Spoiler alert: Do not proceed further if you haven't watched season 6, episode 9 of HBO's Game of Thrones.
The ninth episode of every season of Game of Thrones has been the one that's much awaited and this season was no different. But did it live up to expectations? Well, not really. Or rather, it is a bit too much of what have come to expect from the series. We have gotten used to GOT's blood and gore by now. After we've seen how the Starks are butchered by Walder Frey and how Stannis Baratheon is killed in battle with Ramsay Bolton, how much can mere bloodlust surprise us?
"Maybe that was our mistake: believing in kings." That simple line sets the tone for the episode. Scores are settled, battles are waged, and finally the Stark banner once again adorns the blood-smeared walls of Winterfell. As we have come to expect, episode nine gives us a brilliant choreography of violence in which heads fly, bodies are disemboweled, and chaos and mayhem rule the battlefield, brought to us through Jon's blurred vision as he struggles for breath under a pile of dying men.
But who cares if the ending is a cliche? Sansa's secret reinforcements come in the form of Little Finger's army. The rescue happens just when all hope is lost for Jon's men. Cliched or not, you cannot help but cheer. So, Ramsay loses, obviously! And they had to kill the poor big giant; with what, an arrow to his eye?
But such poetic justice in the end. Ramsay's demise is probably the most celebrated one after that of Joffrey's. His signature method of having his bloodhounds tear apart his enemies becomes the way he dies himself. No surprises, again. If flayed men roasting on an open fire is one end of the dark tunnel, the other end is Sansa's wicked smile as she watches Ramsay die.
In Essos, the dragons finally unite! Drogon leads the other two dragons in a battle against the masters, with Daenerys on his back, a stirring scene brought off spectacularly by the FX team. The question, however, is how Yara and Theon Greyjoy reach one end of the world, Meereen, from another end of the world, The Iron Islands. Poor Gendry is still rowing, and there's no sign of him ever being seen ever again. Have Benioff and Weiss forgotten his existence?
While hundreds die in the Battle of the Bastards, hundreds more die in the battle against the masters. The episode is one long orgy of violence.
So, what next? What does the season's finale hold in store for us?