SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 9: “Battle of the Bastards” do not read on.
“Battle of the Bastards” is a blitzkrieg of an episode. Jon and Ramsay go to war, Daenerys unleashes her full grown dragons on the attacking Masters — and the tyrannical Ramsay Bolton meets his fate.
We open with Tyrion and Queen Daenerys discussing what to do about the surprise attack on Meereen. Daenerys echoes the likes of her late father, the Mad King, expressing her desire to lay waste to the Masters and their assorted lands. But Tyrion, a diplomat at heart, warns his Queen that this kind of ruthlessness is what got her father killed. They decide to meet with the three Masters, which only results in threats to slaughter Daenerys’ dragons and stealing her army. Drogon appears, Daenerys jump on his back and flies off, Rhaegal and Viserion soon follow, and together they torch much of the attacking slavers. The three Masters look on in horror as Tyrion says one of them must die for their betrayal. Razdal mo Eraz of Yunkai and Belicho Paenymion of Volantis instantly turn their back on Yezzan zo Qaggaz of Astapor, since he is the lowest born of the three. But Grey Worm spares Yezzan and kills both Razdal and Belicho with one swing of his blade. Tyrion tells Yezzan to let everyone know how powerful Daenerys has become.
Yara and Theon finally arrive in Meereen. They form a pact with Daenerys, promising the Queen a hundred ships if she will help their claim to the Salt Throne and defeat Euron. This gives Daenerys the much needed means of sea travel, leading her closer to Westeros and the Iron Throne.
Up in the North, Ramsay and Smalljon Umber meet with Jon, Davos and Sansa. Lord Bolton offers them the chance to surrender but Jon refuses, instead asking for a one on one battle with Ramsay. Knowing he would surely lose a swordfight, Ramsay laughs this idea off and threatens Rickon. Smalljon throws Shaggydog’s head at their feet, proving that Rickon has been taken prisoner. Before riding off, Sansa tells Ramsay he will die the next day.
The battle scenes are loud, dirty and brutal. Like a whirlwind of falling horses and blood, blades swing and heads roll in a chopped up, grizzly half hour of mayhem. As predicted by many, Rickon is killed off just before the battle begins, leaving Jon out in the open without his army. He looks at the charging enemy soldiers with weary, brittle eyes. He’s a man who’s sick of fighting, maybe even sick of this world after being given a second chance. Jon does tell Melisandre before the fight: “If I fall, don’t bring me back.” Luckily, Jon’s army arrives a split second before he can be trampled. We see a neat tracking shot of Jon taking out several men with amazing sword play, showing us that he is still the great warrior we know and love.
Just as Jon, Davos and the Wildlings are surrounded, Littlefinger rides in with the Knights of the Vale and forces Ramsay to retreat back to Winterfell.
The bloodiness in “Battle of the Bastards” doesn’t let up. In the final scenes we see Tormund gnaw off Smalljon’s throat. A gory but triumphant moment for the charismatic Wildling warrior.
In the end, Jon gives Ramsay a beating, but ultimately, Sansa feeds the villain to his own pooches. This was a satisfying end to a glorious episode. The action is brisk, wasting no time. Although some may have seen all of this coming weeks ago, it’s what we deserved. After years of torture and death under the rule of a madman, the Stark flag is draped over Winterfell once again.