In the latest episode of Game of Thrones, the Battle of the Bastards has begun.
We knew it had to come to this. In one corner, we have Ramsay Snow aka Ramsay Bolton. Newly-minted son of House Bolton and Pretender Warden of the North. He’s currently residing in Winterfell, home of House Stark. In the other corner, we have Jon Snow, bastard son of Ned Stark (maybe) and Sansa Stark (Bolton), natural born daughter of House Stark. Let the rumble begin!
But first, some girl power in Meereen. Dany came back to the city in time to find the Masters attacking it. She looked out from her balcony and saw everything that was happening. Walking back into the Throne Room, she gave a very nervous Tyrion the, “I leave you alone for five minutes and this shit happens” look and he tried to explain the positives. The city is on the rise, the people love their queen, blah blah blah. Then Dany told him how things were going to be: she was going to murder all of the Masters, burn their cities and kill anyone who tried to get in her way. Tyrion reminded her that her father, the Mad King, said the same. He was willing to burn King’s Landing to the ground. The Mad King didn’t care who he killed, he just wanted to “burn them all.” Dany is not her father, but she is a Targaryen. And the Masters found that out the hard way.
Outside of the pyramid, Dany, Tyrion, Missandei, Grey Worm and a handful of Unsullied met with three of the Masters to discuss terms of surrender. The Masters, pompous as always, assumed Dany was talking about her surrender. They demanded she leave Meereen, leave the Unsullied and Missandei to be sold again and go be a beggar queen someplace else. “Your reign is over.” Oh you silly Master. “My reign has just begun.” And then Dany unleashed dragon hellfire on their asses. Drogon stopped by to pick up his Mom, then met up with his brothers and they burned the ships that attacked Meereen until they exploded. While Dany was busy cleaning up, the Masters learned that she had ordered one of them to die. Of course, the lowborn Master is offered up. Grey Worm walked up to him and he fell to his knees, begging for his life. Grey Worm then took his knife and slit the throats of the two highborn Masters still standing with one stroke. That is why he leads the Unsullied! Tyrion then walked over to the remaining Master, patted him on the shoulder and said to him that when he got back to his city, he should tell everyone what happened. If the other Masters try to attack again, remind them of what happened and what will happen to them. The Mother of Dragons does not forget.
In the North, Jon and Sansa met up with Ramsay Bolton. Of course, he assumed that Jon was there to return Sansa to him and to claim Ramsay as Warden of the North. But Jon wanted to fight. He offered to fight the “old way,” which is mano y mano. But Ramsay declined because he knew Jon is a great fighter and would most likely slice him in half. He said that he may not win a hand-to-hand combat, but he knows he’ll win with his army. Sansa then interrupts and asked for proof that Rickon was being held prisoner. Smalljon Umber pulled out the head of Rickon’s direwolf, Shaggy Dog, and tossed it before Jon and Sansa. Before anymore could be said, Sansa proclaimed, “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.” Then she rode off. Whether that shook him up or not, I have no idea, but I know Ramsay didn’t expect to hear that.
At Castle Black, Jon, Davos and Tormund were talking strategy. They know Ramsay has the numbers, but they could still win if they’re smart. And they’re all smart, these men. But Sansa is smarter. She’s lived with Ramsay, she knows how he thinks and what he likes to do to hurt people. But will anyone listen. Nooooooo! Cuz she’s a GIRL! Jon asked his sister how they should get Rickon back and she answered truthfully: they may not get him back alive. Jon wasn’t satisfied with that answer but Sansa is thinking clearly. Like I said, she knows Ramsay better than anyone. Before she left, Sansa told her brother that if they lose, she would not go back to Ramsay alive. Damn straight.
As the men prepared for battle, Davos and Tormund talked. The Onion Knight barely sleeps before a battle and likes to go for long walks. Tormund, on the other hand, likes to have a drink to settle his nerves. The two men part and Davos takes his walk. He arrived at a clearing and came across what looked like a place for burning things. Davos has seen that before, when Stannis and Melisandre were burning people alive back on Dragonstone. But this one is special, for it is the one where the Princess Shireen was burned alive by her own parents. And it is confirmed when Davos finds the wooden stag he carved for her, the same one she had in her hand when she was taken to the stake to burn. Before he can truly process this information, he heard horns being blown. It was time for battle.
Back in Meereen, Theon and Yara have arrived and are standing before the Queen. But Tyrion has a bit to say to Theon, who had plenty of insults for Halfman the last time they were at Winterfell. Dany interrupts this reunion and asks why she should allow them to become part of Team Dany. Theon informs her about the situation with their uncle Euron and would like help with said situation. Yara should rule the Iron Islands, which begs the question: has the Iron Islands ever had a queen before? Yara answers about as much as there’s been one in Westeros. The two ladies already know what’s what. When Theon tells Dany that his uncle is also coming to form an alliance, the Queen wants to know why she shouldn’t wait for him instead. Well Dany, it looks like Euron wants to marry you first, whether you like it or not. And since the Mother of Dragons doesn’t take kindly to people planning her future, she decided to combine forces with Theon and Yara. But there’s a catch: no looting, reaving, raping or robbing. Yara agrees and the alliance is formed. I’m looking forward to seeing Euron’s face when he arrives in Meereen.
