Game of Thrones 6.9 – The Battle of the Bastards

Ramsay Bolton battle bastards

I HATE THIS PERSON (the character–the actor is so freaking awesome) WITH EVERYTHING IN ME. EFF YOU RAMSAY BOLTON.

[Previously] [Unhappy Part Two] Well, this was an exciting week. I won’t belabor the point (you can always click back to catch up and please note that the particular issue I’m referring to is handled and done) but I’ll say that THERE IS TO BE NO BOOK TALK HERE. You have the whole damn internet for it. You just do not have my website. It’s been borderline lately, and you guys know it. Lots of minutiae in the comments that is CLEARLY book stuff. Some of you want to really get into fine details from the books in comments, and I’m telling you right now: KNOCK IT OFF. Talk about the show, talk to each other, but leave the books and most importantly SPOILERS out of the discussion. Thanks ever so.


Before we get there, though, we need to beat back the Masters in Meereen. Man, their fleet is something else. And Dany has the audacity to seem pissed towards Tyrion for the siege on the city. LADY, HE IS DOING HIS BEST. Okay, maybe she’s just letting him sweat. She has a plan: to end the Masters utterly. That’s a good plan. It’s the whole “razing cities, including the innocent citizens” bit that gives Tyrion pause. You know, harkening back to the Mad King and all that.

I like that Dany has Tyrion–wise, educated Tyrion–as a guide.

They meet with the Masters to parlay.

Masters: We want your families dead. We want your houses burned to the ground. And we want you to grovel at our feet. Then, we want you dead and burned to the ground.
Dany: LOL, same. By the way, say hello to my little friend.
Dany: Yes, baby, just fine. Now let’s go torch the Masters.
Drogon: WHEEE!
Trogdor and Sister: WE ARE COMING, TOOOOOOOOO.
Dany: First off, my Dothrakis are going to hit the Sons of the Harpy.
Dothraki: [lay waste with a gleeful vengeance]
Dany: Second, burn the ships, my beloved babies!
Dragons: [HOOOOOOOOOARK but flames]

Daenerys Targaryen Drogon dragon

Hi! My kid graduated, too. You know what he got? HIS MASTER’S. [Look, it’s been a long week, okay?]

Grey Worm: So you soldiers defending the Masters, want to go home?
Dudes: YES. Later, Boners! [exit stage left]
Tyrion: Always seems a bit abstract, doesn’t it? Other people dying? But, sigh. One of you must. IS THIS YOUR CARD? [nods at Grey Worm]

Grey Worm kills everyone but just one quivering, kneeling master, and they send him back to tell the tale. And I stood and shouted and cheered. Just if you wondered. That was tidy! And awesome. I mean, this wasn’t the battle we tuned in to watch, so I’m okay with the swiftness.

Up north where it’s less sweaty, Sansa rides at Jon’s side to converse with the Bolton’s party. Maybe the most ridiculous thing ever uttered on this show is when Ramsay Bolton, after telling Jon to kneel before him and pledge allegiance, says, “I am a man of mercy.”



Jon’s all, “Bro. Let’s just do this the old way: hand-to-hand combat. The best man *cough*me*cough* wins.”

Ramsay is smarter than that, however, and knows there is no way in hell he’d beat Jon in a sword fight. But his army? Pretty boss. Hmm, will they stay fighting for him when the Stark rally cry shouts out, I wonder? My guess is there would be a pretty significant number of deserters. (Or maybe that’s my hope?) But before we can find out, Sansa posts up and says, “YOU WILL BE DEAD IN THE MORNING,” and “SLEEP WELL” then turns and leaves, a mic rolling back and forth on the ground at Ramsay’s feet.

Sansa? Girl? I love you with everything in me. Keep growing, child. KEEP IT UP.

Ramsay trying to scare Ser Davos and Gjödkr is hilarious. Tormund is all, “Um. Yeah, ‘sic the dog on my balls’, ooooh! I’m trembling! Stupid git. That’s a mating call where I’m from!”

Sansa rightfully gets pissed at Jon for not including her in the battle plans. She knows Ramsay is the one who lays traps, not falls for them. Jon suffers from a serious case of Ned-itis. He’s honorable; he expects people to be honorable. Hell, the Night King in Hardhome was honorable! He respected a retreat!

Will Ramsay? Hardly.

Sansa Stark Battle Bastards

Sansa SNARK amiright??

“No one can protect me,” Sansa says after explaining that she won’t go back to Ramsay alive. “No one can protect anyone.”

God, that should be the tagline for the show.

So I’m hitting pause on my remote to say, remember how Ramsay sneaked into Stannis’ camp and attacked in the middle of the night? I’m assuming that’s going to happen again. And why isn’t a group of Wildlings sneaking into Winterfell to, I don’t know, steal gun powder, kill horses (cry!), poison the water, something? Okay, hitting “play.”

Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër and Davos take a late night stroll to talk strategy. (I’m a little irritated by the whole Tormund is a simpleton thing. I know, I know, I’m being touchy, because I love Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër okay??) I do like their friendship, though. “Happy shitting.” Hahahaha.

Jon very importantly tells Fire Crotch Mage not to bring him back, should he fall. She has her ‘come to Lord of Light’ moment realizing that she has no power, and maybe Jon is only here to play a small part in the big picture.

Jon: What sort of God would do something like that?
Me: ALL OF THEM, BASICALLY. See: bugs that bore into eyeballs, cancer in children, the existence of Carrot Top, etc. etc.

Davos, on his stroll to find the perfect freak out spot, spies the wee stag he carved for Little Newt in a long-dead pyre. And then a horn blows, signifying the morning and the upcoming battle. Look sharp, buddy.

And then HOLY SHIT BALLS HOLD THE DAMN PHONE, THE GREYJOYS HAVE LANDED IN MEEREEN. After Tyrion puts Theon in his place for being a wonky, spiteful shit when they last meet (and deservedly so, and don’t you think Tyrion was a little upset to have the wind taken from his sails, so to speak, and not have any sass to slam down?), Dany intercedes and wants to know who’s going to rule the Iron Islands. She’s decidedly cool with Yara being the Queen and again, let me say #SAVETHELESBIANS. I am HERE FOR IT.

Yara Greyjoy Daenerys Targaryen

Life goals: to fill out some leather pants like Yara Greyjoy, daaaaamn.

Seriously, Yara and Theon are such a great pair of siblings (comparatively speaking). Dany’s feeling Yara’s sassy tongue. (Oh, is she now? HBO: At Night.[dirty bass line] Hahaha. Sorry. …for not being sorry.) God, didn’t we know that these two women would get on like a pyramid on fire?? I love everything happening here, the sly looks, the double entendres, all of it.

Dany lays out her conditions.

Dany: No more pirates and pirate behavior.
Yara: But… why is all the rum gone? Ugh. Fine.

They shake on it in a really intense bit of touching, or is that just me? BUT. WAIT. WHOA, REALLY? NO MORE SALTY SEA PIRATES? I… don’t know how I feel about this.

Up north, the Starks and their army line up and we get the “They’ll never take… our… FREEDOM” shot of Jon moving through the troops to the front, standing by Wun Wun the giant. (And ha, all the metalheads in the crowd. I love it.)

Game Thrones Battle Bastards

Let’s be frank: this was a beautifully shot episode.

In the battlefield are bodies flayed, hanged upside down, and set on fire before the Bolton army, just that much larger, that much better kitted out. And then here comes Ramsay on a horse, dragging something on a rope.

Oh god.

It’s Rickon. And these are Northerners watching. They know who it is. So. There goes the chance of any folks joining the True Northerners, huh? Ramsay pulls a knife, ready to kill him there or… cut his bonds and release him? Well, there’s going to be a game first. “Run to your brother. Ready? Go.” And then an archer shows up.

