Monday, June 20, 2016
Game of Thrones Battle of the Bastards
Episode nine- it's funny how fast the season is going for Game of Thrones. In many ways one could argue that there has been a lot of plot movement this season- after all Arya is free of the Faceless Men, Sansa is with Jon, and Dany has a khalasar and is back in Meereen. On the other hand, you could argue that everyone is sort of back where they started- maybe a season or two ago. Arya will be in the same situation upon returning to Westeros that she was when she left- alone and friendless. Sansa and Jon will have to fight just to stay alive, let alone rule the north. And Dany has a khalasar- but she did, sort of, in the first season too. So...moving forward, moving back. Of course the endgame is almost on us now, and things should start happening...
Spoilers for books and show.
So... this episode was a mixed bag. Anticipation was of course sky high, the penultimate episode of the season and much hyped. Did it live up to it? Well... yes and no, from my perspective. We have two battles looming in both the show and the books- the battles for Winterfell and Meereen. Neither has happened yet in the books, but the next book starts off with them according to the author. In the show, we get them... tonight. First to Meereen. This one was shorter but so much more effective for me. Daenerys is back and she has... dragons. And have they grown up!
Daenerys and Tyrion are interesting together, and the dragons were amazing. The sequence where they fly over the fleet and set several ships afire is probably one of the best dragon sequences I've seen, in a TV show or movie. For a show that has famously had trouble affording expensive CGI for the direwolves and dragons, they knocked it out of the park with this one. Again, the dragons were amazeballs. Highlight of the episode, no question. And later when Tyrion and Dany meet with Yara and Theon- was the dynamic between Dany and Yara fun or what?
"I never demand but I'm up for anything, really" says Yara when Dany asks her if her request for alliance includes marriage. I laughed at that, I'm liking Yara a lot.
So just like that Dany wins Meereen, just so she can leave. she has her ships, she has fully grown (or near to it) dragons, and she's ready to rock in Westeros. That story is moving. So let's move to the other battle that has been brewing. This one was a little more problematic for me. First of all Jon's war council was pathetic. It's like he Davos and Tormund don't know what they're doing, Sansa is a non- factor (which she calls him on), and then when battle is joined Jon seems unprepared. He's not ready for Ramsay's cruelty and he gets goaded into charging- alone!!!- when Ramsay predictably kills Rickon. I've often thought Jon's not the brightest bulb on this show, but he sure proved it tonight.
The battle itself seemed disjointed, somehow, they were going for an epic feel obviously and it succeeded in showing the chaos of battle, how luck can determine whether you survive, but the whole shield wall thing left me cold. I was like seriously? Did they watch too much Rome? In all the chaos how did the shield guys encircle the wildlings so quickly and easily- and the wildlings stood there while they did it? They forgot to include Wun Wun in the first part of the fight, then he looked like he could break through the shield wall pretty easily but didn't. It was all very odd.
And the piled up bodies were ridiculous. It just didn't work for me- but things looked grim until Littlefinger arrived with the Arryn forces. Nice to see Sansa smile as the Valemen smashed the Boltons. Jon and Wun Wun pursue Ramsay to Winterfell, and of course Ramsay gets the final shot on the giant. Sigh. And then we finally get some vicarious payback as Jon takes it to Ramsay. After way too long it's nice to see this part of the story end, frankly. And Sansa gets to finish Ramsay, as expected.
So... where do we go from here? The final episode is next week and it looks... well it's hard to tell from their brief preview what's going to occur, but it should be big. I think they poured a lot of time, effort and budget into this one and while it's very ambitious, the much ballyhooed battle for Winterfell didn't entirely work for me. But the hour plus spent on this episode was more than rewarded by some seriously awesome dragon stuff. Phenomenal.
Melisandre has nothing to offer, either on the eve of battle or at all really. Does she have no power, no glamor or wisdom she can offer to help turn the tide of battle? What exactly did she do for Stannis, then? Disappointing. I feel like in the books she will be more useful.