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Y’all I got a set of complicated emotions here so strap in for my garbage
This episode was… a lot of things, okay? While watching it, I was absolutely blown away by nearly every aspect of it, and while I’ve since dialed down my uninhibited praise, there was a lot of good stuff that took place. Above all of it is the fact that the writers and directors and actors and stuntcrew and assistants and costumers and makeup artists and everyone clearly put in the hardest and most grueling work possible without actually fighting a battle and I really do want to give them all of the praise in advance of whatever awards they will inevitably win at this year’s Emmys. This was a dissertation on pain, and I almost feel bad criticizing parts of it because if you were on that set, you have done more difficult things than I have. It literally looked like hell, and a thank you to everyone for that.
I’m…. still not sure about how to break down my thoughts, but I landed on hitting the high notes, hitting the lows, and then the stuff I’ve got mixed feelings about. I contain multitudes.
Everything Sansa and Tyrion
These scenes were a gift bought from the wedding registry of my heart and I adored them. The first scene, with Tyrion arguing that he should help and Sansa calling him “the best of them” re: her husbands was an absolutely necessary break from the horror movie that was this battle, and the dialogue was flawless. Sansa’s line about being honest and how it is the bravest thing they can do gave me good chills, and I loved that Tyrion got jokingly offended at being called her best husband; it allowed a bit of the sassy jerk Tyrion back in.
And the second scene, with them hiding behind the one grave, and Tyrion kissing her hand in a move that clearly says “we are both about to die and you are a good woman” was perfection, especially with Ramin Djawadi’s forever-creepy piano score (I’m still scared of pianos in this show because of the sept explosion, pianos are the JAWS theme of Westeros) and I am glad we have gotten to see the interactions between the two of them. Show Tyrion is not the same to Sansa as Book Tyrion, but these scenes were really good character notes, and they even managed to throw in a little potential plot movement about Tyrion’s dedication to Daenerys being a potential problem in the future. Just… yes, good, more please
The creepiness factor
Episode: thanks, I hate it
I don’t watch horror movies, I don’t watch horror movie trailers, I regularly search for both the plot and the parental guide on imdb if I think there’s anything even slightly scary about to happen so I won’t scream or have nightmares or whatever. This episode was the worstbest for that. The choreography of the wights was horrific and amazing at every single beat, and I don’t know what job title the person who came up with it has (Absolute Super Not Okay Dude) but you are really good at your job and I hope I never meet you because I’ll burst into tears.
There were so many parts that were full-on terrifying (the Night King raising the dead, their pile formation onto the fires to climb over, literally everything about the noises they make no THANK YOU), but for me, the creep factor was maxed out at the wights walking off of the roofs of Winterfell like there was no edge, then landing, and then immediately going into attacks. It just had such a fatalistic tone to it, and I don’t know how to explain that better despite the fact that yes these are already dead people doing a dead thing. I just…. shivers, forever, forever and ever.
That one shot of Brienne and Jaime in silhouette
They are on the ramparts and they are each fighting like 20 wights at once and I don’t know who put that shot together but bless you to the heavens
Also my official name for my dedication to this ship is #QuitPlayinJamesWithMyTarth
You had better be laughing I am goddamn hilarious
If they both lived through this battle and still don’t kiss in the last three episodes I want to speak to the manager
Arya’s library scene
Yessssss good my tiny murderpuppy runnin’ around with the books and being annoyed at her own bleeding because it is making a sound. This was (see above) the worst and the best, I was legitimately creeped out the whole time, and that last little Surprise It’s Death wight at the end that she stabs all gross is my true jump scare of the episode. I like it when Arya is Peak Cat of the Canals, I really do. She’s talented, and she’s fearless, but she’s not stupid: she’s got her dad’s bravery and her mom’s survival instincts and if she can sneak around to make a kill she gon’ do it. Props to Maisie, props to the choreographers, props to the props, just good job all around.
My deadpool was actually mostly right, minus Brienne and Grey Worm. I missed Edd, both in that he’d die, and that I miss him and I am genuinely sad that he is gone. He was the voice of my depression and the last of Sam and Jon’s Watch bros (since we decided to kill off Grenn and Pyp for no reason no I’m not still bitter about that why would you say so). And I was only half sure about Lyanna – I thought her being a kid would maybe get her a bit farther, but this is this show, kids are dead. Kids are probably more dead. And her death was perfection: she took out the greatest individual threat in the battle other than the Night King because she is the baddest bitch out here and I love her. Mormont as hell. Here We Stand, Motherfuckers. (also is this house officially dead now or???)
