Warning: Contains Spoilers
It may have been one of the most epic battle scenes of all time, but it appears the long-awaited Battle of Winterfell has left some viewers feeling a little deflated.
Indeed, despite its ambitious scale and action packed moments, episode three of season eight of Game of Thrones, entitled The Long Night, scored a relatively so-so 78 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
This score, taken from 87 reviews, is the lowest on record since season five, and the third lowest score ever in the history of the epic fantasy series.
Of course, 78 per cent is still a very respectable score – a triumph for some shows – but Game of Thrones usually operates on a different level, averaging out at an impressive 94 per cent per episode.
The worst rated Game of Thrones episode of all time was the deeply upsetting season five, episode six, Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, which scored an abysmal 54 per cent.
Many critics were left appalled by the rape scene involving Sansa Stark, a scene which deviated sharply from the books, and heavily criticised for its use of rape as a plot device.
The second worst rated of the series was season three, episode seven, The Bear and the Maiden Fair which scored 77 per cent.
This was another extremely traumatic episode. Many critics felt the prolonged scenes of Theon Greyjoy’s torture at the hands of Ramsay Bolton were just far too excessive and unnecessarily disturbing.
The Long Night, Battle of the Bastards and Hardhome all exceeded in technical aspects, but not in narrative, that's why Blackwater remains undefeated as the best battle episode in Game of Thrones.
— Gerson (@GerznMg) April 30, 2019
Now, this latest episode hasn’t featured anything quite so harrowing. However, some critics have felt a little underwhelmed by how a villain who has cast an icy shadow since season one has been slain so abruptly, with three episodes still to go.
As Lenika Cruz of The Atlantic put it:
I can’t ignore the years of being told this epic war between the living and the dead was the true conflict that superseded petty squabbles about who got to wear the fancy crown and be called “Your Grace.”
These past few seasons, Thrones was so successful at getting me to reconsider what the real stakes of its central story might be, so I feel a little betrayed after having the White Walker arc resolved so neatly (at least as far as we know).
ASOIAF: The Game of Thrones is just a distraction from the real problem, The Long Night
GoT: The Long Night is just a distraction from the real problem, The Game of Thrones
— Menino Manoel (@DetoniFlores) April 29, 2019
The poor lighting also proved to be an issue, with many viewers left squinting at their TV screens to see what exactly was going on, especially once that vision blurring storm hit.
According to the critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes:
Winter is here and Arya Stark may officially be the baddest woman in the land, but despite delivering some epic and emotional moments “The Long Night” leaves a few things to be desired (lighting, anyone?) heading into the final stretch.
i feel idk, hollow? all that anticipation for the long night and war for the dawn and it’s over like it’s nothing. cersei is the big bad of the show now. get fucked d&d you hack fucks. #gameofthrones
— connor (@connholt) April 29, 2019
Of course, the Battle of Winterfell had so much to live up to, having existed in fans’ imagination for many years.
It was perhaps inevitable that this high stakes episode would feel a little anti-climactic once the living vs. the dead tension was all wrapped up.
However, there were still plenty of awe-inspiring moments to be had, with Arya’s destiny-defining victory no doubt going down as one of the greatest moments in TV history.
— Reshandy Akhbar (@ReshandyAkhbar) April 29, 2019
It had been foreshadowed in the first season after all.
You can now – finally – watch the new season of Game of Thrones on HBO or Sky Atlantic.
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