At The Wall
In Game of Thrones’ episode “Book of the Stranger”, the powers that be decided to throw us a decidedly merciful bone in the reunion of Jon and Sansa. Really, the acting must be applauded in the portrayal of camaraderie that we see between two actors who have actually never exchanged dialogue one on one before this episode (seriously, look it up). What is odd are all the gaps in knowledge between the two and the fact that we are meant to assume many of the off-screen conversations they have. Does Sansa know that Jon was betrayed and resurrected? When did she tell him Rickon is still alive? She must have because he is nonplussed when he reads Ramsay’s letter stating the fact. Really, I doubt there would have been any unhappiness from fans if we stayed with these two for much more time than we did.
We also get the famed “Pink Letter” in this episode, whose author is hotly debated among book readers. In the show, however, it is pretty likely that it was Ramsay who write it, although they chose, oddly enough, to use the line, “Come and see” both in the letter and by Littlefinger later. Perhaps it is just chance, but perhaps it is a hint.
In “Book of the Stranger” we also have the first ever exchange between recipients of the Awkward Trio of the Show Award: Melisandre, Brienne, and Stannis. Brienne accosts Mel and Davos about their use of bloodmagic right as Davos was prying for answers regarding the fate of a certain princess in a very deus ex machina moment. Melisandre’s POV would be highly compelling for a character who went from losing her faith entirely, to accomplishing her most astounding miracle yet, to being faced with her previous errors once more. I for one do not envy her fate once Davos learns the true details of Shireen’s demise. I do, however, envy Brienne if and when she gets a moment alone with Tormund, whose suggestive eyes were a complete highlight of this episode.
On the less fortunate side of things, Osha has finally resurfaced after a season only to be stabbed in the neck by Ramsay—I mean, er, poisoned by her enemies, in a very unsatisfying end.
In the Vale of Creepy
We are also catching up with Robin Arryn, who has been laying low for a while. Gratefully, he has resurfaced without another nipple to suckle, because that was literally one of the creepiest things I have ever seen. Robin is being advised by Littlefinger, who has also been absent for some time; one assumes he has been busy tracking down other look-alike daughters of women he has once loved and kissing them because that is also literally one of the creepiest things I have ever seen. In either case, they decide to help Sansa and again, one wonders if this whole battle was Littlefinger’s plan from the start.
In King’s Landing
Cersei and Jaime seem to have become better politicians in this episode as they manoeuvre both Olenna Tyrell and Kevan Lannister into backing a plan to get the Faith Militant to stand down, based on a “secret” that Tommen was entrusted with by the High Septon. Now, it is a strong possibility that the High Septon fully know Tommen was incapable of keeping information from his mother, particularly when it involved Margaery, and her planned Walk of Shame. Worth noting in this episode is that Margaery looks way too damn pretty for an uncouth prisoner. All I know is Cleganebowl better happen, whatever method the show writers want to employ to get us there.
In the Free Cities
Tyrion is still attempting to flex his political muscle in episode 4, where Grey Worm and Missandei prove that there is always room for backlash to a good decision. There are good points to both sides, with the two former slaves lacking any experience with diplomacy, while Tyrion is without familiarity of the culture of Slaver’s Bay. It remains to be seen if Tyrion’s attempts will be successful.
Meanwhile, Daario and Jorah pause their pissing contest long enough to sneak into Vaes Dothrak and rescue our Khaleesi. After, Dany mets with the council of Khals to decide if her fate is with the Dosh Kaleen. After much compromise, she positively killed them all. She burns down the entire tent with their pow-wow still inside and emerges from the fire intact. The entire Khalasar bows down and Daario makes a face that clearly reads, “Holy crap, I banged that”.
Her ability is a difference from the novels, in which she is resistant but not immune to flames. It does set-up a clear dynamic between her and Jon Snow, the latter of which was reborn from ice while her rebirth is from fire. George RR Martin has only ever revealed the ending to the show writers, David and Dan, and it is an ending they described as “bittersweet”, which may suggest that it all comes to a head between these two. According to the trailers, they will even have the servants of the Lord of Light conflicted. In the choice between Jon Snow, The Prince that was Promised, potential offspring of the man the Barristan describes as the “finest man he has ever met”, and Daenerys Targaryen, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea (I am so not typing the whole title) the obvious choice is still Hodor.
“Book of the Stranger” Overview
In many respects, this episode was circular for our characters:
- Jon and Sansa are in the same place for the first time since season one
- Theon returns to the Iron Islands seeking family, refuge, and acceptance
- Dany steps out naked from a fire in front of an adoring, converted khalasar
- Tyrion must manage a complete mess of a city
- Varys employs random women as spies and offers them a safe haven far away
- Somewhere, Gendry is still rowing