Game of Thrones 6.09 - Battle Of The Bastards
Over the preceding 5 seasons of Game of Thrones , things have been building, storylines are coming together, characters forever apart are coming back together, its gone at snails pace but stll kept our intrigue. The feeling with Season 6 is that things are reaching ahead and coming together at a much faster pace. This week's episode entitled Battle Of The Bastards is atypical of this. No stone is left unturned, no crevice unchecked, this is full on movie making writ large across our TV screens.
The show opens with Tyrion and Daenerys discussing how to deal with the slaver fleet. As explosions and noise fill the sky of Meereen around them, the scene is played out in almost close up especially on Peter Dinklage's face. Its a well worked scene with both characters quipping back and forth, Its especially gaoling to see Tyrion so on edge and afraid. He tries to hide it, and nearly achieves that, but its clear to Daenerys that he is scared. It's good to see the character so vulnerable as in most episodes past the character can come across as almost bulletproof and unaffected by what goes on around him.
As scenes continue with the characters meeting up with Razdal mo Eraz of Yunkai, Belicho Paenymion of Volantis, and Yezzan zo Qaggaz of Astapor as a battle rages behind them. They state to our characters that they will let them leave if they hand over the Unsullied and Missandei to be resold back into slavery. A well written exchange follows where Daenerys advises that she called the group together because it is them and not her that have the chance to surrender. The group think as Drogon flies majestically overhead. With choices made and characters offed, Daenerys mounts Drogon and gathers her other dragons to attack the oncoming fleet. Now here, as ever in Game of Thrones there is always something to be said for the quality of the CGI in TV shows. Game of Thrones is a staple in the HBO offering and here we get the worst of effects and the best of effects in a matter of minutes. The siege of Meereen shown in the background of Daenerys and Tyrion's encounter with the three characters above is awful. Abysmal in fact, but then the appearance of Drogon and the SFX onslaught of dragon breath is fantastic. It is a peculiar trait that seems the affect the show from time to time.
In The North, Jon, Sansa, Tormund and Davos have a meeting with Ramsey Bolton. Ramsey wants Sansa back in his bed, Jon and Sansa are having none of it. Ramsey has Rickon and proves it with the head of Shaggydog as proof. Its a step too far and Sansa leaves before decrying Ramsey will die the next day. Fellow Welsh man Iwan Rheon is yet again at the top of his acting game. Sneering and snarling, with a joyful glee, he chews the scenery and words well, a character you love to hate all wrapped up in one. A scene plays out shortly where Sansa and the group argue over tactics and its plainly clear, that Sansa is having doubts about Jons' leadership. Its an interesting dynamic between the group and ultimately a family. If you argue with family who else do you turn to for advise?
So to the main focus of this episode, the battle. Now firstly, you don't see battles like this on TV, with a TV series budget. Game of Thrones is a different beast entirely this is epic filmmaking, on a massive scale, regardless of the medium. If you can think of the battles in the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy you are half way there.
Although to begin with we start small, Rikon is held by Ramsey at one end of the field and told to run, so he can be used as target practice for Ramsey and his arrows. Surely with Rickon running in a straight line, it would be better for him to zig zag and make it harder for Ramsey to hit him. Its frustrating but a good frustrating, as we are so invested in the characters we care too much. Jon rides to meet Rickon but he is too late as Ramseys army charge enmasse towards him. Some fantastic shots follow with Jon isolated on the battle field with horses breathing down his neck. The two sides clash with Ramsey soon getting on top due to the sheer amount of men and better tactics clearly being shown. Even with the inclusion of Giant Wun Wun, Jon is at a loss.
Here we get scenes reminiscent of Steven Spielberg's
The gates of Winterfell are soon forced open by Wun Wun but at a cost. Wun Wun is done done and dies with a brutal arrow to the eye. Here Jon and Ramsey square off for one last time, with Jon beating Ramsey to within an inch of his life, which is then snuffed out by his own dogs deep in the castle dungeon.
There are lots of other things that happen in this weeks episode but nothing as significant as the battle and its aftermath. The Stark banners now fly at Winterfell. Davos finds out what happened to Shireen (in a fantastic shot, that could hang on any fans wall) and Jon has a moment with Melisendre telling her not to revive him again if he should die in battle. Its another great episode and with one last episode next week for this season, I can say that this season has been the very best of what Game of Thrones has to offer.