Reply All: A Game of Thrones Email Exchange – S6E9 ‘Battle of the Bastards’

If you missed last week’s exchange, you can check it out here.

NICK: Let’s dispense with the traditional recap since there were only two story lines this week, and get into the good stuff…



After Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale deus ex machina’d their way to knock Ramsay and his cohorts back, and after Wun Wun (RIP) turned an expected siege into a simple door punching, Ramsay has — finally! — been taken care of.

Are you satisfied with his end? The hounds he was once master of resorting to survival over loyalty as they feasted on his flesh seemed a gruesome (yet fitting) end for a gruesome being.


KEITH: In a lot of ways, this was the single most satisfying episode of Game of Thrones ever. Ramsay’s violence was so despicable that he needed to die, but not just in any old way––he needed to die at the hands of Sansa. Heck, even Jon Snow recognizes this as he’s beating Ramsay to death with his bare hands. Sansa suffered the most at the hands of this psychopath, so it’s only fitting that she was the one to orchestrate his end.

And honestly, she really did orchestrate the entire battle for Winterfell. She knew Jon wasn’t going to take her advice seriously, which is likely why she never said anything to him about writing to Baelish about the Knights of the Vale. She knew Rickon wasn’t going to make it out of his captivity alive, and she knew Jon was going to fall for whatever trap Ramsay laid. Sansa clearly learned more than a thing or two during her time under Baelish’s tutelage, although I feel like we still have yet to see how much that’s really effected her.

So, what were your thoughts on the battle itself. Did it live up to your expectations?

NICK: I was pretty stoked on the battle scene and especially enjoyed the camerawork by director Miguel Sapochnik, who directed last season’s “Hardhome” battle. After Jon’s almost-save of Rickon, he completely threw strategy to the wind, unbuckled Longclaw — a sign that he had no intentions of re-sheathing it, which means he was expecting to die — and stood firm as the Bolton forces charged ahead. Those 15-20 seconds of Jon willing to take on an entire army were spectacularly intense, and the wave of horses and men crashing around him seconds later raised spirits, regardless of how many men they had on their side. Jon’s extended blood rage not only saw him down numerous foes, but inspire those fighting alongside him. How many times in that battle was he near death? His back always turned with an enemy rushing towards him who gets taken out by a horse or sword or fist. How he didn’t get stuck with at least one arrow is beyond me. Which shows another characteristic of the departed Ramsay. Davos and his archers never fired, for fear of hitting their own men. Ramsay didn’t think twice and gave the command to nock, draw, and loose multiple times. Sure he had more men to spare, but this further proves Jon’s point that Ramsay wouldn’t put himself before his men, who fight out of fear instead of loyalty.

Speaking of loyalty, how about those slave mastsers not having any? After making a deal with the Queen’s proxy, they quickly returned with an armada and began to rain balls of fire on the free city of Mereen. Did these guys forget that Dany had dragons? It wasn’t that long ago that Dany torched then-master Kraznys mo Nakloz in Astapor, yet here they are with wooden ships and flammable people attacking her city. I’m sure they were hoping she was gone for good, but that wasn’t the case. As Tyrion politicked and Grey Worm throat-slit, we finally, FINALLY got to see the reunion of the dragon brothers as they burned a ship in happy unison. The weeks of budget saving CGI paid off big time, as the slave masters quickly lost hold and Dany quickly gained a bunch of ships.


KEITH: Good lord that was incredible. It was also fantastic to see Dany and Tyrion back at what we’ve wanted from them for the last two seasons: him teaching her how to be an effective ruler. While Tyrion managed fairly well on his own, being able to lean heavily on the Mother of Dragons takes his politicking to a whole new level. It was also great to see Dany finally taking to the skies to lay down some serious firepower. It’s one of the moments we’ve been waiting five years for, and it paid off in spades. You’re right, the weeks of saving up the the dragon budget were worth every slow second in the last episode or two.

How do you feel about the coming explosion between Davos and Melissandre? He finally knows that she’s responsible for the death of Shireen, who he loved like a daughter, and something tells me he’s not going to let this one slide.

