Episode 54 “Book of the Stranger”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
What an episode! Game of Thrones? More like Game of Queens. If at first we truly believed the men reign in this world, we were sorely mistaken. The men have only shown us that they may get what they want without much patience, but the women… give them time and they will rule the world.
The episode opens up once more in the North. Jon Snow (Kit Harington), no longer the Lord Commander, readies to depart Castle Black for good, and who can blame him? If those I looked to as family killed me, I wouldn’t want to stay either. As Jon attempts to make his friend Edd (Ben Crompton) understand, a horn sounds, and the gates open to Sansa (Sophie Turner). Thank the Many Faced God that Jon was still there when she arrived. It’s almost too good to be true and we all hold back happy tears as they embrace. After years of the Starks being separated, we finally have a glimmer of hope that they will rise together and take back the North.
Sansa and Jon reminisce of old times, and we see a changed Sansa. No longer is she the quiet, polite girl that we once knew. Instead before us is a fierce young woman ready to take back her home, and in her determined eyes we see her mother reflected back. The North remembers, and it’s time the Starks took back what was theirs.
In Castle Black, Melisandre (Carice van Houten), is confronted by Ser Daavos (Liam Cunningham) and he inquires if she will be following Jon. She confirms this, adding that he is the Promised Prince. Daavos, our favorite simple man, questions about Stannis supposing to be that Prince, and Melisandre attempts to evade him. A little shard of ice sticks in our heart when he asks about Shireen. Ouch. He still doesn’t know that Stannis had her burned alive at Melisandre’s word. If she were to tell him, I have no doubt he would drive a sword through her heart, even if she did bring back Jon Snow, and I wouldn’t mad if that happened.
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) steps in, overhearing the conversation, and you can feel her anger roll off her and through the screen. She smugly recalls the details of her execution of Stannis, all the while staring down the Red Woman. Finally, she got her revenge for Renly’s death. You go girl! Not only can she fight better than a man, but she can throw shade like a woman. Brienne is the goddess we all deserve.
A little farther south, Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli) trains with Lord Royce (Rupert Vansittart), and is doing miserably, but at least he isn’t crying like the little brat he is. Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) shows up and gifts Robin a Gyrfalcon. Lord Royce is less than pleased after hearing that Sansa was supposed to return to the Fingers with Petyr but instead was married to the Boltons. Petyr implies that only a few people knew of his plan, Royce being one of them, and somehow his plans had been divulged to the Boltons, hence Sansa’s forced marriage. While the audience knows this not to be true, Royce does not, and he implores his trustworthiness, and just barely keeps his head. Petyr catches Robin up on Sansa’s current predicament and Robin agrees to use his army to help her. The thought of all the soldiers of the Vale and the Wildlings coming together, bolsters our hope for the North to be back in the hands of the Starks with Queen Sansa on the Northern throne. Though Littlefinger’s plan starts become apparent, and while we are excited for the Boltons to be taken down, we know that Petyr’s next step is to marry Sansa and put him as the head of the North, but I don’t believe Jon will allow that to happen.
Farther East in Meereen, Tryion (Peter Dinklage), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) meet with the Masters of Yunkai, Astapor, and Volantis. It is apparent that Grey Worm and Missandei are not happy about this diplomatic meeting, but go along with it, as Tyrion knows how politics work better than they. It’s a short meeting in which Tyrion tells the men, they have seven years to abolish slavery, as Danaerys (Emilia Clarke), did not give them another system in which to use after ending slavery. Meereen was to remain without slavery, however, and they were to stop all funding of the Sons of the Harpy.
Tyrion leaves the Masters to think it over and gets an earful from Grey Worm and Missandei. He does his best to calm them, but it will take time, especially without Danaerys there to back him up.
In Dosh Khaleen, Jorah (Iain Glen), and Daario (Michiel Huisman), hide their weaponry in the chance that they are caught and they can pass themselves off as traders. Jorah’s sleeve opens up and Daario notices the Greyscale. This bodes ill for Jorah, for as soon as they get Danaerys, we all know Daario will reveal his illness, and hopefully Danaerys will do what she should have done several seasons ago. They enter in the cover of darkness and come upon two Dothraki, whom they kill fairly quickly. Farther in they run into Danaerys and she implores them to help her instead of rescuing her. She has a plan, and even has the aid of a few of the Dothraki women.
Back in King’s Landing, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is pulled from her cell and invited to speak with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). She holds her resolve, knowing everything that he has to say is only him trying to manipulate a confession from her. She remains strong and keeps up the conversation. You have to admire how fierce and cunning she is. Then he does the unexpected and allows her to see her brother Loras (Finn Jones). They put her in his cell, where he lays in a dirty, broken heap. She attempts to give him encouraging words, telling him to be strong but it is revealed that he has already confessed. He just wants it all to end, but it won’t until Margaery confesses as well. He implores her for help, but it isn’t spoken what that help is.