Back in the North, the Battle of the Bastards is about to begin. Jon’s men are lined up and ready and so are Ramsay and his men. Bolton is moving to the front of the line and seems to be pulling something with a rope. Turns out it’s Rickon Stark and Jon reacts in exactly the way Ramsay was expecting. Ramsay gets off his horse and moves further into the field, taking Rickon with him. The psycho takes out a knife and it looks like he’s going to murder Rickon, but instead he cuts the ropes binding the young boy’s wrists. He tells Rickon that they’re going to play a game and he has to run towards Jon. At first, the young Stark walks slowly because he doesn’t trust Bolton, which is smart. And then he sees the bow and quiver of arrows and Rickon runs for his damn life. Jon sees what’s happening, jumps on his horse and tries to reach his brother. Ramsay looses a couple of arrows and misses, seemingly on purpose. But when Rickon gets close enough to Jon he can actually reach out and grab his hand, an arrow goes right through him and he falls. Rickon Stark, youngest son of Eddard Stark, dies on that battlefield.
Jon sees his youngest brother die in front of him and then looks at Ramsay with pure hatred. Tormund knows that Bolton is just trying to bait Jon into fighting recklessly and says, “Don’t” under his breath. But Jon’s rage is too far gone and he charges towards Ramsay, which is what he wanted. He tells his men to loose their arrows and Jon’s horse falls, leaving him out in the open to be trampled by the Bolton cavalry. It looked like that was exactly going to happen and I thought to myself, “So they brought Jon back to life so they could kill him again?” Thankfully, the Lord of Light didn’t mess with us again (for now). Jon’s own cavalry charged past him and the battle in all its bloody glory began.
I’m not going to get too far into the actual battle because you really need to see it for yourself. One of the most spectacular battles I’ve seen on GOT was at Blackwater Bay, but this one surpassed it. I was holding my breath through most of the fighting because there were so many times when Jon should have been dead. The gods were all with him that day because he had so many close calls. And although he’s a psychopath, Ramsay Bolton is an outstanding general. His crazy mind is one made for war. Had he been a decent man, he would have been known for his strategic mind. If you have time, I implore you to watch this episode just for the battle alone.
Suffice it to say, Jon was about to lose the battle. He and his remaining army were enclosed in a deadly circle that called to the time of the Romans. There really was no way to get out of it, plain and simple. Thank the gods Sansa had the good sense not to listen to her brother and sent a raven to Littlefinger. The Knights of the Vale came charging into the fray and they slaughtered Bolton’s men. Ramsay looked utterly confused for a few moments because he really couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Once it registered that the tide had turned in Jon’s favor, he made for Winterfell with the rest of his men and barred the gate. Jon, Tormund and the giant Wun Wun went after him.
Ramsay underestimated how badly Jon wanted him dead and didn’t take into account that Wun Wun would knock the gates of Winterfell to bits. When he did, the giant was full of arrows. He fell to his knees, but still had some fight in him. Jon, grateful for all of his help, was about to put a hand on the giant in thanks, but Ramsay’s arrow went into Wun Wun’s eye and he fell down dead. Bolton thought now was the time to fight mano y mano and loosed an arrow at Jon. But he was too quick and was able to block it with a shield he found on the ground (from House Mormont, of course). With each blocked arrow, Jon got closer and closer to Ramsay, until he finally knocked that creep on his back and proceeded to beat the living shit out of him. Had Sansa not arrived, Jon would have killed him with his bare hands. Instead, he left that to Sansa since she suffered the most by Ramsay’s hands.
As the battle finally ended, the Bolton banners were removed and the sigul of House Stark was where it belonged once again. Jon and Sansa were finally home (and I was crying once again). But there were a couple of loose ends that needed tying. The first was to bury their brother Rickon in the family crypt next to their father. The second was for Sansa and Sansa alone to complete. As Rickon’s lifeless body was being taken to the crypt, Sansa asked Jon where Ramsay was being held.
In what looked like a normal cell, a bloody Ramsay was tied to a chair. He saw Sansa and, of course, eggs her on just because. But she’s in control this time. He tells her that he is part of her now, but she knows that isn’t true. She told him that his name, words and house will disappear. And then he realized that he was in a cell with his hounds. His very, very hungry hounds that haven’t been fed in seven days (which he bragged about earlier) and they smelled blood. The blood that was all over Ramsay’s face. He thought his hounds wouldn’t hurt him because they’re loyal. But Sansa knew better. They were starving and used to eating flesh. One of his Mastiff’s (a beautiful dog, by the way), sniffed Ramsay and began licking his face. The psycho, finally, was afraid. And he should be because that same dog began tearing his face off. Sansa didn’t look away until she was ready. When she is, a brand new Sansa Stark walked away from the nightmare that was Ramsay Bolton with a little smile of satisfaction on her face.
Now that Winterfell is theirs, what’s next for Jon and Sansa? What will Dany do with her new alliance with the Greyjoys? And when the hell will Arya get back to Westeros?
Game of Thrones airs on Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.
Photos courtesy of HBO.