That said, Ramsay is dead, which may be the best thing that has happened on the show … ever? The Cersei-Qyburn-wildfire-theory, of which I—among many, many others—am a proponent got a significant boost.
And amid the righteous battlefield victories, there were a few nice, quieter moments. Like you, Spencer, I enjoyed the sisterhood-is-powerful tête-à-tête between Yara and Dany—especially the former’s marital acknowledgement that “I never demand, but I’m up for anything, really.” (Now that would be a dynasty, if the biology could be appropriately ensorcelled.) And there was also Tormund and Davos’s pre-battle convo, in which the former offered booze and the latter preferred to go for a walk and relieve himself. Indeed, if there’s a single line from Game of Thrones that I could see far outlasting the show itself, it might be the ginger Wildling’s closing admonition: “Happy shitting.”
I’m going to miss the roundtable next week for the first time in as long as I can remember (maybe ever?), and I hate that it will be for the season finale. But it has been, as always, a pleasure.
Lenika, what did you think? Were you as down on this episode as I was?
Lenika Cruz: While I sympathize with some of your complaints, Chris, I’m not as down on the episode as you are. Even though I found myself exactly twice saying out loud, “I hate this show so much” (when Ramsay was shooting arrows at Rickon, when Ramsay shot Wun-Wun in the eye), I still came out of “Battle of the Bastards” thinking it was an overall marvelous hour of television.
Yes, it had its flaws, the majority of which you and Spencer both touched on. To me, it seemed as if the show was shamelessly using the viciousness of Ramsay’s impending death to justify his cruelty one last time—cruelty that detracted more narratively and emotionally than it added. The message behind Ramsay hunting down Rickon or shooting Wun-Wun in the face amounted to: “Ramsay likes to play games! You should have listened to Sansa! She told you so!” Which is predictable and dumb and horrible. I’m going to have to slot those moments into my already overstuffed box of Ramsay’s Unnecessary Evils.
I understand, Chris, why you and others might later judge this episode as the one where Game of Thrones jumped the shark. The story is finally softening in its tendency to frustrate viewers’ expectations, which I know is a problem for many. But it’s also delivering some well-deserved payoff to years of emotional and narrative buildup. I’m not confident the show can pull off many iconic reversals so late in the story: If Jon had died in battle that would have been a shock, but also an enormous waste. Ramsay’s death seemed written specifically to appease fans, which I have mixed feelings about, but I’m glad it’s over with.
I’m also happy these plot movements took place in one of the most beautifully shot episodes in the history of this series. It seems like we all knew what was coming (a last-minute rescue from the Vale, if not a surprise Gandalf the White-esque surge). But, like Spencer, I was surprised by how well “Battle of the Bastards” kept me guessing, even though I suspected it was just a matter of time before the deus ex Littlefinger showed up (apologies for the endless “deus ex [something]” references this season; there really have been a lot of those).