Game of Thrones Recap Spectacular – Battle of the Bastards

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And here we are again at Episode 9. Well, that escalated quickly, huh? I can’t even formulate enough thoughts for an intro other than that, so let’s just get right into it.

episoe 9Es: In Meereen, Tyrion is attempting to convince Dany that the city is on the rise… you know, as it’s mercilessly getting pelted with flaming balls of death (and this isn’t even the big battle of the episode). She then dismisses all of Tyrion’s actions by saying “Good, shall we begin?” then proceeds to list her usual litany of threats. This time, however, the Mother of Dragons gives us all a lesson in how to keep spewing threats until you get the sheer destructive force to back it up.

We then get what could have seriously been an episode-ending sequence right at the beginning of the episode, as the asshole Masters threaten Dany, and we all know how well that turns out for people. So girlfriend climbs atop Drogon, takes off, sends some sort of psychic signal to her other two children (and by children here, I do mean dragons), who then come busting forth from their underground prison to help their mother literally ANNAHILATE a motherfuckin’ boat (after they take a good hard look at it, of course).

And, what’s that? Oh, look… the Sons of the Harpy are back and happily murdering people in the streets. And, oh wow, here come ALL THE DOTHRAKI… annnnnnnnnnnnd now all the Sons of the Harpy are dead. There’s even a gratuitous shot of Jim’s boy Daaaaaaaaarriiiiiooooo lopping off a Harpy’s head. (I guess they needed something for that J.O. to do this week.)

THEN after Mr. Worm convinces the Masters’ guards to lay down their weapons and head home, he cuts down two of them with one lightning-fast swipe. Tyrion tells the remaining Master to remember that he only lives because his queen wishes it so, and to tell everyone back at home what happened when Daenerys Stormborn and her dragons came to Meereen.

So, questions… Were you hoping that with Rhaegal and Viserion showing up that they would finally get a dragon rider of their own? When will the incumbent jackasses learn not to threaten Dany? Why did the dudes on the motherfuckin’ boats stop firing when the dragons showed up? Like, you know they’re going to burn you to a cinder anyway, so wouldn’t you try to… I don’t know… shoot the flaming balls of death at them???

Lastly, I noticed something interesting during the scene where the two masters get the killed. So Tyrion turns to sort of cue Mr. Worm to step up and do his thing, but if you watch, you’ll see that Tyrion’s head remains turned the entire time and witnesses none of it. What’s that about? Also, why do you think Tyrion chose to call Dany “Daenerys Stormborn” and not any of her other 63 titles? Like he could have gone with “Mother of Dragons” or “Breaker of Chains” or “The Unburnt” or even just straight up “Daenerys Targaryen”… so what’s the deal? IS there a deal?

Jim: Um, apparently, Es, you are not up on your trebuchet-launching skillz cuz one does not simply fire a trebuchet at a moving object. There’s a lot of shit involved in aiming that bitch. You can learn more about it in my new e-book Ready. Aim. Aim. Seriously, Aim. C’mon Meow, Aim. Fire!: Aiming Medieval War Weapons Like a Boss. Ned Stark is silently judging you from beyond the grave. Without a head.

Who would be the potential dragon riders? I know you’re hoping for your boy Daaarrrriiiooo to be one of them, but I don’t know that anyone has the panache required to pull it off. I think that kid from The Neverending Story is too jaded these days and Jorah the Andal has the scabies. Is she accepting applications? Can I hit her up on LinkedIn?

As for when they will learn to take Dany seriously, I would hope right about meow but these dudes never seem to learn. She should steal a page from the Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction playbook and mutter “That’s how you’re gonna beat ‘em, Dany. They keep underestimating you.”

