Monday, June 20, 2016

Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards recap

by Melissa Parkin

Season six comes to a head, and no one's safe in "Battle of the Bastards." As Slaver’s Bay continues their assault on Meereen, Daenerys plots to kill the Masters, destroy their armies, and annihilate their cities. Tyrion tries to convince her of a less volatile approach, reminding Dany of the Mad King’s scheme to burn King’s Landing to the ground with Wildfire. She heeds his advice and takes a more diplomatic approach by meeting with the Masters outside of the Great Pyramid. She inquires about terms of surrender, in which the Masters demand absolute submission including the death of the dragons locked beneath the city. Dany remains stoic. “We obviously didn't communicate clearly. We're here to discuss your surrender, not mine.” 

The ferocious Drogon suddenly swoops in and lands beside her, and the Mother of Dragons climbs onto his back. The two take flight just as Rhaegal and Viserion break out of the dungeons below. The Sons of Harpy begin massacring innocent civilians in the streets before Daario leads his company into the city, killing them all. From above, Daenerys sics her dragons on the attacking fleets, setting fire to some of the vessels. Grey Worm offers the Masters’ guards the chance to walk away if they do not wish to die, and they happily oblige. Missandei informs the three lone Slave Masters that one of them must die as consequence for their betrayal. The Masters turn on one of their own, claiming him to be lowborn. Grey Worm approaches the man in question with his blade primed, only to kill the other two. The sole survivor is told he can return home on the condition that he inform his people that Dany’s mercy is the only reason he was spared.

Sansa and Jon meet with Ramsay Bolton on the impending battlefield. As cocky as ever, Ramsay thanks Snow for returning his wife to him. He knows his army outnumbers the Starks’ by more than double, offering them the chance to surrender. Jon counters the offer by suggesting they settle this fight the old way, in which Bolton and Snow will face off in hand-to-hand combat. Bolton laughs off the idea, dangling Rickon’s safety as bait by lobbing Shaggydog’s head in front of them. “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton,” declares Sansa. “Sleep well.” She rides off, leaving Bolton with the final word. He tells Jon that he can’t wait to have her back in his bed, along with letting his starving dogs rip Snow and his men apart.

Later on, Jon, Tormund, and Davos try to develop battlefield strategies, in which Sansa scoffs at their plans. She knows Ramsay better than anyone else, and she knows how much he relishes in playing mind games. He won’t fall victim to any scheme Snow cooks up. Jon asks his half sister how she thinks they could get Rickon back. To his disbelief, she tells him that they won’t. Rickon is the rightful Stark heir over Winterfell, posing a greater threat to Bolton than some bastard and a woman. The two argue, ending with Sansa telling him that she refuses to go back to Ramsay alive. Jon insists that he would never let Ramsay get his hands on her again, but Sansa says that no one can protect anyone. Needing space to clear his head, Davos wanders from the camp, coming upon the remains of the pyre that Stannis burned his daughter on. He kneels down, brushing away some charred remains to find the stag he made for Shireen.

The Greyjoy siblings meet with Daenerys in the Great Pyramid, and Tyrion can’t help but to reflect on the last time he saw Theon. Considering Theon’s formerly arrogant behavior, it comes as no surprise that he was cracking jokes about Tyrion’s height. Yara insists her brother has paid for the cost of his crimes, asking for Dany’s support in exchange for the ships she secured from the Iron Fleet. Daenerys asks why she shouldn’t take Uncle Euron’s offer, as he controls far many more vessels. Yara informs her that his alliance comes at the price of marriage. All Yara wants is independence for the Iron Islands. Dany agrees.

Reflective of the Bolton House banners, flayed bodies blaze across the battlefield as the two sides prepare their forces. Ramsay strolls out ahead of his men, dragging Rickon behind him. He taunts Jon by pulling out a dagger and raising it towards the boy. He suddenly slashes Rickon’s binds, telling him to run to his brother. Suspicious, Rickon slowly walks away, but Ramsay further insists he get a move on as a soldier hands Bolton a bow and arrow. Jon sets out on horseback, racing to reach his brother in time. Bolton lazily shoots off a few arrows, striking the ground around Rickon as he furiously scurries across the field. Just as the boy is within feet of Jon, an arrow slices right through his chest, forcing Jon to watch his brother slowly suffocate to death.

Blinded by rage, Jon charges towards Bolton’s forces, alone. Ramsay issues a strike, resulting in a barrage of arrows that kills Jon’s horse. He’s thrown from the steed, but manages to climb back up to his feet as Bolton’s first wave of men charges right for him. He braces for impact, pulling out his sword, only for his own forces to swallow up the scenery. The two sides clash in a flurry of brutality, eventually resulting in a hill of slain men. Ramsay flanks Jon’s entire army, closing them in on all sides with shields and spears. Picking the men off one by one, Bolton’s forces bear down on them until they’re huddled in with nowhere left to run. 

Smalljon arrives to face off against Jon, but the two get separated amongst the hysteria. Snow finds himself pinned down on the ground as his own men trample over him in an attempt to escape over the piles of bodies. He finally resurfaces, gasping for air as horns sound from a distance. Tormund uses the distraction to his advantage and bites Smalljon’s neck before killing him. The men of Vale descend upon Bolton’s army as Littelfinger and Sansa ride up on top of the hill. As we all suspected, it was in fact Baelish that Sansa sent that raven to. Seeing his army get slaughtered, Ramsay retreats back to Winterfell, but not without Jon, Wun Wun, and Tormund on his heels. 

Ramsay simply orders his men to barricade the front gate, assuming Winterfell’s walls will hold up against Snow’s new forces. Bolton seemed to underestimate Wun Wun’s brute strength, because the giant smashes clean through the barrier. Having taken a volley of arrows, Wun Wun falls to his knees as Jon and his men raid the courtyard. Just as Snow arrives next to Wun Wun, Ramsay finishes off the giant by putting an arrow through his eye. Ramsay says he wishes to revisit Jon’s previous offer of hand-to-hand combat. He starts shooting arrows at Snow, but Jon picks up a shield, absorbing all the hits. Snow charges Ramsay, pummeling him into the ground and pounding his fists into his face as Sansa bears witness. Stark banners are returned to Winterfell, and Jon orders that his half brother’s body be buried in the crypt beside Ned.

Later in the evening, Sansa visits Ramsay, who's now tied up (fittingly) in the kennels. Ramsay says she can’t kill him. He’ll be a part of her now…forever. “Your words will disappear. Your House will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear,” declares Sansa, ever so calmly. Out of the corner of his eye, Ramsay sees his very own hounds creep out of their cages. He’s convinced they won’t attack him, out of devotion. “You haven’t fed them in seven days. You said it yourself.” Just as she predicted, their starvation trumps his loyalty. Ramsay tries ordering the hounds to stand down, but one comes up to him and begins feasting on his blood spattered face, in which the others follow suit. Sansa walks away, a small smile teasing at her lips as the dogs rip him apart. As for everyone else watching at home...

Yep, it's that glorious!
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