In a word the ninth episode, Battle of the Bastards, of season six on Game of Thrones was satisfying. Totally and completely satisfying with action and storytelling displayed. The two story arcs the episode focused on provided everything an audience could want. We started in Meereen with Daenerys and finished with Sansa in the North. Every part of the episode was well acted and intense, with little or no downtime. The last few weeks of Game of Thrones have been a little disappointing, but Battle of the Bastards made up for any shortcomings in the previous episodes with the amount of payoffs provided.
Everyone was expecting the epic battle in the North from the title of the episode, but I was equally excited to see Danny wreck the slavers army with Drogon. I thought last week we would get to see all three dragons in action, and I was not disappointed. The setup to the massacre by Daenerys was perfect with Tyrion cautioning her about what her father had planned to do in Kings Landing. This is also a great reminder about what lies underneath Kings Landing still, and may point to what Cersei will do in the finale. It was a great way for Tyrion to reign in Daenerys’ blood lust. He is paid to advise her, and he gave her wise council and gained her a fleet of ships.
The pure joy of watching Drogon fly over the slavers head, and Daenerys climb aboard to burn the fleet was pitch perfect. It is shock and awe at its finest. One dragon would probably be enough to cause the lines of the enemy to break, and she has three. We also got a flash of how terrifying a screaming horde of Dothraki warriors can be when they charged the Sons of the Harpy. It was perfect to show restraint, and not kill everyone. People will now start spreading rumors of how awe inspiring and terrifying Daenerys is with her Dragons. The one slaver they let live will tell everyone of the destruction the dragons can wreck, and that Danny has a horde of Dothraki to complement them.
They also cleared up the ship problem with capturing the fleet, and adding to it with the ones Theon and Yara brought to Meereen. If there was one part of the episode that felt misplaced it was this scene between the Greyjoy’s, Danny, and her council. It just didn’t fit the rest of the tone of the episode. It was still a great scene, and I liked how they played on the similarities between Yara and Danny. They just could have saved the scene for the next episode and it wouldn’t have felt out of place. I think having one more scene with Danny and her council might have fit more with the tone of this episode. I still enjoyed the scene, but it would have had more weight leading into the next season.
Everything in the North was spot on, and not one second was wasted. Jon and Ramsey’s first parley was intense with Sansa adding a unique element to the exchange. Her threat was not an empty one. Looking at the episode now, it seems she was the puppeteer behind the entire battle. Her next scene with Jon hinted at this. She warned him not to play into Ramsey’s hands. She warned Jon not to fall for the trap, but he did, and she knew he would. That is why she held back the information about the Vale. She knew Jon would want to use them the same way he used his current forces, but she knew holding something back would cause Ramsey to be overconfident and extend his forces. She planned for Jon to become entangled and then to bring in the Vale to save the day. She also knew Rickon was already dead, she knew Ramsey was just waiting for the right moment to kill him. Sansa has now become one of my favorite characters in the show on par with Danny, Jon, and Tyrion, because of her actions in tonight’s episode.
The actual battle was fantastic, with the action being intense and well shot up until the end. You never felt entirely certain if Jon was going to make it out of the battle alive. We knew Melisandre would try and resurrect him if he fell, but his survival was not a guaranteed. I also thought we would lose Tormund a few times during the battle, but ended up making it out alive. The only major loss was Rickon, and because he has never been a major character his loss doesn’t seem very impactful. His death was used in the perfect way, because we knew Jon would have to try and save him, and set the battle off at a disadvantage. You still wanted Jon to save him, but knew he wouldn’t make it.
The episode at least gave us a satisfying end (see there is that word again) to Ramsey. He died with his dogs, and I can’t think of a more appropriate way for him to go. He was no better than a rapid dog himself, and he got taken out by his own pack. He almost seemed to enjoy getting beat up by Jon, but in the end he was terrified, and the smirk Sansa gave while walking away proves how much the prissy girl from Winterfell has grown in six season of the show.
There are so many great scenes in this episode, but a few more are worth mentioning. Wun Wun and the way he tore through the entire Bolton army was fantastic. The one time he ripped a man in half was just perfect for the scene. The ending at Winterfell and the Bolton banners coming down and the Stark banners going up gave me chills. Yes silly television show, but it was just a great feeling seeing them fly in the fictional castle again.
I don’t know if this is the best episode of Game of Thrones ever, but it has to be the most satisfying. We didn’t lose anyone we are invested in, and we saw parts of two storylines reach epic conclusions. We know were Daenerys is going from here, but the question is what does the North do with Sansa sitting on the throne of Winterfell? Do they rally to her, or do we see a civil war in the North as other houses try and seize power? With only two seasons left, I’m guessing they will unite and fight the white walkers together.
What did you think of tonight’s epic episode? Comment and let me know.