- Warning: Spoilers ahead for the “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode three, “The Long Night.”
- For INSIDER’s usual recap of HBO’s hit series, we’re bringing you the smaller moments and references from Sunday night’s episode you might have missed.
- From the layers of meaning in Arya’s fight choreography to how Theon Greyjoy long ago foreshadowed his death, keep reading for our full list of important details.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
The final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is officially halfway over following the epic 82-minute Battle of Winterfell on an episode titled “The Long Night.” Fans were stunned when Arya Stark killed the Night King, shattering all White Walkers and wights as well as our understanding of what arc the final season will follow.
Keep reading for the 15 most significant details you might have missed on Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”
Alys Karstark was with Bran and Theon Greyjoy, which means she’s most likely dead.
We can pretty confidently add Lady Alys Karstark to the list of characters who were killed during the battle, since Theon was left standing alone in front of Bran by the time the Night King showed up.
Alys didn’t have any speaking lines this season but was shown on the first two episodes.
She and little Ned Umber were the two young highborns whom Jon Snow pardoned after the Battle of the Bastards (their fathers each fought for the Boltons). Ned was killed by the Night King on the eighth season premiere.
The deaths of both Alys and Ned mark the end of two great Northern houses. Though Winterfell survived the battle, the North has clearly been weakened in the fight.
The spell Melisandre used to light the Dothraki’s arakhs on fire is similar to the one used by Beric Dondarrion.
Melisandre showed up just before the war against the Army of the Dead got started, and she used a Valyrian spell to ignite the blades of all the Dothraki horseriders.
Part of her spell included the phrase “āeksiō ōños,” which means “lord’s light” (as in the Red God or Lord of Light himself: R’hllor).
We know this thanks to Richard Dormer, the actor who plays Beric.
Dormer has said Beric uses that same Valyrian spell to ignite his sword, but he doesn’t even have to say the words.
The language creator David J. Peterson, who crafted the Valyrian and Dothraki phrases for the series, shared a translation of the incantation used by Melisandre on his website.
Here’s what she was saying in Valyrian: “Āeksios Ōño, aōhos ōñoso ilōn jehikās! Āeksios Ōño, ilōn misās! Kesrio syt bantis zābrie issa se ossȳngnoti lēdys!”
And the English translation: “Lord of Light, cast your light upon us! Lord of Light, defend us! For the night is dark and full of terrors!”
Melisandre also spoke more Valyrian you probably recognised.
When Melisandre passed Grey Worm she said “valar morghulis,” which means “all men must die.” He returned the greeting with the traditional “valar dohaeris,” which means “all men must serve.”
Some of the last words Edd Tollett said to Sam Tarly was an echo of their season-three encounter with the Army of the Dead.
Just before he was killed by a wight, Edd told Sam he needed to get up from the ground.
Early on season three, Sam, Edd, and the rest of the Night’s Watch were fleeing from a White Walker attack when Sam collapsed to his knees, unable to go on anymore.
Edd and Grenn stopped and encouraged Sam to get up because he’d die if he didn’t move.
Edd survived the Fist of the First Men, the battle of Castle Black (where Grenn met his death at the hands of a giant), Hardhome, and the Night King’s attack on the Wall.
Unfortunately Edd’s watch ended at the Battle of Winterfell.
Wights threw themselves off the castle walls, harking back to the season five battle episode, “Hardhome.”
Sunday’s episode, “The Long Night,” was directed by Miguel Sapochnik.
Sapochnik made his mark on “Game of Thrones” back on the fifth season when he helmed Jon Snow’s showdown versus the Night King at Hardhome.
On “Hardhome,” one of the most striking moments was when the Night King had thousands of wights fling themselves off a cliff.
They all crashed at the foot of the mountain but then immediately cracked their heads up and continued running. That was the moment when Jon Snow (and Edd) decided to bail on any effort of fighting, which led to his iconic first staredown with the Night King.
Arya passed along Jon Snow’s fighting advice to Sansa (even though her sister didn’t appear to learn the lesson).
When Sansa told Arya she didn’t know how to use the dragonglass dagger, Arya simply said: “Stick ’em with the pointy end.”
This was precisely what Jon Snow told her back on season one, episode two, when he gifted Needle to her before they said goodbye.
“First lesson,” Jon told Arya. “Stick ’em with the pointy end.”
This line is particularly iconic in George R.R. Martin’s book series, because Arya thinks back to it at several points. The show even named a season-one episode after this line, in which Arya kills her first person (a young stable boy).
Martin also used this line back in 2010 as the title of a blog post announcing Maisie Williams had been cast in the role of Arya Stark.
Unfortunately Sansa didn’t put the advice into practice down in the crypts.
Arya’s first encounter with the wight army led to a throwback fight move she used on the sixth season with the Waif.
When Arya first fought a group of wights on the ramparts of Winterfell, she was using her new dragonglass-tipped spear in fight choreography that mimicked her season-six training with the Faceless Men.
Back when she was training, Arya had a triumphant moment when she stopped the Waif’s staff in this same position.
To highlight this callback on Sunday’s episode, a variant of Arya’s theme music (a track called “Needle”) by Ramin Djawadi played as she used the same move on a wight.
The little girl who promised to protect Gilly and the others was briefly seen inside the crypt, though she didn’t do any fighting.
This young girl was part of an important scene on last week’s episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” when she reminded both Ser Davos and Gilly of the now-dead Princess Shireen.
As with Sansa, it was a bit strange to know there was a person down in the crypts prepared to fight but never took the chance. Once the tombs broke open and the dead emerged, all heck broke loose and we didn’t catch sight of the young girl again.
When the Night King resurrected all the corpses, a familiar Dothraki man named Qhono was among their ranks.
