(Go no further if you don’t like spoilers, a naked woman, and fire)
No other single episode in the past couple seasons has shown power, control and the transferring of power like “Book of the Stranger.”
Last week, Jon Snow said his watch was over. Of course, EVERYONE said this was proof he had changed. Snow was dead, murdered by his “brothers,” and then brought back from a death where he saw nothing but darkness. Jon Snow has changed, but only in the way being murdered and brought back from the grave can change a person, not in the Jon-Snow-is-now-evil way so many people think. Death, which is usually permanent, affects everyone.
In Jon’s case death gave him a chance to reunite with Sansa. The Stark reunion (okay, partial reunion and as much as we’ll get any time soon) we’ve been waiting for since season two showed us how much Sansa has really changed since she left Winterfell. Sansa admits to Jon she was awful before they all left Winterfell. It was an admission everyone has known since the first episode. The spoiled brat that left Winterfell returned as a stronger woman who convinced, with a little help from a letter sent by Ramsay Bolton, Jon to move on Winterfell. Hopefully, by the end of the season we will see the end of Ramsay Bolton and there will be one less character whose only purpose is to be evil.
Petyr Baelish finally made an appearance, a 10-second appearance. In those 10-seconds we learned more about Little Finger than perhaps any other character this season. Baelish demonstrated he controls Robin Arryn, Lord of The Vale. Arryn has been a spoiled brat (There’s a lot of them in Game of Thrones) in the past. His mother, Lysa, basically turned him into the worst kind of mama’s boy. Since last season, it seems Baelish has control of the child. Baelish prevented an execution at the same time he almost caused it. He also manipulated Robin to have the Vale’s army move on Winterfell. Things should get interesting if Jon and the Wildlings meet them at Winterfell.
It’s no secret, I don’t like Cersei. Characters, in a plot driven story, should drive a story forward. Game of Thrones, a mix of both plot and character driven, has suffered from the continuous, obvious plots she has hatched. This week it seems Cersei is actually serving a purpose. A purpose that should see the end of another thorn in Game of Throne’s side- High Sparrow.
High Sparrow and his followers were an interesting addition to Game of Thrones. It was a religious addition to a world George R.R. Martin, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss wanted to keep similar to ours as possible. Just like the Inquisition, High Sparrow and his followers have gotten stale. It’s time their story line has ended. If Cersei’s plot works it could end the High Sparrow story line on a high note. It will also be one less story line in a series that has more storylines and loose ends than a comic book.
The end of the High Sparrow may see the rise of Cersei into a position of real power. It could also cause the civil war she was warned that could happen as a result of the High Sparrow’s death. Either way, there will be another shift in power in Westeros.
As interesting as it was to see Tyrion broker a deal with the slave masters and Theon Greyjoy relenting claim to the Salt Throne (both of which are shifts in the control of power), the night belonged to Daenerys Targaryen. Many people at the beginning of season six predicted the dragons would save her from the Khaleesi retirement village. She could have also tried to slip out with Jorah and Darrio. It may have been suicide, but they could have tried. Either scenario would have made sense and it would have been an easy out for the writers. For all of Game of Throne’s faults it has taking the easy way out isn’t one of them (except for the cheap trick of bringing Jon Snow back).
In keeping with the theme of shifts of power, Khaleesi took control of the Dothraki in the most spectacular manner-she burned them alive. The final scene of Daenerys walking from the burning lodge untouched and unburnt echoed the same thing that happened at the end of season one. She walked out unburnt and the Dothraki bowed to her as queen. Now she has the Dothraki and the Unsullied armies behind her. Power, it would seem, is in Daenerys’s hands. Now it’s just a matter of how long the showrunners want to stretch out her inevitable return to Westeros.
“Book of Strangers” was another strong episode. Some would say it was another strong episode in a season that has only had strong episodes. As much as I disagree with that statement, “Book of Strangers” proved when episodes are on target and we get more than crumbs of what may or not happen in the future no other series can touch Game of Thrones the drama department.