From the awards race to the box office, with everything in between: get the entertainment industry's must-read newsletter. It’s too bad we couldn’t see more of what transpired in between. This episode of Game of Thrones was called “The Long Night,” which is primarily an allusion to the fabled battle of old that rocked Westeros and may play a part in the prequel series currently in the works at HBO. It is also unsettling, in a series that has had issues around race and exoticism, to send off an army of nonwhite characters as zombie fodder. But come on: My heart is not made of dragonglass. The flames get farther away. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. This seems part of Wagner’s effort to “make things smaller” and create an emotional story for each character “that we can follow.”. But it reminded us, in the most memorable moment of the Battle of Winterfell, that it does its best work when it slips in the blade like an assassin. Strategically, it might not have been the best opening move by an army outfitted with two dragons and a weird teen who can possess reconnaissance ravens! The score fades to stillness. That is, if you can even see it. The Dothraki charge in Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” was an inventive use of darkness and light, but much of the episode was simply too murky to track. First, it’s worth noting that episode director Miguel Sapochnik has said that he studied the long nighttime fight at the center of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, called the Battle of Helm’s Deep, in order to figure out how to create a super-sized battle episode that wouldn’t tire audiences out. Again, I have issues with what this means for the story. Game of Thrones has to contend with a digitally enhanced mouldering army of the dead, one giant (and we mean giant) wight, and three dragons. Funereal color palettes have become a signature of ambitious TV drama. For years, “Game of Thrones” has been a story of the folly of seeking power. Why to light this episode of Game of Thrones for us of course! Even if you couldn’t see every second of it. Game of Thrones has to contend with a digitally enhanced mouldering army of the dead, one giant (and we mean giant) wight, and three dragons. The faces of the onlookers register this in quietly dawning dread. (The final lesson of “Game of Thrones,” apparently, is to hang on to your old plasma TVs with their sharply defined blacks. But here, the squint-to-see-them images were chaotic even when we were clearly meant to take in information: Who just died? To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. And Sapochnik did not throw away that shot, channeling the force of eight years of story into a jagged last stab. Too often, what it had to say was mumblemurmurmumble. A blue-ish tinge is all Lesnie needed to connote “night,” but Wagner had to deal with something much trickier. USA TODAY has reached out to HBO for comment. But lack of light also plays a pivotal role in this opening sequence which sees an entire Dothraki horde swallowed by the darkness of the army of the dead. After last week’s outstanding “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” — almost entirely a series of conversations — “The Long Night” did its talking through image. [Read our ultimate guide to “Game of Thrones.”]. He told the outlet, " ('Game of Thrones') has always been very dark and a very cinematic show," recommending that viewers watch in a very … He is evidently not a morning person. The army arrived under cloak of darkness, and the hour-plus combat that ensued unfolded with all the chromatic variety of a goth teenager’s wardrobe. Natural-lit night scenes and gloomy filters have rendered expensive widescreens into charcoal rubbings of semi-perceptible movement. The castle and its crypt are breached. “Saving Private Ryan” exposed a mass audience to war as a disorienting assault, where you can never get your bearings or know where the next bullet is coming from. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), all that stood between the leader of the dead and Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), the personified memory of life in Westeros, has been impaled like a cocktail onion. As a pretentious TV producer exclaimed on the most recent season of “BoJack Horseman,” “The darkness is a metaphor for darkness!”, In “The Long Night,” murk piled on top of mayhem, shadows tumbled across the screen by torchlight. But it’s also a rather apt name for an episode of television that had many at home squinting and scooting closer to see if one of their favorites had just died in the dimly lit clash between the army of the living and the army of the dead. Jaime’s horrified reaction at what’s happening is really a masterpiece of acting. Arya — our Arya, who begged to learn sword fighting, who attended her father’s execution, who befriended a pie baker and outargued lords, who wandered a war-blasted country, who studied face-changing and murder, who gained deadly power but seemed to lose her soul — got this done. . The Dothraki charge in Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” was an inventive use of darkness and light, but much of the episode was simply too murky to track. (We have a full accounting here.) "Game of Thrones" on Sunday night was dark and full of terrors. .they say don’t work with animals or kids. “Game of Thrones” has done this well — say, in the epic battle sequence of “Hardhome.” (Also directed, like “Long Night,” by the capable Miguel Sapochnik.). The first scene began the battle, as the Dothraki cavalry charged the yet-unseen army of the dead. The episode’s director of photography, Fabian Wagner, spoke with Vanity Fair’s “Still Watching” podcast about some of the challenges of shooting this nocturnal skirmish. Both Beric and Melisandre, servants of the Lord of Light, bring hope with them in this episode. It was a fitting showcase for a series that, in its later years, has stood out more as a collection of indelible individual scenes than seamless episodes. Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy. In a series devoted to spectacle, it harnesses the power of what we can’t see. Then slowly, quietly, the fires die out. “Game of Thrones” has had gigantic battles before; it may have another in store. Lesnie replied, “Same place as the music.” Which is why Helm’s Deep is lit up like Fenway Park, making every grim king, glam archer, and shield-surfing elf easy to pick out in a crowd. In the aptly titled “The Long Night” episode of “Game of Thrones,” the Night King brought his teeming army of the undead to assault the defenders of the living at Winterfell. At least as far as I can see them. Vanity Fair may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. The Night King has raised the dead from the battle (corpses are a renewable resource). © 2020 Condé Nast. Beric inspires Sandor and Melisandre inspires many—but most specifically Arya who is shown to be in total darkness in the Winterfell hallways when she’s at her lowest. At worst, it’s a frustrating cliché, hostile to narrative and eyeballs, that substitutes fog for feeling. To revisit this article, select My⁠ ⁠Account, then View saved stories. If you’re not all caught up, or would prefer not to be spoiled, now is the time to leave. There are distant sounds of clashing. (I am not the first to note the similarity to the “Operation Human Shield” story line in the 1999 “South Park” movie, in which a general ordered his black soldiers to sacrifice themselves on the front line.). This post contains frank discussion of several plot points from Season 8, Episode 3 of Game of Thrones. Wagner in his interview with Vanity Fair stressed that despite its zombies and dragons, Game of Thrones is a very naturalistically and “classically” shot show. But sometimes even Wagner’s dab hand couldn’t keep some of the crushes of bodies from being too tough to follow. 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