stand, including Viserion.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery:
    • Downplayed. Daenerys wasn't expecting to fight on the field but when she's forced to, she kills a few wights while in her fine furs.
    • Sansa prepares to do this as well but the battle is over before she gets a chance.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Daenerys tries to do this to the Night King with Drogon's dragon fire. Unfortunately, the Night King is flame-proof.
    • The wights, however, are very much susceptible to fire. The defenders of Winterfell manage to erect a flaming barrier and hold them off for a brief time, until the Night King has some of the wights smother the flames with their bodies. However, the defenders of Winterfell don't employ any other kind of flammable weaponry, for some reason (such as black liquid pitch, which the Night's Watch was seen using on the Wall in Season 4).
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Most of the Dothraki fighters are slaughtered out of view when they charge the Army of the Dead. Where the women and children are isn't addressed when Daenerys reaches Westeros, but it should be pointed out that Daenerys had nearly the entire Dothraki fighting force at her command. Every single one of them just charged into the enemy. How many came back? Five?
    • It's implied that Alys Karstark dies defending Bran at the Godswood, as Theon is shown to be the last man standing from the defending group.From the books... 
  • Last Stand: Several.
    • Daenerys and Jorah decide to go down fighting when they're alone and surrounded by wights. Daenerys survives but Jorah isn't as lucky.
    • Theon is the last person standing between the Night King and Bran, and opts for a suicide charge.
    • Jon faces off against the undead Viserion, fully expecting to be fried by the dragon. Fortunately, Arya succeeds in killing the Night King just in time.
  • Last of His Kind:
    • Lyanna Mormont becomes the last ever Lady of Bear Island, as she dies slaying the wight giant. From the books... 
    • Adding to the previous point, Jorah and Lyanna are the last living Mormonts and die at the battle.
    • Played with in the case of Alys Karstark, as she's the last known Lady of Karhold, but it's not known whether she's the last member of her family.
    • With Theon's death, Yara becomes the last living child of Balon Greyjoy.
    • With Beric Dondarrion's death, Sandor Clegane becomes the last living member of the Brotherhood Without Banners (or at the very least, the only known one).
  • Last Words: Upon collapsing from his injuries, battered and caked in blood, Jorah whispers, "I'm hurt", and though he tries to say more, his strength abandons him and he dies in Dany's arms.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • The Dothraki do this wholesale, deciding to charge straight on at the army of the dead. Unfortunately for them, the dead don't break and run at the sight and sound of Dothraki screamers, and the Dothraki charge hits a wall of wights that swiftly overwhelm them.
    • Dany opts to engage the undead directly, instead of sticking to Jon's plan to protect Bran in the Godswood. Jon has no choice but to assist Dany in her task. In retrospect, this does appear to be the correct move as the Night King performs a No-Sell on Drogon's fire attack anyway.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The Night King explodes into ice when stabbed by Arya. All of the White Walkers follow suit. Viserion and the undead giant brought down by Lyanna Mormont also collapse into disarticulated skeletons the moment the necromancy animating them is severed.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • Sansa says she doesn't know how to use the dragonglass knife her sister gives her. Arya of course replies, "Stick them with the pointy end."
    • Melisandre tells Arya, "What do we tell the God of Death?" This gives Arya her Heroic Second Wind because the answer is, "Not today."
    • She also reminds Arya of her prediction that Arya will put out shut brown eyes, green eyes... and blue eyes.
    • In the very same battle, Lyanna and Arya are stopped by their target in the same manner and eke out a stab at them to win the skirmishes, only that Lyanna dies from hers and Arya survives.
  • Midair Collision: Drogon and Rhaegal collide with each other in the middle of the blizzard, almost throwing Jon and Dany off their backs.
  • Mobstacle Course: Arya escapes a horde of wights charging up a staircase at her by doing a Staircase Tumble down their backs!
  • Mutual Kill: Lyanna is crushed by a wight giant, but uses the last of her strength to stab him in the face with dragonglass before succumbing to her wounds.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Drogon being swarmed by wights is reminiscent of a scene in Martin's earlier novel Dying of the Light, where a gigantic aerial predator is brought down by a bunch of small insects.
    • The very same scene is reminiscent of the Storming of the Dragonpit during the Dance of the Dragons civil war, where the common folk of King's Landing swarm the Dragonpit and slay the Targaryen dragons contained there. Just like Drogon, at least one dragon tried to make their escape, but unlike Drogon, none survived the attack.
