Game of Thrones: Book of the Stranger

Screenshot-201-1200x675Previously on People Sitting Around Westros Talking About All the Things They’ll Do but Not Actually Doing Much: Well, that pretty much says it all, but also—Jon came back from the dead and executed his own executioners, Dany was captured by the Dothraki, Rickon was handed over to Ramsay, and Theon went home.

Edd’s clearly not all that keen on being Lord Commander (and considering what happened to the last one, who can blame him?) and tries to convince Jon to stay, but Jon’s mind is made up: he wants to leave and go south and thaw out. Fair enough.

Outside, a horn sounds and the gates open. In ride Sansa, Brienne, and Pod. Tormund stares at Brienne like he’s never seen anyone quite like her. Fair enough. They dismount as Jon comes out to see what’s up. He’s understandably shocked to see Sansa and slowly comes down to greet her, looking like he can’t quite believe she’s real. They embrace tightly. Good thing she didn’t show up about 48 hours ago.

Inside, she warms up and they reminisce about the good old days at Winterfell and how they both wish they could change their decisions in the past. Oh, if only. He’s apparently told her about his plan to leave and she suggests they go take Winterfell back from the Boltons. Well, it is on the way south, Jon. Just sayin’. Jon says he has no army to do that with and she suggests they use the wildlings. He tells her the wildlings aren’t his private army, and he’s kind of sick of fighting. She points out that they’ll never be safe unless they hold the north again.

Davos finds Melisandre and asks her what she plans to do. She’ll do as Jon Snow commands, because she serves him now. He demands to know what happened at Winterfell and she says there was a battle and Stannis lost. Brienne joins them and says she saw Stannis’s forces defeated. Stannis himself, however, was executed by Brienne.

Hey, remember Robyn Arryn? I have to admit I had pretty much forgotten about him. He’s doing poorly at archery when Petyr pulls up and is happily greeted by his stepson. Petyr presents him with a gyrfalcon as a birthday gift.

The lord who’s been fostering Robyn, Lord Royce, asks Petyr what happened with Sansa. Petyr lies that the Boltons kidnapped her and suggests Royce was the one who helped set up the ambush. Royce is understandably is offended by that accusation, so Petyr flexes his muscles and asks Robyn to pass judgment here. Of course, Robyn asks if they should throw Royce through the moon door. This kid has little loyalty. Royce backs down and Petyr lets him off the hook.

Petyr tells Robyn that Sansa has escaped from Winterfell and is heading to Castle Black. He adds that the Boltons will be after her, which is bad. Robyn remembers that she’s his cousin and decides they should help her.

Petyr: Good choice! Royce, gather the knights of the Vale, we’re sending all of you to war!

Tyrion has invited the leaders of the other slave cities to Meereen to negotiate. Missy and Grey Worm aren’t happy about this, reminding him that Dany tried to work with these people and they tried to kill her. And then she burned most of them to death with her dragons, so I think they’re probably a bit more cowed now.

Inside the palace, the leaders tell Tyrion they want him to leave Slaver’s Bay and take the dragons and Unsullied with him. They pout that they want to keep their slaves. Tyrion points out that you don’t need slavery to make loads of money: his family’s good proof of that. He admits that Dany messed up by abolishing slavery without providing any replacement for it, so he proposes they leave Meereen as a free city but the other slave cities get seven years to phase out the practice. Slaveholders will be compensated. In return, they’ll stop supporting the Sons of the Harpy. He then calls in some girls to entertain the men while he collects his people and leaves.

Out in the throne room, he greets some of the former slaves who are not happy he’s sitting down with the slavers. Tyrion reminds them that Dany chose him as her advisor and until she returns, he kind of has to go about the business of ruling. He indicates Grey Worm and tells them that he’s part of these negotiations as well and, as a commander, knows when it’s time to go to war and when it’s time to make peace. One of them scolds Grey Worm for going along with this and asks Missy how she can trust these people. Missy says she doesn’t, but they don’t have much choice here.

Out in the garden, Grey Worm accuses Tyrion of trying to undo Dany’s good work. Exasperated, Tyrion tells him he’s not trying to undo anything, he’s trying to save this city, which is fast descending into complete chaos. Missy hates that he’s allowing the slavers to keep slavery even for a day. Tyrion says he can either end slavery or a war, he can’t do both simultaneously. Grey Worm warns him he can’t trust the masters and Tyrion says he doesn’t, but he does trust their greed and self-interest. Grey Worm says the masters will not be used, they will use Tyrion, because that’s just what they do.

Jorah and Daario continue their long, long road trip, now on foot, Daario taunting him with sexual innuendos about Dany, which is really uncalled for. Jorah basically tells him to shut the hell up, and I have to admit, I second that. I used to like Daario, but now he’s just annoying me and seems like a real asshole. Also, I don’t recall Daario having such a pronounced American accent before now. Just thought I’d mention it.

They park on a cliff overlooking Vaes Dothrak and Jorah gives him a quick overview of the city and tells Daario that Dany will have been taken to the Temple. He then removes his sword, because weapons are forbidden in the sacred city and wearing a giant sword will be a bit conspicuous. Daario reluctantly gives up his sword and knife, catching sight of Jorah’s stone-man skin patch at the same time.

That night, the two of them steal into Vaes Dothrak, keeping to the shadows and moving down alleyways. They meet up with two men and pretend to be lost market traders. The men immediately realise they’re lying, so they need to die. Daario chases one down while Jorah gets his ass kicked by the other. Daario kills his quarry, then comes back and stabs the other guy in the back with the knife he went ahead and smuggled in. Then they bash the dead guy’s head in with a rock so nobody will notice the stab wound.

Dany sits boredly in the Temple. The woman in charge introduces Dany to another young widow, who was forced into marriage to a khal aged 12, gave birth to a daughter a year later, and was rewarded for that with broken ribs. Lovely. The woman in charge says she hopes the khals will agree to let her stay with them, when they render judgement the following day, since the other possibilities aren’t pleasant. Dany gets up to go pee and the other young woman goes with her. Dany starts making friends with her, telling her about the dragons and offering to show them to her someday.

As they round a building, Daario grabs the other woman. Dany orders him not to hurt her. Jorah says they need to get out of there, but it seems Dany has other plans, knowing they’ll never get out of there alive.

It’s Margaery’s turn to go have a chat with the High Sparrow. Yay. Today’s lesson is about vanity. He tells her how he became a cobbler like his dad and did really well and indulged himself with the money he made. And then one day he woke up after a lavish banquet and just felt gross so he went to go live more genuinely, like poor people do.

He takes Margaery to see Loras, and from the look of things, he’s had the worst time of them all and is a complete mess. Margaery urges him to remain strong but he just weeps and tells her he wants all this to stop.

Cersei finds Pycelle lecturing Tommen and dismisses him so she can speak with her son. Tommen brings up the High Sparrow and says he needs to be handled with care, so things don’t escalate, to Margaery’s detriment. Cersei tells him that things can’t really escalate much further than they already have but agrees that they need to focus on getting Margaery out of there, because she’s the queen and they can’t have the queen in prison. Tommen tells her something the Sparrow mentioned, presumably during their last chat.

Cersei takes her new knowledge to the Small Council and announces the Sparrow wants to force Margaery to take her own walk of shame. Oleanna says that cannot happen. Cersei agrees. Everyone sits down and Jaime tells Oleanna to gather her family’s army and bring them into the city to interrupt this insanity before it begins. Kevan says he’s been told by Tommen not to use military force and Jaime says he’ll simply stand down when the Tyrell armies show up. Cersei reminds him that these people have stolen Lancel from him, and if they’re destroyed maybe he can get his son back. Kevan says that this will result in a bloodbath in the city. Oleanna briskly says that many people will die no matter what they do, so they may as well just go ahead.

Theon finally arrives home and is shown in to see Yara, who’s surprised to see the brother she’d given up for dead. She angrily reminds him that good men died trying to rescue him. He apologises for that. Disgusted at the shell of a man before her, she snaps at him to stop saying sorry and accuses him of only returning to claim the crown of the Iron Islands. Theon insists he has no interest in being king, but he is interested in helping her take the throne, because he thinks she should be in charge.

Ramsay sits, peeling an apple with a knife, as Osha is brought in, having been cleaned up. He asks if she’s afraid of him and she shrugs that she’s seen worse. He seems to like her spirit. He would. He sets the apple and knife aside and calls her nearer. He asks about her service to the Starks and she claims she was a slave, in chains. He asks why she continued travelling with Rickon and she replies that she hoped to sell him for a good price. Ramsay wonders what use he could have for her and she suggests he use her as a sex puppet, basically. She begins working on him, mostly to get closer to the knife on the table. Ramsay informs her that Theon told him everything about the wildling woman who helped the Stark boys escape. Before she can get the knife, he stabs her in the throat. Wow, they really are intent on upping the body count as fast as possible, aren’t they? I appreciate having fewer names to memorise, but I’m kind of going to miss her, she was cool.

A Bolton man arrives at Castle Black with a lovely letter from Ramsay. In it, Ramsay tells Jon he has Rickon. He orders Jon to hand over Sansa, or Ramsay will ride north and kill and flay everyone in his path, let his men rape his sister, and let his dogs devour Rickon. He signs off as Lord of Winterfell, which really seems to get to Jon. Tormund asks how big Ramsay’s army is and Sansa reports that she once heard him say 5,000 men. Tormund only has 2000 in fighting shape. Not great odds. Sansa tells Jon he’s a Stark and that houses of the north will fall in behind him. She forcefully tells him they need to take Winterfell and Rickon back from this monster. Jon finally agrees.

