In the Game of Thrones recap, Jon Snow reunites with someone special, Daenerys tastes the flames and Ramsay Bolton makes a declaration of war….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s been so long since two Stark children not named Bran and Rickon were in the same room that you almost forget that Sansa Stark and her bastard brother Jon Snow never actually occupied a scene together until the latest episode of Game of Thrones titled “Book of the Stranger”.
That might seem nearly impossible considering the show started with King Robert Baratheon showing up at Winterfell to ask Ned Stark to become his Hand of the King following the death of his friend and mentor Jon Arryn. At that moment, Sansa was overwrought with joy about leaving her cold, wintry home for the warm shores of King’s Landing. She didn’t seem to pay much mind to her half-brother and as it turns out she never even shared a moment with him before she left for the capital while Jon trudged north to become a sworn member of the Night’s Watch.
Now six seasons later — more than 50 episodes apart — there may not have been a more welcome moment in the history of this show than watching Sansa Stark ride through the gates of Castle Black, lock eyes with her brother and the two of them embrace after both have gone through hell and back since last they saw each other.
Of course, Jon and Sansa’s reunion was only one small piece of the puzzle this week because Ramsay Bolton knows that the brother and sister are back together and he wants nothing more than to tear them apart.
Meanwhile to the east, Tyrion begins negotiations to put an end to the uprising in Meereen and even further into the wastelands, Daenerys has re-emerged unscathed from another great fire except this time she had 100,000 Dothraki bloodriders as witnesses — and now they all bend the knee to her rule.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of Game of Thrones titled “Book of the Stranger”….
The Bastard Letter
Nothing was sweeter than watching Jon Snow embrace his sister Sansa after they both felt the brunt of this cruel and unrelenting world, but somehow they made it back to each other. When they were last together, Sansa was a pampered and spoiled brat, who treated her bastard brother as something akin to a servant who didn’t actually have to fetch her things. Now he’s the only family she knows for certain who is still alive.
Sansa has seen more and had more done to her than virtually any character on this show — from standing a few feet away while her father got beheaded to the constant torture from King Joffrey to being married to Tyrion to becoming a fugitive to being married to a monster named Ramsay Bolton, who raped her nightly. Sansa should be broken, but somehow she’s still standing tall and now she’s asking for her brother to stand up with her and help reclaim Winterfell for the Starks.
After reuniting with his sister, Jon proclaimed that they will never separate again because both of them have learned a harsh lesson that the Starks are better together than they will ever be apart.
“Where will we go? If I don’t watch over you, father’s ghost will come back and murder me.”
~ Jon Snow
Following her torture and assault courtesy of Ramsay, Sansa wants her revenge but not just against him. She wants to reclaim the North in the name of her family thanks to all the atrocities committed against them over the past few years. Sansa had to hear second hand how her brother Robb and her mother Catelyn were butchered and betrayed at “The Red Wedding” and just when it looked like she might be gaining some sense of power as she returned home to Winterfell, she found out that she was being married to a monster.
Now it’s time to take that monster out of power.
“I want you to help but I’ll do it myself if I have to.”
~ Sansa Stark
Jon feels his days of fighting are over. Ever since he left Winterfell it’s been one constant battle or another. He fought the wildlings. He fought his brothers in the Night’s Watch. He even fought the dead. Jon doesn’t want a war anymore, but thanks to Ramsay, he no longer has a choice.
Later that night while Jon sat at dinner with his sister, Edd, Tormund and Brienne (who shared a few interesting looks over bites of meat), and Podrick — they received a message with the stamp of House Bolton melted in wax. The letter was addressed to Jon as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and it’s contents were quite clear.
“To the traitor bastard Jon Snow
You allowed thousands of wildlings past the wall. You have betrayed your own kind. You have betrayed the North. Winterfell is mine, bastard.
Come and see.
Your brother Rickon is in my dungeon. His direwolf’s skin is on my floor.
Come and see.