    • Lyanna Mormont slays the wight giant with the last throes of her life. A theory regarding Tormund Giantsbane's tall tales relates to him bedding a bear, so it's speculated that this "bear" was Maege Mormont, who possibly bore her daughters with Tormund including Lyanna (as the father of her daughters is never mentioned in the books, and Tormund himself quips that Jon is prettier than his daughters), and by slaying the giant, Lyanna too became a Giantsbane.
    • Lyanna and Jorah die true to the Mormont's words "Here I Stand", which are never actually uttered in the show. Lyanna dies slaying the wight giant to stop its rampage in Winterfell and Jorah dies protecting his beloved queen from dozens of wights, refusing to budge in spite of being stabbed multiple times.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Just before Arya comes in to strike the killing blow, the Night King is seconds from killing Bran and what few defenders are left are being swarmed by the undead. If Arya had arrived even a minute later, the dead would probably have won.
  • Neck Lift: The Night King does this to Arya when she tries to jump him in the Godswood. She simply drops her dagger, catches it with her free hand, and stabs him.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome:
    • Jon Snow charges at the Night King with his Valyrian sword... only for the Night King to raise an army of wights between them before he can get close enough.
    • For a minute, Jon looks like he might try his luck killing the undead Viserion and become a dragonslayer. Then it's subverted when all he can do is stare into Viserion's gaping maw and face his impending doom before Arya kills the Night King and Viserion miraculously drops dead.
    • Subverted with Arya, whose first charge is stopped by the Night King by holding her by the neck, only for her to drop her knife to the other hand and stab him in the gut.
  • No-Sell:
    • The Dothraki charge right at the Army of the Dead. All we see is that the fires of their arakhs go out, and the next we see is a few fleeing survivors and a few riderless horses scattered. That is, the Dothraki faced the dead on an open field, and lost categorically.
    • Drogon unleashes a sustained burst of flame at the Night King. The Night King isn't so much as singed by the flames, and even seems to smirk when the fire dies down.
  • No Body Left Behind: When Melisandre removes her glamour charm, she rapidly ages and then collapses into dust.
    • The White Walkers pull a variation of this when they disintegrate into ice crystals.
  • No Place for Me There: Lady Melisandre promises Ser Davos (who said he would execute her should she return to the North at the end of Season 6) that she will die when dawn comes. Davos, and the audience, assume that she would fall in battle, but instead Lady Melisandre chooses to walk out into the snow to die after fulfilling her mission. It's pretty clear that she is going out at the height of her prowess and capabilities, and in a context that she could have easily exploited to rebuild and spread her religion as the literal prophet who came to them in their Darkest Hour, but out of her guilt for her earlier actions, and her promise to Ser Davos, she decides that her kind doesn't belong in the world after the Dawn.
  • Non-Action Guy: Tyrion frets at being ordered to sit out the action in the crypts. Sansa talks him out of doing something stupid just to prove himself, having gone down there herself because she realised there was nothing she could contribute to the battle.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The Dothraki are charging into action when something huge looms out of the blizzard, and we have an Oh, Crap! shot of the lead rider before he's trampled by what's later revealed as an undead giant.
    • The massacre of the Dothraki are shown by the lights of their flaming ankhs going out. Only a few riderless horses and fleeing Dothraki (without horses, a sign of disgrace among their culture) return.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Arya is reduced to being petrified with fear at several moments — after years of being the Implacable Man of the series.
    • The Night King can't seem to resist smirking at Daenerys after he No Sells the dragonfire.
    • Grey Worm, after seasons of remaining the most disciplined fighter in any battle and after proclaimed last season that the Masters had no fear to use against him, looks absolutely terrified when he finally gets a chance to breathe in the middle of the battle. He almost loses it when he sees the majority of the Unsullied choosing to stay beyond the defenses, dooming themselves. Doesn't stop him from being a badass, though.
    • While Daenerys has been a lesser example of The Stoic, she has always worked to maintain a queenly haughtiness. She absolutely breaks down sobbing as Jorah dies in her arms.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Several major and minor characters are dead, but the Night King and the Army of the Dead are defeated. All that remains is Cersei to the South.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Davos is last seen holding off wights as Arya lures a herd away. He returns in the final scene with a few minor wounds.
