The siege of Meereen is still going strong, as Daenerys watches from atop the great pyramid. Tyrion desperately tries to convince Dany that everything had been going really well until now. She looks like she isn’t buying it at all, but when Tyrion tells her they are being attacked because the masters can’t allow a free city to succeed, she relents.

Dany tells Tyrion of her plan to annihilate the masters, their forces, and their cities. Tyrion counters this by saying her father, the Mad King, had meant to burn King’s Landing to the ground before Jaime killed him (yet another reference to wildfire/the Mad King/burning King’s Landing…foreshadowing anyone?). He reminds her that she would be killing the innocent along with the guilty and suggests an alternative approach.

Dany and company meet with the masters to discuss terms of surrender, and the masters give them a pretty terrible option that involves handing over the former slaves and killing the dragons (why do I feel like these guys are going to get roasted?). Dany tells the masters they are there to discuss the masters’ surrender, not hers. Drogon arrives – looking intimidating as hell – and Dany climbs on. They fly over the city – observing the destruction – as Viserion and Rhaegal break out of the pyramid to join them (reunited and it feels so good….).

We cut to the Sons of the Harpy murdering the citizens of Meereen, but luckily the Dothraki horde comes to the rescue (even with their masks on you can tell the Harpies are thinking “oh crap”). Dany takes her three dragons out over the enemy fleet, which proceed to rain fire and blood on one of the ships.

Grey Worm talks to the guards protecting the masters, telling them they can stay and die for people who don’t care about them, or they can go home. Wisely, they choose the latter. Tyrion thanks the masters for the ships but reminds them they violated the pact they made with him, and one of them must die for that crime. Two of the masters are quick to throw the third one under the bus, so of course Grey Worm quickly dispatches them. The third is allowed to leave and let the other masters know what happened, and the fate that awaits them should they try to retaliate.

Over in the North, Jon, Sansa, and company parley with Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay is predictably obnoxious, and offers them terms they will never accept. Jon offers to settle things one on one, but Ramsay is smart enough to know that he would never win that fight. The Starks are vastly outnumbered and sure to lose the battle. Jon taunts him by asking if his men will want to fight for him once they find out he wouldn’t do the same.

Ramsay counters by asking if they are willing to let their brother Rickon die. Sansa asks for proof that they have him, and Ramsay produces Shaggydog’s head (shouldn’t that thing have rotted by now?). Sansa tells Ramsay he will die tomorrow and rides away. Ramsay takes one last chance to be awful by telling the rest of them that his dogs are anxious to meet them, and that he hasn’t fed them in seven days.
Jon, Davos, and Tormund discuss battle strategy while Sansa looks on. When the others leave, Sansa derides Jon for not asking her advice, since she knows Ramsay better than any of them. She tells him that Ramsay is cruel, that he lays traps, and that he plays with people. Jon asks what they should do to get Rickon back, and Sansa admits they will never get him back – Rickon is too much of a threat to Ramsay’s rule.

Sansa goes on to say that Ramsay will try to goad him into making a mistake. She says they should have waited until they had more men, to which Jon responds they are lucky to have as many as they do (not sure why she won’t tell him about the Vale soldiers she asked Littlefinger to bring, unless she isn’t sure they will come). Before she leaves, Sansa tells Jon she won’t be taken by Ramsay alive. Jon promises to protect her, but she says no one can protect anyone.

Tormund and Davos talk about the upcoming battle, and the talk turns to Stannis. Davos admits that Stannis wasn’t defeated by the Boltons, but by himself. Tormund says they both believed in kings who failed – Stannis and Mance – and Davos replies that maybe their mistake was believing in kings. Tormund replies that Jon Snow is not a king (nice trolling there, especially if Jon’s parentage is revealed next week).

Jon visits Melisandre (nice to see her again finally). He asks if she has any advice for him, and she bluntly replies, “Don’t lose.” Jon tells her that if he falls in battle, she shouldn’t bring him back. Melisandre can’t promise not to try – she obeys the Lord of Light, not Jon. She says the Lord gave him to her for a reason, and that he has some purpose to fulfill.

Davos is taking a walk in the snow before the battle, and he comes across Shireen’s pyre. The stag he carved for her is lying in the snow. He picks it up and seems to realize what happened to her. This doesn’t bode well for Melisandre.

Back in Meereen, Theon and Yara have arrived and have sought an audience with Daenerys. Tyrion remembers Theon and reminds him of all of the awful things he did. Yara assures Tyrion that Theon has paid for his crimes, but Tyrion retorts that he’s still alive.

Dany interrupts to discuss the ships they brought and what they want in return. Yara tells her they want her support to take back the Salt Throne from their uncle, Euron. Theon tells Dany that Euron is building ships and plans to bring a fleet to her. She asks why she shouldn’t wait for him and is informed he will force her to marry him, then kill her when he has control of the Seven Kingdoms.

Yara asks that the Iron Islands allow to be independent again, and Dany agrees, as long as they end their culture of raiding and pillaging. Tyrion wonders what will happen if all of the kingdoms start demanding independence, and Dany replies that they are free to ask. She says all of their fathers were evil men who left the world worse than they found it, but they are going to leave it better than they found it.

Outside Winterfell, the Stark and Bolton forces face each other across the battlefield; Jon’s army looks dismayed at the sheer number of Bolton soldiers. There are flayed men burning on crosses, and I’m dying to know who they could be. Ramsay rides out with a bound Rickon trailing behind him (thank goodness he isn’t one of the burning men).

Ramsay threateningly holds up a knife, then cuts Rickon’s bonds. Ramsay tells him to run to Jon, as he readies a bow behind him. Jon panics and leaps onto his horse. Arrows land close to Rickon as he runs (swerve, Rickon, swerve – don’t run in a straight line!), and Jon desperately tries to make it to him. Just before Jon can grab him, an arrow pierces Rickon’s chest, and he falls.

Jon stares Ramsay down and forgets Sansa’s advice, as he foolishly charges. The rest of the Stark cavalry is forced to follow. Arrows rain down around Jon (thankfully he is fully encased in Valyrian plot armor), and his horse is struck. Jon is thrown to the ground. Jon pulls out his sword and readies himself to face the Bolton cavalry that is bearing down on him. Things look bleak, but luckily the Stark horsemen crash into the Boltons just before they reach him.

The fighting ensues, and Ramsay orders his archers to fire on the chaos – hitting friend and foe alike. Davos refuses to do the same with his archers, and decides to lead them into the melee instead. Ramsay send the rest of his soldiers into the fray, and they quickly surround the much smaller Stark army. The Boltons form a circle of shields and spears and proceed to close in.

Wun Wun and the wildlings valiantly try to break through the shields, which continue to tighten around them. Tormund sees the pile of bodies and leads his men in that direction, hoping to climb up and away from the spears. Jon is caught in a press of fleeing men and is knocked to the ground – he gasps for breath as he’s trampled under their feet. Finally he manages to get free, as a horn sounds in the distance. It’s Littlefinger to the rescue, with the Vale army in tow. The mounted forces make quick work of the Boltons, and Sansa smiles to see her plan was a success (with Littlefinger smirking smugly at her side).

Jon climbs over the pile of corpses to see Ramsay surveying the carnage. As Jon takes off after him with Tormund and Wun Wun, Ramsay bolts for the safety of Winterfell. He reaches the castle and secures the gate, saying the Starks don’t have enough men for a siege. Maybe not, but they do have a giant, and Wun Wun quickly breaks through (looking rather unfortunately like a pincushion with the number of arrows that have been shot into him). Ramsay finishes him off with an arrow through the eye, and challenges Jon to one on one combat (oh so now he thinks it’s a good idea. Ha).

As Ramsay fires off arrows, Jon picks up a shield and charges. Jon reaches him and proceeds to give Ramsay a very satisfying beat down. Jon only stops when he sees Sansa arrive – he must be planning to let her decide his fate.

At last, Winterfell belongs to the Starks again. The Bolton banners are torn down, and the Stark banners are raised in their place. Melisandre stands on the ramparts, just as she saw in the flames. Davos looks up at her, his hatred clearly written on his face. If looks could kill, his would have thrown her off the wall to smash onto the courtyard.

Sansa and Jon look at Rickon’s body, and Jon says they will bury him in the crypts, next to their father (perhaps he will discover something meaningful while he’s down there? Pretty please?). Sansa asks Jon where Ramsay is being held. The scene cuts to a bloodied Ramsay tied to a chair. He wakes to see Sansa staring at him through an iron gate. Ramsay taunts her by saying she can’t kill him, that he’s a part of her now. Sansa replies that everything about him and his house will disappear, and we realize Ramsay is locked in the kennel.

Ramsay’s dogs walk out of their open cages, and he is confident they won’t harm their master. Sansa reminds him that he hasn’t fed them in seven days, and they are starving. One of the dogs licks the blood off of Ramsay’s face, then proceeds to take a bite. As they rip into him, we hear him scream. Sansa walks away with a satisfied smile on her face.

Wow – that was amazing, continuing the trend of the epic ninth episode every season. Minor nitpicks include predictability (was anyone actually worried Jon would die?), Sansa continuing to keep secrets, and Littlefinger being the one to save the day. I hate Sansa being obligated to him in any way, especially considering what he wants from her. Hopefully she is smart enough not to fall into a trap. But what a fitting end for Ramsay.

What did you think of The Battle of the Bastards? Can the finale possibly top it?