TV REVIEW: Game of Thrones - The Battle of the Bastards
Well, we're a week away from the end of the season and this fact is killing me, but before all that there's a little matter called The Battle of the Bastards, which is one of many things this series has been building up to - the fight between Jon and the Wildlings, and Ramsay and the forces of House Bolton for the seat of Winterfell and control of the North. An incredible episode, it still played out fairly simply to how you'd have thought it would, and most of the episode was focused on the conflict.
However, it did take a little detour to show us what was happening in Mereen, as a somewhat parental Dany arrived to find the city on fire from the masters, with a rather apologetic Tyrion. It was easy for the three dragons to start nailing their ships, and after killing two of the three masters, we got down to finally bringing together the Ironborn and the Dothraki, who sliced through the Sons of the Harpy like Needle through a candle. Theon and Yara faced down Dany and Tyrion and agreed to join up, but the joy of the scene was seeing Dany and Yara flirting like crazy. We already know which side Yara's bread is buttered, so this could be an interesting development. Poor Dario Nahaaris.
Joy was the last thing happening in the North, as the armies faced each other at last. Poor Rickon immediately became another ex-Stark after being part of one of Ramsey's games, one that got Jon to fall into his trap, especially after Sansa warned Jon that Ramsay is a different kind of beast. From then on it was utterly grim, as bodies piled up and became almost ramparts to fight upon. Jon went on a mission to slaughter everyone he could see on the Bolton side, but the enemy army were able to surround them with their superior numbers and shields, and for a second it looked like curtains until Sansa and Littlefinger arrived with the knights of the Vale.
What came across in the battle is just how grim and desperate and claustrophobic this kind of combat could be, and with the sight of the Vale knights seeing Jon get trampled on by his own men. It was a terrifying sequence, with him unable to breath and see, and as he finally came out of the maw and gasped for air, it was almost like a rebirth, with the real Jon coming back to take care of business, which he did after Ramsay scarpered back to the fort. It was a pretty harrowing moment seeing Jon just beating Ramsay again and again and again, all pure anger and vengeance, but he realised at the last second that while this was his battle, someone else had a greater need for making him suffer. Sansa.
Her final scene was glorious and another example of how far she has come from the beginning, standing up to Ramsay and looking him in the eye as his hungry dogs ripped him apart. Her triumphant stride away was wonderful, especially the little smile that she gave at the end. Justice done. Speaking of justice, there was a lovely scene where Davos found Shereen's pyre, and discovered her toy stag in the ashes. It was beautifully shot with a fiery sun full of rage as his figure stood alone in the snow, and that is something that certainly has to be covered in the finale.
There is a fair bit that needs to be tied up really. Cersei's trial for one, whatever the Hound is doing, how to get thousands of Dothraki onto boats, plus where Benjen is taking Bran and Meera and how they're going to prepare for the assault of the Night King. It's been a saying since the first episode - in fact it was the title - but after six seasons of political intrigue and power struggles and relationships, it's finally at a point where we can safely say "Winter is coming."
Westeros had better be prepared.
You can read Charlie's review of previous episode, No One, here.