Warning: spoilers for “Game of Thrones” below!
Season 6′s “Battle of the Bastards” is undoubtedly one of the most beloved episodes of “Game of Thrones.”
“BoB” is among the biggest spectacles in the show’s history as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his army face nearly insurmountable odds against a much stronger force, led by Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). It delivers harrowing moment after harrowing moment: Jon’s baited onto the battlefield, horses are running every which way, Rickon (Art Parkinson) never learns to zigzag.
There’s so much going on they even cut to a live feed of NYC’s L train during rush hour:
With a little help from a last-second Gandalf-like appearance from the Knights of the Vale, the Stark forces come out on top, culminating in Jon beating the crap out of Ramsay and Sansa (Sophie Turner) feeding Lord Bolton to his own dogs.
It’s brutal; it’s powerful; it’s perfect. And it might also be a plot hole.
Let’s go to those last moments between Sansa and Ramsay:
With things looking grim for Ramsay, and his dogs closing in, he protests that his hounds will “never harm” him, leading to this exchange in the script, which you can find on the Emmys website:
Sansa: You haven’t fed them in seven days. You said it yourself.
All the kennel cages are open. Nine lean dogs crouch low and smiling, licking their chops, sniffing the air.
Ramsay: They’re loyal beasts.
Sansa: They were. Now they’re starving.
Ramsay is, of course, turned into Kibbles ’n Bits. Sansa walks away smiling, satisfied with how she threw Ramsay’s own threat about his starving dogs back in his face.
But after watching the scene over and over again, one detail has bothered us.
How did Sansa know Ramsay hadn’t fed his dogs?
Sansa’s line about the dogs not being fed is the “oh shit” moment for Ramsay. That’s when he truly understands his time is up. But when re-watching the episode, you realize she wasn’t even around when he boasted about how hungry his hounds were.
Let’s go back to the day before the battle when Sansa and Jon meet with Ramsay.
Jon suggests he and Ramsay just settle the fight with one-on-one combat, which is a very Jon thing to do. Ramsay’s all like, “Nah,” which is a very Ramsay thing to do. He taunts the Starks by saying he has Rickon held captive and proves it with the severed head of Shaggydog, Rickon’s dire wolf.
“You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton,” she says. “Sleep well.”
Per the script, the Lady of Winterfell chucks up the deuces, and she’s out of there.
She turns and rides off.
Ramsay smiles and shakes his head.
Here’s Sansa riding away:
It’s only then that Ramsay ever mentions his starving dogs:
Ramsay: She’s a fine woman, your sister. I look forward to having her back in my bed.
He looks over the gathered men facing him.
Ramsay: And you’re all fine looking men. My dogs are desperate to meet you. I haven’t fed them in seven days. They’re ravenous! I wonder which parts they’ll try first. Your eyes? Your balls? We’ll find out soon enough.
What we’re saying is: Sansa definitely leaves before Ramsay talks about his dogs.
So the only way Sansa heard about the starving hounds is during an off-screen moment, which was generally an accepted answer when some viewers brought the question up on Reddit in 2016. However, the scenarios in which that would happen are somewhat unlikely.
Jon definitely didn’t head right back to camp and tell Sansa, “Ermahgerd! Ramsay’s going to feed us to his dogs! He hasn’t fed them in seven days!”
That would be an unproductive conversation the night before a battle.
Another possibility: Jon could’ve either set up Ramsay to die in the dog kennel or told Sansa how to kill him. After all, when Ramsay has been beaten and the Starks have taken back Winterfell, she asks Jon, “Where is he?”
But does the script debunk that theory, too?
Jon only stops beating the snot out of Ramsay because he understands Sansa wants to be the one to take him out:
Sansa, Littlefinger and Davos arrive through the broken gate. Hearing their horses, Jon turns to see them.
He doesn’t care about Davos or Littlefinger in this moment. He only looks at Sansa.
She looks back at him, and at Ramsay.
Jon realizes that Ramsay is not his to kill.
Sansa has to do this. It’s doubtful Jon stopped beating Ramsay so the pair of them could have a quick brainstorm session. This is Sansa’s moment, not anyone else’s.
Given that Sansa repeats Ramsay’s words back at him, the only option is to assume someone told her off-screen. Between shadow babies and resurrections, let’s face it, crazier things have happened than some off-screen conversation.
However, “Game of Thrones” has had small hiccups in the past. Jon Snow’s Valyrian sword has looked a little rubbery at points, some characters have had the wrong sigil by their name in the titles and there was that time when Melisandre (Carice van Houten), who supposedly needs to wear a necklace to stay young, took it off in Season 4 and was totally unchanged.
The possible plot hole doesn’t make “Battle of the Bastards” any less amazing, but with “Game of Thrones” coming to a close, this is the time to ponder all of the lingering unanswered questions.
And doggone it, those hungry dogs always made us paws.