This week's Game of Thrones episode was named after "Book of the Stranger," a chapter in The Seven-Pointed Star, the High Sparrow and the Faith of the Seven's holy text. The Stranger is the aspect of this religion that deals with death and the unknown. Notable deaths in this episode, other than Osha's, were minimal, so what is the title all about?
It could refer to the High Sparrow’s parable about how he discovered his life of sin. Or maybe that everyone on the show is being set up for death. Jon Snow is back from it and wants to send Ramsay Bolton to it. Littlefinger is planning the wars to come. The Tyrells are ready to invade King's Landing and take out the High Sparrow. Ser Jorah knows that death is coming his way quickly.
And the unknown is always on the horizon -- and it’s going to get very deadly. Let's look into the flames to see how "Book of the Stranger" predicts the future:
Vaes Dothrak: you’re fired
The big moment of the night was a naked Daenerys walking out of the Dosh Khaleen temple/yurt, the flames of the inferno licking at her skin and the Dothraki kneeling down before her like she held the last juice box of Ecto Cooler that was available on the entire planet.
The splashy beat echoed the Season 1 scene where she walked into Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and came out unburned with three dragons hanging around her neck. Naturally, this is a rebirth for Dany, who was laid low by the people of Mereen but is rediscovering her power where it originated: with the Dothraki. Now that she has singed all of the khals, she is the one they will all follow and not only can she take on the slavers of Astapor and Volantis but she’ll have an even bigger army to take on Westeros when she gets there. It turns out that Drogon dropped her off right where she needed to be all along.
The involvement of Ser Jorah and Daario in the end was quite negligible -- a fight in the streets for a fight in the streets' sake, unless Ser Jorah blowing sand in that one guy’s face started a greyscale epidemic that will ravage Dany’s people. At least Daario got to keep his bawdy naked lady knife. As Crocodile Dundee once said, "'At's not a knife -- 'at's a knife."
Meereen: the not-so-great compromiser
Dany might not be that excited when she gets back to Meereen and learns that Tyrion sold her out with the leaders of Astapor and Volantis. Her new adviser made a deal no one could refuse: abolish slavery in seven years and be compensated for the loss of their property, or be an enemy of the state. He knows this is the only way to get them to stop funding the Sons of the Harpy and he’s willing to let slavery continue for a bit longer in order to get the slavers to give it up voluntarily and for their best interest.
The plan doesn’t impress Missandei and Grey Worm, who think Tyrion gave in. Last week I thought the scene where he tries to have a conversation with the two seemed unnecessary, but I’m glad we got to see more of it this week. Tyrion says that he was a slave briefly, so he knows how bad it is. Still, his two low-born counterparts tell them that he’ll never understand. It seems like even if he can get the Sons of the Harpy to stop attacking, the gulf between the high-born and the low may be too great to bridge.
With his position on slavery, do we think that Dany is going to fire him (pun intended) as soon as he gets back or will she see that he is just trying to make peace? She won't be happy with the compromise. This is sort of like expecting Donald Trump to only a build a wall that is three feet high.
The Eyrie: Littlefinger on the pulse
The funny thing about Tyrion making a pact with the slavers is that he says, “A wise man once told me, ‘We don’t make peace with our friends, only our enemies.” The person who told him that was Littlefinger, who said the same thing to Ned Stark in Season 1. Never forget that Littlefinger is the one who set all of these events in motion when he convinced Lysa Arryn to kill her husband and frame the Lannisters all that time ago.
In "Book of the Stranger," Petyr Baelish says that he is going to need Lord Arryn, who shoots a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen if she took eight Ambien and was wearing a blindfold, for “the wars to come.” What wars is he planning exactly? Did his lie to Lord Royce about Sansa being kidnapped and forced into marriage by Ramsay Bolton mean that he is going to try to use the men of the Eyrie to help him take over Winterfell? Is he doing this because he still loves Catelyn Stark or is this just a power grab to be King of the North, and eventually, the man with his ass on the Iron Throne? The last option really seems like the most possible. Littlefinger is playing the long game (of thrones).
Castle Black: Starks, raven, mad
Finally we’re getting the Stark siblings to sing that “reunited and it feels so good” song. Just as Jon Snow -- now with 100% more man bun -- was about to leave, his half-sister Sansa shows up with Brienne and Podrick looking all bedraggled. It's called dry shampoo, guys! The crew spends its time talking about soup, meat, and ale, because they have so little to do with one other that they can only talk about what they’re eating. This is the Westeros version of talking about the weather, which is off the table because it's perpetually freezing.
Anyway, Sansa tries to convince Jon that he needs to get his wildling army together and go get their home back. He’s reticent. Maybe that man bun is making him less interested in fighting and more interested in kale salads and bespoke cocktails? The he receives a mean letter from Ramsay telling Jon that if he doesn’t give Sansa back, he’s going to kill Rickon and rape Sansa in front of his face, which he will then remove the eyeballs from. Geez, whatever happened to whatever happened to "my sword is bigger than your broadsword"? The threats convince Jon to take action. Will Sansa assume her father's place as leader of Winterfell, or is she poised to go out in a moment of violent bravery? Whatever the future holds, she's up for the fight.
Ramsay, of course, is as evil as ever, shiving Osha in the neck before she can use her sex ploy to entrap him. Does this mean that Osha and Rickon really are plants trying to destroy Ramsay and usher in a Northern rebellion or are they just trying to get out of the castle because Rickon doesn’t want to have any of his body parts (especially those south of his wall) cut off by Ramsay?
Either way, Ramsay's father was right: sending letters like this one are only going to people think he is a mad dog. Everyone is going treat him like shit.
King’s Landing: the waiting is the hardest part
There was a lot going on in King's Landing, but everything there seems like small potatoes to me right now.
Technically, there's a lot going on with the High Sparrow and the houses of Lannister and Tyrell. The High Sparrow takes Margaery to her brother as a reward for listening to his long, boring saga about waking up one morning after a feast and hating all of the drinking and fornicating he had done the night before. We’ve all been there before, but that must have been one serious hangover if that made him give up his shoes and wander around the country making everyone feel bad about themselves.
The High Sparrow allows Margaery see her brother Loras who looks like a bag of rags soaking up water on the floor of his cell. He says he’s not strong, but Margaery convinces him that he is the future of their family and he needs to do what is right. Which will probably get him killed, let's be honest.
Her speech makes me think that the High Sparrow is setting everyone up for a trap. Why would the High Sparrow tell Tommen that Margaery was going to confess her sins and do a walk of atonement where people shake their schlongs at her while a big lady in a bad headdress yells, “Shame!” at her and rings a bell? (Girl, I got on an app on my phone that does that.) She’s staying strong; she doesn’t want to confess.
Because the High Sparrow knew Tommen would tell Cersei, who would tell the Tyrells, who would bring their army. Since he knows what is going on, he is going to best that army and have even more control of the country for himself. Or he wants to burn all of the establishments of culture to the ground and start something anew -- Dany style.