Every week, the ladies of Fusion will join together to discuss HBO’s Game of Thrones, which—with its graphic sex and over-the-top violence—is considered by some to be the most masculine show on television. Today, political reporter Katie McDonough and culture reporters Kelsey McKinney and Tahirah Hairston tackle the ninth episode of season six, “Battle of the Bastards."
In this week’s episode (SPOILERS): Jon Snow goes into battle unprepared because that's just how men do, Sansa saves his ass and gets the sweet revenge we've been rooting for all season, Yara Greyjoy and Khaleesi team up to make our misandrist dreams come true, and key differences over hotness almost tear the all-ladies roundtable apart.
Kelsey: So in the past, I have thought the battle scenes were incredibly boring and not suspenseful at all. But this week? I loved it!
Katie: I was so stressed out during the battle scene that I was actually relieved when my wifi froze. I needed those breaks.
Tahirah: This battle scene was top notch. They got their shit together. I was so nervous I kept pausing. Mostly worried for Tormund, tbh.
Katie: But it was kind of a fake out in terms of stakes. I really thought the Battle of the Bastards (related: rude) would have killed off a few more of our favorites, but the only big death was Rickon and tbh who cares about fucking Rickon. Actually, the giant died. That was sad as hell.
Tahirah: I was sad, his death was epic.
Kelsey: My favorite part of this episode was when Sansa was like, “Listen, I don’t know shit about battles, but Rickon is basically already dead." But I agree with you Katie, I felt literally nothing about Rickon’s death except annoyance at Jon Snow, my #1 emotion.
Tahirah: I wasn’t too emotional. I was like, "Oh great, the brother I know nothing about, not hot Robb Stark who I almost cried over."
Katie: There were also some parallels between Sansa's warning to Jon Snow about Ramsay's capacity to manipulate and Grey Worm's warning to Tyrion, a few episodes back, about making deals with slavers.
Tahirah: Evil people will always be evil. There is no making deals with them.
Katie: And both turned out to be entirely right, and would have been lost if not for a surprise show of brutal force at the end. For Tyrion, it was the return of Dany and her dragons that saved Meereen from the slavers' attack. For Jon, it was Sansa making a deal with the Vale and Little Finger that won the battle.
Kelsey: Yes! Also, to be honest, I thought Jon Snow was gonna die when he was getting trampled! And for THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I felt a little sad about his potential death.
Katie: I honestly wanted him to go that way! Not because I have Snow bloodlust like you, Kelsey, but because there would have been something so mundane about his death. Not glamorous war, just the panic and frenzy of that kind of violence.
Tahirah: There are a couple things I both loved and hated about Jon Snow this episode. I think him actually fighting in the battle versus Ramsay showed his ability to be a leader who doesn’t rule from his high horse. And him getting trampled and not being able to breathe was a great, great, great, great scene. That was a great shot for a battle scene, what it’s like to be trampled under dead bodies. No one can hear or help you.
Kelsey: Yes! There were also so many shots of this battle from behind Jon Snow’s head and from his perspective that I thought were very effective. There was obviously a lot of gore in the battle, but I felt like the perspectives of the cameras in this battle were much more interesting and intentional than in the past.
Tahirah: I do like how Jon gave Sansa that knowing look when he was about to murder Ramsay after the Boltons lost the battle. It was a face like: You know what this isn’t even my life to take.
Katie: Yes, so they store Ramsay away with his hounds so that Sansa can have the last word. That scene was also super well done. The line: "They were loyal, then you starved them." A total encapsulation of Ramsay's strategy of ruling through terror, and how that strategy can fail you the second you lose your grip on the people. Then the smile Sansa gives as she walks away from Ramsay while he's being eaten by his own dogs.
Tahirah: THE SMILE. It’s so rare that a person who deserves revenge gets it
Katie: I was surprised by how bloodthirsty I was last night. When the dogs started licking Ramsay's face while Sansa watched on I was seriously bouncing in my seat, pounding my fist into my hand like, Yeah get it!
Tahirah: I was clapping! Ramsay didn’t deserve to lead.
Katie: He was a shitty leader, but also a shitty character. He was one dimensional cruel. I was over it a season ago. Now he's Alpo. Good.
Tahirah: Yes, when he brought out Rickon first. I was like whoopie doo. Didn’t see this coming. That’s what Sansa was trying to tell Jon. He’s predictably evil. So, don’t expect decency or fairness.
Katie: Also I obviously don't know what it's like to run from an arrow, but, uh, Rickon, maybe try zigging and zagging a little? Coulda helped you, bro. One woman's opinion.
Kelsey: YES! Katie I said that too. Like why on earth would you run in a straight line?
Tahirah: I really love that Sansa came in like a knight in shining armor. I hate that she came with conniving Little Finger. He definitely wants something in return. Even though he owed Sansa this. He’s the worst type of ally to have. Actually, I think Sansa should kill Little Finger next. It’s his time. He hasn’t grown as a character at all.
Kelsey: Little Finger has more power than I can possibly understand since he does not seem to have ANYTHING going for him.
