REVIEW: Game of Thrones 6×4 “The Book Of The Stranger”

“I’m tired of fighting”


The Wall

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-13h32m21s165

Shot at the end of the previous episode was misleading; Jon hasn’t forsaken everything and walked out to find himself. Instead, he stormed off to his room in the castle and, AS WE JOKED ABOUT, literally decided just to gather a few bits and bobs before heading off. Edd calls him out for leaving at a time when he knows the threat of the Others (the White Walkers) draws ever closer. Quite rightly. Edd essentially tells Jon what we said at the end of our review of last week’s episode: he’s taking the piss in abandoning the Watch on a technicality.

Jon didn’t quite bump into Sansa etc on the road, but not too far off. As Brienne leads her Lady into the Castle Black courtyard, the bedraggled men look on with awe-struck faces, maybe even more of a pronounced reaction that they had to Jon’s RESURRECTION. Then again, Brienne is a big lass. Tormund clearly fancies the hell out of her; she’s no doubt far more similar to the type of lover he’d have taken beyond the wall. They’d be a damn odd couple, but a good one. We’re fascinated to see how the effects of a potential romance could alter each character’s perspective on the world; Brienne, with her unwavering sense of honour and duty, could become far less dogmatic, more easy-going and open-minded. Tormund, on the other hand, may find himself a smidgen more refined in the company of a lady. Only a smidge. Sort of like when you say something rude and your girlfriend gives you THAT look, because she has to pretend, in public at least, to be reigning you in. You go “sorry, dear”, but still secretly think you’re the funniest thing this side of the Wall. Perhaps that’s why we all, unanimously love Tormund so much; he says what he wants, when he wants, and does’t give a damn if somebody thinks he’s vulgar. We can only dream.

Sansa’s reunion with Jon is a beautiful, cathartic moment, especially scored by Game of Thrones’s “something emotional or kind of divine is happening” piece of music. We see that Sansa has become more humble, asking for Jon’s forgiveness for her behaviour towards him as a child. She speaks of the Stark children’s final day at Winterfell, saying that she wishes she could go back and scream at herself not to go. Neither she nor Jon are able to do this but, as the previous episode hinted, there may be a Stark who can. The half-siblings, if they’re even that, resolve to stay together.

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-13h35m59s23

Sansa’s also lost the capriciousness of a snooty, noble lady; she’s kind of becoming one of the lads. Perhaps a more important shift in Sansa’s character, briefly alluded to in her previous dealings with Littlefinger, is her new-found steel; she’s found a true desire to play the Game of Thrones and fight for what she believes is hers. This is in Stark (see what we did, there?) contrast to Jon who, despite his whistle-stop visit to the world of the dead, or lack thereof, seems to have become a bit of a wet blanket. Unlike Beric Dondarrion, who claimed to have lost more of his humanity each time he was resurrected by Thoros of Myr (the bloke from the ball-achingly irritating Bet Victor ads), Jon insists that he’s “tired of fighting” and wants no more than to go down south and “get warm”. We guess it’s good writing in a way, it is character development after all, but is ti the shift in Jon’s character that’s best for the series? We’re not sure. One thing of which we are completely certain here at G4me0ver, is our disdain for the former Lord Commanders new hairdo, which is dangerously close to being a *shudders* “man bun”. Sort it out, Snow! The Prince who was Promised, as Melisandre again refers to him, cannot have a hipster, douche haircut.

Mel and Davos get on the subject of Stannis and the fate of Princess Shireen. Melisandre who, in case anybody has forgotten, ENCOURAGE STANNIS TO BURN HIS DAUGHTER ALIVE, is rescued from an awkward conversation by Brienne, who strolls in, boasts about having killed Stannis, drops the mic, and walks away. Expect a heck of a lot more conflict to come between this trio of characters.

There is one distinct oddity in this scene; Sansa’s lack of reaction to Jon’s death and subsequent resurrection. He tells her that he cannot remain at Castle Black “after what happened” which she essentially seems essentially to dismiss in favour of telling him to start a war for the North. The show isn’t exactly explicit as to whether or not Jon has told his sister exactly what happened, and our confusion as to Sansa’s reaction may simply be a misunderstanding of the dialogue’s meaning. Either way, though, a moment of such potential emotional impact should not have been neglected by the writing team. 

The Vale

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-13h38m25s207

Littlefinger makes his return. He further buys the loyalty and affections of Robin Arryn, the young, feeble lord of the Vale, with the gift of a bird of prey. The Lord is enamoured with Uncle Littlefinger, thus bending unquestioningly to his will. In an expert display of manipulation, Baelish accuses the staunchly honourable Lord Royce (the chubby bloke) of having informed the Boltons of his plans. The tension mounts wonderfully as Baelish leaves the man’s fate in the hands of the unstable Robin who, with the encouragement of his Uncle, spares Royce’s life. Littlefinger is the Frank Underwood of the Westeros; pulling the strings of the people around him to make them simultaneously loyal to his cause and frightened of his power. Bealish informs everybody that the Knights of the Vale are to ride North to Sansa’s aid and, presumably, to war. Slowly but surely, the end-game is coming together.

King’s Landing

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-13h43m20s31

We get a brief glimpse of the imprisoned Tyrells. Margery is summoned to see the High Sparrow and, like her husband, appears to be taken in by his charm. He allows her to see Loras, but the man in Loris’s cell is not the Night of the Flowers we remember; he’s utterly broken and shrivelled up in misery. Margery displays her strength and defiance as its revealed that she was only pretending to bend to the whims of the Faith. She tries to motivate her brother, who’s having none of it. He cuts a pitiful figure and he bawls into Margery’s arms, the Queen now realising that the burden of their house’s dynasty falls solely upon her shoulders.

In the Red Keep, Cersei realises that Tommen has been weakened by his encounter with the High Sparrow, and takes Jaime to the Small Council meeting once more. After some predictable bitching between the factions that have arises within the government, Cersei channels the spirit of Tywin and renews alliances with Olenna and Uncle Kevan. Their shared love for their children, all imprisoned by the Faith in varying ways, and disdain for the impertinence of the lower classes prove to be enough to unite the Lion and the Rose once more. This alliance of necessity is no doubt temporary, but we hope it propels the conflict between the Crown and the Faith to a conclusion, because we’re all getting sick of the talking. House Lannister is finding its roar once again.

Winterfell

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-13h46m35s229

In other, less interesting news, Ramsay predictably kills Osha as she makes a thinly-veiled assassination attempt disguised as a seduction. The now supervillain-esque, seemingly omnipotent Lord Bolton stabs her in the throat before he casually ignores her as she bleeds out in front of him. He continues to flay his apple with a knife… rather on the nose, writers. This scene smacks of pointlessness, no longer offering any shock value as this kind of thoughtless brutality is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Ramsay. As far as Osha’s concerned, it’s an abrupt, ignominious end for a character who showed a lot of depth and promise, even in the opinion of George R.R Martin himself.

The Wall (again)

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-13h51m00s38

Back at the Wall, Jon, Sansa et al receive a less than cordial letter from Ramsay. It essentially is a “come at me, Crow”. Jon tried to protect his sister from the unpleasantries of the letter but, displaying further the momentous shift towards bad-assery in Sansa’s character, she rips the letter from her brother and reads aloud the threats of rape and murder levelled at her by her abusive husband. She doesn’t bat an eyelid, and the gathering turns into a council of war. The remaining Starks, the Willdlings, and the loyal houses of the North are riding to war. Bastard-bowl is coming!

