The 'Battle of the Bastards' Has Changed Absolutely Everything on 'Game of Thrones'
Nothing will ever be the same.
[Warning: The following article contains spoilers from Game of Thrones season 6, episode 9 "Battle of the Bastards."]
Take a deep breath, because nothing is as it was.
Daenerys is back from her involuntary vacation to the desert, and The Masters have come full force at the small slice of freedom she's managed to establish. Interestingly, though, she seems less frightened at the prospect of being usurped than she is angry at Tyrion.
In truth, she's lucky to have The Imp at her side. He reminds her that her plan to destroy The Masters and burn their fleets to the ground isn't too different from her father Aerys II Targaryen's plan to burn everyone with wildfire years before:
"He would have burned every man, woman and child," he says.
"This is entirely different," the Khaleesi argues in a very "Mad Queen"-esque manner, while Tyrion attempts to convince her to take an alternate approach.
Eventually taking Tyrion's advice (We haven't lost her yet!), Daenerys ends up face to face with said Masters, where she successfully reminds them who's [dragon] boss. She mounts one, riding it over the sea to witness the carnage being wreaked under her newly acquired leadership.
Suddenly, the Dothraki soldiers she'd brought along penetrate the city, and a single word is cue for her now three dragons to light The Masters' fleet on fire, Drogon at the helm:
This is by far the longest dragon scene we've ever gotten, and it is mesmerizing.
Grey Worm takes the opportunity to appeal to the soldiers backing up the Masters. They leave, and The Masters are faced with an impossible decision: One of the three of them must die for their betrayal...except they're terribly humans, so it's not so hard. Two of them rapidly give up the other one, but — Grey Worm being Grey Worm — ends up killing the two who so easily sentenced their comrade to death. Tyrion tells the last Master standing to share the power of Daenerys Stormborn with his people.
Thousands of miles from water and sand, Sansa and Jon are surrounded by snow — and a whole lot of Ramsay Bolton.
Ramsay tells Sansa he's missed her terribly, calls her Lady Bolton, and our hatred burns with the power of one thousand suns. He attempts to convince Jon to give up:
"There's no need for a battle," he says. "Get off your horse and kneel. I am a man of mercy."
Yeah okay, Theon Greyjoy's penis would disagree.
Jon is quick to reject the callous offering, instead suggesting they engage in a solo hand-to-hand battle, which Ramsay nearly laughs off.
He has 6,000 men, he says, Jon acknowledging he has the numbers, but not the morale. This irritates Ramsay, so he pulls out the Rickon card:
"Will you let your little brother die?"
But Sansa's ready for this manipulative dialogue. She's been there, done that, and she's done with him.
"You're going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton," she states calmly. "Sleep well."
And we're pretty sure Ramsay's even more in love.
It's also notable how many times Ramsay insists on calling Jon a bastard when, hello, Ramsay's in the same socially stigmatized boat. Get off it, you're both one percenters.
P.S. Sansa = love.
Back at home base, Tormund, Jon, and Ser Davos discuss the following day's battle strategy. Ser Davos is all about patience, Tormund is all about horses, and Sansa is indignant. She is, after, all the only member of the group's leadership who actually knows Ramsay:
"Does it ever once occur to you that I might have some insight?" she asks Jon.
She knows what a malicious serial killer he is, warning of his affinity for tricks and traps. She also somewhat surprisingly (and accurately) acknowledges that Rickon is screwed:
"He won't live long."
Jon promises to protect Sansa against the hound-wielding human slime piece, but Sansa's lost all faith in men (and their ability to protect her), and is having none of it.
Meanwhile, Ser Davos and Tormund engage in their own conversation about the next day's events. Brienne's future boyfriend offers Davos sour goat's milk, something stronger than "that grape water," and again, in what world is he not her perfect mate?
Jon speaks with Melisandre, ordering her not to bring him back if he falls. The Red Witch has her own plans, however, explaining that the Lord of Light is her master and no one else. She doesn't know why the Lord allowed Jon Snow his life back, but she's going to take this as far as it goes:
"Maybe he brought you here to die again," she says far too casually.
"What kind of god would do something like that?" Jon replies.
"The one we've got," she says equally as casually.
And all of a sudden we're fearing so much more for Jon's life than we'd prefer to.
Ser Davos, out on his calming pre-epic battle walk, finds the tiny wooden stag he carved for Shireen Baratheon in the snow.
