Game of Thrones Post-Mortem of “The Long Night”

The Game of Thrones episode we had all been anticipating (and dreading) has come and gone, and it was full of action, horror, heartbreak, and triumph. “The Long Night” kept us on the edge of our seat as Winterfell’s fate hung in the balance, before delivering a victory for our heroes in a rather unexpected way. As always, the cast and crew have plenty of thoughts to share, so let’s go behind the scenes with today’s interviews and videos!

Thursday January 01, 1970

The episode’s MVP was definitely Arya Stark, but Maisie Williams wasn’t sure how fans would react to her killing the Night King. She tells Entertainment Weekly that she “immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn’t deserve it. The hardest thing is in any series is when you build up a villain that’s so impossible to defeat and then you defeat them. It has to be intelligently done because otherwise people are like, ‘Well, [the villain] couldn’t have been that bad when some 100-pound girl comes in and stabs him.’ You gotta make it cool. And then I told my boyfriend and he was like, ‘Mmm, should be Jon though really, shouldn’t it?’” Maybe it’s time for a new boyfriend…just saying.
Williams came around to the idea quickly, however. “When we did the whole bit with Melisandre, I realized the whole scene with [the Red Woman] brings it back to everything I’ve been working for over these past 6 seasons…It all comes down to this one very moment. It’s also unexpected and that’s what this show does. So then I was like, ‘F—k you Jon, I get it.’”

Thursday January 01, 1970

For his part, Kit Harington was willing to let someone other than Jon have the glory. “I think it will frustrate some in the audience that Jon’s hunting the Night King and you’re expecting this epic fight and it never happens — that’s kind of Thrones. But it’s the right thing for the characters. There’s also something about it not being the person you expect. The young lady sticks it to the man.”
For all of her training, Arya has never been in a real battle, and Williams had no idea how grueling it would be – but the reward was well worth it. “You try and you train but nothing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It’s night after night and again and again and it just doesn’t stop…But the sense of achievement after a day on set is unlike anything else. One of those really tough days, you know it’s going to be part of something so iconic and it will look amazing.” That it did.
For more on Arya’s big moment, head over to EW.

EW also brings us an interview with Carice Van Houten, whose character had a significant role in the Winterfell battle as well. Van Houten wasn’t sure where Melisandre’s storyline would end, but she admits she didn’t have high hopes. “I had a bit of a feeling it was not going to end well for me. I was a bit emotional. I really like that we finally know what she came for, and it’s the end of her journey. ‘I can go now, my work is done’ — without it being really dramatic. It’s a life that’s been hundreds of years that’s come to an end now.”
We don’t know much about Melisandre’s story, and Van Houten wishes the show could have explored it more. “I would have liked to know a bit more about her past. Because she was a slave. It would have been a nice moment to show she is human and connect her to to others. As an actor it’s more interesting to play doubts and secrets. And it’s nice to tap from your own s—. I wish we knew a bit more about her s—.” Perhaps we will find out more in the books?
As to how the series ends, Van Houten is unsure of how fans will react. “People have had so much time to make up their own story. I guess they become attached to something they wish or fear for. Some will be surprised. Above all, they’ll say that it’s over. It’s a pretty f—ing unique show, let’s face it. This is freeing in a way. You need to jam in life a bit. Now I’m going to try another instrument.” It seems the best way to view the finale is with an open mind – much easier said than done of course!
Read the rest at EW.

