Tuesday 14 July, 2020

GOT Review: A hollow feeling after 'The Long Night'

This image released by HBO shows Maisie Williams in a scene from "Game of Thrones," that aired Sunday, April 28, 2019. (Helen Sloan/HBO via AP)

This image released by HBO shows Maisie Williams in a scene from "Game of Thrones," that aired Sunday, April 28, 2019. (Helen Sloan/HBO via AP)

With Claude Mills

Let the bloodletting begin in earnest. The apocalyptic show-stopping battle between the living and the dead was like the Lord of the Rings' Battle of Helms Deep - on steroids.

There was a major plot twist with Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) single-handedly killing the Night King and kiboshing the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead, including all of the Northerners who were revived by him after falling in battle. That was a bonafide fist-pumping moment, and a great twist of the tale but I was left feeling a little nonplussed as it seemed like the Matriarchy won again in its agenda of replacing a male hero with a heroine.

I know it was Arya who trained the longest and the hardest to gain her assassin skills. But it was Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) who was supposed to be the hero, he died and came back for this moment goddammit! So, great plot twist aside, I can't help but feeling that this is just another instance where men are being increasingly marginalised in some secret powerful agenda. 

Check the evidence: Jorah Mormont (Lain Glen) died protecting his unrequited love Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke); Jon was saved from the dragon by Arya who one-upped him by killing the Night King; and look at the scene-stealing extreme bravery of Lady Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) of Bear Island who had an insane zombie-giant killing moment that rivals the David vs Goliath story in sheer scope and imagination. The men were totally sidelined in this episode. 

But I digress. 

All in all, a lot of major characters survived while some had a spectacular send-off. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) had a fitting, redemptive end, dying to protect Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) the very boy he had earlier betrayed, and it was great to see Bran forgive him, and to tell him that his transgression had a grander greater Design: “Everything you’ve done has led you to where you are now. Where you belong… home."

There were some other real standout moments in the super-sized runtime: Melisandre (Carice van Houten) conjuring up some magic-based assistance by giving the Dothraki horde flaming swords only for the Dothraki to get slaughtered in the dark within the first 10 minutes of the episode; the swirling aerial fisticuffs between the dragons, Jon swashbuckling his way through the Army of the Dead and Grey Worm carving up his enemies with his spear.  

We said goodbye to characters such as Lyanna, all of the Dothraki, Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton), and one-eyed Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), who allows himself to be knifed by wights while saving Arya; and Theon who finally redeems himself for his evils defending Bran.

The survivors are getting ready to face off against Cersei (Lena Headley): Dany, Jon, Sansa (Sophie Turner), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), the Hound (Rory McCann), Arya, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who fought nobly beside Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), and even Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) made it through the terrors of the long dark night.

The literal fog of war was in full effect with Viserion's ice storm, clouds of smoke, and the dark scenery in a dreary, visual landscape that was hard for viewers to watch. 

As medieval fantasy battles go, this was not one of the best, as 'The Long Night' was a big dense sprawling episode that rang a little hollow in the end because it was a foregone conclusion that the living would win and then set off to fight Cersei. Still, it sets up the final battle which is to come to see who wins the Game of Thrones. 

Claude Mills is an award-winning veteran journalist, publicist and record producer. You can contact him at claude.mills@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this column represent the views of the writer and not necessarily that of Loop News.


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