Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Stranger In Town

"Book Of The Stranger" is the fourth episode of this season's Game Of Thrones.  Feels like we just started and we're almost halfway through.

We begin at Castle Black with Edd saying goodbye to Jon Snow. I thought Snow walked out last week. I guess he returned so he could pack.  Snow says he's going south--where else?  Snow is being kind of whiny, when you think about it. He knows they have to fight the White Walkers, but he's still in a snit since he was murdered by his own men.

Just then, the gates open and in comes Sansa and company.  She and Jon embrace--they haven't seen each other since season one.  It's a rare happy moment for the Starks, who have been taking it on the chin almost from the start.  Sansa could be a bit high-handed with her half-brother, but that's all forgotten now.  I must commend Sansa for her timing.  If she'd come the day or two before, Snow would have been dead and the fort held by mutineers.  If she'd come the day after, Snow would have been gone.

Jon still plans to bolt, but now wants to take sis along.  She insists they take back Winterfell (no bolt, Bolton). It is their home, after all.  He says he no longer has an army, and is tired of fighting.  She counters they need to take back the North or there's nowhere they can go.  And she'll do it alone if she has to.  That always gets a brother to help out.

Elsewhere at Castle Black, Melisandre makes clear that she's now a Snow follower.  Davos isn't thrilled with her quick turnaround.  And he wants to know about Shireen, but before he can hear the awful truth, Brienne comes by.  She's got plenty to say to these two.  Her first oath was to Renly, whom they killed with blood magic.  She hasn't forgotten, or forgiven. (But since their leaders are teaming up, don't they need to join together?  Besides, Davos is such a nice guy.) Oh, by the way, Brienne notes--I killed Stannis.  Just thought you'd want to know.  It'll be interesting to see how their relationship develops.

At the Eyrie, Robin Arryn is older, but no wiser, or better at war games. Uncle Petyr returns (the first time we've seen Baelish this season) with a cool gift.  Robin loves him, so when Lord Royce (correctly) suspects Littlefinger of ulterior motives with Sansa, Petyr soon has Robin threatening the Lord with the moon door.  Littlefinger spares him, but now seems to have Robin under his control--and he seems aware he'll need good fighters for the upcoming wars.  I might add at this point it's not clear what Littlefinger's endgame is--he's playing everyone against everyone, though I don't think he's happy with what the Boltons did to Sansa.  Petyr convinces Robin to attack the Boltons (making the little King think he came up with the idea himself).

Over in Meereen, Tyrion is playing the diplomat, meeting the slavers from Yunkai and Astapor to make a deal so they'll stop financing the insurrection.  Missandei and Grey Worm have too much experience being slaves to like it, but Tyrion, apparently, is in charge.  Why?  Because people believe he is.  Dany did appoint him advisor, but otherwise, it's pretty tenuous.  The slavers, in fact, aren't thrilled to be negotiating with a dwarf and a eunuch (how do they know?), but Tyrion assures him the Queen will be back soon enough.  As good as any other political promise.  Anyway, the deal seems to be repeal and replace--no slavery in Meereen, the other cities phase it out in seven years, and the slavers get recompensed and stop the revolution. "Give Freedom A Chance" says the Imp, almost quoting John Lennon.

Now the free people of Meereen meet with Tyrion and aren't thrilled he's talking to slave owners, but Tyrion says it's the best he can offer, or is war better? M and GW back him up, but not happily.  They don't trust the slavers.  (Grey Worm says they look at me and see a weapon, they look as Missandei and see a whore.  I expected her to say "hey, they look at me and see a translator," but she keeps quiet.)  Does Tyrion trust them?  No, but as he explains, we can count on their self-interest.  Also, they underestimate us, and we can use that to our advantage.  True enough, but the real point, story-wise, is we don't really care about Meereen, and whether it can exist half free, half slave. Dany's story was interesting because eventually she'd return to Westeros. The faster they get out, the better.

In the mountains outside Vaes Dothrak, Jorah and Daario approach.  Jorah knows all about the Dothraki customs--they'd take Dany here to be with the other widows.  Another rule--leave your weapons behind.  Daario inadvertently discovers Jorah's greyscale.  Guess he'll give him wide berth from now on.  Mormont will have to die, I guess, but at least he'll have a chance to go out heroically.

