This week on ‘Game of Thrones’: Battle rages outside Winterfell between the Starks and Boltons; Dany tries to defend Meereen from the Masters; Jen dies from the insanity of it all.
Spoilers through Game of Thrones 609, “Battle of the Bastards.” This may be one of the biggest battles of the series, so STEER CLEAR unless you’ve watched. I warned you.
Are all the ones worried about spoilers gone? Can I talk about this episode now?
I CALLED IT. I FUCKING CALLED IT. I knew my prediction was naive and too sugar sweet but it came true and I.fucking.called.it. I mean, it was kind of a softball in terms of predictions. Narratively, Jon Snow HAD to survive and I just piled on the hope from there. Okay, so I was all but certain Davos was going to die and that’s the one part where I was wrong but hey, I’ll take it. I was sure he’d confront Mel about Shireen, get sad, and get himself killed being heroic, but thank the Red God he didn’t. I love Davos and I’m glad he’s still alive. UGH I AM SO PUMPED.
After last week’s lackluster episode, I put a lot of hope in “Battle of the Bastards” to get me hyped again and boy, did it come through. But enough fist bumping and celebration. Into the abyss, yes?
So, uhm. I’ll be honest. I did not expect to visit Meereen this week. All of the promotion and previews was for the battle outside Winterfell, so when I saw Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke billed in the opening sequence, I was hesitant. The episode certainly was a more focused affair, only visiting two locations, but I’m not complaining. It suited the story.
After Dany’s suspect return last week, I was concerned she might try to reason with the Masters. She waltzed in, looking confused and that to me wasn’t in character at all. Honestly, I think they’d have been better off just ending the scene in Meereen last week with the Masters fireballing the pyramid and start this episode with Dany storming in, getting the 411, and going to town on the attackers right away. As it is, it makes it look like she let the Masters attack the city all night before doing anything to protect her people. And that’s just not the Dany I know. Dany is vengeful and full of rage, even downright chaotic at times.
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Tyrion cautions giving in to that urge to burn cities to the ground because that’s kind of the Mad King Aerys’ thing, but hey, parents, amirite? Dany heeds Tyrion’s council and decides to go with the less murderous approach. Together they call the Masters in for negotiations and mother of dragons, Dany is so gorram smug I LOVE IT. While the Masters are detailing what she’ll do now that she’s lost, she just smirks and lets them finish spitting out their pipe dreams like she’s listening to a child babble nonsensically. Once they’ve finished, she calmly tells them, “No, no, no. You misunderstood. I’m not surrendering. You are.” And then she opens up her pokeball, Drogon comes out, they free Viserion and Rhaegal and the three dragons and Mama Targaryen rain fire and destruction upon their enemies.
I mean, honestly. What did they expect? They knew what she did to Krazynys. Dany does not surrender. Especially not to a man. And she trusted Grey Worm and Missandei enough to leave them with the Masters while Grey Worm, who has been Lukeworm (heh) all season, did this glorious bit of knife work:
Yea, suck it, Daario. You are like 15th fiddle right now. Sure, sure. You rode the khalasar into Meereen but you guys were kind of an afterthought. Dany had the situation hella under control.
After Dany went to the playground and stole all the other kids toys, she received the Greyjoys children, who were a little freaking late to the party. Dany is intrigued by
Asha Yara and Theon, while Tyrion is suspicious as hell, prodding Theon’s wounds every chance he gets. Theon handles it all like a professional because no one can hurt Theon more than he’s already hurt himself. As is the Greyjoy way. After everyone dumps all over their daddies in celebration of Father’s Day, Dany and Yara make a pact to support one another and I’ll be honest, with all the smirks and stares, I half-expected Dany to seal the deal with a kiss. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Wynonna Earp, but I’m not sad about hoping for it. Heh. Daario you’ve been replaced in every way.
Oh good old god, where do I even begin? This was a battle that’s been over a year in the making. We’ve been hyped for the battle outside Winterfell since Stannis unceremoniously fell in battle to 20 good men. Or whatever B team Ramsay sent after the men Stannis managed to muster. Jon and his council meet with Ramsay on the battle field and Jon’s all, “1v1 me, bro.” Ramsay isn’t so stupid as to fight Jon in single combat, not when he has the better odds in a battle. Sansa leaves the meeting and tells Ramsay that he will die tomorrow. I cheer and then realize that the only thing that would have been better would be if she had called him Lord Snow. MAN would that have gotten under his skin.
At the war council, Jon, Davos, and Tormund come up with a plan to handle the fact that they’re sorely outnumbered. Sansa comes in later and tells Jon NOT to do what Ramsay wants him to do. And then finally, Jon goes to Melisandre and she tells him to not lose. To sum up, the Starks’ plan for battle is thus: Be patient and let Ramsay come to them; don’t fall for Ramsay’s games; don’t lose.
