In a display of medieval battle that rivals Braveheart and The Lord of the Rings, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss finally give us the Game of Thrones battle we have been waiting for. What was done at Castle Black at the conclusion of Season Four is only a taste of the dramatic action and tense warfare we get here. The episode opens with the refreshing reunion of Queen Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), who have been trying their damndest to hold down Mereen while their queen has gone missing, kidnapped by the Dothraki. Danaerys proves that she is badass and truly Mother of Dragons as she climbs atop Drogon, her favorite dragon, and rides him across the water, setting her enemy’s ships ablaze. The Dothraki have officially joined Dany’s cause, as have Theon and Yara and Greyjoy, in a triumphant opening. It feels, now, that Dany cannot lose. The question remains: Will she sit on the Iron Throne, or, being a fan favorite, will she be killed off before GOT comes to a close?
Season 6 started off weak and then, gradually, built its way to being one of the stronger seasons in the series. This episode is most certainly the most tense. The cinematography has never been better as we cling to the edge of our seat, breathless, waiting for the noble and resurrected Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) to fall at the hands of that wicked fucker Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) and his enormous army. The battle is filmed in such a way that we believe that, at any moment, Jon could die. We believe he could because he is wearing the very armor that his father, Ned, and his brother, Robb, wore before each of them was murdered. Instead, Jon survives, but the youngest Stark boy, Rickon (Art Parkinson), is killed by Ramsay’s arrow. Add another name to the list of murdered Starks.
The remainder of the episode unfolds on the battlefield in the goriest sequence of violent scenes to ever grace GOT. Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham), Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), and Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) are all present. Jon and Sansa (Sophie Turner) have never been more supported in their lives but we are lead to believe that they will fail. You can’t really blame anyone for thinking that this is Jon’s true end. Make no mistake, it is significant that Jon survives and conquers Winterfell for House Stark. It is also significant that Davos has discovered how and why his darling little Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) was murdered at the conclusion of Season 5. Davos now seeks the head of that infamous Red Woman, Melisandre (Carice von Houten), who has become more of a mystery than an annoyance. At the conclusion of the episode, Sansa has her shining moment, and the most fucked up villain of Westeros since Joffrey Baratheon is eaten alive by his own dogs in a rather cathartic scene.
Here’s the thing about “Battle of the Bastards:” Danaerys, Tyrion, and the Mereen crew and Jon, Sansa, and the crew in the North have now had their extraordinary and rather unexpected triumphs. We have been waiting the entire series for these moments. Now that “things are finally coming together” for our heroes and heroines, what will the final showdown look like? Thankfully, we don’t have a clue, and that may be the best thing about the series thus far.
Joey Armstrong is a hospital chaplain from Western New York. He is also a playwright and amateur cartoonist. Follow him on Twitter @chaplainmystic and Medium, where he writes more reviews for film and television.