Game of Thrones SE6EP9 Battle of the Bastards (Retrospective)

*Will spoil Season 6 Episode 9*

Oh Game of Thrones. Once more you have us baying for blood and once more you did not in the least bit disappoint. Not only was Episode 9 one of the best episodes from this season, it was one of the best episodes of all time, due in no small part to the payoffs within it and to the good guys winning for a change.

Knowing, from the very literal title, what the centrepiece of this episode was going to be, I was pleasantly surprised that the first quarter was dedicated to Dany’s (Emilia Clarke) Meereen storyline. The politics and circumstances of her governance there and the relationships with the cities and slavers around her made for a fictional roadblock that would not have been easy to wrap up in a season. But then we are forgetting that Dany has dragons aren’t we? Do you know what ends all arguments? Dragons. Tied down by an armada you don’t have the men to fight? Dragons. Stuck in a political vacuum with enemies around every corner? Dragons. Dragons are the answer to everything and once commanded by Dany, showing that she has begun to master the dragons by asserting her dominance as any true Targaryen should, they cut through the invading slavers and cemented Daenerys’ rule in less time than it would take to prepare toast the conventional way.

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) noted that Dany’s father, the old Mad King that Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) turned into a kebab by sticking him in the back with his pointy sword, hid wildfire under the streets and was ready to burn his own people if he ever lost the city. It was a warning to Dany not to get drunk on her power, kind of hard when she has an army and three full-sized dragons that will now do as she commands. I don’t think Dany has the capacity to turn fully evil but she certainly has the capacity to be darker (see burnt down temple of the Dosh Khaleen with all the dead Khals for reference) or an anti-hero. The Meereen part of the episode ended with Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Dany forging an alliance and hitting it off. What a happily unexpected couple they would make.

Now we hit at the big battle that was the centrepiece of this episode and more than likely the season (I can’t see anything in the last episode topping the magnitude and resolution of the Battle of the Bastards). Just before it, Sansa (Sophie Turner) offered warnings to Jon (Kit Harington) on how to approach Ramsey (Iwan Rheon) without actually telling Jon anything. Her statement that Jon shouldn’t “do what he wants you to do,” was facepalmingly obvious advice that was picked up by the character of Jon Snow but still, it seemed to lack any sort of meaningfulness. I know they were trying to set up Sansa as being the one who saves the day and that she is a worthy heir to the Starks but she could have used the scene to tell Jon about the Knights of the Vale. We knew they were coming and without that bit of information being shared this scene was kind of pointless.

Davos (Liam Cunningham) found the remains of Shireen (Kerry Ingram), Stannis’ (Stephen Dillane) daughter that he and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) had burned at the stake. Whatever peace these two shared will now be shattered and I hope to see this play out next episode if that isn’t too soon. As expected Rickon (Art Parkinson) bit the big time as he fell foul of another of Ramsey’s ‘little game(s)’. This sent Jon into a blind rage as he charged at the defensive lines of the Bolton’s lone wolf style. It’s a good job his cavalry caught up with him. The battle that ensued was brutal and brilliant and you could feel the humanity from the suffering and throng of people. From the circling of Bolton spears and shields, using both with deadly efficiency, to the piles of dead and Jon being trampled by a mixture of his and the enemies’ men. That would have been a terrible way to go but it all made for great TV in some of the best action sequences I’ve seen on the small screen. Well done to the director and cinematographers.

In the end Little Finger (Aiden Gillan) arrived with the Knight’s of the Vale and this turned the tide, before that it was looking grim from Jon and the good northern lot. I wonder what Little Finger wants in gratitude for his service. Sansa probably. Marrying her would make him and any kids they have heirs to Winterfell which is a tonne better than sheep poop island where he came from. Then he’d have the whole Vale and the North in his pocket. That is until Sansa finds out all this mess was started back in Season 1 by him. Wun Wun (Ian Whyte) proved to be MVP of the battle, smashing open the gates at Winterfell (proving once more that Giants have a particular gift when it comes to the operation of doors) and dying in a spectacular way, a hero.

Ramsey’s punishment by Jon and his ultimate demise by being devoured by his own dogs as Sansa mocked and watched was one of the best most depraved feelings I’ve ever had. Shouting ‘Yes, finally!” about a guy getting his face chewed off by his own pet is the monster the show runners and George R. R. Martin have turned me into. Still, it was a fantastic role reversal for Sansa and the good guys in general with the Starks and Dany both finishing on top this episode.

I have to admit, I felt a little emotional when the flags flew from the Winterfell battlements for the first time since season 2. One last thing to chew on though. Ramsey told Sansa that he wouldn’t be easily forgotten as he was “part of her now”. Could this bit of foreshadowing show he has affected her for the worst, making her cruel as he was or could it mean something more literal, is she pregnant with a little Bolton? Tweet your thoughts and feelings about this episode @CelebrityCutout.