Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3 Reviews: Critics Shrug as Battle of Winterfell Underwhelms

A few "holy sh--" moments punctuated "The Long Night," but what did critics make of the episode overall?

by | April 29, 2019 | Comments

Given the immense anticipation leading up to episode 3 of HBO fantasy juggernaut Game of Thrones 89%, the assumption was that the battle against the Night King’s army at Winterfell in “The Long Night” would be unequivocally epic. But you know what they say about assumptions.

Critics and fans hung on for two relatively mellow first weeks of the final season. It was fine that the premiere, “Winterfell,” was mostly filled with character reunions and episode 2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” favored sentimentality over conflict, because everything was building to the #BattleofWinterfell (though that hashtag had been seen before).

Alas, not everyone was blown away by the latest battle at the Stark ancestral home, as demonstrated by the episode’s unusually low (for the series, that is) Tomatometer score: 75% with 92 reviews so far (at 1:20 p.m. PT on April 30).

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Some critics were pleasantly surprised by the episode’s unexpected twists, others were utterly disappointed and lamented the return to the pursuit of the Iron Throne. Many critics found the battle “brutal and emotionally exhausting” — but in a good way! But more than a mere few — 23% if you do the math — as well as some vocal fans on Twitter, found it less-than-thrilling at best, and a “betrayal” at worst.

“The Long Night” is the lowest-scoring of the season’s three episodes so far, and if it stays that low, it would be the second lowest-scoring Game of Thrones episode ever (it recently dropped below season 3’s “The Bear and the Maiden Fair“). To put that score into context, however, that’s still higher than popular recent box office superhero fare like Aquaman (2018) 66%.

Read on to find out what critics had to say about Season 8 Episode 3: "The Long Night" 73%.

Did “The Long Night” live up to your expectations? Tell us in the poll below.

How Did Everyone Fare in Battle?

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

Fighting an army of the dead is never easy, but Daenerys and Jon’s output was so pitiful here that I worry their alliance might not make it to the final conflict with Cersei. — David Sims, The Atlantic

After bridging the trenches, the wights started climbing the walls. So it was up to Gendry, Jaime, and the gang to fight them all off one by one — a project that was manifestly futile from the start. Still, it gave Brienne a chance to save Jaime’s life, so that was nice. — Michael Hogan, Vanity Fair

What was most striking to me was that while the men were busy having existential crises in the middle of a bloody battle (I’m looking at you Clegane), women were getting shit done. — Anne Cohen, Refinery29

Cersei is a winner because she knows, every time, that she can just hang back and let other people do her dirty work, then sip her wine and chuckle to herself about how everybody else did the dirty work for her. — Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

Read more: The 11 Biggest Moments from “The Long Night.”

Did the Action Live Up to Expectations?

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

The episode stands in as the ultimate representative of one of the ways “Game of Thrones” has seen itself, as the staging-ground for ultra-violent action whose stakes are the fate of the world. — Daniel D’Addario, Variety

Perhaps the hour’s been built up too much, or maybe events were too foreshadowed; we knew that mankind would prevail, if only because it’s got to fight amongst itself a bit more before Thrones’ six-episode season is through. — Clint Worthington, The Spool

It’s hardly a roller coaster ride, but that’s actually why this might be one of the better battle-focused episodes of “Game of Thrones” to date; it makes every moment of dread feel truly lived-in, lets each character beat scattered between the battles sink in. — Liz Shannon Miller, indieWire

“The Long Night” was unique in that it’s the one Game of Thrones episode I will never watch again, under any circumstance. I do not need to relive that. If television could give you PTSD, this would have done the job. — Shane Ryan, Paste Magazine

I’m satisfied, but my eyes need a rest. — Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic

What’s Everyone Complaining About?

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

I know the night is dark and full of terrors, but does that mean the episode has to be so literally dark? — Clint Worthington, The Spool

The long-gestating Battle for Winterfell is difficult to follow, occasionally even impossible to discern, and ends the most existential threat the series has built up over the course of its run with a “one good hit kills them all” solution that feels more than a little cheap. — Andrew Bloom, Consequence of Sound

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

 Arya’s Ascendance to Hero-Dom has Everyone Saying #NotToday.

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 (HBO)

What spectacle! The deus ex machina of Arya’s attack satisfied in both its culmination of a seasons-long build (her development into a master killer) and its tension-exploding suddenness. — Daniel D’Addario, Variety

At nearly the last possible moment of the longest Game of Thrones episode ever, she saved Bran and all humanity from the Night King in one of those moves that would certainly land her a slot in The Avengers if they were making any more Avengers movies. — Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Daily News

Read more: All Game of Thrones Episodes, Ranked by Tomatometer

Final Verdict?