Damn, damn, damn. Lest we forget that Melisandre heavily contributed to her death. Eventually that's going to come back to her, it doesn't matter how many times she brings back Jon.
Back across the sea, Theon and Yara Greyjoy have successfully made it to Daenerys' neck of the woods. Tyrion remembers Theon making fun of his height, but this is really neither here nor there. What matters is that Theon admits he didn't actually kill the Stark boys, so now that cat's completely out of the bag, running around and causing what's sure to be a King's Landing-sized ruckus.
The Greyjoys have brought Daenerys 100 ships, and would like her to support Yara's claim to the Iron Throne in return.
Surprisingly enough, Yara and Daenerys end up bonding over stuff. What stuff? Just basic girl stuff. You know, like both having insane, homicidal fathers who were also both killed by usurpers, the usual.
Their Uncle Euron is on his way to offer even more ships, they explain, but he's also offering his genitals, like the trifling little misogynist he is, which we all know doesn't stand too well with Daenerys.
Dothraki Khals. Never forget.
Daenerys essentially tells them they can't be pirates anymore if she's going to support them. Yara frowns and attempts to disagree, but eventually acquiesces and there's a very intimate handshake between the two.
Could there be a new relationship on the horizon?
As we're catapulted back to Jon's neck of the freezing cold woods, the bastardly Stark-Bolton battle is about to commence. Bodies are burning on crosses in true Ramsay fashion, and Jon has his furrowed brow set and ready in position.
Ramsay drags Rickon out, hands tied, and whips out a knife. Instead of slitting his neck right then and there, he tells Rickon to run across the field to his brother, readying a bow and arrow. If he can hit Rickon with his arrow before he gets to Jon, that's that.
Jon mounts his horse and jets out to Rickon, but just as he reaches him, Rickon is shot through the back. It's the precise sort of disgusting mind game he's best known for, and while this outcome was predictable, you really can't help but hold out some semblance of hope the child will make it out alive.
RIP, little guy.
Jon's army advances on Ramsay's as the false Lord of Winterfell continues to pelt them with arrows. Everyone is distraught from Rickon's death and this, along with the knowledge that they are outnumbered and underarmed, is a devastating blow.
Meanwhile, Jon is at the middle of it all, surrounded by bloodshed and engaging wholeheartedly. He is by no means attempting to protect his own life and has thus left his soldiers to fend for themselves.
Eventually Tormund discovers him, pulling him out of the wreckage of bodies and mayhem, only for Jon's entire group to be completely surrounded by Ramsay's soldiers and their shields as the good guys are slowly stabbed to death.
It's a rookie mistake on Jon's part, but hey, the guy's second to last remaining brother has just been murdered.
At one point, Tormund begins to retreat toward a mountain of dead bodies and the group follows him. In turn, Jon is going to be stampeded to death and everything that is good is no more. This is it. It's at this moment we truly believe Jon's going to die.
Instead, somehow, he pulls himself out of the sea of bodies, and a single horn comes from afar. Suddenly, Petyr Baelish is sitting directly next to Sansa on horse top, the entirety of the House Arryn cavalry now attacking Ramsay's.
Ramsay, having realized he is imminently screwed, retreats to Winterfell only for Wun Wun to break through the front door. At this point the big guy looks more like a spear pin doll than a living being, and we're sorry to say that Ramsay sends one final shot his way, and he's gone for good.
Ramsay also takes this opportunity to challenge Jon to that one-on-one combat he wanted so badly before. Jon, of course, runs straight at him, dominates him, and proceeds to beat his face to a bloody pulp as Sansa looks on.
Jon leaves him within an inch of life, and the Stark House flag once again hangs on Winterfell.
Miraculously, Ser Davos, Tormund, Jon, Sansa, and Melisandre have all made it through this episode. This never happens. But after the adrenaline of battle, Rickon's death falls heavy on their shoulders. They collect his body to give him a proper burial.
Sansa makes her exit from the group, searching out Ramsay, who is now tied to a chair and at least half-conscious.
Incredibly concerning is the language Ramsay uses as he stares her down:
"I'm a part of you now."
Not to take away from Sansa's moment of revenge, but if she truly is pregnant with his demon baby, we will lose our minds.
"Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear," she says, and in the greatest of karmic events, releases the same dogs Ramsay's starved for seven days — the same dogs he's used to murder countless others in cold blood — upon him.
Sansa leaves him with half a face, and while devastated, the Starks have taken back Winterfell.
Game of Thrones' season 6 finale "The Winds of Winter" airs on June 26.