It seems I was one of the lucky few who didnt have a hard time seeing what was going on in this episode. Yes it was dark, and yes the action was chaotic, but I felt that all worked and made it tenser. Now the next day when I tried to watch it during the day, in a well-lit room, I couldn’t see anything. So there is that.
I am torn on this episode. On one end, as a stand-alone episode, it is fantastic. The action is great, it is shot beautifully. acted great, and the ending was perfect. If I am not looking at it in the context of the whole show, but only as a single episode, I loved it.
The scenes with Arya were especially good. The scene with her in the library, and then the hallway, is possibly my favorite scene from the episode. And the ending with her was perfect. Some complained it was unearned, but those people are wrong. Arya’s entire arc has been about her becoming a master assassin. They have spent all of last season, and this season, showcasing her quick and quiet her movements are. In the first episode of this season, she snuck up unheard on Jon in the exact same spot she snuck up on the Night King. I this episode she was moving around for a long time undetected from the wights and was only discovered because of the blood dripping off her head, meaning her steps are literally more quiet than a drop of blood hitting the floor. Syrio in the first season stressed to her the importance of silent movement. One can not have watched this show closely, and still think that Arya is incapable of doing what she did.
People also complained that not enough people died. That is also dumb. I don’t just watch GOT to see characters die. Besides, we had several key deaths in this episode, that were all hugely important to the episode. Theon, Beric, Lyanna, Jorah, and Meli all had key deaths that were fantastic endings for those characters. Theon died protecting Bran, finally making up for his betrayal of the Stark’s, and giving him the heroes ending and redemption his character deserved. It was the perfect way to end Theon’s arc. Beric died protecting Arya, finally showing why he was brought back to life so many times, fulfilling his purpose. Jorah died protecting the woman he loves, which was always going to be the way his story ended. Lyanna is a minor character, but they finally paid off making her seem like such a little badass by having her take on a Giant and win. And Meli finally served her purpose. She helped turn away the darkness that sought to kill the light of the world, fulfilling her duty to the Lord of Light.
Any other deaths could have taken away from the importance of the ones that happened. People complained that Sam survived, but his character still serves a purpose to the show, and just having him die in battle would serve no purpose but to satisfy some fans bloodlust. People complained that Jaime survived despite only having one hand, that would also be a disappointing ending to his story. What has made the deaths in this show so amazing is not that they happen, but that they happen at the right time in ways that serve the story. They are often shocking. Just killing people for the sake of it in this episode would neither shock or serve the story. They picked the right people to kill at the right time in the episode.
The complaints I do have about the episode though, are about the larger scale of the show. It just seemed like the White Walker plot was closed too quickly. As if they didnt really have a good way to bring the Thrones plot and White Walker Plot, so they dedicated half the season to one side, and the second half to the other. I was hoping the two stories would have more to do with one another, but it seems like that may not happen. Of course, with 3 episodes left, that could change, and there could be more to this than we thought, but I was just hoping there would be more to the White Walker threat than one big battle.
Overall, the episode was good, and I understand the limitations they faced with budget and time, so maybe this was the only thing they could do for this plot. They may have wanted to widen the scope of the conflict past just this battle, but didnt have the time or money to. The episode itself was thrilling, tense, and satisfying. Maybe a little hard to see at times, but in a way that helped make it tenser.