Episode 59 “Battle of the Bastards”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Holy Seven, you guys! I am still reeling from last night’s episode. Easily, the best episode to date for Game of Thrones. After six seasons of the Starks being murdered, raped, betrayed, and dismembered, we had all nearly sworn off the show at one point or another, but all of the terrible things that happened has led up to this moment; the fight for Winterfell. Bastard vs Bastard, Man vs Man, Snow vs Bolton. I laughed, I cried, I shouted, I bit my nails down to their beds, and I may have excitedly hit my husband a few times, but the episode did not disappoint.
I poured myself a big glass of red wine, knowing I was going to need it (I kind of wish it was Imp’s Delight, but I digress). After a week of talking about how big this episode was to be, I wanted to be prepared. We open to the Master’s ships launching fireball after fireball onto Meereen. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) watches on as they tear into her city. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) awkwardly attempts to sway her anger. He’s like the teenager after being caught having a party without his mother’s approval. The sheer fire in her eyes would have been enough to burn Tyrion to a crisp right where he stood. He tries to have her see his side, and as each explosion hits, Tyrion gets more and more concerned for his own well being. Daenerys listens on to his rambling, one eyebrow perfectly arched as if to say “this is your fault, and I am not amused.”
After letting him talk his way out of becoming dragon food, Daenerys tells him that she will crucify the Masters, set their fleet to fire, and turn their cities to dust. Tyrion very carefully explains to her how very like her father, The Mad King, she sounds, and brings forth an alternative plan. After a fireball nearly collapses the Pyramid, she complies. Accompanied by Tyrion, Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and a small gathering of Unsullied, Daenerys parleys with the three Masters. The Masters (Enzo Cilenti, George Georgiou, and Eddie Jackson) begin by insulting Dani, and I hold my breath in glee, because I know they will not get away with it for long.
Wait, did he say the dragons would be killed? Oh, no he didn’t! Daenerys just smiles and tells them that it is not her surrender that they were discussing. The Masters don’t seem to get the hint, and continue to mock her.
Behind the Masters off in the distance we see a dragon fly towards them. The Masters tell her, her reign is over. She smiles again, and whispers, “My reign has just begun.” Drogon launches over the Masters, scaring them speechless, Dani mounts him, and flies over the city. Rhaegal and Viserion join their brother in the sky. Down below, the Sons of the Harpy massacre all those in their path, until they are met by the Dothraki horde with Daario (Michiel Huisman) leading the fray. In one pass they decimate the gold masked killers. Daenerys rides her dragons to the bay, where the fleet of the Masters sits. She hovers over one of the ships, staring down all those on board, as if to imprint in her mind the faces of those she is about to kill. With one utter of Dracarys, her children set the ship ablaze. Men scream and dive into the water to escape their fiery death, but the dragons are on top of them. The rest of the fleet looks on in horror.
Grey Worm addresses the guards of the Masters, giving them the chance to abandon their slavery and join forces with their Queen, or meet the same fate as those below. Without hesitation they drop their weapons and run. Smart move. The Masters look truly frightened now, and Tyrion thanks them for the ships. Naughty naughty Masters shouldn’t have broken the pact and now one of them must die. Without much thought, two Masters pick Yezzan, proclaiming that he is low born and does not speak for them. Grey Worm approaches them, very stoic, staring at the poor tribute. Yezzan kneels, begging for his life. With one fluid movement, Grey Worm cuts down the two Masters, leaving Yezzan alive, and probably in need of another pair of pants. Tyrion tells him to spread the message of what happened there, so that no one else would get the idea to do the same.
In Winterfell, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Sansa (Sophie Turner), Davos (Liam Cunningham), and the other Lords of the North meet with Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) for a parley before the coming battle. Ramsay is very cunning and plays to Jon’s weaknesses. Jon offers to battle him one on one, but Ramsay is too smart and knows he won’t win. Ramsay continues to call him Bastard, as a way to anger him. Sansa questions if Ramsay even has her brother Rickon (Art Parkinson) and in answer he throws them Shaggy Dog’s head. Sansa, furious, tells Ramsay “You’re going to die tomorrow. Sleep well.” Ramsay tells them that he is anxious for his dogs to meet them, for he hasn’t fed them in seven days, and is curious what parts the dogs will go for first. He is one sick word-I-shouldn’t-say.