    • Sandor and Melisandre are last seen locked in a hall while a swarm of wights are trying to break in. They show up in the final scene alive and well.
    • Ghost and Rhaegal are last seen in terrible positions, but the preview for the next one shows they both survived.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Jon confronts the Night King, he's understandably horrified when the Night King starts to raise his arms to resurrect the fallen as new undead in the same way he did at Hardhome. Unfortunately for Jon, the Night King can lift his arms faster than Jon can cover the distance.
    • Daenerys when the Night King not only shrugs off dragonfire, but retaliates by picking up a spear and taking aim at Drogon.
    • The Night King's last moments before he realizes he’s going to get stabbed in the chest thanks to some sleight of hand by Arya.
  • Ominous Walk: The Night King is very fond of these, especially as he approaches an unprotected Bran. If he had been a little faster, Arya would not have made it in time.
  • The Oner: The episode starts with a closeup of Sam getting dragonglass weapons shoved into his hands, then follows his progress across the courtyard before following Tyrion walking over to pick up a satchel, where the one-take ends when he watches Bran being wheeled across the courtyard to the Godswood accompanied by Theon and Alys Karstark, all without a break for 90 seconds.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Grey Worm, the famously-fearless Unsullied commander, is visibly terrified when the tide of the battle turns. When the Masters were learning his fears and forcing him to overcome them, clearly they never thought to throw a Zombie Attack his way.
  • Out of the Inferno:
    • The Night King after shrugging off a huge stream of dragonfire.
    • Just after the Night King raises the dead, a large group of White Walkers Power Walk through the smoke and ashes into Winterfell, their glowing blue eyes readily visible. James Cameron would be proud.
  • Outside-Context Problem:
    • Despite all their planning in previous episodes, it quickly becomes apparent that the human armies have not figured out a good way to fight the undead army and are using old-school tactics that get them slaughtered. While Dany and Jon are successful in burning up tracks of wights via dragonfire before they approach the enemy lines to do the same, the Night King summons a blizzard — severely hampering their use of dragons — which nullifies their visibility.
    • The Night King has prepared for attacks from the Night's Watch, people on dragons, and foot soldiers. He's never faced an assassin, however, trained by the Faceless Men.
  • Plot Armor: Zigzagged as while Anyone Can Die is still largely in effect, yet still an early criticism of the episode is how most major characters inexplicably survive the battle, many of whom were repeatedly shown as completely overwhelmed by the undead army at various times during the battle. This also tends to happen offscreen, in particular:
    • Jon is utterly surrounded by wights when the Night King raises the fallen, and should be killed in seconds, yet when the action cuts back a large number have vanished and are mostly attacking from a single direction. This gives Dany time to save him.
    • On several occasions, characters are forced back against the walls of Winterfell, completely overwhelmed by the numbers of the Army of the Dead, with practically no room to swing a sword. One quick cut away and the problem is magically solved!
    • Sam, a very poor combatant even when he's actually trying to defend himself and not in a heap on the ground, is swarmed by wights. Not only does he appear to be completely ignored when he's not trying to attack anything, but he manages to survive being swamped, when he's almost easily killed by a single wight early on until saved by Edd.
  • Power Walk: Overlaps with Ominous Walk above, and performed by the Night King and several of his White Walker lieutenants walking into Winterfell together.
  • Protectorate: Arya is one for the Hound, as he established the previous episode. He's given up and freaking out until Beric points out that Arya is not giving up and is in trouble. The Hound immediately gets moving to get to her, and ultimately saves her life.
  • Psychotic Smirk: The Night King gives one to Dany as she realizes Drogon's fire breath is completely ineffective against him.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • Jon and Dany win the War of the Dawn, but massive portions of their armies were killed in the battle, and anyone north of Winterfell is also dead. Cersei, meanwhile, has 20,000 fresh troops from the Golden Company of Essos and Euron Greyjoy's fleet. There's also the lingering Northern Independence issue from Sansa and the Succession Crisis between Jon and Dany as they now know about the former's true parentage. The dead may have been defeated, but the Game of Thrones continues and the living still have their own battles to fight.
    • There are thousands of dead from the battle, and that's not including those who were dead in the first place. Going by the visuals, the living coalition lost at least 80% of their force (and that's conservatively) and more than 90% of the Dothraki, the Unsullied, the Valemen, the Night's Watch (whatever little was left), and the Wildlings. At this point, it's hard know who lived and who died outside of the named protagonists.
