[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Game of Thrones season 6 ahead.]
This entirety of Game of Thrones season 6 has been leading up to the Battle of the Bastards, which will take place on Sunday night’s ninth episode of the season (and doubles as the episode’s title.) On one side is Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the resurrected former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, along with his sister Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), and an army composed of Wildlings and a ragtag, badly outnumbered band of soldiers of some of the minor houses of the North. On the other side is Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), the sadistic murderer and rapist who is currently Warden of the North, backed by his own army and various other Northern houses. At stake is Winterfell, and a possible restoration of House Stark to their ancestral castle.
The Battle is not literally of Bastards, as Ramsay was officially legitimized by his father a couple of season ago, but the title has a nice ring to it anyway - and has a chance to go down as one of the most epic sequences in Thrones history. With the episode airing in four days (at the time of writing this), HBO has released official screenshots from "Battle of the Bastards".
You can check out the latest Game of Thrones season 6 photos below, starting with this wide shot of the eponymous battle:
Here are Jon and Sansa riding towards Winterfell:
Here’s Ramsay Bolton, surrounded by his bannerman:
Here's Jon Snow, preparing himself for the battle ahead:
Here’s Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), whose win/loss record in these battles is less than ideal:
Here’s the Wildling giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun (Ian Whyte) in the heat of battle:
Here’s Wildling commander Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) ready for battle:
And lastly, here's what appears to be Jon leading the charge against Ramsey's army:
The photos don’t give us much clue over who’s going to win the "Battle of the Bastards", but it does seem to confirm that said battle will take up the entire episode, leaving every other plot of Game of Thrones season 6 - from the events in King’s Landing to Bran Stark’s adventures beyond The Wall to the violence in Meereen to The Hound’s reclamation project - to be addressed in the season finale a week later.
But if any Game of Thrones plot is worth its own episode, it’s this one. Fans of the show have been exposed to Ramsay Bolton’s evil for years, through various unspeakable acts he has committed, whether to Sansa, to Theon, to his stepmother and newborn son, or even his own father. At the same time, suffering of various members of the House of Stark has been a continuing theme on Game of Thrones, going back to the very first episode. Might we see a long-awaited comeuppance for the Bastard Bolton? A win for House Stark? Both, combined together in one cathartic battle?
Perhaps. But if Game of Thrones has taught us anything these past six years, it’s that good most assuredly doesn’t always triumph over evil - and that if you want happy-ever-after, look somewhere else.
Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘Battle of the Bastards’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview of the episode, below: