There’s a major flaw in Winterfell’s battle strategy on Game of Thrones

Photo: HBO

Mild spoilers ahead for “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” season 8, episode 2 of Game of Thrones.

We’re barreling toward a big battle in next week’s Game of Thrones, and if there was one part of the plan that this week’s episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” went to great pains to underline, it was that all of the non-fighters would be safest in the crypts underneath Winterfell. Davos says it, Gilly says it, Daenerys says it, Jon says it: if you don’t want want to become a wight snack, the crypts are apparently the place to be. But given the near-Chekov’s Gun levels of emphasis on how safe the crypts are, the crypts of Winterfell are obviously extremely not safe.

Let’s walk through this quickly. Given that the crypts are, well, crypts, there’s basically only one thing down there: corpses of dead Starks. (Okay, and statues of those dead Starks. And maybe some dragon eggs, according to some of the more out-there theories. But I digress.) On the other side, we have an invading force of ice monsters, whose main power lies in… resurrecting corpses to fight for them. Put those together, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Remember, every innocent person who hides in the crypts and gets cut down by zombified Stark ancestors will only bolster the numbers of the dead.

There are a few major questions here: how close does a White Walker need to be to resurrect a corpse? Is there any limit on how old a corpse can be before it can’t be brought back? There are currently thousands of years’ worth of dead Starks buried down there. Even discounting that some of the more ancient bones are probably dust by now and that some of the more recently dead Starks aren’t down there — like Catelyn and Robb, whose corpses never made their way back to Winterfell after the Red Wedding — there are still plenty of potential wights down there. (Yet, with Catelyn’s body having not been recovered, we’re still not heading for the big Lady Stoneheart reveal that fans have been clamoring for over several seasons.)

We do know that Ned Stark’s remains were buried in the crypts, as the return of his body was one of Robb’s demands when he first declared himself King in the North back in season 2. Also in the crypts: Ned’s sister (and Jon Snow’s real mother), Lyanna Stark, and Rickon Stark, who died in the Battle of the Bastards in season 6.

Jon Snow isn’t in the best place emotionally after the revelation of his true parentage and his face-off with Daenerys as she realizes he has a claim to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Facing down the undead bodies of the mother Jon never met, the man who upheld a lifelong lie about being Jon’s father, and the brother (er, cousin) who Jon failed to save probably isn’t the best thing for his psyche, especially with the fate of the world on the line.

Take that potential army of zombie Stark soldiers, which could serve as an ace in the hole for the White Walker army, together with the intense foreshadowing in this week’s episode, and the only real question left is: “Is Game of Thrones self-indulgent enough to have the headless corpse of Sean Bean come back to life, serving as a callback to the show’s first and most shocking death, and then attack his remaining family members?”

If you’re still watching the show at this point, you probably already know the answer to that.

Game of Thrones: the final season

Season 8, episode 6 5
Season 8, episode 5 6
Season 8, episode 4 11
Season 8, episode 3 11
Season 8, episode 2 7
Season 8, episode 1 10
Catching up 11

Comments

I’m pretty sure that ned Stark was just bones when they returned him (sans head).

I don’t think the headless can return.

Just give me a Blue Eyed HODOR next week… that would be epic.

Is there any indication that his bones are even returned to Winterfell? I see so many people talking about Ned, Kathlyn etc.. coming back as wights. All the remains from Stark corpses from The Red Wedding for certain are not in the crypts.

And it’s still completely nonsensical for The Night’s King to be able to reanimate corpses in the crypt. 99% of the corpses are only bones and dust. If he is capable of reanimating such old corpses his Army of the Dead should have been 100-1000x times as large and the war should have been over. And if he can reanimate corpses that are in such bad shape, why does it help to burn fresh corpses? Shouldn’t make much of a difference. I feel it safe to say that he can only reanimated corpses that are somewhat fresh and somewhat intact.

And if he for some reason is capable of reanimating the corpses in the crypt. How exactly are they supposed to break free? They are buried under solid rock far down in the earth. All wights have been weak and brainless incarnations of themselves, a wodden box was able to contain one without issues in season 07. How exactly do they break out through the earth and solid rock?

How many corpses are in the crypt? The wights are rather weak, their strengt lines in their massive numbers. Unless the crypts is left completely defenceless they should be capable of dealing with the wights.

This post about the whiter walkers’ proximity requirement to awaken corpses makes me think of inductive and wireless charging for phones. LoL. May be it’s because I’m always thinking of Chaim as a Circuit Breaker contributor.

IIRC all of Winterfell is protected by magic. But would Bran’s being there negate it like at the (old) Three-Eyed Raven’s crib?

This may be true in the books, but what evidence has been put forth that it’s true in the TV series?

At the same time we have zero evidence that points towards The Night’s King or The White Walker’s being capable of reanimating corpse from a distance. So unless they get pretty close we have no real reason to belive they can do anything.

Most importantly, since when could they reanimated completely decomposed old corpses? They are just bones and dust at this point. If they are capable of reanimating such corpses, the Army of the Dead should have been 100-1000x times larger and the world would stand no change. And how come burning corpses is effectiv in denying reanimating of the corpses, while decomposed corpses are not?

Not to mention how they are buried far into the ground beneath solid rock. How exactly would they be capable of breaking free? They are incapable of breaking through wood as shown in the previous seasons.

I also think we have never seen the White Walkers raise a random corpse. They were all people who were killed by either White Walkers or wights. Otherwise they would be stopping at every graveyard to bolster their army.

I mean … who’s to say they haven’t been doing precisely that?

If they can reanimated decades old decomposed corpses, The Army of the Dead should have been like 100-1000x times larger.

Came here to say this, leaving satisfied.

This article is odd, proclaiming it as if it some great insight that isn’t being done on purpose for the reveal in the next episode. Just watch the teaser for episode 3. "The dead are already here".

Amusingly, this article headline and sub-headline combo is one degree away from Facebook clickbait: "there’s a major flaw in the episode… and it will shock you!". Ok so not quite that, but not far off.

…continued: I know The Verge as aspirations to be about all culture, but I look forward to these GOT season being over so the Verge can go back to concentrating more on its core competency, gadget related stuff. IMO.

You make it sound like the few short articles they put out on GoT are detracting from their other articles which seems a little doubtful.

They’ve probably put more out on Fortnite and those are barely more than PR fluff…

The Verge is a tech blog. They really need to stop this silliness.

They really aren’t just a tech blog anymore. Haven’t been that for a while.

Sure, they can say that all they want. But they haven’t really been, because they know what they are good at: Gadgets and Culture RELATED TO gadgets. Whenever they dip their toes into general entertainment such as this it feels forced.

And if I wanted to get half-baked GOT fluff-stories I could go to the source, various GOT forums and Reddit, where this stuff is discussed in far more detail.

You know it is entirely possible to just NOT read or comment on things you’re not interested in

There are literal tags on each article to tell you what it’s about.

And if I wanted to get half-baked GOT fluff-stories I could go to the source, various GOT forums and Reddit,

Then why did you click on an article about GoT? It also has the tags TV show, GoT, and Entertainment. So why stick around after seeing that?

They have a whole section dedicated to entertainment. They are not exclusively a tech blog. And they won’t stop this "silliness."

I think The Verge’s core competency IS culture as they see it. Gadgets might have brought you here originally but they are just another subset of interests no different than the biggest show on TV at this moment.

So, here, you’re complaining about clickbait headlines that don’t reveal enough and everywhere else people are complaining about (benign) headlines that spoil too much.

They can’t win.

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