Battle of Winterfell a Winterfail?

Lucy Lillystone and Jacob Clarke debate the successes and failings of the longest ever battle scene in film and television history .

Lucy Lillystone
14th May 2019
Image- YouTube

Against the Battle

After waiting seven seasons for the epic battle between our favourite characters and the deadly Night King, Game of Thrones finally pulled through with the Battle of Winterfell, a fight fans have been hyping up for months.
Don’t get me wrong, it had brilliant visuals; Lyanna Mormont and her outstanding strength and power against a giant can only be described as badass and of course, the redemption of Theon Greyjoy which I can’t deny was his perfect ending. But despite all of these elements that made me not HATE the Battle of Winterfell, it had a whole load of problems, leaving me disappointed.

First of all, I couldn’t see anything. Whoever decided that having the biggest battle of all time in Winterfell, a place that is only ever lit by one or two candles, was dumb. I never thought I would hear myself say I was thankful for Melisandre’s entrance, but up until then, I had no clue what I was watching. My favourite character could have died, and I wouldn’t have known.

Secondly, placing the battle in episode three was a huge mistake. Usually I am complaining about the slow pace of Game of Thrones but by placing this battle, the battle that basically determined the fate of the characters in episode three leaves me worried. What have they possibly got to show us now? If the episode had been placed in the finale, perhaps I would have felt differently as we know this is all that’s left.

As for the characters performance in this battle, I have nothing but complaints. Bran Stark; I am sure by now everyone has seen the memes on the internet, but what did he even contribute to this battle? Half way through he decided "fuck it, I’m going to go for a little journey" and then returned for the end. Useless.

Then there was Jon Snow. This battle removed all his potential. We’ve seen how brilliant a fighter he is. We’ve seen his power and authority in the Battle of the Bastards and yet, all he was doing was riding around on a dragon and running away from another.

Don’t even get me started on Daenerys. From the beginning of season eight I have lost all love for the dragon queen and this episode made me hate her even more. Without her dragons, she truly is as useless as Bran in this episode and it showed. I am a huge fan of Emilia Clarke but her acting was terrible. Watching her attempt to stab the undead was cringe and this battle only confirmed she will not be sitting on the throne in the finale.

Finally, the Night King’s death. This is the death we have all been waiting for as the Night King is supposedly this all evil, unbeatable threat. And yet, he died by a single knife wound? Don’t get me wrong, Arya’s move was epic but I just expected more.

Overall though, the main tenant that let this battle down was its lack of personalisation. I felt detached. The writers missed an opportunity in having Jon Snow fight Ghost or one of his close friends as the undead. We didn’t even get enough time to watch the characters thrive in what they do best, as before we knew it the next scene was on. As a battle that had been hyped, it simply did not live up to its expectations and I wanted more.

-Lucy Lillystone

For the Battle

I recognise that Game of Thrones season eight episode three, ‘The Battle of Winterfell’, had its issues, especially that damn lighting. However, I believe that the pros far outweigh the cons.

It features heart-breaking character deaths, arcs coming to an end in brilliant ways, has huge consequences for the rest of the season and provides on-edge tension throughout.

The character deaths in this episode were incredibly emotional, especially those of Theon Greyjoy and Jorah Mormont. Theon’s redemption ark has finally come to an end and he definitely deserves his place as an honorary Stark. He successfully transitions from a conniving and snivelling bastard to an emotional and traumatised wreck, then finally to a hero who laid down his life to protect his own brother, a brother he once would have killed to take Winterfell from the Starks. Theon Greyjoy has been one of the most intriguing and well-developed characters in the show and it feels right that he will be remembered as a hero that died defending the North from the dead.

Jorah Mormont was also a long-lasting bastion of morality and respect within the show, often balancing out and grounding Daenerys’ madder moments. He also gave his life to protect his love, the dragon queen, from certain death. It’s an ending for him we all were expecting, dying in the service of his queen, but due to his fierce loyalty his death makes sense and is equally satisfying and devastating despite being predictable.

The intense lack of any light in this episode needs to be addressed. I do believe that the darkness very much added to that ominous feeling of the literal death coming for Winterfell and really added to the visuals of the dragon fire and Melisandre’s light. However, while I will admit it was difficult to see, I do think it very much added to that cold and unsettling atmosphere.

To me no character acted unlike themselves or out of character and it made perfect sense that it would be Arya Stark that finally ended the Night King. A trained killer, for years this is the moment her training has built up for and has delivered us a great and unexpected Game of Thrones twist.

The thing I don’t think people understand about this episode is that it is game changing and really does affect the state of Westeros. The white walkers destroyed Daenerys’ army, the Dothraki, and the North. Most of the North is destroyed and its people dead. If not for this battle Daenerys and Jon would have had no problem taking the iron throne from Cersei.

Ultimately I really enjoyed ‘The Battle of Winterfell’, it isn’t without it issues but the tension and suspense of the dead, the character moments and the epic fight scenes (Lyanna Mormont taking on that giant was an incredible moment) all culminate in an episode that has dire effects for what’s to come.

-Jacob Clarke

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AUTHOR: Lucy Lillystone
English Language and Literature graduate, writer and Film Editor 2019/20. Passionate about film, TV and books. 99.9% of my articles are me crying, emotional over my love for my favourite characters. Twitter: @lucylillystone_

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