In what is without any shadow of a doubt, the best episode of the entire series so far, Game of Thrones has delivered one of the best hour of television programming ever. The siege of Mereen where we were left off in the last episode continued forward, and the epic grand battle of the bastards, in the North, finally occurred.
The show kept the tradition of outdoing its next large scaled battle from the previous one. And with bigger budgets being allocated each new season, it comes to no surprise that “The Battle Of The Bastards” followed the patterns Weiss and Benioff had brought to the series for the last 6 years.
Whether retaking control of Mereen, or reclaiming Winterfell, both battles showed the importance of luck in battle: those who have it, such as Jon and Tyrion, and those that make their own, such as Daenerys, Sansa, and even Yara Greyjoy, who chose to outdo her uncle and head for Mereen to ally the Ironborn with the Dragon Queen.
The Siege Of Mereen
Daenerys’ look of understanding disappointment towards Tyrion got the show going. Trading space for time and choosing to meet the masters to discuss terms of surrender was the first step in Dany reclaiming what she believes to be hers.
Using her dragons as trump cards to attack the fleet while the Masters believe it to be a call for ceasefire is what made her shift the tide in her favor as quickly as it had happened against Tyrion just one episode ago.
The Greyjoys In Mereen
While we did expect the Iron Born to use the Iron Fleet to help in the battle, their arrival to Mereen clearly occurs after the battle had ended. The last time Theon and Tyrion had met in Winterfell had not been in great terms. Words of Theon’s treasonous actions in Winterfell back in season 2 had reached Tyrion’s ears, the Hand of the King at the time.
The looks exchanged between Yara and Daenerys will have fans speculate in between seasons for what’s to potentially occur between these two, should they succeed in overtaking the Seven Kingdoms and the Iron Islands from the Usurpers that took it away from their fathers.
A return to the theme of “making one’s luck” also embodied the scene. Both women knew that neither Westeros nor The Iron Islands ever had a female rule over them, and that it is time to shatter the status quo by uniting their forces. A good old Roman Handshake between the 2 strong women seals that deal.
The (Second) Battle Of Winterfell
Back in the North, Sansa was the one to take charge and make the decisive moves.
“You are going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well”
These words, uttered by a woman who so far had always been a reactive victim of her surroundings defined the moment that confirmed Sansa Stark had the control, and not Jon. Warning him about Ramsey’s mind games, and not to fall in his trap, had little to no effect on her half brother, as he walked right into the trap laid for him on the open field.
Rickon’s death, despite him barely speaking in the entire series, was as shattering as we would have expected, for another Stark to fall in the series. It is then that Jon’s true fighting skills, but more importantly, luck, got him to survive the cavalry assault headed his way. All it would take is one arrow from the archers to pierce him, or a rider to hit him from his blind side as he attacks other Bolton men for him to fall, but as Melisandre had told him early in the episode, the Lord of Light has a plan for him, and it seems that dying on the battlefield is not it.
With the Starks and Wildlings being positioned right where he wanted them, Ramsey’s phalanx closed in on them, trapping them between their large shields, and the wall of death that had been formed during the battle. Having Wun Wun helped a little, but not enough to break the ranks as they pierced and closed their way in.
The Vale To The Rescue
It’s at the (very much expected) arrival of the Knights of the Vale that the course of the battle changed its tide and had Ramsey retreat to Winterfell, where he would have had the advantage had he stayed inside.
Remembering the Fallen
We’ll use this paragraph in remembrance of the last CGI Giant in the series. As tough as the Giant was, looking like a porcupine with all the arrows piercing towards him, an arrow to the eye will decimate the biggest of foes. The Giants are now officially extinct in Westeros.
Winterfell Returns To The Starks
It’s when Ramsey realizes that he lost his edge that he reconsiders Jon’s initial offer of one on one combat. Having witnessed how great of a fighter and swordsman Jon really, it comes to no surprise that he attempts from a distance where he can have the edge. Jon’s luck had gotten him so far, and it’s not a few arrows that would get in his way and have him deliver the beating that fans had been wanting to see for so long.
Sansa’s The One In Charge
Going back to the Knights of the Vale saving the day, having cameras panning away from Littlefinger and to Sansa instead revealed that it was not Littlefinger that saved the day, it was Sansa. Taking control and making her luck her way, and claiming what was hers. The same can be said in the look she gives Jon as he’s beating Ramsey to death later in the episode:
This one is hers, and hers alone to torment.
What To Expect In The Finale
The series has been so conspicuous so far with its use of Foreshadowing and blatantly obvious Chekov’s Guns. Having Tyrion mention to Daenerys about the Mad King’s plans in Kings Landing, and the pots of Wildfire scattered across the city will definitely come into account, either while Cersei is about to be tried, or when Dany invades with her dragons (as per Bran’s Visions in both seasons 3 and 6)
The only variable to make Cersei achieve such a villainous act would be the death of her son Tommen. The safety of Kings Landing and its residents still lie in the hands of a boy King who is not aware of the manipulations perpetuated on him by the High Sparrow, his great uncle Kevan, and Grand Maester Pycelle.
Having discovered the pyre where Shereen had been sacrificed last season, Davos will confront Melisandre and expose her to Jon. As brutal and cruel as it was, it had a huge role to play in clearing the snow for Melisandre to return to Castle Black at the end of Season 5, and resurrect Jon Snow at the beginning of this one. Will her sacrifice be thoroughly explained this time around?
A shot of Bran will most likely have him continue his visions where he will, hopefully, see what actually was inside the Tower of Joy after his father had killed Arthur Dayne, finally confirming the biggest theory of the entire series yet: Jon’s true parentage.
Tyrion’s line “You’re in the Great Game now. And the Great Game is terrifying” is what sums it all up. The tides have changed completely in Slavers Bay, Kings Landing, and the North, both South and Beyond the Wall. The show is dwelling us more into the true unknown.