TV Shows

Game of Thrones – “Battle of the Bastards” (Season 6, Episode 9)


Oh hey, look, it’s episode 9 of a season of Game of Thrones! Can you guess what that means? It means we’re going to have a big battle! Isn’t it all getting a little predictable now?

Here’s a thought I had while watching the Dany/Tyrion scene: Despite all the superficial “women empowerment” BS on this show, almost every woman in power has to seek a man’s approval before doing something. Now, hold on, I know what you’re going to say. Tyrion’s her adviser! She has to listen to him! Well, yeah, okay, but here’s the problem: Dany’s character hasn’t progressed one iota in the last several seasons. What exactly has she learned, really? Her biggest moment this season was just a retread of her season 1 ending. She’s got to the point that she now has to hear even from Tyrion that her father was the Mad King and so she should just dial it down a bit. Tyrion meanwhile has been growing more and more one-dimensional with each passing season to the point where he’s grown plot armor so thick he can go have a nice little chat with the dragons while the MOTHER of dragons can’t seem to control them – well, except when she suddenly can because hey it’s almost episode 9 and we need a battle! So to hell with character consistency, plot development, all those idiotic things. Remember the last time we saw Rhaegal and Viserion, Dany had chained them up because they were getting out of control. She also couldn’t control Drogon, not perfectly, and couldn’t really get him to do what she wanted. Then all of a sudden he just appears out of nowhere, she’s now able to fly him perfectly, and the other two dragons obey her as well (and evidently they were just waiting for her despite having been unchained by Tyrion – so much for all that stuff about them having killed a child).

This is the problem with trying to stick to this episode 9 formula. The writers tend to force events and nonsensical character motivations because they want to get from point A to point B and they don’t care how squiggly the line between those points is. It’s the only way to explain Sansa’s “betrayal” of Jon – I mean, this was the first real interaction of any kind that they had on this show and one of the first things she does is get manipulated by Littlefinger into lying to Jon, withholding crucial information about an army even at the eleventh hour when she could have saved lives. Remember when it seemed like she might be growing as a character. She was someone who was initially just one of the most naive characters in the show. Then they fast-forwarded through that with Darth Sansa (Sansa suddenly dressing in black and acting all bad ass), then they’ve been regressing her with every subsequent episode. She was supposed to be learning how to play “the game” but the most she’s accomplished is that she’s gotten good at getting played. Obviously, the writers just wanted the big “reinforcements arrive in the nick of time” moment (which is again a retread of Stannis’ arrival at the end of Storm of Swords, which they botched in season 4) so they do whatever they can to get to that point. But hey, she got back at her rapist in a nice scene of audience pleasing revenge porn ultimately so I guess that counts as character development?

That ending scene honestly disgusted me and was easily one of the lowest low points of the show for me. If anyone had any doubt that this show panders to the lowest common denominator, then this scene should remove all doubt. Ramsay gets a suitably brutal death and Sansa walks away smiling. I imagine a lot of people whooped and cheered for this. To me, though, it’s clear they have no idea what they’re doing with Sansa. She’s written like three different ways, sometimes within the same scene, and she’s this season’s Stannis in terms of a character they’ve botched (but her case is much, much worse than Stannis’).

The battle itself was dull and plodding. After all that hype, it was just as incomprehensible as any other battle or fight scene on this show. I was left wondering: This is it? This is the best this show can do? There was a good 2 or 3 minute segment in the battle where had literally no idea what was going on. I know what you’ll say, that’s the point! Well, it is and it isn’t. There’s a difference between depicting chaos and simply being chaotic in your filmmaking. The battle was a mess of random low-angle shots and quick editing. Even in a battle like the opening battle from Saving Private Ryan which is meant to be pure chaos – Spielberg manages to film it with such remarkable clarity that you can always tell who’s where, who’s going where, which direction, where are they standing, etc. I had absolutely no idea what was happening with Jon here at one point, who was fighting whom, it all just blended together into one massive grey blob of incoherence.

In any other review I would have spent time picking apart little details like Davos finding Shireen’s toy stag in the snow after all this time. It would have been hilarious to me, unintentionally of course, but I didn’t laugh once in this episode. I couldn’t find even unintentional entertainment here. This bloated, messy, lifeless episode just left me drained of all energy and the will to live. Well, okay, no, not really, that last part… but it’s definitely made me realize my priorities and honestly, while this show was never high among them, I just don’t have the time or inclination to continue watching this show anymore, so after this season’s finale, I’m done. I don’t care anymore. This was easily the worst episode of the show, by far.

Grade: D


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