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REVIEW: Game of Thrones 6×4 ‘Book of the Stranger’

Written by Grace Davis

Ok so this week the first line in my notes simply says ‘PLEASE DON’T LET SANSA NARROWLY MISS JON SNOW’. Happily, I wrote that mere seconds before she appeared at the entrance to Castle Black. Crisis averted and finally, finally we get to see two Starks reunited. There was a certain beauty in the fact that it was Sansa and Jon – who both agreed that they had not been close previously. I found it kind of touching to see the two of them finally have a real conversation. Jon is clearly going to need a bit of time to get used this new hard-core Sansa, who pretty swiftly turns their talk to serious topics: it’s time to take back Winterfell. Oh hell yes. The girl who used to sulk and cower as life happened around her (and I don’t blame her because she was a scared child) has become a woman who is willing to do what it takes to get what she wants – with or without her brother’s help. Later in the episode, a truly horrifying letter from Ramsay still isn’t enough to put her off: if anything it spurs her on. Good on you Sansa.

Also at Castle Black, we get to see some glorious moments and new pairings – I always love it when characters we’ve been watching for ages finally meet each other and this episode didn’t disappoint on that front. Brienne and Davos = hilarious in a kinda dark way. ‘Yep, hi I’m Brienne. Killed Stannis but are you really bothered? He was a tosser anyway.’ Fair enough Brienne. (Although I was about ready to cry when I thought Davos was going to find out what actually happened to Shireen. That could have been the end of Melisandre).

Further south we get a long-awaited update on Littlefinger (and Robin. But I think that was less awaited). Nothing much has changed: Littlefinger is still incredibly scheming, Robin is not someone you’d choose to have the power he has. But what does it matter that he’s Lord of the Vale, really? We, and suspicious Royce, all know he’s just Petyr Baelish’s puppet. Interesting that they’re planning to pop up north and help Sansa. I’m really not sure how that one is going to work out.

The next thing that has got me wondering is: how does anyone in Meereen know that Varys is a eunuch anyway? Can they see it in his eyes? Or is he just that well-known? It’s a mystery to me. Anyway. That’s not a big plot-point. A big plot point would be something more like the fact that Tyrion is taking matters into his own hands and has granted the Masters 7 years to draw slavery to a close. It’s a horrible thought, one that Missandei and Grey Worm seriously dislike, but it’s realistic. This is how the world works. Daenerys tries to work how heroes in legends work and that’s great for the big ‘wow’ moments, but Tyrion sees the gritty, grimy reality that has to be dealt with. I don’t like it either, Missandei, but Tyrion was really great at being the Hand of the King so…

Also in Essos, Daario and Jorah are roaming around annoying each other. And me. Most of Daario’s lines are just ‘you’re old’ jokes at this point. That aside, they pretty quickly found their way into Vaes Dothrak on their Dany rescue mission and even more quickly got discovered as ‘people who were definitely not in any way merchants’. Good work, men. Regardless, they made it over to Dosh Khaleen central where super-luckily Daenerys herself just happened to have nipped out for a moment! What luck! I’m not going to moan too much about their incredible timing as thankfully it moved the plot along pretty quick – but more on that later!

Right now, I’m concerned with the High Sparrow. I hate him. I mean, great work from Jonathan Pryce who really sells this character, this zealot who fervently believes every word he says. As much as I appreciate that, I’ve got to say I’m getting rather fed up with these scenes where the Sparrow talks and talks at another character, spouting his views over and over. We get it, ok? Enough! This time it was poor Margaery who got an earful, with the one positive being that she finally got to see her brother. Poor broken Ser Loras! But here’s where things really get interesting: Margaery is strong and smart. We knew this already. But seeing her compared to Loras was such a contrast. Game of Thrones can be an incredible show for female characters, and never more so than this week. Margaery is obviously made of steel: you could almost see her willing that attitude into Loras (who has completely given up). Her actions echoed those of Sansa earlier – another steely-souled woman and yet a very different character to Margaery. Brienne too – I don’t think Brienne even sees gender any more – and Daenerys, Missandei, Cersei, Yara, Olenna. None of these women are flawless, they may get things incredibly wrong or make terrible ego-driven mistakes, and they’re not ‘the one woman who can match up to the men’, as we often seem to get in pop culture. They all match up, all in different ways, because they are written to be people. That’s important. It’s important for women and it’s important for men and we need to see it more. Whatever other mistakes Game of Thrones may make, it earns my respect for this.

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Continuing the theme, though I personally would never get tired of slapping her, I’m thrilled that Cersei is storming around and throwing down against the Sparrow. She answers a question I have been asking for weeks – namely, if a crazy cult suddenly decides it’s in charge of your capital city, why do you have to let them take it? Cersei’s answer is: you bloody don’t. At last! Thank you. Even Olenna (who I know would join me on the slapping train) gets into this idea and finally we get a promise of some action. CAN’T WAIT.

In other news, Yara is mad as hell at Theon who really needs to respect how much effort she put into rescuing him that time he decided he didn’t want to be rescued (ok, he’d been mentally and literally taken hostage by Ramsay but still). I’m liking the idea of him supporting her claim to the throne – she’s the only real contender as far as I can tell, forget piratey lunatic Euron!

I’m really sad that Osha is dead but it was kind of obvious – sure that trick has worked for her before but there was no way with Ramsay. Particularly when she strained for the knife but couldn’t quite reach it – too obvious! Last week I heard a lot of people wondering why she was even kept around by the Karstarks (who profess to despise Wildlings) unless she and Rickon were secretly in cahoots with them in a plan to overthrow Ramsay. Bit irrelevant now, I suppose. But was this part of a plan or her acting alone? We may find out.

And finally, that moment. I loved how insane and out-of-nowhere her plan was: it was a typical grand Daenerys talking scene and then boom! Fire everywhere. Crispy Khals. All of her best moments involve fire, I have realised, I guess that should be obvious with her being a Targaryen! I actually think she ought to use this major advantage more. More fire. She’s also pretty lucky that the Dothraki people really respected her ability to not burn – though I guess at this point she knows what impresses them! Anyway, it certainly impressed me and I can’t wait to see what she does next…

Final grade: A+

Extra thoughts:

  • I really thought Jorah was, uh, ‘relieving himself’ when he was taking his sword off. It seemed like a really odd time for that but I thought maybe he was going to try to intimidate Daario…
  • Ramsay’s letter made me laugh so much. Not the things he said so much as the way he writes, I hasten to add. It’s like a manic, evil five-year-old who’s had too much sugar before bed time. Brilliant.
  • Shout-out to Westeros’ newest and greatest couple: Brienne and Tormund. Yes! More of this please!
  • It must suck to be a Bolton and have all colour in the world ¾ drained away everywhere you go.
  • Jorah was SO HAPPY to see Daenerys’ breasts. SO DAMN HAPPY.

About the author

Grace Davis