Game of Thrones S06E04 “The Book of the Stranger” Review

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Sansa-Pod

“Book of the Stranger”

Warning the following is dark and full of spoilers

In past seasons the fourth episode of Game of Thrones has been a game changer and delivers in shock and awe factors, and this season’s fourth episode was no different. This season has really picked up it’s pace. Season six is not wasting any time; characters know who they are and what they need to do, and they are on the right track. Each character has some place to be and they are getting there quicker than they would if this was a previous season. I’m pretty sure they have developed teleportation because the travel time has been cut incredibly short. “Book of the Stranger” was a very exciting episode and it gave me a great deal of emotion.

I especially loved this episode because it showcased two very strong female leads: Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa Stark. These two showed their immense power, strength and resilience. They really were this episode for me. It makes me so happy that Game of Thrones is putting a heavy focus on their female characters this season.

Sansa really hasn’t had a chance until now to show her true strength and maybe it had to take getting tortured and losing almost her entire family and herself to find that strength. I’ve said before that she has been dealt a bad hand, and this season things have gotten so much better for her. Theon helped her escape from Ramsay’s clutches, Brienne saved her from getting recaptured and swore her allegiance to her, and now this week she was actually reunited with her brother Jon Snow.

I’m still crying about the moment they saw each other and hugged: it was everything I had been waiting for. Throughout the series the Stark children have had so many almost reunions. It has been incredibly frustrating watching them be two ships crossing in the night, just missing each other. The most painful one was obviously Arya getting to The Twins right after “The Red Wedding”. I thought Sansa was going to arrive at Castle Black just as Jon Snow had left and missed him. I was expecting that especially because it really seemed like Jon had walked out of Castle Black at the end of last week’s episode, but apparently he just turned over Command of The Night’s Watch and stayed around a bit. When those gates opened and Sansa arrived with Brienne and Podrick, I just started balling. Jon and Sansa are the first of the Stark children to be reunited. They were brother and sister again reminiscing about the days when Sansa was horrible to Jon at Winterfell when they were kids and how they never should have left Winterfell. It was really nice to just sit back and see them be a family again, smiling again. I’m not sure if the remaining Stark’s will ever be fully together again, so this was nice to have.

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Sansa didn’t want to just have a reunion and chill for a while though, she enlisted Jon’s help to take back the North. Jon is tired of fighting though and just wants him and Sansa to go somewhere safe. Sansa has a point though– they won’t ever be safe until they have control over the North again. Jon received a letter from Ramsay detailing how he has Rickon and wants Jon to bring Sansa back or he will do terrible things to everyone. Sansa puts Jon in his place and reminds him that he has followers and loyalty on his side. I’m so glad she didn’t just get to Castle Black and want to sleep for days. I mean she deserves a good night sleep, but I’m happy she has a mission and wants to seek revenge. She was basically like, “Jon stop your whining and let’s take back what is rightfully ours!” They have a plan now, and are going back to Winterfell with an army of Wildlings and their anger. I’m hoping that Sansa gets her moment with Ramsay like Brienne did with Stannis, it’s only fair. Side note: I really hope Tormund and Brienne get together and fall madly in love because I saw something brewing this episode. Also she was able to exchange a few words with Ser Davos and Melisandre about Renly’s murder and it was ever so satisfying. But I still can’t get over Jon and Sansa’s reunion!

Dany has showed her strength before, but she usually saves it for when she really needs it. Otherwise she makes her fare share of mistakes and has had to work hard for what she has. She has taken every situation she has been thrown in and turned it around for herself. When she arrived in the Temple of Dosh Khaleen she never seemed upset that she was there, just more annoyed if anything. I thought that was kind of weird, but I also knew that she has a reason for everything she does and not to make the mistake of underestimating her. I really thought Drogon was going to show back up and set everything on fire and she would gain more supporters of the Dothraki that way. But what Dany did was so much better than anything I had imagined. She literally set the house on fire! She arrived to have her fate decided by the Dothraki and she was just smiling at them the entire time. They were insulting her and her character, and she just stood there smiling. I was gearing up for something epic to happen. She said, “None of you are fit to lead. But I am, so I will,” and then she knocked over the barrels of fire setting The Temple of Dosh Khaleen on fire and killing everyone in it. She finally showed the true extent of her fire retardant powers. She walked through the fire and out of the doors with her head held high and her clothes singed off. Everyone of the Dothraki in the village bowed down to her. She was in control and there was no one who could stop her.

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I am so into the way she handled herself this week. The whole time she knew she would win them over. She just had to wait for the right moment, wait for her moment. Daario and Ser Jorah even showed up to rescue her and she told them she had a plan. Seeing her walk out in all her glory, straight from the fire had me in chills. It was shocking seeing her do a nude scene because I had heard that Emilia Clarke had stated she wasn’t going to be naked any more on GoT. But this moment was different than her previous ones; in this one she showed a new sense of strength and control we haven’t seen before. So now that she has the entirety of the Dothraki at her feet are we finally going to see her take Westeros by storm? I sure hope so! First she’ll most likely be heading back to Meereen.

Speaking of Meereen, Tyrion showed some real leadership in this episode, much to Grey Worm and Missandei’s dismay– they just didn’t agree with his ideas and practices. He knows what the rich want to see as he comes from a rich family and trusts their self interests but not them.  He is conducting business the only way he knows how, and that involves prostitutes. He also had an idea to give the leaders of the Free Cities seven years to end slavery; Missandei and Grey Worm didn’t take too kindly to that idea. Tyrion was ever so sassy self though and reminded them that he isn’t Dany so they should let him do what he does best. I’m glad Tyrion is showing some of his own strength in his leadership role and doing things his way.

The other Lannister siblings aren’t showing as much intelligence as Tyrion though. Cersei and Jaime revealed their plan to kill the High Sparrow, which sounds like the dumbest idea. Who knows how many friends the High Sparrow has hiding around King’s Landing. Cersei just wants to show she has strength without actually having it. She is desperate for her power back and she isn’t making the best decisions. Just stop and think before you speak or act Cersei, please! Jaime isn’t helping with his encouragement either. I guess it’s still the two of them against everyone else so they share the same delusions. Cersei was even trying to pretend like she cares about Margaery’s well being, despite not caring at all about the Tyrell. I mean I hope the High Sparrow goes away for good because I am quite tired of him, but they can’t take him down. Hopefully they end up surprising me, but it just doesn’t seem likely.

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Little Finger shows back up tonight and is still as vindictive as ever but that’s why we love him. He arrives to meet up with Robin Arryn: remember him? He also is no longer a little boy. He is the son of the late Lysa Arryn and is the now protector of the Vale. Little Finger arrived there to gain an army to take back with him after he got word that Sansa had escaped from Winterfell. Robin follows Little Finger’s every word and is going to help him help Sansa. I am always very confused by Little Finger, so I’m unsure what his angle is here, but it usually ends up being about him somehow. I really thought we would never hear from Robin Arryn again, but seeing him just really made me realize how much time has passed in this series.

Theon arrived at the Iron Islands and showed us that you can always find your way back home, but you may not be welcome anymore. He got there so quickly though– and how did he get on that ship? He doesn’t have any money, and he isn’t all there anymore to really talk his way into anything. I guess it really wasn’t important for the story to show us; it’s just another example of how GoT wants to waste no time with travel. His sister, Yara Greyjoy, greets him with no open arms. She puts him in his place too. If she wants to be the leader of the Iron Islands, I guess she can’t show mercy, not even for her own brother. I’m okay with that. Even though Theon redeemed himself somewhat with saving Sansa, he still is one of the more boring stories that I don’t care too much about, he doesn’t deserve sympathy. I love the strength Yara showed, and GoT just continues to deliver with its female characters. Margaery even was able to have some screen time to show her strength. She won’t give in; she knows who she is and what she has done and won’t buckle down for anyone. She was finally allowed to see her brother and she sat there with his failing body and told him he had to remain strong if they were going to get out of this. It was interesting to see the different brother-sister relationships this week.

There must be something big that Game of Thrones is going to get to this season, if they are going this fast with their storylines. If this was any other season it would’ve taken several episodes for Sansa to get to Jon, for Theon to get back home and for Dany to get to the point of burning down the Temple of Dosh Khaleen. I am anxious to find out what that big thing is. It has to be monumental for the season to be moving this quickly. They are only on their fourth episode. I can’t even begin to theorize what it could be. So much has happened already that I never expected; so I love the unpredictability of this season. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the writers are no longer tied to source material and are off on their own. I don’t think it’s bad that they are moving along the way they are, Game of Thrones doesn’t need to waste time on exposition. The most exciting episodes are the ones where stuff gets done. The audience wants to see the characters being powerhouses and shutting everything down on their way to achieving their agendas. This season is a whole new ball game and everyone in the audience is on a level playing field when it comes to story knowledge: without the books anything could happen.

This has been one of my favorite episodes of the show so far. There are some really strong female characters on this show and in this season they are really given time to shine. In a day and age where women rarely get their moment, this is very refreshing. I’m excited to see where all of this goes, over the next episodes. I’m still crying about Jon and Sansa’s reunion, I can’t remember the last time I was that happy for characters on this show. It was a new feeling and I know it’s fleeting, but I’m going to try to hang on to it until next week when something inevitably takes it away, in true Game of Thrones fashion!

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