The Wolves are coming home.
This recap obviously contains spoilers from Season 6 Episode 9.
This dang episode was so dang good that I’ve already watched it twice and I want to watch it over and over again until the day the Old Gods call me home.
While Tyrion is trying to make a case for the improvements he has made in the city, the Masters are bombing the shit out of Meereen. Dany has a solution to their problems – she is going to crucify all the Masters and burn their cities. Hearing this, Tyrion tells her of her father’s plans to burn King’s Landing when the Lannister army was at his gates; her plans are eerily the similar. He has a different approach in mind and Dany agrees to try his way first. They meet with the 3 representatives of the Masters, who smugly tell her that all she needs to do is leave with her foreign friends while the Unsullied and Missandei will go back to being slaves. LOL, there was clearly a miscommunication because Dany is not there to surrender; she is there to talk about the Masters’ surrender. The dudes look real chuckled because they think she can’t handle the reality of the situation, but they also don’t see Drogon flying behind them. Drogon comes to Dany, who hops on, and they take off to burn some of the ships. Rhaegal and Viserion break out (?) of their dungeon room and join their mom and brother in burning ships. (Question: did their cell door get blown out by a bomb, ordered blown out by Dany, or did they have the strength to blow it out the whole time but stayed in because they’re good dragon puppers who listen to their mom?). On the ground, the Sons of the Harpy are murdering people but then a hoard of screaming Dothraki come riding, along with Daario, and it is very good.
As Dany is wreaking havon on the fleet, Greyworm advises the soldiers guarding the dudes to go home to their families unless they want to die for men who wouldn’t die for them and the soldiers “OK BYE” out of there. Missandei tells the dudes that Dany has commanded one of them to die and, in a real jerk fashion, the two offer the low born “outsider” to be killed. Greyworm steps up to the man as he’s pleading for his life and slices the throats of the other two in one swing instead. Tyrion tells the one left to tell his people what happened when the Dragon Queen came to Meereen.
Later, Dany meets with Yara and Theon, who have used Littlefinger’s jetpack to reach Meereen super fast. Tyrion still holds a grudge against Theon for all the jokes he made at Tyrion’s expense the last time he visited Winterfell. Dany asks Theon if he wants her to support his claim to the Seastone Chair in exchange of lending her their fleet and Theon says he’s not fit to rule; Dany would be supporting Yara’s claim. Dany inquires about whether there had ever been a female ruler of the Iron Islands and Yara tells her no more than Westeros. Boom. When Dany says that Tyrion told her how terrible of a King Balon was, Yara says they have that in common. Boom. Theon informs Dany that Euron is building more ships and will sail to Meereen to propose marriage. When Dany asks if marriage was not a condition to Yara and Theon’s proposal, Yara says “no”, but she is up for anything. They just want her to give them back the Iron Islands and help them murder an uncle or two who don’t think a woman is fit to rule. Man, Dany loves Yara’s sassy ass answers. Dany has one condition to their forming an alliance: the Iron born will no longer rape, ravage, or reave. After an initial pause, because this has been their way of life for so long, Yara agrees and they shake on forging an alliance. I watched this episode in a room full of Geeklies and there was one consensus: we wanted Dany and Yara to kiss.
Jon and Co. are meeting with Ramsay and his party to talk things over before the actual battle on the morrow. Ramsay thanks Jon for bringing him Sansa back and suggests Jon get down from his horse and kneel before Ramsay. Jon does not and Lyanna Mormont mean mugs Ramsay. Ramsay reminds Jon that he has more men and horses than Jon, which means that a lot of men will be slaughtered, so Jon should just kneel. Jon concedes that he has less men than Ramsay and suggests they fight one on one, since one of their deaths would seal the fate of the battle. Ramsay knows that Jon is a better swordsman than he, so he declines. Jon and Ramsay are both trying to get a rise out of each other; Jon asks if Ramsay’s men will fight for him when they find out he wouldn’t fight for them and Ramsay shows Jon the head of Shaggydog as proof of his possession of Rickon. Sansa cuts Ramsay off and tells him that he will die tomorrow and bids him to sleep well before riding off. This just tickles Ramsay pink. He tells the rest of them that his dogs are dying to meet them because he hasn’t fed them for 7 days. ANIMAL CRUELTY ALERT.
