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Episode 4 - Book of the Stranger

21 May 2016

As the show gets further from the books I suspect I may like where we’re going but not how we get there.

For example I approve of Dany’s agency in wiping out the Dothraki leadership. But I would have liked to see the effort needed to pull it off. How did she get flammable material into the meeting room without anyone noticing?

Similarly seeing Jon and Sansa embrace was a long awaited moment. But then she jumped straight to discussing Winterfell. How about a little catch up? Did they discuss his resurrection? They must have done and yet it seems to have made very little impression on her.

Finally we have no idea how truly popular the Sparrows are with the people. So the coming civil war has no context. These details are important. They are what separate a great TV show from just another soap opera. 

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  • @Beric If I told my sister I had come back from the dead she would doubt my sanity. There's no way that can be glossed over.

    Just because the homeless of King's Landing like the Sparrows is not enough information to give us context for a civil war. For the whole population of the city to stand up to armed troops would be a huge deal. But when we saw the crowds around Cersei they were being extremely crude (i.e. not very pious) and several of them got beaten by the Faith Militant. That is not enough to go on to suggest that the Sparrows are so popular that there is a real threat to Tyrell army.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 21/05/2016 5:16pm (10 months ago)

  • What a wonderful hour of television. It's interesting that out of the 3 sibling reunions this episode the Starks had the most loving and positive reunion and the fact that the emotional punch was there despite the fact that Jon and Sansa never shared a scene together before this moment makes me think that the story has enough depth and quality behind it for me to justify giving it a high recommendation. Comparatively, Theon/Yara and Margaery/Loras have a more troublesome time for the moment being. I also cannot help but notice the fact that it is the brothers who are in need of support in both instances and one sister is obviously more supportive than the other. great parallels to showcase the true happiness of the Stark household that we lost.

    Sansa is seemingly finally ready to take charge of her situation and to be proactive, as she seems to be pushing Jon who is much more reluctant to fulfill his destiny at thi point and while I don't know if his resurrection is something they discussed, I would ager on no because it definitely seems like a subject Jon is trying to avoid.

    Resurrection was a big theme in this episode also with Dany who once more emerged from the flames as the god-like presence people erceived her as in season 1. So ice (Jon) got its turn now it's time for fire (Dany) to shine and it's a wonderful thing that she basically took down the patriarchy of the Dothraki without the use of her dragons, as it shows us that Dany is more resourceful and capable than previously assumed because the dragons weren't here to magically save her this time. A question would be whether or not there is something special about Dany in particular, seeing s maester Aemon burned on the pyre last season. I assume it has something to do with the various prophecies surrounding the Prince who was Promised? And if so, could Melisandre be making another mistake in thinking that Jon is the one to follow?

    The Tyrion scenes seemed like a callback to Reconstruction-times debates surrounding slavery and it is clear that the show frames him in a way that he appears ignorant not only of the local language but also of the horrors of slavery and it was nice to hear both the slaves and the masters make their case. Trusting in the masters' self-interest might be a good decision for now but will Dany share Tyrion's point of view? I suspect not and that may lead to some real consequences for Tyrion down the road...

    Ramsay killing Osha had an air of inevitabiliy to it, seeing as she was bound to underestimate him when he asked her if she knew what he wanted, with Osha labouring under false assumptions as to what that would be (namely causing suffering and pain). I feel like people who don't know ramsay are bound to underestimate him, since he operates under a logic of his own, with lots of arbitrary violence thrown in. Plus, he also had the advantage of drawing on Theon's confessions to him about literally everything in Theon's life.

    Connected to this is what readers have named the 'Pink Letter' that he sends to Jon at the end of the episode. It is interesting that he sees himself as a lord when Osha talks to him, which then gives him enough confidence to throw the word 'bastard' in Jon's face to draw him out, likely because he thinks that it would draw Ramsay himself out were he in that situation. So it is revealing of his mindset and his own trigger words. It also once again showcased sansa taking charge of the situation, which we wanted her to do for a long time. It now seems likely that most of the Stark children will converge around Winterfell, which would be a suitable point to assemble.

    I might say that Littlefinger's scene was extremely well-done because we have seen Sweetrobin make arbitrary decisions before and I genuinely was not sure how he'd decide, which gave the scene a lot of tension, whilst showcasing Baelish's control of the kid and the falcon seemed like a good visual metaphor to showcase that point as well. It will be interesting to see whether the knights of the Vale will stay true to Baelish's promises to Cersei or whether they will help Sansa in her quest...or maybe Baelish forms his own unaligned fraction?

    The King's Landing story is taking shape nicely in that it becomes increasingly clear how manipulative the High Sparrow actually is, yet I feel he is able to achieve it through talking in all honesty about himself and using people's trust to his advantage.

    A big theme of the episode was about forgiveness also, with Brienne refusing to forgive, Jon forgiving Sansa for her past behaviour towards him, Yara we are unsure about and Dany outright refusing to let the slights she endured as a result of the sexist society of the Dothraki go unpunished. Cersei for her part seems to say that what happened to her was in the past (but I am going to take a wild guess here and say she does not believe that for a second, given what we heard her say to Qyburn last episode and given how Ser Gregor has dispatched seemingly random people for reminiscing about her walk of shame). If the Tyrells fail then margaery dies and Cersei is happy and none of the blame will fall on the Lannisters. I would also like to congratulate Pycelle for discovering his spine after groveling to Cersei for 5 seasons, which showcases her current bad position once more. her trial was also once again mentioned by her but at thsi stage her "trial by combat" seems to be implied by that in her mind.
    What the whole affair implies is that an inactive, suggestible and inexperienced king breeds a lot of instability because rival authority figures can come in and either attempt to influence royal power or even de-legitimise it, which is exactly what the faith Militant is cirrently attempting to do.


    As to Robin's points: You get the introduction of the High Sparrow among the poor and that is enough of a context to see that he is concerned about them and helping them get food, etc. I don't understand this criticism at this point, given what we know of the numbers of the Faith and the High Sparrow's clear concern for the poor which he exemplified here.

    The flammable material was the oil in the pyres I imagine, which splashed all over the floors and walls from what I could see.

    Sansa and Jon did have a catch-up, and as I understand it her telling Jon about Winterfell is exactly related to what happened to her previously. She did not seem to know about him executing olly so he likely did not discuss any of the events surrounding that in great detail. But I am glad to see that Jon's weariness seems more permanent than expected.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Beric, 16/05/2016 12:04pm (11 months ago)

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