One character who didn’t have a pivotal moment last night, was Samwell Tarly, who was just trying to survive. Actor John Bradley doesn’t mind, though; he tells Esquire that “you need a character like Sam to represent the man on the street, because then that contextualizes all of the threats and all of the stakes. You need a Sam for Jon Snow to make sense. In order for Jon Snow to appear above and beyond the regular guy, you need to see the regular guy. And as much as a lot of men don’t like to admit it…Sam’s coping with it is probably how they cope with it.”
Even thought Sam is a “regular guy” and not a warrior, he felt a responsibility to stay and fight. “He wouldn’t have been able to live with himself if Jon or anyone else died while he was safe in the crypts.” As he sees the woman and children heading to those “safe” crypts (ha), Sam “decides that these are the people he’s fighting for. He decides to fight for his own sense of duty. I think that’s a really powerful moment.”
Like Van Houten, Bradley is also unsure how the audience will feel about the show’s ending. “One word that I always use to describe how people feel about the show is satisfying. Happiness isn’t something that this show goes about too well, because they’ve never bothered about keeping an audience happy. So when people say, ‘Am I gonna be happy with the ending?’ It’s like, well, maybe not. Because everybody’s got a different way that it wants to end.” Truer words were never spoken.
Check out the entire interview here.

Thursday January 01, 1970

Speaking of ends, Ser Jorah Mormont met his during the battle. Iain Glen tells the Making Game of Thrones blog that he “went through a real range of emotions” when he read the script. He admits he “felt at peace with it. Because in some ways Jorah has been offering himself, his life, to Daenerys for six or seven seasons. So there was a completeness to it.”
In the episode prior to Jorah giving his life, he gave Daenerys advice – to make amends with Tyrion and win over Sansa. Glen explains, “Whatever you say about Jorah, one of his good qualities was that Dany’s best interests were always paramount…Jorah realizes that people do need to compromise and come together. He’s very persuaded that Tyrion has Dany’s best interest at heart. He trusts him. With Sansa, he’s trying to encourage a unified front and stop any instinct Dany might have to separate herself. He feels quite strongly that’s not the way to win the war.”
On a personal note, tragedy almost struck Glen in real life as he filmed his final fight. As he was rehearsing on set, he received a message from his wife. “She was in the hospital —  she had suffered a brain hemorrhage. The nature of it, after it was all said and done, means it’s never going to happen again, and she’s fully recovered, but I was completely on the floor at the time, a total mess. And of course there was a connection with Emilia, who I know has spoken publicly about her medical issues, and she was brilliant, and she, Miguel [Sapochnik] and [executive producer] Bernie Caulfield told me to go, get on a flight.” Thankfully his wife pulled through and he was able to finish his scene two weeks later.
For more on Jorah’s journey, read the full interview at Making Game of Thrones.

House Mormont lost another member (and the last one we know of) last night, as Lady Lyanna fell during the battle as well. Bella Ramsey doesn’t mind, however, since she got to go down fighting. She tells Making Game of Thrones, “I was so excited to get going and full of gratitude to even be asked back. I didn’t expect it. So when I read Episode 3, I was shook. But in a good way.”
Although filming the battle was difficult, Ramsey rose to the occasion. “Intense is an understatement. There were weeks after weeks of night shoots in very cold weather. It was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do, but I love a challenge so I’m not complaining. There were these massive wind machines, tons of fake snow falling, lots of battle cries, and a mass stampede of people…It was thrilling, for me as an actor. I was completely immersed in it.”
As Lyanna died, Ramsey states that director Miguel Sapochnik helped her imagine what her character was experiencing in that moment. “And then the battle cry. That was the best bit. I had this song in my head which we sing at church quite often which goes, ‘There is victory in the end, your love is my battle cry… every giant will fall.’” She may be gone, but Ramsey has no regrets. “If you’re going to die on Game of Thrones, at least die well. That final scene took ages, lots of green screen, lots of long night shoots, but it’s all worth it. RIP Lyanna.” RIP indeed, fierce little bear.

In this week’s “Inside the Episode,” David Benioff and Dan Weiss break down the climactic battle between the living and the dead.

The next two videos are from HBO’s website and are only available in the United States. In “The Great War” several cast members discuss their characters’ roles in the battle.

In “An Act of Love,” Emilia Clarke and Iain Glen share their thoughts on Jorah’s death (keep the tissues handy for this one).

 “The Game Revealed” is a fascinating look at the incredible efforts by the cast and crew to bring Game of Thrones biggest battle to life.

What happens now that the Army of the Dead has been defeated? Check out next’s week preview below!

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