Arguably the best episode of television. Ever. Check out our recap below.
The Battle for Meereen
As Daenerys listens to The Masters desecrate her city, Tyrion tries to explain that, despite how it looks, the city has rallied around their queen and support her reign. Dany nods, musing over this concept, before telling him that they need to get out there. He asks about her plan, and she tells him she’s going to fuck shit up. Alright that’s not literally what she says, but it’s basically what happened and it’s what I heard. She, Tyrion, Missandei, Greyworm, and a handful of Unsullied meet with three of The Masters and their soldiers. They tell The Breaker of Chains that she has lost and demand the return of the Unsullied and the Translator that she “stole.” She tells them she’s not there to surrender, but to hear THEIR surrender instead. They find humor in this statement, until Drogon lands next to her and she climbs onto his back.
As they soar through the skies her other two dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion, join her in the destruction. She hovers next to one of The Masters’ ships and as their army looks on, the three dragons light the ship on fire. Meanwhile, as the free citizens of Meereen attempt to escape the city, the Sons of The Harpy slaughter them at the entrance. Moments into the battle, Daario leads the Khaleesi’s Khalasar into the city to defend the people. On the landing where Dany left them, Greyworm tells The Masters that one of them will die. Two of them elect the other Master, a “Lowborn” man who is “Not like them.” As he drops to his knees and begs for his life, Greyworm kills the other two with one quick move. Tyrion tells the lowborn Master that he is to return and tell the people what he saw and that – Should any of them seek retribution – they are only alive by her majesty’s grace. On a side note: Tyrion joining up with #TeamMommaDragon is literally the best thing since sliced bread. Honestly, it’s just a magical partnership. Best friendship in all the lands.
Later, Daenerys is approached by the Greyjoys, who arrived in Meereen after fleeing the Iron Isles. They offer her 100 ships in return for her support in Yara’s (Asha’s) claim to her home shores; Dany is compliant, and points out that the Greyjoys are not demanding their independence, but asking nicely for it, and therefore, she’ll back them.
I also think the Greyjoys won Dany over by the sheer simplicity of their claim: they don’t want the Iron Throne, they don’t want to undermine her success, they just want what is rightfully theirs. As someone who genuinely believes the Iron Throne is hers by birthright, it makes sense that Dany would respect their claim. Between the throws to the ladies’ shared badass nature, Yara and Dany’s dialogue hints at more “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” chemistry that has had fans shipping them all week; it will be interesting to see where the writers take this alliance.
The Battle for Winterfell
We open with a parlay between Ramsay and Jon (and Sansa), and both men have ideas of riling each other up. Ramsay, by calling Jon bastard repeatedly and throwing Shaggy Dog’s head in front of them, and Jon, by challenging Ramsay to one-on-one combat and basically calling him a wimp when he turns it down. Sansa’s is pretty much shaking her head in the background the entire time and finishes the meeting with “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep Well.” Chills.
Later that evening, Jon, Davos, and Tormund are making battle plans as Sansa watches. Their only really plan is to wait until Ramsay’s men come to them; they are devastatingly outnumbered, so they know the chances of winning are slim. As the other men leave, Sansa confronts Jon about not involving her in any of their planning. “I know him!” She says, implying she can help, but when he asks for advice, she has nothing to offer, aside from don’t fall for his traps.
After a great conversation with Tormund (which I was sure meant one of them would die later–how often do we get great conversations followed by gruesome death?!), Davos walked up to a burn pile and just happened to find the stag he gave Shireen. He knew right away what happened, and you know that he will confront Melissandre about it. The only question now is, how will Jon Snow handle this? Obviously Davos is a trusted advisor, but Melissandre brought him back to life. Maybe, Davos will take matters into his own hands.
Finally, the horns blow and the armies get in formation. Ramsay’s army is easily double the size of Jon’s. Right off the bat, Ramsay lays his trap. He drags Rickon onto the field and tells him to run towards Jon. As Rickon starts running, Ramsay takes out his bow and arrow. Jon starts riding for Rickon right away, separating himself from his army. As he gets closer and closer, you know Ramsay is missing Rickon on purpose, just waiting to hit Rickon when he’s in arm’s length of Jon. And just like that, we lose another Stark. More than that, we lose the last chance for the Stark name to live on. Fueled with anger, Jon rides full speed towards a smirking Ramsay, who’s now let his army loose. This was the first time in the episode I thought we might lose Jon–again. Until his forces ride up behind him. Soon, the field becomes a bloodbath, with dead bodies piling up. Men from both sides dropped like flies, as what’s left of Jon’s army was trapped in a ring of Bolton shields. The scariest part of the episode (for me at least) happened when bodies piled atop Jon, and for a moment, he seemed to give up. His breathing slowed and it got dark. What’s the point of even trying? Is what he had to be thinking, until finally, he pushes up above the mass and gasps for air. Kit Harington said in an interview that he feels like that was Jon’s true rebirth. Before then, he’d just been going through the motions, but at that point, he seemed to find a new will to live.
Even with Jon’s renewed sense of purpose, things look bleak for his army. They’re surrounded by Bolton forces, Tormund’s in a drag out fight with Lord Umber, and Wun Wun’s getting shot full of arrows, as Ramsay sits atop the hill watching the destruction.
Just when it would seem that all is lost, a horn blows in the distance: the cavalry has arrived. The Knights of the Vale gallop in and save the day, taking out the entire Bolton army in a pretty badass sweep. Sansa and Littlefinger look on, both pretty pleased with themselves as the Vale Knights decimate the Bolton troops. It remains to be seen what Petyr Baelish’s endgame is, but for the moment it seems that Sansa was right to enlist his help.
Ramsay looks on as the majority of his men fall and he knows he’s beaten on the battlefield. He retreats to Winterfell, hoping to withstand a siege within its walls, but I guess he doesn’t notice that Team Stark has a FREAKIN’ GIANT. Wun Wun takes a lot of arrows but he is able to break down the gate. Even though Wun Wun is obviously about to die Ramsay can’t help but continue to be the Worst Person Ever and he puts an arrow in Wun Wun’s eye, killing him instantly.
Ramsay finally takes Jon up on his offer of one-on-one combat but Jon blocks all his arrows with a Stark shield and then beats the crap out of him while Sansa watches. Jon stops just short of killing him, because he knows that pleasure should be reserved for Sansa. She has more than earned it.
I’m not gonna lie, I got a bit teary when the Bolton banners came down and the Stark banners were finally hanging in Winterfell again. Melisandre watches as the banner unfurls, and Davos is watching her, holding the wooden stag he gave to Shireen. From the way Davos looks at her, something tells me that Melisandre’s day of reckoning may be coming soon. Rickon’s body is brought in on a stretcher and Jon says he is to be buried next to Ned in the crypt.
Ramsay is tied to a chair in the kennel and Sansa goes to pay him one last visit. She tells him that his words, his house, his name, and his memory are all going to disappear with him. Ramsay’s name and reputation is everything to him and Sansa knows exactly what to hit him with before she (quite literally) releases the hounds.
Ramsay had starved his dogs for days in anticipation of feeding them some Stark-chow, but the joke’s on him. Ramsay hopes that they will be loyal enough to him not to eat him but a starving animal will do what it has to do to survive. Sansa, who knows this better than most, watches as Ramsay’s hounds devour him, starting with his face. Sansa watches for a while and then walks away, a satisfied smile creeping across her face—the last of many HELL YEAH moments from this instant classic episode.