That has gone this season. I am invested. I thought I would go over what I've loved (and not) about this season thus far.
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead. Duh.
Unlike many internet commentators, I really enjoyed the first two episodes of this final season. I did not mind that there wasn't any action. These two first episodes were fantastic for establishing and re-establishing relationships and setting all the players in their position for the major clash with the series' secondary villain. I adored the reunions - of special note, Arya and Jon, and Sansa and Theon (I may have teared up with how Theon asked to fight for Winterfell). I loved the establishing of a fraught relationship between Dany and Sansa, how Arya sided with Sansa against Jon, and how the show has made it that Sansa is now the most clever person in the series.
Boy has Sansa grown.
I really loved Brienne's knighting. I may have cried. My god, that smile... And as much as I hate to say it, I like Jaimey. He's come a long way since he lost his fighting hand.
Also, unlike nearly every guy (and it's all guys) I've spoken to, I loved that Arya and Gendry got together. Get it, girl! You deserve a night with someone you like. Granted, I was a little disappointed, as Arya was largely, and perhaps unconsciously on the part of the writers, asexual throughout the series, and I was hoping for some representation there. Alas, no. Still, if she wasn't to be asexual, I'm glad that she owned her sexuality and her sexual attraction, and was assertive and sure when she decided to go for it. She deserved it. Weirdly, all the guys (yes, men specifically) I know hated that scene. I'd love to deep dive into why that is one day. Not today.
As far as the first two episodes went, they were necessary and enjoyable for their wonderful character moments. Episode three, however, was basically a movie-length battle scene. It was fantastic. Overall, I loved it.
First, some things I didn't really like, or things that made my smack my forehead in frustration:
There were also some really stupid moves by the defenders. I think the council who set up the battle strategy were idiots.
You're fighting a battle against the dead, whose leader can raise the dead, and you send everyone who cannot fight into the crypts. The crypts. What. The. Actual. Fuck. You pack of bloody morons. I mean, it might be safest from the bulk of the forces marching against Winterfell, but there are dead things down there. Maybe put in a fighter or two or four, just in case. Christ almighty.
Also, way to decimate your cavalry, wasting them on a frontal assault, when it would have been much smarter to have them hidden on the sides, ready to circle around the back. The army of the dead is mindless. They're dead. They're going to be running forward mindlessly for the enemy they can see. Circling around and attacking from behind would do a lot more in reducing numbers of the attackers, even if it would have absolutely decimate the cavalry. They wouldn't have winked out quite so fast, and would have done a great deal more damage. But hell, what do I know?
Also, the dead outside the walls were screaming and grunting and being loud. Once they entered the library, however, they suddenly obeyed the library rules and were quiet as mice. What?
This doesn't count as a thing I didn't like so much as a thing that confused the crap out of me, but what the hell was Bran doing when he warged? Was he just keeping an eye out? Watching the scene? What was he doing and why did he do it? I expect that there might be answers to this forthcoming, as the show often makes pundits eat some humble pie, but I was confused as hell. I want to know what he hoped to achieve, and why he bothered. I NEED TO KNOW.
Right, onto the things I liked.
This episode did tension so damned well. From the beginning, when the enemy could not be seen, all the way through to the jeopardy that characters were in mid-battle, to Arya in the library (I know I mocked the wights being suddenly quiet once inside the library, but it worked wonders for the tension), to Jon fighting to get to Bran, I was genuinely on the edge of my seat, gripping the hand rests hard enough it turned my knuckles white. It was so wonderfully tense, and I was so drawn in. It was a beautiful piece of film-making when it comes to mood.
As for character interactions, I adored the interaction between Sansa and Tyrion in the crypts, and the genuine affection those characters seem to have for one another. When he kissed her hand, I might have gone 'aww!' I loved how Missandei put Sansa in her place, also in the crypts, with the blunt truth that without Dany, everyone would be dead already. She's not wrong.
Seeing Jaimey, Brienne and Podrick fight together made me smile in that 'they're utterly fucked' bittersweet kind of way. Jaimey saved Brienne, Brienne saved Jaimey, they're together, fighting at the end of all things. I love them.
Unlike many internet commentators I've read, I also loved that Sam made it through. He's not a fighter in the way that we might understand, but he fought all the same. I also really loved the image of him sitting in a pile of bodies, weeping. I know it means that the hordes ignored him, which makes little sense, but as far as character and imagery, it's beautiful and true. Also, I just want to run and give Sam the biggest of hugs. I'm glad he made it. Fight me.
As for the deaths of Lady Lyanna Mormont, that mighty little bear, and Theon, both were tragic and brave and so deserved. Lyanna deserved to die taking out a wight giant in the ultimate David and Golliath scenario, and Theon, last man standing between the Night King and Bran, deserved to die fighting. Granted, the Night King made short work of him, but it was a brave and noble death.
As to the twist, I absolutely loved it! I loved that it was Arya. I loved that the knife that had been used to try and kill Bran ended up being the weapon that saved him. I punched the air and hollered when it happened.
I understand that a lot of people were expecting it to be Jon, but that poor bastard was trapped, facing off against an undead dragon. He couldn't have made it.
Granted, I do wish Jon could have been involved. I imagine a scene where he and the Night King are fighting, and Jon is almost struck down, but Arya comes in the last minute pretty much as she did in the actual episode, saving both brothers (well, her brother and her cousin (spoilers!)). That would have been amazing.
Still, I'm not sad about how it all went down. It was unexpected and thrilling and felt pretty much right.
Arya is my GIRL!
I'm looking forward to the remaining three episodes. It's unlikely that I'll be talking anything Game of Thrones again until the series is done, unless something as spectacular as the ending to episode three happens again... which, I mean, it might.
What about you? Did you watch it? If so, how do you feel about it all right now? Let me know in the comments!
I'm off to do work.