SERPENTINE, BRO, COME ON. FUCKING JON RIDES OFF TO INTERCEDE, and this is EXACTLY what Sansa was talking about not doing. Christ. Serpentine, child!! Now is the time for evasive measures!!! Run for the smoke of the burning bodies at least. And of course, one pierces Rickon’s chest just before Jon can get there. OF COURSE. Dammit. Rickon, we hardly knew ye. No, but literally. We didn’t know you so this isn’t that emotional other than the general, “You killed a child,” level of emotion.

But hang on, JON: GET OUT OF RANGE.

We knew Rickon was a dead man. Boy. …Child. We knew. But now Jon knows. Jon narrows his eyes, Tormund mutters, “Don’t,” and Jon is fucking up the whole plan by charging, so now Davos has to command the other men to follow their commander. FUCK.­

YOU CAN’T BE EMOTIONAL AND LEAD, FOLKS. You have to be heartless and cruel! I guess. Ugh, everything is terrible and my stomach is in knots. Ramsay sits cool as a cucumber as the whole thing is jacked up because of Jon. Jon’s horse falls, and Ramsay sends in the calvary.

Jon? Take a knee. Son? You’re a dumbass. You’ve just jeopardized the whole thing.

Jon Snow Battle Bastards

Okay this is pretty courageous. But like, Gryffindor courageous where it’s foolhardy and possibly of your own making. *cough*

He draws his sword as forty million horses bear down on him, give or take one or two thousand. BUT OH HO, our calvary runs in just in the knick of time! But Ramsay doesn’t care about his own men and orders the archers to shoot at will. (Nice camera shots from the arrow’s POV, with the extra awesome noise of the fletchings in the wind.)

Let’s just get this out there, this battle scene is fucking amazing and brutal and well-choreographed and shot and I don’t even know how to describe it other than Jon is about to slice a guy’s head off and a horse barrel-chests the guy to death before he can, arrows rain down, blood is flying, it’s chaos of screaming and grunting and swords flying, not to mention horses everywhere and GOOD LORD.

Just… excellent work, crew. God damn.

At this point, all Ramsay seems to have is his archers, and he continues to let bolts fly, regardless of who they hit. Pfft. The others are fighting on a sea of dead bodies. Ser Davos is tired of waiting and leads the remaining True Northerners’ archers into fight. Lord Bad Touch Karstark however, has his men fired up and are ready to join in from the backside. Pun. Totally. Intended.

Please note that Ramsay is a total wuss for sitting back and playing general while Jon is in the thick of it. Wun Wun points out though that they’re now surrounded by Bolton men with proper protection. Just what the Starks had mentioned doing but didn’t follow through on. AHEM, JON SNOW.

So. This looks terrible. Where’s a dragon when you need one?

Tormund and Wun Wun take it upon themselves to break through the (pretty fucking solid) Bolton defense, literally throwing themselves at shields and spears, and it’s so brutal, oh my god. Tormund, no!!

He takes an additional shoulder wound, the Boltons advance, and Jon comes face to face with Lord Bad Touch. But that’s right when Tormund is all, “Screw this, I’m going home!” and leads his men up the mountain of dead to fight through the non-be-speared side of this battle. Jon is almost trampled to death by the fighting Wildlings. Or maybe he is? It’s pretty intense. He pulls himself to standing, crowd surfs to see Tormund getting head-butted, maybe to death, when a horn blows.

And Tormund, lovingly first called Gjördkr the Chîcken Eåter here, uses this distraction to BITE LORD BAD TOUCH’S NECK OUT IN A MOVE THAT IS PURE RICK GRIMES. From here out, he is Gjördkr the Pêrv Nømm?. BLESS YOU, WILDLING, and your tenacious spirit of “Not going down without a fight!” Oh, if only Brienne had borne witness…

Oh, that horn? The mother trucking HOUSE ARRYN HAS ARRIVED, because family is family, and Ramsay, you are HOSED. I guess we all owe Sansa an apology, huh? I will not apologize to Littlefinger, but Sansa, sitting astride her horse next to him, looks pretty damn boss and smug. As she should.

Sansa Stark House Arryn

Bitterly pleased, as is befitting a woman in her position.

The newcomers slice through Ramsay’s men like a hot knife through butter. It’s incredibly satisfying. Jon, shocked but still ready to fight, sees Ramsay and immediately is ready to right some wrongs.

BRO. RIGHT THOSE WRONGS. GET THAT JACKHOLE ASAP. Also, Sansa? You are your mother’s daughter, just as Uncle Blackfish stated. [fist chest pound] Respect.

Ramsay, his knickers barely damp with piss, turns and rides off back to Winterfell. Jon, Wun Wun and Gjördkr the Pêrv Nømm? are hot on his trail. Ramsay hides inside Winterfell, but dude, you ain’t Blackfish. You aren’t prepared for a 2-year sit-in, are you? “They don’t have the men. And frankly, I don’t think they have the stone or anyone capable of getting through the door.”


But oh no, Wun Wun’s riddled with arrows!! No!!! The Bolton’s are now focused on him, enabling the remaining Stark army to run inside, and it’s the Boltons not prepared now. But oh, Wun Wun! [sad faces] An arrow from Ramsay through the giant’s eye ends his magnificent, single-syllabic life, and now you’ve done it, Ramsay, you dog-fighting, child-killing, discarded toenail clipping, you.

Ramsay’s all, “Let’s go back to that one-on-one combat thing!” But Jon gets him pinned down and beats the holy hell out of Ramsay’s face as Ramsay smiles. And then… Ramsay stops smiling.

Ramsay stops almost living, actually, until Jon spies Sansa and pulls his next punch. Ramsay’s face is basically a bowl of hamburger, so that could could have been the last one needed. And Jon knows Ramsay isn’t his to kill. OH HO. [rubs hands]

The greatest thing ever: the Bolton flags come down, the Stark flags go up, and everything is quiet in that way where things slowly skitter back out into the sunlight, ready to lick their wounds and get back to living.

Ser Davos, however, has that little stag in his hand and a deadly look pointed at Fire Crotch Mage across the courtyard…. You in danger, girl. Eh, I’m okay with that.

Sansa wants to know where Ramsay is being held, of course, and excuse me while I freshen my beverage and get some popcorn.


And while I would have loved Theon to be a part of this, Sansa can absolutely take the wheel here in ending Ramsay’s horrible life. Ramsay’s pretty sure that while he’s basically a bloodied steak tied to a chair, that T-Rex who they’re waiting on doesn’t want a goat chained to a pen! They want to hunt. Or something. Right? Ha.


Yeah, but remember how you starved your dogs? Gosh. I wonder how that’s going to work out for you, Ramsay? Spoiler alert: NOT WELL.

Ramsay Bolton dogs death

WHO’S A GOOD BOY? Who’s a hungry, bloodthirsty boy? You are! Yes you are! Who’s a painfully clipped killing machine? You are, Pansy, pretty boy. Now, Pansy: SIC ‘EM. (In my head the dogs are named after flowers. Petunia was sitting patiently waiting her turn for a bit of flesh.)

They literally eat his face off first, then eat the rest of him. He’s alive for most of it (Oh god) and Sansa watches until she doesn’t need to anymore. She walks away smiling. REAP WHAT YOU SOW, FUCKER.

[kisses fingers]

God damn. This was some brutal, bloody stuff. I mean, it’s war. It should be awful so that, you know, we don’t engage in it often. But still, not for the faint of heart.

Predictions: The Red Witch is going to die by Davos’ hand, but she’ll kill him too (noooooo!) we’ll get a pissy Daario walking in on Yara and Dany (god, please give me this), and HOPEFULLY the overthrowing of Cult Pope. Lord, hear my cry.


Winterfell House Stark Opening


Crap, this season has been amazing. Amazing. Maybe my favorite of all, honestly.

Only one more? ONE MORE?!?!?

Also: BITCHES GET SHIT DONE. Valar Morghulis, yo. (And please tell me how much you loved Lady Mormont sitting astride her noble Steve (that’s her horse’s name) there at the start of the battle. Even though she apparently had a portkey and went back to Waterfall House when the fighting began.) GUYS. GUYYYYYYS IT WAS SO GOOD.


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  • rtavi

    I’m so happy that the spoiler bullshit from a few days ago didn’t impact your enjoyment of this episode too much. I only just saw that post when I came here after practically chair dancing my way through that Greyjoys-in-Mereen-scene.

    How awesome was that. I loved the way they shot that, the subtle difference in posture between Yara and Theon. A+ acting. And the chemistry between Dany and Yara was just off the charts. With the flirting and the innuendo and invitation to the murder of uncles. Also, warriors handshake! How often do we get to see that between two women.

    But I also loved those fleeting glances between Yara and Theon and Dany and Tyrion. New favorite relationships on this show.

    • They are my favorite new relationships toooooooo!

    • Lyanna Mormont

      I loved that Theon a) said that he didn’t kill the Stark boys, and b) acknowledged that he did things just as bad. He wants the truth out there, but he won’t try to hide behind just the bits that make him look better. (He did kill two other boys so he could claim they were Bran and Rickon.)

  • It really was so good. That battle was brutal. And Sansa getting her vengeance at the end was so good, so great!

    And I am so here for the Yara x Dany ship!

  • debijl

    For years I’d been fantasizing about the Bolton banners burning and the Stark banners being raised, thinking the Winterfell theme would be swelling in the background and its one big victory moment where we all cry, Jon and Sansa beeming with pride, Ned smiling down from heaven….. but then I remember what show I am watching and remember this is about the price of war, as Sansa and Jon watch the stretcher with Rickon come by, and am once again disabused of my romantic notions. :(
    One more episode and then the long hiatus begins.

    • moata

      I think maybe when we get to the end of this crazy ride that’s what it will be like too.

      Either that or Sandor Clegane will be the only one left alive and he’ll just be sat on the Iron Throne saying “Oh FFS” like Riddick.

  • Johan Kristian Milde

    The mention of “uncles” plural to kill is a nice reminder that the drowned priest is also one of old Balon’s brothers, although I assume priesthood takes away his right to inherit the throne directly.
    Yara is awesome as ever, although I do wonder what will be the basis for the Iron Islands’ economy in the future, especially after Euron cuts the last few trees down.

    • chortles81

      Ehhh, if we can take it that the ironmen are in fact more diverse in thinking and skills than those attending the kingsmoot, I have to imagine that there’s room to build a different mentality. While Yara’s kingsmoot speech was cut off before she could go into more than building a big-ass fleet, and that itself may have been political red meat, because as far back as episode 2 she already knew that their invasion of the north was effectively done, and resumption? “Why? For more pine cones and rocks?”

      She already took a step on the necessary road, if only to tread it towards a reemphasis on the sea instead of land invasion… so why not trading?

  • MaxwellJames

    A few thoughts, in numbered-tweetlike form (despite the fact that I really don’t tweet). Since I haven’t posted here in a while I apologize for running a bit long:

    1. My lord, is Jon a crap general. Not only does he take Ramsay’s bait, instantly, but he doesn’t even have the sense to delegate command to someone with a bit more care for his mens’ survival.

    2. I did appreciate how clearly the direction of the battle demonstrated Ramsay’s strategy, however. Each of his moves made perfect sense (psycopathic sense, of course), especially as he lured Jon into exactly the trap Davos had laid out.

    3. But then he was outflanked by Sansa, of course, who is clearly the MVP of this episode and the season as a whole. I’ll admit that lying in wait with Littlefinger’s forces was a little dea-ex-machina-y (& very reminiscent of Helm’s Deep) but it worked dramatically, even though you could see it coming a long ways off.

    4. Speaking of Sansa: I doubt it will happen, but I so wish she and Cersei could meet again before the show is over. I suspect Cersei would develop a newfound respect for her at this point. They might even become best frenemies.

    5. Interesting too that Jon is still such a Stark, personality & brain-wise, while Sansa has clearly learned from her time with other houses & hard experiences. I suspect her reasons for concealing LF from Jon will become more apparent soon.

    6. And speaking of Helm’s Deep: while there may not be many episodes left, it’s going to be fun watching GOT reach LOTR-level budgets on a per-episode basis in its last too seasons. Yet keeping its own personality, hopefully. I really loved that shot where Jon nearly died about 6 times in half a minute.

    7. RIP Rickon and Shaggydog. I really would have preferred if that had been a ruse by House Umber, but I guess they didn’t feel like they had time for that. Both Rickon’s death and something in that Yara-Dany scene do hint at something I’ve mused about for the endgame, in books & show, which I will keep mum on for now.

    8. And speaking of Yara-Dany: rawr. Yara may have only a hundred ships, but she launched a thousand with that glance, amirite?

    9. Also: BITCHES GET SHIT DONE. Valar Morghulis, yo. Season theme song:

    10. And now I get the enjoyment of catching up on your past few recaps.

    • Sansa is the hero The North deserves, AND the one it needs right now.

    • Lisa

      Jon made wrong tactical decision after wrong tactical decision in that battle. And he knew it. And was willing to die for it. And I have to love him for it, because even as he knew it was the wrong tactical decision to make his heart couldn’t take it. He had to do it because he had to. Bad general. But fully human. Yeah, he got the battle all wrong. But he has a good heart (somewhere I. The seven hells a dead Watchman is screaming ‘and that good heart is going to get us all killed!)

      • Lyanna Mormont

        It’s one thing for Jon to be willing to die for it, it’s another to drag an entire army with him into those bad tactical decisions…

        • THIS. I mean, I love the guy, BUT LOOK BEYOND YOUR OWN NOSE, SIR.

      • MaxwellJames

        This is a wonderful point. And it can totally coexist with being a bad general. I think the biggest thing Game of Thrones calls on us to root for is for the characters to hold on to some semblance of their humanity. Being a mensch is more important than winning (as Brother Ray might attest, writers be damned).

        • I GOT CAUGHT UP IN THE EMOTION. Just like, hmm… rhymes with Fawn Snow… [hangs head in shame]

    • chortles81

      #2 was mandated by D&D! The director’s Entertainment Weekly interview has him noting that they wanted specific focus on what you described.

    • UGH, Jon was such a terrible general. “Jon Snow is no King.” NOPE. He isn’t. Good guy, but not a terrific leader in that sense. But I’ll be honest: I was so caught up in the battle and my worry for Gjödkr that I completely forgot that there could be another army coming. So it felt very “WHEW!” to me. But then, I drink wine and get very emotional while I watch, so two cents, grain of salt, etc. :D

      That long shot of Jon in his Saving Private Ryan storming the beach/ear ringing scene was maybe one of the most stressful moments I’ve ever endured on GOT, quite honestly.

      LOL at your Helen of Troy reference. AND HOW.

      • Keegs!

        I think Jon’s shown that he can be a clear-headed, tactical commander (Battle at the Wall, Hardhomme, etc.), He accomplished nailed on goals in those situations (i.e. hold and survive, and escape, respectively).

        When someone murders your brother in front of you, for sport, it might tend to goad you into irrational behavior also. Ramsay’s made a living of doing this, by the way.

        Jon was human in this battle, whereas he’s shown some pretty battle commander skills in other circumstances.

        • You know what? You’re completely right. COMPLETELY RIGHT. SOmeone else in comments mentioned this is why you don’t operate on family, etc., because you can’t think with a level head.

