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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6, Episode 9 Recap: ‘Battle of the Bastards’

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AKA BASTARDBOWL! The hype is real!

Warning: Spoilers galore! 

This episode “is the biggest thing we’ve ever filmed for Thrones, according to Kit Harrington. “In terms of numbers — number of extras, number of stuntmen, number of shooting days — it’s the biggest we’ve done,” showrunner David Benioff told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year. But before we get into the North, let’s talk about across the Narrow Sea.

Mother of Dragons. source

The episode opens with Meereen defending its city as the Masters attempt to burn it to the ground. Tyrion is confronted by Dany, who does not seem happy with what he has done in her absence. He claims he did this in order to abolish slavery. His speech seems to win Dany over as she declares she will crucify the Masters and destroy their cities. However, Tyrion, who sees the similarities in her actions, brings up her father, the Mad King who abused wildfire, warning her not to venture down that path and consider an alternate.

They meet with the Masters, who demand they leave Meereen and leave the Unsullied as well as Missandei to be sold to the highest bidder. Unfazed by their demands and threats, Dany tells the Masters they are here to consider their surrender, not Dany’s. The Masters claim her reign is over. “My reign as just begun,” Dany says ominously as Drogon appears, terrifying the masters. She climbs onto his back and flies away as her other dragons break free of their prison, joining her in flight.

Burn, baby, burn. source

Meanwhile, the Dothraki, led by Daario, ride to Meeren’s aid and attack the Sons of the Harpy. Dany glides over the Masters’ ships, whose men watch in horror as says the one word we knew she would: Dracarys. While their ships and men burn, the Masters are given a choice, to leave and not die or stay and die. Tyrion also says Dany demands one of the Masters to die as punishment. Greyworm kills two and lets one live.

After some time, Theon and Yara arrive in Meereen and meet with Tyrion and Dany. While there is bad blood between Tyrion and Theon, Dany is appealed by the thought of Yara being Queen of the Iron Islands. Yara relates to Dany, saying she will kill those who cannot stand a woman in power. Dany agrees to help them in exchange for their ships and support, as well as their change of ways. No more reaping, pillaging and raping. Despite this being their way of life, Yara agrees. “No more,” she says with a nod.

Too fierce for the North. source

In the North, Jon and Sansa meet Ramsay prior to the battle. Without much prompting, Ramsay demands they surrender and return his “beloved wife” to him. He comments on Jon’s lack of men compared to his 6000 forces. “I’m a man of mercy,” Ramsay smirks.

“You’re right. Thousands of men don’t need to die. Only one of us,” Jon says. This doesn’t seem to sit well with Ramsay due to Jon’s rep as a swordsman and opts for battle as he believes it is in his favour. He also has Rickon as blackmail, which is confirmed when he delivers them Shaggydog’s head. Sansa, as fierce as ever departs with the words: “You will die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.”

Jon’s war council. source

At their camp, Jon’s war council discuss their battle plans and are reminded of how short of men they are. Jon wants Ramsay to come at them with everything. When Jon’s advisors leave, Sansa asks Jon why he didn’t ask her about Ramsay due to her residence with him. They argue over their disadvantages, to which Jon states he had fought and won against better odds over the Wall. Despite this, Sansa pleads for him not to fall into Ramsay’s trap for he knows how to play with people. This brings up Rickon, who is Ned Stark’s trueborn son and thus, a threat to Ramsay’s rule. Sansa simply states Rickon will not live long unless they get him back.

Jon visits the Red Woman, who orders her not to bring him back. Melisandre says she will try but she listens to the Lord of Light. She tells him she has no power, only what the Lord gives her and maybe tomorrow he was destined to die again. Jon questions what kind of god does that, to which the Red Woman responds: “The only one we’ve got.”

We share an intimate moment with Davos as he finds the structure upon which Shireen was burned. What will happen between him and the Red Woman now? To really drive it home, he uncovers the wooden stag he gave her from the snow and holds it in his hands, mourning the sweet girl as the sound of the horn blasts and the sun bleeds over the horizon. It is time for battle.

