Heading into Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3, viewers expeected death.
They expected blood and gore and dragons and for heroes to emerge and hopefully for villains to be vanquished and for the direction of the show to change forever.
But they may not have expected Melisandre to swoop in and save the day.
Yes, that Melisandre.
We had not heard from The Red Woman in quite awhile and yet there she was very early in the Battle of Winterfell, sauntering up to the front gates on horseback and using her powers to light the Dothraki swords on fire.
Granted, this gesture didn’t accomplish much, aside from the very cool and eerie effect of all those swords being extinguished about 27 seconds after the Dothraki were sent in as the first wave of the humans’ attack against the White Walkers,
But Melisandre later also lit the trench on fire, which delayed the dead from entering Winterfell for at least a little bit.
And then, on a weekend full of NBA Playoff action, she went all Greg Popovich with the ultimate pep talk for Arya.
After losing her virginity to Genry, Arya was on the verge of losing her life around the middle of this wildly anticipated episode.
She was cornered by the White Walkers, her special weapon had been lost, even the Hound had nearly given up the fight until he realized she needed his assistance.
But then Arya ran into Melisandre, who has vowed back in Season 3 that she would find the young assasin one day down the line.
“I see a darkness in you and in that darkness, eyes starring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes sealed shut forever. We will meet again," Melisandre told Arya way back in the day.
She then posed the above question to young Ms. Stark, who responded with gusto, answering with two words, sprinting out of the room and emerging several minutes later…
… by leaping at the Night King and sticking a dagger through his ice cold heart.
Yes, folks: ARYA STARK KILLED THE NIGHT KING.
By doing so, she killed all of his descendents as well.
They dropped to the ground, dead (for good this time) after a lengthy battle that crept into the crypt and led to numerous deaths.
Shall we go through them here? Let’s quickly honor those who died, shall we?
Lyanna Mormont was squeezed to death by a giant, but not before she stabbed him in the eye and ended his oversized life.
Beric helped save Arya, which means he also helped save the entire living world, before getting overwhelmed by White Walkers and dying his final death.
Theon completed his redemption arc by standing by Bran’s side for longer than we thought possible at least, firing arrows left and right into the undead until the Night King took him down.
Jorah died the only way he ever could: By fighting for Dany until his last breath, passing away in her arms right before the credits rolled.
And then Melisandre followed through on her vow to die before the dawn rose, walking out into the snow after the battle was won, taking off her necklace and instantly growing way too old for this world.
She collapsed to the ground as the concluding scene.
Last season, as you may recall, Melisandre left Westeros for Volantis — but not before promising Varys that she would return:
"I’ve done my part. I’ve brought ice and fire together," she said back then, adding:
"My time whispering in the ears of kings has come to an end… Neither of us is common folk anymore… Oh, I will return dear Spider. One last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you."
Was it a bit random for her to play such a key role on this epic episode?
Sort of like a 12th man being summoned unexpectantly into a major basketball game and then dropping 20 points?
But Tywin showed up at Battle of Blackwater, Stannis did the same at Castle Black and the Knights of the Vale jumped in to save the day at the Battle of the Bastards.
Game of Thrones has always thrown the audience for a loop with a surprise character(s) appearance during these battles; and at least Melisandre did talk about returning someday when we last saw her.
Overall, the episode was very dark. We mean this literally. It was difficult to see the action at times.
It was also a bit confusing logistically, such as when Sansa and Tyrion seemed to accept their fate down in the crypt and make a suicide pact, running out of hiding to go down in a blaze of fighting glory…
… only to simply be seen alive and relatively well in one of the closing shots.
No one truly major or surprising died (although three of our most confident predictions did come true) and even Arya’s heroic Night King homicide sort of came out of nowhere.
One second she was being inspired by Melisandre, the next she was able to run away freely and the next, she was jumping into the frame to check the most important name off her list.
That said, come on now.
Who out there did not stand and cheer and scream and holler when Arya shattered the Night King into pieces?
Who didn’t openly weep along with Dany at Jorah’s demise?
And who isn’t dying to find out what happens next?!?
Vote on this episode above and then check out scenes from next Sunday below: