To quote Beyonce: “Who Runs The World? Girls!!
This week’s Game of Thrones gave us the epic battle of Jon Snow against Ramsey Bolton (Snow): The Battle of the Bastards! The Thriller In The North!! So did it live up to the hype? This probably was one of the finest, well shot, well edited, tense, and satisfying episodes of television ever!! They laid everything on the table this episode, and the last 20 minutes left you speechless! While we spent most of our time in the North with #TeamSnow, we also got to see Dany also hold it down with her triumphant return to Meereen.
Warning: This article contains spoilers from the “Game of Thrones” Season 6 episode “Battle of the Bastards.”
Daenerys Targaryen returned to Meereen to a full on assault by The Masters, who was to once again reinstall slavery in the city and the other lands that she had freed. As they were laying siege to the city, she and Tyrion were discussing the next steps. Of course, she was pissed at him as the city was in worse shape under his leadership than it was when she left. Although Tyrion was able to reintroduce commerce and had everyone singing Daenerys’ praises, she made a deal with The Masters to extend slavery for seven years, which led them to their current dilemma. As the two of them were discussing strategies, Daenerys wanted to apply a scorched Earth campaign and pretty much destroy The Masters and their homes. Tyrion then told her the truth of her father Aerys Targaryen, “The Mad King,” who upon his defeat had planned on setting wildfire upon all of Kings Landing, which required his brother Jamie to kill him and is branded The Kingslayer to save the city. While Daenerys somewhat disagreed in the comparison that she was her father, she got the point.
Calling a parlay with The Masters, Daenerys met with them on neutral ground. The Masters though the meeting was for Daenerys to negotiate her surrender. However, if we know her, we know she has a plan… and three dragons. This led her to hop on her favorite dragon Drogon and fly towards The Masters’ ships that were attacking Meereen. Soon they are joined by the other two Rhaegal and Viserion. The three begin laying waste to some of their ships with their fire in a spectacular scene. Members of The Sons of The Harpy are slaughtered by the Dothraki horde led by Daario. The Masters watch in horror as Tyrion then explains to them what will happen going forward. Tyrion tells them that two of the three leaders will die, and they get to pick who will meet their end. As they turn on each other, they volunteer their sacrifice, who Grey Worm spares as he kills the others. Tyrion, who is somewhat squeamish at their death reminds the one who survived that he was spared by Queen Daenerys and he has to tell the rest of The Masters.
Later on, the Greyjoy siblings make it to Meereen to seek an audience with Daenerys. They offered their ships and service to Daenerys if Daenerys will help them defeat their uncle and allow Yara to rule the Iron Islands as queen of an independent kingdom. While the thought of an independent country outside of Westeros rule doesn’t sit well with Tyrion, Daenerys is receptive to the idea and strikes somewhat of a girl power bond with her. Daenerys doesn’t want the Iron Islands to continue their norm of pillaging and raping nearby lands, which the Greyjoys agree too. Now we have a new alliance!
In the North, we have the big battle for Winterfell!
There is first a parlay between Jon Snow and Ramsey where the two both puff their chests and issue threats to each other. Ramsey is telling Jon Snow that his army is outnumbered and would hopelessly die on the battlefield. Jon Snow offers a simple solution. Instead of each take their grand armies on the battlefield, why not solve this the old fashioned way? Let’s just have a simple battle between the two of them. In this scenario, Jon would have the advantage. After all, Jon is a proven warrior who can kill White Walkers. Ramsey knows he wouldn’t stand a chance in combat, so he weasels his way out of such a contest and advises that he would be a fool not to fight with his much larger army. Ramsey and Sansa share a moment where he tells her that he looks forward to being with her again. Sansa instead informs him that his time will come to an end soon.
Later that evening, Jon, Davos and Tormund are strategizing as to how their battle will proceed. Jon knows that Ramsey will need to not wait and hide in Winterfell. He needs to show strength or other houses in the North will see weakness and stop fearing him. Their hope is to set a trap for him during the battle. Sansa, because she knows how cruel and sadistic Ramsey is, warns Jon about being so cocky. Sansa warns Jon that their brother Rickon will not survive the battle no matter what. Ramsey’s true threat is in the form of a trueborn male Stark. Jon is a bastard, and Sansa is a woman, so no matter what their brother will die. She also tells him that no matter what happens, she will not go back to Ramsey alive, meaning that if Jon falls she will kill herself. Jon assures his sister that he will keep her safe and Ramsey will not harm her again no matter what.
Jon goes to talk with Melisandre and tells her not to reincarnate him if he falls again. While she wasn’t a part of their war council, she is unsure as to what will happen. She is still somewhat unsure of herself and what her purpose with the Lord of Light is and leaves it up to fate. Meanwhile, Davos and Tormund walk the camp in preparation for the upcoming battle. Tormund is sure his Wildlings will prevail because Northerners aren’t as tough as Free Folk. They both talk of how they served false leaders previously and Jon Snow probably is the real deal. Tormund offers to take Davos drinking, but wanting to have a clear head, he goes for a walk. While on that walk he finds the toy he had given to his former King Stannis’ daughter in the area where she burned to death. Remember, he wasn’t there when she died, so this is all new to him. He correctly figures out that Shireen was sacrificed on Melisandre’s orders. This doesn’t bode well for his and Melisandre’s relationship going forward.