        • MaxwellJames

          That’s a good point. But that’s also why he needed to DELEGATE this time around, even before the battle started.

  • Original-S

    This episode. Oh Lawd, this EPISODE! It was pretty much everything I wanted. I clung to the bf for pretty much the entire thing, either out of excitement or anxiety or because this episode was making me need something I could hold onto for dear life!

    Starting with dragons was the best way to start, and after seasons of teasing amounts of dragon airtime, this seemed to be Dragon Bowl, 2016: All The Burninating! <3
    Fast forward to the Greyjoys showing up, and the banter between those two bad-ass boss bitches was, how do you put it Laura? *finger-kiss* It was perfection. I do, however, also wonder what the Iron Born will do without their piratey ways. Their island doesn't really support much farming or have much besides some mines (Hence, "Iron Islands") which is why they went a-reaving in the first place. Also, they all seem to really LIKE being pirates. Will Dany give them an alternative?

    Then, onto the namesake of the episode, the Battle of the Bastards. Oh man. I just…I can't even. Where to begin? I guess, one of the biggest moments for me, pre-battle, was Davos finding Shireen's burned wooden stag. That just…it hit me right in the feels. And on Father's day! I have been waiting for the Red Woman to get her comeuppance for all the shit she has pulled, and judging from the previews, SHIT WILL GO DOWN NEXT WEEK. Please, old gods and new, please let her face her own misdeeds and pay for them!

    Then the battle itself. Just…epic. I watched the behind the scenes for how they choreographed and filmed those bits, and it was amazing (80 horses on set!) . It was bloody and dirty, fast paced and raw, brutal and realistic. I loved it. The scene where Jon falls under the fleeing men tho….oh man, that gave me some claustrophobic, buried alive type anxiety. But then he pops up and hey! Something Sansa did DIDN'T completely backfire and cause a bunch of deaths. It did the opposite! Huzzah! Oh, I love the woman she is growing into Just….stay away from Little Finger, Sansa. He is gross and manipulative and bad.

    Speaks of gross, manipulative and bad x10; Ramsey! Such a fitting end for such a horrible excuse for a human. I kind of wish they had Ghost in there as well (Side bar, where WAS Ghost during this battle? It was a battle of Starks, I feel like they should have had the sigil of their house there fight as well. No? Just me? Although, with the wolfies dropping left and right, maybe this was for the best.). A wolf leading the hounds, all symbolic and what not. But the wolf to do that would have been Lady, and she has long since shuffled off to this mortal coil. Regardless, that was Sansa's moment and Sophie Turner NAILED it.

    This episode 10/10, perfection.

    • Lyanna Mormont

      The Iron Islands seem well set up to be traders, given their focus on ships. Perhaps go exploring that whole “what’s west of Westeros” thing Arya was talking about last episode?

    • I’m chiming in on the “I guess they’ll be traders?” I mean, the English were just legal pirates for eons… ;)

      I DIDN’T PICK UP THAT JON WAS HOLDING A MORMONT SHIELD. Oh, that’s so awesome. So, so awesome.

      I loved this episode to a Hardhome degree, no lie.

  • A couple of random thoughts:

    I want to, but I cannot fault Jon for not heeding the Queen in the North’s (that has a nice ring to it) advice of not falling into Ramsay’s trap(s), because for as hardened a battle tactician as he is, Jon is a Stark. That’s his acorn-crushing little brother running across that field. ALL the plans go out the window at that point. It’s why they always say surgeons shouldn’t operate on relatives and why family should not serve in the same military unit. Your judgement cannot be impartial. If Jon were not a Stark, if he were just some generic Northern Lord, he’d have sent a rider on the fastest horse to collect Rickon (who I TOTALLY AGREE with you should’ve gotten a hundred yards between him and Ramsay and then immediately started juking and weaving). If I had been Jon, I would’ve done the same thing. His emotionalism and Sansa’s pragmatism are two sides to the Stark coin. I hope they can get past the whole “not telling about the Cavalry coming and as a result getting thousands of Northerners and wildlings dead” point in their relationship.

    Can we talk about the lack of Ghost? I mean at first I was upset, then I was thankful because I was SUPER worried he’d die, and now I’m upset because he should’ve been at Sansa’s side protecting her (fulfilling Jon’s unfulfilable promise).

    Can we also talk about the fact that Jon should’ve died at least 5 times in that battle (initial arrow volley, subsequent arrow volley, random melee, drowning in deadmen, Ramsay’s final arrows)? Almost like FCM knew she wouldn’t have to resurrect Jon because the Lord of Light is now protecting him? IDK, I know we talk about plot armor, but this seemed like something else entirely.

    Finally, Gjördkr & Brienne are destined for each other. I just went back and checked her fight with The Hound from the end of S4. She’s a biter too! They are made for each other.

    Great recap and CANNOT wait for next week!

    • Lisa

      At least Rickon died knowing that his brother tried.

      • moata

        He also died never having any lines this season. Tragic.

        • Lyanna Mormont

          I’m guessing his voice broke sometime in the past three years, and they wanted him thought of as a child, not a teenager…


    • Lyanna Mormont

      Knowing the cavalry was coming wouldn’t have saved many Northeners of wildlings, given Ramsay’s tactics. He’d still have brought out Rickon, Jon would still have galloped out there, the others would still have followed Jon… Maybe they wouldn’t have tried to rush the shield wall, but eh, panic is powerful.

      • Possibly. Regardless of the size of Jon’s force, Ramsay probably would’ve done the same thing with Rickon.

        I’m wary of the tension between Jon and Sansa over this point or non-communication. I hope it is just her (totally valid) fear that no one can fully be trusted and that (as she said) no one can protect her.

    • Thank you!

      And oh man, SERPENTINE, PEOPLE. DODGE. WEAVE. It’s like no one grew up watching American Gladiator… ;)

      Oooh, I like what you’re saying about Jon and the LoL because how he walked away from that battle is beyond all ken. (I’m really glad Ghost wasn’t there, because I can’t take another direwolf death!)


      • Deep Cut there on American Gladiators. Niiiice.

        • Dude. I grew up training to BE ON THE SHOW. Nitro FTW! ;)

  • Yali

    First of all, can I just say that I’m delighted that you’ve not been put off writing your reviews for GoT. They’re a real highlight after every episode.

    As for ‘Battle of the Bastards’? Simply brilliant. After last week’s episode (which I admit, I was bitterly disappointed with), this episode was GoT back to its best.

    Notice how tall Tyrion looked in this episode? A pat on the shoulder to the kneeling, grovelling master; lording it over Theon from throne level. “A very small man can cast a very large shadow”, indeed!

    I actually quite like how they handled the Bær Fuçkër during the strategy meeting. I didn’t take it as him being portrayed as a ‘simpleton’, rather just inexperienced at huge-scale battles. Bæring in mind that Mance was the first person in centuries to unite the Wildling clans, I get the impression that Tormund’s idea of a battle is rounding up a few mates to go crack a few skulls from the next village over. A pincer move? Never heard of it.

    As much as I love how much Sansa continues to grow, I just can’t help think she’s still playing right into Littlefinger’s hands. The Bolton and Stark armies have battered themselves into nothingness, and now his is the largest army in the North. I actually found the way the Stark banner was raised quite sombre. No triumphant music, no horns blaring or cheering. Just the symbolic gesture that they’d won, but at a great cost.

    In saying that though, Jon Snow punching the shit out of Ramsay was incredibly satisfying. I would have settled for them dedicating the last ten minutes of the episode towards that. Still, Sansa and Ramsay’s hounds finishing him off added a nice, frightening, ironic twist to wrap up the storyline.

    All in all, very strong episode. And like you said, beautifully shot too.

