Get ready for a spoiler-filled look at the incredible third episode of Season Eight — and what it means for the final three episodes ever.
But first, Round 4 of the GoT Challenge is open today and the field has changed dramatically: so whether you’re an established player or a first-timer, click here to get playing now — there’s a $10,000 iron throne to win.
Now, on with the show…
It was filled with carnage, character deaths, courage, cowardice and complete stupidity.
But the biggest thing was what it missed — the Azor Ahai theory that is so much a part of George RR Martin’s books.
When Melisandre rode back into the story in the first few minutes, it looked as if we were going to be on track for someone to be revealed as Azor Ahai and save the day.
Especially when the Night King proved to be immune to dragon fire — as predicted.
But, despite Melisandre being obsessed with this prophecy for the first few seasons, she didn’t mention it once.
WHO AND WHAT IS THE AZOR AHAI: One theory to bind them?
Instead it was left to Arya to save the day, with the Valyrian steel dagger that an assassin tried to use on Bran back in season one.
It was an incredibly cool moment but it dumped the whole Azor Ahai theory at the bottom of a trench and then set it on fire.
I think we can safely say that the demise of the Night King has deviated dramatically from Martin’s plan.
Likewise the extra life of Beric Dondarrion — used in the books to bring back Catelyn Stark — was also dropped on top of the burning remains of the AA theory.
He did save Arya’s life but, given he had the power to bring someone back from the dead, he could have done more.
And then Melisandre herself. After lighting up the swords of the Dothraki in a beautiful but futile moment, she did bugger all for the rest of the battle.
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: Is this what Melisandre was up to?
What did she do in the east? She took herself off there on a mysterious mission last season. Where was the army of flaming sword-wielding fanatics that serve the Lord of Light? Where were the cryptic comments to help Dany or Jon? And why did she kill herself at the end of the battle? Again, she has shown she has the power to bring people back from the dead.
There were plenty of candidates who would have been damn glad of the chance to breathe again like Jon Snow. Instead she turns old and wanders off into the snow to die. Weird.
There were some brilliant moments in the episode, however.
The way Lyanna Mormont took down the zombie giant redefined courage. Theon’s last charge at the Night King was indeed payback for all his weaselling in the first seven seasons. Arya’s arse-kicking moves with the dragonglass-tipped staff were stunning. And the way she took down the Night King to win the battle and the war was amazing.
But how dumb was their battle strategy? If this is the best they can offer, I suspect that Cersei and the Golden Company will eat them for breakfast.
They threw away the Dothraki in a pointless charge. They left one narrow bridge back to the dubious safety of Winterfell, so most of the Unsullied got cut to pieces in the retreat. And why oh why didn’t they use the dragons properly? Instead of flying around blindly, stick one on each side of the gate house and no dead are getting up those walls.
Jon and Tormund saw how the dead fought at Hardhome. Saw how fast they are. Surely they realised you need to start behind the trenches and the walls and not take them on hand-to-hand until there’s no other choice. All those Unsullied they let die to cover the retreat of a bunch of farmers could have held the walls of Winterfell. All those catapults they just abandoned on the field could have kept the dead away from the walls or, even better, taken out the White Walkers at the back.
And the crypts! The “safest place”! Surrounded by corpses that the Night King can reanimate! And nobody thought about that until it was too late. Sigh.
All this means that they might have won the battle but they have got bugger all left to fight the war against Cersei.
The Dothraki are all dead. There are few Unsullied left. The Knights of the Vale weren’t even sighted in that battle so presumably there’s some of them left somewhere.
How are they going to take out Cersei with barely any troops?
Well, the dragons are still alive, so that means it’s time to turn up the heat on Cersei, literally.
Meanwhile, we have Sansa and Tyrion beginning what looks like an unconvincing romance.
And Tyrion appears to have the power of prophecy because everyone who had a drink with him got to live through the battle.
Now the focus turns to Cersei — and who will actually take the Iron Throne, Jon or Dany.
Now it really gets interesting.
GoT CHALLENGE: The battle’s done, now make your next picks