The next morning the battle begins. As the armies square off, Ramsey has a surprise for Jon Snow. He rolls out his brother Rickon, frees him from his bondage, and tell shim to run to Jon. Of course, this doesn’t look like it will end well. As soon as Rickon starts running, Ramsey pulls out his bow and arrow and proceeds to begin shooting arrows at the Stark child. Jon can see the writing on the wall and begins to ride his horse out to his brother. Unfortunately as soon as he reaches Rickon, Ramsey arrow goes through his chest. This sets Jon off as he charges single-handedly towards Ramsey’s horde. The battle is now on!
As Jon runs forward into battle, his army plays catch up races towards Ramsey’s army. Ramsey has the tactical advantage and begins raining down arrows on them, quickly taking out Jon’s horse. Ramsey then sends in his first infantry to mow down Jon as he charges towards them. Lucky for Jon, his own army has caught up and now it’s a full-on battle royal. Ramsey then has his archers continue to shoot arrows in the battlefield, effectively making his first wave nothing more than cannon fodder. Davos is kinder to his soldiers as he orders their archers not to shoot because Jon and their fellow soldiers could die.
With Davos leading the rear (including Wun Wun), all of Jon’s army is now in the battle. Ramsey has effectively led them into a trap. He has his soldiers surround them in a blockade of shields and spears. As a result, many of Jon’s soldiers are cornered and many of them die in the onslaught. Wun Wun and Tormund go all out battling Ramsey’s forces getting wounded but continuing to fight, and Jon is almost trampled to death beneath the weight of all dead and alive soldiers. When all seemed lost, a battle horn is heard. Enter the Knights of the Vale. Littlefinger shows up with his forces like Gandalf in The Two Towers and they charge towards the battle. As we correctly guessed, Sansa’s letter was to Littlefinger and with his army now engaging in the battle, the tide has turned.
Ramsey, ever the weasel retreats into Winterfell and locks the gate. As he tries to remain behind the walls, he think’s he’s safe because Jon doesn’t have a battering ram. Little did he know that Jon had a giant? Wun Wun crashes through the gate after taking a whole lot of arrows from Ramsey’s men. With the gate down, Jon and his army are able to pretty much secure the castle. Unfortunately, Wun Wun is pretty much spent at the sheer amount of pain he’s had to endure. As he and Jon share what appears to be a final goodbye, Ramsey puts an arrow in his eye, killing the giant. Now Ramsey wants to have single combat to decide the outcome. As he attempts to take Jon down with multiple arrows, Jon successfully defends himself with each of them and proceeds to beat the crap out of Ramsey. He places Ramsey in custody and then has all the Bolton banners taken down and replaced with House Stark.
Later on, Sansa visits Ramsey in his cell to presumably to gloat. Little did Ramsey know, she was there to make good on her promise that he would meet his end. Ramsey purposely let his dogs starve for a few days in the hopes they would be hungry and eat Jon Snow. Sansa instead lets the dogs free so they could devour their master. Ramsey said the dogs would be loyal, but hunger trumps loyalty. Ramsey dies a much deserved horrible death being eaten alive by his own pets as Sansa walks away smiling at his demise.
There is literally nothing negative about this episode. This was without a doubt, the best episode of Game of Thrones, and probably one of the best hours of television in a long, long time. This didn’t feel like an episode of a TV show, but more like a movie. The action was tense. The cinematography was well done! The acting was top notch. The entire battle was one for the ages! It did a great job showing the “fog of war” during the battle and the chaotic nature of it all. The scene where Jon was buried under all the bodies and people running on top of him was very claustrophobic and well done! This episode was billed as the biggest episode of Game of Thrones, and it sure was. Historically the ninth episode of Game of Thrones is always a big one. The episode cost more than $10 million to make and every penny was well spent!
The Starks finally got a win! Looks lie Jon does know something, like how to win an epic battle! For the longest they are the punching bag of the show. They are the one house that isn’t trying to screw people over and as a result, they usually get screwed over. It’s good for them to finally get a satisfying victory. All they need is to get Arya back, and all will be right with the world.
As much as this was an episode for Jon Snow, it really was a Girl Power episode. From Daenerys giving The Masters their comeuppance, to her meeting Yara and negotiating a deal with the Greyjoys, to Sansa’s walk of pride when Ramsey died: the whole episode showed that the women of Game of Thrones are not to be played with. They handled their business.
RIP to Wun Wun and Rickon, the unfortunate victims of Ramsey. While their deaths were sad, watching Ramsey get pummeled by Jon Snow and then eaten was even more cathartic.
Next week will be Game of Throne’s season finale titled: “The Winds of Winter.” This probably means that The White Walkers will make an appearance.