(WARNING: The following contains giant, Wun Wun-sized plot SPOILERS for the most recently screened episode of 'Game of Thrones' — Season 6, Episode 9. Proceed with whatever level of caution your friendly neighborhood Three-Eyed Raven suggests is wise.)
Last week's episode of Game of Thrones may have brought us one of the more cheer-worthy moments of the show's sixth season — a girl is, after all, Arya Stark of Winterfell — but that didn't stop the latest (ninth) episode of the show from both attempting to top it, and successfully throwing so much unutterable horror against our eyeballs that we may never truly be able to experience true joy again.
In other words, "The Battle of the Bastards" was pretty much everything we expected, and more. Here, then, are...
Seven Things You Might Have Missed On Game Of Thrones Season 6, Episode 9
Other than the creeping feeling of existential dread that may well have crept over you as those battle scenes reinforced the notion that life is — all too often — nasty, brutish and short. It's like Arya's Braavos plotline all over again.
1. Wildfire (And The Mad Queen)
If you weren't already convinced by last week's episode that Cersei Lannister is going to try to blow up everything in next week's season finale, then Daenerys and Tyrion's recap (for any of us who weren't paying attention when it was briefly mentioned ages ago) of the Mad King's ill-advised plot to blow up King's Landing might just have sealed the deal.
That being said, the moment also acted as a reminder of the numerous "Mad Queen" theories that have been making their way around the internet of late. A fate which, it seems, Daenerys may just be set to avoid after all. Mad Queens don't tend to drop gloriously noble-sounding truth bombs like this:
"Our fathers were evil men, all of us here. They left the world worse than they found it. We're going to leave the world better than we found it."
That being said...
2. Dragons On The Loose Raise More Questions Than They Do Answers
It's great that Drogon and pals have finally proven themselves to be genuine military assets and all, but the show still completely failed to show how Daenerys was planning on keeping her newly liberated flying flamethrowers from, y'know, eating her people. Freedom from slavery is likely to feel a lot less free for the people of Meereen if they're constantly being set upon by ravenous dragons, after all.
It's almost as though everyone's favorite Khaleesi hasn't thought through the potential consequences of unleashing a trio of atomic goat eaters onto her own city and, eventually, upon the distinctly prey-looking peasant-filled Westeros. Charming scenes of Daenerys and Yara negoti-flirting aside, an invading army made up of dragons, eunuchs, disillusioned Iron Islanders and a literal horde of seasick Dothraki isn't exactly going to come across as friendly.
"Maybe that was our mistake. Believing in kings." And queens too, perhaps?
3. 'Not Actual Demons'
Davos's point about Stannis not literally being in the possession of demons was well made (albeit arguably incorrect, seeing as he did sort of help to conjure that smoke demon that one time), but it also raised an interesting question about the nature of the otherworldly beings we've seen in Game of Thrones thus far. After all, to the pious likes of most folks in Westeros, the White Walkers — when they inevitably make it south of the wall — will seem an awful lot less like zombies and an awful lot more like ice demons sent by the gods.
For a country riven with religious tension and with conversions to and from the Faith of the Seven, the Old Gods, and of course R'hllor apparently commonplace, there seems a pretty solid chance we'll see the eventual arrival of the White Walkers act as a catalyst for some deeply horrific religious violence. Who else but unbelievers are the likes of the High Septon going to blame for the calamity? A mysterious (and widely believed to be fictional) group of tree people/surprisingly subtle environmentalist allegory, or the heathens living all around them?
4. 'The One We've Got'
A question like: "What kind of god would do something like that?" is rarely one that has a cheerful answer, but Melisandre's response remains particularly gloomy. For a once-zealous priestess of the Red God to have apparently given up her unquestioning faith in favor of a cynical acceptance of R'hllor's cruel and merciless power is, well, a little unnerving, to say the least. When it comes to instilling faith in people who've seen you resurrect dead bastards, a line like...
"I interpret his signs — as well as I can."
...is about as reassuring as a freshly delivered direwolf's head. After all, Melisandre is apparently in possession of the sort of power normally reserved for villains in The Mummy movies, and yet she only seems loosely convinced that she's working in the service of a benevolent god. Perhaps even more worryingly, she doesn't even seem sure that she's picking up his signals correctly, and when it comes to doing unimaginable things in the name of a vengeful fire god, it really does help to get more than just the gist of your dread master's intended plans.
5. Live. Die. Repeat.
I could write several thousand words about how the episode's stunning bastard-based battle sequence was one of the most impressive things I've seen on a television screen in a long, long time, but that would almost be to miss the point. Sure, Jon's catastrophically bad military leadership was visually stunning, but it was also, y'know, catastrophically bad military leadership.
Were it not for Sansa's willingness to actually try to solve problems with her brain, Jon and his entire army would be very, very dead, and Ramsay Bolton would still be rampaging about the North. The episode has a lot of deeply thoughtful and intriguingly complex things to say about the nature of war, death, loss and duty, but few more powerful than one simple truth: Jon Snow may be a hero, but he still knows nothing. Or, at least, a whole lot less than his sister does.
Speaking of which:
6. 'You Can't Kill Me. I'm Part Of You Now.'
Sansa got a lot of the episode's best cheer-inducing lines — "You're going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well." — but it was her words to Ramsay Bolton in the final moments of the episode that will likely live longest in our memories:
"Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear."
Aside from being astonishingly badass in and of itself, that's also just about the best possible response to Ramsay's suggestion that Sansa couldn't kill him, since he was a part of her now. After all, Sansa's heartbreaking line both acknowledges the tragic truth in his statement — she has been forever changed by his actions — and makes it abundantly clear that she has absolutely no intention of being defined by that truth. Or of letting Ramsay live, of course.
7. Wherefore Art Thou, Hound?
Sandor "The Hound" Clegane was on the receiving end of a whole lot of speculation last week, after his meeting with the Brotherhood Without Banners seemed to suggest they'd be heading north, in the direction of Jon Snow and his war against the Boltons.
With that war ended, however (and Clegane still nowhere to be seen), it might just be possible that he persuaded the Brotherhood to take a different path. Clegane Bowl may have been taken off the table by the High Sparrow's elimination of the possibility of a trial by combat, but that doesn't mean we couldn't see Clegane and the Brotherhood invade King's Landing, intending to take out not only Cersei and her faithful Mountain (a.k.a. The Hound's brother and mortal enemy), but the church and monarchy, too. After all, there'd be more than a little poetic symmetry for a man terrified of fire and trying to do good (as The Hound is) inadvertently destroying much of King's Landing with wildfire.
Or, y'know, saving it from said fiery destruction. But this is Westeros, after all.
Before we all head off to weep into the darkness, take a look at this thematically appropriate video. It's pretty much guaranteed to make the night a little less dark and full of terrors:
The big question now?
What do you think?