Battle of the Bastards Plot Summary:
Dany (Emilia Clarke) shows off just how effective her dragons can. The battle between The Boltons and The Starks takes place.
‘Battle of the Bastards’ may well be the best episode of Games of Thrones ever.
Was it predictable?
At times, yes.
Was this the best battle we’ve ever seen on the show?
That’s subjective, of course. Personally, the siege of The Wall by The Wildings, remains my favorite “big battle.”
Was it the most anxiety-riddled, emotionally draining episode of this series?
Yes. 100%, yes.
‘Battle of the Bastards’ manipulated viewers’ emotions from the word go. The sweeping shots of dragons breathing fire on a ship filled us with wonder. Jon Snow foolishly charging into battle, despite it being an obvious trap, forced us to yell at our screens. The claustrophobic scene of Snow trapped underneath the fallen and climbing soldiers, haunted us and gave us fits of anxiety. The near death of Tormund Giantsbane aka The Wyndham Wizard struck fear in our hearts. Sansa’s final act of sweet vengeance on Ramsey gave us a sense of satisfaction (although it’ll never “make good” on what the writers have done to this character).
And they were able to do this, while recycling storylines we’ve seen numerous times throughout the series — an outside army comes in at the last second to save our heroes. In this episode it happened twice — with the dragons and Dothraki saving Mereen; and with The Vale coming to the aid of The Starks.
The predictability of the episode was smashed by the absolutely phenomenal direction of Miguel Sapochnik. It should come as no surprise that Sapochnik crafted such an amazing episode — he’s the same man responsible for last season’s mind-blowing eighth episode, “Hardhome.” Sapochnik was able to make the battle between The Boltons and Starks convey the same raw, visceral feel of both Braveheart, and Saving Private Ryan. It was real. It was uncomfortable. It was nearly unwatchable — like a real battle. The atmosphere of shear doom, paranoia, claustrophobia, and anxiety he created in the scene is unbelievable. He got you to the point where you believed that Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale weren’t coming.
Great news — Sapochnik is directing this week’s season finale.
This episode showed us how great directorial work can make even the most predictable of scripts become something greater than they really are. Frankly, little if any episode of Game of Thrones‘ has been this intense, this satisfying, and this emotional. It very well could be the series’ best entry to date.