Dany stands before the khals so they can pass judgment on her. One of them says that the masters of Yunkai are offering 10,000 horses in exchange for her but the khal in charge isn’t interested in what Yunkai’s masters want. Dany speaks up and says she’s uninterested in all of this. She reminisces about the last time she was there, when the Dosh Khaleen said her son would be the stallion who mounts the world and her husband promised to sail across the sea and take back her kingdom. She accuses these men of being petty and small, concerned only with trivial matters. She says that none of them are fit to rule the Dothraki, but she is, and she will. They all laugh at her, then decide she won’t join the Dosh Khaleen, she’ll get gang raped instead. Dany just smiles smugly, then turns over the braziers next to her, spilling the burning oil inside and setting the temple on fire. The khals run for the door, but it’s been barricaded from the outside by Jorah and Daario, who exchange: ‘I really hope she knows what she’s doing’ looks.

Inside. Dany calmly walks amongst the flames, tipping over the last brazier, while outside the Dothraki gather around what has now become a massive funeral pyre. Through the flaming door walks Dany, her clothes (but not her hair, curiously) burned away but her skin completely untouched. She stands there looking down at them, and they all begin to drop to their knees before her.

Finally, it feels like things are starting to go somewhere! It felt like so much of this season was getting bogged down in talking about the crazy and amazing things people were going to do…and that was it. Just talking. And let’s face it, that’s not what we’re watching this show for. Now, for heaven’s sake, can we put this High Sparrow story to rest already? As much as I like Jonathan Pryce, this storyline is testing my patience because it’s just dragging out to an absurd level. I’m finding it hard to swallow that even a popular religious leader would be able to get away with imprisoning not one, but two queens for any length of time. That’s just…no. The people in power—these women’s very powerful families—would have intervened long before this. And isn’t Margaery really popular with the people of Westros? Wouldn’t this upset them? It just seems incredible to me that there’s absolutely no push-back against the Sparrow at all, just talk of push-back. But, we’ll just see what happens.

One thought on “Game of Thrones: Book of the Stranger

  1. I agree completely- I found the religious plot, & the lack of slap-back to be frustrating & annoying, not to mention unrealistic (as I did what happened in Dorne, but that’s a rant for another time) though, I think part of the *point* of the High Sparrow was, that unlike the other ‘big bads’, he was never meant to have some big mustache-twirling moment of a reveal: ‘Ah! This is my clever plan’-type thing. His ‘plan’ is exactly what we saw; take control of the largest population in the city- the disenfranchised & poor – authority in faith has, in contrast with more temporal authority, an unknown quantity to it- the rich/ powerful can take it or leave it, depending on personal morality or fear-level- the poor, on the other hand, don’t have much cushioning, as it were, against their bad deeds & their lives in general, & they want to believe there’s something better waiting for them.
    I don’t know if I’m getting my point across clearly, but I guess that it’s more about perceptions- if someone can ‘strip away the finery’ of the powerful, then the ones lacking in power aren’t as awed & humbled by them- they see them as no different to others, without their wealth & power- it’s kind of the stone rolling downhill that every peasant/ class rebellion in history is: it begins with seeing- what happens after that depends on who’s in charge on either side.
    Also- in the books it was sort of the opposite- Cersei was kept in prison, because of **evidence** of adultery, which she admits to (as ‘cleverly’ as she can, playing the victim in her marriage- though it doesn’t matter much to HS or the 3 septas in charge of her)- though she steadfastly denied incest or her children’s bastardy (oh, & in the book she also murdered Tyrion’s replacement High Septon [from the one who was torn apart in the Kingslanding Riot, when Myrcella was sent to Dorne in S2], & was accused of that, too- which she also denies, as well as Robert’s death)- it’s because she denies some stuff, while admitting to the least terrible charges, that she has to do the Walk. Margaery’s accusations were thought to be flimsy, & the Tyrell army, under Sams’ dad, one of Westeros’ best commanders, & certainly the best in the Reach arrives & takes Margaery into protective custody, back to the Red Keep- which happens without incident; she asks for Trial by Faith, while Cersei wants Trial by Combat.

    The Northern part has also bugged the ever-loving f*** out of me; I **really** don’t think they should have changed it so much. I’m not getting into details there.
    The show’s changed the timeline all a***-about face – I *know* some plot-lines/ characters needed to be conflated & streamlined a bit, yet they could have taken out the extraneous without butchering the story, but they ruined *a lot* with Dorne, in my humble opinion (shared by more than a few)- they might have been able to resurrect it, had they capitalised on its’ book-popularity more, & developed some aspects- rather than going for cheap, pseudo-‘grrl-power’, instead of the real, nuances of the characters (who really were awesome, but in different ways- & despite Oberyn mentioning **8** daughters very clearly, we only see 3, not including the one he mentioned, named for his sister) & place, like the physical differences depending on the region of Dorne you were in (certain areas, like the Daynes’ home, the people had more ‘Westerosi looks’- they didn’t have a total ersatz-Spain/ Moorish or Med look; Obara & Tyene were described very differently in the books) the tradition of in-fighting it had (& its’ ideas of gender-equality), which is far more realistic to its’ history than the united front… **in the face of the murder of its’ prince & heir**- that gobsmacked me, & for all the *wrong* reasons.
    Sorry for the long-a*** rant, lol.

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