      • It's stated that 50% of the forces at Winterfell were wiped out in the next episode.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: An alliance of Northmen (First Men), Unsullied (various groups trained like Ghiscari), Valemen (Andals), Dothraki, Ironborn, and dragons unite at Winterfell to fight the Army of the Dead. The only major ethnic groups not represented are the Free Cities and the Rhoynar.
  • Rasputinian Death: Both Beric and Jorah get stabbed about fifteen or twenty times each and are still standing before they finally succumb to their wounds. Beric in particular is egregious, as he was killed numerous times by the Mountain and even once by the Hound.
  • Reality Ensues: Despite the premise of the episode being an army lead by Dragon Riders fighting a Zombie Apocalypse, there are some very realistic outcomes for a number of situations.
    • Hiding in the Winterfell crypts turns out to be the worst possible idea when facing a Necromancer, as the dead in said crypts are animated to fight.
    • The Dothraki's tactic of running down and trampling everything on their view doesn't really work against an enemy that knows no concept of fear or self-preservation like the wights, who are also too numerous for this tactic to work. Similarly, the non-Unsullied infantry lines are overwhelmed and dragged to the ground almost instantly by the fast-moving and fearless mobs, with most of them not even having shields to block them. And the cherry on top of the cake: the Dothraki charge completely unarmored in true Dothraki fashion.
    • All of the experienced fighters are shown to be overwhelmed and despaired against the relentless waves of dead attacking them, fighting for dear life, as they themselves don't have strength in numbers like the dead do.
    • Of all the living infantry forces, the Unsullied put up the best showing throughout the battle, because of their tremendous discipline and fighting as a cohesive unit. They are able to pool together their strength to protect each other and resist the incoming flood of wights, while the more numerous Dothraki utterly fail to support one another and get wiped out, and the Westerosi forces don't do as well either.
    • The combined effects of the blizzard and the raging winds the White Walkers conjure to cover their advance make efforts to light the trench outside Winterfell's walls near impossible with torches and flaming arrows. It takes Melisandre's sorcery to turn the tide.
    • Speaking of said trench, this episode shows exactly why nobody should keep their infantry forces in front of trenches and other protective barriers, especially when facing a more powerful enemy. Even when unlit, the trenches hampered the retreat of the living infantry forces when they began to be swamped by the wights, which led to a lot more lives being lost.
    • Neither Jon nor Dany are using any kind of harness system to keep them attached to their dragon mounts, instead seeming to hold on with just their hands and legs. After several close calls in earlier seasons, both riders (or three, if you include the Night King) are shown being knocked off or accidentally thrown from their mounts.
    • As much of a badass warrior as Jon Snow is, even with a Valyrian steel sword he's completely outmatched when alone and face to face with an undead adult dragon.
    • One on the Night King's part: when you (probably) know you are the literal keystone of your forces, it's maybe not the best idea to rush in alone to finish someone off, regardless of how "defeated" the enemy may be. If he had just let the wights continue to Zerg Rush Winterfell, the dead would have almost certainly emerged victorious.
    • Jorah lies dying, cradled in Daenerys's arms, after fighting tooth and nail to keep her safe. You'd expect him to have some Famous Last Words before dying, right? Nope, he's too badly injured and, despite trying to say something, he ultimately succumbs to his wounds after barely squeaking out "I'm hurt".
    • Beric saves Arya's life by throwing his sword. Unfortunately this leaves him unarmed and defenseless, and he is quickly mortally wounded by wights.
    • Lyanna Mormont is brave, but she's both tiny and has no battle experience. When an undead giant comes through the gate, she totally freezes and is unable to even draw her weapon as it lumbers over and swats her aside. When she charges it screaming, it just picks her up and crushes her. Fortunately, it gets overconfident at the end, though it wasn't enough to save her.
    • Likewise even Arya finds herself overwhelmed during the course of the battle and succumbing to fear. Most of Arya's kills up till now have been people she blindsided. In a straight fight she still faces the disadvantages of her short stature and lack of muscle. Also, assassins like Faceless Men do not train for endurance.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • Theon dies fighting for the family and place he knew most of his life and once betrayed.
    • Melisandre spent most of the show burning people for sacrifices. Here, she make good use of her fire before deciding to remove her magical choker once the battle is over so she could age to death.
