Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones season 8.
Put it plainly: The Night King was a total babe.
And over the course of episode 3's 82-minute-long Game of Thrones battle royale, the internet suddenly awakened to this fact. The Night King's final moments were also his most evocative. As he was bathed in the light of Drogon's fire breath, many of us — myself included — saw the mysterious villain in a whole new light.
"It really came to me this episode. I was never not attracted to him — I just wasn't as attracted," my colleague Melissa Katz explained. "Everyone else at Winterfell was dressed in lobs of dirty fur, and he was chiseled and put together. He looks like he works out."
Below, a tiny sampling of people coming to terms with a similarly uncomfortable epiphany.
Jane Boon, a long-time fan of Game of Thrones, found the Night King captivating long before "The Long Night." "I think it was season 7 when you saw him becoming a real badass. Raising the dragon, raising the corpses with that hand gesture where he just lifts his arm," Boon, an industrial engineer and writer, told Refinery29. "There's such grace to that motion. It's so powerful and captivating. You can't take him lightly."
Blame the Night King's now-iconic smirk for the recent upwell of thirst. After Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) dragon, Drogon, blows fire on him after she delivers a confident "Dracarys," the Night King emerges unscathed. Not only that — he smiles. And in that unsettling smize comes the promise of an interior life. He isn't just a semi-sentient ice sculpture, after all. The Night King contains multitudes.
He walks with BDE.
In "The Long Night," we got an unprecedented glimpse at those multitudes. Instead of standing around looking serious (but stately), as was his general wont, the Night King actually expresses himself. He looks at Bran like he was a "piece of cake," as his portrayer, stuntman Vladimir Furdik (now also recognized on the internet as a total snack), told Vulture. He sits atop his dragon with far more poise than his fellow riders, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen. After millennia spent stewing about timing his southwardly invasion, he's finally showing some follow-through. He's proud of himself, and it shows. He's never made it this far.
Compared to his very human opponents, who struggle with their very human hangups (like love!), the Night King demonstrates a single-minded purpose that Daenerys could only dream of achieving.
"One of my irritations in how some villains are portrayed is that they're hand-wringy about their job. The writer or actor tries to introduce some humanity in them, make them second guess their decision to destroy the universe. There’s none of that with the Night King," Boon said.
Or, as my colleague Addison Goff put it, "He has total bad boy energy." It shows. Simply put, no other character in Game of Thrones has mastered the strut quite like the Night King. In "The Long Night," he cuts through the chaos of the battlefield, ignoring the humans and their messy interiors, both literal and metaphorical. "He walks with BDE," said Katz.
Eliminate the whole "hellbent on world domination thing," and the Night King has more than a few attractive qualities, strut included. He's always dressed elegantly. He doesn’t want for money, because he doesn't need money. He's enormously powerful ("Another thing I think is hot: He can get shit done without saying a word," Katz said). Plus, his nickname, “the Night King,” is quite suggestive. The dude checks boxes.
So now that his threat has shattered, maybe we should allow ourselves the crush. After all, was the Night King even responsible for his surly disposition and heinous end-goal? "I don't see him as evil," Katz pointed out. "I see him as someone who’s trying to get his job done. He was programmed to be that way. He had no choice."
Boon, on her end, was happy to see the Night King go. But she was equally happy with the way he went. "I hoped he'd go out in some spectacular way. Even as he was disintegrating, it was like a cascade of icicles," she said. "There was drama in it."
Despite being vanquished by Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), the Night King achieved a kind of victory. Who will answer the countless pages of Reddit theories devoted to understanding his motivations? Who will explain why he and his White Walker army organized their victims in Targaryen sigils? Why were they obsessed with Bran? Was Bran the Night King? Does time exist?
Sure, some believe these piles and piles of misdirections to be a flaw in Game of Thrones’ creators' storytelling. That could be. Or, they’re the work of the Night King, who wants to drive us susceptible humans around in circles.
The Night King, also known as the ultimate tease.