After the anti-climax-filled episode eight, Game of Thrones fans across the world were looking forward to the ninth episode of the current series: the episode we have grown to expect great things of, not least because it was in this episode three seasons ago, that the Red Wedding took place. But did “Battle of the Bastards” deliver? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
[Pssst, spoilers are on their way]
The opening scenes of the episode took us to Meereen, where we learnt a little more about Daenerys’ father, the Mad King Aerys II, and Tyrion hinted that Daenerys needs to be careful if she doesn’t want to end up with a similarly problematic nickname to add to her already long introduction.
Also in Meereen, seeing Grey Worm kill two of the Wise Masters of Yunkai over the head of one of their own members was one of those deeply satisfying acts of violence/justice Game of Thrones likes to deliver occasionally. We also finally got to see all three dragons in action, hopefully not for the last time, as having two dragons locked-up underground really is both a tragic waste of firepower, and probably an issue for Westeros’ version of the RSPCA.
Meanwhile in the North, Davos learnt the tragic truth about Princess Shireen’s death. He’s only recently made a somewhat fragile alliance with Melisandre, but the discovery of Shireen’s stag trinket she held so dear (or deer, get it?), is sure to change that. Davos and Shireen formed a strong friendship, and it was the Princess who taught the Onion Knight how to read, meaning he was heartbroken when he learnt of her death. Now that he knows his supposed ally is responsible, it’s unlikely that he’ll simply sit on this knowledge, and when Jon finds out, will Melisandre still have a place at their side?
One of my personal favourite parts of the episode was the scene in which Yara and Theon Greyjoy met Daenerys, and we were introduced to what might be Westeros’ next big power couple. No, not Theon and Dany. Dany and Yara. The pair exchanged amused looks over Euron’s impending proposal, and we saw a lot of understanding between the two women. Both had mad and evil fathers, they both admitted, and both are determined to become the first Queens of their people. There was even what might be interpreted as flirting between the two, and Yara admitted that whilst she wasn’t looking to marry the Mother of Dragons, she wouldn’t be entirely opposed to it. Even if the pair don’t form a romantic relationship (please tell me someone is writing the FanFiction?), if they can remain allies, they’re going to be a merciless force to be reckoned with.
They also agreed that the Ironborn will put their old ways behind them in exchange for Daenerys’ support, so there will be no more raiding or raping from the Greyjoys and their followers. Or at least, that’s the hope. As we’ve seen from what’s happened in Slaver’s Bay, people don’t tend to take too kindly to changing their traditions. If Yara is really in support of this movement, at least some of the Ironborn are sure to follow. And if not, between Yara and Daenerys, I’m sure they can be “convinced”.
When it came to the actual battle for Winterfell, thanks to all the hype that has surrounded the episode, it was all a little predictable. In another episode 9 Stark death, Rickon died, but this time, we weren’t really shocked. Even Sansa predicted that she had no chance of reuniting with her brother.
The real question of the day was just how long it would take for the deus ex machina, a.k.a. the knights of the Eyrie to arrive. Obviously, the literal knights in shining armour only arrived right at the very end, when it appeared that all hope was lost, and when Jon had been almost squished to death by the fighting armies.
I’ll admit, whilst the outcome of the battle was predictable, the choreography and cinematography was brilliant, and the fight felt tense throughout. At one point, I was sure we were about to see the last of the wonderful Tormund Giantsbane. Luckily, he pulled through to take a Hannibal Lecter-style bite out of his opponent, and the Wildling will live to eye-up Brienne another day.
Whilst Jon fought at the forefront of the battle, cowardly Ramsay waited at the sidelines, not even lifting his sword. Ramsay was never going to die in battle. That would have been far too heroic. Instead, once Jon’s armies had taken Winterfell, Ramsay was of course, treated to a taste of his own medicine, courtesy of Sansa, who literally fed him to the dogs. This was a satisfying scene, and one which has been a long time coming. We knew Sansa was going to be the one to serve justice as soon as we saw the determined look in her eyes when she spotted Ramsay fleeing from battle.