Battle of the Bastards was Game of Thrones most satisfying episode yet
For anyone who’s been watching Game of Thrones over the last three seasons, Battle of the Bastards ended in the most satisfyingly disturbing manner possible.
Not only did it feature another classic cinema quality fight scene, the fiery return of dragons, but one of the vilest characters left finally met his oh so fitting demise.
But let’s set the stage a bit. In the finale excitement it was easy to almost overlook the episode’s other major developments. As posturing and making a dramatic entrance is more her style, Daenerys opted not to immediately have her dragons attack the masters’ invading naval fleet. Instead, she consulted with Tyrion about tactics after a good night’s sleep. For all of her hype about being a woman of the people, Daenerys sure let a lot of the Meereen townsfolk die just so she could have a big moment.
Still, it was pretty cool watching Dany’s dragon set up their own masters cookout. Clearly the masters’ armada prefers stationary targets as they didn’t even appear to fire anything at the dragons. Theon and Yara making an alliance with Daenerys felt more like a major Season 7 subplot than a rushed throwaway moment here. So Dany is further consolidating her base of power with other castaways from other realms.
But now, on to the episode’s amazing greatness. Yes, Ramsay Bolton finally bit it … or got bit more appropriately to cap off an epic Episode 9. I complained last week about the bloodless, boring siege of Riverrun and how it ultimately failed to deliver on a significant subplot. No such issue this time. Given the extensive effects and action sequences in Battle of the Bastards it’s easy to see budget wise why sacrifices had to be made.
Jon and his war council — Tormund, Sansa and Davos — met with Ramsay and his lieutenants. Pompous as ever, Ramsay invited Jon to give Sansa back and surrender while continually referring Jon as a bastard. And to help seal the deal, Ramsay offered the safe return of Jon and Sansa’s brother, Rickon.
Poor Rickon. Sansa knew there was no shot Ramsay was going to allow one of Ned Stark’s last legitimate heirs live to retake Winterfell. Ramsay using Rickon to draw Jon out worked masterfully. Poor Rickon never had much to do and even in a season where the Starks are getting some much needed wins he seemed a goner. Even then, Ramsay shooting Rickon down with his arrows with Jon so close to saving him was crushing. Not that we needed any more incentive to want to see Ramsay dead, but killing Stark kids is a definite no-no.
The action was pretty impressive. Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the show’s most masterful action episode Hardhome, returned for his third episode. Beyond establishing another chaotic battlefield, Sapochnik ensured this felt like a much different style fight. Despite the hailstorm of arrows, the attack cavalry and overwhelming odds, Jon marched onward to reclaim his family home and get some badly needed payback.
Just when Ramsay’s forces surrounded Jon’s army coming in from the North like Gandalf with the Rohirrim, the Knight of the Vale arrived to help turn the tide. Sansa stacked the odds in her favor by reaching out to the Blackfish, but also holding Littlefinger to his word to aid her. Jon may have endured, but it was Sansa’s tactical acumen that ultimately won the day.
Wun Wun sacrificed himself to break Ramsay’s final defenses before Ramsay killed him with one final arrow. We really didn’t need any more evil bastard type antics from Ramsay, but it definitely left me ecstatic when Jon went after Ramsay. For all his bravado, Ramsay kept firing off arrows while Jon used a shield — with the Stark banner — to stop them.
And then in a scene I’m sure to watch repeatedly for awhile, Jon punches Ramsay to a bloody mess stopping short of killing him. I was worried the show would make the Starks look idiotic for keeping Ramsay alive, but it was just so Sansa could have the honors. And they were especially fitting as she sicced Ramsay’s dogs on him. This might be the one time in the history of the show where someone’s death screams are cause for celebration.
And for the final time kudos to Iwan Rheon for making Ramsay such an evil, irredeemable bastard. Unlike The Waif’s death last episode, Ramsay got a death fully befitting one of the series’ great villains.
Rating: 10 out 0f 10
The dragon spectacle was fun, but the epic battle and ultimate fan service ending made Battle of Bastards one of the best in the series.