20 June, 2016

Season Six, Episode Nine "Battle of the Bastards"

Not a lot of twists and turns to this episode.  Pretty much just straight ahead.  Kind of like Rickon's evasion tactics (too soon?).  Serpentine, Rickon...serpentine!  Points for you if you recognize a line from The In-Laws.


The enemy armada continues to pound the walls of the city.  And Tyrion tapdances to the sound of those pounding beats, trying to explain to Daenerys how he did NOT screw up everything while she was away.  He points out that the slavers are attacking because Meereen is proving that cities can be successful without slavery.

Daenerys doesn't seem concerned.  She plans to kill the slavers, kill all their soldiers, and burn the cities to the ground.  She acts as though it were a fait accompli.  Tyrion finds firmer footing, as it's always easier to explain why someone else's plan is wrong compared to explaining why your plans went to hell.  He points out her that her father Aerys had planned to burn King's Landing to the ground, and that's why Tyrion's brother Jaime killed Aerys.

Tyrion suggests a different plan.

They meet the same three slaver leaders with whom Tyrion had made a pact in Daenerys' absence.  The leader has nothing but contempt for Daenerys, and tells her so.  Tyrion points out that they are there to talk about surrender terms, not trade insults.

The leader says that they (Tyrion, Daenerys) will leave on foot, but the Unsullied and Missandei will stay and be resold at auction.  The dragons will be slaughtered.

Daenerys says there must be some misunderstanding.  Not my surrender - yours.

And then Drogon swoops in and the slavers are saying "I've made a terrible mistake".  Daenerys goes off to wreck shop with Drogon,

Down in the city, the Sons of the Harpy have taken the chaos as their cue to start killing freedmen, but the Dothraki make their entrance to the city (and the Son of the Harpy is apparently stupefied, as he watches them ride 100 yards while he makes no effort to get out of their way).  Perhaps it would be smart to throw away the mask?

Over the ships, Drogon is joined by Viserion and Rhaegal to demonstrate what will happen if the slaver ships don't surrender.  The unlucky ship chosen as the object lesson gets burned from three sides until everything is slag.

Back at the parley, Grey Worm speaks to the guards owned by the slavers.  He offers them the choice of dying or going home to their families.  They drop their weapons and run away.

Tyrion thanks the slavers for the ships, but conveys his disappointment that they broke the pact they'd recently brokered.  By order of the Queen, one of the three must die.

Two slavers quickly agree that the third should die.  They push him forward.  Thinking he's going to die, the man drops to his knees to plead for mercy.  Grey Worm sweeps his dagger across the throats of the two still standing, and resheathes it (tsk tsk, should have cleaned it first).

Tyrion sends the survivor home with a warning against any attempt at retribution or rebellion.

Triumphant, Tyrion and Daenerys now host the erstwhile heirs to the Iron Islands - Yara and Theon.  Tyrion makes Theon twist in the wind a bit about his past, and then Daeny gets down to business.

Theon and Yara have brought her 100 ships and the men to sail them.  In return, they're asking for her support for their rule of the Iron Islands.  Daeny wants to know why she should support them rather than Euron.  Their answer is that Euron's support comes with an expectation of marriage, while Theon and Yara have no such strings.  Although there is quite a bit of flirtation Yara is throwing Daeny's way.  Theon also wants Daeny to know that Euron will likely kill her once he has what he wants from her - the Seven Kingdoms.

Daeny has had enough of dealing with evil men.  She points out that all of them had evil fathers (Balon Greyjoy, Aerys Targaryen, Tywin Lannister), but the children of those men will leave the world a better place than they found it.  In return for supporting Yara for the Salt Throne (the Seastone Chair, dammit), she demands that the Ironborn cease their reaving way of life.

Done and done.


Another parley.  This time it's Jon Snow, Davos, Tormund, Sansa...even 10 year old Lady Mormont... all of whom meet with Ramsay Bolton, the Smalljon Umber, the Karstark, and other lickspittles.  Ramsay indicates that if Jon kneels to him and returns Sansa, he will be pardoned.

Jon counters with an offer of single combat, which Ramsay declines, citing his knowledge that his 6,000 men will surely best Jon's 3,000 or fewer.

Everything Ramsay says and does (like emphasizing "bastard" over and over) is designed to incite Jon.  He continues that theme with Shaggydog's head and the sure knowledge that he has power over Rickon's life.  But Sansa throws him a little off kilter, interrupting his monologue by telling him that he's going to die tomorrow.  And she rides away.  But even as Ramsay seems to admire her spirit (perhaps dreaming of crushing it more thoroughly in the future), he turns that to his advantage, playing with Jon's emotions by saying he looks forward to having Sansa back in his bed.

He then tells those remaining that his dogs haven't been fed in seven days, and he looks forward to introducing them to his foes.

That evening, Jon and his team have a war council.  They talk about double envelopment, pincer moves...you know, hitting from the sides.  Jon thinks Ramsay's men don't really want to fight for him - they just do it out of fear.  Davos says they need to be patient, and let Ramsay and his men charge at them.  He wants to set a trap.  Tormund asks Jon if he thought Ramsay would really fight him mano a mano.  No, Jon replies, but I wanted to make him angry.  This is a bit of ironic foreshadowing.

