Game of Thrones Season Six: Episode Four Recap – ‘Book Of The Stranger’

This blog is published after the ‘Game of Thrones’ simulcast. Do not read ahead unless you have seen season six, episode four, or want to find out what happens. It contains lots of spoilers etc.

We’re all talking about

Seven days is a long time in Westeros. Only last week, I wrote how difficult it was to care for Daenerys and the wailing widows of the Dosh Khaleen. And then she goes and pulls off a stunt like that; burning the remaining Khals and earning the loyalty of the Dothraki people with the flick of a few flaming torches.

I was half expecting Jorah not to make it out of this episode alive. His advancing greyscale, combined with his unrequited love for the Mother of Dragons is a dangerous mix, and I was waiting for him to go down in a blaze of glorious sacrifice at some point, but it was not to be. That still may happen, of course, but instead, he and Dario made their way into the sacred city – thank R’hllor Dario kept his dagger – to find their queen. What their banter lacked in zingers they made up for in dead bodies.

It can’t be too long now until Daenerys is on her way back to Slaver’s Bay to take control of the troubled cities, before launching an all-out assault on Westeros. Although now Cersei has control of Varys’ little birds, the Khaleesi isn’t going to have surprise on her side. She will, however, have three dragons, the Unsullied and 100,000 Dothraki warriors plus whatever sell-swords and Targaryen-loyal houses she may yet find. Varys has long talked of being the figurehead of a movement to resurrect House Targaryen, so don’t be surprised to find some unlikely allies popping up.

What else happened?

Looks like Jon Snow’s heading south, to get warm and get some revenge. He might have been brought back to life, but until his little sister Sansa, Brienne and Podrick arrived, the former Lord Commander was a man in need of a plan as sharp as that new haircut. Who knew you could have a topknot in Castle Black?

Sansa’s arrival, of course, was the Stark reunion we’ve been waiting for, a reunion of sorts though it is – Jon’s only half Stark, and prior to him joining the Night’s Watch, the two characters never actually shared any dialogue on the show. Pedantry aside, it’s a momentous occasion in Westeros, the family having been torn apart during the first series, seemingly never to reconvene. “We never should’ve left Winterfell” said Jon, bringing home just how much has happened since that first series. “I want to take back the north and I want you to help me. I’ll do it myself if I have to,” was Sansa’s response. By the time Ramsay’s letter arrived, full of vile threats, she’d convinced him, as well as Tormund and the wildlings, to help her. Sansa is strong, tactical and knows what must be done. Is that Littlefinger’s influence coming to the fore?

Talking of Ramsay, for a man who specialises in flaying his enemies he’s absolutely horrible at peeling an apple. Far better at stabbing women in the neck, it would seem. The sooner he meets his end, for the good of the show, the better. He serves little purpose, there’s absolutely no chance he will come out on top, and the showrunners are merely delaying the inevitable by keeping him alive, allowing him to carry out almost whimsical, tiresome acts of violence as he goes. There’s a showdown between the Ramsay and Jon coming – Bastard Bowl, if you will – and it can’t happen soon enough. Iwan Rheon plays it well, but the character gets more one dimensional by the week.

Still in Castle Black, Brienne’s arrival was interesting, as if she doesn’t belong there, and the conversation between her, Davos and Melisandre left so much unsaid, namely that the Red Priestess had Shireen burnt alive – what will Davos say when he finds out? And what does the Red Priestess make of Brienne killing Stannis? Perhaps now she knows he wasn’t the Prince that was promised she doesn’t care?

Littlefinger, Lord Wandering Accent himself, made a return. Seriously, is he Welsh? Irish? From Kent? Never mind. Lord of the Vale, Robert Arryn is back too. After a brief standoff with Waymar Royce, Baelish is back in charge, pulling the strings, but what his next move will be is a mystery. Will he and the Knights of the Vale ride to Jon’s side? Or will he swoop in at the last second to try to take Winterfell for himself?

Tyrion’s meeting with the masters of Slavers’ Bay didn’t go too well – he managed to upset both the slave masters and his own council, seemingly forgetting that only last week he freed two dragons from beneath the temple he’s sitting in. Why is he not using them to restore order to the region?

Margaery Tyrell and the High Sparrow’s conversation was illuminating, and among other things, made more allusions to the return of The Hound. I won’t go much further with that, but the graveyard mention could be significant. Let Cleganebowl commence.

So far this series, Cersei’s storyline is yet to get fully into gear, but here we got a glimpse of what’s in store when she interrupted Grand Maester Pycelle offering his wisdom to Tommen, and then took control of a small council meeting to lay out her plan. The Tyrell army, led by Jaime, are going to march over the Faith Militant to rescue Margaery, satisfying Olenna, Kevan, Jaime and Cersei. To hell with Tommen, what he wants doesn’t matter.

Theon got back to the Iron Islands. And yes, Theon – he’s probably recovered enough now to stop calling him Reek. It’s a resurrection almost as remarkable as Jon Snow’s, not that sister Yara cares. She just wants to win the Kingsmoot. Queensmoot? Where is Euron hiding?

What does it all mean?

It means, more than anything, that Daenerys is now in charge of the Dothraki people. After so long struggling, and so many setbacks in Slaver’s Bay, she finally has her ducks, or should that be dragons, in a row.

And Jon Snow has a reason for existing. It’s all very well coming back to life, but you have to do something with that. Cutting off Ramsay’s head should be that something.

In the wider scheme of things, it also moves on what has so far been a patchy, badly paced series. This episode packed a lot in, but seemed to cut around the storylines less, giving each room to breathe.

Best scene

Daenerys, burning all the Khals and emerging from the flames, of course. Even though the burning Dosh Khaleen looked like it had been created with Deluxe Paint II on the Amiga 500, it was still brilliant.

Predictions for next week

The Wildlings, Jon Snow, Sansa, Brienne and Podrick, with assorted bannermen still loyal to House Stark will face off against the Bolton forces. Things will go badly for our heroes, until Littlefinger rides to the rescue. Or will Edd command the Night’s Watch to put aside their duty just this once and help their former Lord Commander?

Daenerys will start packing for Meereen, but Jorah’s sickness will stop him travelling. And Bran will meet some White Walkers.