We knew the epic battle was coming, but we didn't know quite how intense it would be—or that it would go beyond our wildest expectations. The New York Times says the Battle of Winterfell did just that, calling the third episode of the final season "a masterpiece of tension and release, goose bumps and heartbreak, grandiosity and intimacy." And it's also getting cinematic props, with people buzzing about one chilling scene in particular: when the Dothraki swords are "ignited in a wave of fire, only to extinguish one by one in the distance." More on what others are saying, with the obligatory spoiler alert:
- Blasts from the past. Chaim Gartenberg at the Verge reports on some of the "smaller moments seeded throughout the show's past" that once again bubbled up to the surface. These historical nuggets include Melisandre's first meeting with Arya—who ended up annihilating the Night King in Sunday night's show—in the third season of GoT, when Melisandre told Arya she envisioned her shutting a bunch of eyes "forever." But, Gartenberg notes, there's still one "piece of lore that didn't pay off."
- The darkness wasn't just metaphorical. Last night's episode was called "The Long Night" for cinematic as well as narrative reasons. In Vanity Fair, Joanna Robinson talks with Fabian Wagner, the episode's director of photography, and asks, "Was that Game of Thrones battle literally too dark?" The episode left "many at home squinting and scooting closer to see if one of their favorites had just died in the dimly lit clash," but Wagner says there was a dramatic purpose behind such eyeball irritation: to make the "storytelling of the lighting evolve with the storytelling of the characters."
- A surprising body count? After two episodes with virtually no death, fans braced themselves for Sunday night, expecting a bloodbath. But in the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg said the episode felt "almost timid" in its death toll in a "battle of this consequence." And that's not the only thing about the show that Rosenberg found lacking in "genuine power."
- Death toll explainer. Of those who did bite the big one, Josh Wigler takes on the task of documenting who died for the Hollywood Reporter, and "why it matters."
- Reaction from the real-life (Night) King Slayer. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, reveals her feelings to EW.com on finding out her character is the one who kills the leader of the White Walkers. "It was so unbelievably exciting," Williams says. "But I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn't deserve it."
- Still have questions about the episode? So does Alicia Lutes for Vulture, and she lays out her eight biggest ones. At the top of her mind: Is Arya "the Prince That Was Promised"?
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