Sansa is beyond frustrated.  She knows Ramsay better than anyone, and she knows that Ramsay sets traps, he doesn't fall into them.  She's pissed that Jon didn't consult with her about Ramsay.  Jon is focused on saving Rickon, but Sansa pleads with him to give up on Rickon.  Ramsay won't let Rickon live - he's only using Rickon to bait Jon into making a mistake.  She tells Jon that she doesn't understand battles, but she knows that Jon just shouldn't do what Ramsay wants him to do.  Jon dismisses this advice as obvious.  This is a bit of ironic foreshadowing.

Sansa states the she won't go back to Ramsay alive.  Jon promises to protect her.  Sansa retorts that no one can protect her.  That no one can protect anyone.  She's learned that more bitterly than most.

Tormund and Davos stroll through the camp together, talking about the perils of following kings.  They take their leave of each other, and Davos, unable to sleep, wanders around the camp.  You'll recall that they decided to camp in the same place Stannis did right before his ill-fated fight with the Boltons.  So it's not entirely surprising that Davos would find the place where they built a fire to burn little Shireen.  It perhaps stretches the bounds of credulity that Davos would find the remnants of the stag that he carved for Shireen, but maybe Davos needed some very specific reason to look further into what happened to the little princess.

Jon checks in with Melisandre.  He tells her that if he dies, he doesn't want her bringing him back again.  She says she'll do whatever the Lord of Light suggests to her.  She seems to have a bit of a crisis of faith.  Not in whether the Lord of Light exists, but on whether she's adept enough at interpreting the signs the Lord gives her.

The next morning, as the lines form, Ramsay walks through the lines towing Rickon behind him.  He cuts Rickon free, and tells him to run to Jon.  Then he uses Rickon as archery target practice, and just as Rickon reaches Jon, Ramsay's arrow takes him in the chest, through his back, and he dies.

Which triggers in Jon exactly what Ramsay intended.  (Don't, says Tormund, but Jon does). He loses his mind and charges at Ramsay.  Which causes Davos to order a cavalry charge to catch up to Jon.  Arrows take Jon's horse from under him, and then Jon is afoot in the midst of a cavalry charge.  He has enough time to realize he's botched it.  He knows he's going to die, so he draws his sword to hopefully take one or two with him.

But Jon's cavalry arrives just in time to prevent Jon from being swept under, and then chaos reigns.  Cavalry fights horse to horse, unhorsed to unhorsed.  Davos has his archers hold their fire so as not to kill their own men, but Ramsay has no scruples about doing so.  His archers fire indiscriminately.

Jon is weaving and bobbing, avoiding most riders but picking his targets and killing quite a few.  People are coming from all directions.  Ramsay's archers are taking a toll of both sides, and a pile of the dead starts to build.

Davos can't wait any longer.  Abandoning bows, the reserves join the field.  Which is Ramsay's sign to send the Smalljon in with the infantry.  The infantry, armed with large rectangular shields and long spears, create a U-shaped shield wall that traps Jon and his men in a tightening noose.  The infantry is in perfect synchronization as they take steps forward.  Not even Wun Wun can break the shield wall.  The Wildlings are forced to continue steping back until they are backing into each other.  Jon and the Smalljon face each other in the fray, but they are separated as someone tackles Jon.  In the crush, Jon is not able to get back to his feet.

Great job of making me feel incredibly claustrophobic as Jon tries to breathe and avoid being trampled.  He finally gets to his feet, but he still struggles to breathe in the press.

Wun Wun is hurt pretty bad.  The Smalljon is whipping Tormunds butt.  Then a horn sounds, and in the distraction Tormund kills the Smalljon, biting his neck and stabbing him multiple times.

So what was the horn?  The Knights of the Vale, under the command of Littlefinger, have taken the field.  Their cavalry rolls up the shield wall in short order.  Ramsay, defeated, rides back to Winterfell, pursued on foot by Jon, Wun Wun and the wildlings.  Ramsay gets back inside the castle and says they just need to wait out the besiegers.  He forgot wun thing.  The giant breaks down the gate and stumbles through.  He is immediately pincushioned, but it's enough of a distraction so that the wildling archers gain the advantage.

As Jon reaches out to Wun Wun, Ramsay's arrow speeds through the giant's eye.  But Ramsay should have shot Jon.  Jon picks up a shield to absorb Ramsay's arrows, as he gets close enough to knock Ramsay down.  He pounces on him and starts beating him viciously until he's unconscious.  He may have continued, but Sansa has arrived.

The Bolton flayed man is replaced by the Stark direwolf.  Davos stares at Melisandre while clutching Shireen's stag.  Rickon's corpse is brought to the Stark crypt.  And Sansa demands to know where Ramsay is.

She visits Ramsay where he sits behind a locked gate in the kennel, bloodied and tied to a chair.  He tries to go Hannibal Lecter mind games on Sansa Starling, but Sansa is no Clarice.  She doesn't hear the crying of the lambs.  She hears the growling of the hounds.  Ramsay's hounds, released into the main kennel.

Ramsay doesn't believe his hounds will harm him, but Sansa points out that he himself said he hadn't fed them for seven days (although she wasn't there when he said it...but probably not a thing).

The hounds tentatively lick at Ramsay.  Tasting blood, and without food for seven days...well, man's best friend doesn't apply in those circumstances.  Sansa, smiling, leaves the kennel as the hounds feast on their master.

Scenes From Next Week

  • The trial before the Seven, for Loras, for Cersei
  • Jon asks Sansa to trust him
  • Jaime at the Twins, partying with the Freys
  • Petyr meets Sansa under the Weirwood
  • Davos confronts Melisandre in front of Jon
  • Bran
  • A tender moment between Daeny and Daario
  • Tyrion counsels Daeny about the terrifying nature of the Great Game
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