GAME OF THRONES Season 6, Ep. 9 Mailbag: “Battle of the Bastards”

Each week, Fawkes’ resident Maester, Matt Atwell, will be taking all of your Game of Thrones questions, You can ask them in the comments section below, at our Facebook page, via email at or through twitter @FawkesCulture & @Matwellsays.

Hello, and welcome back to the Fawkes Game of Thrones mailbag for the penultimate episode of Season 6, “Battle of the Bastards.” I must say, it does feel liberating to be operating in a post-Ramsay Bolton world, in the show at least. The Stark’s are back in Winterfell, Daenerys has her ships, and all seems right in the world as we head in to the finale. But, of course, all that can change on Sunday. Let’s dive into some questions from this week.

Max asks, “Now that Ramsay is dead, who do you think will take over as the shows villain – someone who all the viewers want dead like they did with Ramsay and Joffrey before him?”

This is a really fun and interesting question to think about for a lot of reasons. I think there are some obvious candidates to replace Ramsay as the “Most Hated Person in Westeros” and also some James K. Polk-like dark horses out there as well.

Let’s start with the obvious candidates:

Cersei Lannister

Your New Most Hated Person in Westeros, Cersei Lannister P/C HBO

The Queen Regent has ostensibly become the de facto villain of the show after the passing of Ramsay. She has some bona fide credentials as an incest-loving, king-slaying, manipulating psychopath. She truly only cares about her children and has shown she’ll do anything to protect them – or I guess just him now. And it even seems like she may be plotting to use the wildfire caches under King’s Landing to attempt to free herself from the impending Trial by Seven or simply to just watch the world burn if she cannot get her way and is forced to pay for her crimes. The only thing that can stand in her way is if The Faith somehow sees to it that she is no longer among the living after next week and ensure that whatever her master plan is, it cannot be fulfilled.

Walder Frey

Obviously, to become the big bad of Thrones the Lord of the Crossing, Riverrun, and Lord Paramount of the Trident will have to get a significant increase in screen time, but as the last remaining person who was complicit in the planning and execution of the Red Winning, his claim as Westeros’ Most Evil Man is unquestionable. The only caveat here is he just has to live through his wedding feast next week, and as we’ve seen weddings halls have become just as perilous as battlefields.

The White Walkers

I know Max’s question is about human villains but the Walkers are ostensibly the show’s biggest bad of all. They are the single existential threat to all of mankind. Need I say more?

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish

Just like with Lord Frey, Littlefinger will have to receive more screen time to become the true villain of the story, and similar to the first two candidates, it is not assured that he’ll survive Sunday’s finale after his reward from Sansa, but the Lord of Harrenhal and Lord Protector of the Vale certainly does not lack in villainous characteristics. Let us not forget that way back in Season 1, he turned on Ned Stark, which eventually led to his beheading. He also was involved in the assassination attempt of Bran Stark but claims that he lost the dagger used by the would-be assassin to Tyrion Lannister, which seems pretty convenient. In later seasons, it is revealed that Littlefinger convinced Lysa Arryn to poison her former husband and the former hand of the king, Jon Arryn, right before throwing Lysa through the Eerie’s Moon Door. We also mustn’t forget that he is behind the murder of Joffrey, all though some may count this as an act of heroism. Oh and finally, he handed Sansa over to Ramsay Bolton. It is easy to forget how many strings Littlefinger has pulled. He is quietly one of the most influential actors in the Game of Thrones and we can all rest assured that he has more tricks up his sleeve.

Now for some outside candidates. After all, it is the year of the outsider…

Sansa Stark


Is a Sansa-Littlefinger Super Villain Alliance On It’s Way? P/C HBO

I mentioned above, that if Littlefinger is able to survive the gift that Sansa has promised, that gift has the potential of being a marriage pact. And, if that is the case, then Sansa, who has already lied to and deceived her half-brother, Jon, may turn her attention from consolidating Northern power and stopping the White Walkers to more political ambitions like those of Littlefinger’s. Last week, we learned that the Lady Stoneheart hype is dead. However, what is Sansa becomes a living Lady Stoneheart? Lord Baelish always says Sansa reminds him of her mother. Maybe she shares her vengeful traits as well. If Sansa we’re to lock away Jon and declare herself queen, and make her way for Walder Frey, would viewers see her as villainous or taking what she deserves from years of toucher? I truly doubt any of this happens but it is possible.

The High Sparrow

By my calculations and the people I talk with, most viewers are already hoping for Jonathan Pryce’s High Sparrow to be killed off as soon as possible. And who knows, depending on what happens Sunday, this could be a reality sooner than later. However, if he survives, does the Sparrow with his band of zealots have a grand plan to seize power? I doubt it but if he ever fashioned himself one, he’d have some great villain potential.

Daenerys Targaryen

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.55.48 PM
Is it possible that in her quest for the Iron Throne that Dany becomes a Villain through Fire & Blood? P/C HBO

Now, I’m not sure that viewers will ever see Dany as a true villain no matter what she does. But with that being said, she has displayed an extreme violent streak in the past, especially in this season, burning down the Dosh Khaleen and threatening to flatten entire cities. I wonder what would have happened if Tyrion was not there to persuade her to threat with the masters, as burning down entire cities, civilians included, isn’t exactly something a hero would do, no matter the reason. Dany has shown she is willing to do whatever it takes to regain control of Westeros, while simultaneously showing that she isn’t exactly adept at statecraft. I wouldn’t be surprised if her quest for the Iron Thrones brings her to commit future atrocities.

Tyrion Lannister

Speaking of Tyrion, his hands are not exactly clean, either. He is guilty of killing his father and murdering his ex-lover in cold blood, and while you can argue that these acts we’re understandable for how the two treated Tyrion, they still tilt more towards the villain spectrum than hero. If that is not enough to convince you that Tyrion could become an especially hated character, then consider this quote from the books, spoken to Jaime Lannister by his aunt Genna during the siege of Riverrun: “Jaime, sweetling, I have known you since you were a babe at Joanna’s breast…but Tyrion is Tywin’s son, not you. I said so once to your father’s face, and he would not speak to me for half a year.”

Now, I have suspicions as to why Tywin took such exception to his sisters statement, but those are theories for a different time. For now, suffice it to say that Tyrion shows significant similarities to Tywin – who before he took that crossbow on his chamber pot was a considerably hated man – in his statecraft and strategy to manipulate the pieces around him as best as possible to win at any cost. I would not be surprised if Tyrion and Dany bring a reign of chaos to the Seven Kingdoms rather than peace… in the books. However, Weiss & Benioff seem content to whitewash many of the show’s characters (especially Jon Snow and Tyrion) so I would be surprised if they went this route.

And from way out in left field…

Bran Stark

A few weeks ago, we saw the destructive potential of Bran’s power on a very micro-level, while many have speculated that perhaps it was his power that drove the Mad King, well, mad. I don’t think the show will go down that path simply because they do not have the bandwidth to do so this late in the game. However, I have heard some say his actions in “The Door” were selfish. If he doesn’t learn how to use his powers productively and for the good of the realm, anything could happen.

Jake asks, “What do you think the significance was of Davos finding that wooden deer he made for Shireen, if any? Was it just to remind him to hate Melisandre?”

First, it is important to note the significance of the wooden stag. As Jake correctly points out, the figurine was given to Shireen by Davos as a gift in Season’s 5 penultimate episode, “Dance of Dragons,” as Davos is being sent back to Castle Black by Stannis to attempt to gather and bring supplies to their camp outside of Winterfell. However, Davos does not realize that Stannis is sending him away so that he cannot stop the Rightful Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms from what he is about to do and perhaps even to protect his Hand.

Davos Giving Shireen the Wooden Stag Seen Sunday P/C HBO

Later in that episode, after thorough convincing from Melisandre, Stannis finally relents and agrees to sacrifice Shireen to R’hollor by burning her at the stake. Obviously, this does not aid in their war efforts at all, as Stannis’ forces are easily destroyed by Ramsay Bolton and Stannis himself meets his end via execution by Brienne.

Following the battle, Melisandre returns to Castle Black, where Jon and Davos question her about the battle and the condition of Princess Shireen. The Red Woman is only able to offer Davos a look that tells him that the Princess has perished. However, what made the scene from Sunday significant, is Davos never learns how Shireen died, he just assumes she was a casualty from the First Battle of Winterfell. That is no longer the case.

When Davos came across the ashes and found the wooden stag, he realizes that Shireen wasn’t killed by Ramsay’s men but rather she was burned in one of Lady Melisandre’s fires. This causes Davos to rightly blame her for the princess’s death. I don’t know much about what will happen next week, but rest assured, Davos will be seeking some form of retribution for the death of Shireen. My guess is it will be in the form of Melisandre’s head. However, if this has repercussions stemming past just the bad blood between Davos and Melisandre remains to be seen.

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