TV REVIEW: Game Of Thrones 6.9 “Battle Of The Bastards”

Warning: major Game of Thrones spoilers below.

Game of Thrones 6.9

It’s time to throw down.

Round 1: Daenerys Targaryen vs Tyrion Lannister

I think my crystal ball must be broken. Or perhaps, like Melisandre, I’ve been staring into the wrong flames. In retrospect it makes perfect sense to hand some of this episode over to the newly-returned Daenerys. It makes sense going in because it once again nods at the ice/fire duality this story loves so much, and because there’s a nice contrast between Jon and Sansa trying to reclaim their home from an invader whilst Dany as invader tries to hold on to the territory she has claimed. Both ultimately win out, as well, which makes this the first episode nine since the show began that concludes with the show’s most sympathetic characters in apparently much stronger positions than they were after episode eight. Neither is an unambiguous victory, actually, but we’ll return to that idea later. In addition to all those parallels, though, it’s also a pretty funny Easter Egg for book readers. For the uninitiated, A Dance With Dragons, the fifth and to date latest entry in the series, is constructed to build up to two very similar battles, one against Ramsay, and one against the reformed armies of the Masters. Only Martin filled the book with so many small-bore subplots and world-building asides that he ran out of space before he could get to them. Sticking Dany’s relief of Meereen and the direwolf’s return to Winterfell (actually where was Ghost?) into the same episode as the season’s peak is therefore cheeky genius. “Boom, George. That’s how it’s done. NEXT.”

Before we delve too greedily and too deeply into Dany’s latest conquest, though, we need to talk about Tyrion. It’s hard to match up his position here with the one he’s taken earlier in the season, like trying to match up two half-finished jigsaws of different cats, only one of them turns out to be an actual cat who just got spayed. Tyrions’ argument about the masters not being able to allow Meereen to succeed actually makes perfect sense, but if that’s his stance, why try to make peace with them in the first place? If we make the entirely reasonable assumption that Tyrion’s plan wasn’t to deliberately drive the city into the ditch, he must have known his efforts would bring events to a head. Or has he only recently reached this revelation? If so it takes one of the smartest characters the show has and makes him painfully stupid for the sake of plot contrivance.

We can load the head-canon easily enough here; maybe Tyrion knew all along that Astapor and Yunkai would break the pact, but figured any period of peace he could buy for Meereen by pretending to be fooled would be worthwhile. The Masters are always overconfident; let them think they have the time they need to build a fleet that will guarantee victory. Every hour they’re building ships rather than unfurling sails is another hour for Mormont and Naharis to return, hopefully alongside their Queen. I’d call that a reasonable strategy, particularly since no-one else had anything approaching a constructive suggestion for an alternative plan (though as I’ve noted, Tyrion didn’t show any interest in canvassing opinion). That idea might seem to jibe with how earnestly he insisted to Missandei and Grey Worm that he truly believed peace was possible, but we have the luxury of being rather more sure of their loyalty than Tyrion is, or can afford to be. And hells, someone in Dany’s command structure seems to be feeding the Harpy information, so it’s not even as though he’s necessarily wrong to keep things from them.

So why all the nervous pleading? Why is he reduced to tongue-tied excuses rather than sober (yes yes, I know) justifications?  My worry here is that Tyrion isn’t being allowed to be as persuasive as he obviously can be, given both his history and his recent calls, because the show-runners don’t want Dany persuaded. This new, darker, more Targaryen Daenerys is what we’ve been building to all season, so Tyrion’s usual rhetorical skills have to be swept aside. And I guess it’s better to see a male character being inconsistently written to facilitate a female character’s plot rather than the other way round, but that doesn’t make the writing particularly good. Note especially the horrible cliche of Tyrion being interrupted by an exploding window just as he’s about to suggest an alternative approach to mass slaughter, and that mere moments after, the show pretends he can’t defend his last attempt at avoiding (or at least delaying) violence. Sure, he gets to mention that Dany’s dad was all about the burning of cities to the ground too (hey, I wonder if all that wildfire reference will get a pay-off next episode), but he’s not allowed to get any real traction on the conversation here. The thumb is on the scale. Tyrion vacillates, but Dany takes action.

Round 2: Daenerys Targaryen vs Slaver’s Bay (Royal Rumble)

Case in point: setting fire to the Master’s ships. Literally fighting fire with fire. Turning the Masters’ destruction back upon them. And obviously, who could deserve it more? Except it’s not just them. How many men on those galleys are slaves, or press-ganged civilians? Their chains weren’t broken; she melted them down whilst they’re still wearing the damn things. Grey Worm at least gets to spare the lives of a dozen or so slave soldiers, just as Tyrion is allowed to save the life of one Master out of three. But Dany? She’s all about the destruction.

Yes, I get that ultimately she must have stopped burning ships, since she apparently has some left to commandeer for the great western invasion. That suggests that come her next revolution, she’ll at least have the sense to leave infrastructure intact… as long as it’s useful to her, anyway. And yes, no revolution, however its aims, has been bloodless; the oppressors always have too much power to allow that to happen. But if you want to write a story about the responsibility of armed revolutionaries for not letting violence spiral out of control, you don’t reach for dragons as a metaphor. And you need to remember that when your gigantic horde of gleeful rapists are charging towards combat, they’re not always going to arrive just too late for any civilians to be left alive to be run down or carry off.

(Who were those people being slaughtered, anyway? The show doesn’t care. They’re just blood-soaked set dressing so we can cheer on the brutal Dothraki screamers without needing to feel conflicted about it).

Still, whilst any theme of the problems inherent of Dany’s “take no prisoners” approach were rather swallowed among the pyrotechnics (which, fair enough, looked gorgeous), they were still there, just underneath the surface. This links it into the second battle of the hour, which also buries too deep its message that an apparent victory might be obscuring profound concerns with the morality and/or effectiveness of the approach used to win it.

It’s time to head north.

Round 3: Sansa Stark vs Ramsay Bolton

First, let me admit that other things happened in this scene as well. I suspect that Ramsay’s strategy for the battle may have been born at this moment – Jon’s smug dismissal of Ramsay as not being able to inspire his men to fight for him may have revealed far more than he intended.

But it’s Sansa who excels here. Who amazes. To not only face her abuser, but to demand proof from him? To look him in the eyes and promise him death?  That is absolutely nothing short of glorious. My standard caveats about being no expert on how abuse survivors behave are as always in place, but to quote a friend of mine on Sansa; this stuff is aspirational.

And Ramsay laughs it off – hells, he looks like he’s turned on by it – because he doesn’t take her seriously. Because he hasn’t realised she’s moved beyond what his perception recognises as her. This will not be the last time this happens here. This will not be the last time someone makes that mistake.

Round 4: Sansa Stark vs Jon Snow

This is where it all begins to goes wrong. That was never in dispute. The only question is whether the tragedy here is born from the characters, or from incompetent writing.

Let’s start with the central problem here and then see how well we can spin our way out of it. It’s not a hard issue to spot or summarise: the battle-planning scene in Jon’s tent concludes with Sansa insisting they should wait for more men, Jon demanding to know where they could find some, and Sansa not telling him thousands of heavily-armoured knights are on their way to support them. She’s specifically counseling him to do something he agrees he would were it was possible, whilst knowing she’s already arranged for it to happen, and yet she doesn’t mention that fact.

Someone has made a colossal blunder here. But who? Inevitably. a lot of people have blamed Sansa here. They always do. It’s probably Sansa’s fault we voted Leave. Sightings of the Lesser-Spotted Jon-Blamer were noticeably rarer, though clearly there’s still a few breeding pairs out there. Still others argue both characters here are such obvious authorial puppets here, in service to so abysmally stupid  a piece of plotting, that yelling at either of them would be like blaming Littlefinger for the fact someone decided to stick Aidan Gillen in the credits and thus remove whatever small surprise the Vale’s cavalry moment might have offered.

None of these positions are completely without merit, but let’s see what we can do to craft a fourth one, which is that both characters were correct from their own perspective, and that therefore the writing was actually entirely serviceable at the very least. First of all, let’s bear in mind that there’s no evidence that Sansa knows Littlefinger is coming at all. We don’t see her receive a raven in response to her earlier letter, and whilst you’d expect someone like her taught to understand the politics and geography of the north to have some idea how long it would take her message to reach Baelish and for him to bring his knights up from Moat Cailin, she can’t possibly be expected to have more than the roughest of ETAs in mind. Furthermore, even if Westeros had iPhones and Baelish had Facebooked her that morning to say “Just five miles out lol xxxxxx”, this is Littlefinger. Does anyone seriously want to argue that Sansa has screwed up by not trusting him to deliver on his promises. Freakin’ really? Do you even watch, bro?