Back at the battle camp, they’re finishing up battle strategies; they need for the Bolton forces to come at them and not the other way around, otherwise they would be surrounded on 3 sides. Jon thinks that Ramsay’s overconfidence and arrogance will be his downfall, but Sansa knows Ramsay and she tells Jon as much. Ramsay is the one who sets traps and plays with people; he will not fall for Jon’s traps. She chides Jon for not including her in their battle preparations and reiterates that they need more men. Jon again tells her that they have to make do with what they have because they’ve asked all the people they could ask and what they have is what they have to use. For being all high and mighty about not being consulted by Jon, she sure as heck doesn’t tell him about writing to Petyr but I guess (1). she knew that he would not be happy about it but maybe he could’ve accounted for it in his plans or (2). she didn’t know for sure that the Knights of the Vale would show up. She also tells Jon that Rickon will likely not survive Ramsay and advises him to not do what Ramsay wants him to do, which Jon thinks is obvious but, as we see from his actions late, not too obvious. She warns Jon that if Ramsay wins, she will not be going to Winterfell alive. When Jon assures her that he will protect her, she says “no one can protect me, no one can protect anyone.”
Tormund and Davos discuss their mistakes in supporting their Kings, sour goat’s milk, and violent shitting. During his walk, Davos finds the half burnt remains of the wooden stag he had carved for Shireen, leading him to think/know that Shireen was burnt where he stood, but he decides to wait till after the battle to confront Melisandre. Jon visits with Melisandre and asks her to not revive him if he falls but she makes no promises.
The battle formations have been made and now they wait. Ramsay trots out holding a rope, the end of which holds a bound Rickon. Ramsay takes a knife and cuts the ropes off of Rickon. He asks Rickon to play a game – he is to run to Jon at the other end, as fast as he can. Rickon takes off running but Ramsay takes up a bow and arrow and starts shooting arrows at him. Jon gets on his horse and rides to meet Rickon in the middle. Ramsay keeps missing Rickon, who is running in a straight line (I know he should’ve been zig-zagging but who knows what you would do in that panicked mode). Jon is SO close to grabbing Rickon when he gets shot with an arrow through his back. Then Jon does what Sansa told him not to do: what Ramsay wants him to do which is get really mad and ride out by himself to the Bolton side. Scrambling to cover Jon, Davos deploys the cavalry. Jon’s horse gets shot down by a rain of Bolton arrows and Jon gets up to see a wall of Bolton cavalry charging towards him (which by the way, was an actual cavalry of 40 horses charging towards Kit). This is one of the moment in this battle where Jon is like “I’ve made a huge mistake” – he just takes his belt off, takes Longclaw out, and prepares to fight till his last breath. However, before he can hit anyone, his cavalry clashes with the Boltons and the battle starts.
I’m not going to recap every single thing that happened in this battle because it was so much. The battle scene was beautifully done and was a cinematic masterpiece. Unlike showing battles like this as glorious and heroic, taking inspiration from accounts of battles from the American Civil War and the Battle of Agincourt, the chaos and confusion of a battle was portrayed very well.
Jon knows he fucked up a 2nd time, when their army gets surrounded on 3 sides by the Boltons against a 4th side of a wall of bodies, which more Boltons climb over to fight them. The Boltons have their shields up and advance on them with their lances, forcing them into an even smaller space. This leads to panic and people trampling on others, including Jon right as he was about to fight Umber. He starts suffocating under the weight of people but finally manages to pull himself up for air. Tormund is getting beat by Umber, when a horn sounds in the distance. As Umber is distracted, Tormund bites a chunk of his neck off and stabs him in the face. The horn is from the Knights of the Vale, who straight crush the Bolton army. Jon, along with Wun Wun and Tormund, climbs over the wall of bodies and goes after Ramsay, who turns and heads back inside the gates of Winterfell. He thinks he is safe but that is because he doesn’t know how much of a badass Wun Wun is – he fucking breaks down the doors of Winterfell, while being shot by a bazillion arrows.
Ramsay shoots Wun Wun through the eye and then tells Jon that he’s down for fighting one on one. Before he can get an arrow off, Jon grabs a Mormont shield and block 3 arrows while walking right to Ramsay. Jon hits Ramsay across the face with the shield, which known Ramsay down, and then just punches him in the face over and over again (Ramsay seems to be taking a little joy out of this, which, of course he would). He only stops when he sees Sansa.
They take the Bolton banners down and unfurl the Direwolves of Stark over Winterfell – the most beautiful sight I have ever seen my entire life. Davos has not forgotten about Shireen yet – he’s just waiting for the appropriate time. Jon instructs Rickon to be buried in the crypt, next to Ned.
Sansa then asks Jon where Ramsay is – then we see Ramsay wake up in the kennels. He still tries to mess with her more and that he is a part of her (is he implying she is preggo?) but she tells him: “your words will disappear, your House will disappear, your name will disappear, all memories of you will disappear.” Right at that moment, his cute as cuss puppers walk out of their kennels. Ramsay is adamant that his dogs will not harm him but Sansa reminds him that he hasn’t fed them in 7 days. They were loyal, but now they’re starving. He tries to command them to sit and get down but one of them licks his face and chomps on it. Sansa walks away with a little smile on her face as Ramsay gets torn apart by his dogs in the background.
Next week: The Winds of Winter