What Happened in Game of Thrones Battle of Winterfell

Here’s what went down in Season 8, episode 3 of Game of Thrones, “The Long Night” (aka The Battle of Winterfell). Spoilers ahead.

This episode starts out with SO MUCH TENSION. And it never subsides. The whole episode was at 11 as far as tension. Maybe 12. My body was actually sore after it was over from tensing my muscles so much for the whole 82 minutes!

The beginning of the episode is very quiet. Everyone is getting ready for battle and looking out beyond the castle wall, searching for a sign of the White Walkers’ upcoming siege.

Why Was it so Dark?

The episode is very, very dark. It IS the long night, after all. A lot of people on social media complained about how they could barely see anything.

I think the darkness was intentional and helped express the feeling of the battle. Before the fighting, we were repeatedly shown vast areas of blackness. We strained to see and felt anxious. Just like the characters at Winterfell would be feeling.

Once the fighting started, we couldn’t tell what was happening. It was chaos that made the viewer feel the panic and confusion that the characters were feeling. For everyone sitting at home, squinting through the darkness, saying, “What is happening??” – YES, that’s what everyone in the battle was feeling, too. I think it was well done.

The Red Woman Lights Things Up

A lone figure rides out of the darkness. It’s Melisandre. She lights all the Dothraki swords on fire with her magic. They charge toward the Army of the Dead.

We see Jon & Dany from a rise in the distance, observing as the fire-swords are quickly extinguished and the Dothraki are swiftly defeated. Then it’s silence again. Some horses run back with no riders. A few men return. The remaining troops look wide-eyed and a touch panicked.

Jaime, Brienne, Jorah, Sam… where they hell are your helmets?

The White Walkers Advance!

During the fighting, we get glimpses of a character, and several times it looked like they were going down. I thought Brienne was a goner a couple times! And Sam has a few near-misses.

The battle that ensues is chilling. Literally. The wights overwhelm the Winterfell troops, who retreat quickly behind the wall and fire trench. Dany & Jon ride the dragons and attempt to rain fire down on the dead. They hold them off for a bit, until the Night King rides in on his dragon and creates a white-out so that Jon & Dany can’t see anything. Their dragons crash into each other and are pretty much useless.

Davos sends the signal to light the trenches, but Dany can’t see it because she’s encased in a white-out. They attempt to light the trenches with fire-arrows, but the chill of the White Walkers keeps extinguishing the flame.

Winter is definitely here.

Melisandra to the rescue. She magic-lights the trench! And it holds the wights… until it doesn’t.

Slowly, we see the wights walk into the flames and fall. Each one that falls dampens the flame a bit more. Ultimately, there are several nice undead-bridges for the rest of the hoard to cross. They surge forward and climb the castle walls!

Meanwhile, Down in the Crypts

Everyone is scared and nervous. Tyrion looks antsy and talks about how he could maybe do something if he were up top. Sansa says, yeah, you could die. They have a moment:

Sansa and Tyrion

Sansa: “None of us can do anything. That’s the truth. That’s the most heroic thing we can do now: look the truth in the face.” 
Tyrion: “Maybe we should have stayed married.”
Sansa: “You were the best of them.”
Tyrion: “What a terrifying thought.”

I love the mutual respect and (non-romantic) love they have for one another.

Bran’s Gonna Go Now

At the Weirwood Tree, Theon and the Ironborn are protecting Bran. Theon apologizes to Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven tells him it’s all good – he was meant to do all that shitty stuff so you could get here, now.

Then Bran says, “I’m going to go now,” to which Theon logically replies, “Go where?” Bran wargs into some crows so he can get a ravens-eye view of what’s happening out there.

Brienne and Jamie are still alive! Sam almost dies a few times. Ed saves him, only to take a knife in the chest in death #1 of the night.

Mormont and the Giant

A white walker giant storms through the gate, swatting people aside, and slaps Lyanna Mormont senseless. But she gets up! And charges! The giant grabs her by the neck and lifts her up. Her last, heroic act is to stab the giant in the eye and destroy him. Yes!

Jon & Dany are trying to fly above the snow storm and find the Night King or see the ground or something. But it’s chaos. Viserion’s icy flame attacks them and they are losing control.

Arya in Action

Arya Stark

Finally, we get to see Arya kicking some ass. She’s swinging her staff/weapon, stabbing and slashing and generally being awesome. But she takes a hit. The Hound snaps out of his temporary “resistance is futile” attitude to save her.

Arya escapes the dead that were chasing her and finds herself in a quiet library section of the castle. There are some dead milling around. That seemed weird to me. They appeared to be looking for people, but not too urgently and not too sensibly. They seem to function more on sound than sight… kinda like the walkers in The Walking Dead? Arya throws a book to distract them, then gets away, but they are hot on her heels and she RUNS.

The Hound and Beric find Arya and help her escape. But not before Beric is stabbed multiple times. Damn, if he doesn’t keep on ticking! He ultimately meets his end though, once Arya is safe. The Red Woman is there and we get some very interesting info in this scene!

Arya remembers her encounter with Melisandre when Gendry was taken away. Melisandre told her she would “close many eyes forever.” She explains that the Lord of Light brought Beric back to life for a purpose, and that purpose is now fulfilled. So… is Arya the Savior of the Seven Kingdoms?

Then Melisandre asks her, “What do we say to the God of Death?”

Arya replies, “Not today.” And she runs off.

Face-Off with the Night King

The dragons are battling in the air and Dany manages to knock the Night King to the ground and “dracarys” him. When the flames subside, he’s standing there like…

Night King

My first thought here was “He’s a Targaryan!” I started to think maybe we’d get some info about who he really is.

Jon is on the ground, charging toward the Night King, who is completely unconcerned. He does his thing and raises all the dead bodies littered around him. Jon is surrounded.

And? Dead bodies start coming out of the walls in the crypt! Lots of fans thought this might happen. I’m not on board with this scene, but at least they didn’t do anything cheesy like show an undead Ned Stark coming for them.

Chaos ensues in the crypt and Sansa & Tyrion have another moment together. They get out their weapons, share a long look, and he kisses her hand. Ready to face death.

Love is a Battlefield

Back on the battlefield, Jon is somehow fighting off the wights. Soon enough, Dany rains fire down from atop Drogon and gives Jon a reprieve. Jon gets away, headed for Bran.

But wait! Dany falls from Drogon. He lands, gets overwhelmed by wights and has a hard time taking flight. He finally gets off the ground, with wights crawling all over him! Will he survive?? No more dragon deaths, please!!!

Dany is on the ground, surrounded by wights. Jorah comes to her rescue! The two fight off the wights, but this is where Jorah’s story ends as he is stabbed several times. He died serving Dany. All he ever wanted to do.

The Big Finale

The Night King makes it to Bran at the Weirwood Tree. Theon is the only man left standing, but he charges the Night King bravely. The Night King snaps his weapon like a toothpick and impales him. Goodbye Theon. You were a good man.

The Night King approaches Bran and they have a brief stare-down. I was thinking maybe they were communicating somehow? I wonder if Bran will have any further insight to impart after this is all over? The Night King reaches for his sword and…

Suddenly, Arya leaps at his back with a dagger! (The dagger Bran gave her, you’ll recall.) The Night King turns, grabbing her neck and stopping her. Then she makes the most epic move ever, dropping the dagger from her top hand to her bottom hand and stabbing the Night King! He erupts in a cloud of shattered ice and the Army of the Dead all fall down.

Arya kills the Night King


The final scene is Melisandre. Ser Davos watches as she removes her amulet from her neck and walks out into the frozen field. She grows older by the second and quickly falls to the ground, dead. Thank you for your service, Red Woman.


I have to pat myself on the back a bit because in my last recap I correctly predicted that Arya would kill the Night King and that the Army of the Dead would be defeated in this episode.

I’m extremely happy with this episode. I was hoping the battle with the Night King would be resolved relatively easily because I’m much more interested in the battle with Cersei and how the whole “Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne” will play out!

I thought there would be more deaths, but I’m glad there weren’t! The deaths we saw were beautifully and respectfully executed. It was perfection.

What’s next? I’m sticking to my prediction that Dany will sit on the Iron Throne, but her reign will be more of a partnership with the kingdoms. Jon will be by her side and Sansa will rule the North.

But WHO will kill Cersei? My money is on Jaime.

For more, check out my best quotes, tweets and deaths from Game of Thrones S8E3.

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