On top of that, we have Jon’s behaviour to consider. Because the weak link here is clearly the commander. It’s almost breathtaking to hear Jon dismiss his opponent as being overconfident literally seconds before announcing he’s fought worse than Ramsay Bolton. You know, the exact same sentiment Osha expressed about ninety seconds before Ramsay murdered her. He even responds to Sansa’s warning about how good Ramsay at laying traps with a petulant flap about whether she was implying his training wasn’t as good as his enemy’s. Dude, you’ve fought two battles, and lost half of them. And even after he admits he should be listening to her, he’s still doesn’t listen to her. He just ignores her at a louder volume. He can’t see she’s moved beyond what his perceptions can recognise as her. If Sansa’s analysis here is that Jon is already dangerously overconfident and offering him the possibility of more troops (and again, a possibility is all it is) would make things still worse, that’s not impossible to understand. I’m not saying Sansa made the right decision. But she didn’t make a stupid one.

That’s Sansa exonerated. What about Jon? It’s easier for me to blame him here, but there are complicating factors that need to be considered. I think Sansa’s reading of Jon here is a reasonable one, as I’ve said, but I also think it’s incorrect. The misreading is understandable; just as at Castle Black, Sansa is struggling to understand just how fundamentally Jon has changed since their days growing up in Winterfell. But I think she sees Jon’s impatience with her as evidence that he’s desperate for this all to reach the bit with sword-fights so he can have his moment of glory. Whereas I think what’s actually going on is that Jon is desperate for all this to be over. Jon quit as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch because he’d had enough; because he’d fought wights in Castle Black and fought Wildlings in the Frostfangs and fought deserters at Craster’s Keep and fought the White Walkers themselves at Hardhome just to get stabbed to death for wanting everyone to get along. The guy is just done.

And yet here he is, campaigning in a war that only needs fighting to make things easier in another war, one he already quit, and because he feels an obligation to help free a brother his own sister tells him is dead no matter what anyway. No wonder he asks Melisandre not to bring him back again. His distemper with Sansa, his insistence that he can win with the forces he has, is because he simply doesn’t have it in him to continue touring the north to hear more of his father’s friends piss on their oaths to him. The future is a wight-strewn nightmare, and now the past is crumbling down as it turns out the united north he grew up in was just a construction of naked political opportunism. And the present? The present is literally a mass of scar tissue where his heart should be.

So no, I don’t think learning of Littlefinger’s relief effort would lead to Jon doing something even more foolhardy and dangerous for the sake of glory. I think it would lead to him quitting again. The entirety of the Vale’s chivalry should be enough to take down Ramsay Bolton, especially since Winterfell has no idea the Eyrie is on the march, and especially since their one minor weakness – the likelihood of them having no infantry support – can be shored up with the men Jon has, and can pass to Sansa. Instead, unaware of that option, he does exactly what Sansa feared he would do, because he’s simply at the end of his rope. So whilst I won’t blame Sansa for her reading of the situation, neither can I hold it against Jon that he desperately needs to believe that this battle must be fought now, and that he can win it.

In short, it all really does hold together. The dramatic irony makes it all terribly frustrating, but it’s all too understandable why the two Stark siblings see and talk past each so much here. And so the stage is set for a bloodbath.

Round 5: Davos vs the laws of probability and meteorology

Television fact: Davos and Tormund are an obvious joy here. “You saw these demons?” is probably the best line in the entire episode spoken by a man. But then we stumble across the pyre alongside Davos, presumably by magic. Or divine providence, I suppose. Does the same god who wants Jon to live also want Davos to extract vengeance for Princess Shireen? Well, maybe. But I think it’s pretty clear it’s the Writing Gods who have brought this about, rather than the red one. Certainly Melisandre probably needs to go for basic structural reasons. Jon is at least potentially unkillable whilst she’s around, and it might not just be him. She might even try to get a resurrection assembly line going. That’s too much power to keep in play. I’m torn between thinking the show will have her decide she’s going to try and resurrect Rickon next episode only for Davos to kill her before she can, and the show just not even bothering to mention the idea of trying to bring him back, because who cares about him now he’s driven the plot forward? Just bury him next to his father and get back on with the brooding.

