#GoT (HBO) S6 Ep4: Love Is In The Air (In Westeros)
No, really, it's Not A Recap (I Leave that to "The Ringer" Crew)
Yes, it sometimes seems like a recap. But, I honestly do not try to cover the entire episode as much as point out what I liked and did not like (awarding Jar Jar's for particularly poor writing by Benioff and Weiss). Unlike the other series I cover (Mr. Robot, Vinyl) I have no desire to work that hard on Game of Thrones.
Not because I don't love the show and books (I clearly do). But because there is a much larger support system out there covering every minute detail of the #GameofThrones universe (there are Wikis that cover practically every reader theory and every minor character's every move).
Anyway, this episode had one of the All-Time #GoT Holy S#*T Moments...so, as always, if you have not seen the episodes (or don't want to know about differences b/w the books and TV show), do not read this post.
In other words....*Spoiler Alert*
Holy S*%T: Brienne and Tormund
Just kidding. Well, kind of (Benioff and Weiss were laying it on pretty thick with Tormund making eyes at Brienne in the two scenes), it is cool to see Brienne get a love interest.
Officially this episode was called "Book Of The Stranger" I think it is a reference to Margaery's recitation of a passage from the Seven Pointed Star, but I could easily be wrong. I am saying it should have been called "Love Is In The Air."
In all seriousness, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) has been through a lot since being in Renly's Kingsguard and she deserves some Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) in her life. There was a nice small moment where Brienne reminds Melisandre that she has not forgotten (or forgiven) the divine miss M for birthing the demon baby that she witnessed killing Renly Baratheon (hopefully, we will get more on this in a future episode) and for shaming Brienne for all these years.
If you think about it, the first reunion of any of the significant Starks has taken well over a decade as "A Game Of Thrones" the first book in the series was published in 1996 (20 years ago - damn I am getting old). For me, this was a "drop my drink on the floor and stare slack-jawed at the screen" kind of moment. I had honestly given up on a Stark reunion of any kind a long time ago. One of the true love/hate things about the GoT universe is that it seems to take delight in denying pleasures or simple rewards for good behavior (a bit like Ramsay sadly).
I am sure it will end badly, it almost always does, but it sure was nice to see the artist-formerly-known-as "The Lord Commander" get a gigantic squeeze from his half-sister Sansa!
Sansa shows up just in time because Jon Snow was thinking about taking a goth vacation to somewhere warm. He was sad that his brothers tried to kill him and tired of endless conflicts and wars (apparently, he has forgotten that they are all about to be killed by a seemingly unstoppable zombie army even though he is one of like three people in the world who knows the tools capable of stopping them).
So long story short, Sansa wants Snow to go to Winterfell to kill Ramsay. Snow can now do this because he is no longer "Lord Commander" of the Night's Watch and he has an army (of a kind) made up of the Free Folk. Everyone does seem to be forgetting Jon is not sure until a messenger shows up with a message from Ramsay (Iwan Rheon, who is a really effective actor, sigh, more on this later).
This probably answers the eternal question - can we go one episode without Ramsay "Torture Porn Engine" Bolton (in case you were unsure).
Oh, and Melissandre is now following Jon Snow.
Meet Tyrion Lincoln, the Great Emancipator?
Go back and look, I mentioned a long time ago that the Meereeneese knot was almost impossible to untangle in much the same way slavery has such a lasting and seemingly intractable hold on the United States.
So, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), acting in place of Queen Daenerys (Emelia Clarke) invited the Wise Masters to a pow-wow where he basically proposes Lincoln's original Presidential position on southern slavery. Lincoln's position was to block any new slaveholding states from being added to the Union and to compensate states and/or slaveholders (at reasonable rates) for the emancipating of slaves as the South and the nation gradually made an irreversible transition away from the institution of slavery.
It didn't work for Lincoln, and it is probably not going to work for Tyrion (Grey Worm makes the correct comment here when he says Tyrion is basically misunderstanding the fundamental nature of the Masters). It may buy him some time for the return of Daenerys. But, you have to admire his pluck and his desire to work things out and make the city work again (doomed though it may be).
It's Good To Be Fireproof
They say that the best way to avoid hubris is to deeply know your strengths and limitations. This pretty much tells the story of the battle between Daenerys and the Horse Lords. Daenerys knows she is unburned and the Horse Lords think women are only for pleasure and for birthing babies.
Horse Lords = Hubris
Daenerys = Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can't Lose
So, Daenerys (as I suggested when she was captured) figures out a way to use that macho Hubris against the horse lords (so that she can add the Dothraki hordes to her army of Unsullied). She knows she will be required to face the assembled horse lords to answer for going "out into the world" after the death of her Khal Hubby. She also knows that they will totally underestimate her and that they will have no fear of her (because female, in other news, Dothraki apparently had not thought of instituting a "Designated Survivor" protocol as is now considered a "best practice" alternative to putting every leader in one room at the same time).
Her plan, have Ser Friend Zone Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and the second Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) bar the doors from the outside after she enters the temple of manly-manness and then takes full advantage of her flame retardant nature (well, we don't really know if she knows for sure if she is still fireproof but she was clearly betting on it either way).
In other words, she insults them and then tips over the braziers and sets them all on fire and hopes that she is still immune to fire. It turns out she is still immune to burning, and the assembled horde witnesses the palace burning and only a naked Daenerys walking out alive.
The Dothraki, Jorah, and Dario are all duly impressed enough to kneel and pledge eternal devotion.
Sure, she still seems to be really bad at ruling (she failed miserably at ruling even one city), but she is really good at recruiting troops (in fairness, her army is pretty badass now).
In other news, Daario now knows Jorah has greyscale.
