Game of Thrones 6.4: Book of the Stranger

Subtitle: the women are the strong ones 

Finally! Most of this hour is still set up, but it is set up with a side of momentum and that makes all the difference. 

We start in Castle Black, where Edd is trying to talk Jon Snow into walking back his dramatic exit last week. Jon is pretty set on leaving his trauma behind him cuz that’s what dying does to you, but they are interrupted by the horn announcing a visitor: Team Sansa!!!!

These journeys to and fro took a lot longer in season one (Littlefinger must have taught Sansa his teleporting powers) but I’m more than happy to handwave it for a Stark family reunion. Jon and Sansa catch up and bond over their terrible lives:

Sansa: I witnessed Dad’s beheading.
Jon: I met cannibals. Also zombies.
Sansa: I was sold into three terrible marriages.
Jon: I had to betray the woman I love. Then she was killed in front of me.
Sansa: I was raped.
Jon: I was murdered.

The Stark Family is cursed basically. Jon and Sansa agree on sticking together but not on where to go now. Sansa wants to ride a white horse of vengeance to Winterfell and take it back from Evil aka Ramsay. Jon just wants to disappear into the ether. 

Melisandre is still a sad shell of her former self (a side effect of burning a child I guess) but she’s ride or die for Prince Jon now. It’s a pragmatic choice given Stannis is dead and Jon is risen, but Davos has suddenly remembered that he loved Stannis and can’t stand Melisandre.  He asks, finally, what happened to Stannis and to Shireen. Mel is vague because she knows the truth would kill her but Brienne awesomely interrupts to explain she killed Stannis herself as punishment for him using blood magic to kill Renley. Oop, Mel, watch your back.

In the Vale we catch up with Robin Arryn who has grown tall but is awful at bow, so like his uncle Edmure (#WhereIsEdmure), he has no chance of winning in this big mean world. Petyr Baelish reappears with the birthday gift of a falcon and I briefly thought we had a Jace Wayland moment on our hands but it’s more a distraction than a lesson.

Ser Royce accuses Baelish of handing Sansa over to the Boltons, but this is Littlefinger so he just accuses Royce right back and Robin backs him up because Uncle Petyr just gave him a pet predator. Royce gets out of being thrown through the Moon Door by swearing fealty to Baelish by way of Robin. Petyr informs them Sansa has now escaped Ramsay and fled to Castle Black. Robin, at Petyr’s urging, decides to mount a rescue and House Arryn is finally in the war. 

In Mereen. . . SIGH. Missandei and Grey Worm get some powerful stuff in these scenes — my favorite being their reaction to Tyrion saying he’s been a slave so he knows slavery is bad. Missandei and Grey Worm were born into slavery and lived as slaves until about a year ago while Tyrion was born into one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Westeros and was a slave as part of a ruse to get to Daenerys for about five minutes so.

But once again their entire storyline and characterization is defined by their history as slaves and it has me longing for their awkward asexual romance. Anyway, Tyrion invites the leaders of the other three communities in Slavers Bay to tea and lays out a plan. They can keep the slave trade going for seven years while they get a new system in place, and they will be compensated for their losses (by whom?). 

The newly freed slaves who make up the citizens of Mereen object to Tyrion even meeting with the slavers but Grey Worm and Missandei back him up against their better judgement. In private they tell him to stop using them and there is plenty of projection that this deal is going to backfire at which point I expect terrible things to happen to Grey Worm and Missadei but not Tyrion because he’s Tyrion and, again, SIGH. 

