GoT episode 9 review: Battle of the Bastards

Battle of the Bastards by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!!!

Now that was what we’d been waiting for! A pulsating hour of epic battle scenes, tense standoffs and Jon Snow, Daenerys and (Sansa!) being utterly awesome.

Like Hardhome, this wasn’t a one-topic hour, but had an almost equally epic excursion to Meereen into the bargain. Seeing all three of Dany’s dragons in action at once bringing fiery death to the Masters on the ships was a great tease of what we might expect when she finally gets to Westeros, but she wasn’t the only great thing in the Meereen segments. Daenerys and Tyrion’s conversation with Theon and Yara was a nice touch (anyone else notice the chemistry/mutual respect between Daenerys and Yara as they bonded over their desire to be the first ruling Queen in their houses history? that could be an alliance to be reckoned with!) suggesting a showdown with Euron can’t be far away. Greyworm slitting two cowardly masters throats was bloody brilliant as well.

But onto the main course of the episode, and boy did director Miguel Sapochnik cook up a storm. The battle/character shots were framed in a picturesque way that Zack Snyder would have applauded, whether tracking shots of arrow volleys, Jon facing down charging cavalry or Jon’s army being enveloped by a semicircle of spearmen. Fortunately, unlike Batman vs Superman, the scripting was at ease with the direction. The scene where Ramsay and Jon first come face to face was suitably tense, while the conversations between Jon and Sansa, Jon and Melisandre and odd couple Tormund and Davos were excellent.

Back to the battle scenes, the chaos of a battle was better depicted than ever before as the director focused in on Jon in the centre of the battlefield, dodging cavalry, arrows and cutting his way through a lot of Bolton troops. This was up there with in the top two battles I’ve ever seen on TV (equalling Spartacus’ epic finale and beating quite a lot of ones from film) and was capped off by Ramsay finally getting his comeuppance (one death was never going to be enough after everything he’s done, but that was about as satisfying as we could have hoped for!)

The only issue with the entire episode was that everything unfolded a bit predictably – Rickon’s survival was always unlikely (although the director did a great job of making us think he might just make it – though why the foolish kid didn’t zigzag and make himself a harder target is beyond me), while Wun-Wun was more expendable as a character than the likes of Tormund or Davos and wasn’t a surprising casualty. Littlefinger’s men riding to the rescue was also predicted back after episode 7. But who cares? We got to see Ramsay beaten to a pulp by Jon and then ripped apart by his own hounds while Sansa watched in a poetic justice sequence that was reminiscent of the Jokers ‘how loyal a hungry dog really is’ speech from The Dark Knight. And the fans have been waiting for that to happen for a long, long time. Hope Theon gets to hear about it – I sense his smile at the news would be worth seeing!

Overall it may have been a predictable hour, but it was such an enjoyable and well done one that I’m not going to fault it. And I haven’t cheered that much since the Purple Wedding as another one of the series worst/greatest villains bites the dust (Joffrey, Tywin, Roose, Ser Alliser and now Ramsay – only Walder Frey and the Night’s King are left…)

Rating 5 out of 5!

Next Week: The season finale is here, Bran is back, Jamie celebrates with the Freys and Cersei’s trial arrives in what promises to be a fiery end to the High Sparrow’s plotline…

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