Whichever deity brought Davos here, though, having him leave camp and just happen to find the pyre reeks of narrative laziness. Worse, it’s narrative laziness atop narrative laziness, because it’s a reminder the whole point of Stannis sacrificing his daughter was that he couldn’t retreat from Winterfell without being unable to get back before the springing of spring. And yet here Jon Snow is, having traveled from the furthest north the north has to its west coast to visit the Mormonts, and to hundreds of leagues east of Winterfell to meet up with the Hornwoods, and west again home. Yes, the northerners will be more skilled at winter travel than Stannis’ forces, but the various scenes in the north this year have contained not a hint of the disastrous incoming weather that forced Stannis’ hand last season. This manages the previously unthinkable trick of making Stannis’ final scenes even worse in retrospect, and to further demonstrate that the killing of Shireen served no larger theme or need. It’s clearer than ever that it was all was just an excuse to do away with Stannis, and later, for Davos to return to his default position of hating the Red Woman rather than (far more interestingly) fearing, respecting, distrusting and needing her all at the same time.

The show that used to pride itself on surprises is now happy to take the most obvious, uninspiring route to wherever it wants to go possible, whenever possible, just so long as someone is hurt in the process.

Round 6: Daenerys Targaryen/Tyrion Lannister vs Yara Greyjoy/Theon Greyjoy (tag-team match)

Foremost and first, I adore the gender politics here. Tyrion’s mockery of Theon is broadly fair enough, perhaps; no-one likes a bully, though you’d hope the man who murdered his ex-lover and his father in the same five minute stretch would be a bit more careful about lecturing people on letting life push them into bad decisions. Either way, though, it’s also a total irrelevance. He’s focusing on the male Greyjoy because he assumes that’s who needs to be dealt with (much as Euron did a few episodes ago). Meanwhile, Dany senses where the real balance of power lies between the siblings, quickly confirms this, and starts negotiating accordingly. Tyrion and Theon almost don’t need to be there at all. They’re useful for providing exposition and information, but they’re not negotiators. They’re not hammering out an alliance that will reshape a continent. That’s women’s work.

Also: Dany flirting with Yara “I’m up for anything, really” Greyjoy? I am so at home for that. Not least because it means Yara offers not just ships, but shipping.

(Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Round 7: Jon Snow vs common sense

We arrive at the battle itself. Let’s start with the obvious; it looks utterly phenomenal, simultaneously beautifully shot and horrifically well-rendered. Spachonik cements his reputation here as an exceptional action director. The long shot of Jon avoiding Ramsay’s cavalry whilst hacking at his infantry is the obvious standout, but really, it’s all A+ stuff, from the technical wizardry of Wun Wun to the mud- and blood-spattered costumes. It also does a very good job at channeling Saving Private Ryan in demonstrating just how appalling an activity warfare really is. The man with both legs chopped off trying to escape the butchery by climbing up a wall of bodies is a particularly harrowing detail, despite him only being on screen for a fraction of a second, and it only gets worse when you realise those kinds of corpse-mounds don’t actually happen naturally unless you’re at a choke-point (thanks to Steven Attewell for pointing that out). That means that Ramsay’s men were under orders to build a wall from dead men whilst they were killing them, which must be a pretty horrendous job even when you aren’t being shot in the face by your own side. Another unpleasant highlight are those moments where Jon and an enemy soldier are trying to stab each other whilst Jon’s own men trample them, until Jon gives up fighting and just tries to breathe. My own issues make that sequence particularly difficult to watch (even thinking about it makes me nervous), but the quality is nonetheless obvious. Death by being accidentally suffocated by your own army is apparently not that uncommon a way to go in battle, either. Plus this feeds into the larger narrative of Jon struggling to keep fighting, how unless he gets the chance to be at peace for a while he’s never going to recover from what’s happened to him. How he just needs it to be done.