I want my bride back. Send her to me, bastard, and I won’t trouble you or your wildling lovers. Keep her from me and I will ride north and slaughter every wildling man, woman and babe living under your protection. You will watch as I skin them living. You will watch as my soldiers take turns raping your sister. You will watch as my dogs devour your wild little brother. Then I will spoon your eyes from their sockets and let my dogs do the rest.
Come and see.
Lord of Winterfell
Warden of the North”
The contents of the letter are known to book readers as “The Bastard Letter” or “The Pink Letter” but in the original source material, Ramsay is taunting Jon Snow after he sent Mance Rayder to infiltrate Winterfell on his behalf. When Jon receives the letter in the books, he decides to raise his army and go after Ramsay but his brothers in the Night’s Watch betray him instead and that’s when he is stabbed to death.
This version is slightly different but the ending is just the same (except Jon has already died and been resurrected).
Ramsay has positioned himself into great power with his father Roose Bolton now dead. Even Rickon’s protector Osha did her best to strike back at the evil Lord of Winterfell, but he already knew about her intentions after Theon confessed how she seduced him and then later escaped with Bran and Rickon Stark. So Ramsay does a pre-emptive strikes and kills Osha dead before sending the letter to Jon.
Now Jon has two choices — he can run and keep running for the rest of his life or he can fight.
“A monster has taken our home and our brother. We have to go back to Winterfell and save them both.”
Jon agrees that it’s time to return home to Winterfell and reclaim the north in the name of the Starks. He has 2,000 wildlings who are ready to fight alongside him and something tells me that he will raise an even bigger army with those houses in the North who no longer want to live under the Bolton’s thumb. And as we find out in just a little bit, Jon will even have some assistance from an unlikely ally coming from the south.
War is coming back to the North and this time it’s Stark against Bolton.
One other interesting encounter this week while still at Castle Black was Davos speaking to Melisandre, where she reveals that her loyalty now lies with Jon Snow.
“I will do as Jon Snow commands. He’s the prince that was promised.”
Melisandre believes Jon Snow is a mythical figure that has been sent to save the world from eternal darkness and considering there’s an army of White Walkers poised to attack the south, she might not be that far off in her assessment.
During their conversation, however, Davos finally starts to dig into what exactly happened in Stannis’ camp after he left to return to Castle Black. Remember, Melisandre convinced Stannis to burn his daughter alive, which would undoubtedly end with her own death at Davos’ hand but before she can answer, someone else decides to explain what happened.
Brienne intervenes and explains to Davos and Melisandre that she witnessed Stannis’ defeat outside Winterfell before coaxing a confession out of him that he was responsible for the blood magic used to kill his brother Renly. She got all of this out of him before executing him and leaving Stannis’ body in the middle of a cold, snowy field in the north.
That put an end to the conversation as Melisandre will live to cast a spell for another day.
Enter the Fray
Lord Petry Baelish finally returns to the canvas this week as he arrives back in the Vale of Arryn to visit his stepson Robin, who is still being trained under the watchful guidance of Lord Yohn Royce. It’s clear judging by his marksmanship that Robin is still a terrible warrior and not all that much smarter since last we saw him, but Baelish’s arrival puts a big smile on his face.
Baelish even brings Robin a rare falcon as a name day present before then manipulating the teenage moron to follow his every order. Baelish returns with news about Sansa Stark and her daring escape from the clutches of Ramsay Bolton.
Of course, Baelish lies through his teeth when telling Lord Royce that his convoy was besieged and Sansa was kidnapped before being married to Ramsay. When Lord Royce confronts him about a rather suspicious story, Baelish turns the tables and declares that perhaps he was the one who ratted about his location to the Boltons.
In the end, Baelish allows Lord Royce to live — once again manipulating Robin to his every command — before convincing the young Lord of the Vale that he needs to raise his armies to help his cousin to the North. Baelish means to kick the Boltons out of Winterfell and he’ll have the Knights of the Vale to do it for him.
“Gather the knights of the Vale. The time has come to join the fray.”
~ Petyr Baelish
The Knights of the Vale are known as some of the finest warriors in all the Seven Kingdoms and it looks as if they’ll soon join Jon Snow’s wildling army to face Ramsay Bolton in open combat. War is brewing in the North.
