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Brothers and Sisters – Book of The Stranger Review

[SPOILERS] for Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 4 – Book of The Stranger.

Keep reading after you’ve watched Book of The Stranger, or if you just don’t care about spoilers.

One Step Forward Two Steps Back

First thing’s first. After marching out of Castle Black in a drop-the-mic type scene in Oathbreaker, Jon Snow is suddenly back inside at the beginning of the episode. Did he forget something in his office? Did he decide to say his goodbyes in a more fitting fashion before marching out? I’m guessing the series writers were just trying to mess with us. They figured that we would think Jon will again miss out on a rendezvous with Sansa. But alas, they did meet, and it was very emotional indeed. Then came Ser Davos to try and get some information from Melisandre on Stannis‘ and Shireen’s fate. Just as he does, Brienne butts in to the conversation, revealing how she executed Stannis, but denying Ser Davos (for now) of learning about Shireen’s fate. Poor Davos. Brienne also adds that she does not “forget or forgive” what happened to Renly, giving The Red Woman the ‘evil eye’.

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Jon and Sansa – Brother and Sister Reunion number 1 / HBO

Will Ser Davos ever uncover the truth? He certainly deserves to, but how will he react. Melisandre resurrected the only hope the north had, so he owes her that much, but I can’t see Davos just letting this one slide.

Oh, How We Missed Robin

Did we really? Well, maybe a little bit. The weird, yet surprisingly charming (It could just be me. Probably) Robin Arryn, now serving as Lord of The Vale with his mother gone, is in the middle of some bow training when his favorite uncle drops for a visit. Littlefinger, who’s motives are never clear, decides to make amends and help Sansa in her quest to take Winterfell. Lord Royce, who now fosters Robin, tries to blame Littlefinger for Sansa’s fate, but it backfires when Lord Baelish implies that Royce may have tipped off the Bolton’s, since he was the only one who knew about Petyr’s plans for Sansa. Robin, realizing Sansa is his cousin decides to help uncle Petyr in his quest.

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Robin is back, and he has a new toy / HBO

On another note, a sneaking suspicion that Lord Petyr Baelish may end up sitting on the Iron Throne is suddenly growing in my head. For now, I’ll let it simmer for a while before returning to the subject.

No Politics For The Worm

Back in Meereen, Tyrion sits with representatives of the master slavers from Yunkai, Astapor, proposing a methodical 7 year process, where they give up slavery and still remain rich and powerful. However, Missandei and Grey Worm are weary of the master’s intentions and acceptance of the proposed offer by Tyrion. He offered them peace with relative harmony, and time to get to terms with the reality he offers.

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Tyrion struggles to impose his form of politics / HBO

I must say, despite Tyrion’s wit, cleverness, and penchant for politics, I don’t see them backing out or stopping financing the Sons of The Harpy so easily.

Khaleesi Lovers Unite

If there’s anything that will unite Daario and Jorah to focus on a specific goal, it would be the Khaleesi in a state of peril. Some banter between the two “If I win I’m the shit who killed an old man. If I lose, I’m the shit who was killed by an old man”, and Jorah’s comeback “You didn’t get much discipline as a child, did you?” is expected at this point. Nevertheless, the two are all in for saving their queen, and so they march into Vaes Dothrak with one thing in mind.

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The Dynamic Duo – Daario and Jorah / HBO

At the Same time, in the Dosh Khaleen temple, Daenerys makes a new best friend. A young widow of another Khal, who will play a part in what’s to come later.

A Sparrow’s Lesson In Literature

The Septon, aka High Sparrow summons Margaery to his ‘softening’ chamber. We get some back story on how he became who he is today, citing ‘The Book of The Stranger‘ in his effort of yet another lesson in morality (was poor, got rich, returned to being poor willfully). Margaery does her best to pretend to cooperate and look believable at the same time, but when he let’s her meet her brother Loras, she shows her real skin. She knows the Sparrow is playing them, and she will do anything she needs to get her and her brother out of this unfortunate situation.

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Margaery and Loras – Brother and sister reunion number 2 / HBO

Loras, in truth, doesn’t really care for any of this. He tells Margaery “I just want it to stop”. I don’t blame the guy. Even if he does get out of jail, he can’t really lead a normal life without being abused by those around him for his lifestyle. A real shame, but nothing we are unfamiliar with in the real world.

Mother Doesn’t Like The Queen

Ever the weasel, Grand Maester Pycelle is first on the scene to lend young king Tommen some advice on the current ‘Predicament’. Cersei arrives just in time (doesn’t she always), to interfere and remove Pycelle from the king’s chamber. Then, Tommen supposedly tells (we don’t actually hear him say the words) his mother that Margaery is also due a ‘walk of shame’. The strong and supporting mother that she is, she informs Olenna of what her daughter is facing, and Olenna would not have it. Kevan Lannister is also present. He is Lancel’s father after all, and would like his son to return, Sparrow brainwashing scrubbed clean out of his mind.

I never trusted Cersei, and not planning to begin now. There is a obviously a reason why we don’t actually see Tommen tell his mother what the High Sparrow said. There is a definite angle on Cersei’s part here, and I think Olenna is in for a shock development very soon.

Another Sibling Reunion

You may have noticed a pattern by now. This episode is all about sibling love. However, in this case there is probably the least love lost, with events from previous seasons placing a hurtful wedge in the relationship. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m referring to Theon and Yara’s weird and unforgiving bond. The recently escaped Ramsay prisoner, goes back to his homeland, only to find out that his father was murdered, and his sister is gunning for the Salt and Rock throne. She thinks it’s pretty convenient that he just happens to drop at her doorstep in time to take over, but he assures her that he is backing her, and her only, to take over their father.

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Theon and Yara – Brother and sister reunion number 3 / HBO

Euron will not give them an easy time. His character is not one that show-runners will get rid of so quickly in my opinion. If we’ve learned anything, he could actually end up on top.

How Do You Like Them Apples

Ramsay peels an apple with his knife. Osha walks in. There’s only one way I saw this one playing out. The wildling probably thought she could outsmart her way out of this one, but she hadn’t met someone like Ramsay Bolton before. She tries the tried and tested art of seduction on the bastard, but so far Lord Bolton has always been one step ahead. It was no different this time, to the apparent misfortune of Osha, who before managing to grab a knife to end Ramsay’s reign, is stabbed in the throat herself, and left to bleed to death by the snide ruler of Winterfell.

Love At First Sight At Castle Black

In an unusually comical scene (that does not involve Tyrion), wer’e back in Castle Black, where the happily reunited Jon and Sansa, along with their fellow mates, are having lunch. Tormund gives Brienne a creepy look. Brienne shies away, but her expression implies she is flattered by the wildling. Definitely some sweet loving action in the future for these two. We can’t just have peaches and cream though. An inbound letter for the former Lord Commander arrives. Sweet Lord Ramsay Bolton writes –

“To the traitor and bastard Jon Snow. You allowed thousands of wildlings past the wall. You have betrayed your own kind. You have betrayed the North. Winterfell is mine, bastard. Come and see. Your brother Rickon is in my dungeon. His direwolf’s skin is on my floor. Come and see. I want my bride back. Send her to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your wildling lovers. Keep her from me and I will ride north and slaughter every wildling man woman, and babe under your protection.”

This is where he stops, but Sansa reads the rest. More of the same really. Very ironic, coming from the biggest backstabbing bastard in the history of fiction.

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Feeling the tension at Castle Black / HBO

The interesting part for me comes next. Jon says that they don’t know that Ramsay actually has Rickon. Then Sansa nonchalantly fires back “Yes, we do”. Now, you could argue that she has a strong sense of Ramsay’s character, being his slave wife and all, and that’s why she would believe the Rickon part. But I’m more on the case that the theories about Rickon being an Torjan Horse, and a Northern conspiracy brewing in favor of the Starks by the Umbers and others to be true. All the clues are there, and Sansa’s reaction just reaffirms these thoughts.

A Trial By Fire

After infiltrating Vaes Dothrak, Daario and Jorah meet with Daenerys, but rather than fleeing with the Dothraki on their heels, Daenerys has something else entirely planned. Standing before the Khal Council, she disregards anything coming out of their primitive mouths and thick skulls. Some of us (myself included) were anticipating Drogon to come and save the day, but what ensued was a much better way to end this ridiculous nonsense. She uses her Targaryen ‘superpower’ to great effect as she burns the temple to the ground, Khal’s included. Khaleesi ten re-emerges from the flames once more, and this time she has a large portion of the Dothraki population as an audience. A marvelous reenactment of the dragon birthing scene from season 1. No messing with her again from here. A trial by fire passed with flying colors!

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Daenerys’ smile says it all / HBO

This should see our beloved Khaleesi finally return to Meereen after her freak adventure on the country side. We all remember how she got her in the first place, right?

Final Verdict

Book of the Stranger moves the plot along nicely and finally brings Daenerys‘ sidetracking Dothraki story to a satisfying conclusion. It also reunites brother and sister, in an effort to see find out if sibling bonds are strong enough to help pull through, under varying and difficult circumstances. A great episode, that readies us nicely for the end of the first half of season six.

Other Thoughts

  • Rickon probably has something up his sleeve. I see the boy surviving after all
  • How long before Daenerys re-builds her ships? What form of resistance does she have to endure before she can finally cross the narrow sea, now that Tyrion set a seven year plan in motion?
  • Is Sansa not letting on everything that she knows? She looks like she is hiding something from Jon.
  • This is one that everyone has been asking. How long before the last product of incest at the Lannister’s is dethroned? Tommen is riding the waters fairly easily so far.
  • Will Tormund and Brienne get groovy, or was this just a tease?

 

Have something to add on this week’s episode – The Book of The Stranger? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

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Elizabeth Pipko

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