Spoilers will be let loose.
There’s no way to sweet coat this one. Jon Snow still knows nothing about fighting dirty. Luckily for him and most of his surviving forces, Sansa has not forgotten the harsh and violent lessons of her life. Jon and his advisors might know about battle tactics as much as any general, but they’re completely at a loss when Ramsay chooses to play dirty… And almost wins. Here’s where the show deviates from its harsh, unforgiving odds. Jon doesn’t have an advantage. He has very little trickery on his side. The erratic brutality of the wildlings. The giant Wun Wun. And Sansa’s letter to Littlefinger, which will be the tide to change the battle. Jon might be a closer to a general than Sansa is, but Sansa has come to know political scheming can turn a battle just as Ramsay Bolton knew that in order to make Jon lost his cool he had to use Rickon. And so, Sansa was correct. Rickon was going to die one way or another.
In the end, the forces flying under the Stark banner use every single ace they had and one they didn’t know they had. Their few numbers become almost extinct. Sansa’s opportune letter brings Littlefinger and the forces of The Vale to finish off the almost victorious but still seriously battered Boltons. Wun Wun makes the difference in breaking down the gates of Winterfell. With every little scrap of luck, Jon Snow makes it through consecutive volleys of arrows, fights impossible odds with his sword and in a climatic ending that had us breathless knocks the crap out of Ramsay Bolton.
But in case you think that the show was going to subject us to Ramsay taunting everyone from a cell, Sansa cleans up the mess by leaving Ramsay tied up in the kennel where his own dogs dispose of him. And we wonder, did Ramsay had to d- YES HE HAD TO DIE. END OF STORY. If you leave a man as hard to kill and who kills just as easily, he would have come back for you. If this was a test, Jon barely makes a passing grade while Sansa aces it. The answer is simple, you had to cheat better than your opponent.
On the other side of the world, Daenerys is in command again. Everything happens a little too quick here for which I’m grateful because Meereen has been stale on actual development for a while. With the dragons returning and obeying Dany, the new alliance with Yara and Theon Greyjoy and finally the Dothraki making it to the gates, Meereen is secure. Although I don’t see the dragons behaving and the Dothraki might not be easy to get along inside walled cities. To tell you the truth, the battle for Meereen is bigger in scale than the one for Winterfell, yet we’re so much more engaged with the North than with Daenerys at this point.
- Jon is great at what he does. Hint, it’s not scheming. It’s fighting the odds and making it alive. His tactics are fair, but his expectations are naive. Fortunately for him, Sansa is even better as what she does, which IS scheming. She manages to turn to the tide. Yes, the work from Jon and the lives of his army battered the Boltons, but the tide was not turned without Littlefinger’s forces.
- The surprise this episode is that by Game of Thrones standard, Ramsay had the battle. Jon didn’t deserve to win. Sansa gave him the victory at the last minute. Sansa really won this one. To repeat myself: if this was a test, Jon barely makes a passing grade while Sansa aces it.
- Thank you, Wun Wun. There was no way that Winterfell, the Starks, or the audience were going to stand for a prolonged siege.
- Also, how the hell did Jon survive all that? A trap, arrows, people and horses coming at him, people piling on him and still he had the energy to go against Ramsay. Jon wouldn’t cheat so Sansa cheats for both of them. Jon should be happy that Sansa is on his side. Yes, Jon does all the heavy lifting but how exactly he manages to survive everything thrown at him is nothing short of a miracle.
- Ser Davos gets a small moment where he discovers the pyre and his last gift to Shireen, burn for the glory of the Lord of Light and a battle against the Boltons that he never won. Is it wrong that now I want him to forgive Melisandre just because she’s on the side of the Starks?
- I loved the looks between Daenerys Targaryen and Yara Greyjoy. After all, they both have their parallels. Although Yara is more than hesitant in abandoning the way of pillage, razing and raping that seems to define the Ironborn.
- The Stark banner flies in Winterfell again. It just took six seasons.
- The season finale is up next week.
That will do for now.