Valar Morghulis my friends and welcome to Season Six of Game of Thrones. Every week, I will recap Sunday’s episode and answer any questions that readers may have in a midweek mailbag that I will update as questions come in right up to when the new episode airs. Send all questions to @FawkesCulture, @Matwellsays, FawkesDotCom@gmail.com(awful email, I know), or post them in the comments section below. You could also catch up with all of Fawkes’ GAME OF THRONES coverage here.
The penultimate episodes of Game of Throne in Season’s past have been some of the most action packed, violent, and twist-filled episodes of the show to date, with moments like the beheading of Ned Stark, the Battle of Blackwater Bay, the murder of Tywin Lannister on a previous Father’s Day no less, and of course, the Red Wedding. People looking to Sunday’s episode, “The Battle of the Bastards,” for this type of action surely were not disappointed.
Despite its billing as a matchup between Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow, the episode actually began at a different, albeit brief, battle taking place in Meereen. We begin right where we left off, with Tyrion briefing Daenerys, who promptly swears to bring fire and blood to the every master’s city, promising to burn them to dust. However, after some persuading by Tyrion, Dany decides to treat with the masters and offer terms of surrender.
The masters initially balk at Dany’s proposal but after mounting Drogon, burning part of their fleet, and the Dothraki taking the Sons of the Harpy unaware in the rear, they quickly come around and peace is returned to the free city of Meereen. The bonus of it all is since the only surviving master is so quick to surrender, Dany gets to take most of their ships, as well. How convenient!
One important thought I had watching this scene was the fact that Dany was able to lead her dragons without other riders on Viserion and Rhaegal. Does this mean that there doesn’t have to be two other riders, meaning two other hidden Targaryen’s as so many have speculated?
Speaking of ships, Theon and Yara pull into Slaver’s Bay just as the battle is ending to offer their allegiance to the Dragon Queen, in exchange for her help killing their usurping, kin-slaying Uncle Euron. Dany and Yara become fast friends after a little more disparaging of Theon, and just like that their is a new powerful alliance ready to invade Westeros. And, if they are able to travel as swiftly as the Greyjoy fleet made it to Meereen, then they may even make landfall by next week.
After the proceedings in Meereen, the main event began with Sansa, Jon, Davos, and Tormund treating with the Bolton party. After Ramsay declines to settle things through one-on-one combat with Jon, the Stark-Snow forces deliberate battle plans. They conclude with an understanding that they must not be lured into attack, with Sansa pleading with Jon not to fall for Ramsay’s tricks.
Although Jon agreed, as they say, even the best laid plans go awry. Once on the battlefield, Ramsay sent young Rickon to run for his brother through open field as he looses arrows in his direction. After he is killed, Jon simply cannot help himself, charging headstrong at a force twice the size of his own, exactly as Ramsay had wanted. The battle had begun and went predictably poorly for the Stark forces. But to complete the cliche, just as Jon’s forces appeared doomed, Littlefinger and Sansa rode in Rohirrim-style to save the day.
With his army defeated, Ramsay retreated back to the castle only to have Wun Wun destroy the gate. However, after breaching the castle, Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, the last of the giants, is sadly taken down by an overwhelming amount of arrows.
In the end, Jon Snow got his wish, besting Ramsay in one-on-one combat and reigning in his anger just long enough to allow Sansa to decide Ramsay’s fate, bringing it full circle, and sending his own hounds on him. A fitting end for a true monster in a world of nuanced characters.
While the battle scenes were terrific and beautifully captured and the episode had some truly fantastic individual moments, I still must pause to acknowledge some gaping plot holes and truly horrible decisions that were essential to make the episode go as it did.
As I mentioned, Lord Baelish rode in with his cavalry just at the right time. But why, why did so many good men – and nearly Jon – have to be slaughtered tog et to that point? Couldn’t Sansa have just asked Jon to put off the attack one more day to see if Littlefinger arrived with aide to stop so many people from being killed? I don’t understand why she never even broached the subject with him, even if her were to turn down Littlefinger’s men on the basis of trust. It just seems silly to me.
But to me, the biggest issue is with Jon’s character arc. I’ve mentioned deficiencies in the show’s character development department the past two weeks in relation to Arya but now it is Jon’s turn. After being revived, Jon lamented being murdered for what he thought was right in so many words. So what has he learned from that experience? This episode made it seem like nothing. I understand that it would have been difficult watching Rickon die from afar but after getting stabbed for doing the right thing, if he had learned at all from that experience, he would have done something very difficult, and let Rickon die to save his men and better his chances at victory. After hearing her talk to Jon in the episode, I truly believe Sansa would have done so because her torturous path has forced her to grow harder. But right now, it seems like being stabbed by his sworn brothers only served to advance Jon Snow’s plot but not his character, which is a sad contrivance by Weiss & Benioff.
Also, WHERE IN THE NAME OF THE OLD GODS WAS GHOST? But I digress.
There are a lot of loose ends to tie up in next week’s finale. I am looking forward to seeing where we are left off and what twists are left for this season. Oh yeah, and for the rest of the Tower of Joy.
What did you think of the battles? Are you confused about anything that happened or what’s to come? Got any questions heading into the Season 6 Finale? Send all your questions my way in the comment section below or via Twitter @matwellsays & @fawkesculture.