On the streets of the village J and D are spotted, and can't fool the warriors they meet into thinking they're merchants.  So Daario chases one guy down and snaps his neck.  Meanwhile, Jorah--a good enough fighter for the Pits--has trouble with his guy until Daario returns and stabs him.  He kept his knife, but the stab wound will give them away. (Maybe get them a golden crown treatment?) So Daario bashes in the guy's skull with a rock.

Meanwhile, Dany is stuck with the widows.  Her fate will be decided at the big khal meeting coming up soon.  At this point, you have to wonder how she'll escape--there are so many paths, who can guess.  Either she'll figure it out herself, be saved by her two soldiers, fly out on Drogon, be helped by the widows (a young one stolen from her village seems to be on Dany's side) or get a positive ruling from the khals. That last one seems doubtful.

Anyway, Dany walks out of the temple with her new-found friend so she can pee. (They don't have indoor plumbing, I guess.) Daario and Jorah meet up with her, and are ready to smuggle her out.  But she says no, she's got a plan.  Good, things are moving.  But before we can discover the plan, we cut to...

A dungeon in King's Landing.  Septa Unella leads Margaery out of her cell to the High Sparrow.  He has a talk with her.  She figures he'll tell her a story from the Book Of The Stranger (hence the title).  Not quite.  Seems his father was a simple cobbler, and he grew up to be a successful shoemaker, living a fairly good life. Then one night he had a big party with friends, where they drank and enjoyed women. When he woke up, he realized how empty his life was.  That's when he turned to religion and the simple life, and started traveling the countryside with the message. (It's a nice story, and he almost sounds reasonable, except this simple man seems to love shoving people around, locking them up in dungeons and humiliating them.  He may say he's humble, but he has no trouble exercising tremendous power in his humility, and threatening anyone who gets in his way.)

He takes Margaery to her brother, Loras, locked up in a different cell. Bro is broken, and just wants to get out.  Mags is tougher, telling him they can't give in--that's what the Sparrow wants.

Around the same time, Cersei vists her son, King Tommen. Pycelle is advising him not to stir up anything.  Cersei gets him out of there--that's not the kind of advice she believes in  She's also not happy her son has been talking to the High Sparrow.  Tommen wants to be careful with him--can't put his wife at risk, after all.  But what about what he did to me, Tommy Boy?  Tommen tells her the secret that the High Sparrow told him, though he shouldn't.  We cut away before he spills it.

Cersei sweeps into the meeting of the Small Council, along with Jaime.  Seems like a repeat of last week, but Cersei is ready to make nice this time.  Olenna is surprisingly dismissive of Cersei.  Why?  The former queen may be eld in the Red Keep awaiting trial, but it's still Cersei--she's got the ear of Tommen, the loyalty of her brother, and may have a say in Margaery's well-being.  Olenna's not stupid, so I was surprised to hear her talk like this.  Anyway, Cersei says let's work together, since the High Sparrow is counting on us to quarrel.  Before Cersei's trial, Mags is going to have her Walk of Shame. (Is this what the Sparrow told Tommen, or is Cersei playing Olenna?) Olenna won't hear of it. So the plan is to march her soldiers in from Highgarden, even as the King has ordered his regulars not to take action. So fine, they'll stand down even when the new soldiers come in to save Margaery and kill the High Sparrow.  Sounds like a plan.  It may cause a civil war where many will die, but that's for the small folk to worry about.

Now we're with Theon, going back to Pyke.  He meets sis Yara (a lot of reunions this episode), who's not happy that she lost men trying to rescue him when he betrayed her.  And now he's back?  She says "Look at me" a couple of times like this is Get Shorty. She thinks he's there for the Kingsmoot.  He says no, he doesn't want to be in charge--he'll help her, in fact.  Okay, fine, this is what's happening in the Iron Islands.  I've got nothing against these character, but I don't really care what happens there.  When they start getting back into the main action is when I'll be interested.