So there is a great deal to enjoy here. Obviously, though, there are problems too. One of the biggest is how astonishingly predictable it all is. The instant Ramsay brings out Rickon you know Jon will charge in recklessly, which then means his men will follow him, which in turn means the battle will go against them from the start. Almost immediately then, it’s clear they’ll need rescuing at some point – there’s too much run-time remaining when Rickon is unmasked for the remainder to just be about all of Jon’s men dying and him being captured – and the obvious choice for the cavalry relief is Littlefinger’s literal cavalry. And inevitably, that’s exactly what happens. The only question I had from the moment Ramsay grabbed his bow was whether Wun Wun and Tormund would die in the horror-show that would inevitably follow. Even then, my guess was that Wun Wun would die and Tormund live. Which is exactly what happens. Again, a show once all about subverting expectations is now perfectly willing to just serve up the obvious and hope it looks cool enough for the action fans, bloody enough for grimdark aficionados, and booby enough for people afraid to search for porn on Google.

The loss of Wun Wun is a case in point. Just who else was ever going to be for the chop? Melisandre’s actions meant both Jon and Davos couldn’t die, since she’d resurrect the former and the latter needed to live long enough to have words with her about a sinister but remarkably magnetic funeral pyre. That really only left those from north of the Wall, and someone on Jon’s side had to die to sell how awful war is etc. etc. So why kill Wun Wun and not Tormund? The answer is obvious; it’s because people like Tormund more than they do Wun Wun. I have a lot of side-eye for those people claiming Wun Wun wasn’t a character people care about because he didn’t say much (it’s four episodes since Hodor died and the internet almost washed itself away in an omni-directional tear-storm; popular doesn’t have to mean chatty), but he clearly had nothing like the fan support Tormund enjoys. Which brings up an interesting question: when was the last time the show killed off someone the fans were really into? I’ve mentioned Hodor (and at the risk of contradicting myself in adjacent sentences, that was at least as much down to the circumstances of his end as who he was as a person) but who else? I’ve not come across anyone who gave a damn about the Martell men post-Oberyn, Roose Bolton was roundly hated, and neither Rickon nor the Blackfish had even been seen in three years. So it’s what; Stannis? Maester Aemon? Ser Barristan?

It’s been a while, is what I’m saying.

With there being nothing in the way of twists in the road, then, the admittedly sublime visuals are all the show has to distract us from how outrageously foolish Jon Snow’s one-man charge into battle seems. And I say “seems” deliberately, because I’m not sure that’s how I would describe. As I said above, Jon here is clearly desperate to get out of this war. I’m not sure suicide would be his first choice (though those like Abigail Nussbaum who have argued he is suicidal put forward some pretty convincing arguments), but he’s clearly struggling with some fairly profound psychological problems which no-one has picked up on, save Sansa, whose reaction was to draw further away. I think a mix of those issues with the added strain of seeing his youngest sibling killed causes a break, removing as it does the one immediate, tangible reason Jon had to fight this war in the first place beyond vengeance. It kicks his need to get everything finished into overdrive, so he does the same to his horse. That only counts as foolish if you assume Jon cares if he lives, and cares how this battle eventually shakes out. In that moment I don’t believe either is true.

So it’s not foolish. What it is, is selfish. Jon knows his men will follow him; he made a point of smugly bragging about it in front of Ramsay*. He knows standing firm is the only real chance he has of keeping the twenty-four hundred or so men under his command alive, and he tosses that away. And I have a big problem with that for two reasons. The first is that once again the show is using the horrible death/maiming of multiple people to boost tragedy levels, but without any real interest in the actual people so discarded (I refer you back to the massacre outside Meereen earlier in the episode). Even if Jon had expressed horror at what he had done, at the loss of so many nameless soldiers, this would bother me, because that would basically be shovelling people onto the pyre of his self-absorbed man-pain, however understandable that pain might be. But we don’t even get that. Apparently, we’re just supposed to be delighted to see the Bolton banners replaced with the Stark direwolf before we skip on to watching Ramsay finally gets his comeuppance.

My second problem is that when you portray a man who’s essentially choosing to get himself killed causing hundreds of other people to die in the process, you’re basically making the strongest possible case for the idea that suicide is a selfish act. By that I mean they’ve concocted a scenario which basically means there is no way not to connect Jon’s death-wish with the sense that his actions are utterly disastrous for thousands of people and he apparently doesn’t care. The link is inescapable. And I am completely and utterly not OK with that. I get incredibly twitchy around the idea that we should push a line that suicide is selfish, because to my mind all that does is make people with suicidal tendencies feel even worse, since now they have an extra layer of guilt piled on top of them. The suggestion that when someone is so totally without hope, so completely beaten down by life, so utterly and indescribably damaged and bleeding and choking from the awfulness of their existence we might be able to keep them alive through emotional blackmail is not one I can come close to signing off on.

