Game of Thrones Recap: Episode 4 – “Book of the Stranger”


Hey Dragons! We’re almost halfway through this season of Game of Thrones, and that makes me sad. Let’s jump right into the episode, titled, “Book of the Stranger.”

We begin where we ended last week. Jon Snow is determined to leave Castle Black, now that his watch has ended (I mean, it’s a technicality…). Edd isn’t happy about this decision, but before he and Jon can get into a serious argument about it, Castle Black has a trio of unexpected visitors: Brienne, Podrick, and Sansa. (Look, I appreciate that they’re speeding this along, but didn’t it take Bran a WHOLE SEASON to get to the Wall? Is Hodor THAT slow?) Jon and Sansa reunite for the first time since Jon left for the Wall in Season 1. Did anyone else tear up a little? Just me? Okay, forget it. The two reminisce about leaving Winterfell back in the day, and Jon wonders where he will go now. Sansa corrects him: “Where will we go?” They’re in this together now. Sansa implores Jon to come with her back to the only place they can go – home. If need be, she says, they will take Winterfell by force.

Elsewhere at Castle Black, Melisandre tells Davos that she will do as Jon Snow commands. She believes that he is the Prince Who Was Promised. Brienne crashes their conversation and casually mentions that she definitely remembers when Melisandre sent a demon ghost to kill Renly, and oh, yeah, did she mention that she killed Stannis? This is a Westeros version of a mic drop.

In the Eyrie, we’re reminded that Robin exists. Luckily, Littlefinger, everyone’s favorite schemer, appears. It’s been too long, Mayor Carcetti. We’ve missed you. Littlefinger quickly manipulates the gullible Robin into agreeing to send forces to the Wall, to help poor Sansa. It was nice to see Littlefinger again, but this was clearly a set-up scene.

In Essos, things are going down. Tyrion meets with the leaders of Astapor and Yunkai to discuss their demands. The masters say that they want Dany and her people to leave Slaver’s Bay. No problem, Tyrion says – Dany’s going westward anyway. Not so fast, the masters point out. She’s refused ships that have been offered before. Tyrion proposes a compromise: Mereen won’t have slaves, but the remaining cities will have seven years to come into compliance with the queen’s decree. Oh, and they have to stop supporting the Sons of the Harpy. In exchange, here – take some prostitutes! Say what you will, Tyrion drives a hard bargain. Greyworm and Missandei aren’t thrilled about this compromise. They don’t trust the masters, but Tyrion dismisses their concerns. “They will underestimate us every time, and we will use that to our advantage.”

While Tyrion is basically ruling Mereen, Daario and Jorah are still searching for Dany. Daario’s throwing some serious shade toward Jorah, telling him that he wouldn’t be able to handle Dany, ahem, intimately. Look, I love Daario, but this whole conversation was him reducing Dany to a a sexual object, which is an asshole thing to do. (Although, it’s nicely juxtaposed with the end scene.) Jorah isn’t concerned with Daario’s chit-chat, and when they get to Vaes Dothrak, Jorah knows that Dany will be at the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen. As they’re tossing down their weapons (to comply with Dothraki law – Jorah has a weird set of ethics), Daario catches sight of Jorah’s greyscale. Awk-ward. They sneak into the city at night, kill a guy, and find Dany so, so quickly. She’s made a new friend, too, and while she’s happy to see them, she says that they can’t just run, or they’ll never get out alive. But wait! She has an idea.

In King’s Landing, Margaery seriously needs a shower. The High Sparrow comes in to talk to her and asks her where she would go if she was released. She says she would go to her brother, her husband, her family. The High Sparrow eventually tells her that he’s going to let her see her brother. When Margaery first enters Loras’s cell, we’re not sure if maybe he’s dead. But finally, he stirs, and it becomes clear that they are breaking him. Margaery tries to give him a, “We are Tyrells!” pep talk, but it’s not working.

Meanwhile, Cersei crashes a conversation between Tommen and Maester Pycelle about the High Sparrow. Cersei points out, basically, that the High Sparrow is crazy and will do anything. Margaery’s walk of shame is imminent, and Tommen is worried. Cersei goes to the Small Council with Jaime (LOOKING FINE, I might add – this was actually in my notes, so I felt it necessary to include here) and urges Kevan Lannister and Olenna Tyrell to join forces with them against the Sparrows. And… it works? Cersei just has to bring up Margaery’s impending trial, and Olenna comes around. Are we about to have the Tyrell army up in King’s Landing?

We visit the Iron Islands, and Theon cries while Yara yells at him. That’s all I’m saying about this.

In Winterfell, Ramsey continues to be The Worst. They send in Osha, freshly cleaned, to Ramsey, and for a second, I thought that we were going to have to suffer through a Ramsey/Osha sex scene. But, no, Osha is being sweet to get close to Ramsey in order to kill him, as we see as she reaches for a weapon while trying to seduce him. Unfortunately, Ramsey is still a step ahead, and he jams a knife into her throat. He had learned that she helped the Stark boys escaped, and apparently, Ramsey holds grudges. Who knew?

