Game of Spoilers – Book of the Stranger (604)
Here follows a list of everything wrong with that episode: ________.
This episode could also have been titled, “Revenge of the Wives,” for all the wives exerted power over the men, even the ones they care about. Truth be told, the title of the episode feels wrong. Referencing The Stranger and not including Arya and the Many-Named God seems odd. This episode is more about the Mother and the Maid controlling the Warrior.
In addition to the feminine power, we got to see several other highly important conversations. First, Tyrion negotiates with slavers. Through this discussion, the show gets to discuss violence and revenge versus the politics of self-interest. Tyrion sees the unfortunate necessity of slow change, and he may just be teaching Missandei and Greyworm that preference, however grudgingly.
We also get a brief snippet where Brienne tells Melisandre that she “executed” Stannis, and that she knows the red witch’s blood magic killed her Renly. I think this may portend a mistrust, not just in Melisandre, but in Jon as the product of “blood magic.” Whatever happens, this did not seem to be a throw away scene.
Ramsay is still Ramsay. He remains sociopathic, but really in the service of his larger goal. He does not, in my opinion, kill willy-nilly. If your death hurts him, or if your life helps him, you’re safe, at least as long as that fact remains unchanged. If your death helps him in any way, you will die, and quickly, as Osha did. The problem for his enemies is if neither your death nor your life particularly helps him. In that situation, you’re Theon, and you get tortured. I mean, hey, a guy’s gotta have a hobby, and inflicting pain is Ramsay’s. But his hobby never gets in the way of his quest for power.
Hey, everybody, Littlefinger’s back! And, newsflash, he’s still a douche! We watch him douche it up at the Eyrie, and we are reminded that, while violence has never been his gift, he is every bit the dangerous sociopath that Ramsay is. He’s a manipulator, and he truly does not give a shit what happens to those he manipulates. And he’s turned Little Robert Arryn from a weird little kid into a dangerously mad ruler.
Now, to the ladies. Margery Tyrell had a delicate dance of a conversation with the High Sparrow where he gave her his life story – which bares a striking resemblance to The Book of the Stranger. When she noted that, he appeared shocked – anybody else think that version of his life story is bullshit? – and finished his story to appeal to her real and perceived sins. But then, he lets her see her brother. In that cell, her strength is revealed. And she wants to motivate her family’s champion to fight and to win. She is unbroken.
Margery’s grandmother is also about to rip some shit. If you have Olenna and Cersei working against you, you’re in trouble. Especially if one of them has a huge army and the other has a massive undead warrior champion. Cersei controls her uncle with an easy manipulative skill we haven’t seen in seasons, and now the Tyrell Army will be in the city to actively fight the Faith Militant. If I were a betting man, my money would not be going on the High Sparrow. However, my money would go on a lot of innocent people dying.
Also, it’s worth noting that the blood of the religious zealots is going on Highgarden. The Lannisters will keep their noses clean, reap the benefits of destroying the High Sparrow, but also keep the good will of the faithful, assuming all goes to plan. It’s kind of genius, in a wickedly evil way.
Sansa has also figured out how to control her warriors. In this case, it’s her half brother – can we just start calling him her cousin? – whom she basically brings out of retirement to go kill some Boltons. That reunion scene, though, was understated, impeccably acted, and beautifully shot. My wife turned to me afterwards and said, “I think I just heard the entire Game of Thrones fandom cum simultaneously.” Finally, the Starks are starting to regain some strength. Bolton thought he could intimidate Jon, or bait him into a hot-headed attack. Sansa has reminded Jon that, if he calls the banners, he will likely find some strong support. That is what convinces him to fight again. Without Sansa marshaling her warrior against her husband, Jon would become Caine from Kung Fu. With her influence, he will change the fortunes of kingdoms.
Now, the real lesson of this episode: Do. Not. Fuck. With. Daenerys. Just don’t do it. Like, for real. You’ll pay big, or you’ll end up worshipping her. Or BOTH. After the unlikely buddy comedy of Jorah and Daario, they find her on her way to pee. I confess, I did not figure out her plan until almost the same time all the Khals did. She burned those motherfuckers. Alive. Inside locked doors. And then walked out, naked and unburnt. Daario had never seen that. To him, she was simply a beautiful woman with power who likes his dick. Now, she’s a goddess, and he is devoted, but uncertain, just like Jorah. And now the entire Khalasar will ride with her to route the slavers.
Seriously, this was among the finest episodes in the series. It had the excellent conversations from last week, serious character development, well-executed action, and magic. Nearly perfect.
P.S. —> Hey, do you guys remember that there’s a huge undead army coming to turn everyone’s eyes blue that can’t seem to be stopped? Yeah, me neither…