After last week’s dissapointing outing can Game of Thrones get it back together with Book of the Stranger? Hopefully yes, and hopefully they bring my beloved Stannis back (Note: His death is confirmed about three minutes into the episode).

Season 6, Episode 4: Book of the Stranger
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
Directed by Daniel Sackheim

Recap:

Jon Snow prepares to leave for the South. Edd is not best pleased, reminding him of what they saw at Hardhome. Before they can argue further a horn sounds and Sansa, Brienne, and Pod arrive. Snow and Sansa are happily reunited and hug (when was the last time we saw two of Ned Stark’s kids interact?). Sansa and Snow reminisce over soup and ale and lament leaving Winterfell and their youths at odds with each other. Snow tells her he’ll take her south with him but Sansa is keener on retaking Winterfell. She tries to persuade Snow that he can rally the Wildlings to defeat Bolton but Snow isn’t up for it after all the battles he’s fought and lost. Sansa tells him that without him, she’ll just do it alone.

Davos and Melisandre discuss her plans and she intends to follow Snow, the prince who was promised. Davos probes her for more info about the fate of my beloved Stannis and Davos’ reading teacher, Shireen. Before she can tell him Brienne chimes in with some ill-feeling about the death of Renly by blood magic conjured shadow assassin (I love this show), and claims to have executed Stannis (though we haven’t seen a body yet so I’ll assume she’s lying.)

At the Eyrie, little Robin Arryn can’t shoot a bow, much to Ser Royce’s disgust. Littlefinger shows up and gives Robin a falcon. Royce is pissed that Sansa has been married to a Bolton instead of taken to the Fingers. Littlefinger implies that someone betrayed him as he was “ambushed” on the way by the Boltons who knew his plans somehow. Royce is pissed at the accusation but is quickly reminded that his life is in the hands of the Lord of the Vale, and the Lord of the Vale is a little psychopath being manipulated by a bigger psychopath. Robin asks Littlefinger if they can trust Royce, and Littlefinger advises giving Royce one more chance. Littlefinger talks to Robin about Sansa and puts the idea in his head that they need to take their army north to battle the Boltons.

In Meereen, Tyrion has invited the Slavers/Masters for peace talks. Grey Worm and Missandel are not enthused. The Slavers/Masters are, predictably, dickheads. Tyrion tries to smooth things over by giving them seven years to end slavery instead of commanding it to happen instantly, provided they cut off support for the Sons of the Harpy. Grey Worm and Missandel are less than enthused but, when Tyrion is accosted by a group of former slaves, they take his side. Once they leave the slaves tough they voice their misgivings and Tyrion tries to convince them he knows what he is doing.

Daario and Jorah are in the mountains and Jorah is showing signs of sickness. He’s sick from the Grey Scale and sick of Daario talking about having sex with Daenarys. They arrive at Vaes Dothrak and dump their weapons in an effort to sneak through the city posing as lost traders. Daario notices Jorah’s sick arm.

They sneak through the city where all manner of revelry is taking place. They stop two Dothraki and Jorah gets an ass-kicking while Daario chases down his Dothraki and snaps his neck. Jorah is being strangled to death until Daario stabs the Dothraki with his favourite knife that he brought with him anyway. They disguise the stabbed body as a head smashed in with a rock body and go looking for Daenarys.

Daenarys is chatting with the Khal widows about her future. She goes out for some fresh air with another young Khal widow. They are found by Jorah and Daario, and Daenarys has something in mind for their escape.

Margaery reminds imprisoned. She is taken to see the High Sparrow who tells her his tale of woe. How he was once a rich cobbler and after a night of hard-core partying realised the error of his ways and took to the streets, barefooted, to help the common man. He takes her to see Loras, who looks like shit and is broken. She tells him to stay strong and keep his shit together if they have any chance of defeating the Sparrow, but Loras might be too far gone for that and simply weeps and begs for Margery to somehow make it stop.

Cersei walks in on Pycelle advising Tommen and they dismiss him. He slowly leaves. Tommen counsels caution re: The High Sparrow but Cersei wants blood. She goes to the small council and explains that the Sparrow’s plan to consolidate power while they bicker and fight has worked. She explains that Margaery will soon take the nude walk and they all agree that this cannot happen. Jamie asks Olenna to summon the Tyrell armies to defeat the Faith Militant. He also tells the Hand of the King, Kevan Lannister, that he simply needs to look the other way for a bit.

Theon travels to the Iron Islands and meets Yara who does not greet him with bunting and sparklers. Instead she is less than sympathetic to his plight and deaf to his apologies. She demands to know what he wants and he tells her that he wants her to rule with Iron Islands and he wants to help.

At Winterfell, Osha is brought in to see Ramsey Bolton and they talk about skinning people. Bolton continues to be the creepiest man alive and Osha plays the part of someone who doesn’t give a shit about Rickon Stark. She tries to seduce him and gets a knife in the throat for her trouble.

At the Wall, Giantsbane flirts at Brienne by aggressively eating a chicken. A message from Ramsey Bolton arrives. It insults Snow, reveals that he has Rickon, and outlines in a meticulous detail the horrors that await everyone if they don’t give Sansa back. Snow is pissed but doesn’t think they have enough men to fight. Sansa encourages him to rally the northern lords to fight.

At Vaes Dothrak, the Khals are meeting and Daenarys is brought before them. They discuss all manner of ways of dealing with her including selling her to the Slavers/Masters/Dickheads. Daenarys goads them about them being small time crooks and announces that she’ll be taking over. She performs a coup by fire, setting the wooden hut ablaze and strolling out, the dragon in all her glory.

Review:

That’s more like it. The extended time spent in each place shows exactly why this show is great. There were little scenes sprinkled here and there to push other plots forward but, unlike last week, they were the minority. This week we had time to breath in each place. We got some time at the Wall and a lovely reunion between Sansa and Jon Snow, two characters who I doubt have shared the screen since the first episode. We also got a better sense of Jon Snow’s bitterness at the fighting and Sansa’s newfound blood lust. A little Davos here, some Melisandre there, and a whole load of Brienne made these early northern scenes remind me why I love this show.

The same ran through the episode. When we were in Meereen we stayed there, first with Tyrion then Dario and Jorah, and then Daenarys. We weren’t darting from place to place with wild abandon. We lingered somewhere and got a feel for the different stories and how they connect.

Tonight’s theme was definitely reunions. Jorah and Dario found Daenarys, Sansa and Jon snow, Theon and Yara, Margaery and Loras. And each reunion played out differently, some were happy, others angry, others pitiful. Last week my main complaint was that too many plots existed in a vacuum, so tonight it was great to see the paths of so many characters cross, their plots joining up.

The other theme tonight was war, or readiness for war. Each plotline seemed to finish with a character rallying an army, whether it be their own, someone else’s, or one they recently acquired through mass-murder.

When this show puts its foot on the gas and goes, it is unstoppable, and tonight was definitely a night where it was green lights all the way home.

Body count: 14. Bloodiest episode yet. I was sorry to see Osha go so quickly but I guess they need to remove any protector for Rickon, and remind us that Ramsey is a baddie just in case we haven’t seen literally any other scene he’s ever been in.

Nudity count: 1
Women – 1
Men – 0

Best line: ‘You are small men’ – Daenarys Targaryen

Predictions for next week: Sex (of which we got a little bit tonight), violence, a return to Dorne, and Melisandre stumbling upon Stannis’ body and resurrecting it.