Katie: Sansa should kill Little Finger. He was responsible for marrying Sansa off to Ramsay when he knew how sadistic he was. He should get it next.
Kelsey: Tahirah you should be a writer on Gamer of Thrones. That’s a great idea.
Katie: Yes, @GameofThronesWritersRoomBoss, please hire Tahirah. But also let her keep her job here. We like her!
Tahirah: Please hire me so that I can date Tormund.
Katie: The alliance of the ladies? Another moment in which I found myself punching my fist into my hand. It's the Game of Thrones-watching move I do when I get excited.
Tahirah: Women saved every man’s ass this episode.
Kelsey: There is no person I like more on this show right now than Yara Greyjoy. First, her pants looked great and she looked strong and hot. Second, I loved her line about marriage and her willingness to align herself with Khalessi.
Katie: Yes, she is legit! When Dany was like, "So your uncle would come here offering ships and demanding marriage, and you're not?" And Yara was like, "Hey I'm open for whatev." I was like, Uh, yes, Yara. Yes.
Tahirah: I like that Yara's only motive is to rule the Iron Islands. She’s upfront and honest. That’s what I love about her.
Katie: Rule the Iron Islands and kill bad uncles. Which, good. Kill your bad uncle who looks like Ewan McGregor if he was left in a bowl of water overnight.
Tahirah: Yara was telling Dany like, "Listen I know your daddy was terrible, me too. Let’s be friends and rule together." And I’m like DO IT.
Kelsey: I thought that was a very important Father’s Day moment, when Yara and Dany were both like, “Our fathers were terrible."
Katie: On the topic of parenting: Wasn't the whole issue with Khaleesi's dragons that she was losing control of them and so they had to get locked up and scattered? Now all of a sudden they are super well trained dragons with precision fire skills. Dany is like, "Uh, burn this ship. Now this ship. Now this ship!" And they're like, "OK cool here we are we are good at this."
Kelsey: Maybe their time out worked Katie!
Katie: They went to their room and had time to think about what they did. The Mother of Well Behaved Dragons.
Tahirah: Dany should be on the next cover of Parents magazine, tbh. Also, can we talk about her exchange with Tyrion? How Tyrion is always ready to compromise nad negotite, but Dany is like, No sometimes you have to be a little mad. I think that’s the only thing that works with the slave masters.
Katie: I loved that exchange though I generally do not like it when men give women advice on this show because the advice is reliably terrible. But Tyrion was like, hey, maybe don't kill everyone. And I was like OK that is chill advice.
Tahirah: Tyrion was like, your father was mad. Don’t be like him. But, Dany is taking the best parts of his madness, and using them for good.
Katie: But honestly when Dany and Yara were saying that their fathers ruled and left the world worse than they found it but that they would rule and make the world better than they found it, I was super suspicious. There is no just rule on the throne. That shit must be destroyed. Which is why, even though I love the idea of Dany taking over the world, I am much more down with the no gods no masters thing that Jon Snow has going with his crew. No kings, just killing the White Walkers.
Kelsey: I think Dany is slowly becoming the perfect villain: a charismatic leader we think we want, but who truly wants power and without trusted/good advisors will create havoc. That said, I still want her on the throne, and I want Jon Snow dead. I don’t care about his new policies. Jon Snow would get assassinated in three seconds.
Tahirah: He is not fit to rule. But he is fit to lead in combat. I kind of like Dany as a villain though. I like that’s she not this perfect mother after all.
Katie: Yes, I definitely think it's good storytelling to watch this potential transformation. Or maybe she comes to the edge of villainy and then steps back. Either way I'm down to watch.
Tahirah: I think her being slightly obsessed with power makes her a real person.
Katie: And there's a layer to it with Dany that doesn't exist for the others. It's as if she's obsessed with power because she'd been denied the very possibility all her life because she's a woman. Now that she is building it, I can see her feeling like she needed all the power just to be sure she's never back in that helpless position again. Fucking patriarchy.
Tahirah: Yep, she’s obsessed with power because it’s proven time and time again that men underestimate her and then when she unleashes her power they bow down, as they should.
Katie: Controversial opinion but I would be down to put Ramsay on the Iron Throne of Hotness.
Kelsey: NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.
Tahirah: NO NO NO NO. I VOTE HELL NO. Ramsay is where I draw the line.
Katie: RUDE FINE UGH. But like, free your minds ladies. He was a little hot. Just his face. Not the shit he did!
Kelsey: I will not Katie. Ramsay was not hot.
Katie: What if this becomes like Game of Thrones and we have all these competing claims to the Iron Throne of Hotness! I'm gonna start a a war to put dead Ramsay Bolton on the Hot Throne.
Kelsey: Katie you are v gross please never speak of this to me again.
Tahirah: I nominate Sansa.
Katie: I'd back a Sansa reign on the Throne of Hotness.
Tahirah: It was very hot how she took control.
Kelsey: I agree. She basically won the battle. And got revenge.
Katie: Peace at last! The all-ladies Game of Throne roundtable survives another round!
Tahirah: She’s the real hero here.
Kelsey: Praise you, hot Sansa.
Katie: The fur looks good on you.
Kelsey: The fur and the fury.