Written by Hannah Dunleavy


Last Night’s Watch

In the words of Brass Eye: it’s war! Hannah Dunleavy talks loyalty, tactics and Game of Thrones episode nine. Contains SPOILERS.

Photos: HBO.

Come on you bastard: Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) meets the Bolton army. Photos: HBO.

“In the morning then, bastard”

And so it is, the long-predicted/awaited Battle of the Bastards kicks off outside Winterfell, which is inexplicably no longer blanketed in snow. Because logistics.

Now, I love a bit of war as much as the next woman – provided she’s also had rows (even just with herself) over who was the better general, Napoleon, Julius Caesar or Robert E Lee – and full marks to GoT for some epic battle scenes worth the hype. And for keeping Ser Davos out of sight for long enough that I began to fret we’d see his body among the literal hill of dead outside. Never mind, I’m sure that hair I tore out will grow back.

However, the fact this is all linked with the other major plot of the season – the emancipation of Sansa, now sporting a Hunger Games hairstyle and a look-how-much-I’ve-turned-into-my-mother fur – still jars like a bastard.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a plotline that sees a once-cosseted woman rise up from terrible trauma and take control of the situation.

Yes, her brother should’ve asked for her opinion on the other bastard, but the idea that he’s going to dismiss out of hand the views of battle-hardened Giantsbane and Seaworthy when she has no experience of warfare and appears to not give two shits about her own troops is somewhat of a stretch. Even if she was ultimately right that Rickon was already as good as dead and that Snow would act on instinct when it happened. Some people never change. Some Starks in particular.


We all turn into our mothers eventually, right? Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Jon play family misfortunes.

But even when her brother did ask for her insight, she inexplicably, and somewhat hypocritically, withheld the information that she’d arranged for a Helm’s Deep-style nick-of-time rescue. You know, the salient insight. Which might have saved a few lives.

In the end, good triumphed over evil and the dogs got over-hungry at exactly the right time. Hoorah!

It seems to be chalked up as a victory for Sansa, but it feels like a hollow one, considering Jon (somewhat inconveniently for the plot) had a point: it wasn’t really credible that all those men would choose to die for Bolton the Bastardier. (Or, for that matter, that none of them shouted, “Oh fuck, a giant!” and did the Westeros equivalent of trying to get a selfie with him. Whatever that is.)

And that’s before we even get to the question of Sansa’s new-found power coming from another man’s army. Or what deal she made with the devil to get his troops there in the first place.

Still, that was some top fighting, and that shot of Liam Cunningham in the dying light holding the carved stag was pretty gorgeous.

“We all live complicated lives”

And so to the other two most powerful women in GoT, the Mother of Dragons and Yara, Queen of the Pirates, who had a charming bantering/meeting/Iron Islands exit negotiation. (Irexit?)

It goes without saying, but just in case it doesn’t, I’ve come to actually resent time in Meereen – something even a Lannister couldn’t solve – but it was great to see Tyrion finally say the thing that someone should’ve been saying for ages. Maybe dial it down Daenerys; you sound like your Dad.

“It wasn’t really credible that all those men would choose to die for Bolton the Bastardier. Or, for that matter, that none of them shouted, “Oh fuck, a giant!” and did the Westeros equivalent of trying to get a selfie with him.”

Because as the final season approaches, her lack of political skills and her willingness to arch an eyebrow and unleash hell make her a difficult character to really get behind. Would Westeros actually be better off without her? Possibly.

I know, I know, you moan that’s there’s no strong female characters and then you moan when there are. So thank the gods then for Yara Greyjoy, probably the woman, of the three focused on here, who most deserves to be Queen of her realm. She’s tested in the field, she’s got the loyalty of her men, she’s a savvy political animal and she’s still got room for compassion, if the case merits it.

Oh, and she’s “up for anything, really.” Long may she reign.

Other thoughts

Has GoT been better in the last few weeks because we’ve not been North of the Wall? For me, yes.

I’ve become so accustomed to calling him Borgen Greyjoy, I forgot he had another name. I’ll never use it.

RIP not-so-little Rickon, to the Stark crypt with you. And farewell not-sure-he-was-ever-little Wun Wun. I pity the poor sod that has to dig that hole.

Another wildfire mention. Is this the rumour Qyburn was referring to last week?

Happy shitting to you all. Until next time.

Follow Hannah’s week-by-week Game of Thrones blog here


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.