Game of Thrones S06 E04: The Book of the Stranger


Reunions ruled this week’s episode and the ladies of “Game of Thrones” showed that they’re not only the fairer sex, but the more badass as well.  Let’s talk about what they’ll inspire right after the break!  Spoilers (including some of the book variety) ahead.

At the Wall

Turns out Jon Snows’s watch is ended, but his dramatic exit out the gates last week was only temporary as he returned to his quarters with interim Lord Commander Dolorous Ed to gather a few personal things.  Good thing too, because just as Ed is reminding Jon he’s needed up here, the horn blows, a gate opens, and we find that Sansa, Brienne, and Pod took the express horse and are already at The Wall.  Can’t say how happy I was to find two Starks in the same scene for the first time since Bran and Rickon parted ways back in season four.

...Sansa, party of three...ready to kick some Bolton ass...
…Sansa, party of three…ready to kick some Bolton ass…

I confess to being a little misty-eyed at Sansa and Jon’s embrace.  Okay, I was a lot misty-eyed, but that quickly turned to cheers as Sansa revealed a little bit of blood lust.  It’s interesting that Jon has sort of returned as the anti-Lady Stoneheart.  He considers himself a failure because some of his men killed him and his look into the abyss has made him passive.  He seems to forget that he still had people loyal to him, and the majority of the watch had no clue his assassins were lurking about, and that there are 10,000 Wildlings whose lives he saved (as Sansa keeps trying to remind him).

...I'll lead the Wildling army...maybe I'll take the Lord Commander role while I'm at it...
Fine, I’ll lead the Wildling army… maybe I’ll take the Lord Commander role while I’m at it…

It takes Bolton’s mocking letter, and some more cheerleading from Sansa, to light any sort of fire under him – and even then it’s more a barbecue lighter than a bonfire.  Not that I want him to run off into battle without a plan, but for someone who has stared into the abyss and found nothing, he seems really reluctant to do much more with whatever life he has left.


The Homicidal Hobbit, Ramsay Bolton continues to pile up the bodies – and increase the reasons everyone wants him dead.  Poor Tonks… (er Osha, sorry) went one time to the well too many with the operation Seductive Wildling.  I guess you have to give Ramsay some credit, he’s a psychopath, but a crafty one…he pays attention and remembers.  Can’t wait to see his head on a pike.

...hey, I tried, alright...
Hey, I tried, all right…

Kings Landing

We get our second brother-sister reunion of the day as Margaery finally gets to see Loras.  Queen M isn’t broken yet, but Loras certainly is; and I can’t tell whether she’s more disturbed or disappointed by the Knight of Flowers’ pleas to “make it stop.”   We find out later that she’s planning on confessing and taking the walk of shame, so I guess the answer is both? Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t look like she’ll get a chance to follow in Cersei’s footsteps, as the Lannisters and Tyrells are finally united against their common threat.  At least I think they are.  It seems like the Tyrells are taking all the risk here.  Wonder what Cersei has up her sleeve? do we....
Yeah… so do we…


Theon Greyjoy is in the house!  For whatever that’s worth.  The meek ex-Reek has got some toughening up to do, but it looks like  Yara may have her uses for him.  Great work, as always, by Alfie Allen, as he admitted he didn’t want to be King, but wanted to make sure his sister gained her rightful place on the Iron-bound Throne.  Could they be future allies against the Boltons?

I mean, with me in your corner, sis, how can you lose?
I mean, with me in your corner, sis, how can you lose?

The Vale

Nice to see the king of the long con, Petyr Baelish, crawling out from under a rock to sun himself in the adoration of his ward,  little Lord Robin Arryn.  I can’t believe I thought last season that this kid was going to eventually follow his mom’s flightpath out the moon door, but I guess I’m not the only one who is completely  lost in Little Finger’s twisting machinations.  Glad, for now, that he’s on the side of the angels and he managed to manipulate Lord Royce into taking the Knights of the Vale and heading up to Winterfell to take out the Boltons.  Let’s hope he can get a raven up to the wall to let Sansa know.

Listen, Robin, I just need to attach these strings to your mouth and hands …it won’t hurt a bit…

Meereen and the East

Tyrion has now held two of the most thankless jobs in the world.  I guess being Hand to Dany is still preferable to being Hand to crazy-ass Joffrey, but not by much.  Tyrion’s still the smartest guy in the room but too often he’s also the nicest, and the tightrope he’s walking is a very thin one.  He may have bought some time with the masters of Astopor and Yunkai with his slavery installment plan, but maybe at the cost of his little caretaker coalition?  Missendei and Grey Worm took one for the team this episode, but they certainly weren’t happy about it… and Varys didn’t look too pleased either.  Tyrion’s doing the right things, but as we learn every week – the right thing isn’t always the best thing.  Let’s hope Dany can get back before things get worse.

..really, we got this... take your time getting back...
Really, we got this… take your time getting back…

Things couldn’t get much worse for Jorah.  Not only did he have to listen to Daario prattle on about how great Dany is in the sack, but he also revealed his greyscale affliction to the Tyroshi sellsword.  I saw some worrisome parallels between their joint mission and the disaster in Dorne last year with Jaime and Bronn.  Luckily, I was wrong again and this dynamic duo actually accomplished something.  They almost rescued Dany (as if the Queen of the Dragons needed rescuing), and then playing an important part in her plan to gather a new army. What more can you ask for?

...I'm not really listening, I've got a world to conquer...
…I’m not really listening, I’ve got a world to conquer…

And what a brilliant plan it was.  This season has already done so much more with our dragon queen, but here she was her most regal, whether sitting amongst the widows and listening to them discuss their life of servitude to the khals, to separating herself and promising the young khaleesi (who must have reminded her so much of herself), to her final trap for the Khals, as she bore their threats and insults.  Perhaps the best part is how she embodied Tyrion’s advice to Missendei earlier in the episode, letting the men underestimate her because she’s only a woman.  Hell, I underestimated her as she stood among the braziers and monologued, by assuming we were going to see another Drogon ex Machina  at work.  But who needs dragons when you’re fireproof?  Not Daenerys Stormborn The Unburnt, that’s for sure.

...Dragons? I don' need to f@&#ing dragons...
…Dragons? I don’ need to f@$king dragons…

Miscellaneous Stuff

I’m absolutely nit-picking here, but have the show runners given up on the concept of travel time?  I’m willing to bend the rules of time and space to keep the plot moving, but jeez – Sansa seems to arrive at the Wall in a day.  Theon somehow travels through Bolton territory and over sea to Pyke in about the same amount of time.  And it’s not just travel, characters get informed of events or just seem to know impossible things.  I know there’s a lot to cover and a lot to reveal, and that we sometimes need some cinematic shorthand to keep things moving, but as these storylines come together, they don’t always line up. I confess I find it a bit disconcerting!

Nice reminder that Davos and Melisandre are not really friends…major burn Onion Knight, reminding the Red Witch she missed the call on Stannis and is likely wrong about Jon Snow as well.

Nice reminder that Brienne and Melisandre (and for that matter Davos) are not friends.  It was pretty unrealistic of me to assume Brienne would get her vengeance on the surly Baratheon and everything would be done with that plot line.  But Melisandre was as complicit in Renly’s death as Stannis (maybe more so, it was her smoke monster!).  And Brienne killed Davos’ sovereign liege and closest friend and just admitted it.  I hope these three can work together for the greater cause, but I can’t help but think there’s going to be a reckoning.

Jonathan Pryce has really got the High Sparrow perfect.  Like most true believers, you are drawn to him.  His simple beliefs, playing the ultimate good cop and allowing Margaery to see Loras, while leaving the harsh work and words to the Sisters.  He’s a compelling figure and you can see how, in this desperate times, he’s developed a following.

master of sparrows
…I’m just a sweet, grandfatherly figure who plans on having you flogged later…

Loved the inclusion of the letter at this point in the show.  In the book version the letter goads a very much  not-stabbed Jon into a decision to lead the Wildlings and Night’s Watch to take back Winterfell.  It’s ultimately THIS decision that leads the Watchmen to stab the young Lord Commander at the end of A Dance with Dragons. This never felt right to me, because breaking the oath goes against everything Jon Snow stands for. Kudos to the show runners for getting it right!

As we start getting closer to the end of the series, I’m starting to over-examine everything.  Did Sansa’s wish to ‘go back’ hint at something Bran is going to do?  Does this classify as foreshadowing?

What’s next?  Dany has her army and I imagine is heading back to retake the Slavers’ Bay cities.  Will she go to Meereen first and find out what Tyrion has set in motion there?  And Sansa and Baelish meet for the first time since he betrothed her to Ramsay – I imagine that will be awkward.  And what’s Arya up to over in Braavos… is she really no one yet? We’ll find out next week when we open “The Door” on a brand new episode!


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