Spoilers Ahead on Game Of Thrones S06E04
The show runners have described this as a lighter season by Game of Thrones standards. So while Osha is shanked in the neck, we also get a strangely funny moment where Tormund stares longingly at Brienne. But the best and brightest moment belongs to a family reunion, six seasons in the making.
Let’s Discuss the Top 3 Scenes
#1. Jon Snow and Sansa Stark reunite
Last episode ended on Jon’s line “my watch has ended”. One of the reasons that line is interesting is that the Night’s Watch mandate is not to get involved with the wars and politics of Westeros. Having fulfilled his oath by dying, according to Jon’s point of view, it opens up story line possibilities for him south of Castle Black. The thing that I didn’t consider but makes sense is the change in how Jon see’s himself and his past decisions. Post resurrection, Jon is doubting himself and lost sight on his purpose. The through line in the first several seasons is Jon’s struggle with his own identity. This episode returns to that idea which is evident in the way different characters see Jon differently. A steward of the Night’s Watch still refers to Jon as Lord Commander. Melissandre believes him to be the prince that was promised by the Lord of Light. Sansa sees Jon as the last true heir to the Warden of the North.
Hell yes! Sansa reunites with Jon in what is probably the most significant story line convergence since Dany met Tyrion. I like that Sansa is with Jon because after all the terrible things that have happened, there’s this feeling that the tide is shifting in favor of the good and honorable characters we care about. With Sam away, Sansa plays off of Jon in a way that will open up his innermost personal thoughts. Kit Harington and Sophie Turner have a likable chemistry which added a warm sentiment to their reunion scene. More than that, I’m liking the dynamic between them with Sansa knowing exactly what she wants and is the strong support that Jon needs right now.
Ramsay’s letter that is meant to threaten Jon into submission is the extra incentive Jon needs to decide to take back Winterfell by force and save Rickon. While it is a bit fast how Ramsay knew that Sansa had already reached the Wall, I like that this story line is quickly pushing towards the Battle of the Bastards. The show runners have a tricky balance between setting things up and not showing their cards too much (ie. predictability). Sure, there could be some twists coming, but it seems that House Bolton’s downfall is coming sooner than later. Attacking Winterfell from the south is likely Litterfinger and the Vale’s army. Petyr Baelish made an alliance with Roose, not Ramsey. Now that Ramsey doesn’t have a Stark bride to lay claim to the North, it appears that Petyr senses an opportunity to take Winterfell for himself.
#2. Dany Burns Down The Temple
After burning down the temple with the Khals trapped inside, does this mean that Dany will have a new title to add to her name? I really liked the lead up scenes that saw Jorah and Daario infiltrate Vaes Dothrak only to discover that Dany didn’t need rescuing. While I do acknowledge there’s a bit of repetitiveness in Dany’s story and in burning people alive I’m excited for what this means for her. Bringing her back full circle to Vaes Dothrak may have seen like a step back or more stalling. But I think it was pretty clear that becoming captured by the Dothraki was a set up for her to take over a horde which is exactly what happened.
The reference to Season 1’s speech by Khal Drogo is a great call back with an added twist that she will be the one leading them to conquest, not a Khal. This is Dany’s declaration that she will be heading to Westeros finally. You can almost make a joke how Dany lays waste to just about everywhere she goes. But this time it isn’t with dragons or an army, it’s just herself: naked and alone. It’s a powerful image and scene but not as powerful as the Season 1 finale with the dragons. To me, Dany is doing more than laying waste, killing those in power and gaining followers. She’s breaking the wheel. She broke the slavery trade in Meereen which Tyrion is trying to ensure it’ll stay that way after they’re gone. She set in flames the dosh khaleen system of ruling and if she takes over Westeros she will likely break the ruling or power structure there as well.
#3. Tyrion vs the Slave Masters
As much as I always look forward to Tyrion scenes, the Mereen slave vs master situation is a road we’ve gone down before. There is a bit of a repetitiveness that takes away from me completely engaging in this story line. But I’m really interested to see how Tyrion is handling the situation differently from Dany. While Tyrion is more compromising than Dany, he’s angering people on both sides of the fence. Peter Dinklage does a good job of conveying in certain moments when he’s “speaking on behalf of the queen”, we as viewers as well as Missandei and Greyworm knows he’s making it up as he goes along. I like that both Missandei and Greyworm have outspoken, strong opinions in private conversations with Tyrion but choose their words carefully in public court. Last episode’s awkward conversation has developed into a strong difference of opinions. Tyrion is going to have to earn the respect and trust of Missandei and Greyworm, whom the people highly regard.
“Book of the Stranger” is a consistently stronger offering than last week’s Oathkeeper. There is a minor repetitiveness like Ramsay killing yet again and the High Sparrow speechifying, but these are well acted scenes and serve a purpose. I’m not completely enthralled with the King’s Landing story line which I will probably go into a more detailed breakdown in another episode review post. Having said that, the scenes with Cersei and High Sparrow worked better than in the previous episodes. This was a strong episode for the female characters: Sansa stepped up her game, Yara gets Theon’s support for the kingsmoot, Margaery proves she’s the toughest of the siblings and Dany’s back in blazing glory. The two main story lines of Jon and Dany are shaping up very well and gives us a lot to anticipate for the rest of the season.
What do you think about “Book of the Stranger”? Do you find certain character moments and story elements somewhat repetitive?