‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Women Rule in ‘Battle of the Bastards’

game of thrones recap battle of
Courtesy of HBO

This post contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 6, Episode 9, titled, “Battle of the Bastards.” To refresh your memory on where we left off, check out last week’s “Game of Thrones” recap.

Past years have taught us to expect that the penultimate episode of every season of “Game of Thrones” will be a barn-burner, but even the epic conflicts of Blackwater and Hardhome seemed like child’s play compared to the scope of not one, but two major clashes in “Battle of the Bastards,” which made it easy to forget that anything was going on elsewhere. One sortie saw the long-awaited and much-publicized fight between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton for control of Winterfell, which gave the episode its name, while the other followed the sweeping carnage of Daenerys’ defense of Meereen against the Wise Masters, in which we finally got to witness exactly how powerful her dragons can be when they’re let off their leashes. (To learn exactly what went into making both fights, check out Variety’s Artisans deep-dive into the visual effects of “Battle of the Bastards” below.)

While Daenerys dispatched her enemies with typical Targaryen aplomb (aka napalm), things were a little more complicated in the North, where Ramsay had the advantage of men, horses, Winterfell and poor Rickon as a hostage. Despite Sansa’s warnings that Ramsay wouldn’t play by the rules of any game Jon might be familiar with, our noble bastard has the same shortcomings as Ned Stark; he fights with honor against opponents who are all too willing to use that predictable morality against him. While it was virtuous of him to attempt to flip the script and fight one-on-one with Ramsay to avoid thousands of soldiers dying on their behalf, people like the Boltons don’t get into positions of power by thinking about their fellow man.

As this season has reinforced again and again, whether at the Tower of Joy (where Ned was forced to acknowledge the pointlessness of an honest fight), or in The Hound’s brief flirtation with pacifism, you can’t make an omelet — or survive in Westeros — without breaking a few eggs/occasionally hitting someone in the nuts with an ax. But power and cruelty has its limits, and in order to change the world, people need to be willing to change the narrative.

We know that war is good for absolutely nothin’, and yet it’s a habit that Westeros keeps falling back into — mostly because of the men in positions of power, too busy worrying about their houses and their names and their legacies to recognize that by ignoring the lessons of history, they’re doomed to repeat it. That’s why Sansa’s parting words to Ramsay were so potent: “Your words will disappear; your house will disappear; your name will disappear; all memory of you will disappear.” Ramsay was a bastard who craved legitimacy, so the most terrifying fate in the world is not a grisly death — but the knowledge that you’re disposable. Despite everything that he did to Sansa, her greatest victory won’t be killing him, it will be moving on to a better life, instead of letting his memory have power over her. Everyone wants to make their mark, but not everyone feels the need to burn the world down to do it.

Jon’s battle against Ramsay followed all the predictable beats — from Rickon’s tragic but well-telegraphed death to Jon’s underdog army being surrounded by their better-prepared foes, on the verge of a bloody defeat before a last-minute reprieve — which served to emphasize just how futile the whole exercise is. Thousands of warriors and horses die, all for the reputations of two houses that most of them don’t belong to and don’t give two hoots about. Men in Westeros play at war like it really is a game — the lives of their soldiers seeming trivial in comparison to their own lofty ambitions. (For a succinct example of this, see Jaime’s recent monologue to poor Edmure Tully, which spelled out exactly how little he cares about everyone in the world except Cersei.)

After seasons of criticism over the show’s misogyny (sometimes earned, sometimes not), it’s thrilling to see an episode like “Battle of the Bastards,” where women like Dany, Sansa and Yara — and emasculated men (either figuratively or literally) like Tyrion and Theon — break the gears of war and the familiar patterns of violence by attempting to “leave the world better than we found it,” despite the examples set by the “evil men” who came before them.

While “Game of Thrones” will likely never completely do away with its casual use of female bodies as set decoration (though it’s certainly made improvements this season), there’s no denying that George R. R. Martin’s story — designed to dismantle many of the tropes of the fantasy genre that came before his novels — and David Benioff and Dan Weiss’ adaptation, sees its women (not to mention its cripples, bastards and broken things) as the heroes of the story. Those who have spent their lives being oppressed by the game finally seem to be in position where they might have a chance of winning it, and whether the show has a predominance of exposed breasts in the background or not, that’s a story worth telling.

On that note, it was unexpectedly moving to see Daenerys forge an alliance with Yara. These are both women who have escaped the patriarchal systems designed to oppress them after a lifetime of being told that they’re worthless outside of their ability to breed heirs for their husbands, and whose families have disrespected them for no other reason than what’s between their legs.

Yara is perhaps the most competent military leader on the Iron Islands, and yet her people scoffed at the notion of her leading them, just as the Dothraki and the “Wise” Masters mocked Dany for daring to defy their ideas of what a woman was worth. (Dany could do a lot worse than entertaining Yara’s flirtation, right?) And although Sansa had to ask Littlefinger for help despite his earlier betrayal, she at least had the sense to put practicality above her pride for the sake of the greater good. She’ll never forgive him for what he set into motion when he arranged her marriage to Ramsay, but at least she can finally use him to her advantage, the way she has too often been used by the men around her. She’s now the player instead of the pawn, like Dany.

The smile of satisfaction on Sansa’s face as she walked away from Ramsay as he was devoured by his dogs probably should’ve been chilling, but I couldn’t help but let out an internal cheer at how far she’s come — she’s no longer a victim of circumstance, and her leadership saved the lives of Jon and countless other Stark supporters, even if it couldn’t save Rickon, who ended up dead on the field just inches away from safety, another disposable chess piece in the game — too innocent to survive.

After everything Sansa has endured at the hands of men — both well-meaning, like Tyrion, and sadistic, like Joffrey and Ramsay — it’s no wonder that she snorted at Jon’s promise that he’d protect her. At this point, both of them know how unrealistic that reassurance is; they have to rely on their own strength to survive, using any tools at their disposal, not just the ones that suit their conscience. But that doesn’t mean they can’t help each other — Sansa’s presence prevented Jon from surrendering his own humanity in his quest for vengeance against Ramsay, and in return, he was able to give her the opportunity to find some semblance of closure by taking back her agency and determining Ramsay’s fate.

As we look ahead to next week’s finale, Daenerys now has the ships and the numbers to lead her back to Westeros, where the Iron Throne awaits — but right now, King’s Landing is in the grip of a different kind of threat than the Sons of the Harpy or the cruelty of the Wise Masters (and arguably a more insidious one, given that it’s hard to argue with “the gods”), and as Tyrion pointed out to her this week, she can’t simply burn her allies and enemies alike, the way her father planned to take back control of the city. And Jon and Sansa now have Winterfell — but even if the disloyal forces who followed the Boltons decide to pledge their allegiance to the Starks again, there’s still the matter of the Freys and the Lannisters, who started this whole mess. The game is rapidly losing players, but at last, the end is in sight.

“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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  1. Shandy says:

    I LOVED the “Our fathers were evil men who left the world worse than they found it, but we’re going to leave it better” part. But for all the praise Sansa receives, I dunno…I’ve liked her more and more as the story went on, but she still hasn’t managed to climb too high in my ranking as a ‘heroine’ or favorite.

  2. Sean Connaughton says:

    “After seasons of criticism over the show’s misogyny (sometimes earned, sometimes not), it’s thrilling to see an episode like “Battle of the Bastards”, where women like Dany, Sansa and Yara — and emasculated men (either figuratively or literally) like Tyrion and Theon — break the gears of war and the familiar patterns of violence by attempting to “leave the world better than we found it,” despite the examples set by the “evil men” who came before them.”

    Are we even watching the same show? Daenerys is as brutal as they come in this world.

  3. Shandy says:

    I also assumed the reason Sansa didn’t tell Jon about the possible aid from the Vale was simply that she wasn’t certain it would come, or when. But yeah, although she’s definitely much better now than she was, she still hasn’t done much to make me really like her. I absolutely adored Daenerys & Yara last night, but her? Meh. My favorite GoT girls are Dany, Arya, Olenna, Melisandre, Missandei, Brienne, & Ygritte.
    I don’t look at things as “men vs. women,” though. I just view everybody as people.

    Thank goodness for the knights of the Vale, but clearly Littlefinger doesn’t do anything nice out of the goodness of his heart…there’s always gotta be something in it for him…so next week we get to hear what he wants. ;p

    The most frustrating thing was watching Rickon making himself an easy target by running in a bloody straight line while being shot at. >_< Guh. He was an inevitable goner.

    As to war being "endemic" or "necessary"…ah, will mankind ever sufficiently evolve to see that ideal day when it can live in peace with itself, or will our species be obliterated before utopia can be attained?! `-`

    All in all, this was a most satisfying episode. But now that Ramsay & the battle are out of the way & the Stark banner is restored to its rightful place, I hope the finale covers everybody. (How's Varys' mission going? Where are Sam & Gilly? What about Jorah?! Will Arya reunite with the other Starks? Will we see Brienne's & Pod's return? This season's been perhaps the best yet, but I really don't wanna be left majorly hanging on anybody! And they better not pull a Walking Dead…)

  4. If anything this episode really shows why war is necessary, not the other way around. I’m sure you’d let your entire family get slaughtered by sadists just to prove an agenda point though

  5. ben jones says:

    Um, how is Tyrion emasculated? Are you saying that men who are dwarves aren’t real men? That’s harsh.

    • Gigi says:

      In this episode, Tyrion reminded Theon about all the horrible, emasculating, insults Theon had said to him. (Not a very good attempt at being an SJW on your part.)

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  6. hkaufman says:

    The end game, Ramsey v Jon, which should have been Snow V Snow, Ramsey Snow Bolton, Would have been more entertaining had Jon really done a face job on Ramsey. What character seemed to be the most hated in 6 season, wellllll Ramsey wins.. Sansa had the right insight on Sausage boy Ramsey, CHOMP!!!!! Season ending episode 10 wonder how tame that will be as compared to episode 9?? Could that be the ending of the high Sparrow and his amazon Nun with the wooden spoon, Sir John could have some really good fun with Sparrow boy, or maybe Dany and her Air Corps and foot soldiers march in and take Kings Landing and serve JUSTICE to INJUSTICE.. Season 7 should be a roller coaster with the Mountain v the House with new acquire boots from one of the brothers of no flag.. Will Valdomere FRYE get his next week.. Oh Writers?????

  7. Philip R. Gordon says:

    Although I agree with most of your observations, I believe that the antiwar rhetoric is now as cliched as the idea that war is “gallant”. War is an historical theme, and even in our “enlightened” era, we use war as instrument of policy against evil (“ISIS”) or competitors (Russia). It may be tiring, but it is not something that will ever go away, so if it is to be depicted, it must be depicted as it is. You can’t cure cancer with an inaccurate diagnosis, and you can’t stop war with a sarcastic remark. War is not primitive: it is endemic.

  8. jeff says:

    So, to me what’s really happened on GOT is that all of the evil and sadistic bad guys (men) have been killed off, and we’re left with a bunch of crazy and sadistic women whom all want to rule, and will never bend the knee for anyone else (let alone another woman). The writer can play up “Girl Power Now!” all she wants, but I think that in between Sansa, Dany, Yara, Arya, and Cersei, A LOT more people are going to be gruesomely and brutally butchered next season. I can’t wait!

  9. I don’t visit the Variety website often. I only came here to assess the difference between G.O.T recaps from other venues.

    Having said that, it seems like the comments are more concerned about weather the show and the review skews toward feminism, and how that relates to Sansa’s actions and motives in last night’s episode? @Mike Keleher said, “I am beyond tired of the feminist prism through which all fiction must be viewed.” @ blip countered with, “You know what women are sick of, honey? Men like you.”

    My 2 cents: Mike, where have you been for the last 20 or 30 years? All this entertainment comes out of Hollywood, and Hollywood has been a bastion of hardcore liberalism for at least that long. White males have been portrayed as idiots, and the lowest form of life for ages. Going all the way back to Tim Allen’s Tool Time, and continuing with Everybody Loves Raymond, The King Of Queens, and multiple other formulaic shows where guys are generally portrayed as idiots.

    It’s not just about gender either. Surely you have noticed that Hollywood goes totally overboard in its ridiculous attempt to insure that every conceivable minority faction receives recognition on screen? Fine, but does that recognition have to be totally out of proportion to the actual percentage of the population that those minorities represent? I could give you dozens of examples, but that would take way too long. Just think about all the most popular shows on cable TV over the last two decades, and the make-up of their cast of characters.

    Let’s take Shameless on Showtime, going into its seventh season. We all know that it was copied after a series that was originally aired in England, and it is about a dysfunctional family living in Chicago. Six children fathered by (surprise) a drunken, drug-using, morally corrupt, white guy named Frank Gallagher. One of the children has to be black, (supposedly the result of a drunken tryst), and one of the children has to be gay. Is that the normal composition of a seven member family? The next door neighbors just happen to be a cohabiting white guy and black women. The estranged Gallagher matriarch is currently in a lesbian relationship with a black truck driver. Over seven seasons, Ian Gallagher, (the gay child) has provided us with tons of on screen “up close and personal” homosexual liaisons. He is currently in a “committed” relationship with a black EMT. We’ve seen the oldest Gallagher male offspring appear to impregnate the daughter of an agoraphobic widow who loves to use strap-on dildos with her male lovers, only to find out that the eventual child is obviously of Asian descent and autistic to boot! I haven’t even scratched the surface of this popular series yet, but you get the idea.

    It’s all about SOCIAL JUSTICE, and over-representation of “the victim class” all the time! Forget that it doesn’t come close to representing reality! The English version did a great job with the original series, without all the SJW crap. Now, Black Sails on STARZ gives us gay pirates, and Banshee On CineMax gives us a gay Asian transvestite! Will it never end?

  10. Mike Keleher says:

    I am beyond tired of the feminist prism through which all fiction must be viewed.

    It adds nothing. It warps the story to fit the lazy interpretation of upper middle class white women who are amongst the most privileged and panpered creatures in history.

    No story, no event is understood except through their hyperpolitical Leftist cult of victimhood – one that seems to perpetually impose a men v women dynamic that may or may not be there but the hyperfocus of which leaves the story distorted – and the suffering or cruelty etc of characters rank ordered according to gender and how much they align to the easy college feminism of people who, actually, never have to do the fighting.

    • ben jones says:

      Everyone views everthing through theor own subjective lenses dude. Women are more likely going to view fiction through the lens of being a woman in today’s society. Feminism is a big part of that. Why are you remotely surprised, and why is it a big deal? People will always see the world from their own subjective perspective.

    • blip says:

      So speaks the “lazy,” “priveleged,” “pampered” white man who’s scared that, because power isn’t just a “who can hit hardest” thing, that the non-male fifty-one-percent of the human population can have influence in history– or in a story. You know what women are sick of, honey? Men like you.

      • Shandy says:

        Zero pity for the dudes who thought it oughta be that way, Joe. xD

      • ben jones says:

        The only annoying aspect from the loud section of feminists criticizing GoT is the stupid argument that because it’s fiction it shouldn’t portray the brutal misogyny usually present in medieval society. That is a DIFFERENT story. The story being told here reflects all the disgusting traits of humanity, from misogyny to child abuse to torture, and compromising on that to please an angry sub-section of an activist group is laughable.

        But seeing it through a feminist lens? How is that a problem? No one has a truly objective view. Everyone sees the world through a subjective lens.

      • Joe says:

        You are saying that men are privileged because we weren’t relagated to the home? The toil men had to suffer to work, support their families, and protect them? Who built the cities for which we live in and comforts we take for granted?

        Who is it that died in this battle? Who is it that fought the battle? Who is it that got to sit back and watch other do the fighting for them?

  11. Dagmar says:

    Nearly all of Laura Prudom’s articles seem to be written from a “women are strong!” angle. It is rather obvious and rather boring. Look elsewhere for recaps that are written without the constant sjw point of view.

    Daenerys is very good at ruling and destroying brown people. It’s ok though because she is beautiful and young! And she isn’t a MAN! l

    • Shandy says:

      “‘Destroying brown people?'” When they have it coming and/or give her no choice–same as any-colored-people.

  12. TheWatchersOnTheCouch says:

    First of, Miguel Sapochnik is a Game Of Thrones legend, after The Gift, Hardhome, and Battle of the Bastards. Watching episode 9 not only made up for my frustration with episodes 7 and 8, it delivered everything I would ever want from a show. Incredible director, and I cannot wait for the finale.

    Sansa, oh Sansa, sweet summer child, why didn’t you tell Jon about the possible support of the Vale? Had Sansa told Jon that there’s a chance of getting additional support, how many lives could have been saved? Jon almost died. Again. And as much as I like that she got her revenge in the end, I just cannot be on board with her amazing character transformation. Withholding vital and critical information from her brother, and her forces during their strategy sessions, is just plain stupid Sansa, who does things that make little sense, but cause chaos and distraction in the aftermath.

    Remember that lie you told about the butcher’s boy and Nymeria? This watcher remembers, Sansa. I need more than Sansa starting her own brand of Ramsay dog food, and a little smirk on her face as she’s walking away to convince me that her character has truly changed in a way that will benefit people around her.

    The lady of Tarth still wants to know: Why did you lie to Jon? And so do I.

    Calling on the Mockingbird might have helped to win this battle, but nobody who walks into Littlefinger’s storyline makes it out in one piece.

    • Maggie13 says:

      Sansa didn’t tell Jon because Jon didn’t listen to her about Ramsay. She knew that Rickon was dead, period. She knew that Jon would try to save him, because Ramsay would manipulate the situation to make Jon believe he had a chance to do. Jon took the bait – too much like Ned Stark, his uncle. Impulsive and emotional instead of using his brain. I have to say that no reviewer has yet given Kit Harington the kudos he deserves for his screen presence. All that solo screen time he had right before the battle began and intermittently during it – the man has charisma and a huge career. Not many actors can do that, much less one as young as Mr. Harington. Sophie Turner has been stunning this season and it is about time they let her show her maturity and how much she has learned. Her character has all the best qualities of the Stark and Tully bloodlines she descends from. Sansa was right not to tell Jon – and last night’s episode should prove that to anyone with a brain.

      • ben jones says:

        It could be simply because her letter to Littlefinger was nothing but a prayer. She basically told him to go to hell. She had no reason to hope that he would come.

        At least that’s possible. It could just boil down to her not knowing if he ever received her letter, and if he did whether or not he would agree to help.

      • TheWatchersOnTheCouch says:

        “Sansa was right not to tell Jon – and last night’s episode should prove that to anyone with a brain.”

        The only thing your statement proves to people with a brain, is that you cannot argue your point without insulting people who disagree with your opinion. Because that’s what this is, your opinion, my opinion, and everybody else’s opinions. We’re not discussing scientifically proven facts here, and not everybody who disagrees with you is stupid.

  13. Ron says:

    Great recap, great episode. Typo: should be “power and cruelty have…” Not “has.”

  14. Seriously just want to discuss the show says:

    “it was unexpectedly moving to see Daenerys forge an alliance with Yara. These are both women who have escaped the patriarchal systems designed to oppress them after a lifetime of being told that they’re worthless…..” This is the moment this review lost its credibility.
    1. Baylon Greyjoy raised Yara to rule after his death. Yara was captain of a massive fleet with the support and respect of all of her men. The iron born choose their leaded when their current leader dies no one died Yara Greyjoy the opportunity to claim the Salt Throne and when she lost many of the Iron Born sailed with her. Yara was never an oppressed woman.
    2. I’m not going to even go there Danny has been a conquer since the end of season 1 and hasn’t been the victim of “patriarchal abuse” since the death of her brother in season 1.
    My goodness can you please be more objective in your review and stop twisting narrative so it fits a feministy point of view? For once I would like to read a review on Game of Thrones that focuses on the lore and the actual characters rather than a review that focuses on “girl power”

    • lfire1 says:

      Balon *turned* to Yara after the death of his OTHER 2 sons and Theon’s capture, he did NOT raise her to rule after his death, she was a last resort, and even in the episode where he died he told her that if she didn’t do as she was told he could easily still sire another real heir. And what do you call the reaction to her stepping forward as a possible first Queen of the Iron Born? The reactions of many of the men AND her Uncle to her being a woman…the laughter, the expectation that it should be Theon (except for his certain lacking between the legs as well) that was in no way an indication of patriarchal abuse to you?

      And as for Dany at EVERY hands turn she’s been scorned and insulted as a woman by men in power. Not only by her brother and the Dothraki (until her emergence from the pyre) but by the Thirteen, the Warlocks, the Masters, and back again to the Dothraki. You evidently don’t count being enslaved and threatened with gang rape by men and horses because she didn’t know her place as a patriarchal abuse then. Hell even Euron’s attitude is par for the course among powerful men.

      The issue here appears to be what you consider patriarchial abuse.

      Perspective aside you can’t deny that ultimately the main outcome of this episode was that that three prominent women took strides on their own behalf and that of their cause, there is no *twisting* in that, that is a statement of fact.

      • ben jones says:

        Women have been taking strides on their own behalf in Game of Thrones since the very first episode… (remember Ayra shooting the target? Cersei playing the game well from day one?)

        Aside from Ramsay and Joffery, women have been just as cruel as men, the only difference being the execution and emphasis of it, which is to be expected given the realistim of the show. Women have also been just as strong as men from the beginning. The only difference is the manner of powerlessness they had to overcome, which is to be expected given the realistism of the show.

        The only thing that has changed is that the arrogant prideful men who committed these atrocities have slowly been destroyed (often in part due tontheir own hubris), while the women have been more calculating and careful in their approach (which AGAIN reflects real life; men are usually the wreckless ones, and that plays into why they die at a younger age in real life).

        Nothing has changed in the Game of Thrones universe other than many of the original patriarchs have died. The power vacuum is being filled by those characters who positioned themselves well: Sansa, Jon, etc. Women becoming more powerful as a whole was an inevitable conclusion set up from the very beginning.

  15. Not a cis dude says:

    Finally, a review that says the truth: Sansa won this battle (btw Jon almost effed it all up)

    • Joe says:

      He was stupid I agree but Sansa supposed to be on the same side as Jon, he is fighting her battle for her. She may have mentioned a large Vale army.
      No Sansa didn’t win the battle, Littlefinger did. It was his men that won the day, it is he that ultimately wins by Rickons death, his next move is to marry Sansa whether he truly wants her or just the power that comes with her.

      • ben jones says:

        Littlefinger isn’t after sex. He’s after the Iron Throne. If he proposes marriage to Sansa, it’s going to primarily about sealing an alliance with the North. Any sex is just incidental for him.

      • Joe says:

        I’m sure Littlefinger wants the sex, but that’s not what he’s truly after. Marrying Sansa gets him Winterfell and the North. Hes already aligned with the Lannisters & Tyrells. His next play will be for the iron throne.

      • Dagmar says:

        Men on horses won the battle. Sansa used the promise of sex to a dirty old man to get those men.

  16. Joe says:

    Little finger tells Sansa that wildlings are Jons army. Lyanna Mormont also asks Sansa if she is a Lannister or a Bolton. Sansa does not have support of the north. She turns to family in Riverrun only to find they are preoccupied.
    Sansa has 2 cards to play, manipulate Jon and manipulate Littlefinger. The danger with Little finger is hes always working the angles and she knows she can’t control him. So playing this card comes at a price. Ultimately she uses it and the way she rode out with little finger suggests she knew when he was coming and may have conspired with him to hold back his army until Jons/Bolton armis were sufficiently depleted. If you watch the sequence again it seems like she is disappointed when she see Jon come out from the heap for he is a threat to her claim on Winterfell.

    No Laura, I do not share your belief that Sansa was the heroine here. By withholding the men of the veil she severely weakened the Norths defenses and could have cost Jon his life all of which fall into Littlefingers plans. Obviously she had no qualms with Rickons death, one less stark in her and his way.

    • lfire1 says:

      Oh you’re kidding me. What a ridiculous perspective. Manipulation? Seriously? It was Sansa that TOLD Jon not to attack repeatedly. She told them they didn’t have enough men. She told them him he didn’t know Ramsay. Did he listen?!

