Spoilers for Season 6, Episode 2 of Game of Thrones are all over this article, so if you aren't caught up, we suggest you check out one of our other lovely articles.
Game of Thrones is notorious for killing off just about anyone, and big deaths usually have enough foreshadowing that they seem painfully obvious in hindsight. Roose Bolton was destined for an early end ever since he legitimized his mad dog of a son Ramsay, but his death in the second episode of Season 6 was still a shocker. There was no scheming or plotting or planning; Ramsay just acted. According to Roose Bolton actor Michael McElhatton, the spontaneity is what made the murder work.
Well we all kind of came to a decision when we were filming that it was really a spur-of-the-moment thing. And the information that is given is that it’s a boy that had been born. Now if it had been a girl, I may have still been alive, because his position would not be threatened. But in the moment that we find out that Walda has given birth to a boy, for me, Ramsay is no longer needed. And for him, he knows that, and he strikes quicker than I do.
Michael McElhatton’s explanation to TVLine of his interpretation of the final scene between the Bolton boys makes a lot of sense because it explains why hothead Ramsay was able to get the jump on his seasoned warrior of a father. Ever since the perfect orchestration of the Red Wedding back in Season 3, Roose has been a master plotter who could strategize a dozen steps ahead to outmatch his opponents. Oppositely, Ramsay has been almost entirely reactive to whatever situation befalls him. Given time, Roose could have found a way to get rid of Ramsay that didn’t involve immediately bullying a maester into lying. Ramsay quickly reaching for his blade was simpler but effective.
Of course, Ramsay did have some prior inkling that he’d need to take action if Lady Walda were to have a boy. Roose dangled that particular possibility over Ramsay more than once, but perhaps even he underestimated just how deep Ramsay’s darkness ran. Oops?
Personally, I’m bummed that Roose is dead. There was always something strangely respectable about his machinations. He was smart, ambitious, and willing to snark over supper at Jaime Lannister about losing his sword hand. Michael McElhatton was perfect in the role as somebody who could seem both unassuming and sinister. He was fun to hate in a way that Ramsay isn’t. At least Ramsay outliving Roose means that Sansa still has her chance for revenge on her husband.
On the whole, Roose dying so early in the season does open up a lot of story possibilities for the rest of the season. Roose was the only Bolton who could have conceivably held the North, and Ramsay is almost certainly going to take a lot of Northmen with him before he (hopefully) loses his grip completely. Anything can happen now that Roose Bolton’s mad dog of a son has control of Winterfell, and it should be fun to watch. It’s a shame to lose Michael McElhatton as Roose, so I can only hope that the story is good enough to make up for the loss.
Game of Thrones airs at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Check out our schedule of summer TV premiere dates to see what other shows you’ll be able to catch in the near future.