Back in my review of Season 6 Episdoe 4 I made this remark regarding the Stark and Ramsey situation “So now that the Starks are rising again surely this series is heading for the Battle of the Bastards (as no one else is calling it)”. Now we’re in Episode 9 and they’ve only gone and called the episode Battle of the Bastards! How’s that for a bit of accidental foretelling.
Anyway back to the episode itself. In Meereen Daenerys and Tyrion and try to work out how to deal with the slave masters with Daenerys wanting to go her usual route of killing everyone involved. Tyrion suggest this may not be wise though and I’m glad he brings up her father the mad King and how she once claimed she wanted to be different from him. Together him and Daenerys comes up with a new plan. After offering them the Slave Masters a chance to Surrender -which they stupidly reject- Daenerys rides Drogan who proceeds to burn the slaver’s fleet along with fellow dragons Rhaegal and Viserion. It was an amazing sight seeing the three dragons fly together (those three would very much come in handy with the fight against the White Walkers). Grey Worm then kills two of three slavers and leaves the last one to tell the tale.
Later Daenerys and Tyrion have a meeting with Theon and Yara. Considering how long it had been I had forgotten that Tyrion and Theon had met before, of course Tyrion hadn’t and what followed was quite a frosty reception between them. Not the best start for the Ironborns. However soon Daenerys and Yara agree to an alliance. Yara will give Daenerys the ships and Daenerys will help overthrow their uncle and recognise the independance of the Ironborns. But the Iron Islands will also have to stop all the raping, and pillaging that they are known for which Yara reluctantly agrees with. That will go down well with the Ironborns! I’m liking this allience and it’s good seeing the women of Game of Thrones being in positions of power.
Meanwhile the bulk of the episode is centred around the Starks battle with Ramsay, and as imagined it is as devastating and bloody as you’d expect. While before the battle the two discuss peace talks and surrenders we know it’s only going to go one way and with plenty of death. There’s an interesting scene between Jon and Sansa before the battle where Sansa berates Jon for fighting without more men and looking back, it appears she knows that Ramsay is not going to let a Stark rule Winterfell. And so as the Battle start and Rickon is set free to run to his family he is cruelly toyed with and then shot with arrows by Ramsay just before Jon reaches him. Sansa, having known Ramsay all too well seemed to know this is exactly what Ramsay would do and Jon falls into his hands by reacting impulsively and emotionally by charging at the Bolton forces. I had feared that Rickon would be killed, either off screen or during the Battle itself, and once again Ramsay’s cruellness doesn’t waver.
The resulting battle is one of the bloodiest we’ve ever seen on Game of Thrones, men are killed and bodies are all over the fields. Then when the Bolton forces surround Jon’s there is a horrible sight of a wall of bodies that everyone is stepping on, and it appears not everyone is quite dead yet! It’s a gruesome image and you worry for everyone’s safety involved. Even though I thought Jon would be safe, at a few points I was concerned that he would be killed off leaving Sanasa to lead the charge.
However the calvery arrives and, as suspected it’s Littlefinger and the Kinght’s of the Vale arriving to save the day. If there’s a slight criticism of this episode it was perhaps a bit obvious that Littlefinger and the Vale would come to the Stark’s aid, but that’s only a minor quibble. As the tide turns in Jon’s favour Ramsay retreats back to Winterfell but the gates are soon broken down by the giant Wun Wun, who is then repeatedly shot by arrows for his trouble and then shot in the eye by Ramsay finishing him off. I was sad to see the giant go. Damn you Ramsay-evil til the end! Ramsay then tries to shoot at Jon but Jon is protected by his shield and then goes to give Ramsay the beatdown of his life. And I must say this was immensely satisfying, but I’m glad it wasn’t Jon who finished him off.
So the episode ends with Sansa visiting Ramsay in his cell where Ramsay continues being his usual spiteful self. Sansa holds herself high and tells Ramsay that soon his deeds, his house and Ramsay himself will all be forgotten and nothing will be left. She then watches as his hounds enter his cell. Having earlier remarked how he had starved them for the past week, Sansa turns the tables on Ramsay for the last time and watches as his hounds devour him. She then turns away with a satisfied smile. While I absolutely detest Ramsay, he was a great villian and played so well by Iwan Rheon that it will be sad to see him go. However this feels like the right time for him to depart as I imagine the series will now focus it’s attentions on the battle for the Iron Throne and the White Walkers’ approach.
So Ramsay got the death he deserved and the Starks have Winterfell again. But while it was a fantastic episode, their win was not an euphoric moment as they have lost a lot in the victory. Having already lost the oldest brother Robb and now the youngest Stark Rickon, Sansa and Jon really need Bran and Arya back soon to make their house stronger again. Hopefully that reunion won’t be too far off. And what does the changes in the North mean for those in King’s Landing? The next episode should have interesting consequences.
What did you think of the episode? Were you happy with Ramsay’s karmic death? Were you suitably grossed out by the battle scenes? Let me know in the comments below.