Film and TV

Game of Thrones: Book of the Stranger

by on 17/05/2016
 

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Further Warning: This review has been identified to potentially trigger rage in people with ‘All Caps Sensitivity’. Reader discretion advised.

Each week before I watch Game of Thrones, I go through all the good things I want to happen to the characters in the coming episode and then imagine the opposite will happen. Using this technique, I guess correctly pretty often.

My main predictions for last night were that Sansa and Jon would miss one another at Castle Black, with him leaving as she arrives. Dany would be stuck doing pretty much nothing in the Dothraki equivalent of an old folks home, whilst Rickon and Osha would be flayed alive by Ramsay Snow.

Amazingly however, episode 4, ‘Book of the Stranger’, defied pretty much all Game of Thrones convention and was (possibly) the happiest episode I’ve seen in the entire series (and that’s even with a character I really liked dying).

And it all starts off with the Stark reunion we’d been hoping for. I began shouting at my TV the moment the doors open to Castle Black and you see Sansa ride in with Brienne and Pod. Jon comes down the stairs and you don’t even know what is happening because this is Game of Thrones and there are tears in your eyes because GOOD THINGS DON’T HAPPEN TO THE STARKS!

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What the f*** is going on?

We know from early episodes how close Jon and Arya were, but Sansa was mostly disdainful of her ‘Bastard’ half-brother, something I’m sure she was taught by her mother, Catelyn. So to see them changed like this and together, is frankly wonderful. You can really see how far their characters have come from season one‘s surly Jon and his idealistic, haughty half-sister.

Season one Sansa wouldn’t have hugged Jon like that. Season one Sansa wouldn’t have apologised to him for her treatment of him either. The writers take this even further when they have her be the one to bolster her half-brother as he doubts himself. She is the one pushing action and revenge, and I absolutely love it.

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Seriously though, what the f*** is going on???

We’ve had glimpses of this (Darth) Sansa at times, and especially since she fell into Littlefinger’s care, but it seems she’s really beginning to grow as a character now. She is emerging as a player in the Game of Thrones as opposed to simply a pawn for others around her.

“Winterfell is our home. It’s ours. And Arya’s and Bran’s and Rickon’s, wherever they are. It belongs to our family. We have to fight for it”. – Sansa, Episode 4 ‘Book of the Stranger’

I also have to mention that this happened…

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(I ship it)

And I can’t even begin to process why all these amazing things are happening in this episode. It’s like we’re in an AU version of the show where characters actually have agency and good things happen (until next week of course, where everything will be extra rapey and murdery to make up for it). But for now, I will just enjoy the fact that we may get Tormund of Tarth, and it will be everlasting, eye-fucking, sandwich-eating gloriousness.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few other interesting developments at Castle Black too. Melissandre now plans to serve Jon, who she completely believes is the Prince that was Promised and Brienne reveals that she executed Stannis at the Battle of Winterfell version 1.0. We see Davos visibly shaken by this news (because it was off-screen and usually when deaths happen off-screen they didn’t happen at all), and I can’t help but wonder what he will do if he finds out what happened to Shireen. Oh sweet Onion Knight, please avenge your princess!

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Still too soon 🙁

Next we go to the Vale and it’s a welcome return for Littlefinger, who we can only assume has been busy teleporting all over Westeros for the last few episodes to set up his next coup de grace. It’s a brilliant scene though, showing Baelish at his most manipulative as he easily manoeuvres Sweet Robin and Yohn Royce like moving chess pieces across a board. By the end of the scene, Littlefinger has brought the Vale into the fray as it begins to look more and more likely that they will ally themselves with Stark loyalists to reclaim the North,

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10/10 for machiavellian plotting good Sir

We’re with Tyrion next and it’s good to see him attempt to resolve the issues between Meereen and the Masters without resorting to threats, shouting and violence (take note Dany). Tyrion is a master politician and I want to believe that he has a handle on things, but as Missandei and Grey Worm point out, he doesn’t know their culture. He is still doing things the way he would have in King’s Landing and I’m concerned that this arrogance will be his downfall. Tyrion has some pretty thick plot armour so I doubt he’s going to be killed any time soon, but he may need saving in a few episodes or at the very least, he’ll need to learn to ride one of those dragons pretty sharpish.

Next we follow Daario and Jorah who feel like this season’s Jaime and Bronn but with less bromance, and more Daario saying mean things (not cool, bro). The two men are on their way to rescue their Khaleesi, but by the time they make it to her she already has a plan to rescue herself.

