Spoiler Alert: This episode was the series climax in some ways, putting to death one of the greatest story arcs in Game of Thrones lore. It was Game of Thrones meets The Walking Dead. And that is to say that had a major event without any major characters dying. By major, I mean significantly impactful. Lyanna Mormont, Grey Worm?, Gendry?, Beric Dondarrion, Ghost?, Theon, Jorah Mormont, ice dragon, Tormund Giantsbane, and Melissandre have all peaked in the episode or long outlived their contributions to the storyline. Meaning all the characters with claims, games, and followers live. And a bunch of the names just listed turn out to still be alive as shown in next week’s preview, but the episode itself left the fate of many ambiguous, just not any players in the game of thrones. The Battle of Winterfell was a Pyrrhic victory. Several blunders not conceivable watching the previous two episodes was committed. Lets go through them.
After lighting their swords on fire, the Dothraki charge into darkness. This was a page right out of the book of French Military Blunders. The Dothraki should have stayed back preferably on the flank and routed the dead after the dragons torched the charge. I thought this was the dumbest moment of the episode.
Daenerys Whimsical Abandonment of the plan
Wait for the Night King to reveal himself, then gang up on him with two dragons. How hard can it be? Seeing one blunder at play, Daenerys commits another. While she and, the forced hand of, Jon Snow provided much needed relief to the infantry, the unsullied really underperformed. This wasn’t a bad move until they got greedy and overplayed their counterattack. Instead of providing infantry support, they sought to end the battle once and for all and found themselves in a confusing ambush. Yet another reason to dislike Daenerys.
Man the Walls!
Wait! They weren’t already doing that? Thousands retreated into Winterfell only to get caught with their pants down. And have they not heard of boiling oil which they could dump on the dead and light afire? The wall defense was weak. Trump would be unimpressed.
If he’s not with Jon Snow, he should have been with Bran, who did nothing but sit there the entire time. No warging into dragons or anything cool.
I found it strange Arya wasn’t playing Assassins Creed or Arkham City taking the dead down in increments in the library, but she needed the reminder of the prophesy dating back to Season 3 to motivate her to kick ass. Did she come out of nowhere? Yes. Was it a surprise that systematically defied the expectations of fantasy storylines? Hell yeah! That’s what Game of Thrones is about.
Tyrion and Sansa
While Tyrion has been a useless character for three seasons now, he has a pathway for a comeback. The pathway for Tyrion to assert his marital rights to Sansa, who under Westerosi customs was still married to him. Note: Petyr Baelish wanted to frame Tryion for King Joffrey’s death, thereby freeing Sansa to marry the heir to the Vale. This plan was predicated on Tyrion’s execution. Without said execution, thanks to Jaime, Tyrion has a claim to Sansa and therefore the North, as well as Casterly Rock, and, by virtue of being Queen Cersei’s brother, the Iron Throne as well. Tyrion has a lot of upgame if he betrays Daenerys which was my prediction before after the finishing the fifth book.
Another such victory and we will be undone
The above quote comes from King Pyrrhus of Epirus who had just defeated the Romans at a great cost. He not long after learned that the Romans military strategy involved throwing bodies at a problem until it goes away. Think Soviets in World War Two. Either way, Daenerys doesn’t have a pool to reinforce with and take the Iron Throne. Two dragons, an army the fraction of what she came with and no pool of which to recruit more unless she reaches the Reach or the ten thousand or so light infantry that the Dornish can muster. In this case, Cersei is Rome. She has a new army. Daenerys cannot afford another “victory” like the Battle of Winterfell, but she doesn’t have the discipline to command a battle. Will this be her undoing? As previously stated in the Episode 1 analysis, Jon Snow seems most poised to betray Daenerys, for love.
The support of the North going forward is dubious at best and completely diminished at realist. Sansa cannot really fend off the Targaryens, but Daenerys would commit a Frey level of taboo by slaying her hosts. But Sansa is determined to keep what little remains of the North under autonomous rule.
The Battle of Winterfell brought back that lovely dark soundtrack that was featured in the Season 6 finale. Perhaps Tyrion, the engineer behind the wildfire and chain of the Blackwater Rush, would have devised a better trap. Advantage Cersei moving forward. Major plot developments but no major character deaths. The fan service continues; however, the Battle of Winterfell defied fantasy storytelling tropes.
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