This week on HBO’s Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss scripted an episode that contained the most actual combat ever portrayed during a single episode of the series.Those who have been watching the show from the beginning know that the ninth episode of the season often contains a climax moment and is usually pretty damn good. The first season’s ninth episode, “Baelor,” featured the first major death in the series, and season two’s ninth episode “Blackwater” saw a nighttime battle lit by a wildfire explosion. “The Rains of Castamere” in season three added more bodies of beloved characters at the Red Weddin,g and last season’s “The Dance of Dragons” saw Daenerys take flight on Drogon for the first time. “Battle of the Bastards” did not disappoint.Spoilers for this season’s “Battle of the Bastards” follow.The newest installment in ninth episode glory managed to start with Daenerys finally putting her dragons to good combat use in Meereen. Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal have been used as a portent of things to come for the majority of the run of the show, and either due to budget constraints or for plotting purposes, we haven’t seen much of what a dragon looks like in combat. The battle pit of “The Dance of Dragons” was a step in the right direction, what happened in Meereen is much much better. Even though it was only a short sequence, Dany also brought her Dothraki Horde to Meereen, and for the first time we saw how an enlightened Dragon Queen takes a city.As far as the George RR Martin books go, the Siege of Meereen is happening, but Dany has just taken off from the fighting pits with Drogon. It’s suspected that she’ll be rescued from the other Khals by dragon instead of by emerging from another pyre unburt. Martin has emphatically said that being a Targaryen does not mean you are automatically fireproof and the show only needed to give Dany a reprise of her pyre emergence so they could isolate Drogon’s return in a single episode. More spinning of the wheel. Finally, it looks like we might get some movement on Dany’s plot, much like how Arya is finally moving west for the series endgame. Martin’s so-called “Meereenese Knot” (in reference to the impossible Gordian knot legend) looks like it can be quickly burned while Dany and her followers get on Greyjoy ships.Watching Yara and Danerys like:#GameofThrones pic.twitter.com/7nENOi3eFL— SomeGirlfromCanada (@girlfromcanada) June 20, 2016Judging by next episode’s preview, we’re not done in Meereen just yet, so the grand dream of having Dany land in Westeros to cap off the season six finale seems unlikely. Instead, we’ve gained an alliance of queens with Yara Greyjoy knowing exactly what to say to Dany to get the Targaryen on her side, even if it means giving up the Iron Born way of life (piracy and all it entails).Up in The North, season six’s rise of the Game of Thrones queens was only made possible by Sansa withholding information from Jon because, um, he doesn’t give her credit? The titular Battle of the Bastards was quite the spectacle of how medieval combat can be taken to the extreme. But, the end solution — the sudden arrival of Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale — accentuates the fact that Sansa didn’t tell Jon before the bloody battle that the cavalry (literally) was on its way.The preview for episode 10 shows Jon lecturing Sansa about trust, indicating the show plans to deal with the tactical misstep from the Queen in the North, but fans of the show immediately deciphered the “mysterious” letter she wrote in a prior episode and knew she wrote to the Vale.Instead, the show shifts from fantasy carnage to historical warfare to audience wish fulfillment, with both Starks getting a moment to take their personal revenge on Ramsay Bolton (formally Snow). Jon gets to break his face, but restrains himself from beating the Mad Bastard to death in favor of Sansa getting to choose his ultimate end.The pre-battle parlay where Ramsay boasts about starving his dogs and declines to fight in place of his men makes Ramsay’s dogs the Chekhov’s gun of the episode, and Sansa pulls the trigger in the last scene. Since Ramsay has been even more reviled than incest-born king Joffrey Baratheon and the writers used every opportunity to show that Ramsay is a sadistic psychopath, it gave the series enough leeway to show the first chomps of a dog mauling’s Ramsay’s face. Sansa stays to watch for a bit, but walks off and smiles and the episode cuts to credits.Much like this season has been planting the idea of Ramsay’s connection to his dogs (he fed them the remains of his girlfriend, his step mom, and his baby brother), the show also doubled down on the story of the wildfire underneath King’s Landing. In case you missed what Cersei and Qyburn were talking about last episode, that’s some big foreshadowing of how the story at King’s Landing will go next week.For now, however, the Starks hold Winterfell for the first time since season two, episode 10 when Rickon and Bran lost Winterfell to Theon. Sansa hasn’t been in Stark-occupied Winterfell since episode two of season one, and Jon hasn’t been in Winterfell at all since the same episode. It’s been a long time coming. Wonder if it’ll last?
September 1, 2019