News

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) 65%.

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

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