Essos

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-13h56m18s162

Across the Narrow sea, Tywin’s legacy thrives in his greatest disappointment. Tyrion, to the dismay of Grey Worm and Missandei, has invited the Masters of the slave cities to Mereen for peace talks. Tyron practises some good old-fashioned, cynical Westerosi diplomacy, granting the rest of Slaver’s Bay a full seven years to transition away from their reliance on slavery. In exchange for this clemency, the Masters, though they deny having been involved, will withdraw their support or the Sons of the Harpy’s insurgency. Tyrion seals the deal with some prostitutes for his dishonourable guests, further incurring the fury of Worm and Missandei. In fairness to Essos’s resident, scantily-clad C3PO, she stands behind Tyrion when the threat of insurrection from the the common people of Mereen rises, echoing the Lion’s sentiments: “we make peace with our enemies, not our friends”. Tywin would be proud.

Elsewhere in Essos, we resume the handsome adventures of Jorah and Dario who have finally arrived at Vaes Dothrak, not before causing a stir and sharing some top bants. They discover Daenerys just as she’s popping out for a pee with her new friend, seemingly the youngest of the dosh khaleen.

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-14h01m34s233

There’s no sitting around this time. Dany’s summoned to a meeting of Khals in the temple. Despite the laddish, rape-related threats hurled hew way, the Mother of Dragons remains unerringly confident. Having had enough of their insults, she tips over the torches that illuminate the temple, mercilessly watching the Khals burn alive as they scrabble desperately for the door barred from the outside by Jorah and Dario.

Witnessing their most sacred of places being devoured by flames, the inhabitants of Vaes Dothrak spill onto the plane surrounding the temple. As the heaving crowd watches in disbelief, Daenerys steps from the flames. As one of her many monikers suggests, she is utterly unharmed by the fire. She stands, as naked as the day she birthed her dragons, before the throngs of Dothraki. Cue the “Daenerys is being all wonderful and supernatural music”. The crowd fall to their knees. They’ve found their queen. The Daenerys fan club walk through the bowed worshippers; even they, the her most devout of disciples, are in awe of what their queen has inspired. Sensing that something far greater than themselves is unfolding around them, they too fall into bows. This display is significant for the character ark of Dario in particular, who finally sees in Dany what Jorah has for so long. She’s no longer just his muse, an object of beauty he can enjoy; she’s his goddess.

vlcsnap-2016-05-17-14h04m10s37

Through her display of strength and imperious majesty, Daenerys has achieved her apotheosis and united all of the khalesars, just as she was supposed to have done with Drogo and her unborn baby; the Stallion who won’t, as it turns out, Mount the World. It’s poignant that she demonstrates her power and seizes control of the Dothraki hordes in the same room in which her conquering of Westeros was originally foretold. Once a terrified girl struggling to complete a barbaric ritual, now an empress, her subjects’s faces in the dirt before her. Dany has come full circle.

Her burning of the Khals, and fiery coup of the Dothraki is one of the most significant events in the series, particularly in Dany’s storyline which has become famous for its turgidity and lack of progress of late. With ALL of the Dothraki khalesars at her back, her power has multiplied exponentially; she now possesses the brute strength in numbers required to bring Slaver’s Bay under her control at a whim. So much for Tyrion’s proposed seven year period of grace. We’re betting that, when the news of a humongous, savage army united under the Targaryan banner reaches Westeros, some breeches will need to be changed. Will this sudden threat from the East serve to unite the great houses of Westeros, as the threat from the North has so far failed to do, or will it prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the fragmented realm? We’re not sure, but we hope the show avoids another period of inaction in Essos and continues to pick up the pace.

Despite the still gargantuan time GoT dedicates to talking, exposition, and relatively pointless catch-up scenes which serve largely, it seems, to slow the pace of the show, we’ve gotten far more of a sense that the end-game strands of the storyline are finally beginning to fall into place; Dany has her army, Jon’s riding south, Baelisch musters the knights of the Vale for war, and the Lannisters are grasping to reclaim their prestige. Additionally, the flashbacks delivered via Bran and Bloodraven, though missing this week, are tantalising teasers as to the answers to age-old questions we need in order to fully appreciate the gravity of the events that are undoubtedly about to unravel before us. One thing’s for sure: war is coming. 


We’re eager to hear what you thought about this week’s offering and where you think it’s all going. Sound off below.


Dan S and Matt

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.