Jon plans strategy with Davos and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), and basically it’s just one scene of everyone using big words that confuse him. Sansa attempts to give her brother advice, telling him not to fall into what Ramsay wants him to do. She warns him, that no matter what they do, Rickon is dead. Jon doesn’t take her seriously. Why doesn’t Jon listen to Sansa? Seriously! Also, why doesn’t Sansa mention that the Tullys may come to their aid? This does not bode well for them to be arguing the night before battle for which they are woefully unprepared.
Tormund and Davos bond in their talk of following failure kings, and it’s a sweet, comical conversation. Tormund is not used to the big word, and colorful ways that the Southerners speak, and easily gets confused. Poor, silly, lovable Tormund. He’s the foreign kid that stays with you during the school year. They speak of their different nightly rituals before battle, and depart for their possible last night alive. Davos walks amongst the camp, and happens upon a pile of burnt wood and ash. Amongst the rubble he finds a burnt carving of a stag. It is the stag he made for Shireen (Kerry Ingram). Davos never got an answer to what happened to her, and now he knows. I have a feeling a red witch is about to die.
In the encampment, Jon meets with Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and orders her not to bring him back if he were to die. She tells him she only follows the command of her god. She admits to no power and that it all comes from the Lord of the Light. Jon is not happy with her answers but accepts them. Melisandre seems much less sure of herself this second time around. I know that having followed Stannis (Stephen Dillane) believing he was the true Prince and it turning out wrong would cause some doubts, but she seems almost more forlorn than I would have expected. Perhaps she carries the guilt of the murder of Shireen?
In Meereen, Tyrion and Daenerys are met by Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). Yara offers Daenerys her fleet, as long as she is given the throne for the Iron Islands. Daenerys asks why Theon is not claiming the throne, and he admits to not being fit to rule. Daenerys and Yara trade similarities to their claims as Queens. While Daenerys leans more to the company of men, we know Yara likes the women. It is very obvious that Yara wants Daenerys in the worst way, and she makes this very clear to the dragon queen. They strike a deal, but under the condition that the Ironborn must not do anymore reaving, roving, raiding, or raping. Yara hesitates but eventually agrees. The two women clasp arms, and Daenerys has her means to travel and take Westeros. I feel like this first half of the episode of good stuff happening is only a facade for the destruction and dismay that is about to come. Are they trying to make us happy so they can once again dash our hopes and dreams by killing Jon again?
The day of the battle arrives, and the two armies meet. Ramsay brings forth Rickon, and tells him they are going to play a game. Don’t play the game Rickon! You play the game and you die! Rickon takes off anyway, and Ramsay knocks an arrow. Jon rides towards Rickon, and Ramsay loses the arrow. Miss. I clutch my wine and scream out “Run Rickon run! No, not in a straight line! Serpentine Rickon!” Two arrows later, two misses. Yes he’s going to make it! He’s just fingers away from Jon! The music has stopped so that has to mean he’s safe right? Then an arrow protrudes through Rickon’s chest, killing him. This is why, when running away you always weave! Jon, falling prey to his anger, rides towards Ramsay, and the battle starts off without any organization.
Ramsay tells his men to charge, and sends a volley of arrows, killing Jon’s horse. The cavalry charges towards Jon and he is left alone on the battlefield facing imminent death. Heroically he drops his scabbard, gripping his bastard sword, preparing for his final breath. With a crash his cavalry charges into Ramsay’s and the ground is a mess of blood and mud. Swords clang and tear through flesh, arrows puncture men and horse, and we hear the screams of the dying. At first Davos has the men knock their arrows, but decides against it as it will only kill their men as well. Ramsay doesn’t care, however, and orders volley after volley of arrows into the fray, taking down foe and friend. With every “Loose” that is uttered, my hate for Ramsay burns brighter. Before long there is a wall of bodies formed between the two armies, and in order to keep fighting they must climb on top of the dead, only to add more bodies to the growing barrier.
Davos sends the rest of the men into the fight, and Ramsay mimics him, sending Lord Umber (Dean S. Jagger) and his men in. They surround Jon’s army in a tight half circle, backing them up against the wall of dead, where the rest of Umber’s men await to slaughter any who attempt to run. Meanwhile Wun Wun the Giant (Ian Whyte) clumsily swings at the wall of spears and shields. Come on Wun Wun! Kick them! Stomp them! All hope seems lost as more and more men are murdered. Umber and Jon come face to face, but the Wildlings panic and surge up the wall of dead, crushing Jon beneath their feet. Jon gasps as foot after foot crushes him; he begins to suffocate, and I have never been so terrified for someone. Just as you think he is about to die, he rises out of the mob of men, looking heavenward, taking in deep lung fulls of air. Tormund and Umber fight as Jon looks on, unable to do anything.