I called Beric, who’s death was a bit heavy-handed with the Christ-imagery, but it was still a bit of a gutpunch, and I’m glad he protected Arya and Sandor while dying. Jorah the Fedora, my guy, I am sorry, but I just don’t care. In practical terms you should be dead of greyscale and you’re still a weird old creep who was inexplicably forgiven by the woman he betrayed. His entire life was the hero of a teen rom-com yelling “BUT THAT WAS BEFORE I KNEW YOU AND KNEW HOW COOL YOU WERE” to defend the backstabbing he does over the first hour of the movie plus the hero is a slave trader and a sad sack who has been learning guitar for 8 years but still only knows one-and-a-half Ed Sheeran songs. Why is Jorah in the good section of this blog post? Because I called his death correctly, and I don’t have to waste eyeball time on him any more.
Watch Daario show up in an ep or two just to piss me off
And Theon. Oof. My guy. Of course you were sent to the godswood to die like a Stark, and Bran telling you that you are a good man was unsubtle, but oooooooof do I have feelings about your character. Thank you a million times to Alfie Allen, who produced some of the most heartbreaking work in this show, and I’m not referring to his storyline with Ramsay. His interactions with other Greyjoys and his execution of Rodrik Cassel back in season 2 are some of the most complicated emotions I’ve had in this series. A boy torn from his family and given to another family and feeling as if he belonged nowhere and then he messes up enormously and then he is punished way, way beyond what is okay and he died for Bran, but he also died for Ned and Robb and Catelyn and Rickon and the North. His story got backburner-ed in the last two or so seasons and was never perfect, but if you wanna do a deepdive into “is this character good” and you have a few weeks, pick Theon Greyjoy. Also if you want to hurt for the rest of your conscious life, pick Theon Greyjoy. Ugh I need to go lie down for a month and think about him I did this to myself WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE
Cutting the lighting budget again
Like, that image above is with some fire to light the set, and it’s still fuzzy at the edges. I spent way too much time (in that I spent any time) trying to figure out if characters were dead or if it was just chaotic darkness. Grey Worm especially, because of his helmet, I absolutely thought was dead like 3 separate times. We had curtains drawn, lights off, the whole deal, and it was still hard to see a lot of this episode. Even well-lit battles can get confusing, and this one was lit with a single four-year-old electric tea candle left over from a Christmas decoration.
The cinematographer for the episode, Damien Wagner, has come out saying that the episode was not too dark and he knows because he shot it. Which, I mean, okay? But like literally any person at any concert with a phone with a camera in it knows, what you see might not be exactly like the finished product. And in that article, he goes and says that this is a TV tuning issue, or (even better) because people are watching the show on their iPads, which is not how it is meant to be enjoyed. “Upgrade your lifestyle for my art” is not a valid argument for an HBO show that is also available on a streaming platform; it’s just not. I shouldn’t have to hope Melisandre shows up so that I can see the fucking battle. The reply also seems kind of ableist, but I’m not getting anywhere with trying to articulate it: if anyone sees where I’m coming from and can help, I’d appreciate it a lot.
I’m a person who will throw subtitles on to every movie I watch alone (and if I can get people to do it in a group, then too). I don’t know if I’m not great at auditory processing, or if it’s basically just a preference, but I know that some moviemakers get super mad about sullying their art with subtitles. And “people want to be able to enjoy your stuff through reasonable accommodations” seems like a thing that is okay. “Your peasant, flawed senses cannot possibly appreciate my genius” seems like a thing that isn’t.
This reminded me of when people were like “we couldn’t understand Bane” in The Dark Knight Rises and people were like “well duh he wears a mask so he’s going to be hard to understand and he’s got an odd accent” and it’s like THAT’S NOT THE POINT, THE POINT IS WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO CONSUME ART THAT IS MADE FOR CONSUMPTION
If you showed up at the orchestra and the soloist decided to play their pianissimo parts so that the room couldn’t hear them, that’s no longer an artistic choice, and if you act like it is, that’s a shitty argument.
Melisandre, most of the time
I’m glad she showed up so I could see, and her lighting of the trenches was pretty freaking cool, I’ll give her that, and if I were that old I’d also just walk into the forest and die. But this is a lady who will literally die for aesthetics, and it just ends up looking like bad fantasy writing on a screen. She saunters in and asks Jorah to translate for her so she can do…something. She walks up to light those trenches up like it’s her goddamn wedding day and she’s Maria von Trapp instead of gettin’ to steppin’ like there’s an army of dead about to eat her face off.
