Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones finally gave us the big battle scene we’ve been waiting for all season. In a sense it gave us two. The first was Dany’s burning of the slaver ships, though it was rather quick and fiery and the bad guys didn’t stand a chance.
The second battle was the titular “Battle of the Bastards,” an oddly fitting episode for Father’s Day. It also marked a very fitting end for one particular villain who long ago wore out his welcome on the show: Ramsay Bolton, torturer of men and women, murderer of fathers and babies and helpless innocents, and all around wicked bastard.
We’ll start here, on the field, where Jon Snow has amassed his small army.
Across the distance is Ramsay’s much larger force, with traitorous Umbers in tow. None of the lords who swore to fight on Ramsay’s side turned out to be pulling a trick, as many fans had theorized and hoped. For reasons I still can’t quite understand, they went and fought and died for the Boltons, even while Ramsay himself stayed out of the fray. They watched as Ramsay killed Rickon Stark, the heir of Winterfell, in cold blood and did nothing. What pathetic, ridiculous wastes of life these northerners turned out to be. Good riddance to each of them as well, dead in heaping mounds on the field.
The Battle for Winterfell
As far as battles go, this was a pretty good one, though it was puzzling at times. Ramsay easily baits Jon Snow into riding forth alone to save Rickon. He almost reaches him, too, though Ramsay’s misses were all for show. He’s a masterful hunter and archer and could have killed Rickon at any point. Still, Rickon should have run side to side, or made for one of the burning crosses on the field, where he could have hidden at the very least. Alas, poor Rickon is dead. Like Osha, he was only brought back to die.
This is how many dead Starks now? Eddard. Catelyn. Robb. Rickon. Four. We have just Sansa, Arya, and Bran left. And Jon Snow. When King Robert rode to Winterfell, he had no way of knowing his arrival would spell the end for half his friend’s family. Of course, it was Littlefinger who, in so many ways, arranged all this misery. It was he who convinced Lady Lysa Arryn to kill her husband, forcing a vacancy in the King’s Hand position. And it was Littlefinger who betrayed Ned, as well, and who orchestrated all number of other plots to sew chaos and increase his power.
And now it is Littlefinger who shows up to turn the tide against the wicked Boltons and save the day at the last minute. We’ll get back to that in a second.
The battle itself was as brutal as anything we’ve seen yet in the show. It would have fit nicely in Braveheart, actually. Ramsay’s tactics are ruthless and brilliant, of course. He takes a page from Edward Longshanks and has his archers fire on friend and foe indiscriminately, because it really doesn’t matter to him. He has men to spare. (You might think such a tactic would finally convince Lord Umber not to race into battle, but such is not the case. Oh well.)
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