    • chortles81

      I imagine that you remembered the scene where Jon pointed out to Ygritte that the wildlings/free folk lacking experience with larger-scale fighting and the necessary training/discipline was why they couldn’t take the north?

    • Lyanna Mormont

      I agree that Tormund wasn’t portrayed as a simpleton. He’s just not caught up on the military lingo that Jon was raised with. For all we know, he may not even know what a pincer is!

    • Aww, thanks for that.

      I’ve been thinking about what you’ve said about Tyrion since you posted (I was naughty and checked comments while working) and man, if that’s not spot on. Great in stature and wisdom, is our Tyrion.

      I’m still holding out for Sansa blowing everyone away. SHe’s had a LOT of time with her thoughts and she’s always been an observer. At first it was for manners of the court, how to behave, and then it became watch and survive. I think she’ll surprise a lot of folks, still.

  • Zack

    I fucking love this season!

    Okay, I didn’t love last week, or the first episode, but no season has been perfect. I think so far that this one has come closest to perfection, though.

    As for the Bad Thing…the first season I knew about your recaps I refrained from commenting altogether for fear of what I may let slip. Anymore, I think it’s best if us Readers just focus commentary on aspects that we know for sure have already happened on the show. One thing I despise is people ‘speculating’ about the future when it’s clearly a poorly disguised book spoiler. Don’t be a shit, yeah? Okay, moving on.

    I was a bit putt off by the suddenness of the Greyjoys appearing in the throne room, but that’s a minor quibble. And I am shipping Dany and Yara so badly.

    That battle was movie-epic quality in execution. Bad ass tracking shot especially. R.I.P. Wun-Wun! *cry* and I was about ready to rage when it seemed Tormund was gonna go down. That would have been too much!

    things I was wrong about: 1. Arya being stabbed actually being the waif
    2. The Umbers not being total disloyal turds, and the Rickon/Shaggydog trade thing being in service for some greater ruse. At least the Mormonts are a True Northern House <3

    lol, but agreed about Rickon. was just mentally shouting 'SERPENTINE!' at his dumb self. :/

    • Original-S

      Right? I kept actually yelling at the screen “Weave! Don’t run in a straight line! Duck and roll! Do SOMETHING!” But at the very least, his death was over quickly. Considering how Ramsey has treated his other prisoners, that was practically a merciful death.

    • chortles81

      Funny thought: Is it just me, or did the namedropping of the Manderlys in “Home” amount to nothing (Ramsay’s declaration that over half of the fighting power of the north were sworn to Houses Karstark, Manderly, and Umber) considering that they played no named role in the battle?

      • Lyanna Mormont

        And they were namedropped by Jon and Sansa, too, who sent messages asking for them to side with the Starks.

        Well, there’s one episode left in the season – maybe some of it will be spent mopping up loose ends in the North. (Yay for mixed metaphors!)

    • Aww, thank you for the site support. I appreciate you guys!! And I love having book readers over, especially when y’all just have fun within the rules. THANK YOU.

      I’m beyond shipping Dany/Yara and am launching a damn armada.

      All hail House Mormont!! Ugh, that little Lady… I adore her. She’d have my head if she heard me coo, too, which just makes me love her all the more. Ahaha.

  • Lisa

    Ended up watching the episode with my 80 year old mother in the room. It went something like this:
    ME: Sansa, where are you? You’ve got to come in the the kinghts and KILL him
    MOM: why on eart are you rooting for someone to die?
    ME: Because he needs to die. He needs to die right now. He needs to die yesterday.
    MOM (shocked): how can you be so bloodthirsty? War is wron–
    ME: OMG you don’t even know. You don’t know what he’s done. He needs to die. He needs to die the most horrible death you can dream up. He needs to DIE.
    MOM: it’s not right–
    ME: it is right
    MOM: How can you enjoy–
    ME: he needs to die, okay. I can’t explain all the reasons. But if ever there’s w character who needs a bloody, awful, repulsive death — IT’S HIM!!

    So dogs eating his face off? Okay. I can’t watch horror generally. But Ramsey? He earned it. Chow down puppies.

  • MA

    Tormund was killing Smalljon Umber. Where Karstark wound up, who knows?

    Also I was THISCLOSE to crawling through my screen and throttling Tyrion when he tried to get all holier-than-thou with Theon. No. You just don’t. Unless you’re a smug alcoholic jackass, anyway. Arghgghhhh.

    • Lisa

      Theon needs to bro bond with Grey Worm!

      • Lyanna Mormont

        Too bad Varys left already…

    • Ugh, they all blend in together when they’re brought in for 30 second scenes, sorry.

      • MA

        No worries! I’m telling myself Lyanna Mormont took him out with her eye lasers.

  • magnusk_98

    Last thing I saw, wasn’t it two more seasons, but with only 8 episodes each? Well, we’ll know for sure, soon.

    And, yes, awesome episode. Ramsay is out (or in, as “in his hounds stomaches”). Sansa gets her revenge, the Mereen long-running sub-plot is finally resolved, motherfucking Davos finds Shireen’s pyre (and, oh, am I looking forward to that confrontation next week, my god!) and damn, what an epic battle.

    Jon falling into Ramsay’s trap was stupid, but true to his character. Still, frustrating to watch. And I think I’ll keep calling Gjördkr the Baer Fuckr, I just like it better. ;)

    My prediction for next week: Lots of green fyre. 68 minutes is a long episode, yo.

    • I CANNOT WAIT FOR DAVOS TO CONFRONT FIRE CROTCH MAGE. Oh man, oh man… I’m dreading it with a sense of unfathomable horror, but IT MUST HAPPEN.

      And hahaha, Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër is just fine with me! Hee.

      Can you believe it’s 68 minutes long?! SO MUCH CAN HAPPEN IN THAT 20 MINUTES EXTRA, oh my gosh.

  • Anthony Gitto

    Wow, it seems the trend is TL;DR comments lately!! I’ll keep mine short!

    Rhaegal and Viserion breaking out of captivity (at exactly the correct time, with no assistance?) and just falling in line with Drogon? SUURREE There had better be fallout from this!

    Why would the sons of the harpy be outside the gates? If there was an army outside waiting to get in I could understand that, but it was just them murdering random civilians…

    /me extreme eyeroll for the graduation with masters LOL

    I did enjoy Dany being amused by Yara, but Greyjoys not reaving? Cause THAT’s worked soo well in the past!

    LOL at serpentine!! I was yelling the same!

    That battle was different than most battles you see in movies and such. Not so much a focus on the heroics, but showing that it’s chaotic and gruesome and unfair and basically just stacks of bodies. Well done, and totally redeemed the first battle of the episode.


    and thank you for that pic of the Direwolf on Winterfell. Soo nice!

    • Lyanna Mormont

      YES on the unheroic battle! Major thumbs up on that.

    • Oh god, can you imagine the Night King resurrecting Wun Wun? Or other giants?! AHHHH!!!!!

      And ditto re: not focused on heroics, but the truth (read: unforgiving brutality) of war.

    • rtavi

      Actually I’m curious to see if Rhaegal and Viserion remember that Tyrion took of their shackles.

      Maybe Tyrion does get his very own dragon after all.

      • KSena

        I didn’t think about this!!! o.O Now I’m suddenly excited at the thought alone!

    • Rebekah Fletcher

      I want Mel to resurrect Wun Wun, fall in love with him, and have his half-giant, half-shadow demon babies.

      In my mind, Rhaegal and Viserion could have broken out at any time, they just didn’t feel like it until Danaerys and Drogon called them. Dragon fire can melt stone.

  • DrewHolton

    Loved the battle, it was really well done. For those military historians, looks like they were trying to reproduce the Battle of Cannae.