I get that her whole thing is to be dramatic as hell about literally every component of her existence, but this episode was just my yelling “NO ONE TALKS/MOVES/ACTS LIKE THAT” at the TV while she was on-screen. And y’all, I hated her stupid eyes speech. I was making “blue eyes, no hearts, can’t die” jokes because that was some Friday Night Lights shit (hey could we have possibly gotten some Sunday Night Lights so I could SEE THE EPISODE). If she was just hovering in that room by chance so she could give Arya a pep talk I’m not really about that. And the speech seemed like, to me, to at least be an attempt of the show to conceal that Arya was going to do the killing. Idk, guys. Idk. Me n Melly have never been besties and the entire Shireen thing was a mess for everyone and then she comes in for this battle at the last second and essentially vogues and gives a March Madness pep talk and then dies. *shrug*
Also, yes, I know, the green eyes thing, Cersei has green eyes, or whatever, I’m still Team Jaime is the Valonqar and it will take the show actually reaching her death to knock me off this hill and not necessarily even then
*whispers* lemme be right about this plz
What an absolute flappy-murder-lizard mess.
As you probably know if you’ve spent any time on this blog or with me in person or in a radius around me where you could hear me yell, I hated the stupid episode from stupid season 7 where they stupidly take a stupid camping trip for the stupid reason of grabbing a wight to then stupidly trek down to King’s Landing to show Cersei. It was idiotic, it was plotted terribly, it lost them a whole-ass dragon, and Jon should be dead. The whole stupid point of this stupid series is that people can die really easily, so to let Benjen Stark swoop in at the last second and save our smol sadboi was bad storytelling, and then we did it again, with this stupid episode.
You have two dragons, the Night King has one. I know Jon wasn’t hired to know stuff but he did learn his numbers and the two is an advantage. Yours do the fire thing, maybe do the fire thing at the dead people because the fire thing makes them not fight anymore. Do the fire thing even before the dead people meet with your armies, just roast ’em like a mile back. At least look down for your one assigned responsibility (lighting the trenches) and notice that hey maybe it is time to do the fire thing. And if the dead dragon is helping the Night King do the weather thing, maybe figure out a way to fight the weather thing by fire thing-ing the dead dragon? It was just so useless, and the filming of the dragon scenes was like a rollercoaster crossed with the creepy tunnel scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You couldn’t see anything and Dany and Jon couldn’t see anything and these two incredibly powerful beasts that, y’know, helped the Targaryens conquer the entire dang continent are suddenly useless. Watching them try to fly the things was like “the enemy’s gate is down” if you also couldn’t see clearly. No one signed up for Orson Scott Targ. Fix your shit.
And, as a last thing, fucking stop landing your fucking dragons on the fucking battlefield, Dany. You can fly, they can’t, and landing Drogon on the field is like you landing a Spitfire on the streets of Berlin and being like “pew pew this is a good system.” Wights will climb on him. You will be unable to take off. You are dumb as rocks and learned nothing from Ernest Shackleton-ing two years ago to save your nephewboyfriend. You wanna be that show with dragons, not that stupid show with stupid dragons. They waste so much CGI on these doofus animals when Ghost, who has never done anything wrong in his entire fluffy violent life, is RIGHT THERE.
Okay kids here’s my conflicted feelings part
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT
Now, to be clear, I am an uninformed dunce. I know nothing about armies or troop movements or strategy or anything. But I do know a little something about racism, aaaaand sending the Dothraki off like that felt kinda racist. The show and the series it is based on have always struggled with this: the non-white characters we see are nearly always sex-crazed and/or violent. The Dothraki haven’t been individuals in a long time, and this felt like a real easy way to not have to write about them anymore. Was the shot of their (curved, of course, foreign swords are always curved) lit-up weapons charging and then winking out visually stunning? It was, it absolutely was. But why was this how they were fighting? And if Melly didn’t show up to light them, were they just gonna charge without being able to see?
And then there’s the Unsullied, which have fared better, but not great. Also an army of mostly POC, and they also ended up weirdly on the front lines. I’m happier with this specific army, because watching them hold their positions in the tight formation to protect the retreat was really something, and I liked seeing them demonstrate their discipline in a real-as-hell battle. Most are dead, because they will die obeying orders. But again, do we put polearms behind a charging cavalry? I don’t know how I feel about this, guys. Some of the shots and all the emotions were present with the troop movements (the retreat as a whole was a hell of a thing), but what was the strategy here? And it definitely wasn’t all for gorgeous cinematography because the battle outside the walls of Winterfell was a rock tumbler with blackout curtains around it.
I am more than happy to hear other ideas on this, or a person who knows strategy explain it a bit better. I’m hashtag notherefor anyone to tell me that the show doesn’t have race issues, because it does, and I’m not fighting on that front. And I don’t think anyone who reads this is a dude who will come in and be like “ugh ladies be not battlin'” and be difficult, but none o’ that either. Sorry for sounding defensive and tired, but I am feeling defensive and tired.
Why didn’t more people die in this world-ending battle
This show has done a number on us, y’all. In season 1, people new to the story were enraged about Ned Stark, and now, here, at the end of all things, we are like *pounds table* BLOOD MAKES THE REALM GROW/ KILL, WIGHTS, KILL and were disappointed with this episode. I’m not better than anyone, I was also weirdly bloodthirsty, but in fairness to all of us, this battle was hyped like the seventy-fourth Hunger Games with the survival rate of the seventy-fourth Hunger Games and that just didn’t happen.
And people are mad, too, about the fact that this is the third episode of six and the Big Bad is done and now they have to go fight…. Cersei? And her sidepiece, CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey if he accidentally got left in the pool overnight? (I have to see Euron on Sunday and I’m so upset, guys, I’m SO UPSET.)
It’s a bit of a mess, and I am of two minds about this. I think the show has historically been stronger when it does the politics thing rather than the magic thing, and I’m not unhappy about the last few episodes focusing on the politics rather than the magic. However, I know that I’m really influenced by the books here, since we’ve seen so little of the magic there.
AND YET, I totally get people being really upset about this not being the last episode. The Night King is the Biggest of Bads, and life vs. death is the most important of the fights. This got a little bit less true for me with some of the choices in the episode, like NK smirking up at Dany after she tried to dracarys him. The Walkers (I want to say “Others” every time even though the show doesn’t use the phrase, gah) seemed more human in the way they approached Bran and with the dragon targeting specific humans and especially that smirk. But he is death, he is Smaug, and going to do anything else after turns this into the Battle of Five Armies and everyone hated that movie.
In conclusion, I have no conclusions. I can see people loving and hating this episode being the third of six. There’s less doom and gloom over the show, but it does allow us to do a lot more rather than having to look over our shoulders once per twenty minutes of screentime because the dead wanna throw a costume party and the theme is dead and you will be at this party forever. Lemme know what you all think and I’ll probably be just as confused later.
Arya With the Kill
This has been an absolute mess in the fandom, with mostly bookreaders hating it and the opposite for show-only, but there’s not even a consensus, and trying to reason it out is like shouting “THE DESIGNATED HITTER IS BULLSHIT” in August at any sports bar in a major city and expecting anything but chaos. And because I am either intelligent or cowardly, here too I can see both arguments.
In terms of the plot, in both most of the show and all of the books, ….yeah, this was Jon’s kill. He cared most, he’s been pushing everyone to believe him, at times he was the only one at all focused on ice zombies to the point where he wanted to shake everyone. If we are looking at storytelling consistency, this is definitely off. And I’m not sure if this is a kill that Jon himself would want; he might! This was his terrorbaby, he might be the one who wants to sweep the leg. However, Jon is doing his best to dodge and/or abdicate every bit of responsibility that he can, so if someone else comes up and says “hey I’ll do the thing for you” he might just be like “I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS BUT GO AHEAD”
In terms of this episode, of this show? Arya’s it. We don’t need a battering ram to take out the Night King; we need an assassin. The contrast between Theon’s final charge and Dany’s attempt to burn and then the actual successful attack from Arya shows that you cannot be exactly honest and straightforward with this dude and win. Arya’s library scene set this up really well, and I’m glad we got to see her do her knife flip because I love those knife flips.
The one thing that I don’t wanna hear from fans that I have heard from fans is calling Arya a Mary Sue. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s a female character who can do no wrong and is just really good at everything. If this character were male, they’d just be called the protagonist. It’s a sexist term to begin with, because it’s only applied to female characters, and it’s not correct even if you could use it. Arya spent a really, REALLY long time in Braavos, and that was after training with Needle forever, and holy God do you guys remember how long she was with the Faceless Men because it was SO LONG, GUYS. She trained, and she’s good, and you can be frustrated that it wasn’t Jon, but you can’t be mad that it was Arya.
ANYWAY. Y’all. I got feelings. And I had to hug a pillow in fright. And I don’t know how to stop running my mouth. Tune in next week to see me scream about Euron forever.