[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.]
There were a lot of excruciating deaths on Game of Thrones' latest episode, "The Long Night" — perhaps not enough for some who were prepared to see more of our favorites join the Night King's army, but in this writer's opinion, this was a massacre.
We lost nearly all of the Dothraki in a matter of seconds, Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) had to cut off most of his still immaculately formed Unsullied forces during the retreat, the Northerners and the Knights of the Vale were creamed, and the crypts turned out to be as unsafe as expected. Even those with a bloodlust for major players should be sated by what we saw: Edd's (Ben Crompton) watch ended, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) went down swinging for his queen, Theon (Alfie Allen) ran right to his death like the hero he always wanted to be, Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) finally served his purpose for the Lord of Light, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) withered into crone-ish nothingness, and even the ancient Night King (Vladimír Furdík) was obliterated.
Perhaps worst of all, little Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) honored her house words by making one last stand.
Lyanna's death was especially shattering, because although she was high on our wish list of survivors coming into the episode, there's hardly a better way for the little Lady of Bear Island to have gone out than by taking on a zombified giant 10 times her size without a moment's hesitation. Not only was her bravery right in line with her well-documented ferocity of spirit and eagerness to fight, but she managed to put forth a second effort after being crushed in the giant's human-sized palm to ensure that her killer would go down with her.
In the post-show featurette for the episode, executive producer D.B. Weiss explained that while some of the characters didn't get as much glory in the end — R.I.P. Alys Karstark, we barely knew ye — Lyanna Mormont earned it.
"Lyanna Mormont was supposed to be a one-scene character, and then we met Bella Ramsey and we realized we would not be doing our jobs if we kept her as a one-scene character," Weiss explained in the footage. "We knew that you can't give a big death to everybody who dies in this battle ... but also, if she were to die there's no way to not make a moment of it, so that's where the zombie giant comes in."
"We needed to give one of the strongest smaller people in the show a chance to go out taking down one of the strongest larger things we've ever seen in the show," he added.
Indeed, it would've been a massive disservice to fans of the North's faithful servant to let her scurry away to the crypts or even die at the hands of a lesser wight, so if she had to be killed off in service of ramping up that body count, at least she went down swinging for the fences like the little boss she was. The North's still gonna miss her relentlessness in future Great Hall debates, though.
Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.