The next time someone tells you that television can’t compare to a Hollywood blockbuster, show them this gigantic game-changing hour.
It’s incredible really how much Battle of the Bastards pushes the limits of what exactly a TV show can accomplish from a technical perspective. The 20 minute final battle is magnificent in every way, perfectly bringing to life the chaos and atrocities of war by dropping you in the middle of the action. It’s brutal, uncompromising, and it never lets up until you’re left completely breathless (much like Jon as he suffocates under the stampede). The great thing about the resolution with the Knights of the Vale coming to the rescue is that it’s not a deus ex machina; the show has teased their arrival before and Sansa sent a raven herself to Littlefinger asking for his help.
The battle is particularly horrifying because it begins with the savage sequence of Rickon being let loose by Ramsay in a twisted game that slowly intensifies culminating with the Young Stark’s death just as Jon reaches him. This development effectively ups the stakes for the final battle, and ensures our emotional investment in Jon’s mission. The only drawback is that the show never really took the time to develop Rickon like it did with the other Starks.
After subjecting us to Ramsay’s heinous ways since his introduction in season three (has he really been on the show for that long?), the show finally grants us the satisfaction of his death in the most gratifying way possible: Jon beats the bloody pulp out of him but lets Sansa get the last laugh as she viciously feeds the psychopath to the very hounds he starved. Can you say perfect?
It’s also worth noting that Dany’s material this week is brilliant. She meets with the arrogant slave masters and proceeds to teach them a lesson by burning their ships with some dragon firepower. The scene is yet another one of those epic Dany moments, with top-notch CGI and a stunning musical score. Plus, it’s got all three dragons soaring together as the captive duo of Viserion and Rhaegal break free. Goosebumps!
Finally, there’s a gem of a scene with Dany finally meeting Yara and Theon Greyjoy who arrive asking for her help with their Iron Fleet in return. There’s a wonderful layer to the proceedings as Dany is strict with the two, and yet pleased with the fact that Yara wants to be a queen like her. Dany awesomely agrees to help if they put an end to their raping ways, and the scene is bookended with that hilarious handshake. God I need more scenes with Dany and Yara in my life. Maybe in season seven?
Bits & Beheadings
– The sweeping opening shots of Meereen under fire are gorgeous aren’t they?
– Tyrion reveals to Dany that her father the Mad King had Wildfire hidden beneath King’s Landing. Last week, Qyburn mentioned he was researching a “rumor” for Cersei. Hmm…
– Incredible shot with Drogon landing right behind Dany before she mounts him.
– The Dothraki finally arrive in Meereen and take out the Harpies.
– Badass: Grey Worm taking out two of the masters with one swift swipe.
– The way Lady Mormont glares at Ramsay – priceless.
– Savage: Sansa telling Ramsay that he’ll die tomorrow after she sees the severed head of Rickon’s direwolf.
– There’s a great running touch with Tormund being uneducated as he doesn’t understand Jon’s war lingo and Davos’ vocab.
– It hurts to see Jon and Sansa fight doesn’t it? The saddest part is the foreshadowing with Sansa saying that Rickon will not survive.
– Great character moment for Jon as he tells Melisandre not to bring him back if he dies.
– How awesome is it that Tyrion remembers Theon making fun of him in season one?
– Davos finally realizes what happened to Shereen as he finds the toy horse he gave her over a funeral pyre. You betta watch out red witch!
– How disgusting is it that Ramsay displays flayed prisoners being burned alive on the X just like his sigil? Nasty.
– The fact that there is no music and just complete silence as Rickon runs to his brother and Ramsay shoots at him makes it all the more powerful. I shudder just thinking about this scene, especially the fake-out with Rickon almost making it. Unforgettable.
– Horribly effective shot: arrows falling on to Rickon’s dead body.
– The most marvelous thing ever: the epic one-shot of Jon kicking ass as all hell breaks loose around him with horses crashing everywhere. I can’t fathom how this was shot (I read the show used hundreds of extras and real horses – I hope they weren’t harmed in the slightest).
– The battle is truly astounding to watch: the cavalry surrounding our gang and closing in with spears, a headless guy on a horse as the Giant smashes them, bodies piling up relentlessly, and of course that over-the-shoulder shot of Jon holding his sword as Ramsay’s army charges at him.
– The cinematography with Jon getting trampled is very claustrophobic and effective.
– Crazy Tormund biting off the guy’s ear off.
– Poor Giant dies with an arrow to the eye after smashing the gates of Winterfell. Still, it makes Jon’s beatdown of Ramsay all the more satisfying.
– The show is pretty graphic by showing us the dog actually biting off Ramsay’s face. I guess they believe we’ve earned this. I agree!
– Love the perfect final shot with Sansa walking away with a smile. So haunting.
Kings & Quips
Tyrion: Do we have a plan?
Daenerys: I will crucify the Masters. I will set their fleets afire, kill every last one of their soldiers, and return their cities to the dirt. That is my plan.
Master: Your reign is over.
Daenerys: My reign has just begun.
Jon: I’ll protect you, I promise.
Sansa: No one can protect me. No one can protect anyone.
Tormund: So what do you do all night?
Davos: I walk. Think and walk. Think and walk until I’m far enough away from camp that no one can hear me shitting my guts out.
Tormund: Happy shitting.
Jon: Any advice?
Melisandre: Don’t lose.
Melisandre: Maybe you’re only needed for this small part of his plan and nothing else. Maybe he brought you here to die again.
Jon: What kind of god would do something like that?
Melisandre: The one we’ve got.
Tyrion: (to Theon) Last time we saw each other was at Winterfell, yes? You were making jokes about my height, I seem to recall. Everyone who makes a joke about a dwarf’s height thinks he’s the only person ever to make a joke about a dwarf’s height. “The height of nobility,” “a man of your stature,” “someone to look up to.” You’re all making the same five or six jokes.
Yara: The Iron Fleet isn’t all he’s bringing. He also wants to give you – his big cock, I think he said.
Yara: We ask you to give them back.
Daenerys: And that’s all?
Yara: We’d like you to help us murder an uncle or two who don’t think a woman’s fit to rule.
Daenerys: Our fathers were evil men, all of us here. They left the world worse than they found it. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to leave the world better than we found it. You will support my claim as queen of the Seven Kingdoms and respect the integrity of the Seven Kingdoms. No more reaving, roving, raiding, or raping.
Yara: That’s our way of life.
Daenerys: No more.
Yara: No more.
A technical masterpiece in every way. This is a perfect Game of Thrones episode.