SPOILERS for Season 6 Episode 9 – Battle of The Bastards ahead. Keep reading for Game of Thrones – Battle of The Bastards review.
I must admit, before the episode began, I was a little worried that a review would be something like – Jon and Ramsay fight an epic battle. Jon wins. Ramsay Dies. The End. Thankfully, there was a lot more to this episode than just the battle of the bastards, which was indeed epic. For one, Meereen became relevant again, and so did Tyrion!
A Plan Gone Wrong Goes Right
Dany meets Tyrion, understanding that his failed politics now sees Meereen under attack by all of the slavers, aided by the Sons of The Harpy. This is one of a few times where Tyrion stutters, and struggles to be one step ahead. However, when Daenerys threatens to burn the slaver cities to the ground, like her father, Tyrion tells her the story of the caches of wildfire under the Red Keep, and how such actions would effectively turn her into her own father, The Mad King. We already have one Mad Queen on our hands, no need for another. Consequently, Dany accepts a different course of action.
They meet with the Slave Masters in an attempt to agree terms of a surrender. Not fully grasping the Khaleesi’s power, the slavers think it is Dany and Tyrion who wish to surrender, but boy, how wrong were they. When Dany mounts Drogon again, you feel that she will finally do something useful with her powerful beast/child. She goes on to attack the slaver ships, along with Rhaegal and Viserion. The power of three dragons is a thing to behold. As the slaver soldiers abandon ship, and the Sons of The Harpy brutally dispatched by the ensuing Dothraki forces and Daario, the Essosi Masters come to the realization that they barked at the wrong tree.
They obviously aren’t familiar enough with Daenerys’ history, nor did they understand that you don’t mess with a dragon, let alone 3! Grey Worm has the luxury to off two of the three cowering slavers, before Tyrion gets to send the one standing back to his people, and explain what he had seen. A good tactic, no doubt.
The scene that sees the dragons attack, with Dany on top of Drogon really shines. The show-runners obviously did their homework in making the interaction between Dany and her Dragons look more believable than in previous attempts.
At the end of the day, Tyrion’s failed attempt at politics east of Westeros, actually brought upon the Slavers’ demise more quickly. I’ll definitely take it, if it means the Khaleesi heads towards Westeros ASAP. Good job Tyrion!
Another Unexpected Romance?
It was a little unusual to jump straight to Daenerys’ meeting with Yara, but I’m not going to be the one to complain about the Meereen plot finally going somewhere.
Actually, in my review of The Broken Man, I mentioned that ‘A meeting between Yara and Daenerys may prove interesting now that we know she likes women, and the Khaleesi also has some experience in that area.’ Well, if the constant flirting between the two isn’t an indication of a possible “thing” between them, I don’t know what is. They have so much in common – A mad, terrible ruler for a father (both deceased, killed by usurpers), Idiots for brothers, possibly the first queens of their respective lands and a penchant for women.
As soon as they start negotiating, you could see Daenerys was charmed and ready to close the deal, with Tyrion trying to drive a harder bargain. The only thing Daenerys demands of the Iron Born is “no more reaving, roving, raiding or raping”. Despite all these wonderful things being Yara and Theon’s way of life, they duly accept the offer, if it helps them with the murder of Euron, and regaining the Salt Throne.
This also sees the Khaleesi bulk up her fleet of ships, without having to accept Euron’s cock or his attempt at marriage. Hopefully the next time we see Dany and Tyrion, they are on their way to Westeros.
On To The Main Course
This is what we’ve been waiting for all season. The battle for Winterfell, also known as The Battle of The Bastards.
Just like the Slavers, Ramsay is as snide and confident as ever, when he meets with Jon and Sansa for a possible parley. Jon asks to settle it with a ‘one on one’, knowing full well that Ramsay will reject the offer. He then asks Ramsay what his men would think about their lord, if he is not willing to fight for them. Ramsay admits that Jon “is good” with his tongue, and lets him and his men know that his 7-day-starved hounds would love to have a piece of them after the dust settles. Apart from that, a battle is what we came for, and a battle we will have!
But you’ve been waiting patiently for so long, so what’s a few more paragraphs? 🙂 Back at the Stark camp, Sansa is furious with Jon not including her in strategy and tactics, but Jon dismisses her, saying that he has fought worse (i.e White Walkers). Sansa still feels that without a bigger force, Jon, his wildlings, and Lady Lyanna Mormont and her 62 men will not be enough to defeat the sadistic Bolton. She certainly has a point.