    • Beric dies defending Arya, who had previously maligned him for surrendering Gendry to Melisandre. Melisandre makes Arya realize that he died and was revived multiple times in order to save her, the warrior who eventually would singlehandedly slay the Night King.From the books... 
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Dany participates in the battle both on Drogon's back and on foot, picking up a dragonglass sword and cutting down wights via Back-to-Back Badasses with Jorah.
  • Sad Battle Music: A somber piano line is heard towards the end of the battle as the Night King breaches the Godswood.
  • Scenery Porn: The shots of Drogon and Rhaegal flying above the moonlit Northern cloud ceiling are just visually stunning.
  • Screaming Warrior:
    • The Night King hears Arya giving out a wordless battle cry as she pounces on him. This allows him to turn and catch her in a death-grip. Fortunately, Arya stabs him with her free hand.
    • Brienne of Tarth as always, especially when facing overwhelming odds.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!:
    • One soldier under Brienne's command decides that discretion is the better part of valor and books it as the dead charge.
    • Jorah and a handful of Dothraki immediately turn back to Winterfell after the horde is met with a literal wall of wights.
  • Sensory Abuse: The episode can be summed up as "The night is dark and full of terrors" — for the latter part, aural abuse in the near-incessant gargling of the wights, the sounds of the wounded and dying, and weapon strikes; for the former, an outright inversion in that the visual front is pure sensory deprivation, with badly lit and foggy scenes that were deemed borderline incomprehensible.
  • Ship Tease: Strangely enough, years after their sham of a marriage, Sansa and Tyrion seem to realize there might have actually been something there the whole time.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Sansa and Tyrion are hiding from the risen Stark wights. As they hear noncombatants screaming, Sansa makes a decision and pulls out the dagger Arya gave her. Tyrion catches her gaze, kisses her hand, and pulls out his dagger as well. They then move from their hiding place to fight the wights.
  • Silent Credits: The music fades out completely just after the close to black, followed by the next 10 seconds or so of credits set to silence. When the music resumes, it's also relatively quiet and low-key in comparison to the levels of music normally heard during the credits.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: One of the wights in the library hunting for Arya drags his sword along the flagstones.
  • Sixth Ranger: Melisandre shows up moments before the battle, provides some visually impressive and even partially useful fire magic, and gives Arya a momentous pep talk before Arya goes on to save the day.
  • Snow Means Death: The battle with the undead at Winterfell is tied with the Season 6 finale as the episode with the most amount of major deaths (both seven).
  • Sound-Only Death: At one point, Sansa and the others in the crypts are startled by a loud bang on the door. We hear the sounds of several soldiers attempting to open it to get away from oncoming wights, followed by sounds of desperate combat, screaming, and eventually silence.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Lady Melisandre is a major one the Night King. She is someone who had no contact or direct meeting with the White Walker threat beyond gazing into the flames, and yet she ends up orchestrating the victory.
    • The Night King had the remaining defenders of Winterfell dead to rights and was confident enough that he wasn't expecting to be ambushed by someone who just happened to have a weapon capable of killing him.
  • Stepford Snarker: While they're waiting the battle out in the crypts, and before the dead rise, Sansa and Tyrion engage in some banter that starts with her saying that Tyrion couldn't snark the wights to death. Missandrei joins in when Sansa slights Dany.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: The Wights in this episode are both too weak to break through a wooden door yet strong enough to punch through solid stone in the crypt with no effort.
    • Viserion's flames blast a massive hole in the walls of Winterfell, but fail to even scratch the tiny rock Jon ducks behind.
  • Survival Horror: The entire battle is based on defeating the undead to ensure humanity's survival. The scene with Arya in the library trying to avoid the Wights, in particular, is a staple in these works.
  • Sword Drag: One of the wights in the library Arya is hiding in drags his bloody sword behind him.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Lyanna dies stabbing the eye of the wight giant that was crushing her in his hand with a dragonglass weapon. The head of a wight appears to be the "nervous center" of the necromantic power that animates it, and contact with dragonglass causes the animation to stop, destroying the wight.
    • Theon appears to attempt this during his suicidal charge at the Night King, but he fails and is stabbed to death with his own broken spear.
    • Arya gets caught in a death grip by the Night King; she stabs him, fully intending this. Fortunately, she lives.
