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What critics had to say about the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episode

Viserion the dragon in HBO series Game of Thrones.Helen Sloan/HBO/HBO

One thing is for sure, if you watched Sunday night’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” you’ve got an opinion about it. The action jumped to warp speed in the third installment of the show’s final season -- after the first two episodes left many wondering when exactly the plot would move forward.

Here’s a look at how critics are reacting to the episode. (Warning, spoilers ahead.)

The darkness

A scene from the Battle of Winterfell. Handout

Spencer Kornhaber in The Atlantic:

“The scenery already looked as dark as a Goya painting at the start of the episode, but when the (rather unexplained) ice storm blew in, I had to scurry from the couch to the floor, inches from the TV, so as to try to make out the action.”

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Matthew Gilbert in The Boston Globe:

“It’s as if [episode director] Sapochnik lost track of his own battle logic, if there was any in the script to begin with, and so he buried it all in a dark haze, CGI trickery, and audio jumble. The lighting was deficient, so that we couldn’t know a lot more than the basics — that an ugly conflict was under way, that dragons were swooping somewhat randomly above, that it seemed as though the army of the dead was prevailing until the very end.”

Alyssa Rosenberg in The Washington Post

“The Battle of Winterfell, much-ballyhooed as the biggest and longest battle sequence ever, was for the vast majority of its run largely incomprehensible thanks to the episode’s incredibly muddy lighting; smeary images that made it appear that my television was malfunctioning during certain crucial moments. . . and the decision to use a lot of quick cuts in combination with very close shots.”

Myles McNutt in the A.V. Club:

“The dim lighting is par for the course for the show (and as expected there were lots of complaints when I logged into Twitter after the episode), but I’ll acknowledge that it feels more like an aesthetic choice here, the visual confusion designed to overwhelm our senses.”

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The battle

Jeremy Egner in The New York Times:

“Sunday’s final clash was a masterpiece of tension and release, goose bumps and heartbreak, grandiosity and intimacy. It deftly mixed genres (horror, action, melodrama), shots and planes of action as it shifted from the chaos of the fighting in and around Winterfell, to the claustrophobic terror of the crypts, to the dragon dogfighting in the winter sky.”

Myles McNutt in the A.V. Club:

“This is yet another large-scale battle, similar to the Battle Of The Bastards, where the moment you start getting your breath back and begin taking stock of what happened, the spell of the immersion breaks and you realize that there’s not as much ‘there’ there as you were hoping for.”

The Night King

The Night King.HBO via AP

David Sims in The Atlantic:

“The Night King is dull as dishwater. The comparison between his army of death and the looming threat of environmental catastrophe might feel facile, but in the end that’s all it really amounted to.”

Myles McNutt in the A.V. Club:

“. . .when the ice shards settled I just found myself going back and thinking about how the Night King was introduced as a tragedy with his creation and then just wages a war with no stated purpose and dies without doing anything but killing off a few supporting characters whose arcs were always headed toward death to begin with.”

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About those deaths. . .

Alyssa Rosenberg in The Washington Post

“ ‘Game of Thrones’ ” distinguished itself from other major fantasy hits in its willingness to kill off what were ostensibly its main characters, but in a battle of this consequence, seemed almost timid about slimming down its formidable cast.”

Jeremy Egner in The New York Times:

“The death toll included demises predictable (Theon, Jorah) and less so (Melisandre!), but each was deeply felt and in service of individual purposes, one of the episode’s big themes.”


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.