Warning: This article contains spoilers from Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards.”
So much blood. So much gore. So much death.
But the Stark banner flies once more at Winterfell!
As per usual, the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones season 6 was a real nail-biter that left fans everywhere with elevated blood pressure. With a name like “Battle of the Bastards,” we expected nothing less than an epic showdown, and an epic showdown is what we got.
Before the throw-down between the bastards, Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow began, Jon told his half-sister, Sansa Stark, she didn’t have to be there. But she did. She really did because she would have her revenge.
The battle began with the first major death in the episode. Ramsay released Rickon Stark, whom he had been holding captive, but as Rickon ran toward Jon Snow, Ramsay began firing arrows at the youngest Stark boy. Jon Snow raced to save his little brother, but before he reached him, Ramsay fired a fatal blow.
And thus began the most stressful battle in Game of Thrones history. How Jon Snow didn’t die again is a miracle. He almost got trampled by a stampeding cavalry and he almost got trampled again in the world’s worst mosh pit. But he prevailed and the Stark children took back their home.
The most interesting part of the episode, which always tends to happen in the last five minutes, was how Ramsay met his end. In the “Inside the Episode” segment following Game of Thrones, executive producers and writers D.B. Weiss and and Davd Benioff explain that initially the battle was all meant to take place on the battle-field, but they felt since it was the fight for Winterfell and Jon and Sansa’s fight for their home, the battle should end in Winterfell. At first it looked like Jon Snow was going to beat the life quite literally out of Ramsay, but he stopped when he saw Sansa’s face and realized his sister needed to have her revenge. Ultimately it was Sansa who brought the end of Ramsay Bolton when she released his own hound on him and watched it eat her abuser alive.
Now, to be honest, the Stark victory at Winterfell was pretty much a given. While Game of Thrones has been known to completely break our hearts, surely the writers were not so heartless as to bring Jon Snow back from the dead only to kill him off again. And since Ramsay had basically taken over for Joffrey as the most despised character, it was only fitting that he finally meet his end. With the series coming to a close with 14 total episodes left, the Ramsay Bolton subplot needed to end in order for the struggle for the Iron Throne to continue.
The Game of Thrones season finale airs next week on HBO. All current episodes are available to stream on HBO Now.