Episode title: “Battle of the Bastards”
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Summary: Dany, Tyrion, Missandei and Grey Worm meet with the Masters, who offer to let Daenerys return to Westeros in return for keeping Missandei and the Unsullied and killing the dragons. She counters that the meeting was called to discuss the Masters’ surrender and proceed to ride Drogon into the bay with Rhaegal and Viserion and burn their fleet. Meanwhile, Daario leads the Dothraki to slaughter the Sons of the Harpy, who are massacring freedmen outside the city.
Theon and Yara arrive in Meereen and offer Dany their fleet of ships in exchange for help in overthrowing Euron and recognizing Yara’s claim to the Iron Islands. Daenerys agrees to assist them if the Ironborn will stop reaving the mainland, and Yara reluctantly agrees.
Jon, Sansa, Tormund, and Davos meet with Ramsay and his bannermen. Ramsay offers to pardon Jon for breaking his vows to the Night’s Watch if he hands Sansa over. When Smalljon Umber proves that Rickon Stark is captured by presenting Shaggydog’s head, Sansa tells Ramsay that he will die the next day and rides off. Ramsay gloats that he has been starving his hounds in anticipation. Sansa criticizes Jon for attacking without gathering more men and predicts that Ramsay will defeat them. Davos discovers the pyre where Shireen and the wooden stag he carved for her were burned.
The armies gather outside Winterfell the next morning. Ramsay brings Rickon out and has him run to Jon while firing arrows at him. Jon rushes to intercept Rickon, but just before reaching Jon, Rickon is killed by an arrow. The ensuing battle leaves hundreds of Bolton and Stark soldiers dead, creating a wall of corpses and allowing the Bolton infantry to encircle around the Stark forces. The Stark forces appear doomed when a horn sounds in the distance and Petyr Baelish and Sansa arrive with the Knights of the Vale, whose cavalry sideswipe and easily smash the remainder of the Bolton army; Tormund kills Smalljon in the chaos.
Ramsay retreats to Winterfell. Wun Wun breaks down Winterfell’s gates and the Stark loyalists overwhelm the remnants of the Bolton garrison. A mortally wounded Wun Wun is finished off by Ramsay. Jon overpowers Ramsay and begins to beat him to death, but stops when he sees Sansa and orders him imprisoned, leaving Winterfell once more in the hands of House Stark. At night, Sansa visits Ramsay, who has been imprisoned in the kennels with his hounds. Ramsay insists that his hounds will not turn on him, but Sansa reminds him that they have been purposefully starved and, having correctly predicted they would turn on him, walks away smiling as they devour him face-first.
My take: I love that Tyrion, pulls the old, “Oh no, we meant your surrender” bit. Watching the three dragons do what they were meant to do followed by a screaming horde of Dothraki was pretty damn cool. Victory through air power indeed. 600 crew members, 500 extras, 80 horses, 25 stuntmen and women and 4 camera crews were involved in the shooting of the Battle of the Bastards, and damn does it show. There is one continuous shot that looks like absolute chaos. Incredible.
Changes from the books: Rickon is in Skagos, with Osha and Shaggydog. It is unknown if they are alive. The besieging troops of the slavers catapult dead, disease-carrying bodies, not fire missiles, into Meereen. Yara is not interested to continue raiding. In the kingsmoot, her platform was making peace with the north. Sansa is safe in the Vale and has no idea about the recent events in the north. Davos was sent earlier by Stannis to the White Harbor, to gain the support of the Manderlys. Smalljon Umber was killed in the Red Wedding while protecting Robb.
Locations on the Map: King’s Landing, Riverrun, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen
Death Count: Hundreds of Bolton and Stark soldiers including Smalljon Umber and Wun Wun. The Masters’ fleet, burned by the dragons. The Sons of the Harpy by the Dothraki. The Masters’ representatives by Gray Worm. Ramsay Bolton by his own hounds. Rickon Stark by Ramsay Bolton
Quotes: Tormund Giantsbane: Happy shitting
Yara Greyjoy: I never demand, but I’m up for anything really.
Ramsay Bolton: Do you like games, little man? Let’s play a game. Run to your brother. The sooner you make it to him, the sooner you get to see him again. That’s it. That’s the game. Easy. Ready? Go.
Episode title: “The Winds of Winter”
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Summary: Walder Frey celebrates the recapture of Riverrun with the Lannisters. Later, Walder eats dinner alone, wondering why his sons have yet to arrive. His servant reveals that she baked them into the meat pie he has been eating, and then removes her face to reveal that she is actually Arya Stark, before cutting Walder’s throat.