I grant that you can easily read this episode as having nothing to do with any kind of suicidal impulse from Jon. That you can just work from the principle that he was a complete and utter idiot here. Which, fine. It’s kind of an insult to the intelligence of the viewer that way, I think, but fine. That may even be better than the alternative. Either way, it’s time for our final bout.

Round 8: Sansa Stark vs Ramsay Bolton (rematch)

Isn’t it amazing how many people are experts on how women should treat their domestic abusers whenever fictional survivors get a chance to extract a measure of payback? “She’s stooped to his level!” they wail, gnashing their teeth and rending their garments. “Can’t she see that means Ramsay has won?”

Well, I’m going to go a different way. I’m going to take the position that I cannot possibly comment on whether a woman looking at the man who imprisoned, raped and beat her (as well as killing her youngest brother and stealing her family home after his dad stabbed her oldest brother) and enjoying him be torn apart by dogs should cause me concern. I entirely lack the experience or knowledge to meaningfully talk about that. There is way too much commentary on the internet right now about how this proves Ramsay was right, and there is a part of him that lives on in Sansa. Which might be true, for all that it clearly didn’t actually do him any good. But my immediate response to this is “So what”? Sansa’s life has been forever transformed by the horrors she had to live through. Whatever she makes of her future, it will be one upon which her trauma cannot not intrude. Who knows how many triggers she will now have to deal with? How many mental and physical health issues her captivity has resulted in that Westeros medicine cannot possibly cope with, even if it were inclined to? And you want me to be concerned about whether she’s acting like her dead husband?

No. Never. Not at all. Nooope. The last thing Sansa as a character needs or deserves is for us to view her exclusively or even primarily in terms of her similarities to her abuser. It’s just one more way of making her story all about men. Of failing to write about how physical sexual trauma actually affects those who survive so that instead you can latch on to some tired cliche about a survivor becoming their abuser. A rapist tells his victim he’ll always be a part of her and we’re supposed to think that’s how it probably works? I’m not sure that’s a good idea. These people aren’t supervillains, and we do the world no favours pretending otherwise.

In fairness, I can see why so many people have reacted this way. Given this episode began with the all-new, all murderous Dany, and continued into Jon’s horrific blunder, the idea that Sansa’s revenge-by-dog is a problematic victory might well be what the show is trying to suggest. But the show has suggested other things we should summarily reject – saving a woman from rapists is a good way to get laid, for instance. Besides, we could just as easily consider this a mirror of Dany and Yara’s pact instead, an announcement that the vicious egomaniac men who once controlled the world are finally on the way out. Aerys was stabbed by his own bodyguard, Balon and Tywin by their own kin, and now Ramsay is torn apart by his own hounds, with this episode referencing each of the first three characters before showing the fate of the fourth. “They were loyal”, Sansa says, but sooner or later, the mistreatment became too much, and someone took them out. We can focus on the method of death if we want (and note that Sansa, having watched her father decapitated with his own executioner’s sword, decides Ramsay too should die by his own method of killing). But I think going forward it makes much more sense to consider what their end allows to happen, which is  that women who actually give a damn get to take over. Well, Yara might not actually give that much of a damn yet, but there’s time for that to change. She has a queen to charm, after all.

Anyway, that’s the reading I’m holding on to. The one where this episode shows victory for the better side at every point. Sure, the way both battles are conducted means those victories are far from untarnished, and I hope that’s fully delved into in later episodes. But the Starks have Winterfell back. Danaerys has her ships. The Ironborn may finally give up on millennia of rape and pillage (though we’ll have to see how many of them will be willing to follow the Greyjoy banner now it’s emblazoned with the words “I guess we do sow now”). And Sansa gets to choose how she wants to move on from what Ramsay did to her. The past was a bloodbath, the future is uncertain. But the present, for this one moment, is brighter than it has been in a long time.

: 4/5

Reviewer: Ric Crossman
*As I’ve said, that’s probably what gave Ramsay his plan in the first place. Use Rickon as bait to trap Jon, and use Jon as bait to trap his army. Pretend to be impressed by Jon’s rhetorical move whilst twisting it to his own advantage. Something to point out the next time you see someone complain that Ramsay shot Rickon rather than just going for his big brother.

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