Our ginger babe. source

Jon’s men are at the ready. Across the field, flayed men burn and Ramsay’s forces wait, also ready. Ramsey comes forth, stringing along someone, who turns out to be Rickon. He pulls out a knife, seemingly ready to kill the Stark boy but instead, cuts Rickon’s binds free and asks if he likes games. The game is he has to run to his brother. The faster he runs, the faster he will see him.

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Ramsay’s games are never without violence as he has his man bring him a bow and some arrows. Seeing what he is planning, Jon charges towards Rickon as Ramsay loosens arrows in his direction. He fires one, misses, another and misses; a third is fired and as Jon is about to grab his brother, the arrow pierces Rickon’s heart, killing him – the first casualty.

While Rickon wasn’t a major character, his death is another tragic loss in the Stark family and one that sparks the battle.

As the Free Folk rally and charge to his aid, Jon, in shock and anger, unsheathes his sword, prepared to attack Ramsay’s oncoming men. Before we watch Jon lose his life again, his men meet him as they slam into the Boltons. The battle is a raw display of blood and screams as both Bolton and Free Folk cut each other up and die. The production team totally pulled it off because this has to be the most elaborate and gruesome battle on Game of Thrones.

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Jon is in the thick of battle while Ramsay watches from the sidelines. As the bodies and horses begin to pile in pieces, Ser Davos, with the last line of defence, charges to join Jon as Ramsay sends his own last line, circling Jon’s men with a shield wall. Trapped and outnumbered, the Free Folk try to run as Jon becomes trapped beneath the bodies and struggles to breathe. He breaks the surfaces and watches, hopeless and helpless, as his men lose the battle.

Well, shit. source

Suddenly, the Knights of the Vale come at all force from the side much to Ramsay’s shock. As predicted, Sansa’s plea for help had been answered. She watches with Littlefinger as the Knights of the Vale defeat the Boltons. What Littlefinger is up to we won’t know until later. Knowing he has lost, Ramsay abandons his men and bolts for Winterfell with Jon, Tormund and Wun Wun on his tail.

Wun Wun, the star of the battle who took several arrows but continued to fight, breaks down the gate into Winterfell and in Boromir fashion from Lord of the Rings is pierced with more arrows, falling to his knees. Jon and Tormund with a handful of Wildlings arrive, taking out Bolton men swiftly. Tragically, Wun Wun is killed by an arrow in the eye. The culprit is Ramsay, who states he has reconsidered one on one combat. Furious, Jon charges at Ramsay as he fires arrows at Jon, who blocks them with a shield until he is close enough to beat the bastard bloody. He is prepared to deliver a killing blow until he sees Sansa watching and backs off.

Winterfell is finally restored to the Starks. The Flayed Man banner is replaced with the direwolf of Winterfell and it couldn’t have been more satisfying. In the aftermath, Rickon’s body is found and Jon states he will be buried in the crypt next to their father.

Sansa visits Ramsay in his cell, who tied up and bloodied from Jon’s beating. Still cocky, he remarks, “You can’t kill me. I’m part of you now.” But Sansa is unmoved by his words and says, “All memories of you will disappear.” We hear the sound of hounds growling but

Ramsay is adamant his hounds are loyal to him. “They haven’t been fed in seven days,” Sansa says, “You said it yourself. Now they’re starving.” One of his hounds approaches him, licking the blood from his face. Ramsay orders the hound to sit, to go down, but to no avail. As satisfying as it was for Sansa to use Ramsay’s hounds against him, it’s the moment after we hear Ramsay being torn to shreds that was the best moment of the show. As she struts away, she smiles and for Sansa Stark to smile, it must have been well deserved. A fitting end for Ramsay Bolton indeed.

Stay tuned for the final episode of Game of Thrones next week!