At one point in "The Long Night," the Night King smirked -- as if he was being snarky, as if he was the bully teenage movie or the baddie in the Avengers, says Lili Loofbourow. While Arya's triumph over the Night King made sense, she says, the way he was presented in the Battle of Winterfell didn't. "For years," says Loofbourow, "it has been implied that his presence looming over Game of Thrones was about so much more than court intrigue: that we were going to be made to feel and understand the depths of that original trauma from all those thousands of years ago when the Children of the Forest drove a dagger into the heart of a First Man—to fight off the First Men who were cutting down their sacred trees. Their decision to create a superweapon, the way it backfired, the tragic story of how that metastasized into a principle of natural revenge that would wipe out whole landscapes and delete humanity, or at least its memory—all this cast into relief just how petty and small the show’s plots over who’s in charge had always been. The Night King didn’t seem like a traditional villain or even a Lucifer figure, someone mad he didn’t get the power he wanted and fell. He seemed like an argument about history—long history, epic history, natural history—mattering. In combining nature’s rage and human vengefulness, he seemed like an extraordinary hybrid principle equipped to better speak to our own times, when climate change seems poised to make our own catchphrase 'Summer Is Coming.' For years, he seemed like a symbol the present could actually use, a shorthand for our need to transcend political infighting in the name of uniting around something bigger, more urgent. This wasn’t a wacky reading. G.R.R. Martin talked about the comparison himself last year. But good news! The solution to climate change is to stab it in the torso. I can’t quite believe the ending to that story was this dumb. The conspiracy theorist in me insists that there must be a twist coming. But in lieu of any deeper explanation of what this struggle has been over—or any real confrontation between Bran and the Night King, the two poles around which this whole mess has been oscillating—we got that smirk."
TOPICS: Game of Thrones, HBO, Bella Ramsey, Howard Stern, Iain Glen