Game of Thrones 6.9: The Battle of the Bastards
Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 9 recap
Feed your dogs. If you take any life lessons from Game of Thrones, it’s this—FEED YOUR DAMN DOGS. We’ll get to Ramsay Bolton and his deliciously fitting end, but first: Meereen. With the city under attack, it played out as assumed—the dragons finally got off their asses and did something useful, and the sight of Daenerys riding Drogon as her children laid waste to the masters’ fleet was enough to end the fight. The Dothraki, honestly, just felt like overkill when everyone basically sh*t their pants at the sight of the dragons.
Which leaves us with the two important parts of the Meereen scene. 1) Tyrion talks Daenerys down from total war. It’s blatantly apparent that Daenerys has a streak of that Targaryen madness in her, but she is also equally determined to NOT be like her father. Which is 2) the gist of her meeting with Yara and Theon. Of course she accepts their one hundred ships, and she seems to take to Yara—a fellow rebellious woman—but she’s not f*cking around with them, either. The Iron Born will change their ways, or they’ll be on the wrong end of “Dracarys”. And for a chance to rule, Yara accepts this compromise. Great. Now to the North.
Jon Snow is at his best when he’s in the field, commanding armies. But Sansa not telling him about the Knights of the Vale pretty much ensures he can’t be at his best, because he’s making plans with an enormous f*cking blind spot. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch Sansa take Jon to task for not listening to her, when she isn’t exactly talking to him, either. But then, this is the point. The future of Winterfell rests on Jon and Sansa, the two siblings who didn’t really have a relationship before all this sh*t started. They don’t know each other, and Sansa, at least, doesn’t trust Jon. It’s understandable, and she’s right—no one can really protect anyone in this world—but still. They HAVE to find a way to cooperate going forward.
Sansa, however, ends up being right down the line when it comes to fighting Ramsay. Rickon was never going to survive—we all knew that, but still, poor kid—and Ramsay is a master manipulator. And Jon shows his Stark (read: stupid) side when he falls for Ramsay’s taunting. But it is abundantly clear that for Jon Snow, the point of this battle isn’t his strategy or even his prowess—both of which we’ve already establish. No, this is about his LUCK. There is “Daenerys the Unburnt”, and now there is “Jon Snow the Unscathed”. He fell off a horse and almost got trampled to death; arrows fell all around him and not even one knicked him, and every sword strike missed. He emerged from a literal mountain of death, and literally walked it off. Jon Snow came through a medieval nightmare without a single wound.
As magnificent as the actual battle is—and it is a tremendous technical achievement, with fantastic POV shots and pulling on visual references from World War I and descriptions of medieval battles, plus a great homage to Braveheart—the single best visual of the episode is the small smile on Sansa’s face as the Knights of the Vale ride to the rescue. Her gambit paid off, and with the Vale behind her, the Starks took back Winterfell. And it ends for Ramsay Bolton with Jon Snow beating him bloody, and Sansa—again with that smile—feeding him to his dogs. It’s the revenge we all so badly wanted for Sansa, accomplished in the most poetic way possible.
Ramsay didn’t think his dogs would turn on him, even though he starved them. And here is perhaps the lesson the Stark kids need to learn—you have to feed your dogs. Literally, in Ramsay’s case, but in their case, Jon and Sansa have to find some way to build trust between them. The tease for the season finale indicates they know this, though, so they can move forward as a united front. The Starks are back in Winterfell and Sansa got the revenge she so richly deserved. But there is still an army of undead to deal with, and Lannisters mucking things up to the south. Game of Thrones puts on spectacular battles, but the point is always what happens next.