'Game of Thrones': Who Died & Who Survived in the Battle of Winterfell? (RECAP)

Emily Hannemann
Spoiler Alert HBO

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3.]

After seasons of building up the final confrontation between the living and the dead, The Great War has arrived — and it's as terrifying as we feared.

The living are in no way ready for the onslaught of dead that rush Winterfell, and all are forced to fight for survival as the Night King brings his legions of undead to accomplish his goal: the ultimate destruction of the living.

Many final goodbyes are said in an episode that features the Game of Thrones' battle that, for years, was promised.

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A Welcome Return

The episode opens with Sam moving through a battle-ready Winterfell; Tyrion grabs his things and watches as the Ironborn leave with Bran. Dany's dragons fly overhead, and the Unsullied — and the rest of the group — march to their position. The camera lingers on Jorah for a bit, then we switch to Dany and Jon, who are watching from a different vantage point.

As the armies wait, Melisandre emerges from the shadows. "Tell them to lift their swords," Melisandre tells Jorah, and when they do so, she lights their blades on fire. Davos watches her approach, and when she enters, he meets her in the hallway. "There's no need to execute me, Ser Davos," she tells him. "I'll be dead before the dawn."

Dany and Jon watch as the Dothraki charge into battle, Jorah among them. Their triumphant cries eventually cease, and their flaming swords are snuffed out. An eerie silence extends across the battlefield, and some of them run back... again, Jorah among them."The Night King is coming," Jon tells Dany, to which she responds with, "the dead are already here."

Lighting the Trenches

Grey Worm puts on his helmet, a look of defiance in his eyes as the snarls of the dead grow louder and a wall of undead descend upon him. The dead stampede over Jaime and Brienne, too: Jaime saves her, and Daenerys and Jon save them both with her dragons, who rain fire from the sky above them. They end up caught in a storm, and flying gets difficult. Arya tells Sansa to go to the crypt, and she gives her a dagger.

On the battlefield, things are going as well as you could expect... which is not well. Sam has a close call, but he's saved by Dolorous Edd, who is then killed by a wight. The first named casualty of the battle. After more fighting and grappling with the dead on the battlefield, the order is given to fall back. The Winterfell gates are opened, and the Unsullied stand their ground, getting throughly decimated in the process. Many others retreat; Gendry, The Hound and Tormund among them.

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Dany and Jon struggle to stay airborne in the storm, and because Dany can't see them, she cannot light the trenches on fire. The dead start breaking through the wall, but a legion of Unsullied protect the gate. In Dany's absence, Melisandre steps out to the trenches and casts a spell, setting the trenches alight and barely escaping the jaws of a wight in the process. Terrified of the fire, The Hound walks away from the battle as Beric calls after him.

Lyanna's Sacrifice

Below Winterfell, Varys remarks, "At least we're already in a crypt." Tyrion starts to say what he would do if he was out there, but Sansa tells him he would die if he were on the battlefield. "That's why were down here," she says. "None of us can do anything." She says the most heroic thing they can do now is look the truth in the face.

In the Godswood, Theon tries to apologize for the things he did, but just as he did with Jaime, Bran tells him he did what he was supposed to do. "Everything you did brought you where you are now," he tells him. "Home."

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Meanwhile, the wights have figured out they can just walk through the fire after a few of them smother it, which bodes horribly for everyone in Winterfell. The dead start climbing the walls, and just about everyone — Jaime, Brienne, Grey Worm, Gendry, Jorah, Sam, Tormund — are standing guard on top. They try to push the dead back and fight them down, but they get overwhelmed, and the dead crash down into the courtyard. Arya joins the battle in earnest then, and takes down a slew of wights while Davos watches, impressed. An undead giant enters Winterfell and wreaks havoc, until Lyanna Mormont sacrifices herself to kill it.

What Do We Say to the God of Death?

Arya goes inside the castle, where quite a few wights are lumbering around in the library. She manages to evade them for a commendable amount of time, and the sound of her dripping blood nearly gives her away. She gets a few moments to breathe before a swarm of dead burst through the doors, and terrified, she runs through the hallways with them on her heels.

The Hound and Beric, too, are sneaking around the castle. They run into Arya and they manage to save her, but Beric is stabbed several times in the process. They make it to the Great Hall, where Beric draws his final breaths. "The Lord brought him back for a purpose," Melisandre says, as she emerges from behind them. "Now, that purpose has been served." She tells Arya she'd shut brown eyes, green eyes and blue eyes. "What do we say to the God of Death?" Melisandre asks her, prompting Arya to respond, "not today."

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Jon and Rhaegal fight the Night King and Viserion, and Jon manages to topple the Night King from his dragon. Rhaegal is injured in the battle with Viserion, meaning Jon ends up battered on the ground. Dany tries to end the Night King with dragonfire, but it makes no difference; the Night King throws a spear at her and Drogon, and she flies away. Jon sprints across the battlefield to try and reach the Night King before he can raise the dead, but he's too late. All around the castle, the dead — including little Lyanna Mormont and Edd — are returned to the Night King's service.

A Good Man

In the crypts — the totally safe crypts — the dead rise and start terrorizing the living. Tyrion, Sansa and the others are forced to run away and take whatever shelter they can find.

Dany saves Jon on the battlefield by burning the walkers around him, but she falls off Drogon and is left defenseless on the battlefield. She's terrified until a mysterious savior dispatches the dead around her: Jorah!  Jon fights his way through the Winterfell grounds, Theon fights in the Godswood but runs out of arrows, and Jorah and Dany fight on the battlefield.

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A montage of fighting is shown throughout Winterfell. Jorah goes down as he fights alongside Dany, Brienne struggles at the wall, Theon takes down dozens of wights but he cannot fight the army of dead that surround him and Bran. "Theon," Bran tells him. "You're a good man. Thank you." A tear slides down his cheek and he rushes at the Night King, but he is killed.

Dust to Dust

The Night King approaches Bran as Winterfell is utterly destroyed, and he raises his hand to grab his sword. Out of nowhere, Arya leaps at him; he grabs her by the throat and she drops her dagger, but she catches it in her other hand and stabs him. He shatters into pieces, and so do all the White Walkers and wights standing around him.

As all the dead fall, Jorah collapses, succumbing at last to his wounds. He dies in Dany's arms, and as she cries, Drogon lands and curls his wings around her. All around Winterfell, survivors emerge: Brienne, Jaime, Podrick, Grey Worm and others stand in awe and relief. Those who where in the crypts emerge into the decimated Winterfell — Sansa, Tyrion, Varys, Missandei.

As the episode ends, Melisandre walks out onto the battlefield as dawn breaks. She takes off her necklace and withers away into dust.

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Other Observations

  • As always, kudos to Ramin Djawadi for that haunting piano music. "Light of the Seven" is no longer the only music on the soundtrack to use piano, and it seemed eerily fitting here.
  • Though it's a bummer Theon had to die, his end was fitting. Bran telling him he was home was a real tearjerker, as was Dany's (and Drogon's?) emotional reaction to Jorah's death. But the real honorable death of the night might go to fan-favorite Lyanna Mormont, who took down an undead giant with her final breaths.
  • What happened to Rhaegal? Will he be in fighting condition, after everything he went through this episode? Dany might be going to battle with Cersei with just one dragon. But Cersei doesn't have her elephants, so...

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