Game of Thrones 6×09 Roundtable ‘Battle of the Bastards’

So, the battle of the bastards happened. And it was nerve-wracking and anxiety inducing and altogether one of the best episodes of television we have seen in a very long time. And we’re here to break it down for you – or at least, to try.

Join us as we discuss the penultimate episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, titled Battle of the Bastards.

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So long, Rickon Stark. We barely knew you. Did you expect Rickon to die? Were you also yelling at him to run in zig zag? Or were you, in turn, yelling at Jon to please, please, not charge? He did, after all, fall right into Ramsay’s trap.

CHLOE

Let’s put it this way: I’m surprised Rickon didn’t die more painfully. His odds weren’t good – something Sansa understood, even if Jon didn’t. I’m mostly upset that (a) he didn’t bob and weave (come on!!) and (b) he had no lines this season. It almost seems like it wasn’t worth it to bring Rickon back… except of course it was, for the emotional hit of watching him fall right before being reunited with his brother. Jon’s charge played right into Ramsay’s hands, endangering his men to save a half-brother he hadn’t seen in years. While that seems like a bad move, what else could he do? I’d rather see Stark loyalty win out than Jon turn his back on his brother.

CARYN

Firstly yes, I 100% thought that Rickon was going to die, he was just too valuable for Ramsay to allow him to survive, but I’m not going to lie before the last arrow hit him I thought that there might have been a chance for him to survive but alas he went the Stark way. Rickon should have zigzagged because it is unrealistic that anyone is as good an archer that can hit a moving target even running in a straight line, should have mixed things up for Ramsay. And yesss, Jon needed to listen to Sansa, but on the other hand we also know Jon and he would always choose affection of his family. So R.I.P Rickon, we haven’t even heard you speak in years.

LIZZIE

As bad as it sounds, it was really the lesser of two evils. Someone was going to die, and in a way, I’m glad it was Rickon and Wun Wun and not Jon and Tormund. What can I say? Game of Thrones makes me ruthless. Also, there’s the fact that I expected Rickon to die. It just made sense. I was, however, a bit mad at how he died. But, as Caryn said, he left the Stark way – stupidly. It shouldn’t have been surprising. Jon’s behavior certainly wasn’t. And yet, a part of me, a huge part, to be honest, can’t even blame Jon. What would you have done?

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

The Starks are back in Winterfell – and it wasn’t because of Jon Snow’s bravery, but because of Sansa Stark’s smarts. What did you think about Sansa this episode? Are you enjoying this self-assured, take charge woman?

CHLOE

I’d say it was a team effort. And now that I’ve said that, YAAAAS QUEEN IN THE NORTH. Sansa in this episode was everything we’ve ever hoped she would be. Smart, outspoken, and passionate about making her voice heard and getting shit done. She really saved the day – and got to take her revenge on Ramsay. But… I still have some reservations. Sansa needs to trust Jon – especially now that Littlefinger is back in the picture. He may have saved their asses, but you can bet that won’t come without a price. It’s time for Lord Baelish to be next on the Sansa Stark takedown list, I think.

CARYN

I’m loving this new Sansa who is finally making strategic decisions and embracing her own agency. I know a lot of people are worried that she is turning to the dark side and just becoming a full on horrible person but I still have hope for Sansa, just because she is making intelligent decisions in order to survive does not mean that she is ultimately the worst. Right now in the game, LIttlefinger is the most powerful player – he has caused the most chaos, he holds immense power and he knows a lot – but by taking her under his wing he exposed a lot of schemes and plans to Sansa, and allowed her to learn what he knows. I think that the only person who has the power to unseat Littlefinger (other than Varys) is Sansa and I’m hoping she’ll play this card.

LIZZIE

I love it. I love her. Honestly, Sansa’s development has been one of my favorite things this season. It made sense, when you think about it, that she was always the one heading here – she had the farthest to go, and those are always the most satisfying stories. And yet, seeing it come to life is much better than imagining it. Also, it was about time one of the Starks put common sense above loyalty and honor. Sansa might seem like the unlikely choice for this, but she’s gone through her own journey, and right now she’s perfectly positioned as a compliment to her brother Jon. It’s the time of the Starks again.

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Ramsay Bolton got what he deserved – first, he was beaten in a one-on-one combat by Jon, and then, it was up to Sansa to orchestrate his demise. How did you feel about this? Did you, dare I say it, enjoy it? Did it feel right that Jon let Sansa be the one to finish him off?

