The Battle of the Bastards… Finally

Cheering for the home team! Stark! Stark! Stark!

HBO

We’ve only got one episode today, since I’m fully caught up (find my thoughts from last week here). So let’s jump into this, shall we?

The Battle of the Bastards

Episode Nine

Episode nine is traditionally where Game of Thrones throws caution and most of their budget to the winds of winter and in that way it did not disappoint. We got several tons of CG dragon and some serious fight work — and all it cost us were a few direwolves and a handful of cast members.

But before I get too snarky: My enjoyment of this episode was contingent on the death of Ramsay Bolton. He died, so +100 D&DB (we’re using Hanna’s Arbitrary Judgment Points System here). Good job. And take another +10 for letting Sansa loose the killing dogs. The title of the episode made me think you’d give the kill to Jon, so thanks. I smiled with her as Ramsay was torn apart.

Those points duly accorded, let’s look at the rest of the episode.

Glad to have Dany back in Meereen. Even gladder to see that Theon and Yara have made it to her. If we’re going to entirely ignore travel time, I’d like to at least see it work in service to the plot instead of against it. The scene with the Great Masters of the slave cities was fairly predictable, mostly satisfying and so long as I don’t start asking questions. Like: Why did Dany let the city be bombarded all night when she’s so touchy about every little death? Why did she fly at them at an angle where they could have been hit by pitch balls? Why did all three dragons have to sit and spew fire for that long at a ship that was pretty much toast (haha) in the first 2 seconds? Why were there Sons of the Harpy conveniently slaughtering people outside the city walls? Why…?

Okay. A lot of that didn’t make sense. I’m docking 5 points for the general incoherence of the Meereen plot. And I’ll give it back to them for the “Our fathers were the worst” line. And then take it away again for the “we’re going to leave the world a better place” line.

Back to the North!

Sansa had a point, even if she didn’t make it particularly well. Her calling out Rickon’s death was quite sad and gave it the feel of the inevitable. Which it was.

I thought that they found as good a way out of the corner they’d written themselves into when it came to Rickon and Ramsay as they could. No, it wasn’t accurate to the character that Rickon appeared to be in one piece before the battle. The malicious murder by arrows, however, was. And I really didn’t want them to be accurate to Ramsay’s character in that context.

A word about arrows and sniper archers: They don’t work like that. Things like wind, arc, distance etc… means that the shot which kills Rickon makes Ramsay the best archer ever as well as a sociopath. Also, arrows take time to fly and hit, especially at that distance. Moving was actually an option. Skipping the arbitrary points because they just feel shitty either way on this one.

-15 for Jon being stupid and angry enough to charge. Seriously, you want everyone to die now?

I’d forgotten that Davos didn’t know what happened to Shireen. The improbable talent of the Westerosi for conveniently finding small objects on the ground aside (in the snow, dammit!), interested to see how that shakes out next episode.

Let’s see. Melisandre seems to have learned a lesson. That happens infrequently enough that it’s nice. More Tyrion please. 100% less Ramsay is good. Good to see the Knights of the Vale — we won’t think about the time and distance involved and everything will be okay.

A word on the fight work — and the word is good. Conveying the horror and chaos of a battlefield is not an easy task and they did it extremely well. The small chances that keep Jon alive, the unexpected help or foe, the horses and the problems with being trampled all made this a very impressive sequence.

That puts the score at 95 points. It did end with a dead Ramsay Bolton.

Next week is the finale. It’ll all be over again. Until next year.

You can read the other installments in this series here and here. Also about my relationship with the show going into the season here.