What should have been the most satisfying moment in HBO's hit fantasy series, Game of Thrones, became a point of criticism for the series' substantial fanbase. We're talking about the Night King's climactic defeat at the hands of Arya Stark, who disappeared for a portion of "The Long Night," only to reappear just when all seemed lost, having miraculously evaded the Night King's forces without any explanation. Until now that is.
Director Miguel Sapochnik spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and explained the thought process behind that scene. "We worked long and hard to find the right balance of credibility versus wish fulfillment," said Sapochnik. "Then we shot it and reshot it and found that what was really important was rhythm."
"At one point there was an elaborate plan to have her fight her way into the Weirwood forest, but as we progressed we realized she'd already done that earlier in the episode, so it felt like a repeat," he added. Sapochnik also said that it was necessary to take into account the episode's considerable length.
"In the end we felt it didn't matter how she got there -- what mattered was setting up that moment when the Night King catches her mid-leap and we think she's done for, then she pulls her knife switch and takes him out," said Sapochnik.
Since the episode ran roughly 20 minutes longer than the average Game of Thrones episode, it seems like a reasonable decision from a technical standpoint.
Unfortunately, for many fans, that won't make Arya seem like any less of a convenient deus ex machina, one that contradicted everything that the show and its lore seemed to be building toward.
However, it should be noted that this may have been what George R.R. Martin had intended for Arya and the Night King since showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff were told long ago about how Martin intended to end the novels. The author has previously declared his support for the series' ending, claiming that his novels will be different in some ways and similar in others.