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Dany has had about enough of the Dothraki Home for Retired Khaleesi(s?) as I have

In King’s Landing the High Sparrow reveals his sordid past of smelly cobbler orgies to Margaery who does her best I’m sure not to laugh out loud, and is granted a visit to her brother Loras who she has been asking to see. Echoing Sansa’s scene with Jon, we get another sister trying to give her broken brother a much needed pep talk, but Loras looks too far gone for my liking. He isn’t just worn down, he looks physically and mentally broken and far from his image as The Knight of Flowers. We don’t find out this episode, but this scene and those with the Lannisters have both me and Lady Olenna worried for Margaery’s safety.

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Diana Rigg acting the shit out of every episode she’s in <3

The tensions with the Faith Militant seem to be coming to a head, and it appears as though the Tyrell’s have been manipulated into being the ones to instigate it in order to save Loras (the heir) and Margaery. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Cercei takes the opportunity to remove Margaery from play amidst the coming civil war via Zombie Mountain. We will have to wait and see, but I don’t think it’s going to go well for either the Tyrells or the Lannisters, with significant casualties on both sides.

Next we see Theon’s return home, and he barely looks the shadow of the man who was here last. Yara (another sister!) reprimands her brother for failing her and their family, but she is soon placated when Theon pledges his support for her to rule the Iron Islands. The Kingsmoot is coming and I know that there are plenty of Book Fans out there that love the Greyjoys, but this to me was one of the most boring storylines in the novels. Fortunately, with the pace Season 6 episodes seem to be going at the moment, I’m hoping we’ll at least get to the bottom of why anyone should care about the Greyjoys soon, or some sort of redemption arc for Theon.

And now to the the low point of the episode, well, subjectively low anyway. On one hand we have Osha who is a brilliant character in her own right, killed by Ramsay who has reached ridiculous levels of plot imperviousness.

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Tonks Death PTSD trigger warning 

On the other hand, it could have been so, so much worse. I think that being stabbed in the neck is like the second best outcome Osha could have hoped for. The first being killing Ramsay and escaping with Rickon, the second being a quick death that doesn’t involve torture, rape or being flayed alive. I am so beyond hating Ramsay right now.

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Oh wait, no I’m not

Back at The Wall, we finally get the ‘Pink Letter‘ and the revelation that Rickon has been captured and Ramsay wants his ‘wife‘ back. Jon finally gives in after encouragement from Sansa, and decides to go South with the Wildings to rally the Northerners against the Boltons, Karstarks and Umbers. It’s the Battle for Winterfell version 2.0 and what most of the internet is affectionately calling The Bastard Bowl. Call it what you want, all I know is that there is a hype train coming through and that I have a first class ticket.

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All aboard!!

And at last we reach our final segment back with the Mother of Dragons, The Unburnt, The Breaker of Chains, the Stormborn etc etc whose fate is being decided at the annual corporate Khal event (I’m sure they called it something different on the show but nevermind). Daenerys has other ideas about her future and puts her fire imperviousness to good use by setting the building ablaze and having Jorah and Daario barricade the doors with her rivals inside.

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This girl is on fiyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh

Again, this completely goes against Game of Thrones logic. Surely Dany should be stuck in Dosh Khaleen until episode 9 when she is saved by Drogon and Jorah/Daario/Tyrion? But no, this episode full of women being total badasses culminates with the Queen doing what she does best: burning stuff, not being burned, smug stares, important speeches, destroying her enemies and basically being worshipped as the potential God that she is.

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Dany = Azor Ahai ??

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YAS QWEEN!!

And because I’ve read a lot of arguments about whether Daenerys is fire proof or not, it’s worth mentioning that D&D and the other writers are far too busy trying to get her to Westeros before the White Walkers kill everyone to be bothered about sticking to something GRRM said a few years back. Books = books and show = show. Keep them separate and you’ll have a lot more fun watching the series.

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Also this

Preview for episode 5, Game of Thrones: The Door


A few final thoughts:

  • Did Baelish write the Pink Letter?
  • Dany / Sansa for joint MVP
  • BASTARDBOWL #GETMOREHYPE
  • BRANWATCHOUT!
  • CHOO CHOOOOOOO!
  • BRIENNExTORMUND

tumblr_o79206XLTS1uv80u9o2_250Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

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