We next catch up with the road trip rescue outside Dothraki Coachella. tldr; Jorah is old and Daario is gross. Daario is so gross I want to think the writers are setting us up to prefer Jorah as a suitor for Daenerys — but I actually think the writers just think it’s funny. Daario:

  • Uses “ride the dragon” to describe sex with Daenerys
  • Has a knife with a big breasted naked woman as its hilt
  • Upon witnessing gratuitous sex in the street says “I shoulda been born Dothraki”

As for Jorah, he is easily winded, takes the rules and/or honor too seriously, talks them into trouble, and nearly dies in a street fight but Daario and his dishonorable knife save him. When Jorah points out the knife wound will alert the Dothraki to their presence all the quicker, Daario bashes the dead man’s skull with a rock to hide it. In simplest terms Jorah is Lawful Neutral tipping Good and Daario is Chaotic Neutral tipping Evil. 

Meanwhile, Dany and the widows have the same conversation they’ve already had twice — Dany has no power and will be lucky to stay with them — but also introduce a new character, a widow Dany’s age who was taken by her Khal at 12. Dany bonds with her instantly and they head outside the temple to talk dragons. At which point Daario and Jorah show up to smuggle Dany away. But the woman of a hundred titles has her own escape plan and gets the other three on board.

Margaery is taken from her jail in King’s Landing to meet with the High Sparrow. I don’t really know what happened in this scene because Jonathan Pryce orating nearly put me to sleep. I am as weary of the High Sparrow as the Lannisters and Tyrells are. But Margaery is rewarded for not falling asleep in his presence with a visit to her brother and I get sibling reunion number two! The two have very nearly the same conversation as Sansa and Jon: Loras is defeated and Margaery tells him to get over it, they need to fight.

In the Red Keep Cersei gets Tommen to tell her what’s going on and learns Margaery is getting set to endure her own Walk of Shame. Cersei, with Jamie in tow, uses this info to get back into the inner circle of Kevan Lannister and Olenna Tyrell. They plot to have the massive Tyrell army show up to save Margaery and the Lannisters will stand down and let it happen. Cersei preys on Kevan’s desire to get his son back from the Hyenas and despite his misgivings he agrees to the plan. The Lannister theme song plays as the crew decide a riot in the streets is better than the religious stalemate they’re currently stuck in and it’s super effective. 

In the Iron Islands it’s time for sibling reunion number three! An embarrassment of riches! And variations of the same theme which I love. This is different from various Dothraki and assorted people related to Dany explaining the Khal widow situation over and over, which is tedious and feels like the plot is treading water. Here they’re paralleling the plots and characters as they build. It feels like the War of Kings and very welcome. And while this still fits:

Theon steps up right away explicitly supporting Yara’s bid for power and asks her to let him help her get the Salt Throne. I’m so excited for this team up and completely terrified of what will happen next. Which is good television so ten points to Gryffindor. 

In Winterfell, Ramsay murders Tonks. And then sends a letter to the Lord Commander in Castle Black. He tells them he has Rickon in his dungeon and unless Jon gives him Sansa he’s going to destroy them all. His threats are explicit and delivered as a kind of poem which is so Ramsay. Ramsay’s army is at least 5000 and Jon’s fighting wildlings number around 2000 but Sansa believes the North will rally for Jon if he asks. Jon finally agrees to take a stand.  

And we end back with the Dothraki where the council of Khals have learned nothing and discuss Dany’s body and what they want to do with it in front of her. Dany smiles, explains the simple concept that Khal Drago >> all of them and Queen Daenerys >>>>>>>>>>>> Khal Drogo. Then she tips over the fire pots and sets fire to the temple. Daario and Jorah have taken care of the guards and the barred the doors and her enemies all die screaming the way Dany promised way back when. She walks out of the fire and just like that Daenerys went from prisoner to leader of the entire Dothraki nation. Don’t mess with Team Dragon.

Random Notes:

  • Daario knows Jorah has Dragonscale
  • Tormund sees something he likes in Brienne
  • Does Jaime know about Cersei and Lancel?
  • Missandei’s costume is amaze

Winning: Daenerys Targaryen, Yara Grejoy, Cersei Lannister, Olenna Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell, Sansa Stark and token boy Petyr Baelish
Dead: Tonks (Osha), all the Khals

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