Battle of the Year

"I've fought worse than him north of the wall." — Jon Snow, "Game of Thrones"

Through six seasons we've had one constant when it comes to "Game of Thrones" — beware of the ninth episode. It started in season one, when Ned Stark (Sean Bean) lost his head. That was, arguably, the moment that I went all in on "Game of Thrones." It was the moment I knew anything was possible.

And that's continued over all the seasons. Here's a quick snapshot of the ninth episode of each season:

Season 2 — The battle at Blackwater. Stannis Baratheon tried to take King's Landing, and it resulted in an incredible battle. Tyron was scarred, the Hound fled the city and Stannis was rebuffed.

Season 3 — The Red Wedding. To this day, this remains the most devastating episode of the show I've ever seen and, for that reason, my favorite. It's gut-wrenching, but it's brilliantly done.

Season 4 — The Battle at the Wall — Another incredible special effects showcase. Jon defends the wall against Mance Raydor and his army, and soon gets an assist from Stannis.

Season 5 — The sacrifice of Shireen Baratheon, the siege in Mereen. This was a two-fold hammer. Stannis Baratheon sacrificed his daughter, Shireen, and then Daenerys was caught in the middle of a near massacre when her dragon, Drogon, swooped in and saved the day. It was an incredible experience, and an episode I've seen easily 10 times.

Season 6 — The Battle of the Bastards. This promises to be another epic chapter in the story of "Game of Thrones." It's been brewing all season. A risen Jon Snow and his sister, Sansa, will face off against her tormenter, Ramsey Bolton, the man who seized their home and brother.

Here's a couple reasons I'm excited:

1. This is our last bite at the episode nine apple. Following the conclusion of season six, "Game of Thrones" will get two final seasons. But those two seasons will have only 13 episodes total, seven in season seven and six in season eight. That means this is the last time we will see a ninth episode of the season. It is going to be epic.

2. He's the hero we need right now. And by he, I mean Jon Snow. Snow started as almost an after thought among his family and the story. He was marooned at Castle Black. He was in the story, but he wasn't the hero of his own story, let alone the whole story. Over six seasons, no one has grown more than Jon Snow. He is the hero we deserve and the hero we need right now.

3. This is about good and evil, and it's as good as it gets. This has never been a series about good and evil, black and white, right and wrong as we've traditionally known it. It's always been shades of grey — at least for the most part. But not tonight. Ramsey Bolton is the closest thing we have to pure evil in this world. He's a menace. He has to be stopped. Jon Snow is the closest thing we have to a pure hero. He's been willing to sacrifice himself for what's right. He faces long odds, but he's the hero, and he must prevail.

Either way, in the words of Bart Scott, "Can't Wait!"


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