Game of Thrones 6x9: Battle of the Bastards
After a season of staying under the radar (Except for that much-hyped resurrection), Jon Snow returns to the show carrying the weight of the biggest episode yet on his shoulders. After a series of underwhelming episodes stringing us along, we finally find out all the quality was being funneled into this episode. The Battle of the Bastards.
For an episode that hyped-up massive action sequences, it surprisingly left out teasers for our first instance of coordinated dragon carnage. We've seen the dragon trio 'dracarys' a few people in the past, but never to the scale of this episode. Together, with Daenerys mounted on Drogon, they decimate a massive ship in mere seconds.
Backtracking, after an intense stare down with a cowering Tyrion, Dany agrees to meet with the opposing forces to negotiate a surrender. The big-in-their-britches slavers seem to think they have won the day, but Daenerys doesn't even humor the thought. Her cockiness reached extreme levels this week, but, perhaps she is merely exuding confidence on the outside. Last season, when the coliseum fight was derailed by the Suns of the Harpy, you could sense the fear in Daenerys. It grounded this massively powerful woman, who while having many badass moments, also seemed vulnerable. But, this season, she has shown absolutely no fear, burning all of the Khals and mounting her dragons with the utmost confidence. It is this Targaryen ruthlessness that has plagued her family in the past, and even in this episode, it seemed she was more concerned with exuding power than actually protecting her citizens. You could almost hear her saying "burn them all."
Following the victory, we see the arrival of Theon and Yara, who appear very humble. Tyrion lobs a few insults at Theon, who does well to keep his cool and explain himself. He also appears to do most of the talking instead of Yara, which is surprising due to his shifty demeanor and low self worth. Yet, common sense and Yara eye-banging Dany seals their alliance. Dany now has her fleet, and she can take off for Westeros. Except, her city just got destroyed. If the past is to be an indication of her goals, it seems she would want to stay to rebuild Meereen for a few months.
While Meereen has become a nuisance in the show for the past few seasons, Daenery's dedication to it showed how she could actually be a decent ruler. While it may excite us to see her leave for Westeros, abandoning her city is not a good sign for her leadership. Perhaps she can find a new ruler for it, maybe, Tyrion? He did sail across the sea to find her and be her advisor, but he has really sunk his teeth into being a ruler. But, he also appears to feel lonely, and unable to connect with the locals, so maybe he'll settle for being gifted Casterly Rock when Daenerys conquers all.
And, it seems at this point, there is no force powerful enough to stop the Khaleesi. With her dragons, her armies, and alliance with the Iron Born seem to make her unstoppable. No army in Westeros seems to have the power to combat her forces. Even the White Walkers appear feeble when pitted against her dragons. I am guessing something will have to derail her plans soon, whether it is one of her peers dies, there is infighting amongst her ranks, or her kindness holds her back.
I spent the majority of this episode yelling at Jon for being so stupid. He made so many poor decisions, it was soul-crushing to watch. He played directly into Ramsay's hand every step of the way. He spent the first half of this episode planning a semi-decent strategy wherein they would dig trenches, and wait for Ramsay's horseman to charge. Jon's men could take cover in the trenches, and cause the horses to stumble. However, this strategy seems to be thrown out the window the instant Ramsay killed Rickon.
I actually have to respect Ramsay for his battle strategy. It may have been wicked, but it was extremely well thought out and executed. Only Ramsay could concoct the idea of using arches to build a wall of bodies in order to block his enemy in. Then, he has his men surround them on three sides with broad shields and slowly close in. I almost feel bad for Ramsay's brilliant plan, which got upended when Sansa and Little Finger swoop in to save the day.
Really, it was Jon's need to hold on to his pride that almost led to his army's downfall, but Sansa's ability to swallow her pride and contact Little Finger that won the battle. Nice to see a Stark thinking with her head instead of her pride.
In the end, we get to see Jon retake Winterfell and Ramsay bite the dust. It is all extremely satisfying, a shining gem of optimism in the series. The only important, friendly casualty was Wun Wun, who died gloriously in battle, nothing to be ashamed of. This episode, by far, has been the most pleasant to the ones we call heroes.
But, then comes the aftermath. We see glimpses of what is to come in the finale. It appears Davos has unravelled the fate of Shireen, and has death eyes for Melisandre. In the trailer for the next episode, we start to see why Little Finger agreed to bring the army of the Vale. It seems Sansa will be getting unwanted husband #3 soon enough. And, seeing as Jon is a bastard, Little Finger may be trying to weasel his way into becoming the next warden of the North. Although, it will not mean all that much, considering the North's army has just been decimated. Either way, Petyr Baelish has just put himself into the seat of immense power that will probably see him rise in the final season as a major contender for the throne.
As for Jon, it is unclear what his path will be following this battle. Could he be the new warden of the North? It seems just as likely as unlikely, considering he will want to return it to the true Starks. Yet, seeings as he lead this massive battle, his supporters may want him to rule. But after the debacle as the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, I doubt Jon will want to be a lord. Perhaps he will just start rebuilding his army to prepare for the arrival of the dead, who are sure to break through the wall next episode.