The latest episode of Game of Thrones proved that its showrunners have more tricks up their sleeves than the shock factor alone.
SPOILERS ahead, but you should know that by now. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, then you should probably just leave the internet.
Book of the Stranger brought us tender moments, power plays, and a young lord’s loyalty bought with a falcon, courtesy of our favourite schemer, Lord Petyr Baelish.
Littlefinger returned for the first time this series, and was already back to his old tricks, using a falcon to gain favour with the young Lord Robin Arryn, and quickly passed the blame for Sansa’s ill-fated wedding onto Lord Royce. Lord Baelish then went on to give Lord Royce a “second chance”, suggesting to Robyn that they go easy on the man, and don’t throw him out of the Moon Door – how kind. By doing this, Baelish reminded Lord Royce that he is the one who is really in charge here. Lord Baelish certainly is a slippery one, and at this point, we can’t quite tell exactly what he is hoping to gain from this mess he has created. Since he seems intent on taking the Arryn army to Sansa’s aid, it seems that whatever he is planning needs Sansa in Winterfell, though I like to hope he could have put her in Winterfell without that wedding.
Sansa herself, meanwhile, arrived at Castle Black to be reunited with her half-brother (or is he?), Jon Snow. This was the first time the two characters have spoken in the show’s history, and their scenes together hinted at the strained relationship which had existed between the two. Harking back to season one, Sansa was always a “Southern girl” at heart, eager to leave Winterfell, and gave little time to her brothers. Both her warmth for Jon Snow, and her drive to win back Winterfell show the true extent of Sansa’s character development. She is no longer the entitled, pampered young girl who wished to dreamt of marrying Joffrey, but is a mature and intelligent young woman, ready to fight to win back the home she once took for granted. If Sansa reuniting with Jon Snow was heartwarming, just imagine what it would be like for her to see Arya again.
Tormund Giantsbane provided us with yet another brilliantly comical moment, as he made suggestive eye-contact with a concerned and confused Brienne over dinner. Perhaps Brienne is the kind of woman who could handle a man like Tormund, but then again, Brienne seems less than impressed by the Wildling. After all, he and Renly Baratheon don’t exactly share many similarities. Naturally, fans have already started “shipping” the pair.
Brienne experienced another tense moment of a different sort when she met Davos and Melisandre at Castle Black. She showed no shame in casually admitting to having executed Stannis, and was quick to remind them that she wouldn’t forget what had happened to Renly on his behest. It may have been sadness in Davos’ eyes, but was that fear or remorse in Melisandre’s? After all, she killed so many, and all for a false king.
In Winterfell, Rickon Stark has lost his only ally. Caught in an attempt at seduction, Osha was murdered by Ramsay Bolton, leaving the youngest Stark very much alone in Ramsay’s clutches. Exactly what Ramsay intends to do with Rickon is unclear, and without even a glimpse of the boy since his capture, we don’t even know where he is being held. With both the Arryns and the Wildlings about to march on Winterfell, we can only hope Ramsay’s reign will be over soon.
Margaery was given a brief moment with her brother, in an attempt to force the pair to confess their sins. Despite Loras’ sobs that he simply wanted it all to end, Margaery urged her brother to stay strong.
In King’s Landing, the Tyrells and the Lannisters created a temporary truce to save Margaery from her walk of atonement. They plan to take down the High Sparrow using the armies of the Tyrells, conveniently meaning that any repercussions for their actions will come down on the Tyrells, and not the Lannisters. With Cersei’s hatred for Margaery unwavering, she’s clearly up to something here, and as the one who put her in the cell in the first place, there’s something not quite right about Cersei’s sudden desire to free the Queen.
In a brief glimpse into the Iron Islands, poor old broken but healing Theon faced Yara, his stern and bold sister who last saw him during her attempt to rescue him from Ramsay. Understandably, Yara was still angry at her brother for not leaving with her that day, and for causing the deaths of a number of her men. It’s clear that Yara doesn’t quite understand what Theon has been through, and for a moment believed he had returned to take the Salt Throne. The scene ended with Theon offering his support to his sister, telling her that she should rule the Ironborn. If Yara is successful, this would make her one of the most quietly powerful people in Westeros, and give her command of its best seafarers. Particularly with the (true) Baratheons gone and the Starks dwindling, the Greyjoys may be in a surprisingly strong position if they can elect a strong leader at the upcoming Kingsmoot.
In Meereen, Tyrion struck a deal with the slavers on Daenerys’ behalf, offering the slavers seven years of slavery if they agreed to stop supporting the Sons of the Harpy. This is a big compromise, considering Daenerys’ opposition to slavery, but it may be a necessary one. However, when she returns to Meereen, it is unlikely that she will be pleased with this arrangement. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt about Daenerys, it’s that she will never settle for a compromise on injustice.
But Daenerys was otherwise occupied this episode, after being taken to Dosh Khaleen. It is here that the Dothraki leaders would decide if Daenerys would be allowed to live with the Dosh Khaleen, or if she would face any number of horrors before her execution. Of course, Daenerys had ideas of her own, and with Ser Jorah and Daario waiting in the wings, she went about exacting her vengeance on the Dothraki leaders who spoke so disrespectfully to the Khaleesi. After burning down the temple of the Dosh Khaleen and with it the Dothraki leaders themselves, Daenerys emerged, in her first nude scene since season three, unburnt and unclothed, to see a crowd Dothraki bowed before her.
This might be exactly what Daenerys needs, the missing piece in her quest for the Iron Throne. With brave Dothraki warriors as a part of her army, the Mother of Dragons is looking more fearsome than ever.