Okay, we’re now 24 hours removed from The Long Night – Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3. One thing remains stuck in my head.
Warning: major spoilers ahead. If you’re not caught up with Game of Thrones, skip to the links.
While Arya is getting all the love for her high-flying, two-handed cross-over take down of the Night King – and, of course, rightfully so – it was really Melisandre who was the MVP of the episode
First, she shows up out of nowhere to light the blades of the Dothraki on fire. Sure, this ultimately did nothing during the actual battle, but it without question fired up the troops who were clearly scared shitless up to that point.
Second, she lit the trenches when Dany could not (nor could the archers). Again, this ultimately proved futile, but it did give the troops just enough time to catch their collective breath and regroup ahead of the surge of the dead.
Third, and most importantly, she sure seemed to tell Arya exactly what she needed to do in order to end the battle. Before this scene, Melisandre was last seen telling Arya – in season 3 – “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever. We will meet again.” In last night’s episode, we got a slight tweak:
Arya: “You said we’d meet again.”
Melisandre: “And here we are. At the end of the world.”
Arya: “You said I’d shut many eyes forever. You were right about that too.”
Melisandre: “Brown eyes, green eyes – and blue eyes.”
The tweak to the order says it all.
And yet all of this leaves even more questions. Were her previous nefarious actions – birthing the smoke assassin, going after Gendry’s blood, having Shireen burned alive, to name a few – simply to set various pieces of the plot in motion? What about her hand in resurrecting Jon Snow? Why is it important that she’s hundreds of years old – as we see again in this episode, at her end?
Ultimately, I think it’s okay to have a lack of clarity on Melisandre. She spends much of the series with a seeming lack of clarity herself. I’m less okay with the lack of answers around the Night King.
Maybe we’ll get more in the last two episodes – it also seems unclear what Bran’s role will be now without a supernatural threat, is he really going to help them in a more conventional war? – but it sure feels like that was our quick goodbye to the Night King. A loose end tied up to progress to the next battle for the throne.
This is, of course, reminiscent
of the end of Snoke in The Last Jedi
. The Night King seems less of a MacGuffin
, but his death was a little too quick and certainly too clean. And this in general has me a little worried about the overall end of Game of Thrones
– the show. Working without the scaffolding of George R.R. Martin for the past few seasons, the show has seemingly gotten more straightforward. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic – and arguably better than it ever was – but it’s not quite as surprising
as it was in the past. Perhaps this is just the need to tie up the loose ends in a rather limited amount of time. But something feels… almost conventional.