Hello, fair citizens of the Realm! It’s that time of year again—the most wonderful of them all—Game of Thrones season. And, in addition to winter: spoilers are coming! (And maybe a few swears, too. Woops!) As this is a recap, it goes over everything in crazy detail, so proceed at your own risk and don’t say we didn’t warn you in the comments below!
Holy Seven Hells HOW DOES ONE EVEN RECAP AN EPISODE LIKE THAT?! I mean honestly, Game of Thrones fans, the penultimate “Battle of the Bastards” episode ended less than ten minutes ago as I type this, and I just have too many feelings to process about it—to say nothing of the sheer unexpected epic badassery and—HOPEFULLY—redemption of the Mad Queen Daenerys business (and Tyrion, if we’re being frank) that worried us so much over the past few weeks. With Jon Snow and Sansa firmly back in place in Westeros and the most out-Joffrey’d motherfucker this side of the Narrow Sea dead, there’s a lot worth getting excited about in one of the strongest episodes of an already pretty strong season of Thrones. Sure, maybe the deaths weren’t as major as we were expecting, but that doesn’t take away from all that went down on a plot level in regards to moving us back to Westeros and the wars to come. And all the female-fronted war-mongering and political maneuvering that went down. OOOOH! VENGEANCE TASTES SO SWEET, DON’T IT?
So let’s just start with Meereen, shall we? With Dany finally back from the Dothraki Sea with her newly replenished horselordling cohort, the battle happening between The Masters of Slaver’s Bay (y’know, all those other cities that Dany defeated early on like Yunkai and Astapor) and Meereen never really stood a chance at being more than that. Not when there are dragons! (And seriously, what impressive VFX work was done with Drogon and Co tonight, both in scope and scale?) After a few weeks of slightly delusional Dany and some seriously questionable Tyrion political machination-ing, the two returned to form in this episode, thanks to one another. (They’re so much better together—and when Tyrion’s not constantly making jokes.) It was as if Meereen suddenly remembered it needed to be interesting, and the show remembered why we loved these two characters coming together to begin with: to kick ass and take names in the name of freedom from tyrannical rulers. They are our X-Men!
But it also gave us a lot of forward momentum: Tyrion reminded us all about the stockpiles of Wildfire scattered across King’s Landing, calling out the Sept of Baelor in particular (which we saw a lot of in the preview for the finale). It was a moment that felt as though it all-but-guaranteed us that Cersei burning the whole city to the ground is what’s about to happen. Season seven’s gonna be THIS. MARK ME, Y’ALL:
Of course we also got our new favorite team-up to be—this season has been a wealth of badass ladies and character combinations: Dany and Yara Greyjoy. The two were basically making eyes at one another the whole time they were on screen together, impressed by each other’s badassery and take-no-bullshit-from-the-man business. It may have been unexpected, but we’re no less for all the women on this show coming together as a united feminist army. In each other they quickly saw the freedom-first type of rule for which they’re both struggling—so it’s no wonder they found in one another a spirit kindred. They just don’t want to be controlled by the men in their lives that have, so far, insisted on doing so. So now they’re all #ImWithHer: Sorry Uncle Euron Trumpjoy! And let’s be real, if these two ended up kissing on the mouth, well: that’s just some sort of Tumblr-laced gravy for some of y’all out there, now isn’t it? (I know how the internet works!)
Speaking of the truly, inspiringly fantastic female characters this show has evolved into being: we have to talk about Sansa Stark. Sansa who was, at the end of the day, the true hero of the Battle of the Bastards. Honestly, I have so many feelings I’ve yet to fully process on this, mostly because I’m still basking in the catharsis of it all. Despite the issues you may or may not have with the characterization of Sansa Stark in earlier seasons, how it all contributed to her evolution this season has been a real joy to watch. Maybe for reasons that are personal, but also because it’s just plain fucking great to see someone constantly beat down, undermined, and discounted finally—finally!—rise up. I’ve made tons of very ill-received Beyoncé/Lemonade references when it comes to the women this season, but it’s no less true: Both Jon and Ramsay were too proud, too stuck in their ways, too confident that Sansa would be too weak to actually do what had to be done, to see this game for what it was—a game. I don’t truly fault either of them for that: I think we all thought there was a bit of doom written on the wall for Sansa when she called on Littlefinger for help. (And based on the rape-y clip from next week, we’re sure she’s not out of the woods on that front yet.) But just like she knew Rickon would die, she also knew how to out-maneuver the game and do that which was unexpected. SLAY, Wardeness of the North.
For better or for worse, Sansa’s letter to Littlefinger is what saved a seriously doomed battle. After being absolutely pummeled in a sweepingly epic, bloody mess of a battle scene (my white man face blindness was working overtime tonight wooo), Jon Snow and the Wildlings and the rest were surrounded, being slowly taken out one by one. So when Sansa and Littlefinger rode up and surrounded them, well: I gotta be honest with you, I maybe kinda/sorta teared up a little. It was the win Sansa needed, because no one would listen to her. And I was so relieved that, in the end, the ol’ Snowball let her actually finish the murderwork when it came to Ramsay Bolton. We certainly got a look at a mad Jon Snow that we hadn’t previously, really, seen—he’s clearly become slightly more Starkian (i.e. Direwolf-y!) in nature since death—but ultimately, this was Sansa’s war and win more than anything.
I only hope this doesn’t mean she’s doomed to die a terrible, horrible death in the finale. That, I don’t know if I could deal with, to be honest.
- Proof that, even though he was the WORST, Ramsay Bolton still had jokes: “Thank you for returning Lady Bolton to me” and “I am a man of mercy” and “Do you like games, little man? Let’s play a game.”
- Proof that, YET AGAIN, this season of Game of Thrones is about the Beyoncéfication of every woman in Westeros, exhibit Sansa Stark: “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.” and “They were. Now they’re starving.”
- Proof that Dany is the badassedest: “My reign has just begun.”
- Proof that Tyrion’s finally BACK, BABY: “It always seems so abstract, other people dying.”
- Proof that Yara Greyjoy and Dany are meant to be: “I’d never demand but I’m up for anything, really.”
- Let’s just get Yara, Dany, Arya, Sansa, Lyanna Mormont, and Brienne in a room together LORD OF LIGHT, PLEASE.
- oh also Melisandre better watch out because Ser Davos is TOTALLY COMIN’ FOR YA, LADY.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments below and tune into our Facebook page at 10AM PST for All Kings Considered, our talkdown of what went down and what’s to come, with myself and Dan Casey!