Jon also begs Melisandre not to bring him back should he fall. She explains that the Lord of Light, or LOL for short, has his own plans, and she only acts on her interpretation of said plans. Melisandre reiterates to Jon that if he falls again, and the LOL’s plan is another resurrection, that’s what she’ll do. He replies with “What kind of God would do something like that?”. You really know nothing Jon Snow. All Gods would. LOLing their way to mere humans graves.
I digress. We’re half way through the episode and the Battle of The Bastards still hasn’t begun!
Rickon Doomed From The Start
Sansa, knowing Ramsay much better than anyone, confirms to Jon that even if Rickon is alive, he’s as good as dead. Right again Sansa! Ramsay lets Rickon free, letting him run to Jon, only to die with an arrow to his back, with Ramsay’s fifth try, just before Jon reaches his little brother. This is typical Ramsay, a psychopath that likes to play with his prey. This also has the desired effect of Jon going berserk and charging on his own, basically throwing caution to the wind and ruining all strategy.
The battle itself is probably the best I’ve seen on TV, and gives high budget films a run for their money. It’s not a coincidence that the Battle of The Bastards is touted as HBO’s most expensive episode yet. It is a visceral, brutal, fast paced, well choreographed, shot, and directed piece of amazing television. The mountains of bodies forming as the arrows rain down (Ramsay certainly has no love for the term ‘Friendly Fire’), Wun Wun’s powerful presence, the tactics deployed by the Bolton forces – It was all top notch.
Forget About Conspiracy
Anyone hoping that the Umbers will suddenly turn their coat, and join Jon’s forces were slapped in the face with reality. There was no conspiracy, and what we saw when they delivered Rickon to Ramsay, was just that. All the Shaggydog theories also flew out the window when Rickon was murdered. We shouldn’t be too surprised either. Just last week, a bunch of Arya theories were dismissed when she headed back to Winterfell, in very much the same way. What we saw is what we got. No foreshadowing here.
As everything looked lost, a horn sounds. You guessed it. The knights of the Vale come to the rescue, on cue. I personally hoped that this would happen, but it was a long shot, so I’m happy with the outcome nonetheless. As much as I liked Ramsay’s character, we all knew he was on borrowed time.
After the Vale cavalry had done their thing, Jon, Wun Wun and Tormund chase Ramsay back to Winterfell. Sadly, breaking in to the castle was Wun Wun’s last hurah. Getting shot by dozens of arrows is too much even for a giant. Ramsay deals the final blow (arrow) straight in Wun Wun’s eye, and having reconsidered Jon’s proposal, agrees to a ‘one on one’. Jon, aided by a Mormont shield, gets close enough for close quarters combat, and defeats Ramsay, but does not end his life just yet. Sansa arrives on the scene and gives Jon the ‘He’s mine’ look. Jon accepts.
Karma Bites Back
After arranging for Rickon to be buried next to his father, Ned, Sansa finally has Ramsay in her grasp. Remember when he told her that he didn’t feed his hounds for seven days? Well, joke’s on you, Ramsay. If ever karma showed her face, it was in this instance. Despite Ramsay telling Sansa that he could never really die, because he is now a part of her, she insists that “All memory of you will disappear”. After that bit is clear she feeds him to his own hungry hounds, who, however loyal, decide to start with his face.
Good riddance to a great character. Still, there is always a possibility that this theory is real, though I would say it is very unlikely.
The build-up to Battle of the Bastards was immense. From the cost and energy put into production, to the actual plot, this episode was masterful. Going the same route of previous “episode 9s”, this was by far the best this season (and perhaps the series) had to offer in terms of spectacle, and one of the best episodes to date. As a bonus to the big battle, we also had the Meereen plot advance faster and further than it has all season(s). However, I still think Episode 5, The Door, was better overall. Next week, all eyes will be on King’s Landing, and the impending destruction that Cersei is brewing.
- Ser Davos was reminded of his King when he finds a Stag figurine, belonging to the Baratheons. He still hasn’t learned about Shireen’s fate :\
- I definitely see Daenerys and Yara’s little exchange becoming something more. All the ingredients are there.
- Still clueless as to what Varys is planning.
- Tyrion finally finds his mojo again. I almost feared we lost his character for a minute.
- Another character is now crossed off of our Death List, and a few others appear to be safe for the season, namely the remaining Stark siblings, Jon, Sansa and Arya.
- Where’s Bran??
- After 3 slow (some would say mediocre) episodes, we finally get our money’s worth.
- Only one episode left to answer many questions. Let’s all hope it delivers!
For our previous Season 6 reviews head here!
What did you think about Battle of The Bastards? Now that Ramsay’s gone, who do you think is next to be crossed off of our Death List? Let us know in the Poll and comments below!