‘Game of Thrones’ Recap ‘The Long Night’: The War for the Dawn

In the ‘Game of Thrones’ recap, the living battle the dead in the war to end all wars as the Night King finally leads his attack against Winterfell…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

The war between the living and the dead has been teased since the opening scene of the pilot episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ eight seasons ago.

What started out as myths and legends about creatures known as White Walkers soon spiraled into a full blown army of the dead led by the Night King — a monster who is death animated, created by the Children of the Forest to kill the living and for centuries that has been his only purpose.

Over the course of the past eight seasons, the Night King has quietly grown his army, bringing the dead back to life and creating new White Walkers with the help of some Wildlings such as Craster, who handed over all of his male children for years.

If the stories are to be believed, the White Walkers last attacked thousands of years ago during a time known as ‘The Long Night’ before they were finally driven back by the living during the ‘Battle for the Dawn’.

Now the Night King is leading his horde into Winterfell to kill every living creature in the Known World and just as important is eliminating the Three-Eyed Raven aka Bran Stark to ensure the history of this world doesn’t survive.

What unraveled over nearly 90 minutes in the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ is the biggest and most prolific battle scene in film or television history — and it all paid off in the end.

Lives were lost. Characters we loved are no more. But the Great War is won.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ titled ‘The Long Night’…

Dead Before the Dawn

The episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ picks up just moments after last week’s ended with the Army of the Dead arriving at Winterfell and the combined forces of Daenerys’ army, the Northmen, the Knights of the Vale along with the last remnants of the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings prepare to greet them.

Inside the castle walls, Samwell and Tyrion walk around the people shouting with weapons clanging together as the soldiers get into place to prepare for the battle ahead. There’s an obvious tension in the air as the greatest threat to life itself sits perched just outside the walls of Winterfell.

As the Dothraki horde awaits with Ser Jorah Mormont leading them, a lone rider appears out of the snow but it’s not one of the dead. Instead, it’s Melisandre having returned to Westeros as she promised to give the living one last chance to defeat the dead.

She has Jorah command the Dothraki to lift their arakhs in the air as she grabs one and says a prayer. A second later, the entire Dothraki armament is sitting on horseback with their arakhs burning with fire as they charge out into the night to meet the dead.

Jon Snow and Daenerys watch from above as does anybody in a position to see outside the castle walls. They watch this horde of Dothraki screamers, blades made fire, charge into the dead but within seconds the lights start to blink and then eventually fade.

A matter of seconds have passed and the entire Dothraki horde has been overwhelmed — including Jon’s direwolf Ghost, who charged into the fray yet never returned. The few people who do return include Jorah and the last remaining Dothraki survivors as they run towards the gates at Winterfell with the Army of the Dead close behind them.

A second later the dead arrive — and they crash through the army meant to stop them.

Brienne and Jamie are almost immediately overrun as are their soldiers. Grey Worm is forced to lead a retreat back into the castle as the Unsullied are being slaughtered. The plan to slow down the dead isn’t working and they are forging that much closer towards the castle walls.

In the midst of the battle, Samwell is tacked and nearly killed if not for his brother Dolorous Edd, who comes to his rescue. Sadly a second later as Edd helps his Night’s Watch brethren back to his feet, a knife comes jutting out of his face as a wight kills him in front of Sam.

The first major casualty of the war is the last leader of the Night’s Watch.

Sansa watches from one of the towers at Winterfell, horrified by what she’s seeing unfold. Arya tells her sister that it’s time to join the rest of the people in the crypts where she will be safest. Sansa doesn’t want to abandon her people but Arya knows that’s where she will be abie to do the most good. Arya then hands her sister a dragonglass dagger and Sansa replies that she doesn’t know how to use it.

“Stick them with the pointy end”
~ Arya to Sansa

Jon and Daenerys attempt to offer the armies some reprieve as they dive into battle on the backs of their dragons, Drogon and Rhaegal, raining down fire on the hordes of the dead. Still the flames aren’t enough, especially after both of them end up blinded from a swarm of snow, ice and wind that comes flying at them.

Meanwhile, Melisandre was able to make her way back inside before the fighting began when she met Ser Davos Seaworth yet again. He had promised that if he ever set his sights on her again that she would perish after she ordered the death of Princess Shireen Baratheon. Melisandrea knows that Davos wants her dead and she reassures him that she won’t be around much longer.

“There’s no need to execute me, Ser Davos. I’ll be dead before the dawn”
~ Melisandre

As the armies are forced to flee for cover inside the gates of Wintefell, Grey Worm orders that the trenches should be lit on fire to give them a little more time. Davos signals with torches, which is meant to alert Daenerys on the back of her dragon to rain down fire, thus lighting the trenches surrounding the castle.

Unfortunately, Daenerys is still in mid-flight and due to the snow and fog in the air, she’s unable to see the torches giving her the signal.

That’s when Melisandre makes her move by walking out into the fray with Grey Worm and the Unsullied there to protect her. Once again she says a prayer and at the end, the trenches light up in flames as the Army of the Dead are finally held at bay — for a moment anyways.

