Game of Thrones: Book of the Stranger Q&A

Welcome to the Q&A of Season Six, Episode Four “Book of the Stranger” of GAME of THRONES, I hope you enjoyed all the work we did getting you Primed and ready for Sunday Night.
As always Earl and David have not read the books, but David has seen all the Blu-Ray extras, and since we have out-paced most of the book story-lines, we have added a third person to the roster, so please welcome Shauna to the Questionnaire! or should we call this our Game of Thrones Roundtable? Shauna has read the books, but promises to keep her fancy book-learnin to a minimum. Please join us Tuesdays after the show to get our thoughts on the show.

1. This episode was filled with women seizing power in many ways. Discuss.Dany Targaryen

Earl: First off there is Sansa’s statement of intent that her and Jon need to take back Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton. Sansa seeing Jon’s reluctance basically told him that she is going to do this with or without him. Thankfully for us House Stark lovers, the two siblings will do this together. Later on we saw Cersei sort of manipulate Tommen, Lady Olenna, and Kevan Lannister in order to accomplish the aims of removing the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant. Cersei uses her will to put a plan into motion, a plan that I think everyone involved knows is the only way to rid themselves of the Faith and the Sparrow but they all seemed reluctant to consider until now.
Finally, Daenerys used cunning to kill the Khals and get the Dothraki’s on her side. Despite Jorah and Daario coming to Vaes Dothrak, she wisely told them that they wouldn’t survive if she just fled. She had to deal with the Khals and she did so by burning them alive while she emerged unscathed. The Dothraki has now bowed to their Khalessi and she now has the army she needs to conquer Westeros.

Shauna: First of all, what an episode! This is why this is the best show on television; when narrative meets character development meets visual mastery, it is just brilliant, but I digress.
This episode is all about the ladies, and I’ll start with the reunion we’ve all been waiting for, a Stark meeting another Stark! Sansa has been reunited with her half-brother Jon. I must admit that I got very teary-eyed and feared that something bad was going to happen, like Jon would’ve left Castle Black before Sansa’s arrival, this is Game of Thrones…but no, they were reunited! Sansa has come a lot way from being the sniveling girl that she once was, she is coming into her own power and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was her voice that laid down all the reasons for her and Jon to retake Winterfell from the Boltons, saying that if he didn’t help, she’d do it herself. This was a far cry from the Sansa of season 1 whose only goal was to give Joffrey golden hair offspring.
Next, I move to Margaery, who let’s be real, wears the pants in the Tyrell family. She finally is granted permission to see Loras, but Margaery being Margaery knows that it isn’t that easy. She finds her brother, the heir to Highgarden in a puddle of what can only be described as his own mess and it is her voice once again that tells him that he must rally and not give in to the High Sparrow’s demands. We tend to think that Baelish and Varys play the game quite well, but we sleep on Margaery’s ability to play it as well and here we see her doing it, and doing it so she can get back to her desire of being THE QUEEN.
Finally, I want to talk about Daenerys’s momentous move at the end of the episode. Every time I think that she’s losing her way as a leader, losing her grip on the Free Cities, she reminds us that she is the Mother of Dragons. This scene of Dany burning all of the Khals in Dosh Khaleen was a crucial part of Dany’s character this season. Reading some reviews of the episode, book readers were upset at the fact that she seems to be fireproof and in fact (what fact? this is a fantasy show!) she isn’t. Here’s why it doesn’t matter-when you adapt the literary word into visual medium, there are certain visual cues that need to be established for character development- Dany being able to emerge unscathed from fire visually links her to her dragons, who are currently off camera. The other important reason is that it signifies her intellect and strategy, alerting viewers to the fact that yes, Drogon could’ve easily swooped in and burned the entire population of Dothraki to ashes, but here instead she is strategizing and has liberated herself without the help of Daario and Jorah. She leaves both liberated and now with the unwavering loyalty of the entire Dothraki people. Well done, Dany.
I leave Cersei out of the picture for now. Her seizing of power is a desperate one, and desperate things tend to not last very long…

David: Then I’ll take Cersei. It’s a brilliant plan. The females in the Tyrell family have the balls. The Queen of Thorns is old, and Mace is a moron. By using the Tyrell army, and not the men of King’s Landing. If the attack fails and the kids are killed, it’s not the fault of the Lannisters. Cersei would be wise to stay as far away as the Tyrells want them to be. If they want, let this be a 100% Tyrell operation.

