Game of Thrones “Book of the Stranger”: The Five Best Things in this Week’s Episode
The weather may be getting warmer outside but it’s sure getting colder in Westeros, and it might not even have anything to do with the White Walkers. It’s because this week’s episode of Game of Thrones was another slow burner; so slow in fact, that the worrying signs are getting stronger. This season might not be up to the standards of the shows finest. Having said that, there were a couple of standout parts of this week’s episode, though this was the first week where I came close to not finding five. Either way, here are the five best things in this week’s episode:
I’m not going to lie, the opening scene had me pumped, and the moment Jon and Sansa saw each other gave me goosebumps. I actually can’t remember the last time that happened while watching a show and it shows one thing: how bad I want the Stark family to win out in the end. This is Game of Thrones however, so I doubt that will be what happens. Though the reunion isn’t higher on my list, it was probably the personal highlight of the season so far for me. It may not be incredibly shocking or revelatory but it gave the audience something we haven’t had in a long time: hope. The reason this isn’t higher is the same reason why Jon Snow’s story hasn’t been particularly high on any of my lists this season: predictability. From the moment Jon got killed last season his path was as clear as day to anyone paying attention. The only real chance of a surprise here is if Jon and Sansa fail in their quest to reconquer Winterfell, but I can’t see that happening, and in this episode they even telegraph why. In the books, Sansa never leaves the Eyrie and instead stays there with Littlefinger amassing an army within its walls. With the re-emergence of Littlefinger and a quest to search for Sansa with the help of the Eyrie’s army makes this story even more predictable. Sansa should inevitably agree to return to the Eyrie in exchange for the Eyrie’s help in Jon Snow’s assault on Winterfell. It just makes too much sense, and puts Sansa back to where her story is going in the books. The only trouble here is that Littlefinger’s supposed plan to save Sansa from the Bolton invalidates his original plan to have her marry Ramsay. Though, he might not have expected her to escape and instead could simply be entering damage control mode. Whether they shake the burden of predictability is yet to be seen but at least we managed to get a positive Stark moment for once on this show. That alone would be worth a presence on my top five list any week.
Theon’s story is starting to develop in an interesting way this season, though it might not be all his own doing. In terms of the overall scope of the show the Iron Islands’ storyline has had a unique place in the universe: it’s the dark horse that no one seems to be paying attention to. I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of the audience had even forgotten about Theon’s homeland and its unique castle Pyke. After all, the show has never paid the area that much attention. Stories were never really based there. The Iron Islands existed simply as a place to go to see a message received or an order given. Now, they have their own story to contend with the rest, and one set to place them firmly in a position of relevancy. Once more this one seems to fall in the predictable category though. Yara Greyjoy is intent on becoming queen of the Iron Islands but there is just one problem: there has never been a queen of the Iron Islands, as the men their favour strength over blood. You can almost see the wheels turning as the show moves toward the next stage in this arc. Yara will work to repair the battered Theon Greyjoy and use him as a figurehead of her rule, aiming to gain him control of the Iron Islands, so that she can pull the strings from behind the scenes. Whether he wins out in the end will depend on the presence of Euron, Theon’s charismatic uncle, but in typical Game of Thrones style it’s not where the characters end up that matters but how they get there. Thankfully, we might have one of the few interesting journeys this season happening over on the Iron Islands.
I very nearly gave Tyrion credit for a good showing here but ultimately I felt the pairing of Missandei and Greyworm were the more interesting part of the Meereen group this week. The two have individual strength in their own right but we are starting to see something that we haven’t seen from them in previous seasons: independent thought. While Daenerys was with them they seemed content to simply follow her orders and take onboard everything she had to say as if it was gospel. It wasn’t slavery of the body but in many ways it was slavery of the mind. Now that Daenerys has departed and left them in the presence of the mercurial Tyrion they are starting to think for themselves. It is a great step forward for characters that were resigned to staring at each other from across the room, a twisted romance blooming in the background away from everyone’s eyes (a role that seemingly may be adopted by Brienne and Tormund this season). One of the biggest struggles of the Eastern story in Game of Thrones is that outside of Daenerys there hasn’t been many interesting characters to speak of. Khal Drogo was interesting in his brief time but still fairly two-dimensional, while Jorah was demoted to the role of the desperate love-sick puppy. If Missandei and Greyworm emerge from the other side of this season with a better control over their place in Meereen, then their side of the universe will be better for it.
There will be many that feel Daenerys was the star of this episode but there was one other that stood out a little bit more in my opinion. More on that after I look at Mother of Dragons. The first thought that came to mind after this episode was thank god. Not only has Daenerys’s story this year rarely been a stand out but it was starting to feel like it was going to take all year for her to move on from the Vaes Dothrak. Now it seems her story in Vaes Dothrak may have come to an end and she might be headed back to Meereen sooner rather than later. Though the writers might throw another curve ball at the Mother of Dragons and find a new road trip to delay her story. If that does happen we might be looking at the highlight of the season for Daenerys and it did come off as quite the highlight. It may not rank highly on her all-time Game of Thrones moments but it still delivered an epic conclusion to her imprisonment at the hands of the Dothraki. The Mother of Dragons will never bow to another man, and thankfully it seems, every man, woman and child in the Dothraki horde might be willing to bow to her now.
This was an unexpected showing for me and one I feel is not just the highlight of the episode but one of the strongest moments of any female in the show’s history. A lot of the internet hype since the episode aired has been around Daenerys’s explosive rebirth as Queen of the Dothraki, standing naked in front of her new army, but Margaery’s display in this episode displays a strength that goes above and beyond what Daenerys did. At this point in the show Margaery has been imprisoned and punished for so long that she has started to learn the actual religious quotes being used to degrade her. Not only has she not broken but she shows a desire not just to protect herself but to help her brother too. It is a great message for female empowerment on the show that she has been able to withstand the constant harrasment by the Sparrows while her brother has seemingly cracked. On top of that, she is finally showing a new side to her character. From the start Margaery has been focused on thing: being queen of Westeros. This has been the single driving force for her character to date and it was starting to make her seem like a hollow character. Here we see her fight not just for something else but for someone else: her brother and by proxy, her family. So while Daenerys will get most of the publicity and hype for female empowerment from this episode, I feel Margaery should get even more credit. It is easy to walk through fire when you know you are fireproof. It is infinitely more difficult to be willing to go to the point of breaking just so you can save those you love.
If you like my review of this week’s Game of Thrones, why not check out my opinion of the Five Best Things in Last Week’s Episode “Oathbreaker” or follow me on twitter. Thanks.