Highs and Lows from the Battle for Winterfell:
For someone who expects everyone to bend the knee the moment she walks into the room, Dany’s weakness at the Ballte of Winterfell was damning proof of why she shouldn’t sit on it.
When the battle began and she watched the dead snuff the flames a of her Dothraki army, she panicked. Deviating from whatever the plan was, she raced into action. Tactically she put her dragon out of position, which brought Jon’s along with it. Now the living’s two biggest weapons were flying blind, unable to provide any support to the Unsullied or the army of the North. It’s true that the best battle plans fall apart the moment they hit the battle field. But Dany never gave Winterfell a chance, and she’s damn lucky Arya Stark saved the day or else she’d be the mother of three dead dragons.
Dany’s second failure was tactical in the midst of battle. Trying to flame The Night King when she had the chance was the right move. Gotta take the clean shot. But when his retaliatory ice spear missed, she should have turned on a dime and burned the battle field. Instead she flew off to god knows where and have him enough time to raise the dead. Had Dany been there, she could have stopped them in their tracks, giving Jon—a Targaryen—an opportunity to go thru the flames and take out The Night King.
High: The beginning
Hype and anticipation for this episode was off the hook. Beginning the episode with a slow, almost silent tour through the battle preparations brought the fear of death alive.
High: The darkness in the distance
I loved the choice to begin the fight by sending out a Dothraki charge but showing the fight from a distance. The sight of flaming Dothraki swords being engulfed by darkness made everyone awaiting in Winterfell gulp for the terror headed their way. Starting the battle this way helped keep the later fight scenes fresh, too. Loved it.
Low: The battle plan
So…what was the goal with the Dothraki charge? Even with flaming swords they were charging toward certain death that made no dent in their opponents. Seems like a waste of a great fighting force.
High: Arya in the library
Sometimes TV shows make the good guy’s feet a little too quiet. Obviously Arya is well-trained, but is she that quiet? Who cares. This scene kicked ass. It reminded me of the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park and was a good prelude to how she would eventually sneak all the way to The Night King.
Theron’s death was stupid and futile. A waste of his wasted life. He wasn’t going to defeat TNK, the story would never allow that, but he could have at least fought. Watching him mindlessly charge toward certain death, I felt bad for him in a way I never had. Theon was just plain overmatched in Westeros. He didn’t have the brains, guts or skills to be anything more than the loser he was. Bye.
Low: The crypts
This should have been more terrifying. The people in the crypts knew their fate would be determined by who next opened the door. A friendly face meant another sunrise, a dead face meant death. They never expected that dead face to come from within. Their fear should have overwhelmed the screen. It didn’t. More should have died. We should have come away mad at Jon, Sansa, et al for not realizing they sent their most vulnerable people into a literal death trap.
How cool was it that Arya could sneak up on The Night King from behind amongst all his friends but Jon couldn’t sneak up to him alone on the battlefield? I loved this moment as the culmination of all Arya’s training since season one. And I love that she always thought she was training to take down the names on her list, when in reality she put it to use on someone much more consequential.
But now I have to wonder: Is her story complete? If her role was to develop into a fighter capable of succeeding in that moment, then yes, it is. Can they realistically give her The Night King and Cersei Lannister? I doubt it, and that bodes ill for her future if she goes south.
High: The music.
I agree with those who argued the show lost some credibility by not killing off anyone bigger than Jorah, but I can live with it. However, just one time I would like to see a major character die in a random, non-epic way. Why? Because that’s the way it probably happens some times!
Low: The Hound
From now on when someone cowers during battle we’ll call that pulling a Clegane. He Cleganed it. Come on, man.
Low: The previous episode
The episode before this was one of my favourites for how the main characters gathered and paused before the fight thinking death was certainly near for some, or all of them. With almost all of them surviving, that episode now means less. I am bummed.