It’s been almost a week, so I will be freer with details than I was when I watched it the first time. The episode was chaotic and dense enough that I opted to watch it again this morning before tonight’s new episode airs.
I liked it even better the second time.
I am not remotely unhappy or even especially surprised by Arya’s role. In retrospect, it was not only telegraphed during the episode, but was also what drove her sometimes odd story arc throughout the series. In the “making of” after the episode, they talk about knowing it’d be her for at least three years. The question the wife had was whether that dates back to when they had the sit down with GRRM to have him disclose to a key group what his plan were for the various characters and ending, or whether this was an independent decision. If the latter, it makes one wonder if in the books who does it will ultimately matter less than what comes after, or other events. Speaking of what comes after, I see tonight’s episode as almost a part two (probably the first portion amounts to that, realistically, then it goes in the direction of what’s next) showing aftermath, spread of knowledge of details, and reactions. If one wanted to build a false myth and redirect away from her skills, they could fake that Jon did it, but they’d have to think of that fast.
I had actually meant to post thoughts on how we might not be done with the proverbial Dark One and, as such, not done with Rand AKA Bran having an important role. In the Wheel of Time, (spoilers!) the Dark One turns out not to be a corporeal being, but rather the ethereal personification of entropy. The God of Death, in a sense. The Dark One (DO) employs minions and an agent, or avatar, to act out in the world, with circumstances that allow the DO to touch the world making him increasingly able to do so. The Creator has an even less direct role. The Dragon is the person who acts as the Creator’s champion; the savior. The DO is represented by Ishamael, later resurrected as Moridin. Rand, Dragon Reborn, defeats and finally kills Ishamael, but this doesn’t defeat the DO.
The nature of the Night King is such that he was just going to kill Bran physically, once they were done staring at each other and doing whatever was connected with that, which may have been something virtual or astral. They are both connected to the Weirwoodnet and are greenseers to some degree. But was the Night King the Dark One, or was the Night King the avatar of the Dark One, who is ultimately unaffected by his avatar’s unmaking? If the force the Children of the Forest harnessed in creating the Night King always existed and continues to exist, well, it may have to take a long rest, but the proverbial wheel still turns. If that’s the case, is the GoT version of DO still able to touch the world, or is he the equivalent of trapped away until next time in a few thousand years when someone drills a bore into someone’s chest with obsidian at a weirwood tree?
I loved the echo between Lyanna Mormont and Arya Stark. I loved Lyanna’s heroic demise. She saved a lot of people from that giant and was every bit the badass we knew she’d be.
Arya was delightful to watch as she whirled through wights. It was fascinating to see the long game center on her, with her as much the agent of the Lord of Light, Creator or whatever the force of good, life, or anti-entropy might be as Bran was. Action element and mystic element separated between two people.
If Bran was manipulating things all along in the past to make sure events played out as they did, we may yet see some of that depicted on the show. I’d be surprised if there’s not at least a little cleanup of that entire plot line. I’d also be unsurprised if there’s not reason for him to contribute to how the politics goes, or to prep things for some long in the future repeat of the battle with evil.
I noticed this time the echo between Sam and Jon. Sam was almost useless and might as well have been in the crypts to get attacked by undead late in the episode. Yet he fought bravely enough, enough of the time, to have survived, if not without some hiding or cowering. Edd died protect Sam, and maybe that was as much Edd’s role all along as Baeric’s with Arya. And to different degrees Mel’s and the Hound’s, though the Hound remains with us. Toward the end there, all the badass fighting by Jon was for naught. There was as much hiding, cowering, confusion and despair as there was accomplishment.
The charge of the light brigade, as it were, was brilliantly done to show what they were up against. Melisandre made the Dothraki literally forces of light, so you could see them swallowed and extinguished by forces of darkness. I was fascinated by Melisandre’s greeting to Grey Worm.
House Mormont is no more. Jorah went out as a heroic badass in exactly the way we might have expected. Sam’s sword was incredibly useful. Perhaps that was tied to the depiction of Sam as being not especially useful. He owned the weapon, not the skill, and he knew it.
Melisandre had ways of knowing things, so it was no surprise for her to dredge up “not today.” What’s fascinating in retrospect is why Jaqen H’ghar was in King’s Landing in the first place and why he took Arya in as a trainee, then let her decline and leave once she’d passed the test. There have been theories about him all along. He was supposed to kill Ned but it was moot. He was Syrio. That sort of thing. It makes sense that she’d be prepared to do what needed to be done later, but someone would have needed to know. Was Bran manipulating people? Was H’ghar working with the forces of R’hllor?
What else? Been working on this off and on long enough to have lost track of things I might have been thinking.
I wasn’t surprised the Night King wasn’t harmed by fire. He was supernatural in origin. He had to be unmade at a weirwood, in just the right way. I loved the look on his face when the flames cleared.
I’m waiting to see Varys have an actual role this season, and a fitting death. We know it’s coming, after Mel predicted it. Will we ever learn what he saw in the flames? I wonder if he will be a traitor.
Anyway, can’t wait for the next one. I’ll update this or mention it later if I see something glaringly missing.
I haven’t rewatched that part to catch it myself, but I saw an intriguing catch from when Jon was facing off with Viserion and he seemed a bit lost. Apparently he stood up an yelled at the dragon, which would seem to most an odd mode of attack. Allegedly what he yelled was “go!” He apparently had seen Arya waiting to get past the dragon and used distraction to allow her to get through at the right time. That certainly changes things. I’ll have to look for it.