If it were me?

1. I would put all the King’s forces in the Red Keep, if the city burns because Qyburn has underestimated the size of the High Sparrows followers, I want to be in a defensible a position as possible, even to the point of having Ships ready. I would also have the Lannister Army camped a short distance away under Uncle Kevan, just in case.
2. Have Jamie command the forces going into a frontal assault on the High Sparrow. I don’t mean in his keep. I mean start this when the High Sparrow is out feet-washing. Have Jamie and 100 or so men staggered out a few blocks, surround and capture the Sparrow (likely getting Lancel in the process) put him in the Red Keep as a bargaining chip.
3. While the Tyrells are attacking the Faith, Bronn and a few of his buddies can sneak into the building and get the Septa and Tyrell kiddos. Yes, in that order.
4. Once the Kids and the Septa are out, sound a horn or some kind of signal, then kill everyone wearing a brown robe, and have the Tyrell Army leave the city, just in case there is some unrest.
5. Once I have the Kids, Septa and the High Sparrow in the Red Keep, the High Sparrow is going to trip and fall on something sharp. So will Pycelle for that matter.

2. Brothers and sisters reunite in this episode. What was your reaction to Sansa/Jon and Margaery/Loras?Loras and Margarey

Earl: I like House Stark. I want to see the Starks get their revenge so to get Sansa and Jon on screen, and so early in the episode made me smile and applaud. Their scenes together were heartwarming and it felt natural. Especially the scene in which Sansa was asking Jon to forgive her. We haven’t seen two Stark siblings share the same moment together in a few seasons and now that the two will embark on reclaiming Winterfell, I can’t wait for more scenes together.
Margaery and Loras was also equally strong. Loras is breaking from the treatment he is receiving from the Faith, but I think Margaery still being strong will rally the two together. Margaery seems to be aware of the game the High Sparrow is playing, and she knows that she needs to stay strong and she needs Loras to stay strong for not only their future but the future of their family.

Shauna: Sansa and Jon! What a lovely scene! Too many times, Starks have come within earshot of each other but always failing to meet: Jon, Bran and Rickon, Arya and Catelyn and Rob, Jon and Bran again near the Wall. Having the two of them together, and reuniting in episode 4 really moves the narrative along and brings them a step closer to the retaking of Winterfell. It was also nice to see Sansa recognize that she was horrible to Jon growing up, but realizing that none of that matters anymore. Home is what matters. They’re coming for ya, Ramsey.
Margaery and Loras! Those two have always been interesting to watch, especially pitted against Cersei and Jaime (twins gone wild!). They essentially have a similar relationship; they’ll do anything for each other, which is more apparent in the books. Margaery knows her brother is weak, but needs him to comply so that they can both get back to King’s Landing. She’s got her head in the right place, she needs to get Loras’s head in the right place too.

David: I love the fact that Sansa was the one having to tell Jon Snow to grow a pair. Sansa has been through a ton, and it seems like she has grown up and been hardened by the experience. Sansa is going to be the type of leader that the people of Winterfell are going to need to survive the Bolton Experience. We really didn’t get much between Sansa and Jon in the show, but I’m sure with Sansa being the oldest female child, she took after her mother in her attitude with him.
I did like seeing Loras again, but much like all the Tyrell men, he’s now broken and a bit of a wimp. I think there might be a chance that he could come out stronger, but when you get the nickname of “Knight of Flowers” that doesn’t exactly strike fear in the minds eye. I’m looking for Loras to either grow up or get rolled over. Let’s keep in mind, just because he’s a pillow-biter doesn’t mean he can’t be a monster bad-ass. Alexander the Great bit a few pillows in his day (we think) and he wasn’t exactly a coward.

