Game of Thrones season 8: The meaning behind “The Long Night”


Game of Thrones has been keeping season 8’s episode titles super-secret — so what can they tell us about what to expect? Let’s look at “The Long Night.”

Everyone’s probably aware by now that HBO’s sitting on all of the titles for the final episodes of Game of Thrones. We don’t find out what these installments are actually called until the conclusion of each episode’s East Coast broadcast, ostensibly because the network doesn’t want anything spoiling the surprises involved in the series’ ending.

Even simple things like titles.

Not that any of the episodes so far have been called anything out of the ordinary – or, frankly, anything viewers couldn’t have guessed on their own.

The names of the first two season 8 installments, “Winterfell” and “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” are basically the definition of straightforward. And Season 8’s third installment is similarly basic: “The Long Night”.

Not that the episode name isn’t poetic on multiple levels or anything, but seriously – duh? Of course that’s what it’s called!

We’ve known for months that the epic Battle for Winterfell would likely take place in season 8’s third episode, and even if that weren’t the case, the ending of last week’s installment left little doubt what would happen.

The titular long night can, of course, refer simply to the battle itself, which rages until dawn is breaking on the horizon. It is, in the strictest sense, literally a long night.

However, there is a certain gorgeous symmetry to the title as well. In Game of Thrones lore, characters often refer to “The Long Night,” a winter which occurred thousands of years before the Targaryen conquest that united six of Westeros’ seven kingdoms. This epic winter lasted for a generation and killed many people through starvation and cold.

This event is also when the White Walkers first came to Westeros from the extreme north, in the Land of Always Winter. Then, as now, they apparently were seeking to destroy all human life, and failed. That they should do so again in a Game of Thrones episode named after that original event feels pretty right and definitely like it was on purpose.

There’s a lovely feeling of coming full circle with the Night King and his followers meeting their end in an episode named after the White Walkers’ first failed attempted to take over. (As well as in the idea that it’s Arya Stark who ultimately ends him.)

Using the title “The Long Night” in this instance also implies that a change is coming to Westeros. This seems fairly obvious, given how many of the country’s great Houses are at war with one another, and have been since this series began. But the thing is, when the original Long Night ended, following a struggle known as the War for the Dawn, lots of things changed.

The Wall was constructed to protect humanity as a whole. The Night’s Watch was founded to man it. And humans understood that there were risks bigger than their own petty squabbles in the world.

Perhaps that’s the sort of ending that Game of Thrones is heading toward as well?

We can only hope.

light. Related Story. Game of Thrones: 5 details you missed from the Battle of Winterfell

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. 

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