Much of the Internet is still reeling after last night’s Game of Thrones episode. Titled, “The Long Night,” we finally witnessed the Army of the Dead attack Winterfell, something that’s been brewing ever since the Night King showed his full powers in Season 5’s “Hardhome.”
Yet, while the episode itself was a heart-stopper, featuring sequences of hand-wringing panic for our favorite characters, “The Long Night” is currently sitting at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn’t terrible, but is certainly low when compared to the series’ average of 8.96.
In fact, this is the lowest-rated episode since Season 5’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” a generally messy episode that many agree fumbled the Dorne story line and culminated in the distressing rape of Sansa Stark. Indeed, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” is the only “rotten” episode in Game of Thrones history, with a 54% rating, mostly due to that final scene with Ramsay and Sansa, which many critics railed against.
So, why would “The Long Night” be rated so low with audiences and critics? While most professional critics are making valid points, a large swath of the audience is review bombing the episode for a more sinister reason.
The general consensus among critics is that, while the episode itself was extremely grand in scope, featuring one of the longest battles ever committed to film, the execution at times was hard to follow, with the extremely high stakes overall being shrugged aside.
The scenes were often so dark that it was impossible to see the action unless it happened to include fire (thanks a bunch, Drogon and Melisandre). The editing was sloppy at times, and it was hard to tell who was where and how they got there. And despite the high death count, most of our major characters still made it out alive, an illogical outcome considering the enemy. — Kelly Lawler, USA Today
It’s hard to disagree with many of these points. Most viewers could agree that “The Long Night” lived up to its name by being A) very long and B) very dark. Much of the action was hard to follow, and HBO’s subpar picture compression that crushes dark scenes didn’t help.
Me trying to see where the Dothraki went pic.twitter.com/jwaRMN3qFt
— Karina (@delgadokarinaa) April 29, 2019
Below is an actual, unedited screengrab of a shot that is supposed to show viewers some of the characters who survived, but instead had us inches from our screens asking, “who is that?”
And speaking of surviving characters, the second-most critical look at the episode dealt with the sheer amount of characters left standing when the battle was finished, especially since we were very mentally prepared to lose half of them.
The Night King and his army were built up as this unstoppable force that was coming for all the living. Our ragtag group of heroes were determined to stop him and, while tons of soldiers died in the process, an unreasonable amount of heroes lived, with only minor characters like Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Melisandre, and Edd Tollett kicking the bucket.
Sure, major names like Theon Greyjoy and Jorah Mormont also met their end, but I think we all were waiting for an even bigger name like Jaime, Brienne, Tyrion, or even Jon Snow to die in this battle.
But while critics have brought up valid points on the episode’s shortcomings, discussions online are centered around a more toxic reason: Arya.
When the Night King enters the godswood and stands in front of Bran and the camera cuts to all of our favorite heroes seconds away from death, all the while we’re screaming from our couches at home, we suddenly see a small, fierce figure over the Night King’s shoulder.
It’s Arya, brandishing her Valyrian steel dagger. The Night King catches her by the throat, but she drops the dagger to her left hand and plunges it into his stomach, killing him and in turn, the entire army of the undead.
It turns out that despite Arya’s entire series-long arc of becoming a silent, quick, agile warrior/assassin, a lot of extremely Online™ men can’t stomach Game of Thrones’ villain being taken out by a young woman.
Having Arya kill the Night King is like having R2D2 kill the Emperor
Plotless, unemotional, deux ex machina tumblr-tier writing
Calling HBO Game of Thrones fanfic is an insult to fanfic bc that at least has narrative consistency
— Jack Posobiec ???????? (@JackPosobiec) April 29, 2019
Unfortunately, this isn’t a new phenomenon.
With the continued rise of strong women in on-screen fantasy roles, many men are quick to refute any plot point that elevates a woman to pull off a heroic feat. A crusade against the likes of Rey in Star Wars and Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel is already well-documented and it seems like the hero of Winterfell, Arya Stark, is being added to the list, even though she is perhaps the deadliest and well-trained fighter in the entire show.
Luckily, others are quick to rush to Arya’s defense and point out the misogyny in so many fans’ takes.
[Sansa saves everyone at the Battle of the Bastards]
She’s just not likable.
[Arya saves everyone at the Battle of Winterfell]
She’s too ambitious.
[Jon makes dumb decisions but is born with a dick]
ALL HAIL OUR KING!
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) April 29, 2019
at this point I’m convinced men will call any woman a mary sue if they feel like her purpose isn’t to make their dicks twitch & im fed up pic.twitter.com/pANYvjWwYE
— with fire and blood (@slytheriing) April 29, 2019
‘Mary Sue’ is now just a word that insecure men use to describe fictional women who make them feel threatened (but in a way, hasn’t it always been)
— Catrina D-Wing ???????? (@ohcatrina) April 29, 2019
The only tea here is that if Jon had defeated the Night King instead of Arya, or if any male star wars character had defeated Kylo in that battle instead of Rey, y'all petty male nerds wouldn't be calling them "Mary Sue".
Just admit you're intimidated by strong women and go pic.twitter.com/Jmj4JC1xTK
— Dai 🙂 (@ForcebondMouse) April 29, 2019
While there are many valid strikes against “The Long Night,” Arya’s assassination of the Night King should not count as one of them. Besides, if he didn’t wanna die, he shouldn’t have put on a crop top as he headed south.
Died all because he wanted to wear a crop top instead of full armor. Being a bad bitch will kill you! https://t.co/E9IaEMUXRG
— *has entered the chat* (@holadamilola) April 29, 2019