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In Memoriam: The Battle of Winterfell

While the main players survived on Sunday night’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones,’ we lost some good men and women. Let us remember them.

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With one stab to the gut, Arya Stark ended the war between the living and the dead. But before that, the living met death many times, and lost many times. While most main characters survived “The Long Night,” Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones did feature its fair share of death. And so, as the sun rises, we pay our respects to those who fell during the Battle of Winterfell.


Melisandre

In Season 7, before narrowly avoiding an awkward reunion with Jon Snow, Melisandre told Varys they were both destined to die in Westeros, this “strange land.” Sure enough, she returned to that strange land—though how she arrived at Winterfell without getting ripped to shreds by the undead is among the episode’s lingering mysteries—with the intent of helping the living. (And for the audience, she provided some much-needed light courtesy of R’hllor so we could see what the hell was happening.)

Melisandre has been subject to some of Thrones’ strangest on-screen developments (the smoke baby) and arguably its single most abhorrent sequence (Shireen’s death). But every choice she made in the spirit of her lord: to champion a “warrior of light” and repel the darkness. Melisandre’s journey to find a warrior capable of defeating the Night King was filled with red herrings and morally reprehensible decisions, but there are few characters who had greater import to this existential showdown—from resurrecting Jon Snow all the way to providing Arya Stark with the most important pep talk in the realm’s history.

For a character so frequently concerned with prophecy, it appears the Red Woman’s own was finally fulfilled by battle’s end. Considering she may be several centuries old, Melisandre’s more than earned an eternal nap. The night is no longer dark and full of terrors. —Miles Surrey

Jorah Mormont

Jorah Mormont died the last of his house and his name, loyal to Daenerys Targaryen until the light left his eyes. If he had been able to choose, dying as a human shield for Daenerys would’ve been fine with Ser Jorah. While he made serious moral errors in his early life, losing his claim to his ancestral home on Bear Island after he sold men into slavery to appease a greedy spouse, his clarifying devotion to his queen will be his lasting legacy. The formerly disgraced Westerosi fugitive found redemption in Essos after meeting Daenerys. He served his queen from the reign of King Robert Baratheon, helping her amass the most powerful army in the world and surviving a bout of severe greyscale, until his death at the Battle of Winterfell. He is survived by no one. —Kate Knibbs

Edd

Edd told Sam several times. He knew Sam would be a liability on the battlefield, that the brainiac wasn’t ready for the horde of literal zombies that would be charging at them. And yet Sam fought, and within seconds was a blubbering mess. It fell on Edd to pull him back to his feet, to tell him he needed to snap out of it. Those few seconds of distraction proved deadly.

Edd was a good man, one of the few who stood in the room where Jon Snow’s body laid after he was killed—even though he knew that doing so would likely mean death should Jon not be resurrected (and since people don’t frequently get resurrected, Edd more or less gave his life to protect his then-dead friend). He fought at Castle Black; he was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. And most importantly, he knew—really knew—the shit world that he lived in. “If the gods wanted us to have dignity,” he once famously said, “they wouldn’t make us fart when we died.” RIP, Edd. I hope you really let one go. —Andrew Gruttadaro

Beric Dondarrion

Beric didn’t hold the door, but he sure as hell held the hallway. As it turns out, the Lord of Light—a deity who delivers, in contrast with the Seven—kept bringing Beric back so he could protect the Night King’s killer (who’d once wanted to kill him). Beric died like he’d done it before, surviving several stab wounds long enough to buy time for Arya and to stagger away from the wights. Ironically, he passed in the presence of a red priest who’d previously performed a resurrection, but unlike Thoros, Melisandre didn’t dig for quarters when Beric got a game-over screen.

Because the ensuing scene ended when Arya set off for the godswood, the Lightning Lord’s final fate is still somewhat uncertain. Did Mel or the Hound cremate him, cut his head off, or otherwise ensure that his corpse couldn’t return to attack the living? Or did the Night King resuscitate him for a seventh time? We may never know, but here’s hoping Beric rested in peace. I mean no disrespect when I say that he seriously deserved to be dead. —Ben Lindbergh

Theon

Moments before the Night King skewers Theon, Bran gives him his signature “I just ingested a gram of ketamine” stare and says, “You’re a good man.” As we take a moment to remember the life and times of the Iron Islands’ preeminent fuckup, I would like to offer a counterpoint: He is not. From the very beginning, Theon was a weak, self-conscious misogynist, an impulsive jerk to everyone who ranked below him. He may have grown up as a semi-captive at Winterfell because of his father’s failed rebellion, but Ned Stark fed, educated, and trained him right alongside the Stark kids. He enjoyed most of the core privileges of being in a successful royal family, if not the actual titles. And he squandered all that good will and inherent privilege because of his own lack of self-esteem.

To review: He took Winterfell from two tweens he once considered his brothers, then, in a plot to cover up their escape, ordered the brutal killing of an innocent family. He sentenced Ser Rodrik Cassel to death, then botched the execution. As the psychologically broken Reek, he watched his captor rape his almost-sister and thwarted her plan to escape. Even after he recovered his “true” identity, he abandoned his actual sister on a ship with Euron, jumping off the boat to save himself. Maybe he’s had some moments of redemption, but, for the most part, his life was destructive and spineless. In his core, Theon is the indignant guy at airport security who won’t let you cut in line to make your flight. He’s the dude who demands to speak to the manager the moment he realizes someone forgot to put pickles on his burger. He’s the plaintiff in an anti-affirmative-action lawsuit. RIP, I guess. But the real peace will be with us viewers, who never have to think about this schmuck again. —Alyssa Bereznak

Lyanna Mormont

When Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, and Ser Davos travel to the rugged Bear Island in Season 6 to ask 10-year-old Lady Lyanna Mormont to pledge her army toward their fight against the Boltons, they are momentarily taken aback to learn that her Red Wedding–weakened crew rolls just 62 soldiers deep. “We are not a large house; we are a proud one,” Lyanna says. “And every man from Bear Island fights with the strength of 10 mainlanders.” Go off! (Davos, smooth as usual, replies that if the men “are half as ferocious as their Lady, the Boltons are doomed.”) Ever the bold young leader, Lady Mormont is determined to live up to that mantle in Winterfell.

The writing had been on the wall for Lyanna following a conversation last week with her similarly fated cousin Jorah, though it ultimately spelled out as honorable an end as possible for the adored smol warrior. As an adored, vibrant character, Lady Mormont was someone whose death ran the risk of being too pandering, or too pat. But it didn’t play that way.

Seeing her little body backhanded and crushed in the giant’s massive mitt was hard to watch, reminiscent of the Mountain’s killing Oberyn Martell, and kept the scene from getting too maudlin. Her dying action may have felled a giant—a task that far more than 10 mainlanders would struggle with—but it wasn’t billed as any sort of over-the-top, pivotal moment: An instant after she and the giant both fall dead to the ground, they are essentially trampled by new combatants and forgotten. Lyanna Mormont died as she lived, tiny but mighty, stubborn and brave, not afraid to show some big ol’ dude what’s what if it’s the last thing she does—and it was. —Katie Baker

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.