Night King Gets The Pointy End

This story contains major spoilers through the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.

Welcome to the Thunderdome! Who did you have your money on? Hopefully not Lyanna Mormont.

We open with a closeup of Sam Tarly doing one of his freakout numbers. Pan out to a frantic army preparing for the battle. Tyrion keeps pulling from that wineskin, and I don’t blame him.

The dark and stormy nature of the setting made it difficult to track the movements of characters. One scene in particular, where a thousand or so Dothraki fire swords wink out in the darkness after Melisandre’s inspiring setup, embodies the ominous ambiance that the cast and crew were able to create.

There was criticism in an Uproxx review of this episode for the poor visibility. But the darkness added an element of suspense that would be lacking in full light. One might even say that the night was dark and full of terror…

The only one who consistently keeps their shit together is Bran, who dishes out reassuring compliments to Theon like a melancholic Dalai Lama. Everyone else runs around screaming.  

The fans got plenty of deaths, with both Mormonts, Theon, Dondarrion and Edd Tollet being among the count. They all do their fair share of wight-killing, but Lynna Mormont takes the prize of best martyr by stabbing an undead giant in the eye in her last breath.

The deaths were heart-wrenching and compelling, but they were noticeably only confined to fringe characters. No one immediately relevant to the plot progression died.

The sparing of integral characters is noteworthy, though, because it represents a shift in the greater narrative. Season 8 doesn’t compete with earlier seasons when it comes to killing off main characters. Game of Thrones reached the peak of that convention in the Red Wedding episode in season 3, and has since shifted toward a more conventional plotline. Obvious protagonists and antagonists have emerged, and it looks like the protagonists are going to keep their heads.

The show lost its political intrigue in that transformation. Characters like Tyrion have become a non-factor. His irrelevance is summed up best by Sansa, who tells him patiently as they wait in the crypt, “none of us can do anything… It’s the most heroic thing we can do now.”

At this point, there are two parties interested in the iron throne, and only one [Cersei’s] is playing games. Jon and Dany aren’t interested in a nuanced approach. They tend to go in straight lines and have a track record of bulldozing over the people who do otherwise.

There are still plot twists, though. Arya’s slam dunk on the Night King with that silky smooth dagger drop was great; Not just because it showcased her ninja abilities, but because it subverted our expectations that Jon would be the one to do it.

This episode was an even bigger blockbuster than the Battle of the Bastards in season 6, and represents the continued surge of a hollywood streak that will surely make for an entertaining finale.

It’s important to remember that an unchanging show is a boring show. The twists and intrigue are still there. They just manifest themselves in different ways. George, if you’re reading this, we [grudgingly] approve.

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