‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 3 Review & Recap: The Battle of Winterfell Was Perfection

Game of Thrones

HBO Game of Thrones

This is a Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3 review. This post will have major spoilers for Season 8 Episode 3. 

The latest episode promises to be the greatest, most epic battle in television history. It took 55 nights to film in below-freezing temperatures, more than twice as long as it took to film the Battle of the Bastards. Fans are prepared not only for an epic battle, but also to lose some of their favorite characters in the process.

The title of tonight’s episode is The Long Night. And the episode lived up to that title. It was a long, dark night filled with terrors.

The opening credits began showing the ice from the Night King’s army extending all the way to Winterfell.

As the episode begins, a chill is seeping in. It’s spreading to everyone. We start out by following Sam as he walks through Winterfell, then we move on to Tyrion. The atmosphere is grim and harsh. Lighthearted days are over.

We see Bran being wheeled to the godswood tree where he will wait as bait. But will it work?

The wall overlooking Winterfell reminds me of the Wall where the Night’s Watch stood for so long, before Ice Viserion finally broke the wall. Bran the Builder built both the Wall and Winterfell, and now the Night King is attacking both of his creations.

We see a dragon flying overhead. The Dothraki and Unsullies armies are preparing. The night is dark and indeed full of terrors. (I love that phrase.)

Brienne stands at the front lines of battle, with Jaime and Podrick on either side of her. Tormund and the Hound are on the front lines too, as are Gendry and Sam. Ghost is on the front line too and that terrifies me.

Jon and Dany are outside of Winterfell with the dragons. (Please don’t let a dragon die.)

Everyone waits.

Melisandre is back! She approaches Jorah. “Tell them to lift their swords.”

I’m so glad Melisandre is here. She not only brings the Lord of Light’s presence, but she also lightens the scenes she’s in. (Which we really need.)

Melisandre says a chant and everyone’s swords and weapons light aflame. It’s like everyone is Azor Ahai. Beric (and RIP Thoros) no longer hold the monopoly on lighted weapons. With their weapons on fire, the Dothraki charge just after Melisandre said that she would not live through the night.

Ghost was charging with the Dothraki. And all their lights go out, swallowed by darkness.

Jorah escaped back to the army, but it looks like the rest of the Dothraki may have died, and possibly Ghost, but that is unclear.

Then the army attacks the Unsullied army. It looks like a massacre.

Brienne shouts to stand their ground as some try to flee. Brienne falls beneath a horde and Jaime tries to save her. She’s not dead yet.

Dany rides in on Drogon and Jon is on Rhaegal. The dragons unleash their fiery breath, destroying some of the wights.

But the cold winds of winter make it tough to fly.

Arya sends Sansa to the crypts. She gives her a dragonglass dagger (not the famed Valyrian dagger.)

Jorah is back on horseback, not dead yet. Neither is Brienne. She’s still alive 22 minutes in, as are Jaime and Tormund and Podrick. But the battle is fast, fully of fury and icy smoke and death.

The wights nearly take out Sam and Jaime, but not yet. Each time they come close to death, something or someone pulls them back

And then Edd Tollett is taken out by a wight. The first down.

Meanwhile, the crypts are deathly quiet.

Jon is trying to fly Rhaegal through snow and cold and ice. He and Dany fly into each other because it’s so hard to see. They’re flying side by side.

At 24 minutes in, the armies must retreat into the gates of Winterfell, but the Unsullied with Grey Worm stand their ground. They will not fall back.

An army streams into Winterfell behind the gates at Brienne’s command.

Someone directly behind the Hound is hit with an arrow and dies.

The Unsullied are ordered to retreat and fall back into Winterfell. That is NOT good. But it seems they are still refusing to retreat despite what the Hound told them.

And now it’s time to light the trench.

We see a closeup of Grey Worm. He’s staying strong in the face of death.

So far, 29 minutes in, we haven’t seen the Night King or Viserion.

The trench lighting strategy is not going well.

Grey Worm sees Melisandre. My heart is beating in my chest. This is a terrifying and exhilarating episode.

At 30 minutes in, the Unsullied are surrounding Melisandre, protecting her. She approaches the trench and prays in a foreign language, desperately. And the trench is lit with fire from the Lord of Light.

Back in the crypts, Varys, Sansa, Gilly, baby Sam, Tyrion, Missandei, and others are gathered. Tyrion thinks they might make a difference if they were out there. But Sansa and Varys think he’d die if he were out there.  Some people are going to suffer from survivors’ guilt after this.

Sansa says the most heroic thing everyone can do is “look truth in the face.” Tyrion suggests maybe they should have stayed married, but Sansa says it wouldn’t have worked because of his loyalties would be divided between her and Dany. But Missandei points out that without Dany, they’d all be dead. (Notice that Sansa doesn’t say she’d never be interested in marrying Tyrion. Just that it wouldn’t work because of his loyalties. Hmmm.)

Now we’re with Theon and Bran, where he waits to be bait for the Night King. It’s a much needed moment of rest for my poor heart that is beating so fast.

Bran essentially forgives Theon for what he did. “I’m going to go now,” Bran says, as he disappears into greensight and wargs into the birds to get a better idea of what is happening. Annnnd he’s gone.

The cinematography here is amazing, as the birds that Bran warged into fly over the fires and flames and then into the dark and cold winter. They fly and fly, everything cold and hazy. And he finds the Night King, who is indeed here at Winterfell, riding Viserion. Perhaps this is all part of baiting the Night King.

