‘Game of Thrones’ Fans Are Thrilled, Confused and Setting the Internet on Fire

The third of the six final episodes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” on Sunday night featured an epic battle that moved the series and cultural phenomenon closer to its inevitable end.

Fans had high expectations going into the episode, “The Long Night.” Who would live? (And who would not?) Would the Night King, absent from the season’s first two episodes, finally appear? Would the citizens of Winterfell actually be safe in the crypts with all those corpses waiting to reanimate?

As soon as the nearly 90-minute battle sequence began to unfold, viewers turned by the thousands to the communal water cooler we call social media, where they shared memes, thoughts, spoilers, praise and grievances in thousands of posts on Twitter, Reddit, Instagram and YouTube. And as dawn arrived on the first workday of the week, many were searching Google for answers.

The New York Times recap called the episode “a masterpiece of tension and release, goose bumps and heartbreak, grandiosity and intimacy.”

By noon on Monday, at least seven of the top 100 podcast episodes on iTunes were devoted to discussing the show, with many of the hosts making the same, enthusiastic points seen elsewhere online.

“I can sum it up in three words,” said Ser Matt, a host of “Bend the Knee: A Song of Ice and Fire Podcast”: “Worth the wait.”

“The night is dark and full of terrors,” the Red Priestess, Melisandre, once said. And the night was most definitely dark.

The show has often faced lighthearted complaints about its lighting. There is no electricity in Westeros, after all. The epic Battle of Winterfell took place in the dark of night, on an open field and in darkened castle hallways, which made discerning what was happening, and who it was happening to, difficult at times.

Fans of the show seemed to agree, generally pleased that she was the one who saved her brother, Winterfell and perhaps all of Westeros.

To start, viewers wanted clarity on how, exactly, Arya was able to make her way from the castle to come out of nowhere to defeat the Night King, a bit of misdirection in the story that led to a satisfying surprise for viewers.

Some wondered why the Night King was so obsessed with killing Bran in the first place, an idea that was had only been explained in the previous episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”

“He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory,” Bran said, in explaining the plan to use himself as bait.

And then there were questions about why certain characters died the way they did.

Fans of the show are trained to see their favorite characters die (R.I.P. Ned Stark). Notably, the battle saw the deaths of Ser Jorah and Lyanna Mormont (and therefore what remained of House Mormont).

But some fans complained and joked about the lack of other big deaths, arguing that the show had set expectations too high before Sunday’s episode.

With three episodes down and three to go, a number of major (and minor) characters are still alive, despite an episode that showed many of them fighting for their lives: Brienne of Tarth, Jamie Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Tormund Giantsbane, Gendry, Podrick, and all the remaining Stark children.

But others defended the choice.

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