** WARNING: What follows is a recap of "The Long Night," episode 3 of the final season of Game of Thrones. It thus, naturally, contains spoilers. **
In one fell swoop, the Long Night was brought to an end. While there was a bloodbath – as expected – it’s still a victory over Game of Thrones’ seemingly invincible (until this episode) big baddie, and we’re only halfway through the hit TV series’ final season. (READ: How will Game of Thrones end?: Your primer to the final season)
The third episode, titled “The Long Night,” was centered on the breath-stopping showdown between the living and the Night King’s Army of the Dead. Filled with dread, tension, last-minute heroics, and tragic deaths, it’s such an adrenaline rush of a viewing.
In the thick of the Battle of Winterfell, there were crucial moments that must be highlighted:
Arya Stark sticks the pointy end into the Night King
House Stark’s most nimble assassin was dodging wights Jurassic Park-style through Winterfell’s corridors and trying to narrowly avoid her demise in the hands of wights.
But as the living’s defeat seemed to be inevitable, with her neck in the grasp of the Night King himself, she plunges her catspaw dagger into him – triggering a domino effect that annihilated the entire Army of the Dead.
It was hard to see that coming with either Jon or Daenerys being set up as the oft-vaunted frontrunners for this task, but she did it anyway – not without help, of course. Beric Dondarrion, with no more chances of resurrection, fatally buys some time for Arya to escape. Sandor Clegane a.k.a. the Hound, too, helps.
The show had set up this moment though, all the way from Syrio Forel’s water dancing training to her time at the House of Black and White – also with some words the Red Woman spoke to her a few seasons back and repeated in this episode.
“I see a darkness in you, and in that darkness, eyes staring back at me – brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes… Eyes you’ll shut forever,” the Red Woman once told Arya. Now, it was a reminder that it was her destiny to stare death personified with his blue eyes and kill him, too.
She even echoed her former teacher Syrio’s words as sort of a pep talk: “What do we say to the God of Death?”
As she said and foretold, Melisandre did return to the “strange country” of Westeros, giving crucial aid in the living’s last stand against the Army of the Dead.
The mysterious priestess from Asshai set the Dothraki’s swords ablaze as they attempted to take on the White Walkers and the wights. As the living tried to retreat, with dragon riders Daenerys and Jon unable to see through the snowstorm to light the trenches circling Winterfell, she did it instead.
The Red Priestess of the Lord of Light, having accomplished her task, took off her magic crimson amulet (once again revealing her aging, centuries-old body) and faded away as dawn came upon Winterfell.
In Melisandre’s religion, there was a prophecy concerning a messianic figure to stand against the darkness and end the Long Night: “The Prince (or Princess) That Was Promised.” She followed whomever she believed this figure to be: first, it was Stannis Baratheon, and now, perhaps Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen.
But neither of the last two characters (who we now know to be both Targaryens) had that honor. Arya, in deus ex machina fashion, jumps behind the Night King to finish him.
Although Arya saved the day with the battle’s biggest kill, it doesn’t automatically designate her as the savior of the living. “Prophecies are dangerous things,” the Red Woman told Daenerys in the previous season.
The Army of the Dead is an unstoppable force with one tactical weakness: kill the Night King and all of them will be killed, too. Even with the scale of the living’s forces – dragons included – they were decimated and sent running back to the castle.
Daenerys and Jon Snow, riding Drogon and Rhaegal respectively, couldn't even easily swoop down to incinerate the White Walkers and their undead soldiers with dragon fire.
At one point, Daenerys even spotted the Night King all by himself in the middle of the battlefield, but to her horror, even Drogon’s fire leaves the enemy head honcho unscathed.
After an aerial skirmish with the Night King aboard the undead Viserion, the Army of the Dead’s unstoppable leader resurrected the fallen – adding to their number.
The crypts will be safe, they said. The Lady of Winterfell Sansa Stark was there with the equally clever Tyrion Lannister, along with the women and children of Winterfell. But as everyone feared: dead Starks broke out of their tombs.
However, as the all-seeing Bran Stark had earlier revealed, the Night King indeed came for him in the Godswood. The rest is history.
The Battle of Winterfell had its share of heartbreaking losses.
Lyanna Mormont, the small, young leader of a “small but proud” house – with her last breath – killed a giant wight. Ser Jorah Mormont died protecting his Queen and the love of his life, Daenerys, against hordes of the undead.
Theon Greyjoy died protecting Bran in the Godswood, but not without having some closure and forgiveness for his past choices against the family he grew up with. Bran thanks him, “You’re a good man.”
Dolorous Edd, who took command over the Night’s Watch after Jon departed Castle Black, rescued poor Samwell Tarly from a wight, only to be killed by wights himself later.
Beric Dondarrion got fatally wounded by wights to help Arya narrowly escape them.
Almost the entire Dothraki horde and countless Unsullied and Stark bannermen were decimated.
However, a surprising number managed to live another day. This includes Jon and Dany, the Hound, Samwell Tarly, Gilly (and her son, Sam), Davos Seaworth, Gendry, Varys, Tyrion Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Podrick Payne, Tormund Giantsbane, Missandei, Grey Worm, the dragons – and yes, Ghost, Jon’s direwolf (as seen in the episode 4 preview).
While there was good reason to believe that Thrones would end with the apocalyptic clash between the living and the dead, there are still 3 episodes left, and Cersei is still down south in King’s Landing. The Great War may be over, but the Game of Thrones isn’t. (WATCH: Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4 trailer)
The final season of Game of Thrones returns on Monday, airing at 9 am in the Philippines on HBO and HBO GO with a primetime encore telecast at 10 pm. – Rappler.com
Paolo Abad is a film/television editor and motion graphic designer. He is also a self-confessed concert junkie.