A Battle for the ages, and the last of the Epic Nine’s. Welcome to all as we near the end of our stroll to kill time (along with a few Boltons and Wildlings and slave masters) before Season 7. A man’s name is Oz and I have been commissioned to guide you through what was truly a gargantuan mountain of casualties, all within a 60-minute run time.
You can zig-zag until your heart is content. But for this Battle, the ink is already dry…
“The city is on the rise.”
We open with signature Sapochnik as we follow a single one of the great balls of fire attacking the pyramid of Meereen by order of the slave masters. Tyrion explains to Dany that while it doesn’t look entirely harmonious, the city has actually made some improvements while she was cooking the Dothraki perverts.
Dany says that she will burn cities to the ground and we are once again reminded about the cache of wildfire below King’s Landing. Tyrion urges her to not take after the Mad King (also, see: the Mad Queen in “The Winds of Winter”, a wonderful episode to be explored tomorrow by our own Vanessa Cole). He then offers an alternative…
“You surrender.” “No, you surrender.” “No, I said it first.”
Dany and company meet with the slave masters to agree to terms of surrender. At first, the masters believe they are dishing the terms, at least until Drogon swoops in. Slaver’s Bay will be renamed shortly after, and Grey Worm gets a two for one slash with his short blade on the masters. Daario leads in the Dothraki horde to take care of things on the ground while the other two dragons join Drogon in the water barbecue.
There had been a few past instances where the dragons and the CGI didn’t present well on-screen, but the battle in Slaver’s Bay looks phenomenally epic, as it deserved to. Within hours of returning, Dany has retaken control.
“I’m up for anything, really.”
Later on in Meereen, Dany and Tyrion consider the terms of Yara and Theon in regards to forming a new alliance before Euron can show up with his big cock. Dany and Yara quickly find common ground as women leaders and the issues each had with their respective fathers. In the end, the two houses form an alliance that would give Yara control of the Iron Islands while recognizing Dany’s claim to the throne and adding 100 more ships to her fleet.
I’m a Bastard. You’re a Bastard. Wouldn’t you like to be a bastard too?
Finally, the bastards meet face to face to discuss their round of terms. Jon suggests settling it the old-fashioned way: one-on-one combat with Ramsay and saving the lives of thousands of men. But Ramsay knows better as he has heard rumors of Jon being the greatest swordsman ever and declines, stating that he has the numbers and knows he can win with his army.
Give the girl some credit, and happy shitting.
Jon, Davos and Tormund discuss battle strategy and Tormund is educated on pincer moves. After the meeting, Davos and Tormund discuss demons, sour goat’s milk, and walking around all night before a battle with active bowels. Meanwhile, Sansa voices her frustration about not being consulted considering she knows Ramsay better than any of them. She tells Jon that Ramsay is the best at manipulation and correctly predicts that he would wait until they made a mistake to make his move.
And then, viewer frustration. Sansa tells Jon that they don’t have enough men to which Jon replies that they never will. To his knowledge, there are no more Houses to rally. So why didn’t Sansa tell him about the Knights of the Vale? Continue the debate below. Or don’t. Again, the ink is dry.
Jon to Mel to Davos (also known as the reason that there will not be a Davos and Mel: Love is Hell spinoff).
Jon visits Mel in the official R’hllor tent and tells her that if he were to fall that she is not to resurrect him. She states that it is not her decision to make, but rather it is the will of the Lord of Light. Segue to Davos on his long night of walking before battle, coming across an area where a fire once burned. Davos finds the toy stag he gave Shireen in Season 5 and realizes immediately what took place. The facial expressions alone tell the story of his heartbreak and distress and remind us that Liam Cunningham is one hell of an actor (especially when he confronts Red Velvet, but that’s next episode).
If you listen to the commentaries on the Blu-Ray during this episode, you will hear Sapochnik, Harington and Sophie Turner in dialogue like they are sitting around a campfire having cocktails, all while referring to the Battle as “Bob.”
This was one of those Battles that viewers speculated was inevitable for quite some time, and to be able to pull it off and meet expectations was going to be a tough order to fulfill. But they had the right man for the job, and it did not disappoint. If you were disappointed, maybe you need to go watch it again and realize the ridiculous amount of careful writing, choreography and cinematography that had to work in unison in order for this not to look like a complete mess of bloody horses and dead manhood.
Sansa was right. Zig-zag!
In her dialogue with Jon, Sansa essentially tells him that Rickon is dead no matter what. Making the opening of the battle even more intense than it already was, Ramsay walks out with Rickon on a rope, cuts it and tells him to run to his brother.
Then the zig-zag discussion among the fandom exploded.
This move by Ramsay got Jon and his army right where he wanted them, just as Sansa had warned, giving us these beautiful, horrific shots where Jon justifiably assumes that he is DONE…
But just as he thinks his second life is over, his army blasts in to join the bloody masquerade. Davos decides not to loose their arrows because it would kill some of their own men. Ramsay doesn’t give a shit.
I wrote this last year back when I did the episode recap about the ground action sequence. I could regurgitate it and reword it slightly, but what for? This essentially captures my true feelings while taking the scene in:
The Jon-centered shot of him maneuvering the battlefield during the ongoing chaos was pure genius. It somehow accurately depicted how fast things would be moving in that situation. The only comparison I can draw is my experience during my football days and how watching it from afar seemed normal speed while being on the field in the midst of it all felt like 200 miles per hour. Fantastic.
The semi-circle of Bolton shields surrounding Jon and his men may have been the most frightening sequence, as the circle of death continued to grow smaller around them and the mountain of dead men continued to propagate. At this point, the only chance I gave any of them was contingent upon how many Boltons Wun Wun could destroy with his bare hands.
Seeing no other alternative, Jon’s men decide to turn and run to climb the mountain of the dead, smothering Jon under a pile of humanity in the process. Once again, the second life of Jon seems to realistically be over until the Knights of the Vale and Littlefinger show up for the rescue. Oh, and in the middle of all that, Tormund took a snack break on Umber’s neck.
After the Littlefinger save, it was off to the races chasing Ramsay over to Winterfell. Wun Wun is able to bust through the gate only to finally meet his end with an arrow to the eye in what would be the last kill of Ramsay’s torturous life. Jon proceeds to kick Ramsay’s ass, the Stark banner hangs again from the walls of Winterfell, and the rest is television history.
In the end, it was a bad decision for Ramsay to not feed his dogs for seven days.
And remember this going forward into Season 7… without Littlefinger, all of your favorite characters in the North, are DEAD.
“Despite appearances, I think you’ll find the city is on the rise.” –Tyrion
“It always seems a bit abstract, doesn’t it? Other people dying.” -Tyrion
“Will your men want to fight for you when they hear you wouldn’t fight for them?” –Jon
“You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton.” –Sansa
“Did you really think that cunt would fight you man to man?” -Tormund
“If I do, if I fall, don’t bring me back.” –Jon
“We may as well be taking shits back here.” –Davos
“Our time together is about to come to an end.” -Ramsay
- Belicho Paenymion and Razdal mo Eraz, slave masters
- Rickon Stark
- Lord Jon Umber
- Wun Wun
- Ramsay Bolton
- Thousands of Wildlings, Boltons, and soldiers from multiple other houses
Pointless episode trivia
- How many times is the word “Bastard” spoken in the entire episode?
- How many arrows were in Wun Wun when he finally fell?
- How many live horses were used in the filming of the BotB?
Beautiful Death for Battle of the Bastards, by Robert M. Ball
A man shall return soon for in-season Looking Forward. Can you believe it?? And may there always be peace in your realm. -Oz
Follow Oz on Twitter