Game of Thrones Review: Book of the Stranger

Finally, on Game of Thrones, something is happening. Yes, I know that previous episodes have moved one or two plot lines along, and this is of course forgetting the non-spoiler of John snows return the life, but this episode finally put in motion something that we have been waiting for, honestly for about three seasons: Daenerys has an army again.

Episode Summary:

The Wall

Jon Snow is about to leave Castle Black when Sansa, Brienna and Pod arrive. They share a heartfelt hug, the first on-screen interaction these two characters have ever had. Sansa attempts to convince Jon to take back Winterfell; he is unmoved, stating that he’s done fighting. Then he receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton stating that he has Rickon.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

Meanwhile Brienne taunts Davos and Melisandre, telling them that she is the one who slew Stannis.

The Vale

Littlefinger is back, plotting his way to power somehow, we can be assured. Essentially he returns to tell Robyn Arryn that he must use his forces to support/rescue Sansa. This scene serves only to remind the audience that Littlefinger is a master manipulator.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

Mereen

Oh Tyrion, you are doing so well, and unfortunately it will get you killed, just like Jon Snow. Essentially Tyron is attempting to make peace with the former Masters of Slaver’s Bay. Essentially he is allowing them to transition from a slave economy over the course of 7 years. Something that the former slaves find repulsive, and rightly so. Tyrion tells them that he can either end slavery or end war, but he can’t do both. Reluctantly Grey Worm and Missandei agree to follow Tyrion’s plans for the time being, but they do not like it. This will not end well, and it’s sad because Tyrion is making all the right calls, just as Jon Snow did last season.

King’s Landing

Margaery is released from her cell and has a conversation with the High Sparrow. She does not break, but is shown to her brother who is nearly broken. She tells him not to give it or everything is lost. Clearly Loras has been treated much more harshly than Margaery has.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

Meanwhile in the Red Keep Cercei and Jaime hatch a plan with the Tyrells to have their army rescue Margaery before her walk of atonement. You can be sure that Cercei is not being straight with the Tyrells and things will not go well for Margaery.

The Iron Islands

Theon returns to find his father dead, a Kings Moot imminent and a sister who is too grief stricken to care much about him. He promises to support her in her bid to become Queen.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

Winterfell

Ramsey kills Osha. That’s about it.

Vaes Dothrak

This is the meat of the episode. Daario and Jorah have a heart to heart where Daario provokes Jorah, who doesn’t take the bait, about being Daenerys’ lover. They sneak into Vaes Dothrak and kill two Dothraki while they attempt to rescue Daenerys, who has other plans.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

Daenerys is taken before the various Khals where she informs them of her plan to lead all of the Dothraki. They laugh at her and promise to rape her. She is unphased by this. She touches a pyre and knocks it over. Emotionless she watches as the hut they stand in erupts in flames, killing the Khals but leaving Daenerys unburnt. The Dothraki outside the hut kneel before her as the credits roll.

Analysis

Finally we have Daenerys taking command, something that she hadn’t really been doing for most of last season. She is strong, she is determined, and she remembers that she has survived being burnt before. This is the Daenerys that we’ve missed, one whom we haven’t seen since the end of Season 3.

Game-of-Thrones-604-11-600x902
Credit: HBO

Let us not forget, that at the end of A Dance with Dragons, which is more or less (mostly less) covered in season five, Daenerys is discovered by Khal Jhaqo while riding on the top of Drogon. In the show, she’s found barefoot and alone. This completely changes the dynamic of the story, turning her from a victor (even Dothraki can’t fight a dragon) to a captive. These last four episodes have seen Daenerys transform from a proud but powerless woman in a male-dominated society to now becoming essentially the queen of the Dothraki. It seems that now we have a Daenerys who is ready to reclaim her birthright. She commands an army of the world’s greatest light cavalry (the Dothraki) and the world’s greatest light infantry (the Unsullied). Without going into too much detail about medieval military tactics, this would be a force that would be very hard to overcome, even with an army of heavily armored knights and foot soldiers. My prediction for the next of the season is, quite frankly, Daenerys’ main storyline is more or less finished. The rest of the season will have her making her way back to Mereen. Meanwhile, in Mereen Tyrion will be making all the right moves (appeasing the slave masters to prevent a war), which will in turn blow up in his face. Either Tyrion will have a revolt on his hands from the former slaves in Mereen, or more likely, Mereen will be sieged by the former slavers. Which will tie things up nicely for Daenerys to come in with her Dothraki in the season finale.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

The story in the North is beginning to pick up. One thing that I am interested to see is the interaction between Brienn and Melisandre. Melisandre will follow Jon Snow, whom she now believes is The Prince that was Promised rather than Stannis. Brienn will follow Sansa who will presumably go with Jon Snow. Brienne clearly (and correctly) places much of the blame of Renly Baratheon’s death on Melisandre’s red shoulders; I’m really looking forward to see how the two characters will move forward.

Sansa has finally started playing The Game of Thrones, as it were, something we saw a glimpse of at the end of Season 4 but now she’s ready to take back Winterfell. Jon Snow will attempt to unite the northmen under his banner, but he will have an uphill battle convincing them to fight alongside wildlings. It will take a few episodes before this is resolved and he is ready to march against Ramsey.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO

The king’s landing storyline is boring. Nothing is happening, which is fine because frankly we’re all concerned with Daenerys and Jon Snow at the moment. Hopefully Cercei’s trial will come soon.

Overall this episode had a lot of high points, but Daenerys stole the show in the thrilling conclusion to the episode. It was written, acted and scored brilliantly, and it means that not only is Daenerys ready to take charge again but she is embracing the magical elements of her character that the show has been shying away from for quite some time now.

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Christopher James

Christopher James

The Founder of TPK Media.

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