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April 30, 2019

If you found yourself seriously questioning the tactics on display in Game of Thrones' Battle of Winterfell, experts feel the same way.

The show's long-awaited last stand against the Night King and his army of the dead was finally depicted in "The Long Night," but criticism of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen's plan went all the way to the top of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Marine Corps. Commandant Robert Neller offered his assessment of the episode, saying, "There was a lot of Jon Snow and Khaleesi flying around in the dark with a dragon, and you're like, 'Do something!'"

A National Guard officer agreed, writing for WIRED that the strategy was "a mess," criticizing everything from the Dothraki being sent "into an attack before the enemy situation is even known," to Jon and Daenerys using their dragons to "loiter" for "far too long" and missing opportunities to engage with the undead.

Slashfilm also spoke with a military officer who broke down some missteps, especially using the Dothraki that way rather than as mobile archers, as well as not having more effective barrier lines put in place or any discernible strategy within the castle. One strategist offered a more charitable view to Slate while still acknowledging key mistakes, noting, for example, that the "use of artillery was just plain bad." And Vox spoke with two military experts who shared much of these same criticisms.

Of course, the Night King ultimately ran into an unexpectedly pointed problem of his own. But the army of the living may still want to take this constructive criticism into account as the inevitable war with Cersei Lannister looms. Brendan Morrow

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