      Sansa rejected Littlefinger’s offer of the Vale army. She turned to it, ONLY when Jon refused to heed her warnings. She warned him, again repeatedly, that he didn’t know Ramsay, that he would do things he was not prepared for, and she was right. She was right not because she manipulated anything but because she *knew* what was awaiting them. What is that old Sun Tzu adage? KNOW your enemy?

      And she didn’t ride out with the army of the Vale when it arrived either, she was sitting exactly where she was throughout the battle. It was Littlefinger who rode to her side as the Knights of the Vale crashed down onto the battlefield. She had no way of knowing when he was coming, she sent a raven and that was the end of it.

      Jon effed up massively in not listening to her and in the end it was *only* her action that saved his life and those of the others he shouldn’t have taken into battle in the first place, like she begged him not to!!!

      And if you truly believe that she sacrificed Rickon for her own ends I despair for you. Sansa was a realist, she knew what Ramsay would do, he would use Rickon for his own ends…and oh look…he did exactly that. There was not a damn thing she could do about it, except add it to the reasons to have Ramsay ripped apart at the end.

      You are correct in only one thing. Now that Littlefinger is here she will have to deal with having brought him into the mix. By her reluctance to bring him in, shown *even as* she wrote the letter to him, she is fully aware of this, its why she rejected him in the first place…and hopefully she will have some way of reacting accordingly.

      • ben jones says:

        Come on you can’t blame Jon for that. This is madness. HE JUST WATCHED HIS BABY BROTHER DIE AT THE HANDS OF THE MAN WHO RAPED HIS SISTER! Jesus none of you have a heart. Jon is not and cannot be a sociopath. Watching that happen after desperately trying to save him set him off. Come on, you expect any sane person to remain collected and calm at that?

      • Joe says:

        It actually never shows Peter riding out, it shows him on his horse right next to Sansa. You do however see his army ride out and flank the boltons.
        You are correct in Sansa told Jon not be baited and not to fight with so little men. She did however have ample opportunity to mention her Ace in the hole. The Vale army would have prevented so much death had they flanked much sooner. The timing of it was suspect and it resulted in a significantly weakened North and in all likelihood should have killed Jon.
        She knew something would likely happen to Rickon I agree, but she might have tried to figure out what scenario Ramsey had cooked up first to see if it was possible to save him.

        Every maneuver she made was schemed and coniving and fed right into Littlefingers hands. She thinks she’s playing the game but she’s still getting played….

    • Not a cis dude says:

      Ew shut up

      • Dagmar says:

        It’s laughable how far people reach to find female heroism. Are these sjw really that insecure?

      • cxstar says:

        If Sansa had any sense at all, if she truly saved the lives of her men and was a great leader, she would have informed Jon that she had contacted Baelish and that they might have support coming.

        Sure, she told him not to attack because they didn’t have enough men – and yet when he pressed her how he was supposed to not attack when they just wouldn’t have enough men, did she say anything?

        This review lost all of its credibility when it interpreted Sansa’s actions as SAVING the lives of her men. No, she basically used Jon as bait – whether out of sheer stupidity or out of cunning manipulation remains to be seen, but there was NO GOOD REASON why she didn’t share information. Why she deliberately would not tell him that she had been in contact with Littlefinger. Why she sent the raven herself but didn’t even tell Jon that support MIGHT be coming, even as she reamed him out for not waiting.

        From Jon’s POV, what exactly was he supposed to wait for? For people to magically appear so that Sansa would feel that they had “enough” men to attack?

  17. denzel says:

    So much contempt for men in this review. Men are stupid and evil and women are pure and progressive, it’s just outstanding

    • lfire1 says:

      I guess you missed the referrals to the likes of Tyrion and Theon, to the broken men, the bastards, the un-enfranchised as a whole then?

      This is what is going on across Essos and Westeros. From Mereen to Kings Landing to Winterfell things have been turned on their head, the outcasts and those with no power are starting to turn the tables.

  18. “…there’s still the matter of the Freys and the Lannisters, who started this whole mess.”

    If I recall correctly, it was Littlefinger who started all this mess, by convincing Lysa Arryn to murder her husband, Robert Barratheon’s Hand of the King. Everyone seems to be overlooking Littlefinger’s long game, whatever it is….

    • Joe says:

      If you want to get technical it was Lyanna that started this mess. If she did in fact run off with Rhaegar instead of him kidnapping her. This was the event that began it all. Robert would never have been King, Cersei never have been queen, Sansa never a potential ruler for Winterfell and Daenerys would never have been queen.

  19. Jim says:

    It would be awesome if people could look at men and women as “people” instead of always trying to make it a gender thing and pushing a men vs. women agenda.

  20. Uh yeah but you totally forget that Winter is Coming.

  21. Gigi says:

    Although it makes sense with each individual female character and their individual plot lines that they are coming to rule, and I’ve rooted for each of them along the way, collectively it stunk of a feminist agenda to me. This episode pulled me out of the show, felt forcefully PC, to an unrealistic extent. I didn’t read the books, so I’m curious if it was written this way by the author or if the TV version changed the story to be this way.

    • PLP{ says:

      For goodness sake…can you not enjoy a television show without dragging politics into it? Women have been pretty dominant throughout the series (Cersi,Brienne, Ellaria,Sand Snakes…) just enjoy it! No one is trying to secretly indoctrinate you!

      • Gigi says:

        “No one is trying to secretly indoctrinate you!”

        You’re right, because it’s no secret! Not exactly subliminal messaging going on, feminists indoctrinate blatantly and proudly, and shame you if you don’t appreciate it.

      • Gigi says:

        “can you not enjoy a television show without dragging politics into it?”

        Exactly my point. I’d like to, and my complaint about this episode is the show made their feminist political agenda way too obvious to not notice, pulling me away from the world of GoT and back to reality. I felt very disappointed they distracted me with their politics. Reading all the comments, it’s clear it’s not me, it’s the show.

  22. Akash Singh says:

    I dug this episode so much. The Battle of the Bastards may not match the absolute despair of that hour, but it is a magnificently executed hour of television that stands out as being one of the most impressive installments of the series as a whole. Everything, from the script to the acting to the music to the cinematography and to the aforementioned direction fell neatly into pieces as seasons’s worth of storytelling for Daenerys and the North culminated in magnificent displays of fire and ice. Rapid moment after moment arrives, stopping just long enough to give its characters some well-earned respite before the trembling of the earth begins once more, but even those moments are brimming with unbridled, absolute tension. Damn, “Thrones”!

  23. DaveC310 says:

    Doesn’t Rickin know when you’re running from someone who’s firing arrows at you from hundreds of yards away you shouldn’t run in a straight line. Serpentine mother f-cker!

  24. Casual Fan says:

    Being murdered did something to Jon. His conversation with the Red Woman and his reckless abandon on the battlefield suggest that Jon does not care if he dies. Interestingly, the battle scenes suggested that fate is on his side. The show has given evidence that the Lord of Light is the real deal.

  25. Sexracist says:

    This writer is in the grip of a different kind of threat: self-righteousness.

    Oh wait, that’s the same old Penske Media requirement for a paycheck.

  26. wa says:

    It was an exciting episode but I was mystified by how Jon acted. You can be noble and still be smart. His actions before and during the battle were so dumb. He really let his emotions get the better of him. It was out of character. It was like he had never seen a battle before. And his attempts at negotiating came off so desperate. The episode belonged to Dany and Sansa.

    • kobomac says:

      And Sansa was smart? Why didn’t she tell Jon that she has asked for help and help may be coming. Then Jon would not try to attack when he did. How many lives of people who were fighting for her did she cost with her stupidity? She is totally selfish. I can’t wait till Littlefinger forces her to marry him and then tortures her mentally.

      • lorielle says:

        Sansa probably didn’t tell Jon about the Vale because she didnt know if they would show up. Better to get help when you not expecting it than expect help that never comes

      • wa says:

        Well, I think both of our statements may point to some weaknesses in the writing. But, Sansa did tell Jon not to do what Ramsey wants. She also warns that Rickon won’t survive. Ramsey throws Rickon out on the field to provoke Jon – and Jon falls for it hook, line and sinker. Dumb.

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