CHLOE

As much as I would have loved to see Ghost take out “Lord Bolton,” Sansa killing her husband was even better. And I need Jon punching Ramsay in the face on a loop, just like Tyrion slapping Joffrey. I think we’ll see in the finale whether Jon actually let Sansa finish him off, because she may have been acting on her own – something that gave me serious flashbacks to Catelyn having the prisoner Lannister boys killed so long ago. This is not the only parallel between Sansa and her mother lately – and we know how that ended for Catelyn. But those are worries for another day. This was the perfect end for Ramsay Bolton. He was slaughtered like the mad dog he was (man, that past tense feels good) by his own mad dogs. BYE.

CARYN

I was so happy that Jon allowed Sansa this kill, or at least to be able to orchestrate her own revenge. Many said that Sansa choosing vengeance instead of executing Ramsay via sword like Ned would do was wrong but you know for once I don’t care, Ramsay was a despicable character who deserved a despicable death and the poetry of his own weapons being used against him was too good.

LIZZIE

This was the end Ramsay deserved, the one we deserved. In a way it was poetry itself to have him be killed by his own dogs – like taking his own cruel ways and turning them around. Also, I felt that Jon reigned himself…he wanted to be the one to kill Ramsay Bolton, he did, but when he say Sansa he felt she deserved it more than him, so he stopped and let her have the final victory. Both Starks scored a victory against Ramsay this episode, and it was beautiful to watch.

Credit: HBO

Jon and Sansa seem both incredibly united and absurdly separated right now. Will Littlefinger get between brother and sister? And what is it that Littlefinger wants? Just Sansa, or does he have something else in mind?

CHLOE

That is the question, isn’t it? Nothing with Littlefinger is ever simple, safe, or free. He’s been orchestrating this little rescue mission ever since he showed up this season, so you can bet he has a price in mind. That may well be Sansa’s hand in marriage (yuck) or some stake in the North. Robin Arryn seemed to offer the aid of the Vale freely, but of course that won’t matter now that master negotiator Littlefinger is here. In any case, it’s clear that Jon and Sansa need to trust each other absolutely. She has to stop withholding information, especially where someone as dangerous and crafty as Littlefinger is concerned – and he needs to listen to her when she does. This is another creep that she knows better than anyone else, and considering that all of the wars in Westeros are Littlefinger’s fault, he should not be underestimated.

CARYN

I think Littlefinger wants complete power which includes being Warden of the North, I know he struck a deal with Cersei last season but I don’t know valid that will be after the events at King’s Landing. I really hope Jon and Sansa learn to start trusting each other, and they hash out their issues such as why Sansa did not reveal the fact that she had written to Littlefinger and perhaps caused the death of tons of Northern men, you know usual family drama.

LIZZIE

I think Lilttlefinger wants everything, but it all starts with Sansa.I hope he’ll get nothing – though I don’t know if Jon and Sansa can afford to cross him and end up without an army. Maybe if the Northern Houses unite around them now that they’re finally back at Winterfell? One can hope. My other hope is that Jon and Sansa finally learn to properly communicate. Together they’re stronger and the only way they can keep the home they’ve only just regained is by working as a team.

Credit: HBO

Talk a little about the battle itself. Was it hard to watch? Did it give you anxiety? Did you expect the result?

CHLOE

Um, YES it was hard to watch. I’m glad I was watching on my iPad, because I was pacing around for the last 20 minutes of the episode. I heard that the director of this episode also directed “Hardhome,” and I have so much respect for him and his work. Both brought stunning, unique battles to life so, so well. It was hard to know what to expect, because the cinematography puts you right in the moment. I didn’t expect Jon or Sansa to die, but there were other lives on the line – some, like Tormund, that I thought were surely lost at points. This was a very unsettling episode, but it had better be winning some Emmys.

CARYN

Oh I was so stressed throughout, there were some predictions I had going on, and before watching the episode I didn’t really think Jon was in any danger but as I was watching it I constantly felt on my last nerve. It was so well filmed and choreographed that I felt as if I was in the amidst of the battle and when Jon’s men were almost suffocating him, I felt myself struggling to breathe as well. Excellent episode, excellent battle scene, and I doubt I will ever recover.

LIZZIE

It was awful. I had literal anxiety while I was watching it, my chest felt tight, my breath was uneven, and that’s a testament to how great the show is, not just plot and character wise, but with the choreography and the cinematography and, of course, the director. My head was telling me Jon was going to survive the battle, but I still felt like I was the one suffocating when the chaos of the battle made it hard for him to breathe. It was just so hard to watch and both the episode and the director deserve all the kudos they’re getting, and, all the awards.

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Daenerys not only seems to have taken care of the Masters problem for good, but she’s now got enough ships to sail to Westeros, courtesy of the Greyjoys. Are you all Team Dany/Yara or were you a little wary of how easily they both managed an agreement?  And do you think they’ll keep their word?