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

So, in summation, the Battle of Winterfell dead include: Dolorous Edd, Lyanna Mormont, Jorah Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Theon Grejoy, Melisandre, and the Night King. — Kimberly Roots, TV Line

Everything in “Game of Thrones” these past seven seasons led us to these cataclysmic 80 minutes, the sum total of all our fears and theories. A shrug wouldn’t do at all, but only a physical, convulsive reflex — our own yawp into the night, as if to say that TV at its wild, most ambitious best really can make dreams come true. Or nightmares. This one certainly did. — Verne Gay, Newsday

With three episodes remaining in its eighth and final season, “Game of Thrones” has defeated its most powerful and threatening villain, the Night King… It was as grand and almost as fatal as we all predicted, sure, but it also ended the White Walker threat forever with one tidy blow. — Kelly Lawler, USA Today

If you asked me whether “Game of Thrones” is a genuinely great show, after “The Long Night,” I’d have to answer: not today. — Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

spain Brie Larson social media NYCC tv talk DGA Countdown Lifetime facebook television Food Network CBS All Access FX award winner travel sequel VH1 Writers Guild of America space Ghostbusters anthology politics Fantasy mockumentary rotten movies we love Christmas cops Emmys green book A24 Cartoon Network FXX Oscars Year in Review Holidays PBS comiccon Disney nature Certified Fresh FX on Hulu History Vudu ITV Funimation name the review DirecTV TBS Logo dc comics CW Seed Reality Competition Netflix Musicals Hallmark Christmas movies adventure Character Guide Extras BBC America spy thriller spider-man E3 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt renewed TV shows Mindy Kaling GIFs American Society of Cinematographers Marathons batman Paramount strong female leads reviews robots 45 Amazon Studios FOX Music Tubi ESPN Television Academy Disney+ Disney Plus DC Universe Sony Pictures hispanic Star Wars 2016 DC Comics cartoon Cosplay El Rey documentary Superheroes Super Bowl Academy Awards RT21 See It Skip It ghosts Superheroe TruTV Musical Comic Book Best and Worst Schedule Valentine's Day Opinion PaleyFest blockbuster adaptation independent richard e. Grant TV Land TIFF The CW cancelled biography MSNBC IFC Films canceled TV shows Chernobyl slashers Tomatazos franchise IFC Britbox canceled BBC YouTube Red werewolf witnail universal monsters National Geographic scary movies dogs festivals crime The Purge Freeform miniseries series Dark Horse Comics MCU psychological thriller YouTube OneApp TCA 2017 E! CNN Amazon Prime Video finale ABC Family Masterpiece TNT Starz Emmy Nominations 2018 2017 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Paramount Network discovery zero dark thirty MTV Spike Horror crime thriller Comics on TV Anna Paquin psycho Pop 20th Century Fox The Witch AMC The Walking Dead cancelled television Nat Geo Mary Poppins Returns movies Baby Yoda Polls and Games Interview APB Nominations YA Endgame screenings Marvel Television movie cults supernatural medical drama Holiday OWN cancelled TV series casting cats Premiere Dates Teen true crime natural history Sundance SXSW ratings Marvel Studios children's TV Infographic Western Creative Arts Emmys Ellie Kemper Mystery Trivia serial killer Red Carpet zombie anime indie GLAAD Black Mirror First Reviews Rocky justice league President toy story Pirates cinemax Lifetime Christmas movies christmas movies revenge Turner Classic Movies NBC Film Festival Song of Ice and Fire Pixar Sci-Fi Walt Disney Pictures diversity versus mutant Summer Marvel Stephen King kids harry potter blaxploitation Drama cooking Crunchyroll what to watch spanish language Warner Bros. X-Men zombies VICE Quiz joker Mudbound Elton John TLC romance Photos YouTube Premium Election screen actors guild Women's History Month WarnerMedia game show Disney Plus Shondaland Pet Sematary historical drama Amazon Prime Pop TV unscripted Bravo Esquire Disney streaming service thriller BET LGBT crossover halloween jamie lee curtis war breaking bad Country dramedy Sneak Peek doctor who Captain marvel Rocketman Toys Columbia Pictures USA Network RT History Shudder A&E spinoff Grammys Travel Channel Martial Arts Nickelodeon vampires HBO Max based on movie dceu transformers cars latino WGN book directors Family dragons teaser GoT Rom-Com Sundance TV Trophy Talk 24 frames Heroines boxoffice Thanksgiving HBO Comedy 2015 video south america sag awards crime drama Hulu Comedy Central Winners Avengers romantic comedy Showtime Spring TV sports Box Office Ovation San Diego Comic-Con Universal Video Games Set visit SundanceTV 2019 free movies period drama streaming TV renewals Black History Month Lucasfilm Rock Film comic TCA Winter 2020 TCM Acorn TV 21st Century Fox Lionsgate USA technology talk show reboot Mary poppins Adult Swim ABC Apple TV+ cancelled TV shows Cannes Mary Tyler Moore sitcom 007 Netflix Christmas movies Star Trek science fiction composers Trailer hist Disney Channel Winter TV game of thrones Peacock Crackle CMT SDCC 2020 CBS New York Comic Con aliens Hallmark TCA Awards First Look quibi Fox News singing competition Biopics binge elevated horror Classic Film Sundance Now Fall TV Amazon Apple Podcast Reality Calendar Turner The Arrangement stand-up comedy Spectrum Originals 71st Emmy Awards foreign LGBTQ Binge Guide political drama Action Awards Tour Kids & Family theme song DC streaming service Epix Discovery Channel TV Arrowverse animated Syfy Animation disaster golden globes Tumblr Tarantino docudrama Pride Month Watching Series Apple TV Plus police drama