I want to talk about my favorite of the Seven Kingdoms, the North. Obviously there is going to be a hell of a lot going on there this season, especially now that our favorite guy who knows nothing has come back from the dead.
You might be thinking “Gosh, Geoff, why don’t you want to talk about all this other stuff going on too, like the (Ironborn/Faith Militant/Sand Snakes/dragons/whatever)?”
Well, ok, yeah, there’s been lots of new stuff going on in Season Six so far in so many other places, like the reappearance of the Ironborn. But frankly, Balon Greyjoy bored me with his single-minded stupidity and megalomania, and I was glad to finally see him take his swan dive off the rope bridge, which we knew was coming from the books. Aside from being somewhat interested in Theon’s eventual fate, I just don’t care that much about the Ironborn, unless it’s seeing them get their clocks cleaned by Northmen because they richly deserve it. Too bad they didn’t show the retaking of Deepwood Motte. I’d watch that and talk all about it. But no, instead we’re going to see the Kingsmoot, which is fine, I guess, at least if you are into pseudo-Vikings who dress like high school Goths and whine about why no one takes them seriously.* At least then I’ll have the chance to take a bathroom break or something. Even when I was reading the books, I found myself wondering why King Robert didn’t just wipe the Ironborn off the face of the planet when he had the chance.
Anyway, back to the North.
There is all sorts of speculation about what is going to happen, especially with the much-discussed “Battle of the Bastards” that is eventually coming sometime later in the season. I think it would be safe to say that most of what happens in the North that isn’t related to White Walkers will be building up to this battle. Obviously, this will be a huge battle between Jon Snow on one side, and Ramsay the Uber-Cuddly on the other. One of the other nicknames that has come out for this fight is the “Battle of the Six Armies”, and so let’s see if we can figure out who those six armies are.
Now, there are indications that a lot of Northern houses are going to have a presence in this battle, which is awesome. That one photo shows a number of guys with the famous direwolf Stark banner, and we can see the bear of House Mormont as well. There are other banners that I can’t see very well, but I think some of those orange ones might be the Hornwoods. And in one photo that I have seen, it appears that Jon Snow is wearing the long brigandine-type armor usually seen on Stark soldiers. Since we know that the Manderlys are finally going to make an appearance (they were specifically named by Ramsay in the last episode), we can probably make a safe guess that they are going to pretend to side with Ramsay and then switch sides, since they are secretly still loyal to the Starks in the books. And I would imagine that the Cerwyns will also side with Jon Snow rather than Ramsay. I honestly don’t know what will happen with the Umbers, but since the Greatjon was quite loyal to the Starks, I hope that if they are currently on Ramsay’s side, they switch over as well.
It would also make sense for Littlefinger and the Eyrie to jump in on the side of the Starks as well. He is clearly hoping for someone to overthrow the Boltons, and I imagine that he is hoping that he will end up marrying Sansa and becoming Warden of the North as a result. He has essentially said as much. So he wants them to lose. Stannis couldn’t pull it off, and there aren’t a lot of other options.
So the six armies are probably as follows: On the side led by Jon Snow, 1) the wildlings; 2) perhaps the remnants of forces that had been loyal to Robb, such as surviving Stark soldiers, and the other houses of the North, such as the Cerwyns and the Mormonts; 3) the Manderlys (and hopefully Umbers), once they switch sides; and 4) the armies of the Vale. On the other side, under Ramsay Bolton, we have 5) the Boltons and 6) the Karstarks.
We also know that Ramsay Bolton will be doing his usual terrible things to a couple of people on the battlefield, as we have seen flashes of it in the trailers as well as pictures from the set. It is my understanding that the two flayed, crucified and burned people will be known characters. Seven Hells. So who?
Well, I think I can make some educated guesses. And boy are they ugly.
I think that considering who he is fighting on the battlefield, the likely suspects are somewhat few.
Roose and Walda Bolton? Originally, some people suspected that he would do this to his father Roose and his new stepmother Walda, but of course Ramsay has already taken care of them as of the last episode (Episode 2, Season 6). Besides, he certainly wouldn’t have gained anything by killing them publicly, which is why he did it in private and then put out a lie about what happened.
Theon? – actually, while this might give Ramsay some personal satisfaction, I don’t think it would be very effective. Remember, most of the people in the North still think that Theon betrayed the Starks and killed the two youngest Stark boys. They are not going to be upset by Ramsay killing Theon in front of them. Hell, they might cheer and laugh and maybe pop popcorn. In other words, the opposite effect of psychological warfare. Besides, I think he is supposed to make his way back to Pyke, (Drowned) God knows why. It was made clear his father has no respect for him, and he had his chance to join with his sister and totally blew it. Why go back to that crappy island, where nothing grows, and because Sour Grapes we didn’t want to grow anything anyway, thus their house words.
Rickon Stark? – sadly, this would totally make sense. We know that when we last saw them, Rickon and Osha were headed to the Last Hearth, the stronghold of House Umber. At this point we don’t know whether or not the Smalljon is going to be loyal to the Boltons or to the Starks. If he is loyal to the Boltons, then the scene in the trailer where he has a “gift” may be him handing over Rickon (and Shaggydog, and presumably Osha) to Ramsay. I hope this is not the case. Come on, Duo of Death, haven’t the Starks suffered enough already? And I don’t want to see another one of the direwolves die either, not even Shaggydog. Sadly, this may indeed be the case, because in the photo of the set I have seen, I only see one of those Bolton “X” crosses. And in the zoomed version, it looks like a little kid strapped to the cross, with what appears to possibly be a wolf’s head (looking at it from the front) below him and to the right. So maybe the “two known characters” are Rickon and Shaggydog. Please, please, please let me be wrong about this. Honestly, it would be SO obnoxious to bring him back and then kill him.
(ETA from Kelly- I will Rage Quit Game of Thrones so hard if he’s right about the above. And my gut tells me he’s wrong about this. So there.)
Slight variation on this theme – Olly “glamoured” to look like Rickon Stark? – this would also make sense, in that I would not like Rickon to die but would totally be down with Little Orphan Olly taking his place. I imagine that a lot of other people probably feel the same way. I know, I know, Olly was sympathetic, he had some tough times, and then made some bad decisions as a result. But Jon Snow never showed Olly anything but kindness, and Olly turned on him. And we have still not seen anyone besides Melisandre “glamoured”, even though other people do get glamoured (by Melisandre) in the books, including at least one glamoured person who gets burned as a result. So maybe the Duo of Death finds a way to get that in the TV show while also taking care of a child character who is, frankly, increasingly disliked by many fans, to put it mildly. In fact, among some fans he seems to have taken Joffrey’s place. Hell, Joffrey was always a little a$$hole. Olly chose to be one, and I think that’s probably worse. So maybe Jon and Davos figure out a way to swap Rickon for Olly, Killer of Ginger Girlfriends, with some help from a newly confident Melisandre.
Osha? – another character that we haven’t seen in a while, and one I would like to see again. But not if they are going to kill her too. Still, sadly, it would make sense. With all those wildlings on Jon Snow’s side, Ramsay finding a wildling to focus his rage on seems quite logical from his point of view. And a dual Rickon/Osha barbecue works in terms of the story. It’s cruel and vicious, not only in terms of the show, but in terms of the fans, and so why not, right? Need to build up that hate of Ramsay even more. So if Ramsay kills Osha and/or Rickon and/or Shaggydog, the Deadly Duo better make Ramsay’s death really satisfying, that’s all I am saying.**
(ETA from Kelly- What I said above? Saying it here about Osha too. Even harder. You listening D & D?)
So yeah, a huge battle is coming, but there is still plenty of time before that happens (as I imagine it will) near the end of the season. Plenty of time for Ramsay to inflict yet more horror on the North. The silver lining of all this is that I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, in that when Ramsay dies (and I am sure he will, sooner or later), that will be the end of House Bolton. No more bloody flayed banners, no more brutal skinning, no more nasty vicious pack of dogs hunting women. House Bolton will be extinct.
P.S. Die, Boltons, die.
*Am I wrong? Seriously, the Ironborn have been the emo kids with neck tattoos of Westeros. Yeah, to some people they look edgy and dangerous, and they can be if they surprise you. But when it’s a standup fight, or when you push back at them, they just fall apart. Except for Yara’s little Ironborn commando raid on the Dreadfort (which failed) we haven’t really seen them do anything cool. Maybe Euron will do something to impress me, but I am not counting on it.
**Like something really graphic and spectacular involving Wun Wun and a really big meat grinder. After all those people he killed with his dogs, Ramsay then ironically becomes the Westerosi version of Science Diet for Direwolves. That would be highly satisfying.