‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6, Episode 4 Roundtable Review: ‘Book of the Stranger’

Each week, twins Adam and David Shimer analyze the latest episode of Game of Thrones from the perspective of a non-book reader. This week they discuss “Book of the Stranger,” but first they would like to assign some weekly awards:

Tywin Lannister Memorial Award for Best Political Maneuvering: Dany finally doing something!

Honorable Mention: Littlefinger manipulating the fearsome Lord Arryn of the Vale

Eddard Stark Memorial Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: Lord Royce getting picked apart by Littlefinger

Honorable Mention: A despondent Loras

Brandon Stark Award for Most Boring Storyline: Missandei and Greyworm having a seat at any table

Honorable Mention: The High Sparrow’s twelfth dramatic monologue

Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: Dany killing a bunch of khals by dramatically starting a fire

Honorable Mention: Jorah and Daario bonding via head smashing

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DS: Game of Thrones has finally revealed its hand. More than any previous episode, I feel as though “Book of the Stranger” pointed parts of the series toward their conclusions. Sansa, Jon and Littlefinger will march on Winterfell — lord knows who will emerge as Warden of the North. Daenerys will take 100,000 Dothraki somewhere (my heart says Westeros, but my mind says Meereen/Astapor/Yunkai). The Tyrell army will set off a civil war in King’s Landing. And an empowered Sansa will finally emerge. It seems, dare I say, that she has moved past her long-standing naivety and helplessness. In hindsight, perhaps it was unfair to criticize Sansa for failing to do so earlier. When she told Jon that she should have remained in Winterfell, I reflected on the fact that so much of Sansa’s storyline has been outside of her control. For nearly five seasons, she has been surrounded by tacticians at best, enemies at worst. She quite literally had to jump off a castle wall to free herself. I suspect that Sansa has long been ready to take on a more formidable role; now she finally has the opportunity to do so.

AS: Two Stark siblings finally reunited this week! I, too, took their intersection as an opportunity to look back. Since season one, Jon became Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Arya trained with the Faceless Men and Bran joined the three-eyed raven to travel through time. They all had clear roles to fulfill — but Sansa did not. She has only been manipulated, betrothed to three men, and abused in every way possible. But now her reunion with Jon gives her the chance to lead a rebellion against the Boltons. Apparently Jon is a pacifist now, so this episode Sansa provided him with the strength he needed to fight. A recurring pattern this episode was not just siblings reuniting, but also placing the sister as the source of power. Loras seemed completely broken as Margaery’s political mind whirled. Margaery realized that if she is going to survive, Loras will be of no help; she is going to have to provide the fortitude for both of them. Yara belittled Theon for his past mistakes. While she may not pity him yet, she realizes quickly that he can help her ascend the Salt Throne. All the sibling pairings clearly have more power when they are united rather than apart. As Jon corrected Sansa, it is no longer a matter of where he will go, but where they will go.

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DS: Ramsay has ensured that they will go to Winterfell. For some reason he wants to go to war with the Starks. Perhaps he naively believes the Umbers and Karstarks will stand behind him. Add that to the list of Ramsay’s recent mistakes. He executed a Frey (Walder won’t be pleased), he raped Sansa (Littlefinger is not pleased) and he killed a valuable source in Osha. But most importantly, he antagonized Jon and his army of wildlings unnecessarily. Almost any other character would have avoided these mistakes, but Ramsay’s actions defy logic. I guess he wrote Jon that letter to scare Sansa? Who knows. The message makes little strategic sense. Jon obviously will not send Sansa back to Winterfell, and the Wildlings obviously will not return to the far north. Then again, Ramsay is the psychopath — his father was the grand strategist.

NS: Random Thoughts

In honor of the sibling theme, the ‘other’ Shimer sibling invited herself to guest author:

  • Sansa knows Ramsay so well that she knew immediately that he must have killed Roose
  • Maybe Sansa is finally going to not be a little shit –> “If we don’t take back the north we’ll never be safe”
  • Total bad-ass move when Brienne told Melisandre and Davos she executed Stannis
  • They killed Osha too quickly, she was so cool, RIP
  • Tormund making eyes at Brienne across the table
  • The ending was “fire”
  • Definition of patriarchy:  all male council decides who can join the all women dosh khaleen
  • Definition of colonialism: Tyrion trying to impose western values on eastern people
  • Jorah isn’t great at man-to-man combat
  • Any time I see Ramsey with a weapon (i.e., peeling an apple) I start freaking out
  • Ramsey “loves to flay” Bolton

M.I.A. this episode: Arya, Bran, Bronn, Zombie-Mountain, Rickon and Young Ned Stark

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