No, there wasn’t anything wrong with your television, the scenes were that dark. Director Miguel Sapochnick was attempting to bring you, dear viewer, into the Battle of Winterfell. Every dark, dusty, disorienting minute of it. I dare say, it did bring us all more into the episode; in the same way we strain to hear when someone whispers, we had to fully engage our senses in order to decipher what the hell was going on. The murky filter of the battle scenes didn’t always pay off, but it did succeed in creating a visceral experience.
What did pay off was the empowerment of the show’s female characters. The same characters who we have seen physically and sexually abused for seasons (Sansa -raped and beaten by her husbands; Danny-raped by her husband and sold by her brother; Cercei – raped by her husband), are now owning their power as leaders, soldiers and masterful players in this game of thrones.
During a little pre-battle fireside chat with some of the finest Westerosi warriors, Brienne of Tarth finally gets her due when she is knighted by Jamie Lannister. Tradition and gender norms be damned. It was nice to see a woman, who embodies all the virtues of a Knight, finally granted the title by the King Slayer and Sister…shubaduh.
The Battle of Winterfell kicks off with the resurgence of Melisandre, the red priestess, who shows up at the perfect time to ignite the swords of the Dothraki warriors creating a blazing, screaming horde. Witches get shit done. Our collective optimism is blown out like a candle when the entire blazing horde is swallowed up in seconds by the army of the undead. I would like to have seen the saucy sorceress self-immolate here to light the swords, but alas, the night is long and full of terrors.
Some of the best moments of the episode (and series) star our favorite pint-sized powderkeg, Lady Lyanna of House Mormot: “We are not a big house, but we are a proud one.” While they try and usher her to the crypt with the other noncombatants, Lyanna insists she is there to kick some white walker coccyx. When the ice giant swats her like a fly, we all felt it. When she sticks him in the eye as she’s being crushed, we see who the real giant is. R.I.P. Lady Lyanna. May they sing songs of your badassery.
Dany rode a dragon into battle and fought her zombie dragon son. Nuff said.
Even the Hound is snapped out of his mid-battle trance when he sees the youngest Stark daughter taking out zombies with her custom double-edged dragon glass spear. We also see the trained assassin in full command of her sexuality in an earlier scene with Baratheon bastard blacksmith, Gendry. (Who btw is not somehow less masculine just because Arya is powerful, so stop that internet.) And just when we think all hope is lost, Arya flies into the scene, dagger in hand, and lunges at the Night King. He intercepts her hand and grabs her by the throat. Arya psyches out her adversary (and viewers) when she drops her dagger ( a move she practiced with Brienne in an earlier season), only to catch it in her other hand and stick him in the frosty gut whereby short-circuiting the hive mind that animates the army of the undead. And just like that, a little girl, a nobody, wiped out an entire army and saved the whole kingdom. They said that no one could kill the Night King. No one did.