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Game of Thrones Book Reader and Spoiler Recap: The Book of the Stranger

By Genevieve Burgess | Game of Thrones | May 17, 2016 |

By Genevieve Burgess | Game of Thrones | May 17, 2016 |

This week was a shockingly hopeful episode of Game of Thrones, and one that gave us more new beginnings than endings, which is a first for the entire series, I think. Some of those new beginnings felt a bit recycled (looking at you, Dany) but I’m trying not to be cynical about it. Or at least not too cynical. Spoilers to follow.


If there’s someone who didn’t tear up a bit at Jon and Sansa’s reunion, I don’t care to know them. That the two of them are alive and well enough to see each other again is a (literal) miracle, and it’s a pure and all too short moment of joy. Because while Jon is on the “I already fucking died, I’d like to take up crochet or some other less stabby hobby now” train, Sansa is all about retaking Winterfell and the North as Starks. Makes sense, since only one of them is TECHNICALLY a Stark, but I can see Jon’s point; they’ve been fighting, or have been tossed around by fighting, for years and what has it got them? They’re both orphans, they’ve both lost one brother, and have no idea of the fate of the rest of their siblings. They’re literally standing at the end of the known world with only each other and an army who doesn’t know how to be an army. I’m totally behind this. Already planning my Queen of the North costume for Halloween.

It should go without saying that Tormund and Brienne are my new OTP for this show. There’s a lot of possibilities here, but I think that someone seeing Brienne as the total goddess she is is enough for now. And Brienne gets to confront Melisandre. Brienne’s having a pretty good day, overall.

Littlefinger is back to scheming over in the Vale, already setting himself up to be Sansa’s savior rather than her marriage broker. And it doesn’t look like training under Yohn Royce has helped Robyn Arryn get any closer to sane. But he’s got a really cool falcon now, so hopefully that distracts him for a bit. Although that leaves Littlefinger in charge and we still don’t know if that’s a net good or not. But hey! The Knights of the Vale might finally join the fight.

Tyrion is doing his best to run Meereen, but it’s hard to tell if his Westerosi political maneuvering will translate well to Essos. He seems pretty hopeful, Missandei and Grey Worm do not. I would assume that they might know better than him. I also hold out a small amount of hope that the whores Tyrion engaged will join the Great Masters on their boat and engage in some more direct and dirty methods of political maneuvering.

Daario and Jorah are tracking Dany to Vaes Dothrak while Daario continues to needle Jorah about his carnal knowledge of Dany. I’ve never seen Michiel Huisman pull off the arrogant swagger of Daario 1.0 and a lot of this dialogue drives that home for me. I know some people view his character as a combination of Daario and Brown Ben Plumm and if that’s what he’s meant to be they might want to tilt him back in the Brown Ben Plumm direction. But the important thing here is that Daario now knows that Jorah has the Greyscale. And while they’re great at getting into Vaes Dothrak, it seems like Daenerys still has to manage her own rescue from there.

Checking in with Margaery down in King’s Landing we learn that the High Septon is a religious convert along the lines of Saint Augustine: “I had a whole bunch of debauched fun, and then I got tired of it, so now I try to be sure that no one else ever has fun again.” Sounds like a swell guy. Luckily, Margaery’s a little older than Tommen and gives that story the “bullshitter says what?” reaction it deserves. Unfortunately, she’s still his prisoner. As is Loras.

Back at the Red Keep Cersei is trying to maintain control over Tommen who’s all too ready to listen to anyone else. Normally I’d say that not listening to Cersei is a good thing, but right now I’m not sure it is. In fact, Jaime and Cersei’s proposal to the (very) Small Council as to how to take down the Sparrows makes more sense than anyone else’s plans. Well, the only thing that would make more sense would be Cersei not arming the Faith in the first place, but let’s not discuss that, it might be embarrassing. It is impressive that Cersei has managed to bring Olenna around to her way of thinking by threatening Margaery being exposed the way she was. Maybe we should discuss how Kevan Lannister probably shouldn’t be there anymore. But this version of Kevan seems far less efficacious than the book version.

Theon has gotten home, just in time for the Kingsmoot. It seems unlikely that he’s going to be there as a spoiler, so I assume he was sent back there to give us a familiar character to watch the event through. He and Yara make up and I still mostly find the Greyjoys tiresome. PROVE ME WRONG, EURON.

And then our hope for a Northern Conspiracy appears to bleed out on Ramsay’s bedroom floor. I could go into more detail but you were all there, and I’m not a fan of recapping Ramsay playing with his food, essentially. Goodbye, Osha, we hardly knew you. While he was entertaining Osha, Ramsay also had a letter on the way to Jon with information about Rickon in it. So that’s one hell of a messenger if he made it there barely a day behind Sansa and Brienne. But we do get a version of the Pink Letter, rewritten for the circumstances. Looks like Team Stark And A Half is going to muster the Wildlings to march on Team Gross Awfulness. I think you know which side I’m on.

We end with the fate of Daenerys as decided by the Khals. After letting them banter for a while, she reveals her plan to burn them alive. By burning them alive. As plans go, this one seems to work out pretty well for her. But as she emerges from the inferno to greet the Dothraki horde gathered outside, there’s no telling what she encounters. But, since this is Dany, she obviously encounters a group of people bowing to her. That’s how all her big fiery gestures turn out.

In an episode where we discussed how a queen could not be processed naked before her people in order to preserve her dignity, we end on a queen standing naked and triumphant before her new army. There might be some message there about the societal message regarding female nudity as shameful or weak, but since this show only seems to ever have “thoughts” about lady nudity they can stuff it. Oh, yeah, we got to see some genuine Jon Snow butt BUT HE DIDN’T PARADE NAKED BEFORE THE GARRISON TO RECLAIM HIS POWER WHILE SHOWING HIS WOUNDS AND VULNERABILITY, NOW DID HE?!?


There’s also an interesting theme here of women rising beyond the indignities they’re suffering while the men around them fall to pieces. Sansa talking Jon into retaking the North, Margaery trying to persuade Loras to hang on, Cersei plotting to thwart the High Septon, Daenerys finding a way to turn her captivity into an opportunity to convert new followers. But this show is so fickle with the way they handle their female characters that I’m hesitant even to mention it. They like their big triumphant moments for these ladies, but they also seem to really enjoy writing Ramsay Bolton, so excuse me if I take it with a grain of salt. Also, I would have preferred that final scene if Drogon had swooped in at the last moment.