Game of Bastards

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Boy that was intense.

This season has been a sine wave. We started with some pretty good episodes and then the middle was down. Now we’re definitely back up and the show is going to have to pull some tricks to make episode ten better than episode nine. Here we go:

Dorne, Iron Islands, King’s Landing, Riverlands, Braavos: Absent.

Mereen: The weakest part of the episode. Which is just insane. I’m not sure why anyone with any sense would attack a person with dragons from boats. I mean — just why? I knew for sure that we were in for some dragon reckoning, but did not expect to see all three loose. Clearly Drogon is the alpha and his siblings follow along with him.

As an aside, I love that the animators make the dragons walk the way a pterodactyl is theorized to walk.

Back to the story. Very good way to dispatch the idiot masters. And then Yara and Theon show up with a hundred ships. I’m not sure how many Dothraki and horses 100 ships can carry but given the nature of Westeros right now it may well be enough. Also, funny little back and forth between Yara and Dany.

The North: The parlay between Ramsay and Jon went about as one would expect. Ramsay was Ramsay and Jon was Jon. Sansa had the line of the meet, with, “You’re going to die tomorrow.”

The pre-battle build up was pretty good. The moment Davos lay down how important the plan was to victory it was clear it wouldn’t work out. Big plot hole right after: Sansa telling Jon they need more men and neglecting to mention the letter she sent Littlefinger.

Davos and Tormund are a great pairing as soldiers without their kings. That scene was quite good. The writers have really done a good job with male friendships in this season and that’s been lacking without Robert and Ned. Jon, Tormund, and Davos are basically the Three Musketeers of Westeros, or the Three Amigos. They’re all duty bound. Together they’re quite dangerous.

Davos finding the site of Shireen’s murder is going to be interesting.

The battle itself: There really was no way for Rickon to survive, once they gave him to Ramsay. It would have taken a miracle move by Jon. But seeing Jon ride for his little brother knowing he was unlikely to get to him, and then having him snatched away right before he reached him… that was great story telling.

Jon had no choice then but to ruin the battle plan because he’s built to love and protect family and friends. He did the fool thing. It nearly cost him his life, and the lives of his fellow soldiers. Not ready to join the game of thrones, that one.

The battle itself was chaotic, brutal, awful, and everything one would expect from a Game of Thrones season ending war (remember, the big fights always happen in episode 9). For a bit I was worried we’d lose either Tormund or Davos (but not both). The scene with Jon being crushed was rather claustrophobia-inducing.

Smalljon Umber got his, and then Littlefinger showed up with the Knights of the Vale.

And Ramsay turned tail and ran. But not far nor fast enough. They neither killed him the way I expected nor kept him as a prisoner, but his death was the single most satisfying part of the episode.

The Preview: Littlefinger is scheming to get…? Sansa?

The shit and the fan meet next week in King’s Landing.

The Frey’s have a party.

Predictions, Short Term:

The North: Sansa or Jon are going to be the Warden of the North, possibly the King/Queen. I imagine the holdings of House Umber, Karstark, and Bolton will be divided up between Davos, the Free Folk, and possibly the Vale. Perhaps even House Glover will be tossed into the fire. We didn’t get the long con betrayal I expected from either Umber or Karstark — they fought right along side Ramsay til the end. Fools.

Somehow I think Littlefinger might know who Jon’s parents really are. The man knows things and I have a theory: Lyanna Stark didn’t get kidnapped by Rhaegar, she ran off with him. Littlefinger was the one who told Brandon Stark his sister was kidnapped — Brandon went off and died. Littlefinger wanted to marry Brandon’s betrothed (and had just taken a beating from him). Seems like the sort of treachery he’d get up to.

I think Littlefinger wants Sansa, now. He’s obsessed with Cat to the extent it has passed on to the living embodiment of her.

Dorne: Dorne doesn’t like the Lannisters. House Tyrell doesn’t really like the Lannisters anymore. Dany’s people don’t like the Lannisters.

Match made in heaven.

Iron Islands: Urine Greyjoy is going to be pissed his plan was usurped. He may well throw in against Dany before she even has a chance to help Theon and Yara. We won’t see this until next season though.

Riverlands: They’re celebrating. It’s about time for some justice re: the Freys, and A Girl is heading home. Well, she can knock a ton of names off her list at that stupid party. What was the story about the person being fed meat pies made of their kin in this reality? That might well be a good fate for Walder fucking Frey.

King’s Landing: They love to hint that Cersei is going to burn shit down. I think she’ll try to burn down the Sept without entering it. Loras would be there, and in the books he was badly burned and it caused strife between Lannister and Tyrell. This could be the show version of that. It could also cause Tommen to die — fire bad, and it spreads — and even lead to the book version of the prophecy coming true: if it spread enough, and caught enough hidden wildfire, she might well burn the city to the ground.

And Jaime might well come home to find that Cersei did the thing he became the Kingslayer to prevent and strangle her. Jaime is the second twin, the “valonqar” (“little brother”).

Or not — she may just burn the Sept. If either Tommen or Margery dies during Sunday’s episode there is zero reason for House Tyrell to support the Lannisters anymore, though — and I expect one or both to die in the Sept.

Predictions, Long Term: The North is spent. For all the trouble Jon has gone through to unite them, how many men are possibly left in the North to fight the Walkers? A few hundred? Unless a lot of houses kept a lot of men on the sidelines there just aren’t many bodies up there. Jon’s force was decimated. Ramsay’s appeared to be annihilated.

The only remaining armies of note are the Lannisters, Tyrell, Frey, and Dorne. The last three don’t particularly care for the first, and when Dany shows up with literally every single motherfucking Dothraki on the planet and three dragons… I’m not sure the Lannisters have a chance. Even if every able-bodied man on the continent joined the fight they’d be destroyed in a lopsided fight.

That’s not going to be very interesting story-telling, so I expect some things to happen:

– Urine Greyjoy will fight Dany over her decision to back Yara. This will come in a Naval Battle. Dragons or not, Urine will sink a few of Dany’s ships and that’ll kill a few of her Dothraki.

– Some Dothraki won’t go, or will be left behind to get a handle on Mereen and the other cities. I don’t see Dany totally abandoning the East.

– The Lannisters won’t be a problem when she arrives due to Cersei’s idiocy, and Dany won’t have to conquer much. That’ll bore more Dothraki.

– And… White Walkers.

Finally, what-if: Imagine Renly had the damned sense to back Stannis, and Robb had backed Stannis as well. Then, a bit of diplomacy: offer the Mountain to Dorne for their support. At the time Renly was married to Margery and had House Tyrell. Even the Lannisters with Tywin would not have been able to overcome those odds. The Freys would not have been given the chance to have the Red Wedding, and Theon and his father likely wouldn’t have done their stupid shit.

Now imagine Warden of the North Robb Stark, with the blessing of King Stannis, allows Jon to resettle the Free Folk.

They’d be in a much better position to deal with Dany once she arrived. Or they could handle it diplomatically. So much of the problem on this show has been driven by big egos.