WARNING: This review contains heavy spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 4.
Alright, I’ll admit: I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Book of the Stranger,” the fourth episode of Game of Thrones Season 6. There was a lot of scheming—as frequently occurs during GoT—but not much action. However, several key moments (especially near the end) make the episode bearable.
Let’s begin with the biggest moment of all: the heartwarming reunion of Jon Snow and Sansa Stark. Obviously, it’s not easy being a Stark in this harsh fantasy world, so I had doubts that this reunion would occur at all. Honestly, even when Sansa and Jon were facing each other in Castle Black, I half expected a White Walker Ollie to hit her with an arrow or something. Fortunately, this didn’t happen, sister and half-brother embraced, and they ate some delicious soup together, laughing about all the fun they used to have in Winterfell. Hurray for family bonding!
Unfortunately—but unsurprisingly—the conversation travels into darker territory once Sansa insists that Jon lead an army against Ramsay Bolton and retake Winterfell. Evidently still miffed about the whole dying business, Jon initially ignores her exhortations, citing how much of a “loser” he is. But hey, if you’re one of a few people in this hellish world to successfully return from the dead, you’re a winner in my eyes. And of course, once Jon learns Rickon is being held captive by Ramsay—via a taunting, graphic letter that I couldn’t help but read in Ramsay’s whiny, boy-who-kills-ants-with-magnifying-glasses voice—Jon gets irreversibly amped up and ready to confront him. The odds may not be in his favor, but the Game of Thrones viewership certainly is, and eventually that has to count for something. Go get ‘em, champ.
In other news from the North, Brienne boasts about killing Stannis in front of his most loyal followers—Davos and Melisandre—and Bran, I assume, is still chilling with the old tree man. Exciting stuff. Also, Ramsay just offed my favorite wildling woman Osha, providing reason No. 174 why he needs to perish in the slowest, most painful manner possible.
Taking a slight detour at the Vale, we meet back up with one of my favorite characters, Petyr Baelish. Now, I recognize he’s not a very good guy, essentially selling Sansa into an abusive relationship and manipulating his way into the misplaced trust of nearly everyone he meets, but I must say that he remains one of the most interesting guys in Westeros. I still can’t quite put a finger on what he wants—power, of course, but to what extent, and at what cost, I don’t know. Moreover, his ability to survive despite seemingly no retinue or authority of his own demands some degree of respect, and I’m at least glad that he’s apparently mustering forces to help Jon and Sansa.
By the way, to hell with Robin Arryn. He’s weak, pathetic, and I dislike him.
Moving further south to King’s Landing, the High Sparrow continues to be the most boring character on the show. During yet another heart-to-heart talk with one of his torture victims—Margaery Tyrell, this time—he reveals how much of a wild party animal he was back in the day, and how he just had so much wanton sex and drink that he couldn’t handle it anymore and arbitrarily decided to become a religious fanatic. I’m sorry buddy, but please get off your high horse. Sure, maybe gross intemperance and promiscuity aren’t the best things in the world, but at the very least they reveal something about a person’s character. Their insecurities, their fears, their capacity to make mistakes: it all makes make for interesting television. I’m kind of getting sick of seeing this raggedy loser ruining all of that for me, and I really, really want to see him dead. The sooner the Lannisters get after that and go to war with Dorne, the better.
Finally, onto what was likely my favorite moment of the episode, and what made me rethink my general dislike for Daenerys. While Tyrion, Greyworm, and Missandei debate the best way to dissolve slavery—a debate I found overly simple and intellectually disappointing—Daario and Jorah are off on their mission to rescue Daenerys, who is trapped in Vaes Dothrak with the dosh khaleen. For a while, everything proceeds rather predictably, with Daario making weird comments about his sexual exploits with Daenerys before discovering Jorah has greyscale. They then get into a tussle with a pair of Dothraki, Daario kills them, and they meet up with Daenerys while she’s out peeing. Many happy returns.
What I didn’t expect was the method by which Daenerys escapes the city. I imagined just the standard clandestine getaway—maybe the Dothraki spot them and there’s a cliffhanger at the end of the episode. I didn’t think she’d actually kill their rulers by immolating their hut and claim total leadership over the entire Dothraki horde. This juicy shocker definitely made me rethink whether or not Daenerys will actually become involved in Westeros at some point. I can’t say for sure, but maybe we’ll get to see her dragons burn some White Walkers after all (my personal prediction).
And yes, Theon’s homecoming with his sister was just as awkward as we could have expected. But whatever, I’m way too into Daenerys being awesome for me to care as much about that right now. All hail.
Photos courtesy of here.