Game of Thrones: The Long Night is at best cheap fan service. Devastating for all the wrong reasons.
As I sit down to write this, the majority of public will be 30 minutes into “the biggest battle ever in TV and film”. Unaware the closing scenes that have prompted me to describe this episode as possibly the most disappointing episode in the history of Game of Thrones.
Not strong enough.
Game of Thrones: The Long Night is probably the most disappointing episode in the history of modern television.
What happened in Game of Thrones: The Long Night
Firstly, I must say I enjoyed small parts of the episode. I understand the criticism regarding the lighting however for me I actually think it added to the chaos. Reports from disgruntled watchers on twitter were a bit over dramatic and missed the main issues with the episode. On the other hand I do acknowledge a talented visual effects team should be able to convey darkness without negatively impacting the ability of the viewer to follow the action.
“I suppose in the end you think about the beginning.”
In true Game of Thrones fashion lets turn that on its’ head. Before you read further, be aware spoilers will be plentiful. If you have not watched Game of Thrones: Battle for Winterfell. Do so first. then come back to join me in my chastisement
At the climax of the episode the Night King approaches Bran in the Weirwood. The battle looks lost and following the somewhat hasty departure of Theon we await the final blow with bated breath. By this stage however I knew it would never come. The copious amounts of plot armour has denied our bloodthirst all episode. We are destined to be unsatisfied.
Predictably Arya Stark defied realism to become a human baseball, nestled firmly in the cold mit of the Night King we believed this was it.
We awaited the sucker punch.
It never came.
Smoothly and surely the killing blow came with little to no fanfare. Thus dispatching one of the series’ most bad-ass villains in pure unadulterated Snoke-like fashion.
I acknowledge this is a fantasy show and many may frown whilst I berate realism so let us rename this “relative realism”for the purposes of this review.
This is the level of realism we expect from the show and in the words of the late Ramsay Bolton (formerly Snow).
“if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
Game of Thrones: The Long Night suspends relative realism to mediocre effect. Let’s look at a few examples.
- Jorah Mormont escapes certain death following the charge of the Dothraki. Ignoring the complete lunacy apparently in this strategy. After which Jorah appears back to the main gates with sword in hand and healthy horse.
- A Zombie giant (I know but “relative realism”) decides to take a break from it’s crazed nature to delicately raise fan favourite Lyanna Mormont. Eons pass allowing the Lady Mormont ample opportunity to administer correct eye surgery to the afflicted.
- Night King recycles the recently diseased as he is pursued by Jon Snow. Despite once again insurmountable odds. Jon fights them back long enough for Dany to save the now biggest obstacle to her as the rightful Queen.
- The final montage in Game of Thrones: Battle for Winterfell features character after character encumbered with impenetrable plot armour somehow surviving despite the hordes of dead around them.
- Finally the battle concludes with the somewhat comical scene of Mr. Night King being felled. Arya literally going Solid Snake on his ass, evading the eyes of countless Wights humbling the harbinger of doom born millennia past with a cheap “switcharoo.”
All these scenes point to lazy writing, drunk on fan service with no idea how to write a meaningful conclusion. George R R Martin can lead the horses to water but…well you know the rest.
Possibly the main criticism of the episode that I present as an argument was that it was no longer a song of Ice and Fire. George RR Martin seduced us to fall in love with the grittiest and most ruthless of worlds.
Game of Thrones: The Long Night is the final reminder that this series is not what it once was. Even if I were blind, it is painstakingly obviously as to where George RR Martin has stopped in the books just by watching the series.
Series 6 begins to overtake its’ source material. From this point, effective pacing and clever characters writing are unceremonious purged to the Lord of light leaving us a dark, cold mess. The night is dark and full of disappointment.
I watched a fantastic YouTube video earlier that discussed two massive points I agree with. Firstly Game of Thrones’ plot and character arcs are now driven by “viewocracy”.
To explain this further let me give a few examples. Writer gets positive feedback regarding character, Arya Stark and Lyanna Mormont for instance. Writer than massively overdevelops character arc, power and plot of these characters at the expense of everything else.
To put it simply Audiences like Arya Stark and therefore we are force fed copious bad-ass Arya scenes.
The second point that really hammers home is the title of Book series. “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Not “Game of Thrones.”
Many an endorser of this episode will argue “yes, but it is called Game of Thrones. So it is obvious the big story is about the throne.”
A song of Ice and Fire is more relevant to the Northern plot. As the video puts it succinctly, this is the equivalent of killing the Emperor and Darth Vadar in The Empire Strikes Back so you can present Jabba the Hut as the main bad guy in The Return of the Jedi.
Game of Thrones: Battle for Winterfell is the best because "slay"
There will be many a fan out there who are willing to overlook the complete suspension of narrative simply because Lyanna and Arya had their moments now being renamed “slay” moments by vomit inducing millennials.
Let me make this clear now.
I have no problem with Arya Stark being the one to slay the Night King. Although I could have imagined countless alternative scenarios that would have given a more satisfying conclusion, I do love Arya Stark as a character.
The main problem was the narrative at no stage has built up to this conclusion. Ill informed will sit there telling me how the directors and writers have successfully hoodwinked me. The reality is far scarier.
Even more ill informed will tell me how there are clues as far back as the second series when Melisandre first met Arya. That’s funny as the writers have claimed they have planned to have Arya kill the Night King for three years. (I don’t believe this either). Therefore as much as endorsers argue this, it is nothing more than a happy (or unhappy) coincidence.
Ask yourself this? Has Arya Stark ever even discussed or encountered a Wight before this episode?
This resolution is empty, with Game of Thrones: The Long Night destroying various other character arcs in one foul swoop.
Jon is now pointless.
Bran is now pointless.
I did not speak in haste earlier. Game of Thrones: The Long Night really is probably the biggest TV let down I have ever experienced.
I do wonder now where the series will go. With the single biggest threat to Westeros extinguished in 82 minutes to rapturous applause from the mob. Those craving actual character development and strong narrative left to starve whilst the seekers of pure shallow spectacle over indulge in gluttonous manner.
Maybe there is still one more curve ball to be thrown and we all know Cersei has a strong arm however goodbye to the Night King. We never actually knew you at all.