    But I really wanted to comment on the events in Mereen, specifically the terms Dany set for Yara re giving up their reaving. It’s all well and good that she agreed to the terms, but can she deliver? Just ask Dany how much luck she’s had changing the slave culture of Slaver Bay. Trying to change the way of an entire culture by fiat isn’t as easy as it looks.

    • Anthony Gitto

      I noticed this as well, but the encirclement was reversed from the usage at Cannae, cutting the Wildlings off from retreat as opposed to leaving a clear line of retreat (as Sun Tzu recommended,) forcing them to run towards the remaining archers (who of course disappeared back to the castle after the Cavalry arrived from the Vale.)

      Speaking of the historical General Hannibal, have you been watching the Barbarians Rising on History? They had basically a whole episode dedicated to him and it was pretty good!

      • chortles81

        I dunno, I thought that the wall of corpses was itself meant to be line of retreat by being the only ‘opening’ from the Bolton shield wall?

        • Anthony Gitto

          You are correct, but that opening faced Winterfell. So the “retreat path” was towards the enemy… hence the wall of bodies.

          • chortles81

            Still clear enough to drive the Stark army in that direction, and it’s not like Ramsay minded hitting his own side’s men, much less any added casualties from the Stark army fighting their way through the wall of bodies instead of just bolting like the Masters’ men did in the Meereen scene…

            • Anthony Gitto

              I dunno what you are trying to sayargue here.. I was pointing out that the usage of the encirclement technique in the show was reversed from the recommended usage by Sun Tzu and the usage during the battle of Cannae.

              The concept is that if you leave the enemy an easy route to retreat, they will then be constantly thinking of retreat, undermining any tactic they may be working on. Not to mention that a cornered enemy is a dangerous one, a retreating enemy less so.

              The ‘tactic’ of shooting arrows into fully engaged and mixed forces was not in dispute.

      • DrewHolton

        Honestly I didn’t think the history channel even did history anymore. Just shows about rednecks in the Louisiana swamp or something. I’ll check it out.

        • SWAMP RAT RUSTLING: Heritage Hour! Yeah, same on both counts.

        • Anthony Gitto

          You will recognize some former GOT actorsactresses. So far I’ve seen Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie,) Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney,) Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) and the original actor who played the Night’s King (Richard Brake) has been shown that he is in an upcoming episode.

    • chortles81

      Word of director (who researched Alexander the Great) is that the battle was initially based on Agincourt but that it became more Cannae due to needs/budgets, and even then the budgetary constraints resulted in concessions like depicting the double envelopment via the Bolton shield wall.

    • Agreed. I mean, yes, they have ships so they could be traders, but they’re takers. They’re PIRATES. ALthough, I said up-comments that the English (East India Company) were basically legal pirates, and that seemed to work out pretty well for them, hahaha.

      But Yara is going to get massive shit for it, and it’s going to be because she’s a woman, and the Iron Islands don’t want a woman leader. GAH, I want to be wrong.

      • DrewHolton

        Trade would be the obvious move but since they made their living by preying on traders and hence despise them I imagine it will not be easy to convince them.

        • Cyrano Thebirdsareback

          Davos can teach them about smuggling!
          Also, there is also a whole world to reap and reive outside of the 7K, right?

      • Cyrano Thebirdsareback

        Speaking of shit…
        Nice that Ramsay ended his run in the show as he began it — as a piece of dog shit!

  • Byron Abrahams

    I hate that you got douched by the spoiler, and I hope it never happens again, but seriously… you might just be even funnier when you’re upset. I know! OMG, right? That’s so wrong.
    The comment about Gryffindors… did you note Jon saying to Sansa, “What do you think I’ve been doing my whole life? Making broomsticks?”

    I’m with you on “my favourite overall season”. The director says the next ep will be just as epic, but for different reasons. More Yara/Dany and I’m on board.
    Thank you, as always, for posting. You continue to light up my life.

    • Hahaha, thanks? ;)

      I lol’d at that broomsticks line, too, but hadn’t cottoned on to it until my second watch.

      THANK YOU, BYRON. <3

  • Byron Abrahams

    Just one thing… we didn’t get a twist, which everyone was crying for the whole week. The internet seemed to be like, “If the Knights of the Vale just show up and save the day, it’ll be so obvious.” Yes, it was obvious. But this was the most realistic portrayal of war I’ve ever seen on TV, and in wars, you don’t get imaginative twists. It’s raw, and brutal, and sometimes the strategy of asking for help – which Sansa did – is the only real “twist” you can expect.
    That said, I felt we did get our twist. My friends and I have been discussing – in outrageous detail – just how we wanted Sansa to kill Ramsay,. We were unanimous that it should be Sansa. And we got that. And when it happened, there were two little moments…
    1: When she started to turn away, then turned back to watch the dogs feast, and…
    2: That twisted smile as she walked away.
    It was badass, but I felt a knife twist in my guts. Suddenly, Sansa wasn’t MY Sansa anymore. She was something darker, and even though it’s what I’ve been praying for, I’m wondering… do we regret getting the things we want?

    • Lyanna Mormont

      This is my fear, too, for Sansa. I really hope she can hold on to her own self, and not turn into someone harder and colder and too brittle.

      And yeah, the Vale showing up may have been obvious to us, but it wasn’t to the people on that battlefield.

      • Byron Abrahams

        Absolutely. I think the best thing the show did was put us right in Jon’s point of view. We felt like we were in that battle, so the Knight’s showing up was a relief. Jon didn’t stand there, going: Oh, saw that coming.

      • Cyrano Thebirdsareback

        If Sansa had told Jon about the remote possibility of LF and the Knights of the Vale showing up, Jon would have included it in his battle plans and screwed it all up even more than he did with his One Man Charge of the Light Brigade.

        • Lyanna Mormont

          Flashed all their sabres bare
          Flashed as they turned in air
          Sabring the archers there
          Charging an army while
          All the world wondered

          Archers to the right of them
          Archers to the left of them
          Archers in front of them
          Volleyed and thundered

          Stormed at with sword and shield
          While horse and hero fell
          They that had fought so well
          Came through the jaws of death
          Back from the mouth of hell
          All that was left of them
          Left of six hundred

          Yeah. It fits.

          • Cyrano Thebirdsareback


            I haven’t read that in a while. Thank you.

  • chortles81

    Nitpick, as MA said it ain’t Lord Bad Touch Karstark but rather Umber that got got by Gjördkr the Pêrv Nømm; I vaguely recall Karstark being by Ramsay’s side at the opening of the battle but he’s not accounted for by episode’s end. MAYBE the season finale will namedrop him?

    P.S. I really, REALLY appreciate that if you squinted hard enough at Bear Island to make out the Mormont sigil, it was a Mormont shield that Jon used to close in on Ramsay. :)

  • moata

    I had an elevated heart rate for 65 minutes last night and I’m going to assume that counts as my week’s worth of exercise.

    What an amazing episode. Sometimes in big battle scenes in TV and movies, I start to drift off in the middle because after the first 5 or 6 bloody deaths you’re kind of desensitised to it, but this was so well paced, and I think so much was at stake, both for the individual characters (Sansa would have offed herself etc.) and the bigger picture, that I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Brillant stuff.

    I admit to yelling “YOU ARE A DUMBASS!” at my TV as Jon rushed headlong into Ramsay’s trap. He is definitely not a dispassionate general, but then we had one of those in the form of Stannis and that didn’t go so well either, so what is needed is honour and passion tempered by a cool head – well, hello there Ser Davos… He definitely needs to be the General in future battles, and there surely will be some.