Back at Castle Black, our favorite Stark siblings are sharing a meal. Is anyone else feeling the sexual tension between Brienne and Tormund? Those smoldering looks across the table… somebody write this fanfiction. Anyway, dinner is ruined when Jon receives a taunting letter from Ramsey, informing Jon that Rickon is in his dungeon. He writes that he wants Jon to return Sansa, or he’ll have his men rape Sansa and send the dogs to dismember both of them. Eloquent. Sansa’s fired up, insisting that they move against him. Tormund says the Wildlings have 2000 – but Ramsey has 5000. Sansa tells Jon to call the Northern families – they’ll be loyal to him. He finally agrees. Can we PLEASE see Jon and Sansa lead an army to Winterfell, concluding in Sansa brutally murdering Ramsey? PLEASE?

Final scene. The Khals have gathered in a SUPER FLAMMABLE tent/structure, and they’re brought Dany to them to generally mock her and make her decide if she wants to spend the rest of her time at the Temple with the rest of the widows. Nah, Dany says. Actually, I’m going to kill you all and rule the Dothraki. The Khals laugh, because, this sounds ridiculous, right? NOPE. Dany takes the strategically placed fire pits and throws them to the ground, causes the ENTIRE STRUCTURE to catch on fire. The Khals burn and die. The entire thing is going up in flames, and the Dothraki people, plus Daario and Jorah, approach the building to see what’s going on. As the flames rise, a figure exits – it’s Dany. She’s naked, but otherwise unburnt. The people, including Jorah and Daario, bow to her.

OKAY, so can we talk about this last scene? Why did that building go up in flames so quickly? Here is an actual conversation I had during the episode:
Me: Why is the Khals’ meeting tents made of like kerosene and hairspray? Cause that shit is flammable.
Lenny: It’s all wood and horse hides and shit.
Me: Fair.

Is this the answer? We’re just supposed to accept that the Khals met in a place that happened to be very, very easy to set on fire? Does fire even spread that quickly? It just seemed a little too easy to me. And this leads me into my OUTRAGEOUS THEORY OF THE WEEK. Or, rather, a question:

Are Targaryens immune to fire?

Well, no. And that’s the problem. George R.R. Martin has explicitly said that Targaryens are NOT immune to fire. While Targaryens do have a higher tolerance for heat, there is no precedent in the show or books to suggest that they can come out of a fire unscathed:

“TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE! The birth of Dany’s dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle. She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn’t immune to that molten gold.” -GRRM

So, we are left with two options. One, the TV show doesn’t care what the book does (and vice versa), otherwise known as the Cargill Theory (named after my friend from work who believes that Theon could be the Prince Who Was Promised in the books and it would have no bearing on the TV show). I acknowledge that the books and TV show are different entities, and it’s entirely possible that they will take different roads to get to their final destination, but I find it hard to believe that they would deviate so intensely from the books.

The second theory – The Bohlen Theory, if you will – is that Dany’s resistance is less attributable to her being a Targaryen and more reliant on her being one of the three Heads of the Dragon, a/k/a a portion of the Prince Who Was Promised. I’m a big believer in the three Heads theory, and I believe there is more than one person who will end up fulfilling the Azor Ahai prophecy. Dany has always been an obvious choice. Perhaps this isn’t a Targaryen trait so much as it’s a part of her abilities as a savior in this universe.

It’s also important to note that we have already seen two main characters – Jon and Dany – escape death, in some way, already this season. While Martin is generally a little more vague/subtle in his writing, it might just be that the writers are hitting us over the head with the obvious – these two characters are Really Important.

I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING: I still don’t understand how Sansa got to Winterfell so quickly. Did she take the Acela Express? Also, RIP Osha.

BUT WHAT ABOUT…: BRAAAAAAN. Your storyline is finally interesting – please come back.

Dragons, what did you think of the episode? Did you think that Dany’s victory was too simple? Are the TV writers changing Targaryen traits, or is this just more proof that Dany is the chosen one? How excited were you to see Littlefinger? Leave your thoughts in the comments!



  1. Not only did Jon and Dany escape death, but they were reborn in ice and fire. Not sure what that has to do with Azor Ahai’s salt & smoke birth prophecy but regardless… Buckle up! Shit’s about to get real!

    Theon’s trip to the ocean and random, friendly passage to the Iron Islands was pretty quick too.

    I’ve bought into R+L=J for so long it’s almost a given to me. It’s as if I’m looking for the next level reveal – the REAL reveal. Tyrion = Targaryen? Who else would be the third dragon? Someone’s gotta ride Viserion, right? My money’s on Tyrion, but would be equally happy if Bran would warg one of the dragons. Outside theory: R+L=J+Meera theory that was helped last week with Leaf’s little comment, but Meera is a looongshot with little attention or character development. That theory just lines up well if Meera went home with Howland Reed and Jon went home with Ned. A twin of some kind would make a good twist to the popularly believed twist. Enter Tower of Joy to find TWO babies. Waaaaat??