Come and see.
Deal With the Devils
Tyrion has decided to meet with the wise masters of Yunkai and those in Astapor along with the money men in Volantis to try and come to some sort of an agreement that will end the bloodshed in Meereen. He knows thanks to Lord Varys that they are funding the Sons of the Harpy but this war won’t end without both sides giving in a little and a never ending fight will only cause a lot more bloodshed.
Of course, Grey Worm and Missandei don’t agree with Tyrion’s plans to negotiate with the masters, but he tries to explain that diplomacy rarely works if both sides aren’t willing to compromise.
“As a clever man once told me, we make peace with our enemies, not our friends.”
Tyrion sits with the masters and explains a new course of action — one that will end the bloodshed in the streets of Meereen and that will keep Daenerys from returning to Yunkai and Astapor with her dragons and scores of the Unsullied to once again drive them out.
“Here is the queen’s proposal — slavery will never return to Meereen but she’ll give the other cities of Slaver’s Bay time to adjust to the new order. Instead of abolishing slavery overnight, we’ll give you seven years to end the practice. Slave holders will be compensated, of course, at fair prices. In exchange, you’ll cut off your support for the Sons of the Harpy. I do hope you’ll accept, my friends. You will not receive a better offer.”
It appears that the masters agree to the bargain and on the way out of the pyramid, Tyrion is forced to face the free citizens of Meereen, who don’t agree that any sort of negotiation should have happened in the first place. Both Grey Worm and Missandei back him up, but then warn Tyrion that his deal with the devil may still burn him in the end. They both know through painful experience what these slavers are like and just when it looks like you are using them, they are the ones using you.
Walk of Atonement
After weeks spent in the dungeons below the Great Sept, Queen Margaery is finally brought up from her basement dwelling for an audience with the High Sparrow.
It’s there where he asks the Queen what she would do if he freed her and she responds that she would return to her family and to her king. The High Sparrow counters and says that what she would really be returning to is the life she lived before now — a life filled with decadence and finery.
The High Sparrow then tells Margaery about his own life before the robes where he was a shoe maker, but making simple coverings wasn’t enough. He made the finest shoes anyone could wear and with each pair sold, he was one step closer to living the life of those highborn people who bought them. Until one day, the High Sparrow finally realized that all he was buying was a fantasy and reality was a much different place.
“And one day he walked through a graveyard and realized it was all for nothing and set out on a path to righteousness. Book of the Stranger, verse 25.”
The long and short of this conversation was all leading to Margaery being allowed to see her brother Loras, but their reunion was really just a means to an end. You see Loras is crumbling under these conditions and falling apart at the seams. He can’t endure much more of this and his sister knows it. Seeing his pain makes her believe that it’s finally time to confess her sins if it means she can leave and take her brother home with her.
Back in the Red Keep, Cersei consults with her son who finally tells his mother about the meeting he had with the High Sparrow a couple of weeks back. At the end of that meeting, the High Sparrow told Tommen a secret that he wasn’t supposed to tell anybody about but he couldn’t dare keep this from his mother.
It seems Margaery will take the walk of atonement just like Cersei did a season ago as her punishment for the crimes committed against Gods and men.
When Cersei returns to the Small Council chambers and shares this news with the Hand of the King — her uncle Kevan Lannister — and Lady Olenna Tyrell, they decide that it’s finally time to strike back. Both Cersei and Jamie know that the High Sparrow is depending on division amongst the powerful leaders in King’s Landing to keep them from striking back at him. He knows the Lannisters and Tyrells hate each other — it was the disdain between these two houses that allowed him to come into power in the first place.
Now with news that Margaery is about to be shaved, stripped naked and walked through King’s Landing to atone for her sins, these two powerful houses are ready to strike back — together.
“You hate these fanatics as much as we do. You hate what they’ve done to your son. Do you want Lancel back? Or have you given him up for good? Stand aside and let the people who took him from you be destroyed.”
Kevan and Lady Olenna agree — the Tyrell army will march into King’s Landing and snatch Margaery away from the Faith Militant before she can make her walk of atonement. At that point, the army will then smash and kill every member of the Faith Militant and the High Sparrow will be captured or killed along with them. That will bring to an end this religious uprising and business can go back to normal.
