We should know by now, you do not mess with the mother of dragons. Audiences certainly learned, so when watching this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Titled “Book Of The Stranger”, the struggle for power continues to intensify all over Westeros and Essos. If you haven’t seen this week’s episode, switch off now and meet us back here, as this post is dark and full of spoilers.
How long have we been waiting for a Stark reunion? Literally since season one. After six patient years, we all reached for the tissues when watching Jon (Kit Harrington) finally reunite with Sansa (Sophie Turner). Surrealism in effect, Jon and Sansa reminisce over soup, before admitting that leaving Winterfell was their biggest mistake: “I wish I could change everything” Sansa confesses. Going over their next course of action, Sansa reveals her fearless aspirations: “There’s only one place we can go – home.”
With continued committed portrayals from both Kit and Sophie, we imagine shooting the episode made for a nostalgic time, as before this episode, the pilot episode remains the only one where Jon and Sansa share scenes. Sophie, no longer playing the naive girl Sansa once was and Kit, proving removed from Jon’s humble origins, we can’t be the only ones aching to see how the separated siblings re-establish their bond. Bring on the vengeful plotting and overdue sobbing – we need, need retribution for Catelyn and Ned.
Elsewhere in Castle Black, Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) meet Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) once again, not letting them forget Renley was killed by Melisandre’s blood magic, while also unapologetically admitting to executing Stannis. Gwendoline Christie rarely falters in her portrayal of Brienne, perfecting a balance between her cut-throat ruthlessness and homely hospitality. Van Houten and Cunningham also contribute a needed vibrancy often lacking up at Castle Black.
Aidan Gillen returns as Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger), his absence ineffective on his creepy aura. Back in the bleak scenario of the Vale, Petyr and Lord Royce grapple for dominance over Lysa’s offspring. Discussing Ramsay’s (Iwan Rheon) hold over Winterfell, viewers may soon be witness to a bloody battle, as Petyr orders the readying of the Vale’s forces. Arguably the least exciting place in Westeros, hopefully the season will spend minimal time there.
Across the Narrow Sea, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Varys (Conleth Hill), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) struggle to agree on how to run an in rebellion and crumbling Meereen. Meeting with the abrasive masters of the city, Tyrion’s plan of action is heavily scrutinised by Missandei and Grey Worm when Tyrion gives the masters “seven years” to destabilise the slave trade. “How long were you a slave for“, Missandei asks Tyrion, insinuating his time in captivity doesn’t compare. Back and forth between the slaves and their owners, Tyrion finally gets Missandei and Grey Worm to understand his tactics, with Missandei later quoting the insightful dwarf: “A wise man once said, ‘We make peace with our enemies, not our friends’.”
Improving communication within Khaleesi’s small council, we hope its not long before Danny (Emilia Clarke) returns to strengthen their progress. The warm thematics of Meereen, complete with its golds and yellows, have always been a nice contrast against the shows dark and gritty landscapes. Here’s to the directorial pursuit of Daniel Sackheim, capturing the magnitude of Meereen’s temples can’t be an easy feat.
Further north, Khaleesi’s future with the Dosh Khaleen is finalized – in flames. Talking with the friendly leader of widowed Khals, the breaker of chains faces saving when Jorah and Daario infiltrate the Dothraki city to save her. Knowing they’ll never make it out alive, Khaleesi asks her new friend to not betray her before coming up with an idea. The Dothraki thematic is one we’re more than familiar with giving season ones drama, and while our first time proved sheltered, we’re intrigued to learn the ways and lifestyle of the Dothrak (however brutal). Anyone else missing Khal Drogo?
Standing before the Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys stands confidently while they talk of defiling her. Brushing off their remarks, Khaleesi had audiences intently listening when singing her late husbands praises, going on to undermine their authority: “You are small men. None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki.” she begins, angering all present. “But I am… So I will.” she finishes, inviting threats of unpleasant nights with their stallions, before placing her hand on the scolding fire place and setting the room and everyone in it alight. Emerging from the blazing temple naked and unsurprisingly un-burnt, the entire surrounding Dothraki, including Jorah and Darrio, bow to the Daenerys Targaryen, last of her name.
