Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Thoughts on Game of Thrones S6E04 -- Book of the Stranger

I've fallen way behind Game of Thrones this year.  Just watched S6E04 this morning, and S6E07 airs tonight.   Spoilers ahead, in case anyone needs that warning at this late date.

In the "Inside the Episode" segment D and D talk about the theme of rebirth, a la both Jon Snow and Dany.  True enough, but what struck me is the recurring vignettes revealing the strength of the female characters juxtaposed against the weaknesses of their male counterparts.

First, the sisters vis-vis their brothers, with all these guys showing weakness in some way.

Sansa has become a seriously bad-ass character, and I suspect the best is yet to come for her.  She is now determined to take Winterfell back from Ramsay, and uses her strength to bolster Jon Snow's resolve.  [Yes we all "know" that they are cousins, not half siblings, but they don't know that - yet.]   Jon, highly confused at this point, is still coming to grips with his resurrection, and Sansa is giving him purpose and direction.  D and D reveal this is the first time they have been on screen together in 6 season, which only heightens the poignancy.

Margaery meets her brother Loras in the cells of The Faith Militant.  Loras, who we have not heard from in the books for a long time, is quite likely dead.  But on the show, he's alive, and, by means unspecified, about as badly broken as Theon.  Margaery is attempting to give Loras some of her strength and courage to carry on.  This  was a brief moment, and we don't know how it will play out.  But Margaery's strength and resolve are undeniable. 

And poor emasculated Theon, who will never get over his mutilation, but is slowly regaining his humanity, is still not back to himself enough to look his sister in the eye.  But he's gaining, and resolves to help her win the Iron Islands. Ironically, his weakness enhances her strength.

Now, the mother and child reunion, as Cersei once again bends King Tommen to her will.  Tommen is basically a good kid, but confused, wrapped around mommy's finger, and a horribly weak king. 

The contrasts -

First, the brief encounter between Davos and Melisandre.  She seems to have regained her faith, this time putting it in Jon Snow, but cannot face even the slightest questioning by Davos.

Then Osha, attempting to use all of her wiles against the Bastard Ramsay.  He was on to her, though.  They both went for the knife, the knife, the knife; they both went for the knife.  Sadly Ramsay won this round.  Alas, poor Osha.  You died a hero! 

And the best for last - both here and in the episode, as Daenerys Stormborn, Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, The Unburnt confronts the collected Khals of the Dothraki, who think they are passing judgment on her.  With absolutely nothing to lose, she sends their temple up in a blazing conflagration, thus reducing them to cinders, and again emerges miraculously unscathed from the inferno, reprising, in a much larger and more dramatic way, the conclusion of S1E10.

For some deeper analysis check out the always excellent Alt Shift X.

Just another Fry day in Vaes Dothrak.

Afterthought:  I disagree with Alt about Dany's character arc.  She is not going back to where she started.  She started as a frightened young girl, and has since been thrust into situations not of her making, and tried to do what she thought was right - kind of like Jon Snow, come to think of it.  In the process she has been running away from what she truly is - a Fire and Blood Targeryan.  Alt zeros in on this possibility - that she will return to Westros as an invading conqueror, leading a wild Dothraki hoard from atop a fire-breathing dragon.  Well - that is what Khal Drogo intended 5 seasons back.  But now it would be Daenerys in the lead.   She has grown and changed a lot, and - as is hinted at the end of A Dance With Dragons - getting ready to unleash her dragons and savages on an unprepared world.

So this is not a circle back character arc, despite all the to go forward you must go back stuff she got from the mysterious Quaithe back in season 2.

I agree with his final statement, though, that Dany and Jon have vital roles to play in whatever the grand finale of this epic turns out to be.

2nd Afterthought:  In Vaes Dothrak I was really expecting a Drogon ex Machina moment, but instead  it was a Daenerys ex Machina moment, which I think is much more powerful.