Last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Long Night,” did not disappoint from start to end. Regardless of the deaths we were forced to see, the conclusion of the Battle of Winterfell was shocking but in a good way.
The Night King is dead. The one who kills him is certified badass Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). Many fans thought Jon Snow (Kit Harington) would be the one to kill the leader of the army of the dead with Valyrian steel, but executive producer and co-showrunner David Benioff knew what the outcome was going to be years ago.
“I think it’s three years now we’ve known that it was gonna be Arya who delivers that fatal blow,” Benioff said.
Executive producer and co-showrunner D.B. Weiss hoped the twist would surprise fans.
“One of the great things about having this many people you care about in a sequence together is that you can pull people’s attention and focus to people that they care about a lot like Jon and like Dany, Theon and Bran, not to mention Tyrion and Sansa in the crypt so you’re going all over the place with people you’re desperately worried for — hopefully you forget about the fact that Arya Stark ran out of that castle with the battle drums playing and going towards some purpose, we don’t know what until it happens,” Weiss said.
Kit Harington was completely surprised to find out he wouldn’t be the one to kill the Night King, but he was satisfied to know it was Arya who finished the job.
“It gives Arya’s training a purpose to have an end goal,” Harington said. “It’s much better how she does it the way she does it. I think it will frustrate some in the audience that Jon’s hunting the Night King and you’re expecting this epic fight and it never happens — that’s kind of Thrones. But it’s the right thing for the characters. There’s also something about it not being the person you expect. The young lady sticks it to the man.”
Maisie Williams was worried that fans wouldn’t accept the outcome.
“It was so unbelievably exciting,” she says. “But I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn’t deserve it. The hardest thing is in any series is when you build up a villain that’s so impossible to defeat and then you defeat them. It has to be intelligently done because otherwise people are like, ‘Well, [the villain] couldn’t have been that bad when some 100-pound girl comes in and stabs him.’ You gotta make it cool. And then I told my boyfriend and he was like, ‘Mmm, should be Jon though really, shouldn’t it?’”