‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Every OMG Moment from the Battle of Winterfell

The biggest, most brutal battle in the history of the Seven Kingdoms took place during the Sunday, April 28, episode of Game of Thrones, and all we can say is [insert fifteen minutes of
unintelligible garbled screaming.] As the dead marched on Winterfell and the living fell in droves, it looked like it was really and truly all over — for every living character on the entire series, except the cowards (ahem, Cersei) hiding down in King’s Landing.

But what do we say to the God of Death? Here are all the biggest moments from tonight’s episode. (Plus, for all the biggest deaths, click here!)

A Battle of Ice and Fire
As the dead advance on Winterfell, the armies of the living ride out to meet them — with a little help from the freshly arrived Melisandre (Carice van Houten), Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). But despite being armed with dragon glass weaponry, the men can’t compete with the masses of inexhaustible zombies bombarding them from all sides, and the dragons can’t be everywhere at once, especially once The Night King shows up on the back of Ice Viserion. The men retreat, the dead give chase, and soon Winterfell is overrun.

Game of Thrones Ep 3 Season 8 Daenerys Targaryen Jon Snow
HBO

Death After Death
With the wights tearing through Winterfell, the fantasy becomes a horror — and that means saying goodbye to some beloved characters. Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) dies on the front lines, saving Sam (John Bradley West.) Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) is shredded by the dead as he saves Arya (Maisie Williams.) Little Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) dies plunging a blade into the eye of a zombie giant as it crushes her into a pulp. And that’s just the beginning …

The Dead Will Rise
The most devastating moment of the episode comes shortly after Daenerys hovers above The Night King and gives Drogon the order to incinerate him — only to discover that The Night King is fireproof. But it gets worse: At this moment, The Night King gives his own order, and every dead person in a five mile radius rises as part of his army. That’s bad news for Sansa (Sophie Turner), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), and every other noncombatant hiding down in the Winterfell crypt, you know, where all the bodies are buried. It’s tough to tell in this chaotic scene exactly who survives and who doesn’t, but things really don’t look good for Gilly (Hannah Murray).

Game of Thrones Ep 3 Season 8 Varys Tyrion Lannister
Helen Sloan/HBO

Bring on the God of Death
This brings us to the godswood, where Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is waiting — guarded by Theon (Alfie Allen) and his men — for The Night King to come a-calling. Theon fights heroically and is the last man standing, but after the mass rising of the dead, there’s no hope.

Into the clearing strides The Night King, who kills Theon and moves in on the defenseless, crippled Bran — and it looks like it’s all over. Bran gazes into the face of death. The Night King reaches for his blade. And just like that, Arya Stark comes flying out of the dark with a Valyrian steel dagger in her hand.

The Night King catches Arya by the throat, and she drops her weapon … into her other hand. Stick him with the pointy end, Arya! And that’s how The Night King dies: struck down by Arya Stark of Winterfell, first of her name, the ultimate badass.

Game of Thrones Ep 3 Season 8 Jaime Lannister Brienne of Tarth
HBO

The Dead Defeated
Because the White Walkers follow old-school werewolf rules, the death of one Walker means the death of every zombified thing he created. So, when The Night King goes down, so does the entire dead army. But we also say goodbye to Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), who dies in Daenerys’ arms having defended her to the end, and Melisandre, who removes her necklace, takes her true (ancient) form, and collapses in the snow.

Others’ fates are unknown (including Sam and Grey Worm.) But the good news is, the dead are … well, dead, and many important characters are still alive.

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

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Inside Game of Thrones’ Epic, Deadly Battle of Winterfell: Not All Your Favorites Make It Out Alive

Helen Sloan/HBO

It’s almost as if Game of Thrones got this far by subverting what we expect of a fantasy. The series’ most sprawling battle yet, the Battle of Winterfell, kills few of the characters whose sentimental last scenes in “Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” seemed like closure before a climactic end. The living, against all odds, succeed in killing the show’s most formidable villain, the Night King, eliminating the army of the dead with him—and upending the show’s final conflict, revealing a stranger, perhaps more ordinary path to the end than the series has led us to expect. 

The figure who resets the endgame is the episode’s most triumphant shock: it’s Arya Stark who saves the North, her family, and hope for the living in a last-minute, thrilling reversal, just as the battle is at its bleakest and it seems the Night King has finally taken what he wants. 

The force of a dragon fails to do what Arya does with the same Valyrian-steel dagger that belonged to Littlefinger—which he hired the Catspaw assassin to use in attacking Bran Stark seven seasons ago, igniting the war that set the series in motion. Daenerys’s test of dragon fire against the Night King, a hard-won moment in itself that she and Jon nearly die in attempting, just seems to tickle him. Theon Greyjoy is no match, however poetic the Ironborn prince’s last act is in charging straight at the Night King to defend Bran, redeeming an early history of cowardice. No, it’s Arya who lunges in with a roar, landing herself in the Night King’s clutches in a moment that seems like her last—until she drops the dagger Bran gave her, stabs her enemy in a sleight of hand, and shatters him and his army into icy dust. 

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Why the Night King won’t be at the Battle of Winterfell on ‘Game of Thrones’

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The battle plans are drawn, dragonglass weapons forged, and the dead’s arrival at last signaled by three horn blasts in the dark night.

But something is missing. Or rather someone — horned, blue-eyed, and winged.

Ever since fans first got wind of a massive Battle in Winterfell, they’ve been questioning the seeming inevitability of an epic fight with the Night King. Now what began as pure speculation has crystallized into the most popular and logical twist for next week’s Episode 3 of Season 8. 

The White Walkers about to punk Winterfell

The White Walkers about to punk Winterfell

Image: hbo

The Night King won’t be at the Battle of Winterfell. Instead of doing what everyone expects of him, his army will take down Winterfell as a distraction as he focuses on the other target, King’s Landing. Read more…

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Game of Thrones: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Premiere Recap: Reunions and Revelations at Winterfell

Sunday’s soapy but generally satisfying setup for the final run of “Game of Thrones” included new conflicts and old grudges as the sides coalesced in Winterfell and King’s Landing for the wars to come.
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