  • Taught by Experience: No White Walker whatsoever is seen amidst the Battle of the Dawn until most of the North's armies are slaughtered and the heroes too busy, isolated, exhausted, and desperate fighting off endless waves of wights to be a threat. They prefer to let the wights do all the work and wait from a safe distance. This comes after losing some of their own during the battles at the cave of the Three Eyed Raven and Hardhome, during which some Walkers decided to directly confront heroes only to find out the hard way they were equipped with dragonglass and/or Valyrian steel.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: A remix of the opening theme plays as Drogon incinerates the Night King. This turns out to be a subversion when the Night King walks out of the fire unharmed.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Subverted. Drogon breathes fire on the Night King for a full 12 seconds (enough to vaporize a person) only for the Night King to No-Sell the attack.
  • Throwing Your Gun at the Enemy: Theon throws his bow at a wight after running out of arrows, which helps him buy enough time to grab hold of a nearby spear.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Beric throws his flaming sword to save Arya from a wight. Reality Ensues when that leaves him unarmed and open to wights stabbing him.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The previous episode and the trailer suggest people will die this episode. Ultimately, six major characters die; three main (Theon, Jorah, Melisandre) and three recurring (Edd, Lyanna, Beric).
  • Too Dumb to Live: In light of the blatant use of Hollywood Tactics...
    • The entire lightly equipped Dothraki horde was willing to just charge into the darkness to fight an enemy they can't even see. It's even worse when you remember that Melisandre's aid was unexpected, so they were charging in without any effective weapons or sources of light.
    • Having the foot army stay outside the walls instead of making sure it's protected by them.
    • And then waiting for after the dead have broken through the fiery pit to man the walls
    • The people taking shelter in the crypts of Winterfell. Surely someone could have been able to piece together the fact that the White Walkers can raise the dead and that they're surrounded by dead Stark ancestors...
  • Trail of Blood: One of the wights hears or smells the blood dripping from Arya in the library.
  • Truer to the Text: Many readers of the books have long criticized the show for their Adaptational Villainy and Flanderization of Melisandre while also nerfing her considerable magical capabilities in the books. This episode, fittingly her last one, finally has Melisandre resemble her characterization in A Dance with Dragons, magically skilled and powerful, kindly (to Arya and Davos) and someone who genuinely is on the side of humanity and believes in the greater good, while also showing her as a skilled mage who can conjure fire and use it in combat, which she did at the end of A Storm of Swords and as she said later, her powers increased when she came North of the Wall.
  • Undignified Death: Instead of dying in a mighty duel with Jon for the fate of the living, heroic trumpets blaring, the Night King is slain through a surprise attack perpetrated by Arya, a master assassin.
  • Unlikely Hero: Throughout the show, either Jon or Daenerys are built as the one to defeat the Night King, and both have a try at doing it in the episode. Arya ends up the one to do the job.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: All the detailed plans of the previous episode are completely obliterated; it turns out Bran's concerns about dragon-fire potentially doing nothing to the Night King were valid, the wights curb-stomp the armies that are to Hold the Line, and everyone forgot that the crypts had dead people in them. The Night King only engages Bran after he's sure Daenerys, Jon Snow, and the dragons are otherwise occupied and the rest of the defenders are either slaughtered or close to it, leaving no one to defend Bran. Conversely, Arya's decision to strike at the Night King is only hinted at beforehand, and she's the one who takes him down.
  • Villain Ball: It's the Night King's flair for the dramatic that proves to be his undoing. By deciding to be a Frontline General, and then later, confronting Bran Stark to kill him personally while the battle is still going on, allows the defenders to target him specifically. Eventually, Arya manages to sneak up on him and fatally stab him with her Valyrian steel dagger. His decision to slowly approach Bran and take his time pulling his sword out gives Arya just enough time to kill him. Had he acted more urgently, the battle would have been lost.
  • Villain Respect: The Night King waits for Theon to finish his business with Bran, and upon Theon's failed last charge against him, he impales him and looks at his dying opponent straight in the eyes, nonverbally acknowledging Theon's courage.
  • Visual Pun:
    • The battle against the Army of the Dead happens in the dead of night. The living's Darkest Hour, if you will.
    • Arya provides the come-from-behind victory by doing a sneak attack against the Night King while the latter's about to finish-off Bran.
    • The Night King is slain by no-one.
    • Arya was trained in the House of Black and White, who are servants to the God of Death; Arya wins the battle by singlehandedly slaying the Night King, a literal death bringer. She said "not today" to the God of Death, just like her dear master Syrio had taught her.
