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"The Long Night"
While rewatching Seasons 6, 7 and 8 of Game of Thrones, I wondered whether Bran sent Theon to his death unnecessarily.
There are only three TV shows that we rewatch often: The Big Bang Theory, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, in that order. While we rewatch The Big Bang Theory and Stranger Things in their entirety, in the case of GOT, I prefer to rewatch only Seasons 6, 7 and 8.
Why? Call it a search for gaps in continuity. Or, perhaps, a silly hope for evolution knowing fully well that it’s devolution that follows. If you’re a GOT fan, you probably know that the HBO show was running out of George R. R. Martin books to adapt for Season 6. While parts of the storyline were derived from A Feast for Crows and A Dance for Dragons, much came from unpublished material. Martin provided the showrunners with outlines of upcoming novels. Most of Season 6, and Seasons 7 and 8 in their entirety, were written based on those outlines.
And I keep trying to pinpoint where exactly the show became just a TV show rather than the full epic fantasy that it was when it was still based on Martin’s published novels. I still haven’t been able to draw a dividing line. I suppose it’s not a matter of where in the story but, rather, a feel. While Martin’s plots were full of twists and turns, the TV show somehow lost nuance and the storytelling became familiarly linear.
Perhaps, it has to do with the intention to end the show. No more GOT after Season 8. And to introduce more twists and turns would make a wrapup additionally difficult. If there was going to be real closure, better stick to a simple storyline and just focus on the characters, the action and the visuals.
So, okay, Seasons 6, 7 and 8 did not have the scale of the storytelling in the previous seasons. But I like rewatching them anyway. I like the two battle scenes: The Battle of the Bastards in Season 6 and The Long Night in Season 8, and the Season 7 finale where Arya slits Littlefinger’s throat.
The Battle of the Bastards is one of the most well made battle scenes I have ever seen on screen. But it is the aftermath that I like most — that part when Sansa watches as Ramsay Bolton, bloodied and tied to a chair after Jon Snow beat him senseless, was devoured by his own dogs whom he hadn’t fed in seven days.
And Littlefinger’s death? Next to Ramsay’s, his death was the most poetic and deserved.
As for The Long Night, well, we have better internet connection now. When we first saw it, the slow internet connection made the scene too dark and there was pixelation galore. Today, we can make out the details better. And the subtitles help, really.
And that was what made me wonder about Bran and Theon. You know, when you’re just watching, and there’s that beautiful music by Ramin Djawadi building to a crescendo, it’s easy to get lost in the feeling and relegate the dialogue to the background. But when reading subtitles, you’re focused on the words.
So, Theon did not join his sister Yara when she sailed to the Iron Islands. He wanted to go back to Winterfell and fight for, or with, the Starks. Repentance? Redemption? Or, perhaps, the Starks really were more a family to him than the Greyjoys ever were.
When Bran announced that the Night King would come to him, it was Theon and his band of ironborn that formed the last line of defense. The ironborn fell one by one until there was only Theon between Bran and the Night King and his army of the dead. Bran tells Theon, “You’re a good man. Thank you.” And Theon runs toward the Night King to impale him with his spear. The Night King snatches the spear and kills Theon.
Here’s the thing. Bran had become the Three-eyed Raven who possessed Greensight — the ability to see past, present and future. So he knew that it was only a matter of seconds before Arya came to kill the Night King. What didn’t he just tell Theon to stay put? Why instead those cryptic last words that sounded so much like, “Okay, die for me now and all the sins you have committed against my family are forgiven.”
Was it payback? Or were those few seconds really necessary to make sure that Arya would arrive in time? I guess we’ll find out when George R. R. Martin finally finishes writing the rest of the novels.