So, Full Spoilers for GoT Season 8 Episode 3
This is an episode, I’ll give them that. I want to preface this review by saying that you are completely in your right to enjoy this show. You’re completely in your right to love it, sing its praises, and adore every tiny detail. I do not want to be the guy that makes you think you’re wrong for liking this show, it’s got a lot to like about it. Hell, I really really wish I could like it.
But I am at the point now where I’m unbelievably glad we only have 3 episodes to go before this is all finished.
I’m not going to go through this episode moment by moment like I did in my last review, because I couldn’t fucking see what was happening for half of it. So we’ll split it like the first review;
The Shit I Liked
I thought the first time round was hard, this is even worse.
I liked some of the shots. There’s a beautiful moment with Brienne and Jaime on the wall, fighting back to back that looked quite cool; although I imagine this would have been even more amazing had the episode been brighter, we could have gotten a nicer contrast between our heroes shadowy figures, and the shadowy figures of the zombies they were fighting, rather than it just being a mass of silhouettes. But that shot was quite cool.
I liked little Lyanna Mormont, screaming on her way to death. That was great. She really proved her house Motto there (Here We Stand, for those who don’t remember stupid details like I do). But then again, this is soured by being one of the only cool bits of the episode.
Arya creeping around the library was tense, had we been able to see what the fuck was happening. So I suppose I kind of liked that.
Dragon battle! That was cool. But again, completely ruined by the darkness. I could only half tell what was happening, but I imagine that it would look amazing with a face-lift. Hoping for that Blu-Ray release!
Jorah and Theon’s final moments were cool, but very predictable. Theon’s was my personal favourite, I love a bit of forlorn hope, a little useless charge (but we’ll come back to this!). Bran’s final words to him were also rather nice.
But that’s sort of it, there was nothing substantial in this episode that was really interesting or cool. Props to the camera guys, because the shots look like they would be cool.
The Shit I Did Not Fucking Like At All
So, I touched on the cinematography above. I’m not going to batter on about it. What I am going to talk about is the fucking arrogance of Fabien Wagner. For those that don’t know (I didn’t until I came to writing this review) Wagner was the cinematographer for the episode. Now, I’m not a cinematographer, so I’m not going to slate his work here (I’m an actor, and I like to think I know a thing or two about stories, that’s how I justify slagging the actors and the writing). But his fucking arrogance to come out with this fucking excuse:
The Wired Interview where he has the gall to blame the audience for not watching it properly (https://www.wired.co.uk/article/game-of-thrones-too-dark-to-see )
“A lot of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to tune their TVs properly. A lot of people also unfortunately watch it on small iPads, which in no way can do justice to a show like that anyway.”
I am sorry, what? Fuck you. The TV was tuned just fine. Infact we had to turn the brightness up to watch it; nobody should have to do that with a show! Just because you’re watching it on million dollar equipment in an editing room and it looks fine, doesn’t mean it’s going to look fine on a Grumpy Scotsman’s TV! And yes, people do watch it on iPads, because it’s the only time they get to watch it. How fucking arrogant do you have to be to criticise the people voluntarily watching your show? I’d be fucking shot if I hit out with that in a theatre;
“Oh, you couldn’t see the show because I stood behind a curtain the whole time? Really should go to Specksavers then, eh?”Me, being an arrogant shit in my hypothetical production of I dunno… Macbeth or something.
Fuck that. This is a perfect example of the shit this show has become; the crew behind it have become so arrogant that they think no matter what they do people will lick their arses. I call bullshit, because I like a high standard of TV.
Secondly, the battle tactics of Jon Snow and his army of the living. Preface: Jon Snow is canonically a Dumb Bitch. I am not disputing this; but his team mates are not Dumb Bitches. Half of last episode was literally: “Tyrion is so fucking smart, oh my fucking god, how can you not see this, he’s a genius.” And you are telling me he saw not a single flaw in this plan? Are you telling me Davos, Hand to Stannis Baratheon (allegedly the greatest strategist in the 7 Kingdoms according to Ned Stark and Tywin Lannister) never saw any flaw? Are you telling me Jaime, Brienne, Tormund, Sansa, Arya, Bran-O-Tron the Super Computer, or ANYONE ELSE in the WHOLE FUCKING ARMY thought this was the best plan they could come up with?!
Let’s revise their plan…
- Step 1: Let the Dothraki, led by Ser Jorah and his newfound buddy Ghost, charge into the Wight Horde. No one knew Melisandre was going to turn up, so they didn’t know they’d have flaming swords. Light cavalry was going to charge down an innumerable horde of undead, unbreakable infantry. The reason Dothraki are good is because they are fast, agile and can make brilliant lightning strikes on the flanks, or they can scare the shit out of the enemy as they charge them. They are Dothraki Screamers after all. But the undead don’t run, do they? They know no fear. I said I love hopeless charges; but when you’ve Run. Out. Of. Hope. The Dothraki ran in at the start like fucking idiots! What was the point? Thousands of lives wasted! Did they expect to rout the dead? Come the fuck on!
