Valar morghulis. All men must die, especially when Game Of Thrones dedicates an episode to two epic battles. This week wraps up some of season six’s long-germinating plots, with the Mother Of Dragons finally taking care of those pesky Masters and the most villainous character of the series duking it out with a fellow bastard for control of the North. Here’s your weekly guide to the recently deceased:
Who died? Ramsay Bolton, born Ramsay Snow, the legitimized bastard son of Lord Roose Bolton and Warden Of The North, was killed in the aftermath of the most recent battle for control of Winterfell. He originally came to Winterfell to reclaim the castle in the name of King Robb Stark, but it quickly became clear that Ramsay wasn’t just a bastard, he was an outright psychopath. Sadistic and cunning, Ramsay used rape, torture, and murder—including killing his own father, stepmother, and baby half-brother—to maintain his reign of fear as well as for his own twisted pleasure. Two of his favorite targets were Theon Greyjoy, whom he mutilated and psychologically manipulated into becoming the pathetic Reek, and Sansa Stark, whom he married to solidify his claim and treated with the utmost cruelty. In the end it became clear that without his warped mind games, Ramsay couldn’t fight for shit, and Jon Snow nearly beat him to death in front of what remained of his army.
How did they die? Torn to pieces by his own hungry hounds, which respectfully waited for Sansa Stark to finish her cold-blooded revenge speech before emerging from their pens and eating Ramsay alive.
How shocking was it? The way he died was shocking, but the death itself was not. Once the Stark forces took Winterfell, Ramsay’s death was inevitable. Sure, they could have kept him as a prisoner, but after all the suffering he’s caused over the years, a gruesome and painful death is what he got and what he deserved. On a scale of “died peacefully in their sleep” (zero) to “eyes squished like grapes inside their skull” (5), Ramsay gets a 3 for the sheer brutality of getting his face ripped off.
How awesome was it? Depends on how you feel about an eye for an eye and all that. But on a show that doesn’t often offer this sort of clean-cut narrative closure (or poetic justice, for that matter), you have to admit it was satisfying.
How much do we care? The Starks’ return to Winterfell changes everything in the North, and the Lannisters and their friends in the South will have no choice but to respond (presumably with more war and bloodshed) next season. On a scale of “nameless mercenary” (zero) to “Jon Snow” (5), this sadistic fuck gets a 4.
What does it mean for the show? The death of one of the few pure villains on the show is notable in itself. But, as Sansa said, in the long-term, Ramsay will be a mere footnote in Westerosi history. More interesting are the implications of his death on the character of Sansa Stark and her transformation from a helpless maiden into a pragmatic—and occasionally ruthless—ruler who will have an important role to play in the wars to come.
Who died? Rickon Stark, youngest of the Stark children, was killed in battle by the bastard Ramsay Bolton. The least-developed Stark, Rickon had no point-of-view chapters in the series and the show neglected to follow him and Osha after they splintered off from Bran, Hodor, and Meera in season three. Poor Rickon reappeared as a pawn as Smalljon Umber presented him as hostage to Ramsay for his own ends.
How did they die? In classic Ramsay fashion, he toys with his hostage before killing him, allowing Rickon to run across the battlefield to Jon as Ramsay shoots arrows at him. The fourth arrow gets him right in the back, killing him seconds after Jon reaches him in the field.
How shocking was it? While it seemed inevitable that Rickon would die—to the point that Sansa essentially told Jon that he was as good as dead no matter what—the clever direction and camerawork of this scene still managed to surprise with that fourth arrow. Ramsay nocks the first three arrows, so viewers can follow their progress, but the final arrow is just as much a shock for the viewer as it is for Rickon. That’s a 3 for inventive direction that upped the tension to a death we all knew was coming.
How awesome was it? It was a dramatic scene and creative way for Ramsay to goad Jon into running pell-mell into a battle. Awesome, not so much.
How much do we care? Considering he was a Stark, it’s astonishing how little we care. Rickon didn’t utter a single word in season six—not when he was produced by Smalljon Umber as hostage and not when Ramsay sent him running across the field to Jon. At most, we care because Jon cared, so that’s a 2 for caring by proxy.
What does it mean for the show? Rickon was only ever a plot device, and now he’s fulfilled his usefulness. He served as a tactic to draw Jon out onto the no man’s land between the opposing forces, getting the good bastard all riled up when he should have kept a calm head to defeat the bad bastard.
Who died? Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun (a.k.a. Wun Wun), the last giant in the wildling army formerly led by King Beyond The Wall Mance Rayder and possibly the last giant in existence, died in battle supporting Jon Snow and Sansa Stark’s claim to their ancestral home of Winterfell. A brave fighter, Wun Wun was on the frontline of every battle he participated in, intimidating his enemies with his immense size and strength. One of Jon Snow’s most loyal supporters, he was crucial to both the retaking of Castle Black after Jon’s murder and the retaking of Winterfell.
How did they die? Wun Wun had already been hit with dozens of arrows when he was finally able to punch through the gates of Winterfell, making it possible for the last remaining Stark forces to storm the castle. But after he collapsed in the courtyard, bleeding and spent, Ramsay Bolton killed him with one last arrow through the eye.
How shocking was it? This death didn’t come as much of a surprise to A.V. Club staff, many of whom bet on him in our office dead pool this week. This storyline is about played out, someone has to die in battle, and a relatively personality-less minor character whose presence in a scene requires expensive and time-consuming special effects certainly seems like a logical choice. Wun Wun gets a 1.
How awesome was it? If you think noble self-sacrifice is awesome, then it kicked ass. If you don’t—are you sure your last name isn’t Bolton?
How much do we care? We didn’t know a whole lot about Wun Wun, but that’s to be expected considering he speaks a simplified version of the Old Tongue of the First Men. (He only ever said one word in the Common Tongue, and that was “Snow.”) Still, Tormund and the gang seemed to respect him as an equal, and he was a major asset in battle. We’ll give him a 2.5.
What does it mean for the show? Jon Snow’s ragtag army just got even more ragtag.
Who died? Smalljon Umber, lord of the Last Hearth, was cut down in battle by Tormund Giantsbane. Smalljon—whose father was known as Greatjon—betrayed Rickon and Osha, who presumably went to his home seeking protection in season three.
How did they die? Tormund, a wily wilding who channels his creative energies into unorthodox melees, took a bite out of Smalljon’s neck, ripping open an artery by the look of the spurting blood. He finished the job with a few quick stabs to Smalljon’s face, giving this betrayer what he deserved—especially apt considering Smalljon sided with Ramsay because he hated the wildlings so passionately.
How shocking was it? Trust Game Of Thrones to produce an especially grisly killing at the tail end of a bloody, muddy battle. It’s not as insane as a head popping, but it was an appropriately wild way for a wildling to take down Smalljon. A human biting another human to death is a 4.
How awesome was it? Tormund, an all-around solid guy and ally to Jon Snow, looked perilously close to meeting his end against Smalljon, making his toothy victory all the sweeter.
How much do we care? Smalljon was a minor character, but he still betrayed his allegiance to House Stark and gave over young Rickon to the most sadistic guy to ever walk the Seven Kingdoms. Smalljon’s death gets a 3, because it’s nice to see a bad guy getting an ignoble end.
What does it mean for the show? A minor but important vassal house loses its lord, solidifying Jon and Sansa’s tenuous power in the North, for what that’s worth.
Who died? Two prominent nobles who delegated with Daenerys Targaryen were killed when their forces attacked Meereen. Razdal Mo Eraz was a Yunkai slaver first seen in season three when he arrived before Daenerys on a palanquin carried by slaves. He was intimidated by Daenerys’ dragons then, and he was intimidated by Drogon when he meets with the khaleesi to discuss surrender. Belicho Paenymion was a noble of the Free City of Volantis who joined Razdal and another slaver, Yezzan Zo Qaggaz, in Meereen’s great pyramid to delegate with Tyrion and Varys while Daenerys is gone.
How did they die? Tyrion informed the trio of delegates that one had to die for his treachery against Daenerys. Belicho and Razdal push forward their third companion, Yezzan, claiming that he’s low-born and doesn’t speak for the elite nobles. With Team Daenerys ever on the side of the underdog, this was clearly a ploy, and Grey Worm moved forward to slice the necks of the two who had offered up the third to die.
How shocking was it? It was certainly surprising to see Grey Worm so easily kill two of the three delegates. A 1 for how swiftly it came, with zero fanfare and minimal flourish.
How awesome was it? These dudes have been cramping the khaleesi’s style all season, dragging out her time in Meereen a little too long. Thank goodness she has her dragons and Dothraki horde to get her out of there, with Grey Worm to help; he can slice off two heads in one flick of his knife.
How much do we care? These guys did diddly except threaten Daenerys and look consistently shocked at her audacity. We’re glad they finally got what was coming to them, especially Razdal, who has the sort of annoying politician’s face you just want to slug to wipe the sneer off it. They were always just slavers standing in Daenerys’ way, making their deaths two fat goose eggs.
What does it mean for the show? Huzzah! Daenerys can finally move on past Meereen.
Who died? Thousands of bannermen loyal to House Bolton, House Stark, House Arryn, and all their various subsidiaries were killed on the battlefield in Westeros, as was the entire army of the Yunkai masters (and presumably a handful of Dothraki warriors) during their siege on the city of Meereen.
How did they die? How didn’t they die? In Westeros, three of them were flayed and their bodies burned before the battle even started. As for the rest, they were cut down by swords and Dothraki arakhs, pierced by arrows, trampled by horses (and their fellow soldiers), and burned alive by dragon fire. A couple of guys even got their faces bitten off.
How shocking was it? That varies from man to man. Guys getting run through with Jon Snow’s sword is something you’ll see quite often on Game Of Thrones, but that hill of bodies was nightmarish and new. We’ll settle on a 3, in honor of one of the most punishingly intense battle scenes in the show’s history.
How awesome was it? That also depends on which battle we’re talking about. The battle for Winterfell took a horrifyingly realistic Band Of Brothers-type approach to warfare, while the battle for Meereen was exhilarating high fantasy. Both were awesome in their own ways.
How much do we care? Maybe the wives and children who we’re sure they had but were never discussed will miss them, but to the show’s power players—and therefore to the viewers—these guys simply don’t matter. Thousands of goose eggs.
What does it mean for the show? Plenty of new casting calls for season seven’s big battle.