'Game of Thrones' Player of the Week: Body Count Rises in Deadly Battle of Winterfell

'Game of Thrones' Player of the Week: Body Count Rises in Deadly Battle of Winterfell

April 29, 2019

The Night King’s army swarms over Winterfell as the best-laid plans of the living quickly go wrong in every conceivable way.

Once again, the action remained squarely in Winterfell, but this time it was almost all action as the Night King’s forces arrived and the Battle of Winterfell brutalized the cast.

It was easily one of the most epic battle scenes ever put to film, and with the wights moving like fast zombies from "World War Z" — they even learned wall-climbing from that film — it was unlike any epic fantasy battle yet.

There have been many comparisons to the epic Battle of Helm’s Deep from "The Lord of the Rings," with "Thrones" creators assuring fans this battle is even bigger. It was certainly epic in scale, and while it had familiar beats of any siege-based battle, it also brought a whole new element of horror to the proceedings.

Remarkably, the 82-minute episode managed to spare key moments for every single one of those characters we shared a quiet night with last week without ever appearing dull or if it had forgotten the battle. The only scene that went on perhaps a little too long was Arya’s quiet skulking through the library of Winterfell.

The tone of the whole hour collapsed in that scene, and it also felt like such a jarring departure for Arya herself, who we’d just seen kicking ass and not bothering with names up on the ramparts. Maybe it was her head injury, or maybe she didn’t want to draw any more wights in, but the whole thing was a little odd.

Melisandre made her triumphant return to the show this week and she gave the living a fleeting moment of hope upon her arrival, setting the Dothraki blades ablaze before the rode into battle. It was a visually stunning piece of film, one of many such moments as Winterfell did its best against overwhelming odds.

In the "Game of Thrones" you win or you die. For this final season, we’re going to track the biggest game moves each week from the remaining players, and then break down what went wrong for each player that loses, i.e. dies. And then we’ll declare our "Player of the Week" until we make our way to the finale and the ultimate winner. Who will it be?



Night King Destroys Dothraki

It immediately threw Daenerys off her game to see her people slaughtered as the opening salvo of the battle. Rather than wait for the Night King to approach Bran at the Weirwood tree, he got her blood boiling and got her aloft and on her dragon. It was then that the Night King brought forth his storm clouds, which only further confused the living dragons, causing mid-air collisions and missed cues.

The Night King was basically owning this battle from the start. He had the numbers, and those would only grow with the more dead he created. he had the storm, he had his ice dragon and he proved impervious to flame himself. Yeah, this guy is a huge problem.

Melisandre Lights the Trenches

Greyworm provided the cover, but it was Melisandre who literally faced death to give her incantations and light the trenches, delaying the oncoming hordes. It was perhaps her bravest moment of the entire show, and a hugely redeeming one after all the ups and downs of her journey.

She truly seems to have been trying to serve her Lord of Light the whole time, but to what end will apparently remain forever unclear. Was the Night King her true nemesis this whole time? The battle between fire and ice made manifest in these two magical beings?

Bran Welcomes Theon Home

It might ultimately be an inconsequential moment, but it was a huge one for Theon, who has struggled with unrest in his heart ever since he first betrayed Bran and the only family he’d ever known. Theon has paid a lot of pain and suffering for his choices, but never was it enough for him to forgive himself.

And since it was Bran he overthrew when he took Winterfell in a far simpler time, it is key that it is Bran who proves he’s not only forgiven him for everything he ever did, but that it was all for this purpose, to bring him home. And with that declaration, and Bran’s thanks for protecting him, Theon found a peace he’d maybe never known.

Beric and the Hound Save Arya

Beric gets extra points for this one because it was at his urging that the Hound was even able to face his fear of fire and get back into the action. Clearly, Clegane has tremendous respect for Arya, as watching her face death was enough to shake him out of his stupor.

The men then entered the castle and were able to come to the stunned Arya’s rescue, saving her from certain death. Melisandre made it clear this was Beric’s purpose in coming back at all, per the Lord of Light. And considering how the episode played out, it was a pretty important move.


Lyanna Kills Giant Wight

Bonus points for being such a badass from the moment we first laid eyes on her, Lyanna Mormont proved once again that she is one of the coolest characters in the whole damned show, coming back from being tossed aside by a dead giant only to score the killing blow with dragonglass through the eye.

The creators spoke after the episode about how Lyanna was supposed to be a one-scene character, but the performance of Bella Ramsey in the role was so compelling, she simply demanded more. What’s more, she demanded a key presence here in this battle, too, and deserved every moment of time she was given.

Melisandre Channels Syrio and Jaqen

It was one of the strangest exchanges of the whole hour, when Melisandre spoke to Arya after they found themselves in the same room once the Hound and Beric had saved Arya. She spoke using the words of Arya’s dance instructor, Syrio Forel, and her cryptic speak was reminiscent of Jaqen H’Ghar as well.

