‘Game of Thrones’ Episode 604 Recap: “Book of the Stranger”

Game of Thrones has turned me into a cynical TV-watcher. I’m sure you know what I mean. You start to love a character, only for his/her head to end up on a spike; you breathlessly await a reunion, only to have two some characters just miss each other. And so on and so on.

So it was with real surprise that “Book of the Stranger” gave us some meaningful and trouble-free reunions. As he makes plans to head south and get warm, Jon’s half-sister, Sansa, arrives in the care of Brienne and Podrick. Just like that! Theon makes his way to the Iron Islands in one piece (more or less) to offer his support to his sister. Margaery finally gets a glimpse of her broken brother, Loras. And even though Daenerys wasn’t reunited per se with the Dothraki, her power play puts them at her command in a whole new way.

The chess pieces are moving. We didn’t see much movement in the grand scheme of things, but Episode 604 was the bowstring being tightened all that much more before all heck is loosed.

The intrigue in the north centers around Sansa’s determination to take back Winterfell. Jon is reticent, but a letter from Ramsay stating he has Rickon in his dungeon puts his doubts to rest. Tormund can give them 2,000 men, to counter Ramsay’s 5,000. The next step will be to find more. Perhaps some undecided houses in the north?

Daenerys’ little meeting with the khals doesn’t go as they probably thought it would. Instead of condemning her to remain in Vaes Dothrak or become a sex slave she turns the tables (or braziers, rather) and burns that mother down. She uses her fireproof superpower to emerge unscathed from the temple, commanding the worship and following of 100,000 Dothraki, if Jorah’s math is correct.

Tyrion takes advantage of Daenerys’ absence to play a little diplomacy, but the reaction of Grey Worm and Missandei makes you wonder if he’s gotten too cute for his own good. The Good and Wise Masters (I can’t keep them straight) of Astapor and Yunkai will have seven years to end slavery.

In King’s Landing, things are about to heat up. About time, I would say. If you find it unsettling to see Lady Olenna and Cersei on the same page, join the club. But when it comes to public shame, both agree they’d rather suffer violence. Look out, High Sparrow, the Tyrell army is comin’ for ya!

On the Iron Islands, Yara Greyjoy is making her own power play, and the last person she cared to see showed up. Theon, who at least has a decent claim to the Salt Throne given that he’s the king’s son, reveals he’s too broken to attempt that action. He’ll support his sister. Feels like the Islands are getting into this game too late to make much of an impact, but given that the show is taking the time to go there makes me think I’m 100% wrong on that.

And lest you think we could go a whole episode without some bloodshed, poor Osha met her match at the end of Ramsay’s apple knife. Hey, at least she tried. Sometimes old wildlings just can’t turn new tricks.

The mystery going forward is when and where we’ll see all of these elements converge. Where will Jon look for more troops? Where will the ironborn go once they’ve chosen a king (queen?). How does Daenerys get her Dothraki horde to Westeros? Or is it back to Meereen first?

Buckle up, wildlings. It’s gonna get crazy.

Stray Observations:

– According to the showrunners, Jon and Sansa had never shared a scene together until now. That’s kind of amazing.

– Davos got closer to the truth of what happened to Shireen … and smacked with the blunt truth of Stannis’ end. Where does an onion smuggler go from here?

– Hey, Littlefinger’s back! And just like any good “uncle” he brings a gift back for his nephew. A falcon! Which apparently the Lord Protector of the Vale had no way of procuring by himself. “Mobilize my forces for a battle in the north that doesn’t concern any of my people? Seems like a bad id — ooh, a bird!”

– Join the “fray”? I really, really, really hope you didn’t mean “Frey,” Littlefinger.

– The Good/Great Masters were awfully quick to accept seven years of slavery, even though it has been the bedrock of their economies “since the dawn of time.” Hmm.

– Imagine sneaking in to Coachella and running into the exact person you were looking for as she heads off for a bathroom break. That’s pretty much what Daario and Jorah pulled off.

– So, the High Sparrow started down the pious path after a really epic kegger? Got it.

– Oh, Grand Maester Pycelle. That little smirk to Cersei makes me think you are not long for this world.

– “Hi, Brienne. I’m Tormund. Once this whole war thing is wrapped up, you wanna go get some tacos? Cool. I’ll text you.”

– That letter from Ramsay to Jon was in awfully good condition after the journey from Winterfell to Castle Black.

– I initially thought Daario and Jorah’s “help” was spreading some flammable agents on the floor of that temple — because it went up in flames really quickly.

– You’ll notice the Dothraki encircled the burning temple from which Daenerys emerged, but a good 60-70% wouldn’t have been able to see her. What did they think they were bowing to?

Episode 605 Preview:

Official synopsis: “Tyrion seeks a strange ally. Bran learns a great deal. Brienne goes on a mission. Arya is given a chance to prove herself.”

Thanks for reading. See you back here next week for “The Door.” Valar dohaeris.

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