CHLOE

Could we have asked for anything better than a Jon and Daenerys-focused episode? Aside from the “Mad Queen” hints, I am so thrilled with what went down in Meereen. I mean, “My reign has just begun.” All three dragons together again. Fire and blood. So much to love. I wish we’d gotten to see the Greyjoys sail in, but other than that I am so pleased with their involvement. Dany and Yara do have a lot of common ground, as they discovered – and I think they’re both ready to let ladies rule. Yara may be saving the reaving, pillaging, etc. as a negotiable point for after they win, since it doesn’t really matter for quite some time… But other than that, I think they were both being very sincere. They need each other, and they both stand to gain a lot from cooperating. It may be my favorite alliance yet – and I wouldn’t say no to a Dany/Yara wedding either, TBH.

CARYN

I worry about the whole ‘no more raping and reaving’ because if it is part of their lifestyle for so long it will be difficult for Yara to order all her people to completely change, but I did love their interactions and the potential of their relationship. I look forward to see Daenerys partner with more Westerosi allies, and take back her kingdom once and for all.

LIZZIE

I’m desperate for Danerys to finally get out of Mereen and get on with the conquering. I don’t even know what I want to happen with that, but I just want it to start. I love that Daenerys put the Masters in their place and I loved the scene with the dragons, but I need her in Westeros. Now. And so, Yara and Theon serve my purposes. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this meeting as much as I did, though. I thought it’d be two awesome woman meeting, but I didn’t expect it to be so cool that I’d be hardcore rooting for all the women in Game of Thrones to rule the world. Can we do that? They’d be better than the men, I’m quite sure of it.

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What do you think is coming in the season finale? Give me three guesses as to how the season ends.

CHLOE

This episode was so satisfying – and so few characters we love died – that I’m very nervous for the finale. There are a lot of major characters we haven’t seen in awhile, so I hope we get to check in with at least most of them before the season ends. While I’m not sure exactly where we’ll leave off, here are a few predictions for the finale:

1) Lady Stoneheart. I’ve wanted this for so long, and been disappointed… But there has never been such a prime moment to introduce her since the Season 3 finale. With the finale preview bringing the Freys and Jaime Lannister (!!) together under one roof, echoing words from the Red Wedding… I’m all but convinced that it’s time for some Lady Stoneheart action. #TheNorthRemembers

2) Kings Landing will get lit as Cersei puts the wildfire caches to use. As I’ve said before, I’m predicting that she’ll try to use this secret weapon to take out the Great Sept… but that even if she succeeds in killing the High Sparrow, Tommen will die as well. A new king for the new season? Quite possibly.

3) Jon’s true parentage will be revealed. We haven’t seen Bran in a while, so I think it’s time to revisit him and his visions – particularly the Tower of Joy. I also read a very intriguing theory about the crypts of Winterfell this week, which offered another avenue for Jon to learn about his parents – and he did say he’ll be burying Rickon down there. That’s two chances. All I’ll say is that HBO better not have introduced the Tower of Joy without a serious payoff this year.

CARYN

I think the season finale will wrap a lot of the storylines we’ve seen this year, but also add some intrigue and mystery for next season that will make the year long wait unbearable. 3 predictions: 1. Daenerys will land in Westeros, my money is still on Dorne being the first place to welcome here. 2. Jon will be named the King of the North, and Lyanna Mormont will continue being a badass in the North. 3. Cersei will rain wildfire down on Kings Landing which will kill a ton of folks including the High Sparrow and most of the small council.

LIZZIE

This season has gone well – very well, too well, even. Something’s gotta give. Something big is coming. Here are my guesses as to what:

  • Arya will kill Walder Frey. I don’t know how – though I’m gonna go with her using some of the skills she learned from the Faceless Men, but I think Arya’s going to check someone else off her list before heading back home.
  • We’re gonna see the end of the Tower of Joy scene. I don’t believe for a second that HBO opened that can of worms and will leave it hanging for next season. No way. We’re going to find out about Jon’s birth mother this week, I’m sure of it.
  • Cersei’s trial is coming, and I don’t foresee it ending well – mostly for King’s Landing, because if Cersei loses, and she will, well, she’s not just going to take that lying down, is she? Bring on the wildfire!

Agree? Disagree? What did you think about Battle of the Bastards? Have any more pressing questions you want answered? Sound off in the comments below.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

Lawyer. Dreamer. Geek. Eternal optimist. Fangirl since the dawn of time. Hates the color yellow, olives and cigarettes. Has a recurring nightmare where she’s forced to choose between sports and books. Falls in love with fictional characters.