Qhono, Edd, and Lady Lyanna Mormont were all shown reopening their eyes when the Night King used his powers to raise the dead.
Qhono was one of the Dothraki who took Daenerys prisoner at very end of the sixth season, but he went on to serve as her guard.
He was present when Jon Snow first arrived to Dragonstone and at the “Spoils of War” battle on season seven.
Theon’s final moments in the godswood had a poignant connection to a key chapter in the book series.
Martin has so far published only five of his planned seven books in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. In the last published chapters told from Theon’s perspective, he’s only just barely breaking out of his tormented “Reek” persona.
Theon ponders death as “the sweetest deliverance he could hope for” and also thinks about Winterfell as his home. “Not a true home, but the best I ever knew,” he says to himself.
Theon wanders around Winterfell and finds himself in the godswood, where he speaks with the weirwood tree there.
“Please. A sword, that’s all I ask,” he says. “Let me die as Theon, not as Reek.”
In the books at this same time, Bran is still beyond the Wall and learning to use his powers.
Theon in the books thinks he sees Bran’s face in the weirwood tree and hears whispers on the wind. This was most likely Bran using his greensight powers through the weirwood tree.
Though the events that lead Theon to the godswood are very different from his arc in Martin’s book, the moment when Bran tells Theon that Winterfell is his “home” too had extra meaning for people familiar with the book series.
Theon’s manner of death is a callback to the rousing speech he once gave at Winterfell.
After seeing how outnumbered he was, Theon opted for a hero’s death as he charged at the Night King with a spear.
The Night King easily deflected the blow and in turn stabbed Theon right through the belly.
Back on the second season finale, Theon delivered a rallying speech to the Iron Born about the “Battle of Winterfell.”
After Theon took Winterfell from Bran, the Boltons came to reclaim the castle in the name of Robb Stark. Seeing he was surrounded, Theon thought they’d make a stand against the army outside Winterfell’s walls.
“We die today brothers,” Theon said to his men. “We die bleeding from a hundred wounds, with arrows in our necks and spears in our guts. But our war cries will echo through eternity. They will sing about the Battle of Winterfell until the Iron Islands have slipped beneath the waves. Every man, woman, and child will know who we were and how long we stood.”
Theon was promptly knocked out and betrayed by those men, but his speech takes on more weight now that we know how Theon will be a legendary part of the real Battle of Winterfell.
Arya’s surprise dagger-flip move was similar to one she pulled on Brienne last season, as well as a nod to Maisie Williams being right-handed.
In what was one of the biggest surprises “Game of Thrones” has delivered in a while, Arya leaped at the Night King and was almost thwarted. He turned, grabbed her by the arm and neck, and seemed close to squeezing the life out of her.
But then Arya dropped her Valyrian steel dagger from her left hand, and caught it in her right hand. She stabbed the blade into his chest, instantly killing him and therefore the entire Army of the Dead.
Back on season seven, Arya trained with Brienne and the two came to a draw after Arya flipped her dagger from one hand into the other.
In addition to Arya and Brienne’s training, we think the left-to-right switcheroo is a fun nod to Maisie Williams’ experience of playing Arya Stark left-handed.
Arya is a lefty in George R.R. Martin’s books, and when 12-year-old Williams got the part she wanted to fully commit to the character.
“I’m right-handed, and when Mum was reading the first book, she told me about Arya being left-handed,” Williams told TV Guide in 2011. “From then on, I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to try to do everything left-handed.'”
And she did indeed learn most of the fight choreography left-handed, which makes her big final heroic Arya act all the more fun because she was able to show off her acquired ambidextrous skills.
Arya stabbed the Night King in the exact spot where dragonglass was shoved into his chest by the Children of the Forest.
Arya was fast on the draw and found weakness in the Night King’s armour right where it mattered the most.
The showrunners said only Valyrian steel stabbed in that exact spot could have killed the Night King.
“We knew it had to be Valyrian steel, to the exact spot where the Child of the Forest put the blade to create the Night King,” David Benioff said in HBO’s “Inside the Episode” segment. “And he’s uncreated by the Valyrian steel.”
Arya’s Valyrian steel dagger was given to her by Bran in that same godswood location last season. That scene itself was loaded with foreshadowing of Arya’s fated Night King encounter.
Davos was drawing a dagger so he could kill Melisandre before she allowed herself to die.
When they last saw each other, Davos had just discovered the truth about Melisandre burning Princess Shireen alive. Jon Snow banished her from the North with the caveat that she would be “hanged as murderer” if she ever returned, and Davos promised to carry out the sentence himself.
He allowed her to stay and help their army, but by the time dawn was breaking Davos was clearly ready to kill Melisandre before he saw what she was doing.
She walked into the rising sun, removed her magical necklace (which concealed her real, hundreds-year-old body), and succumbed to her fated death.
Last but not least, the episode title “The Long Night” is linked to an early season-one scene and the developing “Game of Thrones” prequel series.
When Old Nan was telling Bran his favourite “scary story,” she mentioned “the Long Night” and how the White Walkers had first come to terrorize Westeros.
HBO has four “Game of Thrones” spin-off series in the works, with the first of these in the pilot stage. That prequel would take place around the Age of Heroes, which just so happens to be the lead-in point to the legendary Long Night.
For more “Game of Thrones” insights and analysis on all the best moments in the series, preorder the “The Unofficial Guide to ‘Game of Thrones'” now.
- Read more:
- How Arya’s major moment at the Battle of Winterfell was foreshadowed last season
- Every new change in the ‘Game of Thrones’ opening credits you might have missed
- Why ‘Game of Thrones’ has become so dark you can barely see the characters sometimes
- Watch HBO’s teaser for the next episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ when the fight comes to Cersei Lannister
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.