    • I love the idea of there being twins, although it may be a little too Star Wars-y. But yes, there has to be a third Targaryen out there somewhere to complete the prophecy. I’m totally on board with Bran warging into a dragon – ooh, maybe Bran can warg into a dragon to fly it to wherever Jon is?

  2. Joshua Karpoff

    I definitely felt the importance of Jon and Sansa reuniting. They were siblings (half, as far as they knew), and never really got along, but siblings nonetheless, and they’ve been separated since shortly after Bran fell and lost the ability to walk (2nd episode of GoT season 1; 1/4 way through GoT book 1). Since then, the Starks, who were a large, strong family, became scattered. Ned, Catelyn, and Robb dead. Sansa imprisoned in one way or another. Arya essentially on the loose, an exile. Jon at the wall, and Bran and Rickon the last left behind at Winterfell before they too left. the Stark home. Here we are, 5+ books and 6 seasons later, and for the first time we see Starks reuniting, and I’m reminded that despite all they’ve been through, only one of the six Stark children have actually died. Imagine what would happen if Bran, Rickon, Jon, Sansa, and Arya join forces, slowly coming back together and making the Stark family again the wardens of the north. The Starks know winter is coming and the Starks – all of them – protect the north from the walkers, take back Winterfell, and flay the Bastard of Bolton in an agonizing, painful, slow death. We’ll call a five-stark reunion the Karpoff Theory, until i give it a better title.
    Of course, as awesome as the reunited, stronger starks would be, it goes against the R+L=J theory, because that would mean that technically, Jon isn’t a Stark. he wouldn’t be half sibling of Sansa, he would be a first cousin, and still a bastard.
    Anyway, that’s my take on the reunion.

    Definitely agree with your assesment of Brienne’s, “Hey, ya, I’m the one who killed Stannis for killing Renly, the person I was devoted to – and yes, by the way, I also know that you are responsible for that.” Mic-drop indeed.

    Glad to see Littlefinger doing what he does best.

    Now, on to Daenarys. First of all, the fact that the building was flammable doesn’t bother me, and it looks as though Dany arranged for some type of kerosene/flammable substance to be placed on the floor prior to her being assessed by the khals. Throwing down a bier wouldn’t do much except spread a few coals – Dany had set up that trap. I agree with JC3 – they should have show some indication the trap was being set, but that wasn’t my big problem.

    I also didn’t have such a huge problem with Dany surviving the fire unscathed. Sure, she’s done it before, and sure, the show diverts from the book which said it was a one time thing where the show seems to indicate Dany is immune to fire because she has the blood of the dragon (unlike her weakling brother).
    What bothered me was that she basically murdered the khals in cold blood, solely because they were abiding by their traditions. Their issues with her were that she broke tradition (tradition she herself had spent much time and effort to learn when she was wife to Drogo). They had a problem with that, and she said, ok, time to burn you alive. GoT (book or TV) has always believed in ambiguous characters – not good or bad per se (though some more bad than others). A handful of characters are meant to be the protagonists, who generally lean toward good. Davos is a prime example of a character who is definitely good, whereas Ramsey Bolton is the prime example of BAD. Jon is mostly good, as is Bran. Stannis was somewhere in the middle, as is Mellisandre, Lannisters, at first looked bad, but now … well, still bad, but not Bolton-bad, and we’ve seen their good-side too. But I digress: Dany, until this scene, was someone who could be seen as a more moral figure. One of the good guys. Now? She, like others, is willing to kill those who disagree with her, just to get what she wants. In this case, control of a vast Dothraki horde.
    ALso, it might help her save Mereen, but she still will need a LOT of ships to bring them to Westeros – if that is her plan (she indicated as such when citing Drogo’s promise).

    So, my big + was the Stark Reunion, Little Finger appearing.

    • I’m in for a Stark reunion. Let’s make Winterfell great again!

    • I support the Karpoff Theory. I think it works even if Jon is Lyanna’s kid instead of Ned’s, because he still has Stark blood in him – and maybe what will happen is while the remaining Stark children take the North back, Jon can get on a dragon and fix the rest of Westeros with Dany and Tyrion.

      I agree with you about Dany. Up to this point, she seems to be fighting for justice, and the killing that she’s done has been in furtherance of that. Maybe we, the viewers, are supposed to view the khals as “bad,” since they are kind of terrible, with their threats to rape and all that, but I agree that a massacre is kind of an extreme step. Then again, maybe Dany’s thought process was that the khals would never be submissive to her because they viewed her as nothing more than a khal’s widow, so she knew that she would never be able to turn them over to her side. (Also, what is she going to do with the Dothraki now? Take them back to Mereen? Where is she going to put them? Is she going to drag them with her all the way to Westeros? What’s the long term plan here?)

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