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.

Some observations.

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.


  1. Great post! I had the same feeling after the episode about everyone is back where they started. Which made me a little frustrated but I guess Tyrion is somewhere else and Dany made progress. The thing that keeps bothering me and no one can answer because none of my friends and family watches GoT how is it possibly the Jaime Lannister and the others not know about the threat of the Whitewalkers? Wouldn't word or ravens have travelled south. I think it is weird such a small group of people know of them. What do you think. Will Kings landing be in danger from the north? I would love to see the High Septums face when he sees one lol. I loved this episode and I was cheering and worried and jumping up and down but I think the Hodor episode will always be my favorite.

    1. Thank you! I think on the white walkers thing, if I remember right in the books they send ravens down to Kings Landing asking for help and Tywin and others basically pooh pooh it- nobody believes in the walkers anymore (in the south anyway). I'm not sire if they've addressed it on the show...

      I think the white raven in the next episode will signify the beginning of winter, so who knows we may see the walkers coming south! Although there's a theory that Cersei will blow up Kings Landing with wildfire- it's hidden all over the city... The Hodor episode was AMAZING! And heart breaking at the same time...

  2. Yara's line was classic! And the dragon scenes were outstanding! I loved when Viserion and Rhaegal busted out, and then when all three were barbecuing the masters' fleet.

    I thought Jon was going to get killed (again, lol) a couple of times. He went in so recklessly, and then he got trapped under all those bodies.

    I think I still like the Hardhome battle sequence best. I know there was a lot of CGI involved in that one and this one was going for a realistic, medieval-style battle, but Hardhome still stands out the most to me.

    I've got so many questions about the season finale. Of course I want to know what that rumor is! Lol. I feel like something big is going to go down at the Twins. Like you said over on my blog, why else are we seeing the Freys? And we've got the Brotherhood back, too. I can't wait for Sunday to get here, but at the same time, I don't want it to arrive too fast because then no more GoT for a while!

    1. I loved seeing the dragons break out, and I've always been partial to the green one so it was nice seeing him on the wing! And I agree- I think Hardhome was much better done. That was amazing.

      I'm with you- what's the rumor? Is it the wildfire?? And is Arya back? I want to see her w/ Nymeria again. In the books Nymeria has like a hundred wolves running with her- can you see Arya with this huge wolfpack kicking Frey ass? How woot would that be? :)

  3. Great post Greg, I felt this was a great episode after a few lacklustre ones, I was glad to see the Bastard Bolton get his just desserts. I knew he would get it, one way or another.

    It was a bit Braveheart the fight and possibly about five minutes too long.

    I am really enjoying Daenerys and her huge posse of people, Tyrion and the Greyjoys, she is just such a badass babe!

    My only peeve was the offing of the poor giant and yep Melisandre and her lack of anything, I was expecting a smokey something to do something!

  4. This might have been the Battle of the Bastards but I felt like this episode had an undercurrent of Girl Power going on, with the deals being exchanged by Dany and Yara, Sansa even calling Jon on not including her in the war council when she knows how Ramsey thinks. Did she not tell Jon she sent a raven to Littlefinger for help? Would she have had he consulted her? Also, she knew Rickon would not live long, poor kid. His character was such a non-entity this whole series, is it that way in the book as well? Then the final death of Ramsay - what a way to go. Yikes! Well deserved though. I think eventually Sansa and Jon will make a pretty good team, once they realize he is the heart and she is the brains.