Game of Spoilers – The Battle of the Bastards (609)
Well, that was a very fine piece of televised art, right there.
But, before we heap praise where it is due, let me say this: I grow weary of Meereen. I’m starting to find the dialogue boring, and it just keeps repeating. People underestimate her, they parley, the opponent thinks they’ve got her corner, dragons. Alright, already. We get it. The dragons are awesome. Can we get on the ships already? The scene with Theon and Yara was kind of fun, and the fight against Euron Greyjoy should be fun. But I look forward to the day when Daenerys’s story is fun and interesting again.
Now, the rest of that episode. Very little of it was surprising. And yet, it was perfect. Sansa tried so hard to warn Jon. Rickon was never going to survive. Nothing in Ramsay’s past would have given any indication that Rickon would live for very long. Ramsay was only looking for the perfect moment to kill him, and Ramsay certainly found it, letting Rickon run for it before killing him like a pheasant in a hunt. That was the trap that Jon couldn’t see coming. Ramsay played Jon Snow and won, more or less.
Let’s take a moment to marvel at how absolutely fucking incredible that battle scene was. If you’ve seen Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth that came out last year (which was very good, if you, like me, are a Shakespearean), it took a similarly chaotic approach to melee battle. However, while that was beautiful and gruesome to watch, it did not have the scale, the scope, or the visual execution this battle had. It was truly breathtaking in its violence and utter brutality.
The collapsing shield wall tactic (apparently borrowed from the historical Carthaginian army defeating the Romans) was staggering to watch, and Ramsay’s plan worked to defeat the army he saw before him.
And then Gandalf returned with the rest of the Rohirrim…whoops! I mean Sansa arrived with the army of the Eyrie. Sansa essentially came to her own rescue. This builds on her line that “nobody saves anyone.” She has become a player in this game, and not even Jon realizes what she is capable of. The smile she gave as Ramsay’s own dogs were eating his face was eerily similar to the smile Cersei gave as the Mountain removed a man’s head by the jaw, as if his mandible was a tab on an aluminum can. In either case, I would not cross that woman.
Speaking of Ramsay’s dogs, that death retroactively earns the scene where the dogs attack Roose’s wife and child. We needed that horror to balance and justify Ramsay getting chewed out.
The foley art on this show in general, and this episode specifically, does not get sufficient credit. That sound, as the dogs ate Ramsay, was sickening. There are frequently completely sickening sounds on this show, but it was spot on in this episode. Nothing else I can say can really explain how fantastic most of that episode was. Go watch the fucking thing if you haven’t already. So, let’s talk about fall out.
I, for one, was sad to see the giant go. He was a mighty warrior, and would have come in handy against the undead army that’s coming.
I think Davos (my spirit animal) is going to kill Melisandre. Or at least try. He found the stag he carved for Shireen, and that’s a wrap. That could be interesting, because it might put him at odds with Jon. Or not.
Daenerys might – at long last – be ready to come to Westeros. About fucking time.
A Stark has returned to Winterfell by killing the crown’s Warden of the North. Expect Jaime, the Freys, basically everybody with an army south of the neck to come back to Winterfell and reclaim it. We’ve only just begun.
And now, Littlefinger. All of the triumph of this episode is darkened by his shadow. He sullies even this, nearly the purist joy this series has ever allowed its audience. I know, everyone loved to hate on Ramsay of late – and for good reason. But I have always maintained that Petyr Baelish was the more dangerous of the two, and you’ll notice he’s still standing. He wants Sansa as kind of a consolation prize for losing out on her mother. That has been clear since before he kissed her at the Eyrie. He still thinks he can control her (he can’t), and so he will bring the full power of his manipulative skill to bear on her. This could get ugly.
And still, none of this will matter if the Night King heads south.
Winter is coming.