Game of Thrones: Dog Days of Winterfell

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Sophie Turner, Kit Harington. photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

Sophie Turner, Kit Harington. photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

It was a night of jubilation in Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode ‘Battle of Bastards.’ While there is always the moral grey area of watching a character brutally die, the case of Ramsay Bolton warrants cheering.

As the subtle episode title would suggest, the majority of the episode revolves around Jon Snow and Sansa Stark’s attempt to take back Winterfell from the Boltons. Sansa tries to warn Jon that he does not know how Ramsay operates, and Jon more or less ignores her. He treats Ramsay as a normal enemy, and tries to draw on his arrogance. Which makes it fitting later when Sansa’s actions result in victory for her and Jon.

The victory does not come without a cost. As the battle is about to begin, Ramsay plays with Jon by releasing Rickon Stark, only to have him run toward Jon as he shoots arrows at him. Rickon is hit and killed, while Jon is drawn out into the center, alone and unprotected. He miraculously survives with incredibly thick plot armor, and the battle is on.

Here we see Jon’s foolishness show itself once more. He is vastly outnumbered and the rebellion forces are surrounded. He and the rebellion are almost suffocated as the Boltons press in. Without a large number of forces, Jon’s insistence on fighting shorthanded would have led to certain flaying. The Lord of the Rings-esque rescue comes from Littlefinger and the House Arryn troops, who Sansa had asked for a couple of episodes prior.

Without the thinking of Sansa, Jon is dead. This episode illuminated the impressive physicality of Jon as he is able to stay alive through sheer skill with the sword, but it also illuminated his lack of tactical thinking. He needs someone to reign him in and make him think rather than attacking everyone as if they were a Walker. Sansa is that person, and now Littlefinger will be involved in that process. It is justice that Sansa is the person who finally kills Ramsay, as she is the reason they had a chance in the first place. She is quickly realizing the importances of alliances, networking and favors.

In the other plot of the episode, the Masters attacking Meereen are repelled by Daenerys and her dragons. This is the first time we see the sheer amount of damage the dragons can do combined. She gains the fleet of the Masters that were not destroyed.

Daenerys also gains 100 Iron Island ships as Theon and Yara reach her and negotiate an agreement. They will fight for her, they will supply ships and they will recognize her as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Yara will receive the endorsement of Daenerys as Queen of the Iron Islands, and show watchers receive many ships of their own with a bit of flirting between Yara and Daenerys.

Both plots show protagonists who leave the episode more powerful than they entered it. Jon and Sansa now have Winterfell and the army of House Arryn. Daenerys and Tyrion now have the fleet of the Iron Islands and strengthen their base in Meereen. How long that will last, however, is the plotline coming up next.

Screw

When Davos found the stag he had given Shireen lying near the rubble, the death clock for Melisandre started ticking. It’s only a matter of time before he destroys the woman who he has so much mistrust in.

Marry

Littlefinger and Sansa are back in the same place. Her second husband is dead, her first husband may as well be on another planet, and Littlefinger just saved her bastard brother and her home. The feelings that have arisen in previous episodes may rise once more from Littlefinger. How Sansa responds will be interesting.

Kill

The episode was highlighted by the death of Ramsay, but Rickon is another big one as he is the first Stark to die since the Red Wedding. The giant Wun-Wun dies a hero’s death, and countless Bolton bannermen and rebellion forces die as well.

Stray Observation

We’re seeing a parallel between Jon and Daenerys. Danerys is anxious to lead her attack on Westeros, but even with all of her naval additions she is still barely adequate to launch and invasion. It takes a wise council like Tyrion to pull her back, a council that Jon desperately needs in his own rule as Commander.

Prediction

The season finale is next week and the trials of Cersei and Loras are likely to be in the episode. I believe that one of them is going to die, and Tommen could be in real danger too. Bells will ring in Kings’ Landing next week.