'Game of Thrones,' Season 6, Episode 9: In the Battle of the Bastards, you win or you die
Ramsay Bolton just messed with the wrong bastard.
But before detailing the epicness that was Sunday's ‘Battle of the Bastards,' some time needs to be given to the Dragon Queen and the relationship we never knew we needed.
Game 7 of the NBA finals had NOTHING on the Stark/Bolton battle and the scorching of Meereen.
Her reign has just begun
Daenerys wasn't even gone that long, but in that time Meereen manages to be attacked and firebombed by the masters.
Contrary to popular belief, Tyrion assures her, the city is on the rise.
She is not amused.
In her anger, she proposes to crucify the masters and their people and return their cities to the dirt.
But Tyrion reminds her of her father, the Mad King, and his penchant for wanting to slaughter everyone who stood in his way.
Instead of an all out massacre, Daenerys, Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei meet with the three masters to discuss terms of surrender.
They taunt her, call her a beggar queen and demand she surrender and flee the city.
But they are sadly mistaken. It's their surrender they need to be discussing.
Atop the back of her largest dragon, Drogon, she rides around Meereen surveying the attack. Probably sensing the return of their mother, the two other dragons break out of their enclosure and follow her into the sky.
One by one the three dragons burn the masters' ships into the sea.
Back with the three masters, Grey Worm and Tyrion inform them that one of them must die for their crimes against Daenerys. They made a deal for peace, and they broke their promises.
Grey Worm slices the necks of the two cowardly ones and Tyrion sends the other away with a reminder for his people.
"Tell your people you lived by the grace of Her Majesty," he says. "Remind them what happened when Daenerys Stormborn and her dragons came to Meereen."
The icing on top of this epic dragon cake came with the arrival of Theon and Yara Greyjoy.
The two have come to make a deal with the Dragon Queen. They promise her 100 ships and their support, and in return they seek help in taking back the Iron Islands from their traitorous Uncle Euron.
Fun fact: Euron also wants to make a deal with Daenerys, though he wants to pledge his support in exchange for her hand in marriage.
Daenerys laughs at his proposal, and jokingly asks Yara if she seeks a marriage alliance as well.
Yara would totally be down for that.
MAKE IT HAPPEN, GAME OF THRONES.
They shake on it, forming an alliance of dragons, fire, salt and sea, and creating the next big step in Daenerys' quest for the Iron Throne.
Sleep well, Lord Bolton
In case you missed it, one of the most epic battles in television history happened Sunday.
Ramsay had a choice. He could give up his seat in Winterfell and Rickon Stark to Jon Snow and Sansa Stark (Bolton?), or he could fight fairly to keep his position.
He chose to play games. Nothing about Ramsay is fair.
When Ramsay and his men first meet with Jon, Sansa and their men, Ramsay offers a truce and pardon for Jon's crimes against the Night's Watch.
He also thanks him for the return of his beloved wife, Sansa. *cringe*
Ramsay and his devilish smirk toy with them all. While Jon expects a civil conversation about the impending battle, Ramsay calls him bastard and threatens to feed them all to his dogs.
His first mistake was coming at them with savagery and ferocity instead of battle smarts.
One the eve battle, Jon, Tormund and Ser Davos make their strategies and discuss their pre-war rituals (Tormund gets wasted, Davos takes nervous poops).
Sansa, the woman who's never taken seriously or listened to, warns Jon about Ramsay's evil nature and penchant for laying traps.
"It's not enough," she screams at him. "If Ramsay wins, I'm not going back there alive."
The next morning, the battle of the bastards begins. It's Stark vs. Bolton. Direwolf vs. Flayed Man.
In case your forgot what a flayed man was, Ramsay conveniently placed about six of them on the battlefield. Charred, skinned bodies hang upside down on burning wooden Xs.
The odds are stacked against Jon. He's has nearly half the number of Ramsay's soldiers if he's lucky. And he and Sansa aren't just fighting for Winterfell, they're fighting to get back their little brother, Rickon. He's the greatest threat to Ramsay's power and gets lead out into the battlefield tied to a rope like a dog.
He's Ramsay's first game.
He cuts Rickon free and tells him to run to Jon as fast as he can. The sooner he gets there the sooner he can see him again.
Once the arrows start flying, Jon races to save Rickon. Three arrows miss him, but just as Jon reaches out to grab him an arrow pierces Rickon's chest.
This was Ramsay's second mistake. He gave Jon more of a reason to come back at him with the same ferocity.
Jon gets it now. Ramsay is not a cunning war chief, but a sadistic young man who slaughters and tortures anyone who gets in his way.
But Ramsay greatly underestimates Jon.
The battle gets ugly real quick.
Even with the wildlings, Jon's army is vastly outnumbered. So many men die there are massive mounds of the dead and dying piling up in the middle of the field. Both armies use these flesh piles as vantage points and slides to get to each other.
Jon is fighting like a madman. He's coated in blood, mud and gore yet keeps savagely whacking away at any Bolton who comes near him. He's also not getting hit by anything. One of his men saves him at every point he's about to have a sword run through him. And he's managed to avoid the hundreds of arrows raining down from the sky.
It's like he's untouchable.
When the Boltons have the remainder of Jon's army surrounded with shields and spears, all hope seems lost. His army is forced to pack themselves so close together Jon almost suffocates. It's a slaughter from all sides.
Until they all hear another war horn.
It's none other than the soldiers of the Vale and House Arryn, brought to aid Jon by Petyr Baelish and Sansa.
Sansa wrote to Petyr after all. Looks like she forgives him.
The most satisfying parts of the episode (read: entire season) come when Ramsay runs back to Winterfell thinking "they can't get me in here."
That was his third mistake.
The last giant Jon has breaks down the massive wooden door to Winterfell before he succumbs to the dozens of arrows and wounds.
Ramsay himself delivers the final arrow to the eye as his men die around him.
With Jon still full of rage and Ramsay full of arrogance, they get the one-on-one duel Jon originally wanted.
Hiding behind his bows and arrows, Jon shields himself from every one before pummeling Ramsay into the dirt.
He beats him bloody and to the edge of death before he sees Sansa watching.
The Bolton flags go down, the Stark banners go up and plans are made to bury Rickon next to his father in the crypts below.
Later, Sansa gets her revenge.
Ramsay is tied up to fester in one of the kennels. When Sansa pays him a visit, he still hasn't lost his smugness despite his current situation.
"You can't kill me, I'm part of you now," he tells her.
She reminds him his house, his name and his memory will disappear. He will not be a great warrior remembered throughout history.
She reminds him he didn't feed his hounds for a week, and now they're hungry and waiting to devour him.
"My hounds will never harm me," he spits. But they start licking his bloody face.
The last time we see Ramsay is when one of the hounds takes a bite out of his chin.
Sansa walks away smiling and comforted by the agonizing screams of the man who tortured her.
Don't miss next Sunday's 69-minute season finale of Game of Thrones.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham on Twitter.