I think our boy Tyrion has always been a tad violence-averse. Ya know, except for when he choked a bitch and Daryl Dixon-ed his Dad while he was on the crapper. I would say those two acts alone made him a bit squeamish about it. As for why he called her “Daenerys Stormborn,” I would have to go with the same reason the rest of us would… just pick one and call it quits – it’s just too fucking much meow!

mr wormEs: Up North, Jon, Sansa, and company meet with Ramsay and his contingent. Jon tries to goad Ramsay into a one-on-one fight for it all, but Ramsay isn’t biting… at least not yet. While Sansa finally brings some much needed chutzpah to the table (and Lady Mormont brings her normal level of bad-asssedness), it’s totally Ramsay that steals the show in pretty much every scene he’s in. When Sansa thinks enough to question whether he really has Rickon, the look he gives her is filled with this crazy murderous rage… then it quickly shifts into almost bemusement as his lackeys get the head of Shaggydog to show to his foes. Ramsay is, I think, by far the most awful character this show has produced (and that’s saying something). That being the case, Iwan Rheon will be missed, as I think he did a masterful job of portraying someone who is deeply and unapologetically evil.

After this, Jon is planning out his battle with his “most trusted advisors” and when they leave, again it’s Sansa stepping to the plate to basically school Jon on what is going to happen. Essentially: Rickon is already dead so just let him go, and Ramsay is going to trick you into doing something HE wants you to do… don’t do it. Jon, of course, doesn’t listen to any of this advice and decides to play hero when he sees his brother running toward him (NOT in a zig zag or serpentine fashion as the internets has told us he should have time and time again since the episode aired). This completely blows his battle plans to shit, as Jon’s army is then forced to charge instead of laying back, which leads to a rout with Ramsay outsmarting him at every opportunity.

So, Jim, is this the Sansa we’re going to see from now on, as in someone who finally knows what the fuck is going on and is not completely clueless how to play this game now? Did you think Rickon had ANY kind of a chance to survive this? Will you strangely miss just how completely fucking evil Ramsay is? And lastly here, though I didn’t mention it above… just how the hell did Davos find the stag that he made for Shireen? How the hell did that not go up in the fire? And did he not question what happened to her before this? And speaking of burning people and blood magic, just why the F didn’t the Red Woman do a blessed thing for them leading up to this battle?

Jim:  Everyone’s a fucking survival expert on the internet, aren’t they? They’re not all Kate from L O S T, who just happens to have “tracking skillz.” Up high for the 5-years-too-late TV show burn!

Oh, Davos is pissed now. You don’t burn his princess alive and not pay for it. I’m willing to let the non-burning horse go cuz there was other remnants of wood there as well. I mean I guess it don’t take long to charbroil a princess, just like 5 minutes a side at most I bet. If I remember correctly, he did ask after Shireen and didn’t get a full explanation in return, only a look that told him she didn’t make it. But now that he knows what happened, he’s gonna need some revenge. What he can possibly do to the Red Woman, I don’t know, but maybe he’ll take a page from your playbook and pen a strongly worded letter. [Ed note: My strongly worded letters are EPIC MASTERPIECES and you know it!… though, admittedly, they are also completely and patently ineffectual. Moving on…]

Melisandre has no faith left in her abilities to discern what the Red God wants. He probably wants what we all want – some tacos and a happy ending. Um, I mean…

I did think it a bit odd that like a week ago Sansa was all like “we need to go save our brother” and now she goes full Clemenza with “Oh, Rickon? Won’t see him no more.” I do have to laugh at how pissed Sansa gets that Jon doesn’t ask for her insight on Ramsay instead of just like, ya know, opening her trap and giving her fucking insight. She doesn’t want to just give her insight, she wants her insight to be wanted. Well-behaved women rarely make history, Sansa! Be the outspoken feminist queen bee the internet is just DYING for you to be, Sansa! Girl power, Sansa!

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you sure as Hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Sansa Stark

What? It’s as true as anybody else the internet credits!

game-of-thrones-memes-battle-of-the-bastards-10Es: Back in Meereen, move over Brienne and Tormund, the shippers of the webbernetz have a whole new ship that they are shipping! (Um… did that make any sense?) At least we know Dany is a fan, because, as Tyrion says earlier in the episode, “Our queen does love ships.” (See what I did there? Just how weak was it?)

ANYWAY… Great subtle acting during this scene between Emilia Clarke and Gemma Whelan, as Yara is without a doubt impressing (and flirting) with Dany. And I believe that this is the closest thing I’ve seen so far of Yara being like her book character, who I always pictured as far more dryly and wryly playful than the mostly dour Yara on the show.

Anyhoo… There are two great lines in this scene, one from Yara about how she doesn’t demand marriage but is “up for anything”. The other one being Tyrion to Theon, “It was complicated growing up in Winterfell… never quite knowing who you were.” Oh, if only he knew… or does he know?

They now apparently have enough ships to sail to Westeros, and with the Masters being subdued hardkor, they can apparently leave pretty quickly.

So, do you think we’ll see them set off on this voyage in the next episode? Where do you think they’re going to land at in Westeros? Will Theon be able to be loyal, or will he suddenly change sides… again? I couldn’t help but think of him when Ramsay died. I wonder if somehow he knew that his torturer was gone.

Jim: On a weak scale from 1-10 with 1 being a bottle of Coors Light and 10 being Steve Rogers before his treatment, I’ll give that joke a solid 7, which is Glass Joe from Punch Out.

I see no reason for them to drag out Meereen for yet another episode, so they might as well blow that popsicle stand. Dany has done all she can, or needs to there, so let’s move on. As for where she goes – perhaps wherever Varys happens to be might give us an indication?

I think Theon will stay loyal, or perhaps try to encourage a peaceful resolution with the North if Dany is successful. Either way, they’re all going to have band together in the end to fight the White Walkers. Are you saying Theon may have felt a phantom tingle where his Greyjoy used to dangle when Ramsay died? You may be right.

On to the most important moment from this scene – Yara & Dany’s flirtation! Certainly well written and acted, though I added in a few key extra-curricular moments when I replayed it in my head, which we don’t need to get into here. You can read it in my fanfic. I do think it was a bit odd how quickly Yara agreed to basically give up the Iron Islanders entire way of life, but I guess Euron is that big a threat, or she wants to rule that much. I’m very excited to see where Yara & Dany’s Adventure takes us…very excited. I’m gonna need a minute. Don’t look at me.

euronEs: Okay, so the battle itself was so incredibly epic, I’m going to try something a little different here. I don’t really have any questions about it, so I’m just going to write my thoughts and then ask Jim to share his after mine. Sound good? Okay, regardless, here goes.

My favorite writing teacher in college (and really, my favorite writing teacher ever) once told me that whenever something happens in the plot of a story where a situation can go one way or another, both outcomes are expected, neither is going to come as a surprise, and the only thing that makes what happens original is not what actually happens, but HOW it happens and how the story is told. I feel this way about the Battle of the Bastards.

While nothing happened here that I didn’t fully expect, right down to the death of Wun-Wun (not Wun-Wun! NOT WUN-WUN!!!), it was still a COMPLETELY epic, wonderful, terrifying, claustrophobic bit of sheer madness that Game of Thrones showcased for us this week.

First, and I think Jim will back me up on this being the film guy that he is, but the direction and cinematography during this whole sequence was astounding. From the first charge of the horses in slow motion, to Jon falling off his horse and getting the great panning hero shot that eventually winds up with him removing Longclaw from its sheath as he’s untying his sheath from his waist and facing down an entire cavalry charge (which I found out later from watching this that those were indeed 40 real horses charging at him and were not CGI).

Then there was just an amazing tracking shot of Jon following him through the beginning of the battle. And just the vast scope of EVERYTHING that went on made this a horrifying joy to watch. While I may have liked some other battles on this show a bit more (Hardhome immediately comes to mind), this one was the dirty, nasty, realest battle the show has ever put forth. Just the fact that there were MOUNTAINS of bodies really speaks to that… it was so unreal.

When Littlefinger (predictably) came riding in to save the day with the Knights of the Vale in tow, I was almost completely exhausted from watching the carnage and the suffocating action that was going on.