The wight army approaches the fiery trench. They get closer… They are going to cover the trench with their burning bodies and make a path over it. Oh my gosh.

“Man the walls!” many shout.

Through the darkness, Jon sees the Night King riding Viserion. They see each other in the sky.

The wights are climbing the walls of Winterfell.

A terrified Gendry watches. I’ve never seen anyone look so scared.

Jaime is there, striking them down as they approach. “Come on!” Sam is right by his side.

It looks like someone fell over the wall, but it’s unclear who. It wasn’t Jaime, he is still fighting. Jaime and Brienne fight back-to-back. A wight attacks Sam, but he’s saved.

Beric lights his sword and off he goes to fight.

The Hound is terrified. So much fire and flame. This is his nightmare.

Arya is a badass, fighting with her new weapon.

Beric calls out to the Hound, who has too much fire-induced PTSD to respond.

Arya is amazing.

The Hound not so much.

He says they can’t beat death. “Tell her that,” Beric says, pointing to Arya.

Lyanna charges a wight giant. He grabs and squeezes her, but she spears his eye with dragonglass. It’s unclear if she lived or not, but the giant is a goner. We later learn that she doesn’t survive.

Viserion is shooting icy blue fire at Dany. In the skies, the Night King went after Dany, not Bran. I hate seeing Viserion used this way.

Arya is hiding in the library, seeking a moment to gather herself after all her injuries. Someone is coming after her. It appears there are several wights here, milling around. She’s trying to remain undiscovered. But by fleeing the wights, she might accidentally lead them to the crypts.

Beric runs in to save Arya from the wight horde. But the wights stab and attack Beric over and over. He’s killed. Melisandre tells Arya that Beric was brought back by the Lord of Light for a reason. “Here were are (meeting again) at the end of the world,” Melisandre says. “Brown eyes, green eyes, and blue eyes.”

And Melisandre asked her: “‘What do we say to the god of death? Not today.” That’s what Arya’s teacher said to her. Melisandre also knew what Ygritte said to Jon Snow. She’s smart that way.

And the Night King flies over Winterfell with Viserion, breathing blue fire everywhere. It looks like the Night King with Viserion is attacking Jon and Rhaegal. OH MY GOSH.

Dany knocks the Night King off Viserion. It’s initially unclear if the Night King survived such a great fall. Shortly after, Jon’s dragon also crashed and Jon is taking that hard.

Dany unleashes Dracarys fire on the Night King after he lands, but the Night King survives. The fire doesn’t touch him.

And now Jon and the Night King are face to face. The Night King doesn’t say a word, but he raises his arms. He’s raising a new army as Jon runs toward him. This reminds me of the futility I felt when Jaime was trying to ride to Dany and spear her last season.

I think the Night King may have just raised the dead they killed. Lyanna is now a wight. :(

And now the White Walkers are coming and they are harder to kill. DAMN.

This feels so hopeless.

AND NOW it looks like Stark undead are crawling out of the graves in the crypts. We see one break through a sarcophagus. So much for iron swords and magic protecting the Stark dead. :( (Note: The books said some of the iron swords that were supposed to ward off evil spirits had crumbled and rusted, and that Bran took some at one point. So maybe that’s the reason some of the undead were revived.)

Dany was on the ground too long and wights are attacking Drogon. NO.

NO!!!!!!!!!!!

Dany falls off Drogon. Drogon takes off, flinging the wights off him. Dany is alone until Jorah rescues her. I’m just thankful Drogon lived.

Oh my heart.

Meanwhile, a horde is attacking Theon and Bran too, and Bran is still warging. There’s no telling what he’s doing now, since he already encountered the Night King in his visions.

Jorah cuts down every wight who would dare approach Dany. But they’re surrounded.

In the crypts, more wights are attacking. I think they may be Stark undead but I’m not 100 percent sure. It’s a bloodbath. Sansa and Tyrion are still alive at 1 hour 10 minutes in. I see Varys there too.

Viserion is inside Winterfell, unleashing blue fire and killing hordes of unnamed people.

My heart is broken about Viserion. This is what has happened to him. :(

Theon is still trying to protect Bran, but the Night King arrives with his White Walkers.

Jorah tries in vain to protect Dany. They are surrounded.

Jaime is fighting.

Theon is kicking ass, but he is exhausted. He’s a true Iron Born through and through.

But the wights part for their royalty. The Night King is here.

“Theon,” Bran says. “You’re a good man. Thank you.”

And in a scene that paralleled the moment Jaime tried to spear Dany, Theon tries to spear the Night King and fails. He is killed by the Night King instead.

Jon, meanwhile, is hiding from Viserion’s fire.

The music is haunting – horrible but perfect.

Jorah is speared and killed protecting Dany. I’m not sure where Drogon and Rhaegal are. Did they live?

The Night King approaches Bran, who is no longer warging.

They regard each other silently. Two old foes for generations. They’ve been waiting on this moment since their story began when the Night King was first transformed into his current self by the Children of the Forest.

Arya breaks the moment. She runs at the Night King in a sneak attack. He catches her hand, but she can spear him with the other hand. She kills him…. He shatters, the White Walkers disappear, and even Viserion (Ice Viserion) dies.

DROGON IS ALIVE. He lands beside Dany, lying next to her to comfort her as she grieves.

Jon is alive.

Davos is alive.

Melisandre walks away, abandoning her ruby glamour necklace that kept her young. And she falls to the ground and dies. Her work is done.

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