Say what you will about GoT’s faults (we all know I have on numerous occasions), but this show really knows how to depict an epic battle. I heard the Battle of Blackwater episode was fantastic (I hadn’t been roped into watching at that point in the series) and last season’s “Hardhome” was another optical stunner. Last night’s “Battle of the Bastards” was no different that its predecessors. In fact, both “Battle” and “Hardhome” were directed by Miguel Sapochnik. I don’t think this guy will have any problem landing more directing jobs after this visual near-masterpiece.
While the main event in this episode was the battle of the bastards, another conflict occurred in Mereen. Dani meets with the slavers to discuss how they rudely invaded the city. The Slavers are all cocky thinking she’s coming to surrender. Dani corrects their mistake. “We’re here to discuss your surrender, not mine.” With that, Drogon swoops in and she climbs aboard using his proffered wing. The other two dragons bust out of captivity and fly with her. Dani gives the command and her dragons set fire to the Slavers ships. In another section of Mereen, the Dothraki stampede in, led by Liam McGuiness. Greyworm beheads two of the three Slavers so fast it’s almost simultaneous. I’m glad the Slavers are gone. Owning slaves is garbage and their eyeliner application was shoddy.
Yabba and Theon then show up and ask to form an alliance with Dani. Dani relates to Yabba because they are both rightful females heirs who had their thrones usurped by dickbags. Dani says she will join them if they support her as queen and the Iron Islanders don’t rape people. Seems fair.
Btw, Dinkles does not like Theon.
With the Mereen events concluded, let’s get to the titular battle. The Starks are still outnumbered by the Bolton army. Jon and Sansa meet with Ramsay before the battle to discuss the terms of the skirmish. Jon wants to take on Ramsay one-on-one because of the Starks numerical disadvantage. Ramsay just chuckles manically at this and makes a comment about how his dogs will be hungry because he hasn’t fed them for seven days. Dude, take care of your animals! Uncool. Anyway, Jon is brooding because shit is likely to not go well for them. Sansa, fed up with Jon being the first ever emo kid, says to Ramsay “You’re going to die tomorrow.”
This girl is so ready to throw down! I love Sansa’s transformation. She’s giving some sassafras to Ramsay and imploring Jon to listen to her regarding Ramsay. Sansa mentions Ramsay likes to play (sick) games with his enemies. She asserts that she has more insight into Ramsay’s motivations than Jon (she does), but Jon won’t budge. He is going to use his military strategy as planned, Sansa’s pleas be damned.
The morning of the battle dawns, bright and cold. The two armies gather in a giant field outside Winterfell proper. The Starks and their allies are dwarfed by the Bolton army. Ramsay starts us off my leading a bound Rickon out in view of Jon. He raises his knife as if to decapitate Rickon. Instead, he brings the knife down to slice Rickon’s bonds. Then, it’s time to play a demented Ramsay game. Ramsay tells Rickon to run toward Jon. Seems simple right? No, it’s so, so wrong. As Rickon takes off, Ramsay starts firing arrows. Ramsay is a good marksman, but keeps missing Rickon. He’s missing on purpose to fuck with everyone. So. Typical. Jon sees this going down and gallops toward Rickon. There is a beautiful wide shot of the two galloping toward each other. I sadly could not find a screenshot or photo, but you all know what I mean. Jon reaches his arm out for Rickon. Just as they are close enough to grab one another, Ramsay’s arrows pierce Rickon and Jon’s horse through the heart.
Jon falls for the Ramsay machinations Sansa warned him about. He unsheathes his sword and charges toward the Bolton forces, alone. Uhhhh, whut? Jon, you are good at fighting stuff, but you cannot take on thousands of guys by yourself. However, this shot was way cool.
I loved the scenes with Jon in the middle of the melee, horses, fighters, and dead bodies swirling all around him. Also, the slow motion scene of the Stark and allies horses running in their battle line. The death toll ratchets up and things take a more grisly turn. The fighters still alive are literally fighting on a pile of dead bodies. It’s all Saving Private Ryan up in there.
Then, it gets worse.
More Bolton forces use their giant shields and spears to surround the one half of the perimeter of the battle. On the other half, even more Bolton fighters climb over the body pile to attack from the other side. The Starks and Wildlings are surrounded. Jon is getting trampled. He emerges just in time to look out over the hopelessness of the situation. Things look dismal for our heroes.
Then, the faint sounds of a horn sound in the distance. What could it be? It’s the Knights of the Vale to save the day!
Better late than never. It looks like Sansa wrote that letter to Littlefinger. He’s there, looking like the cat that ate the canary. Jon is all “da faq”? I guess Sansa kept that little detail from Jon.
Ramsay, sensing defeat, retreats behind the walls of Winterfell with Jon, Gingerbeard, and Giant in hot pursuit. Giant just punches down the doors to let Jon and Gingerbeard inside. Unfortunately, Giant looks like a human pincushion with all the arrows in his body, and he can’t take anymore. He falls to his knees in defeat, and then Ramsay shoots his arrow right into the poor guy’s eye for the final blow. That does it for Jon. He charges Ramsay, Stark shield in hand because Ramsay is shooting arrows at Jon now too. Jon reaches Ramsay and they go mano-a-mano, like Jon wanted all along. Jon punches the shit out of Ramsay until he’s knocking on death’s door. This felt a little anti-climatic to me because Jon was charging Ramsay and Ramsay just stood in the same spot. Either way, the Starks take back Winterfell. The Boltons banners are dropped and the Stark banners take their place.
Ramsay haters (e.g. everyone) then got their ultimate wish: his death. He’s tied to a chair in front of his open dog kennels. Remember, the dogs are ravenous. Sansa gets in her last words and the dogs attack Ramsay. Kids, the moral of story is take care of your pets.
In (dis)honor of Ramsay’s death, enjoy another delightful tune from Iwan Rheon. Enjoy the dichotomy, everyone!
Next week is the season finale. What are your predictions? Is Jon mad at Sansa for the whole Knights of the Vale thing? Will any other Stark enemies try to re-conquer Winterfell? Will Dani and Yabba invade Westeros? TTFN, I’m off to get drunk on some sour goat’s milk.