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

robots Toys documentaries BET Awards TIFF Infographic doctor who parents Disney streaming service screenings The Walking Dead stoner ABC Women's History Month Watching Series book casting Pop TV Mary poppins Winter TV Podcast Cartoon Network Masterpiece latino Lionsgate joker natural history El Rey zombies Pop Film Festival Fall TV Ghostbusters award winner sitcom emmy awards Character Guide concert teaser series CBS All Access Tomatazos Mystery Stephen King tv talk Writers Guild of America TLC Awards Drama psycho Ovation die hard travel elevated horror discovery Amazon Prime Video scorecard NBC documentary spider-man BBC America hollywood stand-up comedy nature Lucasfilm Hear Us Out adventure romantic comedy FX Awards Tour christmas movies The Purge Comedy Mudbound Shondaland dc blaxploitation spanish universal monsters Interview Mindy Kaling Showtime Cannes Endgame Disney Plus Star Trek dragons SXSW Countdown name the review Pirates anime Marvel Studios 21st Century Fox television 2020 best GIFs WarnerMedia Nat Geo mutant Marathons south america Bravo TV Land VICE video Baby Yoda Apple TV Plus The Arrangement zero dark thirty diversity Captain marvel Tumblr GLAAD President Valentine's Day Hulu Syfy Rocky streaming BAFTA Disney chucky Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Pet Sematary Paramount Network worst movies cancelled cancelled TV shows First Reviews Mary Poppins Returns BET CW Seed Peacock Black History Month binge Trailer Horror Vudu breaking bad Apple TV+ IFC Films cancelled TV series 71st Emmy Awards Marvel A&E free movies DC Comics Quiz GoT Marvel Television 20th Century Fox halloween comedies facebook HBO FXX CMT Sundance Now sequels Fantasy Spectrum Originals MCU medical drama cars Biopics American Society of Cinematographers space Kids & Family Arrowverse Creative Arts Emmys mission: impossible halloween tv Comics on TV canceled TV shows political drama rotten movies we love independent MTV USA The CW Musicals Amazon Studios Martial Arts crossover news IFC vampires nbcuniversal renewed TV shows composers spanish language Holiday cops Hallmark Christmas movies PBS Binge Guide green book nfl stop motion CBS dramedy indiana jones TCA Winter 2020 satire CNN disaster comiccon Turner Classic Movies Anna Paquin hispanic TNT cats spain Hallmark MSNBC Superheroes Sundance justice league Rom-Com revenge Tubi batman Discovery Channel See It Skip It Oscars Spring TV Television Critics Association cartoon Pride Month A24 laika singing competition ratings ESPN mockumentary crime Lifetime Christmas movies Extras Amazon Prime archives Sony Pictures classics Video Games Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt slashers indie rotten RT History richard e. Grant scary movies NYCC Turner werewolf Star Wars crime drama Chernobyl psychological thriller boxoffice quibi Crunchyroll Adult Swim Comic Book true crime Red Carpet VOD Thanksgiving supernatural Teen DirecTV festival Premiere Dates witnail E3 finale festivals Crackle TCM movie 2019 Holidays cooking theme song Freeform social media comics screen actors guild dogs Certified Fresh National Geographic docudrama Universal Nominations Columbia Pictures Pixar foreign HBO Max 2018 a nightmare on elm street DC Universe TV renewals WGN Super Bowl Rock Calendar DC streaming service TV Esquire SDCC ghosts Epix Starz APB Music obituary PaleyFest harry potter Opinion Trivia Family Black Mirror X-Men BBC One Song of Ice and Fire Heroines Christmas based on movie PlayStation versus Sundance TV YA Paramount blockbuster TBS franchise crime thriller AMC DGA directors Disney Channel biography canceled Elton John OWN Shudder cults Sneak Peek Ellie Kemper TCA Awards comic books reboot Netflix Christmas movies YouTube Fox Searchlight black Winners Action politics Britbox Television Academy asian-american Tarantino New York Comic Con History cinemax Acorn TV Apple dark animated Photos Reality Competition football Summer Logo video on demand remakes Superheroe toronto japanese critics Trophy Talk sag awards Walt Disney Pictures 24 frames kids Warner Bros. sequel Lifetime historical drama ID dceu Box Office aliens jamie lee curtis Nickelodeon Emmy Nominations First Look reviews period drama strong female leads police drama BBC Reality RT21 Spike twilight 72 Emmy Awards OneApp Avengers USA Network ITV Schedule thriller cancelled television venice Academy Awards science fiction TruTV italian Film technology SundanceTV Grammys 2017 FX on Hulu Western spy thriller game of thrones Animation child's play 2015 4/20 anthology VH1 superhero miniseries Netflix The Witch Cosplay Food Network FOX films Disney+ Disney Plus game show Dark Horse Comics sports YouTube Premium The Academy ABC Family unscripted spinoff Country Funimation all-time fast and furious talk show serial killer Fox News HBO Go Musical zombie Emmys criterion Set visit LGBTQ Sci-Fi movies golden globes E! adaptation war Rocketman Classic Film Best and Worst TCA 2017 french hist Election Comedy Central Travel Channel australia Brie Larson 2016 what to watch romance 007 TCA San Diego Comic-Con transformers LGBT Mary Tyler Moore Year in Review 45 YouTube Red Polls and Games Amazon children's TV worst toy story comic