It was also worth noting that she may have inspired Arya by reminding her that she had prophecized Arya killing many people of many eye colors, including brown eyes, green eyes and blue eyes. Cersei’s eyes are green. Now who has blue eyes?

Jorah Defends Daenerys

Things aren’t looking great for either Daenerys Targaryen or Jon Snow when both are thrown from their dragons during the battle. The Night King was thrown from his as well, but he didn’t seem to mind it much, just gathering his generals and marching in slow motion to the weirwood tree.

As a parting gift, he left Jon surrounded by wights. Once again, Dany foolishly landed her dragon after saving Jon with dragonfire, only to have wights mount and start trying to kill Drogon. In his efforts to survive, he tossed Dany and left he defenseless. Only she wasn’t, because Jorah Mormont is ever where she needs him. He stood, like Theon, much as Boromir did to protect the hobbits in "The Lord of the Rings."

Arya Kills the Night King

And you thought it would be Daenerys Targaryen or Jon Snow that got to kill the Night King, but it was our little Arya, all grown up and still kicking ass and taking names. Inspired by Melisandre’s message about taking the life from people of different eye colors, Arya charged the Night King, only to be snatched by the throat.

In a very slick move, though, she snatched her blade and shoved it into the same place the Children of the Forest stabbed him with dragonglass to create him in the first place. Upon his death, all of the risen dead dropped to the ground in an expanding ring from where the Night King perished, saving many, many, many of our favorites who were on the verge of being overwhelmed.



Eddison Tollett was one of the last surviving brothers Jon Snow and Sam Tarly were close to. He was with them from the beginning, and he died protecting Castle Winterfell from the wights outside of its walls. Now, Jon and Sam truly are the last of their self-made brotherhood.

Lyanna Mormont was one of the littlest people on the show, and yet she had the heart of a lion. She died in the courtyard of Winterfell taking down a giant wight that would have easily decimated scores of the living. Even as it crushed the life out of her and prepared to bite into her, she held firm and sunk her dragonglass blade into its eye.

Beric Dondarrion died many times before making his way to the defense of Winterfell. He also knew he was on his last life after the Red Priest who revived him all those times was killed. And yet, he still fought bravely, and even fulfilled his apparent destiny by rescuing Arya Stark so she could fulfill hers. He died during the rescue, overwhelmed by wights, though he was pulled to safety to die in relative peace.

Theon Greyjoy finally found his long-sought peace when Bran accepted him still as family. At that point, Theon had an inner peace he’d never known and happily threw himself at the Night King in a fruitless effort to kill him and save Bran Stark. He was unsuccessful, but he died well.

Jorah Mormont faced a similar path as Theon Greyjoy, defending one that he loved to the last. After Daenerys Targaryen was thrown from her dragon, Jorah faced hordes of the undead in her defense and did not fall to his wounds until after they had fallen. It was pure honor and bravery and love that kept him on his feet as long as it did.

Night King really looked like he had this one in the bag, but he underestimated little Arya Stark and her blade. She soared through the air, and even though he was quick enough to turn and grab her by the throat, causing her to drop the blade, she was too skilled for this to be the end. She simply caught it in the other hand and finished him off, much to his likely surprise.

Viserion was the first of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons to fall, and yet it’s worth noting here that he inevitably fell again when the Night King was slain. It was sad yet again to see such a mighty beast fall, but at least he now has a true death.

Melisandre returned, as she had predicted, to die. And yet, she did not die during her efforts in the Battle of Winterfell. Instead, she survive through to the end and then walked out of the castle, threw off her necklace and reverted to her true age, dying out in the cold. So was her own purpose finished now that the Night King is dead? With ice gone, fire can go too and maintain the balance, perhaps.



Really there can be no argument on this one. Arya Stark clearly took the title for the week when she took the life of the Night King and single-handedly ended a battle the forces of the living were badly losing. She saved her brother from certain doom in the immediate sense, and perhaps the world in a larger sense.

Honestly, if Arya wanted the Iron Throne, we’re not sure much could stop her. She has the tenacity and the courage and the strength. Plus, she can wear anyone’s face and infiltrate anyplace. She could just replace Cersei — or whoever is on the throne — at any time and rule as them.

It’s probably a good thing she doesn’t want it. Still, right now she is top dog in Westeros and the world is hers for the taking. Hopefully she will get her happily ever after, and we can find out just what that entails for her.

With the war against the Night King surprisingly over already with three super-sized episodes left, it looks like things are going to get very ugly, very fast. Queen Cersei has been readying her army to defend her thrown. Game on!

"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

Source: Read Full Article