Of course, Kevan is worried about the civil unrest that could follow if the Faith Militant are executed by the Tyrell army, but Lady Olenna has a more practical approach about the whole thing. This is a war — blood is bound to be shed.
“Many will die no matter what we do. Better them than us.”
~ Lady Olenna
The Salt Queen
Following an arduous journey that sent him into the torturous clutches of Ramsay Bolton, Theon Greyjoy finally returns home to the Iron Islands this week where he sees his sister Yara for the first time in quite a while. The last time they were face to face was when Yara took some of her finest soldiers to the Dreadfort where Ramsay had Theon locked away like a dog as she tried to rescue her brother.
Theon refused to go with her out of the painful mental conditioning he had received courtesy of Ramsay but now that he’s finally broken free, he’s come home again.
Yara thinks this is Theon’s way of staking a claim to the throne in the Iron Islands following the death of their father Balon, but that’s the furthest thing from his mind.
“You should rule the Iron Islands. Let me help you.”
Yara now has the support of the only living male heir to the Salt Throne and the vote will come down to her and her uncle Euron, who returned and killed his brother although no one knows that part of the plot just yet. The Iron Islands need a new ruler and it will be a battle of Greyjoys to see who sits on the salt throne.
Daario and Jorah finally come upon Vaes Dothrak — the great Dothraki city where they believe Daenerys has been taken prisoner. Jorah knows if they are going to get her out of there alive, they will need to walk into the city without any weapons and pretend to be merchants there to sell some goods.
Along the way, Daario learns that Jorah has been afflicted with greyscale but that’s not going to stop him from rescuing the queen from captivity.
Daario and Jorah make their way through the city with only two Dothraki killed as they attempt to get to the temple where Daenerys is being kept, but they will soon find out that their queen has a different plan.
Daenerys knows her judgment is coming later that night in the Dosh Khaleen — the great temple of the Dothraki — where all the Khals will vote to determine whether she’s forced back into slavery or if she will live the rest of her life as a nun with all the other widows of fallen Khals from the past.
When Daenerys is intercepted by Daario and Jorah, she commands them not to take her with them. They are surrounded by 100,000 Dothraki bloodriders and there’s no way they will make it out of there alive. Instead, Daenerys proposed another plan.
That night, Daenerys meets with the Khals, who are there to vote on different actions for the Dothraki — what small villages to raid next and how many women they will fuck, those sorts of things. When it’s time to cast judgment on Daenerys, they banter about when it comes to her fate, but she has other plans.
Daenerys tells the Khals that they are not only weak but small minded fools, who pale in comparison to Khal Drogo, who intended to leads his army on sailing wooden horses and cross the salt sea to help her conquer the kingdoms to the west where she could reclaim the Iron Throne in her name.
“You are small men. None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki. But I am. So I will.”
The Dothraki Khals decide it’s time for Daenerys to die, but she passes judgment on them first. Daenerys kicks over the burning pyres used to light up the temple and as each one falls, the entire structure is set aflame. The Khals all try to run to safety but the doors have been locked — thanks to Daario and Jorah.
Inside, the Khals all fall into the flames, one by one, while Daenerys stands there unburnt and unbroken. As the fire grows taller, 100,000 Dothraki bloodriders, their slaves and the widows of the dead Khals all gather around the temple.
Finally, Daenerys emerges from the flames — her clothes have burnt away but her skin is unharmed. Just like the end of season one when Daenerys stepped into the fire pit that burned her husband’s body and she emerged unscathed while holding three baby dragons — this time she’s once again standing there without a mark on her and she has 100,000 witnesses to her power.
The Dothraki all bow to her along with Daario and Jorah as well.
Daenerys has returned from the fire and now she will return to Meereen with 100,000 Dothraki bloodriders at her command. Daenerys has her army and all of Westeros should be trembling in fear right now because the queen will soon be coming home.
And she wants her throne
Game of Thrones returns next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO but take a sneak peek at the episode below: