Winners and losers from Sunday’s penultimate episode of season 6 of Game of Thrones. And at the end we rank our top 11 battle scenes of all time.
Winner: Lyanna Mormont
The Battle For Winterfell (aka Battle of the Bastards) is one of the greatest battle sequences ever filmed (see below) — and possibly the best ever filmed for television. But even though the action was superb (especially that guy with no head who rode past Jon Snow), my vote for greatest moment goes to Lady Mormont. When Snow and his leaders met with Ramsay Bolton and his contingent the day before the battle to agree to terms, the 10-year-old leader of Bear Island sat on her horse in the background, flashing sass face and shooting eye daggers at Ramsay’s men. If she had been in charge, the Starks wouldn’t have needed the Knights of the Vale at all. She may be the best character of Season 6.
Loser: Jon Snow
Speaking of being in charge, Jon Snow sucks at it. Oh, it’s all fun and games when you’re dropping rocks on wildlings and mammoths from the top of a giant ice wall. But out on the battlefield you need cunning, strategy and about a gallon of Hannibal blood in your veins. Here are Jon Snow’s key mistakes:
* Not listening to Sansa while making his battle plans. She was literally married to Ramsay, and knows how he thinks — telling Jon “Do not fall for his traps, especially the Battle of Cannae envelopment ploy.” So of course Jon gets surrounded with the Battle of Cannae envelopment ploy. Sansa: “Goddamn it. Let me go find Littlefinger.” (Rides off).
* Thinks charging the entire cavalry by himself is a good idea.
* Does not equip Wun-Wun with any kind of weaponry. A tavern door for a shield? Tree trunk? Rock? Anything?
* He could have utilized Alexander the Great’s strategy at the Battle of Gaugamela against the Persians by placing his infantry at oblique angles on the ends in order to prevent any flanking maneuvers by Ramsay’s soldiers. Then, following his giant in a power wedge formation, he could go up the middle and get to Ramsay himself. Instead he was buried by his own men and couldn’t breathe.
Jon Snow’s strategy and tactics at the Battle of Winterfell earns: Three sassy faces.
Not many are asking the really important question: where was Jon Snow’s Direwolf during this battle? A giant, aggressive wolf would have been helpful. In an interview with Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos Seaworth) by the BBC, he said that Ghost was kept safely back at The Wall because he wouldn’t have been much help in that kind of a battle. But director Miguel Sapochnik said that Ghost had indeed been part of his plan for the battle scene. But … “Direwolf effects are extremely costly and time consuming,” he told Esquire. “It came down to the budget. It was either have a Direwolf or have a giant. We chose the giant.”
So viewers were spared seeing another Direwolf in peril, and Ghost lives to enjoy his kibbled in Winterfell.
Loser: The Masters
Masters: “Ha Daenerys we beat you. Also there’s no Uber here, so walk home.”
There’s nothing like needing ships to implement your plan for world domination, and have them delivered right to your door. Plus, many of them are equipped with catapults — just the things for bombing King’s Landing back to the Stone Age. If Stannis had those at the Battle of the Blackwater this series would have been over two years ago.
And no one noticed I guess, but Daenerys’ invasion of Westeros has technically already begun. She’s conquered the Iron Islands without leaving her living room. One down and six to go.
Winner: Wun Wun
The giant’s death is not only bad news for GOT fans, but for NY Giants quarterback Phil Simms in particular. The character was named for Simms — whose number 11 (one one) was the inspiration for the giant’s name. George R.R. Martin is a big NY Giants fan, you see.
Wun Wun was pretty much finished when he went to his knees after busting down the gates of Winterfell in the final battle sequence. But his was a noble death. As the last of his kind, his race went out in glory — not at home on his enormous Beautyrest Posturepedic mattress. He’s like a brave, historic pin cushion. Let’s drink a toast to this awesome CGI hero, and imagine what it would have been like if Cersei got her trial by combat, and the High Sparrow was able to use Wun Wun as his champion to fight The Mountain.
Loser: Rickon Stark
Rickon could have made it big in the pros, but he runs terrible routes. And he admits it himself.
Had a good run #shouldazigzagged
— Art Parkinson (@art_parkinson) June 20, 2016
There’s this movie from 1964 called “Run of the Arrow,” in which a man in the old West is given a chance to escape if he can run across an open field and avoid arrows shot by the Apaches. Sound familiar? I forget what he actually did to get away, but whatever it was Rickon obviously didn’t do it.
What I would have done in Rickon’s place is kick Ramsay in the balls and take off … making a hard left to hide behind one of the Burning Man crosses, waiting for Jon to get to me. So anyway, another toast: To Rickon. You didn’t have a line of dialogue since Season 3, and now you’re gone. But … you’re still alive in the books! So there’s that.
Loser: Ramsay Bolton
Who remembers earlier this season, when Roose Bolton warned his son about his psychotic behavior by saying:
“If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog you’ll be treated as a mad dog — taken back to be slaughtered for pig feed.”
So then, I guess we could have alternately titled this section Winner: Winterfell Pigs.
Jon Snow nearly beat Ramsay to death with his bare hands, but then realized that he was Sansa’s to kill. And so the little psycho was tied to a chair in the kennel, surrounded by his loyal hounds. RAMSAY: “My hounds will never harm me.” SANSA: “But they haven’t been fed in seven days. You said it yourself.” To hounds who already have a highly developed taste for blood, Ramsay must have looked and smelled like he was slathered in barbecue sauce. What are the odds of two kids from the same family being eaten by dogs in separate incidents? Astronomical.
Please join us next week when we’re back to discuss the season finale, The Winds of Winter.
And below please check out our list of the 11 top battle scenes ever filmed for movies or TV. Rules: No science fiction. And only one battle per movie/TV franchise. We wish you good fortune in the wars ahead.