Season 6 Episode 4 Guide - The Book of the Stranger
In a strong fourth episode, it became clear that the Westerosi Gods may also believe in Karma and second chances in addition to simple atonement. Characters, through chance or manipulation, had the opportunity to re-invent themselves or atone for previous errors, seemingly re-setting or dramatically forwarding the potential character storyline Arc
In Castle Black, Jon Snow finally meets up with half Sister Sansa after years away . When I saw the trailer, I was sure this was going to end up like Arya and Robb, or Bran and Jon, or Sansa and Arya previously, in that they got so close to meeting but would just miss each other. Instead, we were greeted to a heart warming re-union between two of the show's key characters, and I'm not ashamed to admit I may have welled up a bit here. From the initial hug, through to Sansa's aggressive stance on the future, through to Ramsay's Letter about Rickon finally sending Jon over the top, this episode was set up perfectly for that moment when Jon finally realised that he could affect change on a positive note away from the wall. This felt like a particularly cathartic moment, especially in light of his reluctant earlier in the episode to pursue Ramsay, and longer term, his past reluctance to accept the name 'Jon Stark' from Stannis Baratheon. On an even more historic scale, perhaps this involvement from Jon in someway makes up for not making his way South to meet up with Robb when the war started.
Either way, the character development here for Jon and Sansa this season have been fantastic in setting up the potential re-claiming of the North. All the way through Season 6, Kit Harington and Sophie Turner have been given strong material to work with that genuinely explains their motivations, actions and reasoning for the steps the are taking.
Over in the Dothraki Sea, Dany manipulated the Dothraki Men into giving her an audience and then set up a pre-planned BBQ execution which was witnessed by the entire Dothraki. I would have expected any such flames to come from Drogon, but what we got was actually a much stronger visual, showing Dany as someone who relied on her intelligence and cunning to get what she wants rather than relying on a chance meeting with her Dragon. This allowed Dany to have that second chance to gain the Dothraki respect, this time in much higher numbers than when she last climbed out of the fire, and this time likely with much more impact going forward.
I thought Emilia Clarke played this scene fantastically, it almost felt like this was the Targaryen coming out in Dany and the final burning of the Danaerys ' peace and love' character of recent years. I hope this continues going forward- I did find her reference to the Dothraki Khals being 'small men' particularly relevant, following on from Ellaria Sand in Dorne noting the 'Weak Men' would never rule Dorne again. Perhaps with their similar rheotric and need for allies, we will see a Targaryen- Dornish Alliance in the future ?
Over in Meereen, Tyrion/Greyworm/Missandei and Varys try to solve their issues by giving the Slavers a second chance. While on paper it arguably still isnt the strongest storyline, what this week did better than usual was give Missandei and Greyworm real voices and opinion, while at the same time it showed they are learning to exercise diplomacy and tact in public whatever their private feelings about the situation.
Back in Pyke, Yara looks very much the leader settled into Balon's throneroom, giving Theon a tirade that her late father would have been proud of. There are obviously still deep rifts between the Siblings dating back to Yara's last rescue attempt, but it was good to see Theon pledge his support to Yara for the upcoming Kingsmoot. Theon misting up in tears really added to this scene, and it was great to see Gemma Whelan's Yara given some more effective material to work with.
Back at Winterfell, Osha became Ramsay's latest victim. The show is seemingly skipping showing any more humanity in the Ramsay Bolton character these days, and with the way Ramsay is going through victims I do wonder if Jon and Sansa will even get to Rickon in time! On a side note, I was sad to see the very talented Natalie Tena's Osha leave so quickly after her return to the show, but at the same time did re-inforce Ramsay's murderous tendancies further.
Back in Kings Landing, everyone seemingly got back on the same page for the sake of Margaery's virtue and planned a potential rescue attempt/assination/coup. Everyone except Pycelle, who seems to be in his own little world trying to advise the King while being as smug as possible. Pycelle, for all his smarts, may well be overplaying his hand if he feels he can gain long term influence over Cersei within the King's inner circle.
Elsewhere, its worth pointing out Littlefinger playing games with Lord Royce's life. This was a timely reminder to the viewer that Littlefinger still cant be trusted. The manipulative way the situation was dealt with and his power over Robyn Arryn still suggests that Sansa shouldnt be trusting him again anytime soon.
I would be remiss not to mention the comedy classic scene with Brienne and Tormund- in a world full of brutal murders and torture, there's something that really makes me root for these two! I think Dolorous Ed perhaps disagrees :)
With Jon and Sansa getting another chance to move forward and raise the Stark family name again, Dany getting her chance to potentially lead a Khalessar again and Theon getting a chance to make amends to Yara, it feels like we have three strong main storyline arcs upcoming that may well change the game as we enter the second half of Season 6.