After seeing the first two episodes of the final season, truth be told I was seriously afraid, yes, afraid of being let down. As all Game of Thrones fans know, you have to be prepared for the worst and fight to death for the best.
This might just be, for GOT fans, the best episode of the series so far.
The war with Death almost takes everyone, everything with it. In the Battle of Winterfell, everyone has a role to play, even as they die and for many of our loved characters, death is an ode to their strengths. As we all know, GOT creators aren't afraid to kill off characters just as we think they may stay - some deaths on screen may have even made you feel like it was all for nothing, such as The Red Wedding.
For example, the most heroic death for me in today's episode was that of Lyanna Mormont, the 10-year old 'Bear' queen who makes men thrice her size tremble at their knees. And in true David versus Goliath fashion, Lyanna doesn't just kill any Whitewalker as she goes, she takes a giant with her. Yes, she does die, and then open her blue eyes.
Everything we fear comes true, the Night King cannot be burnt and he ressurects every single man, woman and child who died in the battle after he gets to Winterfell, Daenerys and her dragons almost get killed (calling Rhaegal Jon's dragon to me is utter blasphemy), the Dothraki are wiped out and so are most of Unsullied - and most important of all, the Night King gets within one-arm distance of Bran.
The best thing I loved about the episode is the scale of the battle scenes. You will have to amp up your brightness to the maximum to see some parts of this one but the episode is a literal 'Song of Ice and Fire'. There is no dilly dallying and you get screentime to truly appreciate the fight for life depicted in the episode. The battle doesn't over-impress with dramatic escapes, people die, dragons lose - which makes it all seem as real as it can get. Jon Snow almost gets buried under dead people again (Battle of the Bastards), just this time they can move and kill.
Another key role played in the battle is that of Melisandre - she returns as promised. And all of her prophecies come true one by one, including her own death. She lights up the arakhs of the Dothraki, she brings fire to the trenches surrounding the Winterfell walls, she then welcomes death as an old, old woman.
And as the saying goes, they saved the best for last.
In the Season 3 trailer, we see Arya running through the Winterfell halls, crazed, scared - nothing like the assassin we know her as. I mean who can blame her, hordes of dead people are bursting through doors. Clegane aka the Hound, comes to her rescue, with Beric Dondarrion and his flaming sword. This despite the fact that Clegane, who is already scared brainless of fire, also loses his courage in the face of death just swarming over everything. He does manage to save Arya, though we lose Dondarrion in the process, and he is truly gone this time (according to Melisandre, this is the purpose the Lord of Light brought him to life so many times).
Melisandre, predictably in her case, is just in the room Arya and the Hound run into. She asks Arya, "What do we say to the God of Death?", and Arya answers in a beat, "Not today" before stalking off and we don't know where to at that point.
In true Arya fashion, Arya creeps up on Death - right after the Night King pushes a sword through Theon Greyjoy, Bran's last line of protection. In an instant it seems it all happens: she jumps at him with her Valyrian steel dagger in one hand, he catches her by the throat and realises a second too late that the dagger is dropping... dropping... to her other hand - and then, she stabs it right through his body. He shatters into nothing and just like that, the entire Whitewalker army is blown away into dust. This dagger survived deaths, cuts and many episodes to come to this point - the same dagger was used to try and kill Bran when he was in a coma in Season 1.
It's done, he is gone. We have two dragons, we have Jon and Dany (just, Jorah died to keep her alive as they fought shoulder to shoulder), we have Arya, Bran, Sansa, Tyrion, Varys, Samwell, Gilly and little Sam, Jaime, Brienne, Grey Worm, Missandei - among a few others.
Now the scary part: is Cersei, as we all suspected, worse than the Night King after all?