And now we're at Winterfell.  Osha is brought into Ramsay's room.  This isn't good.  There's not many reasons to keep her alive.  She lies about her loyalty to the Starks, hoping to stab Ramsay when she gets the chance, but it's hard to take the threat seriously. With everyone aiming at Winterfell, what good is it if Ramsay's dead already?  Instead, he kills her.  He's planned to all along, at least since the days he tortured Theon and found out everything she did to save Bran and Rickon.  It's a quick death, but a painful one for fans.  She was one of my favorites, and no sooner does she return to the show after a prolonged hiatus than she's dispatched.

Back at Castle Black the whole gang enjoy a meal. Tormund looks at Brienne, maybe thinking here's a woman he could work with.  Then a letter comes. It's from Lord of Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton--Sansa knows, then, he's killed his father.  Ramsay writes like he talks, telling the bastard Snow that he's betrayed the North. What's more, Rickon is in a dungeon in Winterfell.  Ramsay wants his bride Sansa back, and if he doesn't get her he'll slaughter everyone, have his men rape Sansa, his dogs eat Rickon and have Snow watch it all before he takes his eyes out and tears him apart.

Time to start talking war.  Ramsay has around 5000 soldiers.  Tormund (whose people have now been threatened) has about 2000 fighters.  But Sansa thinks the Northern houses are loyal to the Starks. Is she right? Looks like Snow won't get that vacation after all. It would be helpful if they knew Littlefinger is coming, as surely as winter.

Happily, we now go back to Dothraki land, so we won't have to wait to see Dany's plan.  The Khals are in the temple deciding her fate.  They could keep her there as a widow, or trade her to Yunkai for 10,000 horses.  Dany acts as imperiously as ever, telling them they're nothing and she thinks she'll take over.  They laugh and bring up serial rape. (A lot of rape talk this episode.) If Dany's got a plan, she better unveil it soon.  And she does.  She knocks over the fires lighting the Temple.  The doors have been barred from the outside. (Was the place also set up to burn faster?) The Khals run around in terror before dying in the flames. A crowd gathers outside to watch the conflagration--guess there's no fire department.

Then out walk Dany, smoking hot but unburnt.  She's done this trick before, at the end of Season One.  This time, however, she makes sure she's got a big crowd so they'll be impressed.  And they are.  Wouldn't you be?  They bow down.  So she didn't need to escape, she took over by using her superpower. (She also shows her breasts, which I thought the actress said she wouldn't do any more. I guess the producers convinced her she couldn't walk out of the temple with conveniently charred clothing.  That or she saw how her Terminator movie flopped.) A lot of powerful women in this episode, but Dany takes the crown.

Like so many episodes, we end on a scene of Dany's triumph.  Is she finally ready to get moving?  It's really time she gathered her warriors, ships, dragons and friends in Meereen, and got to Westeros.

A good episode.  Once again, a mix of table-setting and payoffs.  Who did we miss?  No Arya (too bad) or Jaqen.  No Bran, and no flashbacks--after we were tantalized by the Lyanna story last week.  No Rickon.  No Samwell or Gilly. No Bronn (is he even in this season?).  No Sand Snakes.  No Qyburn or Mountain.  No Dragons.  But plenty to look forward to next week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Brienne got a full confession out of Stannis before she executed him?

Also, if she weren't a guest at Castle Black, wouldn't she be honor bound to kill Davos and Melisandre?

12:41 AM, May 17, 2016  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Is Stannis really dead? They didn't show the actual killing blow and they tend to do things like that in GOT for a reason.

Probably a red herring buts bugging me....

3:06 AM, May 17, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

You're correct that when you don't see the actual killing, and a dead body--especially in a movie--it usually means the character is still alive. But in this case, I believe it's been confirmed. The Boltons discussed it in the first show this season and I heard the HBO website lists Stannis as deceased, which is supposed to be a reliable source. Also, why would Brienne lie? She's not the type.

Maybe they didn't show it because it would have been a 45 minute scene where Brienne asked him all sorts of questions before she cut off his head. Actually, I found her finding him, all alone, to be pretty convenient. It's not clear just what she saw or where she was during that general battle.

9:26 AM, May 17, 2016  

Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter