It was only the third of the six-episode run of the show’s final season, but last night’s supersized episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” brought to a close arguably the biggest arc of the whole series – the White Walkers and the coming of winter.
The Battle for Winterfell saw the Night King and his army of the undead take on the living in a massive battle that took place at night and often in a blizzard which, combined with high traffic fan demand and low quality streaming services, turned what should’ve been some of the most epic visuals put to screen into something of a blurry, muddled mess at times.
As soon as the episode kicked off, tweets flooded social media with complaints that the episode was so dark that viewers had difficulty discerning what was happening. Gizmodo has looked into this and found that even with a good quality screen on a high-quality OLED (the best consumer TVs for shadow detail) people were still having issues.
Those who did see it though helped the show break a record – the episode officially became the most tweeted-about scripted television episode of all time, garnering more than 7.8 million tweets – breaking the 5 million tweets of the previous record holder – this year’s season premiere.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
In the wake of the episode’s airing, reviews have also been posted about the episode with the overall action seemingly mixed or positive with caveats. Many have pointed out it seemed logical Jon Snow would be the one to kill the Night King, and when it ultimately turned out to be Arya it has been met mostly with approval.
Speaking with EW, actress Maisie Williams admits she was reluctant at first and feared angry fans who wanted Jon Snow to land the final blow:
“I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn’t deserve it. The hardest thing is in any series is when you build up a villain that’s so impossible to defeat and then you defeat them. It has to be intelligently done because otherwise people are like, ‘Well, [the villain] couldn’t have been that bad when some 100-pound girl comes in and stabs him.; You gotta make it cool. And then I told my boyfriend and he was like, ‘Mmm, should be Jon though really, shouldn’t it?.’
When we did the whole bit with Melisandre, I realized the whole scene with [the Red Woman] brings it back to everything I’ve been working for over these past 6 seasons – 4 if you think about it since [Arya] got to the House of Black and White. It all comes down to this one very moment. It’s also unexpected and that’s what this show does. So then I was like, ‘F–k you Jon, I get it.’”
The episode certainly built it into the narrative such as the previously immortal Beric Dondarrion finally dying after fulfilling his purpose, saving Arya from death, so she could fulfil hers. Director Miguel Sapochnik tells the outlet the episode was structured in a way so that after she runs off you forget about her and focus back on Jon. So when he fails at the last minute, the switch up is a surprise. It’s one even Jon actor Kit Harington was caught off guard by:
“I was surprised, I thought it was gonna be me!. But I like it. It gives Arya’s training a purpose to have an end goal. It’s much better how she does it the way she does it. I think it will frustrate some in the audience that Jon’s hunting the Night King and you’re expecting this epic fight and it never happens – that’s kind of Thrones. But it’s the right thing for the characters. There’s also something about it not being the person you expect. The young lady sticks it to the man.”
You can relieve Arya’s killing blow in the clip below: