Warning: spoilers ahead for the "Battle of the Bastards" episode of Game of Thrones.
Season 6 of Game of Thrones has been big for everybody's favorite broody Northern bastard. Jon Snow started out the season very definitively dead, and the weeks since have seen him resurrected from the great beyond, reunited with his sister Sansa, and given the loophole to totally bail on the Night's Watch and march on Winterfell to take it back from the Boltons. The first eight episodes built up to the showdown between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton, and "Battle of the Bastards" promised to be huge for Jon's character and perhaps even foreshadow what the future could hold for him. But that future shouldn't include ruling over anything.
Many fans consider Jon a prime candidate for the Iron Throne at the end of the series, and this battle would be a major test of whether or not he could be a formidable leader. Now that the battle has ended and we've seen Jon's performance before, during, and after, it's pretty safe to say that Jon Snow should never rule. Jon had the best of intentions and a loyal army willing to lay down their lives for him...but Jon should have lost, and that entire loyal army should have died in the mud and snow of the North. Even if Jon is a Targaryen rather than a Snow, and even if he is the key to the song of ice and fire, he doesn't belong on a throne.
Jon's first mistake in "Battle of the Bastards" came when he completely overlooked his best resource in formulating a plan to take down Ramsay. Sansa had recently been within Wintefell, so she knew how well the fortifications had been repaired since the ironborn sack back in Season 2. She had seen Ramsay's men in action, and she knew Ramsay. Sansa knew better than anyone that Ramsay's sadistic streak was not to be underestimated. All Jon had to do was listen to his sister, and disaster could have been averted. She was literally so serious about the situation that she was planning on killing herself rather than risk being re-taken by Ramsay. Strike one, Jon.
Of course, Sansa probably should have told Jon about Littlefinger and his knights of the Vale waiting and ready to join the fray, but it's hard to blame her for keeping that option a secret. Jon had proved that he wasn't inclined to listen to her about the Boltons; why should she believe that he'd listen to her about the man who had sold her to the Boltons?
Jon's second mistake was in letting Ramsay use Rickon against him. Sansa had warned him that Ramsay would never let Rickon live, and Jon had told Tormund that they absolutely could not charge on Ramsay's mounted forces. Then, as soon as Ramsay cut Rickon free and told him to run, Jon abandoned his battle plan. Jon knew that Ramsay was manipulating him. Sansa, Davos, and Tormund knew that Ramsay was manipulating him. Honestly, little Rickon probably only forgot to run in a serpentine manner to avoid Ramsay's arrows because he was distracted by how easily Ramsay was manipulating Jon.
The death of Rickon is inarguably a tragedy, and of course Jon wasn't supposed to stand idly and watch his little brother get murdered in front of him, but he didn't have to condemn his entire army to death because an inevitability had come to pass. By letting his personal feelings cloud his judgment, Jon led his army into a trap that would have destroyed them all if not for a last-minute save. Strike two, Jon.
Luckily, Jon did get that last-minute save, and he had a handy dandy giant at his side to breach the walls of Winterfell. Ramsay ended up cornered by Jon's forces with a handful of archers ready to kill Ramsay where he stood. Instead, Jon let Ramsay goad him about Rickon again to the point that he snapped and beat Ramsay to a bloody pulp. Ramsay certainly deserved to be punched in the face -- or any other area of his anatomy, really -- a few dozen times, but Jon was there as the leader of an army, not as Rickon's big brother. If Jon wasn't going to let the archers put Ramsay down, he should have kept his cool in front of his men and in front of Ramsay. Ramsay was in control until his very last.
While the big scene of Sansa feeding Ramsay to his hounds was pretty awesome for her sake, Jon really never should have given her the chance to kill him. Strategically, Ramsay was more valuable alive than dead, and Ramsay was no threat to anybody in his state. Jon made the decision to give Ramsay to Sansa as a brother doing something for his sister, not as a commander doing what is best for his cause. Strike three, Jon.
Jon's mistakes in "Battle of the Bastards" do not make him a bad man or even necessarily a bad small-scale leader. They do prove that he would be a bad leader as a whole, though. He takes after Ned Stark in so many ways, plenty of which are positive, but Jon is no more fit to sit the Iron Throne than Ned was to function as Hand of the King. A man being fundamentally good does not mean that he's fit to be in charge, and Jon should not rule even if he is a secret Targaryen with a claim to the Iron Throne. At this point, the character of the younger generation who would best suit the Iron Throne would have to be Sansa.
We still have one episode left in Season 6, so we may get to see if any of these characters also realized that Jon very nearly led his entire army to their deaths. Be sure to tune in to HBO at 9 p.m. ET on June 26 to catch the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones, and check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Season 7 for a peek ahead.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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