Emila Clarke remains one of the shows most adored, her regal aura when portraying Danny likely reason for much of our infatuation with the actress. Honing her portrayal throughout the years, Emilia Clarke’s dedication only fuels enthusiasm for the intensifying plot.
Over in Kings Landing, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) remains incarcerated and awaiting trial. Speaking with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), the two discuss Septor Unella’s habit of reading “at” people, before delving into the dangerous illusion of materialism: “I saw with perfect clarity, I saw what my sins were.” he begins, talking of his once sinful days. “The people I was trying to climb away from, the beggars in the street, the poor… they we’re closer to the truth than I ever was.”, he confesses to a curiously responsive Margaery, before holding out his hand and offering to take her to see her brother. Another watertight script courtesy of the shows talented writers, the faith militant seems to be getting all the best dialogue.
Entering Loras’ (Finn Jones) cell, the two run-down siblings embrace each other, with Margaery telling Loras he needs to be strong otherwise they won’t make it out. Confirming she can do anything, Natalie Dormer’s embodiment of Margaery shows us she is more than versatile. We best know Ms. Tyrell when she’s walking around rose gardens smirking at Lannisters, but since last season, Dormer has stripped away her characters lighthearted-ness, arriving in a place void of distraction, with only her raw emotions to bare. One character we’re fond of knowing what happens to, we hope Margaery gets her revenge on Cersei (Lena Headey) and not face the same fate so many others have at the hands of her.
Speaking of the devil, Cersei and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) stay on the war path, interrupting a small council meeting once more. Telling Olenna (Diana Rigg) and Kevan (Ian Gelder) they must take back power from the High Sparrow’s, “dirty, peasant hands”, Cersei also tells Olenna that Margeary is set to do her walk of atonement, but Olenna refuses to let that happen. Orchestrating a plan between Tyrell and Lannister forces, this week eludes at an eventful next week. Hopefully, Diana Rigg will continue to grace us with her comforting aura for the foreseeable future, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau looks to head in a less empathetic direction with viewers, his love for his Cersei likely the root cause.
After leaving Sansa with Brienne, Theon (Alfie Allen) finally reaches the Iron Islands, aka, home. Having not been home since he was a boy, Yara (Gemma Whelan) coldly greets her brother, unsympathetic to say the least. Accusing him of wanting their late fathers throne, Theon tells his sister he wants to help her rule. Gemma Whelan’s charisma is intimidating, we’ve only been with her very little time and already, her confidence leads us to want to know more.
Elsewhere, Ramsay adds another notch to our ‘unforgivable Ramsay moments list’ when murdering Osha (Natalia Tena). While she’s always remained in the background for most of the shows duration, her demise this week reminded us that even the loss of minor characters can rattle us. Introduced as a wild scavenger, Osha transitioned into one of the Stark’s most loyal protectors. Natalia, you’ll be missed, Osha was fierce until the very end. Let us pray to the old gods and new for Rickon’s (Art Parkinson) safety.
Sending word to Castle Black that he has their brother, Ramsay has Sansa in a fighting mood when Jon reads out the threatening letter: “A monster has taken our home and brother, we have to go back to Winterfell and save them both.” she adamantly states. If accompanied by Melisandre, Brienne, Davos and Tormund, the upcoming battle of Winterfell looks to be no less than cataclysmic. Scratch that. We’re still not over Jon and Sansa sharing scenes, and don’t think we will for a while.
Four down, six to go. Nearly halfway through the acclaimed sixth season and we’re already feeling the emptiness that will emerge once the season concludes. While we only have six hours of the current season left, the four hours we’ve had so far, have been no less than saturated. We’ve been gifted plentiful answers, magical revelations, overdue reunions, and bloody intrusions… though, not so much on the dragon front. Maybe next week.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9PM on HBO (US) & Mondays at 9PM on Sky Atlantic (UK)