Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 4 – Book of the Stranger REVIEW

Daenerys, Jorah and Daario. Daenerys once again proved why so many fans think she will end up on the Iron Throne when all is said and done. Jorah and Daario arrived at Vaes Dothrak, but Daeny knew there was no escaping. So instead she pulled one of her classic Daeny-badass tricks and burned the khals alive. She claimed their lack of ambition meant they were unfit to lead the Dothraki and so instead she would. It certainly seems like she has the Dothraki on her side, as she walked out of the burning temple unscathed by the fire, and all bowed at her feet. Of course this harkened back to the final scene of season one when she accomplished something similar. A more experienced leader now, let’s hope she can use the great armies at her disposal and finally make that trip across the Narrow Sea. First though, there is the question of issues  back in Meereen. It’ll be interesting to see how the Khaleesi feels about the diplomatic approach of Tyrion whilst she has been absent. Missandei, Grey Worm and a number of former slaves were less than impressed with the way he met with slaveowners to organise a deal. He presented a deal which allowed slavery to be abolished slowly over a seven year period. It was a very modern way of approaching the issue, but I can’t say Daeny will be very impressed. Again, these events are useful in building the qualities of and testing the reserve of Daenerys and Tyrion, in preparation for what’s to come, but it can drag. Thankfully this season so far, the wit and banter of Tyrion and Varys has made Meereen more than bearable, and Daeny provided such a spectacular finale this week.

Less explosive but certainly not less affecting was the Stark reunion. Finally it has happened! We’ve had a number of close calls over the years since the family was split up in season one, but we now thankfully get to see the Starks working together again. Of course though, it was immediately ruined by a message from the sadistic Ramsay. The letter was suitably graphic and horrific and prompted Jon to agree to help Sansa take back the North. In order to get the numbers needed they must now recruit. This was must-see television, and it promises to be for the remainder of the season. The thought of Jon and Sansa gaining revenge on Ramsay is a mouthwatering proposition. The writers must be praised for this, as this particular story has been built so well over the last few seasons, and is no doubt leading to a spectacular finale.

Along with Sansa, Brienne and Podrick also arrived at Castle Black. That gave us yet another incredible meeting, one that fans may have forgot about with the Stark reunion. Brienne, originally pledged to protect Renly Baratheon, watched her King be killed by a shadow with the face of Stannis. Here she met the woman responsible for that, and informed the Red Woman, along with Ser Davos (Stannis’ right hand man), that she had killed their pronounced King. Brienne warned the pair that she did not forgive nor forget. It was a small moment, but it packed quite an impact, as all three are more or less heroes of this story. It was another long-term payoff for fans too. Perhaps this small, perhaps easily forgotten moment, could have major repercussions down the line.

Whilst those in Castle Black plotted against Ramsay, he was back in Winterfell, pretty much dismantling a popular fan theory from the past week. The theory was that Umber turning over Rickon and Osha was nothing but a ploy. This however, seems invalid since Osha was murdered by Ramsay. It was an intense scene, but one in which we all knew the end result. Osha has been such a minor character, whilst Ramsay has developed into the big bad. She tried to be sneaky and take him down, but he was never going down so easy. Now Rickon is all alone with the sadistic Ramsay. The young Stark has never been a major player in the Game of Thrones but certainly means a lot to his siblings. The forthcoming battle is one to saviour, and in this world, what happens is anyone’ guess.

The Tyrells returned to our screens in a fit of misery and despair. Both Margaery and Loras remain imprisoned but they were at least reunited this week. It’s been a crushing defeat for the brother and sister duo who had plans to rule. She is of course still the Queen however, and Jaime and Cersei clearly aim to use that in the fight against the religious fanatics that have control of King’s Landing. Using this as a base, the Lannisters and the Tyrells (the incredible Olenna Tyrell) finally get on same page to plan a rescue mission. The Tyrell army will march on King’s Landing to rescue the Queen and the Lannister army will not stop them. The promise of such a battle is another thrilling idea, especially with the women of Dorne waiting in the wings to strike too. The wildcard in this situation is Tommen. He is a young king who certainly does not like the religious fanatics, but he remains afraid of them, the High Sparrow in particular. Cersei has manipulated Kevan Lannister and taken control of the King’s army, and clearly intends to use them to provoke the High Sparrow. This would enrage the young King but would he really turn against his own mother? Last week, he sat and listened to the High Sparrow, so perhaps he is slowly being indoctrinated. Only time will tell.

Littlefinger also appeared for the first time this season, arriving at Runestone to convince his stepson Arryn to command Lord of Runestone Yohn Royce to lead the knights of the Vale to aid Sansa Stark. Theon Greyjoy also returned home to the Iron Islands and pledged his loyalty to his sister Yara. These were smaller moments in the grand scale of the episode, but they sufficiently moved forward their respective stories. Littlefinger has just put the first piece in place for Sansa and Jon to take Winterfell, whilst Yara appears one step closer to becoming Queen of the Iron Islands. There is of course Euron, murderer of Balon, who will no doubt challenge. It’s a development that, perhaps even less than Meereen, appears related to the overall arc of this season. As always though the writers are crafty and throw in numerous curveballs every season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Greyjoys turn up unannounced at one of the forthcoming battles.

Another step in the right direction for Game of Thrones. After a shaky season last time round, it has refound its groove. The building is slow and precise, but perfectly timed, interspersed with great reveals and shocks. Perhaps more than ever, it is integral television viewing.

Verdict: 9/10

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