FULL SPOILER REVIEW AHEAD
Episode 9, Battle of the Bastards was spoiled for me so quickly and so intensely that I wasn’t sure how much of it I was going to be able to truly enjoy the way it was meant to. I remember back in the day, when season 1 first premiere, and season 2 followed, and book readers were begged and threatened not to spoil anything for those who hadn’t read the books or weren’t interested to. I, as a book reader, was always hyper aware of this, and would always be extremely careful to make sure if someone had read the books or not before, so that I could watch what I said. But now that the show has surpassed the books, show watchers have demonstrated none of that decency. The episodes are spoiled WHILE airing both on social media and on news outlets, ruining it for anyone who: happens to work that night, has kids, isn’t American, can get around to watch it that night or week for whatever reason, or for anyone who hasn’t gotten around to watch the show yet, and this makes me furious. Anyway, let’s get to it.
We begin in Meereen as the Masters continue to attack the city, but Danaerys is finally back. The episode opens with a beautiful shot of a besieged Meereen as Danaerys looks down and over with her absolutely perfect in every way hair blowing in the wind. Tyrion is there attempting to make excuses for having made a deal with the masters to keep slavery around, and ruining it for everyone. As Danaerys explains that her plan will be to kill all the Masters and destroy their ships and cities, Tyrion does make a good point by reminding Danaerys of her heritage: her father, the mad king, and how he wanted to “burn them all”, the city, children and women, innocent and not so innocent included. As she retorts that the present situation is entirely different, Tyrion replies that it isn’t entirely different at all, and for once this season, I agree with Tyrion. Dany seems to listen to Tyrion and they all meet up with the Masters. They proceed to explain how Dany will surrender, by given them the city, the slaves, the Unsullied and letting them kill her dragon, which made both Dany and I smile. It’s almost like people forget that Danaerys has dragons and that she’s been using them, their ego is absolutely ridiculous. Danaerys explain to them that she isn’t here to discuss her surrendering, but theirs, and SOMEHOW Drogon shows up right on time to do a boss ass bitch landing right next to his mother, reminding the masters who they are dealing with.
As they shit in their pants, the next scenes mainly focus on Danaerys riding Drogon and attacking one ship out of the whole fleet. Rhaegal and Viserion are released or break through (confused) from under the pyramid and I sat there for a second wondering two things: How? How did Rhaegal and Viserion get out? Were they released? Did they escape themselves? How? Second, how does Dany control Drogon, and her two other dragons as well, how does she command it, how does it know which way to go, when to stop etc? How does the show establish Danaerys’ connection to her dragon? Is it Targaryen blood? Is it magic? It is her? All three?
Meanwhile Grey Worm is being the boss ass bitch, fine man that he is and as Missandei explains to the Masters that one of them will have to die, he kills the two that betrayed the begging one, before Tyrion explains that tales of Danaery’s wrath and mercy should be spread around. I thought it was cool.
In Westeros, in the north, Jon & Sansa are meeting with Ramsay, who tells everyone to kneel down, proclaim him warden of the north and he’ll spare them because he’s merciful and shit. I giggled. Sansa asks for proof that Ramsay has Rickon and there goes Shaggywolf’s head thrown at us, again. My feels, man. Everywhere where I was spoiled the episode I saw complains of Sansa’s supposed indifference at the whole Rickon affair, but here I saw staring at Sansa’s face and the look in her eyes as Shaggywolf’s head laid on the ground and nothing could have been missed. The sadness but clarity of it all was obvious on her face, right there, the moment she knew that her brother was gone no matter what they did. Sansa lets Ramsay know that his death will come tomorrow, and fucks off, and I liked it.
Back the camp, Jon, Davos and Tormund discuss battle strategy as Sansa stand by them. When they are done Sansa decides that now is the good time to criticize Jon for not asking her opinion, even though she was standing there when they were discussing strategy and Jon most likely would have listened to her. There are a lot of things that Sansa does in that episode that I thought were quite frankly completely silly and illogical. As Sansa says it herself, she isn’t a soldier, she doesn’t know how battle strategy works, yet she blames Jon for the silence she imposed on herself. Perhaps Sansa trusts Davos and Tormund so little that she believes she cannot speak in their presence, or doesn’t want, a lot of seems, reasons could be thought out, but in the current situations of everyone’s lives being in danger, including her brothers’s, and her home possibly being retaken, it felt completely silly of Sansa to stand there in silence and then blame Jon for a silence he did not impose on her. Jon is understanding, and asks Sansa her opinion. Some of the points that she made may seem obvious, but they aren’t and this is demonstrated the next day. Sansa warns Jon that Ramsay will fuck with his mind, that he will play with him and make him to things he shouldn’t be doing by triggering some emotions. Jon doesn’t take her words very seriously, especially when she tells him that Rickon will be killed no matter what since he is the only valid Stark out there and both end the conversation frustrated, as Sansa makes it clear that if the battle is lost, she would die rather than return to Ramsay. When Jon promises to protect her, Sansa says one of her best, and one of the truest lines of the series: “No one can protect me. No one can protect anyone.”
In the camp, Davos and Tormund are chatting away about Stannis’s inner demons which freaks Tormund out a little bit because he doesn’t get metaphors and figure of speech. Tormund goes to get shitface while Davos decides that he rather walks & think than rest before a massive battle. Ok.
Jon goes to visit Melisandre to let her know that if he dies at the battle, not to bring him back because it’s kind of fucked up and he’s not down with experiencing that a second time. Melisandre basically replies “no, can’t do” and some nonsense about how she only does what she interprets what the lord of light can do, and how she’s completely useless and can’t help at all in the battle in the morning. This is the woman who birthed a shadow baby to murder Renly and who wasn’t affected by poisoned drinks, you guys. Jon thinks her god is silly, I agree.
In the meantime, as Davos walks through the snow and the scenery that surrounds the camp, he finds the place where Shireen was burned alive, and finds on the ground the wooden stag he had carved for her (why didn’t it burned? TV writing, that’s how, but ok). Although a little silly, this was a beautiful scene. As Davos begins to understand what took place there, the color red and orange start to peek through the snow as dawn breaks and as the Boltons install their burning victims to prepare for battle. This was beautiful cinematography.
We quickly move to Meereen where Daenarys and Tyrion are receiving Yara and Theon. I’m not sure what is up with everyone traveling at the speed of light, but ok. Yara explains their situations, and Theon explains his inability and lack of desire to rule, Daenarys seems more than pleased at the idea of a simple alliance with another woman and a house that does not want to rule the seven kingdoms, as well as the idea of another female ruler. Daenarys and Yara flirted and eyed fuck each other, and the interne interned lost its shit. I did too, a little bit. Yara explains that her uncle wants to give his “big fat cock” to Dany, which made Dany smirked, especially when Yara reassured her that there isn’t obligation for her to marry anyone, but that she herself is up for anything. #doublesmirk. The only silly thing in the entire scene is Daenerys’s demand for the Greyjoy to stop all pillaging and raping, even though most of Daenerys’s army is made out of Dothrakis: pillaging and raping machines.
Back in Westeros, up north the battle is ready to happen. Jon’s strategy seems to be to make sure that the Boltons charge at them first. But, Ramsay being Ramsay, Rickon is brought in and asked to play a game, to run to his brother as fast as he can while Ramsay shoots arrows in his direction. The scene, although the internet spoiled it to exhaustion, was a beautiful but tragic scene because we all knew (whether spoiled or not) that this wasn’t going to end well. The desperation in both Rickon and Jon’s face, the anger on Davos’s, and the amusement on Ramsay’s. Rickon is obviously shot and killed moments before reaching Jon, but that is when we realized that the plan wasn’t just to upset Jon, but to get him out and vulnerable, as Jon decides to charge, and Ramsay shoots his horse down, leaving Jon, on foot, in front of the Bolton army. The whole battle scene would take too long and would be too hard to explain in details, and truly, if you have seen the episode, would be a bit unnecessary for me to describe from start to end. The battle is violent, on multiple occasions, Jon is either hit by a horse, murdered or trampled, and by the end of the first half of the battle, he indeed ends up covered in both Bolton and Stark allies’s bodies, gasping for hair. As the battle seem to reach an end that that doesn’t tilt in Jon’s favor, the Boltons continue to show amazing strategy and circle whatever remains of Jon’s army.
In that moment, Game of Thrones reminded me that the show has well surpassed the books and that the writing now is 100% show writing, as very conveniently, the army of the Knights of the Vale show up, follows by Littlefinger and Sansa, who is smirking from ear to ear even though an MASSACRE just took place and her brother very most likely would have been long dead (one of them is). The Knight of the Vale break through the Boltons, disturbing their plan, and Jon, Tormund and Wun Wun use this distraction as a change to follow Ramsay who, like the cowards that he is, is returning to Winterfell because the arrival of the Knights of the Vale makes his defeat more than obvious. Wun Wun destroys their barricaded door but is killed in the process. Ramsay proposes Jon the one on one combat that has originally been proposed, which made me giggle, which I guess Jon accepts as he begins to walks towards Ramsay. Even though he is equipped with a bow, Jon makes his way to him through the protection of a Mormont shield (nice touch) and nearly punches Ramsay to death, before stopping at the sight of Sansa entering Winterfell. The Bolton banners are removed, and the Stark ones are reinstalled, which I’ll admit made me tear up a little bit. Davos is squeezing Shireen’s wooden stag and glaring at Melisandre, who seems rather pleased.
The episode ends with a scene I enjoyed purely because I want the Ramsay/Sansa plot to be burned, buried and forgotten for it was absolutely atrocious. Sansa visits a tied up Ramsay in the dogs’s cell. He tells her that she cannot kill him, that he is and will always be a part of her. Sansa words are beautiful, poignant, but we don’t know how true they are, as she tells him that: “Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of your will disappear.” As she finishes her speech, Ramsay’s dogs begin to steps out of their cages (somehow? Nice cue though) and eat him starting by his face as Sansa watches. As she walks away, she smirks, once again in a similar fashion of Jon & Arya walking away from things as well.
I know a lot of people are interpreting Ramsay’s “I’m a part of you now” ’s words as Sansa being pregnant. If this had been a suspicion during season 5, I would have believed it considering the treatment of women on the show and how they were constantly being punished in the most horrible ways. After this season, I’m not so sure this would be a direction they would take. This season was very different from how Game of Thrones has always treated its female characters, there hasn’t been a single rape or insinuated rape (either on screen or off) this season, the show very obviously chose to put its focus on the women and KEPT it there, as nearly every single storyline either entirely or largely focuses on female character (which I loved, please continue). Sansa being pregnant from one of the many times she was raped by Ramsay would be yet another torture and horrible thing happening to Sansa and so far, nothing has really hinted at this, so I choose to believe that Ramsay’s lines refers to their time together and the rape, abuse and physiological torture he put her through. Especially since Ramsay WILL indeed always be a part of Sansa and her story one way or another.
9/10 – All and all, this was a great episode but not for the reasons you might think. The cinematography, Davos’s discovery of Shireen’s Pyre, the battle, were my two favorite things from the episode. It was great and although we had been given an amazing opening scene (not one dragon, not two, BUT THREE) the battle, and Jon’s fighting, is what grasped and kept my attention.