The third episode of Game of Thrones' eighth season was a tense, messy, brutal war against the dead — or it would have been, if anyone watching at home could have actually seen what was going on. These tweets about the dark lighting on Game of Thrones' Battle of Winterfell episode make it clear that all viewers were in the same boat. Nobody could see anything.
A dark battle was necessary. The Night King wasn't going to attack in broad daylight when his enemies might have the upper hand; he doesn't follow society's rules! But the army of the dead using the cover of darkness to their advantage was a disadvantage to the entire viewing audience. With such huge crowds of people moving around in a hectic, dim melee, it was difficult to feel anything except confusion while you were watching. The whole first half hour was just a tornado of snow and dirt and swords, with nameless soldiers indistinguishable from regular characters. It certainly captured the frantic nature of the battle, but it wasn't exactly fun to watch. If a character I like is about to end up a zombie snack, I want to be able to know that it's happening.
That was an opinion Twitter seemed to share. Fans had been waiting to see the Battle of Winterfell for weeks, after all, so it makes sense that they wanted to be able to actually see it. You can't know if you predicted the right character deaths if the lighting prevents you from knowing who was injured or killed. The action was so obscured that instead of feeling tense or worried, it might have just left viewers annoyed.
Luckily there was a momentary respite thanks to the Red Priestess herself, Melisandre. She returned to Winterfell in the nick of time to give the Dothraki soldiers some flaming swords that...really didn't help them live any longer. But they looked very cool! And when the icy hordes were overwhelming everyone, she was able to use her powers to light the trenches surrounding the castle. That put a fiery border between the Night King's army and everyone else. But it didn't keep the inhabitants of Winterfell safe — or well-lit — for long.
Melisandre may have briefly allowed fans to see what was happening, but the dead soon found a way to work around her moat of flames. They simply sacrificed a few of their massive number to create a bridge: a handful of wights toppled onto the fire, which left a gap for the rest of them to stream through freely. Soon they were even inside the walls of Winterfell, chasing Arya through the halls and wreaking havoc.
From the reactions on Twitter, it seems like the lack of visibility was a real problem for some. Trying to get invested in an episode where you can't tell what's going on is hard enough, but it was complicated by the fact that there wasn't much dialogue, either. Though there were pauses for conversation, for the most part it was just the thud of blades mixed in with the snarling wights. For an episode that relied on visual impact, it may have missed the mark for these fans.