    I can’t help wondering how the heavy casualties leave the Starks positioned now. They’ve got a clutch of Wildlings, and a handful of former Bolton soldiers, and the Knights of the Vale under the control of Littlefinger. Oh, and their liege lord is a woman (who we all know has grown into a masterful badass but who everyone else in the North only knows as the pretty daughter of Ned Stark). Can’t see Littlefinger leaving that power vacuum alone, can you?

    I had long suspected that Ramsay’s death just wouldn’t be the satisfying experience I hoped for BUT IT WAS. IT SO WAS. Filled with poetic justice (Never forget Walda *raises fist*), especially given Ramsay’s flinging around of a direwolf head earlier in the episode. He really did get what was coming to him.

    On a lighter note, please, please, please can the following conversation happen at some point in the future –
    Brienne: Once, in the heat of battle, I bit a man’s ear off.
    Tormund: Me toooo!*
    *heart eyes, the chorus of “dreamweaver” swells*

    Also, I will stand up and effing applaud when next week’s opening credits show the Direwolf sigil on Winterfell again. *happy dance*

    *You say neck, I say ear. Let’s agree it was somewhere in that general vicinity.

    • I agree that Davos would make an EXCELLENT general. He’d be the “soldier’s general” to be sure. The type men would willingly go to battle for, because they’d trust him completely. Jon going against the plan right off the bat won’t instill that same fervor, I’m afraid.


      And I just like the neck biting because there are all of those important, juicy arteries and veins that spurt like we saw. You don’t kill a man from biting off their ear. BUT IRRELEVANT. BITING IS THE IMPORTANT PART. Hahaha

      • moata

        I admit that you’re probably right about it being the neck, and also that it’s the biting that’s the important part.

  • Andy Street

    I won’t apologies to Sansa until she satisfactorily explains why she STILL didn’t tell Jon about the Vale knights before the battle. That meeting where she was bawling Jon out for going into battle without enough men might have been a good time. There is literally no reason not to at that point other than getting to ride in like Boudicca at the end. She’s 100%. to blame for getting a huge number of Jon’s troops killed unnecessarily.

    They could still have had the battle play out in a similar way. Just have a scene where they debate that if Ramsay thinks he’s outmatched he’ll just retreat into Winterfell and they’ll have to spend months seiging him out. Therefore the Vale knights will have to hide whilst they lure him out into a trap. You know, strategising…

    I guess that completes the set of ALL the surviving Starks making stupid decisions this season, along with Arya waltzing around in broad daylight and Brann’s little unauthorised warging trip. The stupid gene is definitely shining through.

    Apart from that, though, the battle was stunning and brutal. The show really has a knack of making you want something, only for it to be actually not all that cathartic and actually quite unsettling once it actually happens. Like the battle itself or Ramsay getting fed to his own dogs.

    I hope Dany is giving the same ‘no raping and pillaging’ speech to that massive horde of Dothraki she’s shipping over to Westeros. Like the Ironborn, it’s pretty much their whole culture. Can’t see it having a happy ending.

    • You know what, nobody talked to Sansa about what she knew. Nobody asked her if she had any insight into Ramsay, the Karstarks, anything. She wasn’t included. So I get why she kept it to herself. Is that the overall 20/20 hindsight smart thing? Not necessarily. But JON is responsible for not sticking to their plan.

      Um, maybe we’ll just agree to disagree on this point, because I don’t like where this is headed. [squints]

      But I get it, your passion. Then again, there are a bunch of y’all who don’t like Sansa, which is fair and your right, so I’ll just keep waving my Team Sansa flag in my house. :D

      “The show really has a knack of making you want something, only for it to be actually not all that cathartic and actually quite unsettling once it actually happens.” BOY ISN’T THAT THE TRUTH.

      • rtavi

        Plus, did Sansa know that Littlefinger would actually come? We have seen her send
        off that note, but we haven’t even seen Littlefinger get in, much less
        send a note that he would come to their aid. And Sansa doesn’t really
        have reason to trust him. So yeah, her not telling Jon is not all that bad, particularly when he doesn’t even include her in the planning.

        Btw, I found it “interesting” that he did go to Fire Crotch Mage and asked her, why she wasn’t at the war councel. Not on, Jon. Not on.


        • Lisa

          Yeah. Next week I want to know what Sansa knew when. We never saw her get a response to her request to the Vale. Did she know they were coming or did she think it was possible or did she think he might not be coming at all.

          It wasn’t great to withhold info regardless, but we don’t really know exactly what she was withholding.

  • Lyanna Mormont

    And that was our episode nine – brutal and with lots of death, including one Stark. Also: dragons, callback to Shireen’s death, and talk of wildfire under King’s Landing.

    That may be one of the most gruesome battle scenes I’ve seen, mainly because of the realistic bent to it – numbers beating bravery, “friendly fire,” trampled, heroes don’t beat all odds just because they’re the heroes, and so on. The sound work was excellent, as well.

    I haven’t been one of those who wondered why Sansa didn’t tell Jon about Creepyfinger. It seemed pretty clear to me – she’s terrified, all the time, and will desperately grasp at anything that might protect her. For all he was manipulating her at their meeting in Mole’s Town, LF also spoke the truth – the primary goal of the wildlings wasn’t to keep Sansa safe, it was to fight for Jon’s cause and to give themselves the best chance of survival. LF, on the other hand, is far more invested in Sansa. And she needed that, needed the feeling of protection, because she could barely breathe for fear of Ramsey, of being recaptured and returned to him. You could hear it in her voice every time she spoke of still feeling Ramsey’s touch, of not going back to him alive.

    (Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.)

    And the reminder of Shireen had me tearing up again, a year later. Oh, man, that little carved stag next to the pyre… And Davos. He won’t let this go by, not his little princess. Not Shireen.

    This show is brutal when it comes to killing children. Poor Rickon. When Ramsey told him to run, I thought he was going to send the dogs after him, but I guess they were being held in reserve. (Also, Jon’s army could’ve succeeded in shooting the dogs before they reached Rickon – you can’t shoot an arrow out of the air.) Another Stark bites the dust. Now Brandon is the only remaining legitimate son of Ned Stark, and since his fate seems to lie elsewhere – are we going to get a Queen in the North?

    Dany seemed to open up for that possibility, with her deal with Yara and “the others can ask, too” comment. A Queen of the Iron Islands, a Queen in the North, and a Queen of the Seven Kingdoms? (Except they wouldn’t be seven anymore, would they.) Poor Margaery, though, who wanted to be THE queen.

    LOVED the handshake between Dany and Yara, btw. No little delicate touch of fingertips, here – that was an arm clasp between warriors. I also loved the line about “all our fathers were terrible people,” clearly including Tyrion and his father in that. And man, the looks between Yara and Dany as they talked about the men who stole their thrones, the men who thought the very idea of a queen was outrageous. And there they are, each with a male advisor by their side who has no misgivings about who rules and who advises. Plus, Yara clearly offered to marry Dany if she’d be interested!

    Oh, Wun Wun. Are all the giants gone now? I want to believe there are some left in some out-of-the-way hollow nobody knows about, but… that way lie thoughts of zombie giants, and I’d really prefer that not to happen, okay!

    Bye, Ramsay. A fitting end for you. But I hope Sansa doesn’t lose too much of herself to the hatred and vengeance, that she holds on to the best parts of herself under that veneer of cold steel. I don’t want her turning into Cersei, or Ellaria. Stay Sansa, Sansa!

    • I’m still blown away by the audio on this episode. Instead of a “whistling” we had the actual sound of a handcrafted fletching in the wind as it raced to its victim. Brilliant.

      I basically want a Yara/Dany spin off show like Kate and Allie, but where they’re openly in a relationship and with dragons and pirates. HOW ABOUT IT, HBO?

