By far the highlight of this season.

by Rachel Wilford

(Spoiler Warning) I was nearly speechless after Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones titled “Battle of the Bastards.” I wracked my brain for hours trying to think of any television battle scene that could even compare to the superiority of the battle between Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow, and came up with nothing. This was truly the most impressively crafted television battle scene that I have seen at least, and it was by far the highlight of this season.

HBO granted the show $100 million for this 10-episode season, so about $10 million per episode. Although the exact amount of money that was devoted to “Battle of the Bastards” has not been released yet, it’s safe to say that much of the season’s budget was used to create this intense battle.

The night before the battle, Sansa tries to warn Jon that Ramsay likes to play games, and that Rickon may not come out of the battle alive. Jon doesn’t listen to Sansa, but the next morning, he painfully realizes that she was right. In an incredibly tense and stressful scene, Ramsay releases Rickon onto the battlefield and tells him to run as fast as he can to Jon. As he takes off, Jon jumps on his horse and rides full speed toward his little brother. Ramsay starts shooting arrows at Rickon and misses the first few times on purpose. In this endless scene, it seems as if Rickon and Jon take hours to get to each other, when it is really only minutes or less, as just the brothers reach each other, we see Ramsay’s fateful arrow enter through Rickon’s back and kill him.

Game of Thrones
Created by
David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Emilia Clarke, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Release Date
19 June 2016
Rachel’s Grade: A+

Ramsay’s game has begun, and it works in his favor. An emotional and enraged Jon rides straight toward Ramsay and his 6,000 men, not thinking clearly, and Ramsay orders his men to start heading toward Jon as well. I found myself screaming at Jon, begging him to stop. When he finally is forced to stop because Ramsay’s men shoot arrows at him and kill his horse, for a few horrifying moments you think that this is it, that Jon is done for. His army is hundreds of yards behind him. The camera shows Jon’s back as he draws his sword, ready to try and fiught off the first line of men, and just when you’ve given up all hope, the camera angle shifts to the side and you just see a massive collision of horses and men as Jon’s army reaches him just in time.

The next fifteen minutes are just an epic ensemble of slicing, stabbing, shooting, and screaming, as men upon men upon men are killed. Scenes show colossal piles of dead and dying bodies underneath the living, fighting men.

Soon, it begins to look pretty grim for Jon and his army, considering that they were pretty far outnumbered. But Little Finger’s army arrives just in time to save the day, revealing who Sansa sent a letter to a couple episodes back.

Jon and Sansa reclaim Winterfell, and in the episode’s final scenes, we see Sana get some satisfying revenge. The tables finally turn on Ramsay as he is shown tied up and eaten alive by his own dogs, the very dogs that he fed his baby brother to. Sansa watches, completely unfazed, until at last she turns and walks away, smiling.

This battle was the big takeaway from this episode and it definitely stole the show, but there also was another storyline that had some interesting developments as well in the beginning of the episode. Daenerys takes back Mereen and defeats the attacking masters quite easily by simply hopping on her dragon and burning their men and ships. It’s actually pretty comical to watch because the masters actually think that she will surrender and they even discuss killing her dragons as well.

Later, Theon and Yara show up in Meereen and meet with Daenerys and Tyrion. It is clear that Daenerys and Yara have mutual respect for each other. Yara is really the first powerful woman that Daenerys has come across, and it pleases Daenerys that Yara wants to be queen of the Iron Islands. The two women form an alliance: in exchange for Yara’s fleet of ships, Daenerys will support Yara’s claim to the Iron Islands and help them defeat their uncle, Euron. This is pretty exciting because now Daenerys has enough ships to sail to Westeros, which we’ve been waiting for for six seasons now.

“Battle of the Bastards” was truly a breathtaking episode, and hands down the best episode of the season. HBO keeps raising the stakes each season (as well as the budget), and I can’t wait to see how they are going to top this masterpiece of an episode.

Director: Miguel Sapochnik