They all know they are going to die, we know they are going to die, and the tears build up. We pray for some salvation to come, but it doesn’t seem like it will happen. Then, a horn blares and in rides the Tully army led by Petyr Baelish. I scream, I cry, I hit my husband in the arm excitedly, (sorry hubby) as they sweep in and decimate Ramsay’s entire army with one stroke. Tormund rips out Umber’s jugular with his teeth, like the savage, wonderful Wildling he is! Jon looks towards Ramsay and sees him run for the walls of Winterfell. Without a word, he, Wun Wun, and Tormund take chase.
Ramsay hides behind the walls, the few men left to defend the castle tell him they don’t have an army any more. Ramsay reassures them that they have Winterfell, and they can wait out Jon’s army. Knock knock. Guess who? Wun Wun, that’s who. Oh that’s right, you forgot Jon had a giant, did you? While Wun Wun knocks down the gate, the men above fire their arrows and spears into him. In one last surge of adrenaline, Wun Wun charges in and drops to his knees. Behind him, Jon’s army charges in, killing and disarming the rest of Ramsay’s feeble force. Jon looks on as Wun Wun struggles to breathe, the arrows and spears pierced into him like porcupine quills. They exchange silent words, and then Ramsay puts a bolt through Wun Wun’s eye, killing him instantly. Ramsay, abandoning all intelligence, offers to fight one on one with Jon.
Immediately Jon grabs a shield, blocking the three arrows that Ramsay sets loose. Ramsay panics, and Jon throws himself on to him, beating him mercilessly. Sansa looks on and we all chant ‘finish him!’ but Jon stops, leaving Ramsay laying in the mud, bloody and unconscious. The Bolton banners fall from the walls, and in their place, the Stark banners are once again in their rightful place. The dead are brought in on stretchers, one of which is Rickon. Jon has him buried in the crypt next to their father. Sansa asks Jon where Ramsay is, revenge and hate in her eyes.
She approaches the kennel, the gate is closed, but Ramsay sits inside, tied to a chair. I notice that the gates to the dogs’ doors are left open, however, and I wickedly pray that he is not alone. Ramsay knows he is to die, but he does not know how just yet. Sansa stares while Ramsay talks, trying to goad her, one last attempt for a small win. Ramsay tells her that she can’t kill him, for she is part of him now. Hold up! Did he just tell us that Sansa is pregnant with his child!? This would be the second hint of it. Back when Sansa met with Petyr, she mentioned that she could still feel inside what Ramsay did to her. She could have been alluding to the fluttering movements of a child in her womb. Sansa, however, does not admit to it, and instead plays to Ramsay’s one fear. She tells him, his words will disappear, his house, his name, all memory of him will disappear.
We hear the growling of dogs and one by one they come out of their kennel, as if they had been waiting for Sansa to get in her last words to him. They surround Ramsay, sniffing at the blood caked on his face and hands. Fear creeps into his eyes, but he tells her they will not harm him, for they are loyal beasts. Sansa smiles, telling him, that he had not fed them in seven days, and they are starving. The alpha dog of the pact sniffs Ramsay’s face, giving him a few licks. Ramsay orders the dogs down, and to sit, but they do not listen. The alpha looks at Ramsay before lunging for his lower jaw. Thank you Game of Thrones for giving us that first dog bite. I guess Ramsay got the answer he wanted. The first part his dogs went for, the face. Sansa watches on as Ramsay is devoured by his dogs, and she smiles, for she has finally gotten revenge.
We have only eight more episodes left of the show. One season finale, and seven episodes in season seven. I’m not prepared for the end and I feel like there is still far more that needs to happen that eight episodes will not be able to cover. Will Arya make it back home? Will Sansa and Jon be able to hold Winterfell? Will Daenerys gain the Throne? What about Bran? Will he defeat the white walkers? Will there even be a happy ending? I guess we’ll all just have to find out together, in the meantime, I’m going to need more wine.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.