NICK: Just when the Onion Knight has made peace with Melisandre’s ways, he happens upon the stag Shireen clutched during her unnecessary and horrible death, which also took place during the episode nine last year. Let’s not forget that he was seconds away of learning the news from Melisandre herself before Brienne cut in to brag about her killing of Stannis. I understand a lot has been going on, but you would think at some point he’d pull the red priestess aside and say “Hey Mel, remember that question I had about Stannis’ daughter? You know, the one with the greyscale and bookworm tendencies? Yeah, whatever happened with her?”. But no, nothing. Maybe he assumed she died, but didn’t realize how, which would then lead to “why” which would then lead to the rage I’m sure we’ll see in the season’s final episode. I have a feeling one of them isn’t making it out of the North.

How confident are you in Dany’s decision to lock forearms with the Greyjoy siblings? It’s an odd partnership, no doubt, but if Dany is to believe that all Yara wants is the Iron Islands and not the Iron Throne, what does she have to lose? With her suddenly burgeoning fleet, the Mother of Dragons can make her way to the Seven Kingdoms (FINALLY) at a moment’s notice. The Greyjoys are of the salt and the sea, and Dany of the fire and sky, and Yara is a woman looking to rule. What else could Dany ask for?

Good on you using “explosion” in your last message, because I’m expecting a literal one in King’s Landing. After searching the internet for whispers, Varys’ web-birds think the rumor Cercei referenced in episode eight has to do with the cache of wildfire hiding in the bowels of King’s Landing. It makes sense, as the Mad King Aerys set up the deadly substance in the instance he wanted to “burn them all”. He never lived long enough to give the command, but between Cercei’s current situation and Bran’s vision in episode six, it’s a distinct possibility that she might finally lose her mind and just kill everyone. Though perhaps that’s an explosion more suitable in the series’ final season when dragons are (presumably) attacking.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming end to season six? For a season finale the trailer appears to be packing quite a punch, as we get the rare return to the episode nine plots, along with Cercei’s trial and a check-in with Bran. The only thread we might not get to check in on is Arya’s, who is presumably making her way back to Westeros.


KEITH: I could not be happier about the teaming up of Dany and Yara Greyjoy. Aside from the fact that they appear to sense kindred spirits in one another, I feel like both Dany and Yara are pragmatic enough to realize that there’s no way they accomplish their goals (Dany ruling the Seven Kingdoms, Yara surviving to return and rule the Iron Islands) without each other’s help. Tyrion getting to spend some time laying into Theon was also kind of nice, as he makes a number of truly excellent points; however, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit bad for Theon. We know what he’s been through, Tyrion doesn’t.

I’m totally with you on the usage of wildfire, probably in the next episode. There was the vision of the Mad King and a brief mention of wildfire from Tyrion. He specifically mentions the Sept of Baelor, which has to come into play with Cercei’s attempts to retake power from the Faith Militant, if not her own “burn them all” moment. I wouldn’t put it past her.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m also with you on the probability of not seeing much, if anything, of Arya next week. Her story reached an enormous turning point this season and we can all assume that she’s on a boat right now. Couple that with the fact that there’s a great deal that still has to be cleaned up with the other storylines this season and it makes sense to leave her be. That said, if we don’t see anything of her, I’m expecting to open on her next season.

So, which storyline are you most excited about for next week’s finale?

NICK: I’m really looking forward to Cercei and Loras’ trial, and am hoping for some more opposition for the Mountain to take on. You know his big moment is coming, right? It’s got to. I don’t know what to expect other than the potential of wildfire as we discussed, but I have a feeling the High Sparrow has some tricks up his sleeve as well. He’s playing the game better than anyone in Westeros right now. It’ll also be interesting to see the interaction between Jon and Sansa as she tries to explain why she didn’t tell Jon about Littlefinger. I mean, had they held off fifteen minutes at lot fewer men would have died, right? But such is Game of Thrones, so here’s hoping the season finale takes things to yet another level.


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Nick Hershey

The author Nick Hershey

Nick was born and raised in Amish country, has a beard, but isn’t Amish. He’s a fan of winter as long as he’s at the top of a mountain with a board under his feet. He’s an avid sports fan, movie junkie, tv bum, and music enthusiast who still purchases CDs for some reason.