As I said earlier, in order for the story to be the story and to lead somewhere, you had to know that Jon’s side of this battle was going to win, and it was totally set up that Sansa recruited Littlefinger to help, so you were expecting him to show up too. The only real worries I had were about my boy Tormund, Davos, and, of course, Wun-Wun… though, as I also mentioned, I totally expected to pour some out for him during this battle, so it was nice to see him get a big exit (no pun intended).

So, James, your thoughts? Also, I am the liar, because I actually do have a question or two for you here… why didn’t Sansa tell Jon about the Vale coming to help? Did she not know or is she playing at something else here?

Also, what do you think of the way Ramsay went out? Me? Well, I also thought that was predictable, but also pretty well done, with just the subtlest of smiles creeping onto Sansa’s face as she walked away.


Jim: It’s tough to discuss this scene and episode as a whole without crossing into hyperbole, but I don’t care. I will say this is one of my Top Three Favorite Episodes of TV ever, if not #1. The other two being an episode of Breaking Bad and the episode of Diff’rent Strokes when that creepy guy from WKRP in Cincinnati was trying to cop a feel on Arnold’s friend Dudley.

I’m kidding! That episode of Breaking Bad wasn’t that good I guess.

All kidding aside, I think this episode was the best of the entire series so far, and I actually said, out loud, “Dude just won the fucking Emmy for Best Director with that shot” as I watched the moment you describe above of Jon Snow facing down the cavalry. While the director and producers will reap the rewards, we must give a shoutout to Cinematographer Fabian Wagner for his part in that stunning shot. A quick search of his IMDB page, and not surprisingly he also shot the “Hardhome” episode. In other words, if you have an incredible battle sequence to film – call that dude.

I’ve read a bunch of things detailing why Sansa didn’t tell Jon the Vale was coming to help and maybe delay the battle for a bit, but I’d have to think she just didn’t know for sure if or when they were coming. Ramsay’s death was wholly satisfying. He HAD to go out in the most gruesome way possible, but I’ll be honest, I’ll kind of miss him. Who is going to be the person we all hate now? I guess it’s the Night King’s turn, but he doesn’t say a whole lot.

ClQmAg2WYAA9yzt.jpg largeSome other things that stood out to me:

  • Jon Snow gasping and clawing for breath at the bottom of that pile was truly terror inducing.
  • Davos’ “Follow your Commander” scream actually gave me goosebumps. Liam Cunningham should be in everything.
  • Jon Snow leaping onto his horse and galloping off to rescue Rickon was bad-fucking-ass, much like the Duke boys sliding across the hood of the General Lee.
  • I was concerned we were going to lose Tormund, and even he seemed concerned when they were surrounded. Everything in this episode was so visceral and his fear was palpable.
  • Wun-Wun literally knocking down the gates of Winterfell and sacrificing himself so Jon could triumph was a thing of beauty.
  • Jon Snow’s playing catch with Ramsay’s arrows while using a shield as a glove followed by the subsequent beatdown was entirely cathartic.
  • The literal mountain of bodies on the battlefield and the way the Knights of the Vale mowed down Ramsay’s army was brutal and beautiful at the same time.
  • Ghost’s absence hadn’t occurred to me before you mentioned it but it is entirely bizarre he wasn’t there.
  • So much for that whole Smalljon Umber-was-secretly-plotting-against-Ramsay theory.

lunddberghEs: I now present for your viewing pleasure, this spectacularly done mashup. (If you don’t know what this is based on, you’ve somehow sadly missed one of the best things ever on the internets… which you can watch here if you’re interested.)

Annnnnnnnnnnnd, after that, dear reader, we’re spent… even though we didn’t even touch on ALL THE FEELS that I got when the Stark banner went up at Winterfell… or that the women of this show just PWNED this episode… or what’s going to happen next week… or……. or….. GAHHH!!!

See you next week for the finale, everyone, and, as always….

happy shitting

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