AND THEN JON PROCEEDS TO LISTEN TO NONE OF THAT SHIT.
I understand that the Starks are all noble and shit and Jon still has some lingering issues with being unable to save Robb, but that heroism is what gets y’all KILLED more than any other house in Westeros.
On the battlefield, Ramsay does Ramsay and you gotta hand it to Iwan Rheon, he does crazy eye better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Someone better check his house and make sure he doesn’t have a closet full of hobo fingers or a room dedicated to his birds or an active AOL account. The Bastard of Bolton releases baby Rickon, who’s like 2 inches shorter than full-grown Ramsay, and we’ve seen this chase before. Rickon runs in a straight line while Ramsay plays tag with a long bow. Look, I know in the books that Rickon is supposed to be like six years old, but that dude on the show is damn near old enough to drive. SERPENTINE, YOU FOX-EARED ASSHOLE. YOU DESERVE TO DIE.
Rickon dies and Jon is all, “Oh shit this is what Sansa was talking about” but it’s too late because his dumb ass has a choice of getting an arrow to the face or getting a cavalry to the everything. Ultimately, he chooses cavalry.
The battle ensues with Tormund leading the charge and it’s gross. I don’t mean like “ew icky my shoes are dirty.” I mean, there’s blood, dirt, and human excrement coated on every soldier’s face and it’s forming a paste. The battle was shot beautifully, one of the best medieval-style fights I’ve ever seen, horrific and exhilarating all at once. I could go into detail about all the wonderful parts, the single shot of the chaos reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, the slaughter of absolutely everyone who isn’t a named character, the brutality, the hopelessness, the crazed look in everyone’s eyes, but I won’t. Just go watch the scene. It’s absolutely gripping television and even I don’t have snark to give (a first, I assure you).
But by far the most horrific moment was watching Jon Snow suffocate under his own men. For the first time in a long time, I was gripped with a fear that I might watch a character I’ve grown to love die unceremoniously. I know I said he had to survive the episode at the beginning, but during that scene, I could feel him gasping for air and it made me uncomfortable. When it finally rose up from the sea of bodies, it wasn’t a hero ready to triumph over evil moment. It was simply an act of pure instinct, the need to survive took over and Jon Snow fought to live. Goodness, I love watching this battle.
And in the end,
Rohan’s army the Vale’s army rode in, Sansa and Littlefinger at its helm to save the day. Jon Snow beat the ever-loving piss out of Ramsay Bolton, leading to one of the most beautiful sights we’ve seen on Game of Thrones in a long time:
“Battle of the Bastards” was definitely a fight between two bastard sons, but more so, it was about the journey of the women in the show and their rise to power. Yara and Dany made a pact with one another and Sansa, my baby girl Sansa, outshined every other person on the show. When faced with her rapist, her monster of a husband, she held her head high and said the words she knew would crush him:
“Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear.”
No one will remember you or your cruelty. God, she’s good. And that smirk at the end while Ramsay was eaten alive by his own dogs belied the darkness that hides within her, that darkness that isn’t afraid to rise up and play the game. At the end of season two, Sansa smiled similarly when she realized she wouldn’t have to wed the monster Joffrey. At the end of “Battle of the Bastards” she smiled because she went up against a monster and won.
The conversation between Dany and Tyrion at the beginning of the episode may have been my favorite moment with Tyrion all season (minus the dragon bit, ofc). He’s clearly intimidated by her and respects her enough at the same time to offer sound advice. I enjoyed his anxious stammer and attempt at a light-hearted discussion of “Meereen on the rise.”
I want to point out in the conversation with Dany that Tyrion mentions the wildfire and all of its known locations, “the Red Keep, the guild halls, the Sept of Baelor, all the major thoroughfares”. It’s a weapon that can melt wood, stone, steel, and even flesh. BUT THE BIGGEST THING TO NOTE with wildfire is that even Tyrion doesn’t know where they all are. And wildfire, for those who don’t know, becomes more unstable the longer it sits. It frightens even Tyrion to be too close to it. We know from next week’s preview that Cersei and Loras finally have their trials, but I don’t think Cersei plans to attend her trial. I think she intends to burn the Sept of Baelor, but it backfires and sets off a chain of events, burning King’s Landing to the ground.
There were so many beautiful shots in this episode, so much better than Arya and the tumbling pile of oranges from last week. Some highlights for me were:
- Jon prepared to fight against the entire Bolton army and die a hero.
- Jon rising up from the crowd.
- The overhead shots of the battle.
- Dany flying over Meereen on Drogon.
- And ESPECIALLY Davos standing at Shireen’s grave.
Jon punching Ramsay into unconscious oblivion was such a cathartic moment until you realize that the reality of filming the scene was actually more like this:
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9pm EST.