  • JCDavis

    I think I got my stinkin’ thinkin’ brain on. I thought the “kissed fingers” was about Tribute District 9/Rue. I got it wrong, right? Either way I loved it. And I loved this episode too much. Second watching was so late that I fell asleep and woke with a startle huffing that I missed it. I will catch it when I get home tonight. Just a few observations, Meereen was perfect and I literally gushed when littles 1 & 2 burst forth. Also that we got to see Tyrion finally get some smart writing done for him this season. Danaerys and YarAsha = very good television. The whole BotB was just too much. Regardless of flawed decisions that are actually made in real life war, the emotional investment is tank topped off level. I thought the Bær Fuçkër was done for several times, but damn he is too good. Fare thee well in the next one Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, you deserved more. Join your brothers and sisters over the Rainbow Bridge. Little Rickon, you had a target on your back the whole season, sorry that Ramsay had arrows that were borrowed from the Na’vi. Jon you are every bit the animal, killing machine that I knew you had in ya and I love you for it. Last, of course I was very satisfied with the beat down Jon gave Ramsay, it is already a gif on YouTube. Sansa watching as Ramsay got what he deserved was actually chilling for me. I see fear, yes, but also a very cold passion that has frozen around her heart. I fear for Sansa, no good will come from being dis-compassionate in the big picture. I fear for her.

    Loved your fine review and I didn’t see the “spoil” you got, but I know the feeling, I was spoiled on S5E10 Caesaring of Jon Snow and I was some kind of bloody pissed. I think I dropped the F bomb about ten times in one small paragraph and two days later was still fuming. Sorry it happened to you. Now, come on over for some needed hugs and re-fill on that glass. I made double chocolate chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts and they are hot and gooey. {{hugs}}

    • [kisses fingers] – bring your fingers together, kiss them, flick your fingers open. Like, that’s a spicy meatball! :D

      And you want to hear something awful? I was spoiled for Oberyn. But I couldn’t believe it. It was waaaaaaay before the episode, and that person said the spoiler That Won’t Be Named, too. THIS WAS AT A DINNER PARTY. Then they did the, “Just kidding” and said a bunch of obviously fake stuff to try and backtrack.

      But the damage was done. That’s why I was so devastated in 4.09, because I knew that person had legitimately told me truths I didn’t want to know about yet. BAH.

      Tyrion reminding everyone of his brains and command of a room was FANTASTIC. So, so good. (OMG, lol at Rainbow Bridge…)

      LADY I AM ON MY WAY, YOU GOT COOKIES?!?!? Hell yes! :D <3

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  • Jieves

    Scattered thoughts.

    I am reminded of your description of Bran a few episodes ago, “Local Man Ruins Everything.” Except this time it’s Jon doing the ruining. If this season (and maybe the whole series) has taught us anything, it is that the Stark men are idiots. Noble, brave idiots to be sure, but idiots. And the Stark women are (eventually) cunning and skilled. (I’d say Tully women, but that would include Larissa … and maybe the Stark men’s true gift is knowing how to marry smarter than them.)

    The Starks should not have won this battle, but then they shouldn’t have had everything terrible that has happened to them happen, so it evens out. After showing us the Good Guys beaten again and again, the show eventually had to give us some good news eventually. Or maybe the lesson is that if you are going to fight the Boltons, keep the little girl with you alive.

    How many Wildling and Bear Island men remain, I wonder? For that matter, how many men of fighting age remain in the North period after the War of Five Kings and this battle? I feel bad about Wun Wun, but it’s very unlikely that the giants were long for this world anyway since we’ve only seen two of them. Maybe their women are hanging out with the Ent Wives?

    I’m very much looking forward to see how Sansa and Jon piece things back together in the North (maybe next episode?). Arya needs to get back home ASAP and help Sansa sort things out.

    Speaking of Bran ruining things, if he passes through the Wall again with the Night King’s mark on his arm, does that mean the Wall is vulnerable to White Walkers? We’ve seen wights inside the wall but not Walkers. He might want to consider taking a boat *around* the wall.

    And will Sam get news of Jon’s death before he gets news that he’s alive and (thanks to sis) victorious? And will Sam have any time to train at the Citadel before things get intense with the Walkers?

    Everything that everyone said about this battle is correct. Even if it might be pointless plotwise per the AV Club* (and I’m not convinced of that argument) , it was still one of the most fantastic things ever committed to video. If they plan to top it, next year’s penultimate episode pretty much has to be Dragons fighting White Walkers for an hour.

    Going a bit further South …

    More talk of wyldfire, this time from Tyrion. I’m actually not looking forward to that, if that’s foreshadowing. It might mean King’s Landing gets a bit more boring (or ceases to exist) depending on how much is consumed.

    I could have used a longer conversation between Tyrion and Theon. I think perhaps Tyrion’s view of Theon’s suffering might have altered a bit if that had continued. It is interesting to think of what might happen with other characters who haven’t been together in several seasons meet up. I’m looking forward to Tyrion meeting up with just about anyone, but especially the Starks — he designed that saddle for Bran, would be very interested in what Jon learned at the Wall, and Sansa has certainly had a chance to appreciate him a bit. Ooh — what if Tyrion and Sam got to meet up? That would be a great conversation.

    Perhaps the Ironborn could go into trading? Or eco tourism? Or invent sushi?

    More later I’m sure. With so many irons in the fire I am looking forward to the next episode. But also not because then it’ll be a year before we have this much fun again.

    * Don’t go there, it’s in the Experts review. And no, none of what I wrote above contains book spoilers or hints at them.

    • “The Starks should not have won this battle, but then they shouldn’t have had everything terrible that has happened to them happen, so it evens out.” On one hand, I agree with the general thesis here, but on the other, they won because Sansa was smart enough to cull together another sizable force (and because Ramsay had no problems shooting arrows into his own men).

      I, too, would have loved even more conversation with Theon and Tyrion, but then, from a storytelling perspective, it would have been really laborious to listen to everything done to him. Word will spread and it will happen off screen, and they’ll have a more interesting relationship when we see them next (I hope!).

      I think Bran knows he’s stuck North of the Wall now, honestly, and Sam would need to learn how to drink more wine to be the PERFECT companion for Tyrion. :D

      • Olive

        I’m hoping Theon at least has the decency to tell Tyrion that Sansa’s okay. (And also, y’know, that leaving him behind to be blamed for Joffrey’s murder was NOT something she planned or wanted.)

  • JCDavis

    Further comment: Thank you kindly, Laura for featuring my post. It’s the little things in life, ya know? Also over at WotW there is quite a bit of discussion of who is more to blame for the death toll at the BotB, Jon or Sansa. Here is my reply originally posted there this morning:

    I believe that there is sometimes too much of an autopsy run on why people do what they do, when many times – decisions are made purely out of emotion or even logic at the time. This is true in real life as well. If you think about it, many decisions can come to you and you have to make it now….such as being proposed to on the Jumbotron. How much pressure is that? Maybe had you had time to think about it, you wouldn’t want to marry that person or not like that. Of course that doesn’t kill armies, but it many times kills the person inside.

    Jon made a decision in a white anger moment. Sansa made a decision based on what she felt she had to do. No shame or blame on either side. The objective was not to see how many men were still standing at the end of the engagement, the objective was to take back Winterfell. Guess what? Mission accomplished.

    Would it have been “nice” to have more of an army left at the end of the day? Sure. But it is WAR…not nice head games. In war, for example, what happened on the beaches in Normandy in 1944 – Do you think the Americans thought…ooooh could be bad idea, we will lose many troops. They did what they had to do, objective – take the beach. Mission accomplished at a huge sacrifice.

    To me, the Own is focus on what was done that got them to the goal of taking back Winterfell. Job done, maybe not “well done”, but certainly done. (also Ramsay lost a ton of men too at the end of the day, war is hell – so General Sherman said.)