The High Sparrow and the Faith gather in the Great Sept. Loras confesses to his crimes and atones by giving up his name and title, and joins the Faith Militant. Qyburn summons Grand Maester Pycelle to his laboratory, where his child spies stab Pycelle to death. After Cersei fails to appear, Lancel Lannister is sent to retrieve her. Lancel follows one of Cersei’s spies beneath the Sept, and finds a wildfire cache about to explode. He is stabbed in the spine before he can disarm the cache. Inside the Sept, Margaery Tyrell, realizing that Cersei has set a trap, warns the crowd to leave, but the High Sparrow prevents anyone from leaving. The wildfire ignites and destroys the Great Sept, killing everyone inside.
Afterwards, Cersei tortures the septa that tortured her while she was imprisoned. King Tommen Baratheon witnesses the explosion from the Red Keep; after being informed of Margaery’s death, he commits suicide by jumping out of a window. Jaime subsequently arrives at the Red Keep to witness Cersei being crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
As Samwell Tarly and Gilly arrive at Oldtown, they witness the Citadel releasing countless white ravens to announce the arrival of winter. They report to the Citadel, and Sam is scheduled to meet the Archmaester. In the meantime, Sam is granted access to the library.
Melisandre admits to burning Shireen alive, but points out that she did it for the Lord of Light. Davos requests permission from Jon Snow to execute Melisandre. Jon exiles Melisandre from the North and threatens to execute her if she ever returns. Later, Jon and Sansa Stark discuss who will lead the united Stark forces, with each deferring to the other. Petyr Baelish, Lord Protector of The Vale, privately meets with Sansa in the godswood. He reveals that his ultimate goal is to sit on the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side.
Lyanna Mormont shames the Northern lords that did not come to Jon’s aid. They declare a reluctant Jon the new King in the North. Bran, Meera, and Benjen arrive near the Wall. Benjen takes his leave, as the Wall’s magical protection prevents the dead from being able to pass. Meera assists Bran to a weirwood tree and he re-enters the vision of Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy. Ned finds his sister Lyanna Stark covered in blood from childbirth. With her dying breath, Lyanna pleads with Ned to take care of her son, who is revealed to be Jon Snow.
A grieving Olenna meets with Ellaria and the Sand Snakes concerning the possibility of an alliance against Cersei. Ellaria presents Varys, who offers Olenna vengeance by allying with Dany. Dany informs Daario Naharis that he will not accompany her to Westeros, as she needs him to keep order in Meereen while she invades Westeros. Dany proclaims Tyrion Lannister the Hand of the Queen, and the two of them, along with their extensive forces from Essos and their new alliances of the Ironborn, Dorne, and Highgarden, finally depart for Westeros in a massive armada, with her dragons flying above.
My take: Ramin Djawadi’s music during the King’s Landing is the musical highlight of the series so far. One thing about being beyond the books is that you can be surprised. The wildfire explosion blew me away followed by Tommen’s suicide was completely unexpected. After a season of wrapping up loose ends, it’s nice to finally get the endgame under way.
Changes from the books: Loras Tyrell is not put on trial by the Faith. In the fourth novel he is sent by Cersei to retake Dragonstone, Stannis Baratheon’s island stronghold, for the crown. He is gravely injured during the battle. By the point the books reached, he is still lying in agony, near death. Ser Barristan Selmy is the Queen’s Hand.
Nudity: A prostitute in Pycelle’s chamber.
Locations on the Map: King’s Landing, The Twins, Winterfell, The Wall, Meereen, Dorne
Death Count: Walder Frey, Walder Rivers, and Lothar Frey, by Arya. Pycelle by Qyburn’s children. The High Sparrow, Margarey, Loras, Mace, Kevan Lancel, the Faith Militant and dozens of people in the Sept of Balor. Tommen by suicide
Quotes: Lyanna Mormont: Your son was butchered at the Red Wedding, Lord Manderly. And you refused the call. You swore allegiance to House Stark, Lord Glover, but in their hour of greatest need, you refused the call. And you, Lord Cerwyn – your father was skinned alive by Ramsay Bolton… still, you refused the call. But House Mormont remembers. The North remembers! We know no king but the King in the North whose name is Stark. I don’t care if he’s a bastard. Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins. He’s my king from this day until his last day.
Daenerys Targaryen: Our fathers were evil men. They left the world worse than they found it. We’re not going to do that, we’re going to leave the world better than we found it.
Cersei Lannister: This is Ser Gregor Clegane. He’s quiet, too. Your gods have forsaken you. This is your god now.