3. What was your favorite moment of the episode?Varys and Tyrion

Earl: It has to be the aftermath of Tyrion’s negotiations with the slavers. Tyrion may feel he’s the diplomat of Meereen but he made a huge misstep in allowing slavery to continue for a period of time in Slavers Bay, and I like the fact that Grey Worm and Missandei implored on him the error with his decision with their reasoning. For the face of unity, they publically backed Tyrion but I feel Tyrion wasn’t listening to them when they argued that he does not know the ways of the slavers, and their tactics. Tyrion might have had a good turn as the Hand of the King a few seasons back, but he’s in over his head here.

Shauna: I have two. First of course is Sansa and Jon seeing each other, I loved that there’s this long pause of disbelief between them that a member of my family is still alive. Very well acted by Kit Harrington and Sophie Turner. My second favorite moment, was a small one, the command of respect given to Brienne at Castle Black. She wasn’t gawked at (well she was but in a good way by Tormund) and when she revealed that it was she who executed Stannis, it was completely believable!

David: Anything with Tyrion is awesome. Best moment for me was Tyrion saying he was richer than any of the Masters in the room and there hadn’t been slavery in Westeros for hundreds of years. Just awesome because it was true, and the Master responding to Grey Worm that just because his situation changed, he was still a slave. Some deep thoughts there. Look up Indentured Servants and Sharecroppers sometime.

4. Favorite performance of the week?Book of the Stranger

Earl: Emilia Clarke, please take a bow. I’m not sure any other actress can make the role of Daenerys Targaryen out to be such a badass. She exhibited a unique combination of strength and delicateness in her scenes, and honestly she’s extremely easy on the eyes. In a scene reminiscent to when she emerged from Khal Drogo’s pyre unburnt, she emerged from the Dosh Khaleen temple unburnt and regal. She now has a Khalasar to take to Meereen to combine with the Unsullied. Hopefully, we are now steps closer from getting her to Westeros.

Shauna: I’d have to give it to Sansa, only because we’ve seen Dany do her “emerging from the fire” before. Sophie Turner was great this week showing a great range of emotion from joy to fear to courage in convincing Jon that they need to go back to their home.

David: Was Peter Dinkledge on screen? Then everyone else is fighting for second place.
I did enjoy the return of Littlefinger and how he just rolls in there and takes over the Vale. I don’t know who the bald dude was, but he best watch himself or learn to fly. Little Aryn is still a toady. The pain on Sansa’s face reading the letter was also impressive.

5. What’s the plan to take Winterfell back?Boltons in Winterfell

Earl: I’d assume the plan will be to take the wildings, and whatever forces the Stark children can rally to their side to take on Ramsay. Ramsay has 5,000 soldiers and the Wildings number around 2,000. Hardly enough. We learned last night that the armies of the Vale will join the fray and that should even the odds, but in order to take the North they are going to need support of the northern houses that are not aligned with the Boltons. So I won’t be surprised to see some diplomatic efforts taking place over the next few episodes.

Shauna: I assume that Baelish will bring the Knights of the Vale to aid in the battle for Winterfell. It’s only fair since he wed Sansa to a psychopath ( I am still not convinced that he didn’t know about Ramsey. He knew all that stuff about Sansa escaping and going to the Wall, how could he have not known about Ramsey?) With the Knights of the Vale and the Wildlings and maybe some of the smaller Northern Houses, I think they have a very good chance of reclaiming Winterfell. Now… hopefully they do that before Ramsey does something to Rickon.
Another fantastic episode. The show runners are not wasting any screen time on nonsense this season, now if only George R.R Martin would take that approach with his verbose writing.

David: Let the WIldlings do what they do best. Raid the countryside and occupy the Umbers and Carstarks. See who else wants to come to the Stark Banner and have them rally at Castle Black. No one knows the area around Winterfell like the Stark Kids, they can use that to get into the building. The Vale can actually confront the Bolton army in the field. The disadvantage the Starks have is Ramsey will burn and kill everyone if he knows he is going to die, so Jon needs him to die as quickly as possible to save his brother.

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