Season 6 Episode 9 The Battles of the Bastards (hot take incoming) may be the best episode in Game of Thrones history, lets talk about it.
We start off the episode with the defense of Mereen against the masters of Slavers Bay. Daenerys, Tyrion, and Greyworm decide to meet with the masters to discuss an end to the fighting. The masters tell Daenerys that her reign has ended. In response, Daenerys claims her reign has just begun. Drogon then swoops down next to Daenerys, petrifying the masters and their soldiers. She then climbs on Drogons back and fly’s with him over Mereen. As they are flying they see that the other two dragons (Rhaegal and Viserion) have been released and join them in their flight. As they fly they see the Dothraki forces come in and massacre members from the Sons of the Harpy. After that she fly’s over to the ships that are attacking the city and has all of the dragons set it ablaze (We have seen the dragons kill people with fire before, but not on a scale like this). We then cut back to Greyworm confronting the masters and some of their soldiers. He gives their soldiers and ultimatum, fight for masters who don’t care about you and die, or go home. They all choose the latter. Greyworm then says that Daenerys has commanded that two of them will die. Two of the masters throw the third one under the bus and claim that he doesn’t speak for them and that he is lowborn. Obviously that was a poor thing to say and do because Greyworm is also lowborn, so he kills the two men and leaves the lowborn man alive. He then commands him to return to his city and spread the word that Daenerys should be followed and respected.
We then move to a meeting between Bolton forces and Stark forces. Ramsay of course asks them all to kneel and pledge their loyalty to him so no one has to die. Jon says that only one man has to die. He challenges Ramsay to a one-on-one battle. Ramsay intelligently declines and says that he has heard Jon is one of the best swordsmen in Westeros and probably wouldn’t be able to beat him. Ramsay does however say that his army will be able to beat Jon’s. Sansa then enters the conversation and says that Ramsay will die tomorrow, and that he should get a good nights rest, because it may be his last.
It’s great to see Sansa in a position of power in a conversation with Ramsay. Instead of being his toy like she was before when she was Lady Bolton, she now has the power and guts to stick up for herself.
Jon and his counsel then talk strategy back at Castle Black. Jon and Sansa’s differences become more apparent as they fight about Ramsay. Sansa claims that Jon is underestimating him, and that she should be allowed to give more input in strategic conversations, because she knows him so well. While Jon claims that Ramsay’s overconfidence will be his undoing. Sansa also says that Ramsay knows that Rickon is a priority in this battle, and he will use that to his advantage. She then claims that Rickon doesn’t have much longer to live at this point. Jon as expected becomes angry and says that they should do all they can to save Rickon, but Sansa knows that Rickon is more than likely going to die.
We have seen Sansa come into her own this season. Many viewers have said for a long time that she has been a punching bag for far too long. This season, with this scene included, shows that she is no longer that punching bag. Sansa has become strong and confident this season, this scene shows that she is also smart when it comes to reading her enemies.
We then see Melisandre (where has she been?) and Jon meet. Jon commands her not to bring him back if he dies in the battle. She says she follows the Lord of Lights commands, and if he commands for Jon to be brought back, she will do it. She claims that she didn’t bring him back originally, it was the Lord of Light. She was just used as a medium.
This scene makes me believe more and more that Jon’s importance stretches outside of the North and that he could potentially be Azzor Ahai. Of course Melisandre thought Stannis was Azzhor Ahai originally, but it seems like her belief in the Lord of Light has been reborn since her resurrection of Jon. It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops.
Then in a scene that we have been expecting since the trailer for this season came out, Davos comes across the site in which Shireen was burnt alive. While he is inspecting the site he finds the wooden stag that he carved for her in the snow. If he wasn’t inspired to fight before this scene, he sure was after it.
We then get to see the meeting of two different worlds. Yara and Theon meet with Tyrion and Daenerys. Seeing this gave me the type of feeling I got when Tyrion first met Daenerys. Main characters that have never even been on the same continent interacting for the first time. Tyrion is of course not fond of Theon because he used to make jokes about him being a dwarf back in Winterfell. Yara then intervenes and lets Daenerys knows that the Iron Islands have never had a Queen before, and that she hopes to be the first. Daenerys smiles at this, seemingly connecting with Yara. Daenerys then claims that her father, as well as theirs, was a cruel man. However, she then says that together, they will leave their world better than when they entered. She makes Yara and Theon agree to outlaw raiding and raping throughout the Iron Islands if they want her help. They are hesitant, but eventually agree.
Of course this is a huge step in Daenerys quest to conquer Westeros, but I see a potential mutiny on the horizon when the Ironborn forces find out they can no longer raid villages and rape people, but only time will tell.
We then move onto the main event, the actual battle of the bastards.
With the two sides standing off, Ramsay walks Rickon out to the middle of the forces and has him run to Jon. Of course Ramsay wouldn’t be this nice, so he takes out a bow and arrow and tries to shoot Rickon as he runs. As Rickon is just about to reach Jon, he is hit in the back by one of Ramsay’s arrows and bleeds to death on the ground. This initiates the battle and the Stark forces charge. Jon is already caught in the middle so he is the first to meet the Bolton forces. It looks bad for him, but as he is about to get slaughtered, the Stark forces arrive and clash with the Bolton forces, leaving Jon in the middle of chaos.
What ensues is probably the best battle scene in Game of Thrones history. We see bodies pile up into a small mountain, men with their legs and entrails missing on the ground, and awesome sword combat. The Bolton forces eventually circle the Stark forces with their shields and spears out. The circle becomes smaller and smaller, which kills men on the outer ring. There is a big rush to get to the middle, and in that rush Jon falls and gets trampled by other soldiers also trying to get to the center. For a while it seems like Jon will suffocate in all of this, but he is able to fight his way back up and to the top of the crowd in the middle. We then hear a horn blow, neither from the Stark forces or the Bolton’s. Its the forces from the Vale, coming in as reinforcements. As the soldiers from the Vale come in, we see Sansa sitting on her horse next to Littlefinger. The forces from the Vale make quick work of the remaining Bolton forces upon entry into the battle. While this is happening, Jon and Tormund see that Ramsay is by himself outside the battle. Once they make eye contact Ramsay then decides to retreat to Winterfell. Wun Wun also joins Jon and Tormund in their pursuit of Ramsay, and contributes by knocking down the front gate of Winterfell. Unfortunately, with dozens of arrows in him, Wun Wun falls after he breaks down the gate. The killing blow is then given by Ramsay by bow and arrow. After he is dead, Ramsay decides to accept Jon’s offer of a one-on-one battle. Instead of fighting with a sword, Ramsay uses his bow and arrow, an awful decision. Jon picks up a shield and blocks all of Ramsay’s arrows. Jon then hits Ramsay with his shield and then proceeds to beat him to a pulp with his bare hands.
With the Stark banners now flying over Winterfell and the battle over, Sansa asks Jon if she can meet with Ramsay. She meets him in the dog kennel where he is bloodied and tied to a post. Sansa tells him that with his death, his family name will disappear, and so will anyone’s memories of him. She then releases his own hounds on him and they eat him alive.
If there was anyone that should have had the privilege of putting an end to Ramsay, it was Sansa. He put her through so much while she was being forced to be with him, that it was only right that she was able to put an end to him.
This episode not only contained the death of one of the shows most hated characters, but an epic battle scene as well, and further development of Daenerys quest to Westeros. With one episode left this season, it will be hard to top an episode like the one we just had, but I’m sure that the writers are up to the challenge.