‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Who Won the ‘Battle of the Bastards’?

The battle was bloody and brutal, but there was a definite winner. Read on! [SPOILERS AHEAD]

Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones was one of the most thoroughly satisfying episodes in the whole series. Hands down. We all knew it was coming, the big battle for Winterfell, and we felt pretty certain it would go Jon Snow and Sansa’s way. What we didn’t know is who would die in the process. Here’s the answer…

First, Sansa and Jon Snow meet with Ramsay Bolton to try to negotiate some kind of deal. Yeah, right. Ramsay basically wants Jon, et. al. to bow down to him and proclaim him the King of the North because clearly they don’t have enough men to defeat the Bolton army. Ramsay says do this, and there will be no need for battle. Jon agrees that there doesn’t need to be bloodshed. This is between them, bastard to bastard, and says how about they just settle it in hand-to-hand combat. Cowardly Ramsay isn’t going to do that. Then Ramsay threatens Rickon’s life if they don’t surrender, and throws out the head of Rickon’s dire wolf to prove he has the boy. That’s enough for Sansa, who simply tells the psychopath, “You’re going to die tomorrow Lord Bolton. Sleep well” and rides off. Ramsay says he can’t wait to have her back in his bed and how well his now-starving dogs will eat from the Starks’ bodies.

Game-of-Thrones-Ep-9-2
CREDIT: HBO

Back at the camp, Jon, Davos and Tormund try to plan their strategy and come up with a plan that’s sketchy at best. When they leave, Sansa chastises Jon for not consulting her because she truly is the only one who knows Ramsay. He likes to hurt people and set traps, and she’s afraid they are just playing straight into Ramsay’s hands. She also believes Rickon will not live long; it is just a matter of time before Ramsay gets rid of him. A frustrated Jon asks what is it they are supposed to do. Sansa reiterates they should wait until they get more men, but Jon says there are no more men. If they lose, Sansa says she will not go back alive. Jon promises her Ramsay will never touch her again.

Jon visits Melisandre and tells her not to bring him back if he dies. She says she has no power over the Lord of Light. Whatever he wants will happen. “He may have brought you back just to have you die again.” “What kind of god is that?” “The only one we’ve got.” Meanwhile, Davos is pacing the camp because he can’t sleep – and he comes upon the site where they burned Stannis’ daughter alive as a “sacrifice” for the Lord of Light. In the snow-covered ashes, he finds the toy he made for her before he left… and he figures it out. He’s not going to let this one go.

In the morning, the two armies face each other. Ramsay comes out dragging Rickon behind him on a rope and raises up a sword like he’s going to kill him. Instead, Ramsay cuts Rickon’s ropes and tells boy to play a game and run towards his brother. If he makes it, then he can be with his brother forever. The catch? Ramsay is going to shoot arrows at the fleeing Rickon. Jon sees what’s going on and jumps on his horse to try to get to Rickon before he is shot by an arrow, but Jon is too late. Sansa was right. Rickon dies, and the effect is exactly what Ramsay wants – an enraged Jon charging the army.

Game-of-Thrones-Ep-9
CREDIT: HBO

The Battle of the Bastards begins, and it’s gruesomely bloody. Like Braveheart bloody. Still, Jon is some kind of major badass, taking down enemy after enemy. Ultimately, though, Jon’s small army becomes surrounded and outnumbered; it looks bleak. Then, miraculously, Littlefinger and the Vale army comes charging in to save the day. Why didn’t Sansa just tell Jon that she asked Baelish for help? Oh well, no matter. It worked.

Jon spots Ramsay as he runs back to Winterfell, and Jon, the giant Wun Wun and Tormund take pursuit. Wun Wun is riddled with arrows but still just as powerful, as he breaks down the gate at Winterfell. Wun Wun does eventually die (when Ramsay shots the final arrow into his eye), but Jon’s army is let in and that’s all they need to finally defeat the remaining Boltons. The Stark flag now waves at Winterfell.

Game-of-Thrones-Ep-9-1
CREDIT: HBO

And what about Ramsay? Well, Jon nearly beats him to death with his bare hands but stops himself when he sees Sansa. Good, Ramsay needs more torture than just have his head bashed in. Instead, he is put in a cell. Sansa shows up, and he tries to get in her head again. It doesn’t work. She seethes, “Your words will disappear, your house will disappear, your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear.” Then she lets Ramsay’s hounds into his cell. He thinks they are too loyal to attack, but Sansa reminds him that they haven’t eaten in seven days, so now they are starving. So, yes, they devour him.

See? Incredibly satisfying. Well done, Sansa. Well done.

The only other action in the episode is what happens in Mereen. As Mereen is getting pummeled by the masters, Tyrion explains to Dany what he did — releasing the dragons and making the city respect (and fear) her. Dany doesn’t seem like she’s too upset. She just plans to burn all the masters’ fleets and cities to the ground. Tyrion reminds her that is why the Mad King (her father) was killed because he wanted to use the underground wildfire to burn King’s Landing to the ground.Tyrion suggests they try another plan.

The three main masters meet with Dany and Tyrion and really think they have her beat, but oh, no. She declares, “My reign has just begun.” In flies her dragon, and Dany climbs up. Then they are joined by the other two dragons, as they destroy some of the masters’ fleet. Then as the Sons of Harpy are slaughtering the Mereen citizens in the streets, in charges the Dothraki army, lead by Daario. Buh-bye!

As the three masters stand and watch their whole effort to gain control crumble, Tyrion tells them that breaking their pact will not be forgiven. One of them must die as retribution. Instead, Greyworm steps up and kills two of them, leaving just one to go tell the rest there’s no besting Dany and her dragons. Ever. She is now queen.

Oh, and Theon and Yara Greyjoy make it to Mereen. Tyrion kind of grouses Theon for being such a shit to him back at Winterfell, to which Theon takes full responsibility. But things have changed now, and the Greyjoys explain to Dany the whole deal in the Iron Islands – horrible father, vengeful uncle, etc. Dany likes Yara, you can tell, and so she forges an alliance with them – the Greyjoy’s ships and recognition that Dany is the true queen of the Seven Kingdoms in exchange for Yara’s seat in the Salt Throne. Oh, and Dany wants to make sure Yara vows to never go raiding or raping again. There’s a nice moment when they clasp arms in solidarity – and a start to a beautiful friendship.