As the fighting slows for a moment, another screech is heard in the distance and that’s when the Night King finally makes his first appearance in the battle, riding on the back of his dead dragon Viserion. The Night King motions towards his army and the wights start piling on top of the trench, sacrificing body after body while stamping out the fire that was lit to keep them out.

Finally a path is cleared and the wights begin pouring through the line as they reach the castle at Winterfell.

Not Today

As the wights come barreling towards the walls, climbing over each other until reaching the top, Brienne, Jamie and the rest of their soldiers attempt to hold the line but the numbers are just insurmountable. Arya is able to use her new weapon to fight back as she kills several wights as she makes her way through the castle where she grew up but over time the sheer numbers overwhelm her as well.

Arya is eventually knocked to the ground after smacking her head on a wall and she’s left to fend her herself while Beric Dondarrion tries to reach her. Sadly, ‘The Hound’ has been frozen in fear ever since the initial charge failed and the Army of the Dead are now inside the walls at Winterfell.

Down on the ground, Lady Lyanna Mormont is commanding her troops to protect the gate but it’s all for naught after the giant wight smashes through the doors before killing several more people. The giant swats Lyanna away like a fly before returning to grab her from the ground and crush her with its bare hands. Just before Lyanna expires, she manages to thrust her dragonglass dagger into the eye of the massive creature.

The giant wight falls dead with Lyanna Mormont still in its grasp. A few seconds later she dies from her injuries doing what she had always pledged — she fought for the North.

As for Arya, she’s now running through the castle to avoid the Army of the Dead that has made its way inside. She eventually finds herself in the library, quietly trying to move around the room to avoid alerting the wights of her presence.

Arya finally escapes with a distraction but it’s short lived success as the wights soon just break through the walls and come after her. Thankfully this time, Arya has backup as Beric and the Hound show up to lend her support.The two of them fight back the dead as Arya is able to escape.

Again the numbers become too much and Beric Dondarrion is eventually stabbed to death by the Army of the Dead. Beric was brought back by the Lord of Light on several occasions and now he has served his purpose by protecting Arya Stark.

The Hound manages to get Arya out of danger before they run into the Great Hall where they run into Melisandre, who appeared to be waiting for their arrival.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Melisandre was on Arya’s kill list after she took Gendry away back in season 2. Arya doesn’t murder the red priestess but instead recalls the prophecy she was told when last they met.

Arya: “You said I’d shut many eyes forever. You’re right about that, too”
Melisandre: “Brown eyes, green eyes and blue eyes.”

The last part is key because we all know the Night King, the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead all have blue eyes.

Melisandre then repeats a phrase to Arya that she has known since training with her ‘dancing teacher’ Syrio Forel back in the first season.

“What do we say to the god of death”
~ Melisandre

With that, Arya gives Melisandre and the Hound one last look before she rushes back into the fight.

Outside as the battle continues, the Night King swoops in on the back of his dead dragon and rains down fire to open up a hole in the walls at Winterfell. The Night King then pursues Daenerys on the back of Drogon as the blue flames from her former child draw closer and closer. Out of nowhere, Jon arrives on the back of Rhaegal as they crash into the Night King and Viserion.

The two dragons engage in a battle in mid-air with Rhaegal taking the worse of the damage until Daenerys arrives to lend a hand. As Drogon crashes into Viserion, the Night King is tossed off his back as he crashes back down to the ground.

Rhaegal soon follows as his injuries are too severe to allow him to fly any further and as he slams down on the ground, Jon is also thrown off his back.

Finally, Daenerys flies overhead until she spots the Night King standing down below her looked back up at the sky. She pauses for a moment and then shouts ‘Dracarys’ as Drogon lets out a bellowing flame that blankets the ground below in fire.

Daenerys waits for the flames to clear and she’s horrified a second later when the Night King emerges unscathed. He draws a spear from his back and Daenerys is forced to fly away or risk another of her children being killed by the Night King.

With the Night King on the ground, he is now headed towards the Godswood where he will attempt to destroy the Three-Eyed Raven. Jon sees the Night King and knows exactly where he’s going and he is determined to stop him.

Down in the crypts, Tyrion feels useless while he sits with all the women and children not able to fight. He does spend some quality time with his former wife Sansa, who tries to tell him that they are both doing what they can by being in the crypts and not out on the battlefield.

Tyrion: “Maybe we should have stayed married”
Sansa: “You were the best of them”

The sweet moment soon turns sour when Sansa mentions how the dragon queen would surely come between them and Missandei has finally heard enough and she reminds the lady of Winterfell that without Daenerys Targarye, the North would have already joined the Army of the Dead.

As the fighting draws closer and closer to the crypts with screaming heard from outside the doors, everybody quiets down and awaits word of what’s happening.

The Night King prepares to go after Bran but not before Jon Snow makes one last charge at him.

They standoff in the field outside the Godswood but before Jon can even draw his sword to fight, the Night King raises his hands and all of the dead Dothraki, Northern soldiers and Unsullied who died in battle that day have their eyes turned blue and they all join him in the Army of the Dead.

It’s a nightmare come true as Jon watches the people he just battled alongside raise up and prepare to kill him in service to the Night King.

Inside the crypts, things soon turn horrific as well as the skeletons of the long dead Starks come back to life and start breaking out of their graves. The people in the crypts are in just as much danger because they are surrounded by the dead coming back to life thanks to the Night King.

Tyrion and Sansa clutch hands as they hide behind one of the graves. Tyrion eventually kisses Sansa’s hand as they run for their lives.

Upstairs inside the castle courtyard, Ser Brienne, Jamie and everybody else are still attempting to battle back against the Army of the Dead when the reanimated corpses of their fellow soldiers start rising up against them as well. The numbers are simply too much and there’s no way the living should survive the night.

The War for the Dawn

With Jon Snow unable to reach his brother, he’s forced back into the courtyard where he attempts to find a way back out to the Godswood. Unfortunately, his path is blocked when Viserion crashes down into Winterfell and starts unleashes his dragon fire. Jon is stuck trying to survive the dragon and he can’t get to his brother Bran.

As for Daenerys, after she lands in an attempt to help Jon, the wights seize her dragon and begin climbing on his back trying to get to the queen. Drogon shakes and fights back but in the midst of his thrashing, he tosses Daenerys to the ground before he takes flight to get rid of the last of the dead still clawing into his scales.

Daenerys is defenseless on the ground until her knight in not so shiny armor comes to the rescue as Jorah Mormont makes one last charge to rescue his queen. He begins fighting back against the Army of the Dead that is now surrounding them as he wields the greatsword Heartsbane and with each flash of his Valyrian steel blade, the wights are cut down.

Daenerys even picks up a dragonglass sword to give an assist but over time Jorah begins getting chopped down as he sustains several wounds to his body.

Meanwhile, the Night King has finally made his way down to the Godswood where he intends to snuff out the Three-Eyed Raven once and for all.

Theon and the Ironborn do their best to protect Bran but again the numbers are just too much and eventually all of them but one are killed.

Theon is left alone, the last man standing to protect Bran from the Night King. He’s offered some words of encouragement in what Bran believes will be their final moments.

“Theon, you’re a good man. Thank you.”
~ Bran Stark

With that, Theon charges into the breach but he’s quickly cut down by the Night King, stabbed in the belly and left to bleed out in the snow. Theon died as he lived most of his life as a member of the Stark family in Winterfell.

Finally, the Night King arrives at his prize as he stares down at Bran and prepares to draw out his sword.

From the night sky, Arya then leaps out of nowhere in an attempt to kill the Night King but he catches her by the throat in mid-air. Just when it appears that the Night King will add another Stark to his list of victims, Arya drops the catspaw — the Valyrian steel dagger that was once used in an attempt on her brother’s life — into her other hand.

She then plunges the dagger into the Night King — in the same spot where the dragonglass used by the Children of the Forest to create him pierced his skin. With one thrust of her dagger, Arya seals the Night King’s fate as he shatters into a million pieces of ice and a moment later all of his army falls behind him as well. And just for reference sake, Arya has practiced that move before if you go back to last season when she got into a sparring match with Brienne.

The remaining White Walkers shatter and the wights who follow them just fall lifeless to the ground. Out in the courtyard, Jon turns to face Viserion but just before the dragon can unleash his flame, he falls dead like everything else.

Outside the walls after the dead have fallen, Jorah Mormont finally succumbs to his wounds as he lays on the ground with Daenerys holding his head. He can’t even speak a final word before he expires as Daenerys cries for her fallen friend and advisor.

Down in the crypts, Tyrion and Sansa are able to lead everyone to safety including Varys and Gilly, who survived the attack from the dead.

And with all the fighting done, Melisandre emerges one last time as she walks out beyond the gates and through to the other side. Ser Davos gives chase, wondering if perhaps this is his moment when he can finally avenge Princess Shireen.

Instead of killing her, Davos watches as Melisandre drops her necklace into the snow and she quickly transforms from a beautiful, fiery redhead into a withered old woman with grey in her hair. A second later, Melisandre falls dead to the ground and soon blows away like dust as her mission was finally completed. She saved the living from the dead and now she can sleep forever.

The great war is finished — the Night King has been defeated and the Army of the Dead is no more. Lives were lost — Dolorous Edd, Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Theon Greyjoy, Melisandre and Ser Jorah Mormont — are all gone. By all accounts, Grey Worm, Brienne, Jamie and the rest survived — but we are still awaiting word on Jon’s direwolf Ghost, who jumped into the fray and then never returned.

Now what’s left of Daenerys’ army will forge ahead with one goal in mind — to remove Cersei Lannister from power and return the Targaryen dynasty to the Iron Throne.

‘Game of Thrones’ returns next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET for one of the final three episodes of the series…


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