As if the $1 billion opening weekend for Avengers: Endgame (opens in new tab) wasn’t enough for the internet to have a collective meltdown, Game of Thrones season 8 (opens in new tab) just had its biggest episode ever with episode 3, The Long Night. Not only that, but its depiction of the Battle of Winterfell was, technically speaking, the longest on-screen battle of all time, though that 80 minute runtime came and went like a hungry Hodor sprinting to a Northerner’s buffet.
Naturally, there’s plenty of unanswered questions left by the events of this episode, and - with full spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8 below - we’re going to run down the biggest ones of the lot, which hopefully the show answers during its final three episodes to come…
1. What was going on with Melisandre?
We always knew that Melisandre would be coming back to Winterfell. She said it herself in Game of Thrones season 7 (opens in new tab). What hasn’t been made clear by the show so far is why she went to Volantis in the first place, how she suddenly appeared in the middle of the battlefield at the last minute, or whether her Lord of Light ordained purpose really did stop and end with lighting a few things on fire to help the war effort.
So is that it for R’hllor, resurrections, and all those prophecies about “The Prince That Was Promised”? Has Melisandre really been waiting thousands of years just to serve a relatively minor purpose in the battle of Winterfell, before walking off to die at the end like a sick puppy? Even in Westeros, it seems, religion has a lot to answer for.
2. What happened to Ghost?
This is actually one of the only questions to which I have a definitive answer, but I know a lot of Thrones fans are probably wondering nonetheless about the status of Ghost, Jon’s Dire Wolf, after he was seen charging into battle alongside Ser Jorah and the Dothraki at the beginning of the conflict.
While we didn’t spot him again during the battle itself, a trailer for Game of Thrones season 8’s fourth episode has indeed confirmed that the loyal mutt survived the fight, as he can be spotted behind Sam in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene during the teaser. Phew! We can all sleep easy till next week knowing this good Dire doggo survived his tussle with the undead.
3. So… who was the Night King exactly?
There are more Game of Thrones theories (opens in new tab) about the true identity of the Night King than there are Game of Thrones episodes, but most of those were apparently put to bed with episode 3, after the White Walker’s monarch was killed off rather pathetically by Arya, without so much as a hint of his underlying motivations or potentially secret alias.
That said, the fact that he survived a full breath of dragon fire at the hands of Daenerys does add more evidence to the theory that the Night King is… sorry, was a Targaryen, but it looks as though HBO won’t be confirming anything else about it beyond that subtle hint, leaving the Thrones fans to do what they do best, and keep guessing.
4. What was Bran doing?
Bran continues to be a weird little knowitall throughout Game of Thrones season 8 and, even during the Battle of Winterfell, he found time to annoy us with his offish behaviour. While playing the role of Night King bait in Godswood, Bran abruptly ended an otherwise heartfelt conversation with Theon by explaining that he’s “going to go now”, and warging into an unkindness of ravens (yes, that is the correct plural term).
The way it was shot suggested that Bran was merely scouting ahead to find the Night King in advance of his arrival, but surely there was more to it than that. Theon could have used some motivation, for starters, and not feel like he was putting his life on the line for a boy who looks and acts like he’s in need of an exorcism. We still don’t know what Tyrion and Bran talked about in episode 2, so perhaps more is to be revealed about the three-eyed ravens plans in the remaining chapters...
5. Is the Night King really dead?
The Long Night did indeed make it look like the Night King is really, truly, very dead, but is it me, or did his demise come across as… anti-climactic? Eight seasons of build-up about the impending doom of the White Walkers, and their king is immediately turned to dust by a quick shank in the belly?
With that in mind, perhaps the Night King isn’t quite as dead as we think is. This is Westeros, after all, where people can depart and return to the mortal realm like its nothing, or maybe the person Arya killed isn’t the Night King at all. This is probably wishful thinking on my part, but I can’t help but feel as though this enemy’s on-screen axing lacked the sharp edges it needed.
6. Seriously, how did so many characters survive?
This Game of Thrones episode was perhaps the most surprising of them all, only in terms of how many characters managed to actually survive the battle. Sure, we may have lost Theon, Lyanna, Eddison, Beric, and Ser Jorah, but did you see what Jaime, Brienne, Podrick, and Tormund were up against? While Jon and Dany were dealing with the Night King, the foursome were pretty much against the walls, surrounded by hordes of undead for what must have been half an hour.
They’re certainly all adept fighters, but we’ve seen what the Night King’s masses are capable of. The fact that most of our favourite characters survived this gauntlet, in a Game of Thrones episode no less, is nothing short of a miracle. I suppose HBO is saving the majority of its big deaths for the battle for the Iron Throne, but - even so - the fatality count for this immensely bloody siege felt strangely timid.
For more on the latest happenings in Westeros, check out the Game of Thrones season 8 Battle of Winterfell reactions (opens in new tab) from around the internet, or watch the video below for a full recap of episode 3.