When it comes to Game of Thrones, the ninth episode of any season has developed quite a reputation. After eight hours of plot development, things finally culminate into an epic battle or heartbreaking moment that, for the most part, has progressively become more badass each time. There was Blackwater, the Red Wedding, the battle at the Wall, and the return of Drogon — albeit, Hardhome would have seemed a more fitting penultimate moment for the fifth season. 

On Sunday night, we received "Battle of the Bastards," and it is arguably the greatest episode of the series yet, possibly one of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed. While there most likely isn't any record of slave masters having their fleet torched by three dragons, the Battle of Winterfell is full of historical references, including the Battle of Agincourt, the American Civil War, the Battle of Waterloo, and the Battle of Cannae.

Like Agincourt, Cannae involved an inferior force (Hannibal's army of roughly 45,000) defeating overwhelming odds (the Romans had around 55,000) with superior tactics. The two armies met in lines of roughly equal length. But in defiance of conventional wisdom, Hannibal kept stretching his lines out — making his center surprisingly weak. He led the center in an apparent retreat, while the two sides casually shuffled forward into a semi-circle.

It soon became a circle. Too late, the Romans realized they were being drawn into a trap, just like Snow's ragtag army. An estimated 600 legionnaires were cut down every minute from first light until nightfall. Even the machine-gun-filled battle at the beaches of Normandy couldn't match that rate of slaughter. Nobody knows how many Romans survived, but it may have been as few as 3,000 out of 55,000 men.  

Head over to Mashable to read more. You can also watch a video breakdown of how the Battle of Winterfell was filmed below.


Feature image via HBO