Game of Thrones fans can and will find plenty of reasons to feel outraged over an episode's embrace of darkness. Viewers kicked, screamed, cried, and begged for comfort after watching the "Rains of Castamere" episode from season 3, better known as the installment featuring the Red Wedding. Audiences once again felt their stomachs churn when Prince Oberyn Martell got his brains bashed in during season 4's "The Mountain and the Viper," and felt a similar feeling of dread when Shireen Baratheon was burned alive on the season 5 episode "The Dance of Dragons."
While watching the third episode of season 8, titled "The Long Night," fans took to social media to air their latest grievances about the show. Now, while the practice of criticizing on Twitter is nothing new for the Game of Thrones fandom, the April 28th episode elicited a rather unique, highly specific complaint. According to fans, the episode was just too dark, in the most literal way.
Not long after “The Long Night” began, Twitter exploded with complaints about how dark the much-anticipated battle sequence was. For many, the episode was nearly unwatchable because the lighting was so dim.
Variety writer Caroline Darya Framke tweeted mid-episode:
"Sure we can't see anything on #GameofThrones without squinting, but the thing is, it's DARK at night and the ice dragon show is extremely committed to realism."
News reporter Courtney Theriault had the perfect response to the frustrating darkness, tweeting:
"After watching #BattleOfWinterfell, I honestly don't know if I'll ever be able to look at a sunny sky again without going blind."
One user posted an impassioned tweet asking television executives to think of the audience before deciding how to light each episode, writing:
"Dear people making TV shows, THE VIEWERS AT HOME WOULD PREFER IF THEY COULD SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING ON SCREEN STOP MAKING EVERYTHING SO DARK. Sincerely, Everyone watching tonight's #GameOfThrones."
Another Twitter user also expressed increasing frustration over not being able to fully see everything that was going down during the Battle of Winterfell, tweeting:
"No clue what's happening in Game of Thrones cause it's too dark. I have adjusted the settings on my TV and it still didn't help. Guess I will be reading show summaries tomorrow bright and early.”
Another fan took direct aim at HBO, slamming the network for spending enormous amounts of money on episodes where viewers have little idea what’s unfolding due to how dark it is:
"HBO: Let's make a show about dragons and zombies and spend a gazillion dollars on it. Also HBO: Let's make it so dark literally no one can tell what's happening."
Fortunately, not every Game of Thrones fan took issue with the lighting choice. Many viewers started firing back on Twitter at those bashing the episode, arguing that no one should have been surprised by the lack of light. After all, the episode was literally titled "The Long Night." And as we know, nighttime has historically been pretty dark:
"Game of Thrones has been visually dark since day 1. It's funny that people are upset now like it's new. I figured last night was shot the way that it was to add to the chaos for the viewer. The characters didn't know [what] was going on and neither did we.”
Another user wrote:
"Stop barking that it was too dark! You better buy some high quality TV or should have watch it on HD you fools! It was meant to be dark cinematography because it happened during dark winter. The characters also had a hard time seeing so it was actually immersive."
ScreenRant features editor Hannah Shaw-Williams had perhaps the most level-headed reaction to the criticism. According to her, those who found fault with "The Long Night" for being incredibly dark are entitled to their opinion, and those who had no trouble making out everything that happened shouldn't "shout down" those who didn’t have the same experience. The editor tweeted:
"... Like, do I need to get out the histograms to prove how insanely under-lit this show is? I feel like this is some kind of weird mass gas-lighting campaign. Btw if you are gas-lighting, please send your gas lights to HBO bc they clearly need them."
Overall, "The Long Night" was a pretty epic episode despite some major events being difficult to see. Melisandre returned to Winterfell and ignited the Dothraki's weapons with fire courtesy of the Lord of Light, the dead rose in the crypts of Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy heroically sacrificed his life to try and defend Bran Stark, a few major characters died during battle, and Arya Stark went full Prince That Was Promised by killing the Night King with her dagger made of Valyrian steel. After all… she knows the true secrets of combat.
At the end of the day, when you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. And when you watch Game of Thrones, you either invest in some night-vision goggles to see what's happening or you strain your eyes trying.