    • The War of the Dawn ends at dawn.
  • Voodoo Shark: The whole "Arya was the one to kill the Night King" is this. Melisandre's lines in Season 3 about Arya shutting eyes was not about her future as an assassin, but rather her killing the Night King. This just raises questions on why Melisandre stayed by Stannis's side and continued insisting he was the Lord's Chosen for the next two seasons even though she now knew he was not, or why she then insisted that Jon was the Prince that was Promised in Season 7. The behind the scenes interview claimed that D&D knew Arya would kill the Night King only about three years ago right when Season 6 was airing long after Arya met Melisandre, indicating that it was a blatant Retcon.
  • Weather of War: Winter has definitely come, and plays a significant part in the battle. The Night King and his army are backed up by a nasty summoned blizzard, which has the effect of preventing the living from setting the trench on fire with their Arrows on Fire because the winds smother the flames before they can spread. It also hampers Dany/Drogon and Jon/Rhaegal big time in the sky, preventing them from napalming the line of White Walkers and allowing the Night King to pull surprise diving attacks on them with undead Viserion.
  • We Have Reserves: The Night King's forces vastly outnumber Winterfell's defenders, so the Night King can afford to sacrifice a lot of wights. When the trenches are set on fire to hold back the wights, the Night King has several groups throw themselves upon the flames until they're smothered, creating gaps in the trench that their fellow wights can charge over. After being forced off undead Viserion, the Night King simply raises those slain in the battle, instantly replenishing his ranks.
  • Wham Episode: Naturally, the biggest of the whole series. The Undead Army finally arrives to wreak havoc. And while the living manage to win, it comes with a steep price as many major characters die in the battle and their combined armies are severely depleted in the process.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The Night King falling to earth after Drogon knocks him off Viserion's back.
    • The Night King's No-Sell of Drogon's fire.
    • Arya's literal come from behind attack on the Night King and her subsequent kill shot to ensure the victory.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Ghost is seen charging with the Dothraki riders during the first scene, but isn't seen afterward, not even running back with the few survivors. In a Freeze-Frame Bonus moment in the Episode 4 trailer, he appears on a single frame at Winterfell.
    • Rhaegal is not seen after he is forced to land. However, a blink-if-you-miss-it shot of the trailer for next episode shows two dragons flying, and a closer look at the dragon overflying the ship reveals that it is Rhaegal, not Drogon, confirming that he is still alive and well.
    • Lord Yohn Royce, seen last episode consulting with Sansa, is nowhere to be seen either among the defenders of Winterfell or the group hiding in the crypts. His Valemen are shown in the battle, though. From the books... 
    • The Dothraki also need some addressing. Daenerys brought nearly all the Dothraki fighting forces to Westeros with her, and then, when the battle has the Dothraki forces as the first charge against the Night King's army, they are nearly wiped out completely save for a few survivors. Granted, there are also Dothraki women and children as they weren't involved in this battle but where they are is unknown and what happens to the future of their culture is unclear.
  • The Worf Effect: The Dothraki cavalry are the first onto the field and are almost completely wiped out in under a minute.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Both dragon riders face disadvantages — Jon has no experience in fighting from the back of a dragon, while Dany is ill-suited to fighting in a blizzard.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Theon charges at the Night King with a spear, only for the Night King to sidestep, break the spear, and impale Theon with one of the broken pieces.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Right before Theon's Heroic Sacrifice, Bran thanks him for all that he's done, and tells him he's a good man.
  • You Can Barely Stand:
    • The two living Mormonts stay true to their house's words, "Here I Stand":
      • Lyanna's attack on the wight giant comes after it has swatted her aside. She drags herself painfully back to her feet, clearly more dead than alive, and her "charge" is more of a limping shuffle.
      • Jorah is stabbed multiple times and struggles to stand straight, but doesn't falter until the fighting is done and Daenerys is safe.
    • At the Godswood, Theon is the last man standing and he's so fatigued that he almost collapses slumped forward.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Beric dies while using himself as a shield so that Arya and Sandor can escape.
  • Zerg Rush: Once again the MO of the wights, who despite suffering horrendous losses from Winterfell's defenders manage to break their way into Winterfell by virtue of sheer numbers.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The last episode of the series to feature the White Walkers and the wights also happens to be the most apocalyptic, with Winterfell being completely swarmed by them.

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