Game Of Thrones Season 6, Episode 9 Recap: ‘The Battle Of The Bastards’

Spoilers for the season six, episode nine of Game of Thrones are below.

That was the best episode of Game of Thrones to date; a combination of action and important steps forward, with just the right amount vengeance and retribution. It was the culmination of a lot of things we’ve been waiting on for a bunch of episodes – seasons honestly – and now that it has come and gone, damn it feels good.

Let’s get to it.

Meereen: Before we even got close to Jon vs. Ramsey for Winterfell, we started in Meereen where Dany returned last week and was not happy with what she found. If you’ll recall, the city was being sacked by the slave masters, who came back to take “what was theirs.”

Unhappy with what Tyrion has brought upon the city with is “let’s work with the slave masters” approach, she wants to go full “Mad King” on their cities, sending Drogon to barbecue everything. Thankfully, Tyrion explains that taking that following in Dad’s planned footsteps wouldn’t be a good idea, suggesting a less “kill’em all” alternative.

Dany and her mini-council meet with the trio of masters Tyrion met with earlier in the season, who get all cocky and try to play the whole “we’ll let Grey Worm and Missandei go back where they came from.” As you would expect, “The Mother of Dragons” chuckles at their notion, explains that they’re the ones that can surrender and we watch as Rhaegal and Viserion join Drogon in going all dragon on their ships and men.

It’s a beautifully shot sequence that shows the full power of Dany and her dragons, who are then joined by the arriving ground reinforcements, who start attacking and wiping out the Sons of the Harpy members. Back outside the pyramid, Tyrion tells the slave masters that one of them is going to have to pay for their challenge to Queen Dany with their life and two gang up on one – “He’s low-born; kill him!” Grey Worm lowers him to his knees, draws his knife and slits the throats of the other two.

Tyrion instructs him to go back and tell his people and everyone in Slavers Bay what happened and what will continue to happen if you try to go against “The Mother of Dragons.”

Later, once the smoke has cleared, Dany welcomes Theon and Yara into the throne room and it’s one of those big moments where stories that have been trending towards each other finally intersect and it’s terrific.

The Greyjoys lay out what they offer and what they want – which includes Yara being down for whatever if Dany wants to try being with a women – and Dany makes it clear that in exchange for teaming up, the Iron Islands have to stop being who they have always been. Yara agrees and we’ve got ourselves a female power couple ready to roll out towards King’s Landing, by way of fighting Crazy Uncle Euron at some point.

This was a terrific appetizer, but now it’s time for the main course.

In and Around Winterfell: This was everything we wanted it to be and more and it played out in several outstanding stages.

The opening meeting between Jon and Ramsay, with Sansa riding shotgun with her brother, is great and sets the tone for what is to come. Ramsay does as Ramsay does, being all sarcastic and confident and calculating, while Jon wants to do the noble thing and have a one-on-one fight to sort this all out. Ramsay takes a pass and Sansa gets the final word in, telling her abusive, sadistic husband, “You’re going to die tomorrow Lord Bolton; sleep well.”

Back in their camp, Jon and Davos try to plan their attack and spell it out carefully for good old Tormund, but when the strategy session ends, Sansa voices her frustrations on being left out of the process since, you know, she knows Ramsay better than anyone else. The siblings Stark clash, with Sansa again having the last word: “No one can protect me. No one can protect anyone.”

After Jon has a meeting Melisandre where he says “If I die, let me stay dead,” Davos goes on his pre-fight walk and finds Shireen’s burial spot, with the carved elk he gave her in a pile of ashes and charred wood. But he can’t worry about that right now because it’s time for a battle.

Things start with Ramsay playing mind games, releasing Rickon and telling him to run to Jon. As he does, the Bastard Bolton starts launching arrows at him and as you would expect, one pierces his heart just before he reaches Jon and has its intended purpose: it throws Jon off his plan and starts the battle exactly the way Ramsay wants it to happen.

The battle is outstanding visually and doesn’t go all that well for Team Stark, as they eventually get pinned in between a mountain of dead and dying bodies and Team Bolton foot soldiers with shields and spears. Jon gets trampled and it seems like he’s going to be buried under the mass, but is eventually able to climb up through the bodies, only to find himself in the middle of a group of Team Stark soldiers that are pinned down.

And that’s when the cavalry arrives!

The knights of the Vale roll in, wipe out the Team Bolton soldiers and force Ramsay to ride back to Winterfell, where he thinks he’ll be able to wait out Team Stark because, “Hey, we’ve got a castle and supplies, so bar the door and we’re good.” Of course, the main gates of Winterfell are no match for Wun-Wun the Giant, who smashes through the door, allowing Team Stark to take back their family home.

Fittingly, Jon beats the face off Ramsay right in the middle of Winterfell, but he doesn’t kill him. He locks him up, tethered to a chair, covered in blood.

Sansa pays him a visit and while Ramsay tries to make a case for always being a part of her, she’s having no of it, ethering him by explaining that “all memory of you will disappear” – his name, his families name, everything. No more Boltons.

That’s when Sansa lets Ramsay’s starving dogs into the pen where he’s tethered to a chair. Cocky Ramsay thinks his loyal dogs would never attack him, but Sansa reminds him that they used to be loyal, but – as he mentioned earlier – he hasn’t fed them for seven days and now they just want to eat. And they do.

As Sansa walks away, she offers a devilish grin. She’s figuring out her new self and she seems to like who she’s becoming.

I do too.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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