Game of Thrones: Book of the Stranger review S6 Ep. 4

Hope is a foreign concept on Game of Thrones and it was weird actually feeling a strange tinge of optimism as events unfolded this week. This was the first episode that felt like we’re closer to the end of the series as the groundwork is being set for confrontations seasons in the making. And finally — Starks reunite!!

Ok, I’ll freely admit, I did a little happy dance once Sansa arrived at The Wall and reunited with Jon. This show has been so cruel to the Stark clan it wouldn’t have been shocking if Sansa slipped on a random piece of ice and snapped her neck. Thankfully this was a rare joyous moment on the show. Sansa apologizing for being a brat while Jon would hear none of it was a sweet exchange that conveyed just how much they’ve grown up since their last encounter.

Sansa tried to encourage Jon to lead the fight against the Boltons and reclaim Winterfell. But Jon rightfully pointed out all he’s done since he left the family was fight. He’s battle weary and seen more than his share of tragedy. On the plus side, Jon was never engaged to Joffrey or married to Ramsey so Sansa ‘wins’ on the whole who’s had it worse discussion.

It took one taunting letter from Ramsey where he threatened Jon, Sansa, Rickon, The Wildlings, puppies and kittens before Jon was ready for war. Ramsey’s threat only served to strengthen Tormund’s connection with Jon since they have a common interest and you’ve gotta think that was the exact kind of poor strategy Roose would warn against. If he wasn’t…dead of course. But since that’s the one evil act of Ramsey I won’t ever get tired of seeing let’s watch it again.

And for seemingly no other reason than to remind us he’s a demented, twisted little bastard, Ramsey kills Osha in a completely unnecessary scene. Every time he’s on screen now we can bank on Ramsey doing something awful so whatever shock value he was good for is long gone. He can’t get killed fast enough as he’s just become the most insufferable, annoying character in the history of the series.

game of thrones book of the stranger review - sansa, brienne and pod-minThere was so much to enjoy in The Wall segments this week. From Tormund’s immediate interest in Brienne to Brienne letting Melisandre and Davos know she helped kill Renley. BTW Brienne mentioned she executed Stannis making things all kinds of uncomfortable that the episode didn’t need to even leave The Wall and I would have been happy.

Fortunately, most of the other subplots were very entertaining in their own right with the usual exception.

Littlefinger returned to sway Robin into rallying the Knights of the Vale to aid the Starks against the Boltons. Theon Greyjoy returned to the Iron Islands and after getting a well-deserved tongue lashing from Yara for his role in getting her men killed, he said she should rule and he will be her advisor.

The best of the bunch though was Cersei and Jaime getting Olenna and their uncle Kevan on board with the plan to rescue Margaery from The Faith Militant’s clutches and hopefully kill the High Sparrow in the process. The High Sparrow had a killer scene with Margaery this week as he explained his prior life. Jonathan Pryce has been a major get for the series and this scene finally gave him a big spotlight moment.

game of thrones book of the stranger review - loras and margaery-minIn Meereen, Tyrion’s usual deft maneuvering of tone and politics isn’t working as smoothly as usual. During a meeting with the neighboring slavers, Tyrion agrees to a peace and to allow the slavers an additional seven years to end the system. It wasn’t hard to side totally with Grey Worm and Missandei as they argued that was way too long. I’m a bit worried that Danerys is about to return to prevent Tyrion’s tenuous truce from completely collapsing.

As usual, the Daenerys subplot seems more about making her look awesome in every setting than giving her any difficult challenge to overcome. It seemed silly for the Dothraki council to ramble on and on about raping and selling her, but waiting for the appropriate time. Naturally, Jorrah and Daario find her in time, but Daenerys doesn’t need much from them as she tips the cauldrons and burns the Dorthraki leaders. Emerging from the fire, Daenerys has the devotion of the rest of the tribe.

Of the main characters, Daenerys remains the least engaging. It’s largely because she can never lose the upper hand for long. Look at Jon Snow’s journey. His first love was killed, his mentor betrayed and killed, he barely escaped from a horde of zombies and oh, yeah — the brothers under his command killed him. Next up there’s Tyrion who had arguably a worse fall. He started off a happy drunk frolicking in whore houses. Suddenly he’s put in charge of the kingdom as his twit nephew can’t rule for anything, jailed for killing said terrible nephew king, barely survived an encounter with stone men and did his own stint in slavery.

But Daenerys has had such an easy ride compared to them ever since the first season. She was the ruler of a tribe, then upgraded to become ruler of a nation. She commands the baddest army in the land and oh yeah, she’s got dragons! It’s hard to really root for a character that always comes out ahead and rarely experiences any real hardship.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Dany’s complete lack of struggle aside, everything else worked tremendously as this marks another strong entry in GOT’s best season yet.

Photo Credit: HBO