Voyeur Recap: Game of Thrones, “The Battle of the Bastards”

Welcome to TLP’s Voyeur Recap – a guide for staying conversant with friends, family, and colleagues who are really into a show that you do not have the time and/or desire to watch. The first and so far only series to be included in this feature is HBO’s Game of Thrones. (FYI spoilers abound)

Come on, you knew those dogs were eating somebody before it was all over.
Come on, you knew those dogs were eating somebody before it was all over.
What is Game of ThronesBased on the novels by Politico reporter Jonathan RR Martin, Game of Thrones reimagines contemporary American politics as a violent, pointless struggle amongst petty families and tribes that are squandering the resources and personnel that will be essential in the coming struggle against the true threat facing all of us, climate change frozen zombies. Just like in politics there is a lot of sex, betrayal, and people who absolutely hate each other despite being very difficult to tell apart. There are also a few genuinely well meaning characters and a few more really, truly evil characters. If you think this description is inaccurate, check for yourself: there have been as many dick jokes in season 6 of GoT as there were during the GOP primary. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

What is a Voyeur Recap? TLP does not watch the show, but is a nerd amongst nerds both in real life and on the internet, so following the story is inevitable. As a service to others in a similar predicament – perhaps your family, friends, or coworkers are fans of the show – TLP has decided to provide the voyeur recap as a way to keep you informed about the goings on in the magical, bloody lands of Westeros and Essos. (As I hope is obvious by now, this whole thing is full of “spoilers,” except it is for folks who don’t watch the show, so… …not really.)

Which episode just aired? Last night’s episode was the ninth and penultimate of season six, “The Battle of the Bastards,” which was an experiment by the showrunners to see how much shit they could get fans to put up with for an hour if the eventual payoff seemed worth it. Result: fans put up with all the shit and completely relished the payoff.

What happened in the episode (and what should I say about it)?

In Essos, Daenarys got back to her city, Meereen, along with her new army and one of her pet dragons (she is the only character who has these creatures or, so far as we know, can control them). The city was under siege by a fleet of slave owners who don’t like Dany’s anti-slavery policy platform. Dany decided to negotiate with the attackers – just kidding! – she had her dragon light them all on fire. Yara and Theon Greyjoy showed up later, I guess, and they have a fleet of ships that could take Dany and her army back to Westeros so that she can finally reclaim the Iron Throne, which is a big chair made out of swords that nobody should want to sit on, but everybody does.

What to say: “Who gives a shit let’s talk about what happened to Ramsay Bolton!”

What to predict: “I think she will sail for Dorne, where Varys probably went to set up the alliance, and then move on King’s Landing from the south. I can’t wait until the Seven Kingdoms are all being run by women! That’s how you fight a zombie apocalypse, right there!”

What to say for a laugh: “A horse walks into a bar, the bartender says ‘why the long face?’ The horse says ‘shut the fuck up and tell me what happens to Ramsay Bolton!'”

The Battle for Winterfell, the episode’s main event, was either between the armies of Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow, or between Bolton, Snow, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Golden State Warriors – it just depends on if you were flipping channels or not. Bolton had more men and a fortress. Jon Snow had fewer men and less self control. So naturally, Snow won. Although to be fair he won because another army, the knights of the Vale commanded by a guy named Littlefinger, showed up to save the day. And by save the day I mean they helped win the battle for Winterfell probably so that they can take it over themselves next week. The real question in all of this was: what would happen to Ramsay Bolton? Ramsay is basically a personification of all the nasty parts of the Game of Thrones story: he is relentlessly and chaotically violent, sadistic, murdery, rapey, and really into making sure there is an audience. As an example, during this episode, Ramsay set free young Rickon Stark, the youngest of the Stark kids, to run across the battle field to his half-brother Jon Snow. Then Ramsay shot the kid full of arrows, killing him. He is a bad dude and this was, frankly, the least of his atrocities this season. So the battle was not just for Winterfell, but also for whether or not the show would give Ramsay what he deserves and set us all free from the boring-yet-horrific tyranny of this nasty character. Good news! After the battle was saved by Littlefinger (which I maintain is the perfect nickname for Donald Trump, even if he is nothing like the character), Jon Snow embodied every fan of the show for a few minutes while he beat Ramsay nearly to death. Then, Sansa Stark fed Ramsay (still alive!) to his own dogs. I don’t even watch the show, but I am going to find a clip of those few minutes and watch them sometime. Because fuck that guy. One downer: during the battle, the last living giant died while breaking down the gates to Winterfell for Snow’s forces to get inside. His name was Wun-Wun.

What to say for a laugh: “My dog was watching that episode with me last night. I’m sleeping with one eye open and feeding her extra food all week, you know?”

What to tweet/hashtag: “Would it be that hard to make the big guy a little armor or a leather mask? Maybe get him a tree to swing around? #RIPWunWun”

What to say if you want to be like the narcissistically contrarian fans: “This episode was so predictable, the battle wasn’t that great, I don’t like that Sansa smiled when Ramsay was being eaten, and I’m really grumpy because my mommy put the milk in my cheerios a little too soon this morning and they weren’t crunchy anymore.”

What to say if you want to change the subject: “You know who really wun wun last night? Lebron and the Cavaliers! Boom!”

What to speculate about for next week: “So Littlefinger shows up to save the day, after Snow’s army is basically destroyed, and now he is hanging out with a bunch of knights… …am I the only one wondering what he is going to do with all that leverage?”

 

Further Reading:

IO9’s review of the episode, which also has their user comment thread at the bottom (seriously, comment threads at io9 are the exception to the rule, I promise).

Vox has their usual winners and losers recap of the episode.

You can also just search twitter for #GameofThrones and #RIPWunWun for more voyeur fun watching people watch the show.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the show that you would like to be answered by someone who doesn’t watch it and has never read the books, use the links below to contact TLP.

Tell TLP what you think of this episode!  Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

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