Then it dawns on us, she will have to make the same walk of atonement as Cersei (Lena Headey) and our stomachs drop. It’s one thing for someone who participates in incest to have to go through that ordeal, but a young woman who only wanted to keep her brother from being found gay? This seems far too severe of a punishment, and you have to wonder if everything will be the woman’s fault in this religion and they are the ones who must humiliate themselves for repentance. What of the peasants? Have they all not committed crimes that the High Sparrow would want to take interest? This only bolsters my opinion that he aims to bring down the monarchy so he may rule.
In the Red Keep, Cersei confronts her son Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), and finds out what Margaery is to go through. While we know that she has no love for the woman, but she does not wish for her to go through that, and sees this as an opportunity to bring down the Faith Militant and High Sparrow. She brings this to the attention of her uncle Kevan (Ian Gelder) and Margaery’s grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg). Kevan agrees to provide his army for the rescue of the Queen. It would seem that not only is Sansa gaining her army, but so too, is Margaery.
Far East, Theon (Alfie Allen) returns home to Pyke and is rudely greeted home by his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan). It is clear that she is furious and suspects foul play. After all, she had attempted to rescue him only to have her men killed by Bolton’s men, and then soon after her father dies, Theon shows up in time for the Kings Moot. She questions what it is he wants, and he tells her, tears rolling down his face, that he wishes to help her. He wishes her to rule the Iron Islands. Looks like we have our third Queen, and she is fierce and angry.
Back in the North, Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) sits peeling an apple with expertise, after all he knows how to flay skin, so an apple peel is nothing to him. Osha (Natalia Tena), our favorite wildling woman is shepherded in to see him, and we all get a little excited. After all, if anyone can kill Ramsay, it’s fearless, wild, Osha. She attempts to lure him into a false sense of security by seducing him, but something doesn’t seem right. He seems too willing to let this happen. Typically he rules through fear, and intimidation before he takes a woman. Osha doesn’t know this. She sees him as a typical man, only ruled by his manhood. She reaches for the apple knife, but before she can grab it, Ramsay pulls another knife out of hiding and stabs her in the throat. There was barely a struggle, barely any fight. It was over and done in a matter of seconds. We all scream ‘Not Osha!’, and I can’t lie, a glass of wine almost went through the television screen. Osha’s ending was far too sudden, but I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. Game of Thrones is well known for their quick and unexpected deaths.
Back in Castle Black, Sansa, Brienne, Jon, Edd, and Tormund Gianstbane (Kristofer Hivju) sit eating their lunch. Tormund sits across Brienne giving her a seductive eye. It’s obvious he finds her alluring, and Brienne could not be less interested. In the mix of all the drama, it’s nice to get a bit of humor added in, and it is very much appreciated. The humor dies quickly however when a letter from Ramsay is given to Jon Snow. Though he claims not to be the Lord Commander, everyone appears to still treat him as such. In the letter Ramsay challenges Jon to bring back Sansa, and reveals that he has Rickon (Art Parkinson). Sansa convinces Jon to fight Ramsay, by gathering all the Wildlings they can, as well as any Lords of the North that may still be loyal to the Starks. We know that the Umbers haven’t declared their loyalty to the Boltons, but they are helping them. It makes you wonder if perhaps, the Umbers are still secretly loyal to the Starks and are only playing the game to keep themselves alive while Ramsay sits in Winterfell until a Stark can come and claim their throne once again.
In Dosh Khaleen, Danaerys is brought before the Dothraki Khal council where her fate will be sealed. She suggests they follow her rule and she reflects on the last time she was there, all the while walking amongst the room speaking until she is in the center, torches circled around her. A glint is in her eye, and a smirk remains on her lips. She is teasing them, testing them, like a dragon would with a ram. She looks hungry as she looks at them; it’s obvious she knows what she is doing and we are on the edge of our seats waiting to see what our Queen will do. The men all laugh at her, and threaten to rape and kill her. She remains smiling as she rests one hand on the torch nearest her. It does not burn her, but we all know that, they didn’t and the fear on their faces is beautiful. She tells them they will not follow her, because they will die, and she tips over torch after torch, watching them writhe and scream as they die. The fire brings all the Khalasars and out walks Danaerys unharmed and unburnt. They all bow down to her. She may not get to Westeros soon but it’s evident that she will have the largest army available.
There are so many big things in store for us. Danaerys is literally changing the way of a hundred thousand people. Sansa will be fighting to take back her home, Yara will fight to become the first Queen of the Iron Islands, and Margaery will fight for her throne. What is to happen I don’t know for sure, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. I have a feeling more than one glass of wine will be needed for the next episodes to come.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.