TV Recap: Game of Thrones, ‘Book of the Stranger’

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Book of the Stranger Plot Summary:

Sansa (Sophie Turner) reunites with Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), and has a plan — retake the North. Meanwhile, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has a plan of her own, make the Dothraki follow her, but she will need help, and it might not be from Daario (Michael Huisman) or Jorah (Iain Glen) who are moments from rescuing her. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) plans on making a truce with those funding the Sons of the Harpy, despite protests from Grey Worm (Jacob Andersen), and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). Theon (Alfie Allen) returns to The Iron Islands, while Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) returns to The Vale with thoughts of war. In King’s Landing, things get tense as The Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), Margery (Natalie Dormer), and Cersei (Lena Headey) are all making moves behind the scenes.

If there’s one thing we can take away from “Book of the Stranger” it’s this — all hell is about to break loose in Season 6.

When the Daenerys walks out of the burning building, standing naked in front of countless prostrate Dothraki (as well as Jorah and Daario) one thing was signified, it’s on.

By “it” we mean so many things. The War for the North, the battle for the throne of the Iron Islands, the march of the new Dothraki army, the battle between The Sparrows and the royalty of Westeros, and march of The Knights of the Vale towards the north. And a potential Tormud/Brienne romance? By the old gods and new can only hope for that.

Sansa Stark in The Book of the Stranger
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones’ table setting episodes, like last week’s “Oathbreaker” usually take their time in setting things up, but “Book of the Stranger” was all killer, no filler. Every scene was important, every decision was impactful. The episode was filled with series defining imagery like the aforementioned Daenerys “This Girl is on Fire” sequence to the tear-inducing Jon/Sansa reunion. This episode wasn’t just a table setter for Season 6, it was a defining episode.

And this was all due to the women of the series. Not only did they make for a strong episode, but their actions are defining the course of the show, and the world of the series. The decision to do this, in this writer’s opinion, is the right one to make. If it were up to the men of the series, Jon would walk away from The War of the North, Daario and Jorah would rescue Dany and take her home, and Tommen would remain the bumbling fool he is with nothing being done about The High Sparrow.

While, we expect a bold, awesome performance from Lena Headey at this point (because when isn’t she awesome?), it was great to see Natalie Dormer, Emilia Clarke, and most importantly Sophie Turner give big, impactful performances. All three have been sidelined as prisoners at one point or another over seasons five and six (and for Sansa ever longer), and they either haven’t been given nearly enough good material to work with, or have been relegated to being the tear-filled, abused victim.

Danerys in The Book of the Stranger
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

In this episode we saw the full rebirth of Sansa Stark. No longer the spoiled little daughter of Ned Stark, she became her mother, Katelyn. No longer the victim of circumstance, and cruel action inflicted upon her, Sansa became the smart, take-action woman her mother was. She wants action, and she will take matters into her own hands if needs be. This is a long, long cry from the girl smitten with dreams of becoming queen oh so many years ago. One has to hope, however, that Sansa makes a lot more wise decisions than her mother — we don’t want to see another “red wedding.”

While she didn’t get as much screen time, Natalie Dormer made the most of her moments onscreen. Her scenes with her brother Loras (Finn Jones), and the Sparrow were incredible. What Margery has planned for her escape from The Sparrow is fascinating, and it wouldn’t be surprising if she ends the lives of either/or The Sparrow or the cruel nun who’s had it coming for a while now. Also, anytime Diana Rigg is onscreen as Lady Olena, it’s an acid-tongued treat.

Daenrys’ scene inside the hut with the Dothraki leaders was some of Emilia Clarke’s best work in forever. For too long, The Mother of Dragons has been in a golding pattern. Too often does she recite her million titles, too often has she underwritten. In this episode, to quote my fellow GOT review Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs, Dany was in pure “ice queen mode” and that’s when this character really does shine. She has this powerful, Shakespearean presence in this scene, and when she walks through fire (in a scene very similar to a major moment in V for Vendetta), it’s just jaw dropping. Goosebumps everywhere. The Queen is back. No more politics, it’s on.

And that’s what is so awesome about “Book of the Stranger.” You are left absolutely breathless, salivating for the next episode. You know everything is about to break loose, and it’s going to break loose in amazing fashion. In short, it was the perfect tease for what’s about to come for the rest of this season…or at least the next handful of episodes.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites