Episode 9 tends to be the biggest episodes of the series, and given that this one was called Battle of the Bastards we were very much hoping for the same.
The episode begins in Meereen where Tyrion and Daenerys. She plans to destroy their cities, which Tyrion tells her is very reminiscent of her father, the mad King. They meet with the Masters to discuss terms of surrender, and Dany leaves on Drogon to attack the ships, joined by the other two dragons. Meanwhile the khalasar led by Daario arrives to attack the Son of the Harpy. Two of the Masters are killed; the other is left alive to tell of what happened. Whilst I’ve not been the biggest fan of the Meereen storyline, and I thought it could have been far more interesting, this was a truly epic scene, to see the three dragons burning ships was just great.
Next Jon, Sansa, and their allies meet Ramsey, he requests that Jon kneel to him and that he doesn’t have the men. Jon wants to fight just Jon and Ramsey, but as he points out his army is far bigger and should beat the Stark’s, making it senseless for him to take on a better swordsman.Jon, Davos, and Tormund discuss tactics, and decide it is for the best that Ramsey comes to attack them. We do get a humorous moment when Tormund doesn’t know some technical terms for military, a nice call back to the fact that he’s a Wildling. There’s a heated discussion between Sansa and Jon, as Sansa is fearful that they are playing into Ramsey’s hands. Davos walks until he happens upon the pyre where Stannis burned Shireen, which I believe he wasn’t aware of until now, but that is going to cause problems between him and Melisandre.
Theon and the Greyjoys are at Meereen, when Tyrion recalls their previous meeting at Winterfell. Finally Dany’s storyline looks like it is heading to Westeros. The Greyjoys are playing to the fact that Daenerys’ is woman like Yara and that there’s never been a women ruling the Iron Islands or Westeros, and that their fathers were not good men. They agree a deal, that involves Dany helping defeat Euron and making Yara Queen of the Iron Islands, whilst they will support her claim to the Iron Throne and stop their pillaging.
Which finally leads us to the battle. Ramsey has employed intimidation tactics including having some men’s strung up and burning on the field. Ramsey also plays one of his games with Rickon. He cuts him lose and sends him to run to Jon, but prepares to shoot him. Jon rushed to aid him on horseback, but Ramsey hits him just before he can reach Jon. This was clearly done to antagonise Jon into attacking rather than waiting for Ramsey to attack them as they had planned. The two cavalries then hit each other. I love this first part of the battle, Ramsey’s tactics, to the complete mayhem of war are fantastic. Ramsey rains volleys of arrows into the battle as the bodies begin to pile up. Davos races in with the rest of the men. Smalljon Umber leads the charge of Ramsey’s footmen and they box in the Stark’s with a shield wall.
Wun Wun and Tormund try to break the Bolton line, and Wun Wun gets an awesome kill in where he rips a guy in half. Tormund is dragged back before he can die. The wildings rush the wall of bodies, and Jon is getting crushed under them. Wun Wun and Tormund are both taking a lot of hits, but Tormund rips out Jon Umber’s throat. And the Knights of the Vale arrive just in time with Sansa and Littlefinger at their head. This was how a lot of people had predicted it would go, but honestly, given how well it was done, I’ve got to give it major props for still making me care about this moment.
Jon, Tormund, and Wun Wun prepare to take on Ramsey, but he retreats back to Winterfell. Wun Wun pretty much destroys the gate of Winterfell, but can take no more punishment, on his knees riddled with arrows, although obviously Ramsey has to get the last shot in. Ramsey and Jon prepare to face off. Ramsey trying to shoot Jon, but he blocks every shot with a shield, allowing him to get close enough to fight him hand to hand. He then beats Ramsey, until he Sansa arrive, and leaves his bloody body lying there.
The Stark’s are back in Winterfell guys, its a great time to be watching the show, they throw down the Bolton banners and hang the Direwolf sigils instead. Sansa wants to be allowed to see Ramsey, who is tied up in a dungeon. She tells him that his words, house, and all memory of him will disappear. Sansa then frees him to his own hounds, who are starving and rip him to shreds.
This was absolutely one of the best episodes of Game of Thrones ever (possibly even the best), and right up there with The Door as the best episodes of the season, for very different reasons. We did get the ends of the Master’s attack on Meereen, which was so visually awesome, and their plan worked brilliantly, I’m assuming it was Tyrion’s plan, as Dany just wanted to burn them all. I’m so behind her becoming an antagonist, but given the amount of characters that we follow siding with her, I’m not sure this will happen. Thankfully it does look like she will be on her way to Westeros very soon, after a battle (hopefully an epic sea battle, which we’ve not really had yet) with uncle Euron. But the main even was obviously the so-called Bastard Bowl and the battle between Jon and Ramsey. And this was just incredible. We’ve had several moments of very impressive visual scale, but the action obviously hasn’t been there, at the Sept of Baelor or the siege and Riverrun, but that was all made up for here. The battle was so chaotic and bloody, it felt so real. I loved Ramsey’s tactics, antagonising Jon into charging by using Rickon (although did he not think to throw in some zig zags?), then using his infantry to box them in with a shield wall. As I said earlier I was expecting the Knight’s of the Vale to show up, but the sequence where they were out of hope was so well done, and then you just hear the horns. It was fantastic, and the audience got the catharsis of seeing Ramsey beaten up by Jon. Plus the rather heartbreaking death of Wun Wun, who was such a cool character, and is responsible for two of the best deaths in Game of Thrones history. The scene where Sansa fed him to his dogs was very cool, but I couldn’t help but thinking that it was a little sadistic of her, as she definitely got some enjoyment out of it. But overall this was a fantastic episode of Game of Thrones and one that deserves to be lauded as one of the great on screen battle sequences, and not just on TV either.