“Battle of the Bastards”
Without a doubt, battle of the bastards is not only the greatest episode of Game Of Thrones, but it may just be the greatest episode of anything that has ever been on television. A fantastic, dragon-heavy opening sequence is the perfect start to the perfect episode, establishing Dany and her allies as the ruling force against the despicable slave masters. A few hilarious quips from Tyrion, a screaming Dothraki horde and the unmistakable sound of slavers being scorched by dragon fire assures that this is already established as a truly great episode.
Could it get any better?
How about an interaction with the Greyjoys! In a truly great moment for long-time fans of the series, Theon and Yara came into contact with everyone’s favourite mass-murdering dragon queen. In a rather… flirtatious…exchange between Dany and Yara, an intriguing and potentially lethal alliance was created.
As time rolled on, the confrontation between the bastards arrived. Jon challenging Ramsey, the bastard by both name and bastardly nature, to one-on-one combat, this did not happen as Ramsey, although a literal and metaphorical bastard is evidently not stupid. Instead opting to take the feud to the battlefield, Ramsey even warning Jon that he has a pack of hungry hounds, starved for seven days, ready to pick at his bones should he lose.
As the battle begins, we see some truly stunning visuals as Ramsey’s arrows fly, even impaling former small child and least important Stark family member Rickon.
As the battle rages, the stunning visuals continue, as the arrows of the Bolton men flew, we were taken with them as they scraped the sky and punctured the un-shielded victims below. The use of phenomenal visual codes did not end here, however, as we were treated to a truly breathtaking and gut-wrenchingly claustrophobic sequence of loveable, miserable hero Jon Snow nearly being trampled to death in a somewhat ungodly mixture of thick mud and the corpses of his fellow soldiers. The camera work here was truly something to behold, genuinely making the viewer feel gasping breath and claw for freedom.
Eventually, when all seemed lost, and Jon’s forces seemed well and truly doomed to a muddy, skinless grave, an ally from the most unlikely of places arrived. The Vale, as it would happen, as slippery, somewhat Irish, whore-house owner and all-round trustworthy guy, Littlefinger, arrives with the forces of Arryn. Allowing the Stark forces to make a final push on Winterfell, this had to be one of the most uplifting things that there has ever been in the entire history of the world. No exaggeration.
During the closing moments of the battle, inside the walls of Winterfell, the last of the giants falls, but the impact he has on the battle was even bigger than himself, breaking through Ramsey’s last line of defence in seconds, before finally being put down by the repugnant pale demon. Then, the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived; Jon getting his hands on Ramsey, every punch to Ramsey’s face was like Christmas, summer, and the relief of urination all rolled into one.
The Bolton banner falls, the Stark banner replaces it. This moment gave the feel of a true turning point.
In the final sequence, a bloodied, beaten and restrained Ramsey is seen locked in the kennels at Winterfell. The prominent stain on the north delivers one final, haunting message to Sansa, proclaiming that he is now part of her, and that she cannot kill him. Although, she does give it her best try, by releasing Ramsey’s own hounds on him, they wouldn’t usually harm him…but they hadn’t been fed for seven days…I guess that decision really came back to bite him on the arse.
As Sansa walks away, she smiles as her former husband is torn apart.
In conclusion, everything about this episode was perfect, the acting was gritty and intense, the writing was sublime and told one of the best stories I’ve ever seen. The camera work, as I’ve mentioned was visually stunning, putting us right in the middle of the action every step of the way. I must also commend the director for ensuring that all these elements moulded with each other so seamlessly, quite frankly everyone involved with this piece of art deserves praise. The only bad thing about it was that it had to end.
I rate this, without a doubt: 10/10