- Step 2: Put all the men in front of a trench, and make sure it’s ALL the men. Don’t put any on the walls to shoot the zombies – Sorry, Wights – as they come running forward. Put them ALL. ON. THE. GROUND.
- Step 3: Fly the dragons away. Away. Yes, you heard me, away from the fight. Now, this isn’t completely idiotic; perhaps they hoped to wait until the Night King revealed himself then strike at him with both dragons. Semi-sensible, but you’d have to be a cruel, cruel general to do that, because all your men are going to die horribly to zombies while you and your girlfriend sit up on a hill and watch everything.
- Step 4: When, inevitably, we are overrun by wights, we start retreating into the castle. Okay, fine… Fine… The Unsullied cover our retreat. Okay, that’s smart. But they wouldn’t have to if you’d just changed Step 2.
- Step 5: Then we get everyone on the walls! Hold the Walls as long as we can! With so little men though, we can never hope to hold them! Because it seems to me like we’ve got like 2 dozen Red Shirt characters and then our dozen other named characters left to hold the walls! Woo!
- Step 6: Hopefully, at some point in all this mess, The Night King turns up and we kill him.
Please tell me if I missed a step? Because that seems like it’s the extent of the plan. I am no military strategist. I am no expert on fighting hordes of undead. I am by no means an expert on siege warfare. But I have played a fair few Total War games in my time and you can tell Jon is not a Total War fan. He’s probably a Mortal Kombat sorta guy, give him a nice one-on-one fight and it’s all good, ask him to control an army and you’re looking at a very very decisive defeat.
So yes, the plan is utterly moronic, and I hate it. Nothing hurts me more than moronic strategy. What would have been very cool would have been if the heroes had put up the best defence they could (a la Helms Deep, the greatest cinematic battle ever created), and the undead. Just. Kept. Coming. Horde upon horde, and we are filled with a constant sense of dread as we know it’s never going to hold. Sort of like Helms Deep in fact, which the director said he studied intensely before filming this episode. Rather than being lambasted with non-stop, non-nonsensical chaos that really didn’t make much sense, which is exactly what we got. Sensory overload is not great television.
Thirdly, Bran Fucking Stark. What the fuck was his point? He… He did what? He served as a glorified MacGuffin? He was the quest object that the Night King was be-lining for? That seems to be it? The fuck was he doing? Was he just Warging into those ravens this whole time? Maybe he was watching better TV? Maybe he was watching Avengers: Endgame? Was this going through his head:
“I know how this is going to go, and I’ve got like 40 minutes of episode to kill before The Night King actually gets here… Fuck it, I’ll just go watch Friends re-runs, that’s what humans do when they’re bored, right?”Brandon ‘Useless Cripple’ Stark, 2019
I just don’t get what the point of his story arc has been? The only way to save it now is to reveal that he’s been the big bad guy all along, and the Night King was just a misunderstood protector of life! Bran Stark played you all!
Sarcasm, obviously, but not really, because if it was done cleverly this would be a crazy cool twist. But I’m done hoping for clever on this show.
Finally, The Night King’s death and Arya in this episode. Now, a lot of people complained about it being Arya who killed him. I don’t give a shit that it was her, it is sort of cool the more I think about it. Her character sort of comes full circle in the end, it all sort of started with ‘What do we say to the God of death?’ and it seems to have ended there.
However, this is an ensemble show now. Our heroes are all a collective. What I liked about ensemble episodes in the past is that every character gets there moment; such as the quest beyond the Wall for the wight. Everyone gets to be a badass at least once that episode, everyone gets to be cool. Every hero gets the chance to do something heroic that goes above and beyond the ordinary.
Here, who gets to be cool? Jorah? Not really, he just killed some wights. Then he dies. Theon? He goes on a pointless, but kinna cool charge. Then he dies. Beric? He fights some wights in the dark (even then it’s not that cool because I could barely see what he was doing). Then he dies. Is the message now ‘don’t be a hero, you’ll die’? Because someone could have told Jon, all he seems to do is try and be a hero and yet he never fucking dies (that will come later though). Arya gets a lot of cool moments this episode. It’s pretty much huge Arya fan-fiction. And yes, I get that she’s trained for years for this. I get that she’s been slowly turned into a badass since season 1. So I do not for a minute grudge her cool moments, I liked them as I watched them. But I dislike them because she steals all the spotlight of what is supposed to be an ensemble episode. It would be like giving Spider-Man all the cool bits in Avengers: Infinity War, it just makes no sense! Yes, he’s a fan favourite character, but there are OTHER characters too! Let Jon have a cool moment! Let him kill the dragon with a little help from some others! Let Jaime have something cool, he’s not had anything cool in so long! Let him and Brienne tag-team a Walker (because we all know Jaime couldn’t do it himself)! Let Tormund get something good! I was so hoping his talk about killing a giant last episode was foreshadowing for him killing one this episode! If you’re going to make the show extended fan-service; make it fucking good fan service! Make it cool stuff that we never thought we’d see on television!
But no, we get The Terminator being a badass all episode and it just feels sort of pointless.
