‘Game Of Thrones’ Episode Recap: The Dog Days Are Over

(Photo: HBO screen grab)

David Oliver Contributor
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The title of the episode gave away tonight’s primary focus: Battle of the Bastards. Jon versus Ramsay. The creme de la creme of battles. The winner take all — err, Winterfell. Who made it out alive? Who definitely didn’t? Who didn’t let sleeping dogs lie, literally?

First, let’s go over what happened in Meereen. Daenerys’s return to the city last week felt anti-climactic, much like this portion of the episode. She made it clear the Masters weren’t long for this world and didn’t care about the cost. Tyrion likened her attitude to that of her father, and why Jamie ultimately killed him. Didn’t really matter. She rode her dragon, Grey Worm killed two of the Masters, and Daenerys regained control.

She also added to her fleet: Yara and Theon joined #TeamDany. This was following Yara explaining that her uncle Euron wanted to marry Daenerys, and that while marriage wouldn’t be part of Yar’s deal, she’s “up for anything.” Noted.

Enough about that, though — back to the titular battle.

The warring sides meet early on. Jon wanted to end it right then, though later clarified he just wanted to make Ramsay angry. Ramsay mainly just maintained that sick smirk on his face.

Sansa tried to dispel his comfort. “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton,” she said. “Sleep well.” If anything, she dispelled mine. She later confronted Jon, asking if it ever occurred to him to consult her. Slay, Sansa. The writers are really testing the siblings’ relationship. Sansa accepted Rickon is a lost cause while Jon can’t give up hope; Jon vows to protect Sansa, but she coldly replies, “No one can protect me. No one can protect anyone.” Not wrong.

It’s ironic for Jon, who now doesn’t want protection. He asks Melisandre not to bring him back if he dies, speaking for the audience who cannot handle two ridiculous resurrections — at least in one season.

When the two sides gather to fight, Ramsay tells a captive Rickon to go run to his brother across the battlefield. Obviously, Sansa was right: Rickon runs and avoids several of Ramsay’s arrows, only to have one sear him just before Jon arrives on horseback. Cue “Another Stark bites the dust.” Get it? No? OK, nevermind.

As expected, the Stark army takes major hits and the Boltons close in — literally. The direction is compelling here, especially the shots of the horses and Jon’s rising out of a sea of bodies. It’s an important reminder of the series’ spectacle quality in addition to the story itself. War is not glamorous, and the show doesn’t shy away from that.

The Starks get necessary reinforcements from (you guessed it) Littlefinger and the Vale. Sansa’s going to have some explaining to do to Jon.

Ramsay heads back to Winterfell, only to have Wun Wun and co. show up. Ramsay delivers Wun Wun’s final blow and prompts Jon to take Ramsay on, one on one, once and for all. Jon deflects several of Ramsay’s arrows with a shield, to then knock him down and punch him repeatedly, horribly. I could practically hear the millions of cheers from viewers  around the world.

The Starks now have Winterfell. But what about the infamous Ramsay? Sansa took care of that. Tied up, his starving dogs — he mentioned earlier he hadn’t fed them in seven days — approach him and eat him alive. They start with his face. Sansa watches, walks away and smiles. Obviously.

Elsewhere: Davos found evidence of Shireen’s death and ain’t pleased, and next week’s episode looks like the real “game” is just beginning.

All in all, Meereen was boring but the critical battle lived up to the hype, in spectacle, story and character. The aforementioned finale better match in intensity. If not in violence, then in plot.