Movies & TV Reviews

Game of Thrones “Book of the Stranger” Review

Game of Thrones "Book of the Stranger"

Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally, I have something I am so excited about and that is the decision to not keep teasing characters possibly meeting up with one another and finally reuniting. Instead, the fourth episode of Game of Thrones‘s sixth season opens with a humdinger of a plot point that made me cheer in my seat and even smile quite a bit – a rare feat in a series filled so often with dour moments. Instead, “Book of the Stranger” delivers a set up for war and has another ending that has me conflicted about whether I love it or hate it.

Let’s begin everything with the high note, which for me was definitely Jon Snow and Sansa Stark finally reuniting, thanks to Brienne bringing Sansa to Castle Black. It’s coincidental that Sansa shows up just as Jon is planning to leave the Wall completely, but still a moment to rejoice. Even more so, Sansa wants Jon to take back Winterfell from Ramsay. Hell, even Ramsay wants Jon to try. So now we have what will likely be the set up to the ninth episode of Game of Thrones (as formula states, that is the battle episode). I would have liked to have the plotline of Jon Snow slumming it in the wilds, but the show really doesn’t need more meandering from plotlines when there are already tons of characters doing that.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the fact that Dorne is being forgotten. I hope that is the case and we’ve decided to just leave that whole section of the world alone, because there is nothing worth talking about there. It can all be done through notes and messages spoken to us by familiar characters, instead of trying to make me care about another new place. I’m already not that into Meeren as a location because of how uninteresting the plot there is, but it at least has characters I like.

Game of Thrones "Book of the Stranger"

(Game of Thrones, HBO)

Take Tyrion for example, who basically made a deal this episode that there can be an adjustment period for slavers, giving them the ability to own slaves for several more years and then it will be illegal. I’m sure this will all end in Daenarys wrecking Tyrion and trying to banish him somehow, but what interests me more is how Daenarys’ dragons will play into the eventual feud. Tyrion has proven that the dragons aren’t going to hurt him for no reason, so maybe there is more to that relationship. Maybe a divide between the dragons as they seek Tyrion out as a new owner versus Daenarys who locked them up? Wishful thinking, but that would make Tyrion’s presence far more interesting than it is now.

How about another conniving entrepreneur? Littlefinger returned to the show, and began rallying The Vale’s troops to go take back Winterfell. This could be an interesting development, especially since Sansa and Jon are preparing to take Winterfell as well. Maybe Littlefinger is secretly aware that Sansa escaped (this is the part of the episode I kind of zoned out during, so I don’t remember if he explicitly stated he knew she had escaped) and is planning to help in a bid to prove both his awareness and willingness to help the Starks. Or specifically, just help Sansa. I’m not sure how he feels about Jon, but we’ll see, I’m sure.

Okay, now lets talk about the other person that escaped: Theon Greyjoy. Having arrived back in Pyke, he goes to meet Yara who basically scolds him for being such a nuisance. Yara is getting ready to fight for the throne of the Iron Islands, and is concerned Theon is just here to take her place and sit on the throne. Instead, Theon is aware he is not capable of ruling and offers to help Yara take her rightful place. That’s cool, I guess. This is just another one of the plotlines that I don’t particularly care about because the only impact I can think of it having on the larger narrative is the Iron Islands might lend their forces to a side later in the series.

Game of Thrones "Book of the Stranger"

(Game of Thrones, HBO)

When Osha showed up in Ramsay’s quarters all ready to have sex, I was like “Oh good, here comes the rape and/or murder!” Thankfully, no rape. Instead, the most obvious thing happens: Ramsay kills Osha because she thinks he can be controlled by sex like other men before him. Unfortunately, he’s pretty much got his blind spots covered. Ramsay is really just Joffrey 2.0, and I’d like him to die, not because I hate him but I hate the need to always have a Joffrey around. Like Joffrey, he is fairly one-dimensional and doesn’t really offer much other than to give the show gratuitous violence. I would expect him to kill Rickon before anyone gets to save him but not until the battle for Winterfell has begun.

Maester Pycelle has the funniest moment of the episode when he was once again sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong, trying to be all smart and stuff, and then Cersei kicking him out. However, he is not fast enough as he kept milking that physically disabled-angle. He is probably the character that I enjoy seeing most now, because whenever he talks its extremely funny to hear how hard he is trying to be important.

But also Cersei got Olenna to agree with her, and now the Tyrells might actually be freed. We’ll see though, because I’m kind of rooting for the High Sparrow to just rule all of King’s Landing. Even if his story about how messed up one night of partying was didn’t exactly enthrall me.

Game of Thrones "Book of the Stranger"

(Game of Thrones, HBO)

Alright everyone, buckle in as we talk about Jorah and Daario killing people and getting to Daenarys only for Daenarys to decide “Nah, I have a really dumb idea but based on the exact same thing happening before, it’ll all be good.” I’m so absolutely conflicted by the decision of the showrunners to claim Daenarys is literally fireproof. Book readers have been yelling since the episode aired claiming it’s dumb and not part of the lore, and while I tend to ignore book readers’ comments, I actually feel for them here.

To summarize, Daenarys escapes the Khal widow prison by setting an entire building on fire that contains several Khals, as well as herself. She emerges from the blaze completely naked, but unscathed. Why is this such an issue? Well, to explain that we’d have to go back to Season One when this happened last.

When Daenarys survived the blaze before, it never felt like she was immune to fire. It’s like seeing someone jump through a glass window, having never done it before, and escaping unscathed. To most, that would be luck. To some, they might say that person can’t be cut by glass. In a world so bound by religion like Westeros, it makes sense that a Targaryen who managed to be the only survivor in a blaze of fire might be considered fireproof by some and then given a godly status.

Game of Thrones "Book of the Stranger"

(Game of Thrones, HBO)

However, we are now basically saying that Targaryens cannot be burnt by having Daenarys leave unscathed from fire again. Which suggests so many wild things that it simply cannot be true. Is her skin made of some fireproof substance? How are her lungs? There’s no way anyone can inhale that much smoke and not have trouble breathing? What material is her hair made of that left that totally safe? Even George R.R. Martin claimed she was not immune to fire.

…TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE! The birth of Dany’s dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle. She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn’t immune to that molten gold. – George R.R. Martin

So here is the problem that unfolds when we say Daenarys is immune to fire: it lowers the death stakes again. It lowers interest in Daenarys as a character. She lacks any physical flaws. So this season we already established that dead characters can definitely come back to life (established previously, but cemented here) and that Daenarys definitely cannot be killed by fire.

It also deprives Daenarys’s arch of the religious angle. There is no longer skepticism in the cult of Daenarys, because she really is immune. If she had been burnt, it would have played into Melissandre’s arch very cleanly. Melissandre lost faith because what she believed was not true, despite firmly believing it for years. In this episode, she forces herself to believe that Jon is the actual person to believe in, but it feels like her struggling with her religion. If Daenarys had been burnt, she would be less of a myth and more of a person. This is a fundamental issue when most people believe that the two main characters of this series are Jon Snow and Daenarys Targaryen. Both have escaped death, and one has been established essentially as a god.

I’ll move on and just state though that I am conflicted about this. On one hand, I hate turning a main character into an overpowered one, but I also love the idea that the dragons were not needed for Daenarys to escape the Khals’ clutches. She escaped on her own accord without any help. Even men like Jorah and Daario tried to help her, but she refused it. That is female empowerment in a show that has a tough time not belittling its females. However, turning one into a god, is likely not going to make for very interesting television.

Game of Thrones "Book of the Stranger"

Game of Thrones "Book of the Stranger"




    • Jon and Sansa have reunited for some ole fashioned warring
    • Pycelle gets the funniest moment in the season so far
    • Things are moving forward in almost every regard
    • Daenarys is empowered by herself


    • Ramsay isn't interesting so please just kill him off already
    • Tyrion has also become one of the lesser characters on the show
    • I really don't care about Pyke and the Iron Islands
    • Daenarys is a goddess and that makes for a fairly uninteresting character

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