Previously on Game of Thrones: Meereen came under attack and Jon rallied his (very small) forces and started heading for Winterfell.
Things aren’t looking so good in Meereen. The city’s being blasted by fireballs catapulted from all those ships in the bay. Dany’s plan is to go fully nuclear, grab her dragons and burn the other cities in Slavers’ Bay to the ground. Tyrion reminds her that that same strategy is basically what got her father stabbed in the back and suggests they try at least a little diplomacy.
Some of the masters, along with one random guy who I guess is connected with their military, are summoned to the Great Pyramid for peace negotiations. They think Dany’s about to surrender, but that’s because they’re idiots who have, apparently, forgotten she has dragons and isn’t afraid to use them. And she also has a massive Dothraki army that is, even now, descending on some Sons of the Harpy who are down on the beach slaughtering people who are on the beach in the middle of a battle for no reason whatsoever. While the Harpies are being taken care of, Dany hops on board Drogon and burns a few of the masters’ ships. They quickly capitulate and get their throats slashed by Grey Worm. The one non-master is left alive to spread the story of how this all went down. Also, Tyrion politely thanks them for the new armada.
Later, Yara and Theon arrive to offer up yet more ships and men in return for Dany backing Yara’s claim to the Iron Islands throne. Since she and Yara bond over having terrible fathers who totally got what was coming to them (and Yara’s a bit flirty, which we know Dany likes), Dany agrees. She now has her ships.
Off to Winterfell, where the really interesting action is about to take place. Jon and his councillors meet with Ramsay and his and Jon suggests they boil this down to single combat. Since he has the numbers, Ramsay refuses. He also mentions that he’s been starving his dogs for days and is really looking forward to setting them on the Starks. Sansa indicates she’s really looking forward to seeing either Jon or their giant rip Ramsay’s head off. Slowly.
Everyone splits up to get some rest. Sansa unhelpfully whines to Jon about not being consulted about anything leading up to this battle (though we’ve seen her be present and speak up at a number of strategy meetings before now, so I’m not sure what she’s on about). She also bitches at Jon for setting up this battle too soon, but he points out they didn’t have much choice, because he has no idea the knights of the Vale have been sent for. Bizarrely, Sansa has not shared this titbit with him, though if he knew that, he might have held off for just a little while. As it is, hundreds of men are about to needlessly die. Sansa, I like you, and I want to love you. Help me!
Davos, meanwhile, spends the night before the battle taking a long walk which, unfortunately, takes him to the snow-covered pyre where little Shireen met her end. He finds the toy stag he made her amongst the debris and immediately pieces together what happened.
Time for a battle! But first, Ramsay has to play one of his games. He brings Rickon out and tells him to go ahead and run towards Jon, while Ramsay takes aim and looses arrows at the kid. Rickon runs, Jon races his horse towards him, but it’s a big field to cross, and after several attempts, Ramsay takes the boy down. Farewell, Rickon. I’d be sad, but to be honest, you never really had any purpose in the plot, or even a personality. I don’t think he had more than a dozen lines on the whole show, did he? So, it pretty much feels like the loss of an ascended extra, rather than an actual loss.
Rage-fed, Jon starts his charge a bit early, which almost immediately throws the battle into a shambles, and I will say, the brutality of it, the way it’s shot, and the realism are truly extraordinary. Even my husband commented that this was perhaps the most realistic and horrifying battle he’s ever seen on screen. To the surprise of no one, and despite the extremely spirited fighting of the giant and the Free Folk and the other forces Jon’s managed to rally to his cause, it looks like it’s all hopeless, as he and his men are surrendered and hemmed in by lances and shields and are slowly being stabbed/crushed to death.
But then! Just in time! (This has been happening a lot this season) the Knights of the Vale come rushing in, slaughtering Ramsay’s men. Sansa watches this with a smug smile while Jon just looks understandably confused.
Ramsay retreats to Winterfell, having forgotten that Jon has a goddamn giant with him, which basically just kicks the door right in. Like Hodor, the giant’s a hero, going and going and going, despite having at least two dozen arrows sticking out of him right now. Jon and his men pour in behind him. Ramsay, unable to resist being a dick, then kills the already dying giant with an arrow to the eye, and Jon’s like, ‘right, I’m DONE.’ He grabs a shield and advances on Ramsay, who tries shooting arrows at him, but Jon’s done the death thing before and is undeterred. He brings Ramsay down and starts beating the ever-living shit out of him. The rest of us watching at home are all:
Is it me, or does that first woman, in white, who stands up in this gif look like Helena Bonham Carter?
Sansa comes wandering in and watches from the sidelines. Jon glances up and sees her and I half expect him to say: ‘You want in on this?’ Oh, she does, Jon. She does.
Ramsay’s tied to a chair in the dungeons, a total bloody mess, knowing the end is nigh. Sansa comes down and confirms that for him, then sends his starving dogs into the cell. Stubborn to the end (he really is a northernor, isn’t he?) Ramsay doubts his dogs will attack him, because they’re loyal. What the hell does he know about loyalty? Sansa reminds him that these dogs are starving, and no starving animal is loyal to anyone, let alone the person doing the starving. Sure enough, one of the dogs jumps up on Ramsay’s chest, looks at him for a minute, and then takes a big, squashy bite out of his face. The others immediately follow suit. Ramsay screams in pain, which is fitting as hell.
Not so pretty now.
Ok, Sansa, I do kind of love you now.