‘Game that Thrones’ has actually seen 2 previous battles in between the living and the dead. What can we mean for Sunday’s epic confrontation?

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Game that Thrones viewers have been waiting for a full-fledged fight between the humans and also the Night King’s military for weeks, if no years (and for readers of the books, decades). The show’s whole run, beginning with the first reveal of White Walkers in the an initial scene the the pilot, has actually been structure toward this moment, and also it will certainly arrive in the fight of Winterfell top top Sunday end the course of an 82-minute episode, the longest of the series.

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We know the stakes. We know which characters’ lives are at risk. We recognize Winterfell’s protective strengths and weaknesses, and also the feasible secrets the await in the castle’s crypts—which are most likely not, as the show can want you come believe, the SAFEST ar IN WINTERFELL.

Episode 3 will reportedly feature the longest battle sequence in TV or movie history. But will the fight be any good? The two previous installments in the war in between humans and also the military of the dead market diverging precedent. The first, in Season 5’s “Hardhome,” was perhaps the best battle in the entire series, as Jon fended against a surprise assault north of the wall surface while the tried to recruitment wildlings to travel south. The second, in Season 7’s “Beyond the Wall,” was probably the worst fight in the entire series, together a tiny group of warrior led by Jon ran right into the Night King’s military as lock tried to record a wight. Given all the buildup come Sunday’s episode, expectations host that the fight of Winterfell must fall an ext toward the previous than the latter, however the Season 7 instance leaves nagging doubts.

We deserve to examine “Hardhome” and “Beyond the Wall” to determine what determinants make for a thrilling and memorable fight between the living and also the dead—and what note to avoid, lest us remember it for the dorn reasons. Therefore in the soul of anticipation, here is a seven-item checklist for this long-awaited episode, v hints regarding how each factor can come into play this Sunday at Winterfell.

1. Ensure the fight has a sound premise and also sensible strategy.

The fight at the frozen lake in “Beyond the Wall” to be in part doomed before it even began, together it started with a much-mocked plan for the heroes to record a wight and also present it come Cersei in king’s Landing as proof of the threat. In the ensuing battle, Jon and friends weren’t just fighting for their survival—they were likewise fighting to safeguard an upset skeleton that they had actually stuffed within a burlap sack, which actors the entire undertaking in a ludicrous light.

“Hardhome” benefitted native a an ext compelling foundation; in the episode, Jon seek to save the resides of the refugees in ~ the encampment, mend the long-antagonistic relationship in between Night’s Watch and wildlings, and also avoid additional bolstering the Night king forces. “Hardhome” succeeded for numerous reasons, however it started with that sturdy base.

One feasible clue for Sunday’s illustration is the “Hardhome” was the result of one ambush ~ above the component of the army of the dead, which assisted catalyze the battle’s emotional effect. “Beyond the Wall” is comparable to the fight of Winterfell in the both battles are the an outcome of coordinated person preparation. However, as outlined in episode 2 this season, the humans have a fight strategy this time. They have actually a defined goal, and a arrangement to achieve it. That plan might no work—it probably won’t work—but it sure beats wander in the snow until you find a wight; catch it; then number out how to escape later.

2. Create the battle’s time and also location.

Another bit of narrative confusion bordering “Beyond the Wall” to be its decreased sense that time and place. It to be unclear where the battle emerged (at least, an ext specifically than somewhere beyond Eastwatch) and also how long it took various parts to transpire (cue Gendry acceleration jokes). The expression of the battle itself to be vague, and the terrain appeared to add brand-new elements as the plot inquiry it: Where, because that instance, was that high ground to which Jon retreated once he shouted for his comrades come “fall back”? The entirety enterprise felt rather disconnected from the show’s commonly disciplined storytelling.

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The location and chronology in “Hardhome” were comparatively digestible. The creating shots the the town offered this much before the fight even began: It to be clear where the fence stood compared with the sea, and also how the cliffs overlooked the roof of the building, for this reason viewers can track the characters’ relative positions and also lines of sight when battle reared.

This class reveals encouraging signs for the battle of Winterfell. Back the show hasn’t excellent as lot as the publications to rundown Winterfell’s layout, the human allies looked over—and for this reason showed viewers—a map of the castle’s defenses critical episode, and Jon and also Daenerys’s flight in episode 1 this season allowed for a dragon’s-eye watch of the castle grounds. The new opening credits, moreover, have applied a feeling of the castle’s architecture, an especially regarding the crypts. Keeping those logistics polished following episode will need sharp camera job-related (à la the tracking shooting of Castle black color in Season 4’s defense of the Wall, for instance), story framing, and more, however it would greatly enhance the viewer’s knowledge of all the battle’s tricks and also turns.