Victory always comes with a cost. This is especially true in the dog-eat-dog world of Game of Thrones.
For six seasons now, fans have seen numerous massive battles for control of Westeros, but none were as brutal as the battle of Winterfell depicted in this week's episode.
Spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones below!
Last night's episode saw Jon Snow and his army of Wildlings versus Ramsay Bolton and his army of Northmen. One way or another, a conflict that had been brewing for multiple seasons would finally come to a bloody end.
Dubbed "Battle of the Bastards," the episode certainly delivered everything it promised and more. Showrunners promised the largest battle seen on the show to date, and it was certainly that. Thousands of men. Hundreds of horses. A battle unlike anything ever seen on television.
At the end, fans got exactly what they wanted: revenge. For more than three seasons now, Ramsay Bolton (or Snow, if you prefer) had been the one character universally hated by all. Far worse than Joffrey ever dreamed of being, Ramsay delighted in torture and bloodshed, made all the worse because he was so good at it.
Ramsay served as the show's supervillain of sorts. He was always one step ahead of the competition. He seemed untouchable, with his plans all unfolding exactly as he predicted. Episode after episode, season after season, Ramsay got away with everything. The torture of Theon. The rape of Sansa. The murder of his father. The butchering of his father's wife and child. The murder of Asha. The killing of Rickon. The list goes on and on.
Ramsay's reign of terror is now at an end, much to the joy of fans. At long last, Ramsay is killed, ripped apart by his own starving dogs that have terrorized countless characters in seasons past. It was a fitting end for one of the most despised men in Westeros, but it didn't come without great cost, a cost that will soon become evident.
For starters, Rickon Stark is dead. As Sansa pointed out, there was no scenario in which Rickon would survive. Rickon was too large of a threat, and Ramsay would execute him one way or another. Yet another Stark life was sacrificed in the game of thrones.
However, that was just the start. Next would come the thousands of Wildlings killed by Jon's foolish actions. Jon's reluctance to listen to Sansa and his inability to control his emotions caused Jon and his entire army to fall right into Ramsay's trap. Little by little, Jon's army began to collapse until eventually, only a small handful of men survived, encircled by a wall of impenetrable shields and spears held by Ramsay's army.
It is only with the arrival of the Vale army that victory is secured. The knights swiftly cut through Ramsay's remaining forces, allowing Jon and the Wildlings to regroup and lay siege to Winterfell itself. That, however, would have been impossible without the help of the giant Wun Wun. Sacrificing himself to breach the castle gate, he secured victory for Jon with his life.
Jon himself nearly died. He survived almost through sheer luck, hacking and slashing his way through foes, to no avail. He was nearly trampled to death by his own men. At the end of the battle, he was covered in blood and mud. Though he claimed to have faced worse north of the Wall, nothing Jon ever experienced prepared him for the carnage of that day. He won't ever be the same.
Even amid so much death and destruction, perhaps Sansa Stark will be making the greatest sacrifice of all. Though she didn't fight in the battle, without her, there would have been no victory. She alone managed to secure an alliance with Petyr Baelish and the Vale, winning the day for Jon and his men.
However, alliances in Westeros don't come cheap. Baelish will want something in return for his help, and that something is likely to be Sansa's hand in marriage. Sansa isn't fond of the man known as Littlefinger, and marrying him means forsaking her Stark name. Yet in her mind, it is a small price to pay for the death of Ramsay and the rightful return of the Starks as rulers of the North.
Thousands dead. The death of yet another Stark. The death of one of the few remaining giants in the world. Sansa promising herself to a man for whom she doesn't care. Game of Thrones finally gave fans what they wanted. The Starks once again rule the North, and Ramsay Bolton is dead. However, it certainly didn't come without a hefty price, one that will be felt for many seasons to come.