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Game of Thrones 6.09 “Battle of the Bastards” – Review!

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 WARNING! SPOILERS!

Game of Thrones has a long tradition of mind-blowing ninth episodes in the series. Each one, right from the death of Ned Stark in the first season has packed a powerful punch, but Battle of the Bastards is probably the best one that we’ve had yet, delivering an epic fully blown conflict between Jon and Sansa’s forces and Ramsay Bolton’s troops. Previously, with a few exceptions, the show has always shied away from delivering actual battles and always has preferred to show certain corners of the battlefield or “behind the lines” as it were. However, with Battle of the Bastards, nothing was held back as the show delivered an excellent hour of entertainment.

I was wondering beforehand if this episode could deliver on the hype, but I’m really pleased to see that it did. Pretty much everything was brilliant about the episode from start to finish, and I really loved how everything played out, matching the carnage and intensity of the opening scenes of both Saving Private Ryan and The Revenant. Here director Miguel Sapochnik hold nothing back, and it was great to see that the director of Hardhome delivered another excellent hour. Hopefully he or Neil Marshall get to return for Season 7 next year as they’ve been among the best directors on the show so far.

Sansa has easily been the breakout character of season six.

Sansa has easily been the breakout character of season six.

Whilst the action was largely in the North we of course got to spend time with Daenerys and Tyrion in Meereen. Dany decides to initially talk peace after being warned by Tyrion that she’s turning into her mad father, but when that doesn’t work Dany attacks. Not much time spent in Meeren apart from that, with the very cool usage of dragons, which is pretty understandable, and this could have easily made for a powerful ninth episode if Meeren was our focus. But there was something even greater around the corner, as we spent most of our episode in the North.

The episode itself, despite showing plenty of troop movements, picked the focus on Jon Snow’s part of the battle as we got to see him hack and slash his way through Ramsay’s forces. There was no idealistic or romantic image of warfare here. We also got to see both Davos and Ramsay ordering their forces about as they matched blows, with Davos bringing in the wildlings. It turned out though that Ramsay was luring them into his trap and as a result he was able to encircle them, with the Boltons slowly pushing Jon’s forces back against the wall. It looked like time was running out, but eventually we got to see Sansa come to the rescue, bringing with her Littlefinger’s troops and the army of The Vale. Whilst nothing that Game of Thrones hasn’t employed before, it was still fantastic to see it happening as it meant that we finally got to see a victory for the good guys.

After all these seasons of bad stuff happening to them it’s probably about time that they got their reprieve, especially the Starks at least. In an ideal world Arya would now be able to reunite with Jon and Sansa in the North when she returns, but we’re not really sure what lies in store for her just yet..

Oh, and how awesome was that scene with Sansa and Ramsay? Sansa finally got her revenge, and unleashed Ramsay’s own hounds on him after he’d starved them to death. Sansa really is going to be a great ally for Jon in the future and it’ll be interesting to see if she becomes more politically involved now, because she certainly knows how to play the game.

There are still many unresolved questions and I didn’t quite like how Rickon’s death was handled, feeling cheap and unnecessary even by Game of Thrones standards, but I suppose you can’t have a big battle on this show without anybody dying. I’m even more excited for this weekend’s episode now, and I really can’t wait to see how it plays out!

Let me know what you think of Battle of the Bastards in the comments below and be sure to check out Game of Thrones’ season finale when it airs on HBO this Sunday at 9pm.

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