WTF is Theon Doing
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) as a character officially makes no sense to me now.
So, nobody in the Iron Islands respects him (for any number of semi-valid reasons), he is missing many body parts (many parts are visible enough to mark him as unfit), and he is not exactly known for his character (see Winterfell).
Anyway, the Iron Islands are about to have a Kingsmoot. Basically, a popularity contest to determine who the next Lord of the Iron Islands will be.
Theon returns and has a meeting with his Sister explaining that while he has no desire to rule (as if that were possible) he would like to help his Sister's bid. But, if nobody respect him, how could his presence at all help his Sisters bid at the Kingsmoot?
I am giving this subplot one full Jar Jar. It doesn't make any sense and doesn't follow the books AT ALL (at this point in the books, Theon is still in the North, Yara lost her bid to Euron and is actually a captive of Stannis if I remember correctly). And it baffles me how this is going to work out in any kind of sensical way.
I get that maybe Theon has no other place to go, but I do not understand how this can possibly work out well for Yara or for the Iron Islands.
Sparrows vs. Lannister's
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is kind of like the Game of Thrones version of a Real Housewife on Bravo. She is constantly insulted by virtually anything anyone does (and is constantly gossiping and listening to gossip), she is capable of incredible cruelty, and is easily moved to anger. Unlike any of the Real Housewives, and despite all of this, I am a fan of Cersei's machinations. I honestly attribute this to the immense acting talent of Lena Headey because I hate Cersei in the books but love her on the show.
I cannot believe that I am saying this, but I am pretty sure the writers of GoT's have started their own version of the Hillary Clinton (Cersei) vs. Bernie Sanders (High Sparrow) feud.
Go back and listen to the lecture The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) gives to Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer), it is virtually 100% pure Bernie. Not saying I am 100% right on this one, but think about it before you dismiss it out of hand. I think this theory has some legs.
So, Cersei finds out that the Sparrow is planning to make Margaery atone for her own since by doing another "walk of shame" through Kings Landing and she finally has the ammunition she needs to get the most powerful of the small council members Kevan Lannister and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) to finally get on board for taking down the High Sparrow. Finally, the Kings Landing party is about to get started for real.
I am actually looking forward to the 1% up turning the High Sparrow's apple cart, not really sure how I got on the side of the Corporate Elite on this one, but I am fully team Lannister in the upcoming second battle of Kings Landing.
Oh, and Loras (Margaery's brother) is a shell of himself in the High Sparrow's dungeon, they have apparenly been torturing him and he has been broken entirely.
Littlefinger, Oh Littlefinger
This week's Jar Jar award goes to Littlefinger, yet another example of parts of the story that Benioff and Weiss have mucked up pretty badly.
Now I am supposed to believe that the person who is responsible for starting the entire story, the person who single-handedly started the war of the five kings, and who is the most devious character on the entire show, is kind of an idiot?
Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) is the one that convinced Sansa to wed Ramsay in the first place. We are supposed to believe that he got them hitched, ran off back to have fun in the Vale, did something while Robyn grew about a foot taller, and now wants to take the Knights of the Vale and ride right back to save Sansa? What?
There have been some posts today by people suggesting that Peter Baelish (Littlefinger's real name) did not know that Ramsay was a sadistic a-hole. That is 100% horseshit (and not just Dothraki horseshit). EVERYONE in the North knows Ramsay's reputation, Littlefinger is the second most informed person in the entire GoT universe (behind Varys). There is NO WAY Littlefinger did not know.
And even if he didn't know, I am supposed to believe he left her there, goes all the way back to the Vail, and then decides to go right back with an army and save her from the wedding that he set up?
You can't take the smartest, most machiavellian character in the books and make him into a "fly by the seat of his pants" rogue. This makes ZERO sense. I award this several Jar Jar's.
Look, I will pay a bounty to anyone who has the power to kill off Ramsay (the character). I will promise to say nothing but nice things to any show writer that convinces the powers that be to get rid of Ramsay.
I find nothing about watching his character on screen enjoyable. I have had enough of the torture porn.
This week he kills Osha in brutal fashion and then writes a letter to Jon promising to have all of his soldiers rape Sansa repeatedly in front of him.
Look, we get it, he is a douche, you really do not have to spell that out every single week, over and over and over again. We know.
Just stop it, you are enjoying coming up with the terrible things you are having him do, you can accomplish all of this by using simple suggestion. You can tell but not show, and honestly, we all already hate him, we don't need to be reminded every week.
The things he does hurt my soul, just stop it, please.
So, Another Week Down
One quick criticism of my favorite recap crew on "After The Thrones (HBO)." I love the folks that do this recap, I was a devoted follower of all of them when they were writing for Bill Simmons' Grantland site.
The show has become way too much travelogue and way too little honest discussion. It is certainly helpful to fill in the details people might have missed, but the soul of the Grantland coverage was disagreements and arguments over the content of the episodes themselves.
In other words, you guys and girls used to have a Point of View. I get that you are now being paid by HBO and maybe are afraid to criticize the crown jewel of the HBO universe, but to get viewers, you need drama.
I say this with love, I used to read Andy Greenwald's "I haven't read the books" recaps, followed by The Maester's "I know every detail of every book" recaps, followed by the podcast. I have watched every episode of "After The Thrones" and it just isn't reading the same way. It is still a good show, but you folks have GREATNESS in you. I have seen it, you can take the Dragonglass and slay the white walkers again, just do it.
That is all for this week's "Not A Recap." I plan to write something about the new Chapter that George RR Martin released on his site last week, so stay tuned later this week.
What did you think of this week's coverage, how do you feel about "After The Thrones?" Let me know what you thought, leave a comment!