Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 6 episode "Book of the Stranger."
(Check out last week's recap here if you missed it.)
Jon Snow was just about to make a clean getaway from Castle Black when the unexpected arrival of Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne and Sansa Stark changes everything. In the far-off Vale of Arryn, we finally reconnect with that weasel Lord Protector of the Vale, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, who has been busy buying birds of prey for the creepy heir Lord Robert Arryn. In Meereen, Tyrion amps up the negotiations with the Slave Masters by trying to broker a deal for the slow dissolution of slavery in exchange for them stopping support of the Sons of the Harpy. In turn, he pisses off the revolting slave leaders and majorly worries Grey Worm and Missandei about the wisdom of his actions. The High Sparrow has a long talk with Queen Margaery about what caused him to shed his former sinner's life (hence the episode title) and allows her to finally see her brother, Loras. Cersei and Jamie finally find a way to leverage some action from Tommen's Small Council. Theon Greyjoy finally makes it back to the Iron Islands and reunites with his less-than-pleased sister, Yara. Back in Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton ... well, he's just the worst, again. And, last but not least, Daario and Jorah catch up to Dany in Dothraki-land in hopes of helping her escape, except that the lady proves she really doesn't need any help at all. Just give her some really flamey braziers inside a locked room with some mouthy Dothraki Khals and really, she's all good.
The entirety of "Book of the Stranger" was some top-tier storytelling this week. The various stories moved forward with purpose and scope, so the choices made by some of the major players give us a strong idea of where the stories are going forward.
The greatest moment has to be Dany literally burning down the Dothraki power structure. From day one, she's never looked that bothered to be stuck in Vaes Dothrak. Now we know, girlfriend's been biding her time to come before the tribal of Khals who would "determine her fate," because she clearly was going to turn the tables on them. And that she did. After enduring their potty-mouth talk about her worth while she stood in front of them being threatened with countless rapes by Khals and their horses, Dany just stood there with an unwavering smirk. All she needed was Jorah and Daario to make sure the doors on the hut were locked, and the Mother of Dragons flipped some braziers knowing she was going to drink some Kermit tea as those misogynist jerks burned to a crisp around her. The stunning visuals of the engulfed building as the backdrop to the Khaleesi emerging naked, untouched and radiant with power was some epic storytelling. Even Jorah and Daario knew enough to shut up and bow to her moment of greatness.
The Stark children have been scattered to the wind for so long that actually getting a moment where any of them see each other in the flesh didn't seem possible, frankly. So to get Jon and Sansa's incredibly moving moment of seeing one another across the courtyard and then embracing each other in that full body hug was a tear-inducer. The realization that these two haven't laid eyes on one another for the entirety of the series was incredibly potent. I loved the two talking about how insufferable they were as children and forgiving one another for their sins, knowing the incredible things they've seen and experienced since they separated. They've both lived five lifetimes' worth of sorrow and pain, which makes their decision to take back Winterfell to free Rickon and go back to where they belong extremely resonant. Yes, Jon might want to be done with fighting, but he knows, and agrees with a solemn, silent nod to his sister, that fighting's not done with him. Bolton, batten down the hatches, you malevolent pile of bile! The Starks (?) are coming for you.
Meanwhile, Tyrion worked some fine negotiating in Meereen with the Slave Masters. He met them halfway with his suggestion of a 7-year phase-out of slavery and even sealed the deal with a very King's Landing-esque prostitute offering at the end. No wonder Grey Worm and Missandei were appalled by his compromises and hubris in thinking that the Slave Masters would play by any rulebook or be trusted. Tyrion made some good points, but this isn't his land. There's no honor in how they operate, and there's a good chance Tyrion might have bartered to no end.
I'm a fan of the desert adventures of Daario and Jorah. The two obviously love their Khaleesi, but they've also developed a grudging respect for one another. Jorah looked like me on my last hike, so I feel bad for the geezer getting ribbed by Dany's hot piece, and then later getting every part of him smashed to the ground by the Dothraki goon. But Daario saving Jorah's life felt like the two turning a corner, which was cemented as they both took the knee for their lady.
We also got some context on the High Sparrow this week, which was much needed. His religious superiority was not only making Cersei see red, but it's been a little one-note for the audience, as well. It's far more interesting to know that he, too, was a sinner who left it all behind to be one with the beggars who "were closer to knowing the truth" than any of the power players he used to spend his time with. Seems like he's certainly become more of a power broker than he ever dreamed, moving all of the kings and queens of King's Landing like chess pieces. Margaery certainly sees the game he's playing, and unlike Loras, still wants to fight back. Cersei also used Margaery's impending walk of shame as a power chip to get Lady Olenna and the Hand of the King to finally rally together to stop the Sparrow.
How fantastic was composer Ramin Djawadi's score this week? From the Stark reunion cue to the percussive and epic Dany emerging from the flames episode ending cue, all of it was music to my ears.
In the continuing adventures of 'How is Ramsay Bolton Going to Top His Evil This Week?' we get the horrible killing of Osha the wilding (and forever Harry Potter's Tonks in my heart). It's a particularly painful loss because Osha was just the best kind of ball-buster, as well as incredibly loyal. She almost talked a good game into knifing Bolton, but of course that wretch of a beast already knew her secrets and literally cut her off at the pass. We had that tiny glimmer of hope that she would be the one to bring him down, but no.
Brienne got a great moment of telling Davos exactly what Stannis did to his poor daughter, Shireen, in front of the King's enabler, Melisandre, but I was hoping there would be more of a reaction. The Onion Knight needs to get some serious vengeance for the little lady who taught him to read.
Aw Jorah, that greyscale is growing. I don't want to lose this guy. Hasn't he paid for his sins yet?
Things to Ponder ...
That High Sparrow is a wily dude. He was pretty forthcoming with stories this week, which makes me wonder if Cersi and the Small Council summoning the Tyrell army to stop Margaery's atonement walk is exactly what he wants? Collecting sinners and playing them like puppets seems to be his forte, and he certainly has a lot of Sparrows ready to do his bidding.
I think we may have found Brienne's love match in Tormund Giantsbane. OK, she didn't look too receptive about his bread flirting, but he's clearly smart enough to admire everything that lady is. They can fight Bolton's side-by-side and Wildings love their women strong. I'm on board!
Baelish, you're in trouble! The Sansa you're bound to meet soon is going to be a far cry from the trusting girl you plopping in Winterhell and left behind as Bolton's victim. You are soooo gonna get what's coming to you.
Who is getting the death blow when the Grim Reaper finally comes to get Ramsay Bolton? Does Sansa deserve the killing blow? Does Reek, now Theon again, return with Yara and the ironborn to unite with the Wildings to defeat the Bolton hold on Winterfell? Will he get the honor of wiping that monster off the earth? Who do you think should get the honor?
What did you think of " Book of the Stranger"?