And The Night King! Or shall we call you ‘The Greatest Villain That Never Was’. You did… Nothing all episode. Your White Walker crew did nothing. I suppose that makes sense? I always complain about villains doing things themselves and then ultimately dying, so I guess I’m a hypocrite? I just feel like The Night King was a wasted villain. He’s literally meant to be death embodied. That’s the whole point of ‘What do we say to the God of Death?’ To remind Arya who and what she’s fighting! And yet the God of Death kills one man. This episode should have been about making the Night King feel unstoppable.
I point towards Avengers: Infinity War again: One of the final scenes sees Thanos with 5 Infinity Stones take on the Avengers in Wakanda. He makes mincemeat of them. He flicks Steve Rogers aside like it’s nothing. He crushes War Machine. He throws the Hulkbuster suit literally inside a wall. Every hero takes a shot at him and he beats them. But then! Boom! We get a moment of triumph as the last stone is destroyed by Wanda Maximoff! Any other Marvel movie would have concluded there, if they wanted a happy ending.
And so; I gesture back to this week’s GoT. What happens? The Night King walks through the carnage, we see no one oppose him. We don’t even get an idea of his individual strength. For all we know Gilly could have stuck him if she got the chance, because he never gets the chance to show how deadly he is. Thanos proves he’s a villain of monstrous proportions by kicking the asses of every single one of our heroes. The Night King survives a bit of dragon fire and kills one cockless man who had already resolved to die. The fuck?
I felt no triumph when he died. It was just a sort of ‘meh’ moment. Oh well, that’s him gone, on to killing the real big bad Cersei. Fuck that noise. The easiest way to fix the episode is to get rid of all the bullshit fake-out deaths and weird montages.
Picture this: The Night King fights Jon Snow outside Winterfell, we get the swordfight people wanted. The audience wonder if this is the moment Jon will do it, do what he is prophesied to do! Kill the Night King! But no, the Night King knocks him on his ass and smiles down at him, slowly raising the dead around him. Jon scrambles to his feet and makes a desperate defence, trying to chase his mortal enemy, but to no avail. The Night King vanishes into the press of bodies.
And then we start one long tracking shot as The Night King heads through Winterfell’s courtyard, his posse of Walkers cleaving him a path. One Walker shatters and out charges a random Winterfell Soldier. The Night King cuts him down with ease. He keeps moving. Out of the crowd, a flash of furs and ginger, Tormund charges with a war-cry! The Night King catches his arm before he swings and rams his sword through the Wildling’s stomach. Tormund gasps, then falls to the ground. The Night King keeps moving. Another Walker falls and Ser Davos charges. The same result, a simple sidestep and the Night King lops the Onion Knight’s head from his shoulders. The Night King keeps moving. We see the entrance to the Godswood ahead of him. He’s almost there. Another war-cry is heard off screen, and charging into the frame is Ser Brienne of Tarth. She chops and slices, trading a few blows with the God of Death. She almost does it, but not even a Knighthood can save her from The Great Other. She is ran through, and her body hits the floor. The Night King keeps moving. Jaime takes his shot now, enraged by the death of his love. He cuts down a White Walker and makes a move on the Night King, but cannot even reach him. He is pounced by a horde of ravenous wights, unable to even get close. Finally, The Night King reaches the gates to the Godswood. Only one stands in his way. A White Direwolf snarls at the God of Death, and the God of Death smiles again. This is no threat. The wolf leaps at him, and as he goes to swat it away, the creature bites into his forearm. We see rage cross his face, for the first time, we see something other than mild contempt for life. We see hatred. His blade pierces the white fur, and the wolf drops with a whine. The Night King enters the Godswood.
The rest of the fucking episode can play out like it did. I don’t care. But tell me that doesn’t sound like an infinitely cooler way to end it than it did? I’m not claiming to be a writer, I have had nowhere near enough life experience or practice at the craft to be able to claim to be able to fix this show. This is just what I would ideally have liked to happen (or something along these lines).
This episode had no consequences for me in the grand scheme, it was a way to get rid of characters who had long run their course and had no real way of getting a satisfying conclusion from this story. It also made most of the emotional beats from Episode 2 null and void. Brienne’s knighting, her achieving of the goal she’s wanted all her life, feels tarnished now. The entertaining, if completely dumb, scene between a bunch of my favourite characters sitting around a fire? Feels cheapened. The touching conversation between Grey Worm and Missandei about Narth? Sort of Pointless in hindsight.
I enjoyed all of those moments because they felt like goodbyes. I genuinely thought they would be goodbyes. But alas, the show has lost all of it’s bollocks and will not kill a character unless they cannot be bothered to write lines for them anymore.
There’s some other things I didn’t like, such as the crypts and the whole Tyrion and Sansa relationship through this episode, the complete under-usage of my good doggo Ghost, the general concept of Melisandre just… Turning up, and Davos somehow trusting her? Yeah, a lot of other stuff, but I don’t want to whine too much about this episode because I know a million people have already said these things.
As always, thanks fur reading, and I’m sorry this one was a little late. 🙂