‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6, Episode 4 Recap: ‘Book of the Stranger’


It’s odd to consider, but according to the creators in this week’s “Inside the Episode,” Jon Snow and Sansa stark have never shared a scene with each other. They’ve never been close, and when they meet at the start of “Book of the Stranger,” they’re on opposite ends of the rope. But the bond of their family proves strong enough to make their reunion a happy one. Jon has been fighting since the day he left Winterfell — he’s tired, and wants to tap out. But Sansa desperately wants revenge, and she knows she needs Jon and his wildlings to get it. She wants to retake Winterfell (where Rickon’s protector, Osha, has met a bloody, if merciful, fate), and her brother Rickon. They’ve only got 2,000 or so fighters, according to Tormund’s back of the napkin calculations, but Sansa is convinced that people will rally their banners for the Stark name.

However, there are two key pieces of information that Sansa is missing; one, that Littlefinger has the knights of the Vale marching north, and two, that her father’s former bannermen, the Umbers and the Karstarks, have already aligned with Ramsay.

And that’s to say nothing about the way Tormund eyes Brienne like a piece of meat. There is almost no scenario in which he doesn’t at least try to do it with her, most likely after a sparring match of some sort. It won’t be pretty, but it will be awesome. It will likely be a more happy moment than when Davos finds out that the red woman burned his precious Shireen at the stake.

In King’s Landing, Margaery, still imprisoned, gets to meet her brother after swallowing the High Sparrow’s origin story. The man she meets in his cell is a far cry from the Loras she knew; while she still wants to fight, he’s had all the fight beaten out of him. Her grandmother still fights, however — Cersei and Jamie are able to appeal to bother and Kevan Lannister’s heartstrings (Kevan’s son, Lancel, is in the Faith Militant), convincing them to bring the Tyrell army into the city to usurp the authority of the Faith Militant. And we all know how well it turned out last time a friendly army was allowed in the gates of King’s Landing — the Lannisters sacked the city, usurping the the Mad King.

In the Vale, rejoice, for Littlefinger returns! We finally get to see the slimy evil mustache in the flesh, for the first time since he traded Sansa to the Boltons. And from the start, we see him flexing his influence over little Robin Arryn. Littlefinger killed Robin’s mom, but he’s the only one that Robin trusts. Bronze Yohn Royce has essentially been Robin’s surrogate father, training him, and watching over him as Littlefinger does his nefarious thing across Westeros. Yet his challenge to Littlefinger — for letting Sansa be “married” to Ramsay Bolton — is quickly and expertly countered, and before Royce knows what’s happening, little Robin is asking Littlefinger if they should toss Royce through the moon door. The heirarchy re-established, Littlefinger convinces Robin that they need to help Sansa, and the duo ride north (with their considerable army) to Winterfell. Shit’s about to go down.

In Meereen, Tyrion is about to make a deal with the devils of Yunkai, Astapoor, and Volantis to make peace. They want him, Varys, Dany, her dragons and her army out of the bay, to leave the masters to their peculiar institution that has served them so well. Tyrion may not have the perspective of Grey Worm or Missandei when it comes to the slavery (“How many days were you a slave?” she asks him), but he does have the perspective of a seasoned politician. He understands that what the masters truly worship is wealth, and offers them an out — slavery will still be abolished, but the masters have seven years to figure out how to do it and still remain profitable. This doesn’t go over well with anyone — not Grey Worm, Missandei, or the former slaves in Meereen.

And finally: We’ve waited some time for it, but Dany has finally made her move. Despite how often she tells us, it’s easy to forget that even without her dragons, she’s still the unburnt. She’s always had a flair for the dramatic, and with a little help from Jorah and Daario Naharis (who bar the doors), she knocks over the four braziers inside the temple of the Dosh Khaleen, burning it down with every Khal inside. With one move, she’s destroyed the entire Dothraki power structure, and the house that served to marginalize its women. As she walks out of the flames, nude, everyone in Vaes Dothrak bends the knee without a word. She’ll soon be returning to Slaver’s Bay — and it will be interesting to see what she thinks of Tyrion’s seven-year compromise.