The series of unfortunate events that is ‘Game Of Thrones’ is no stranger to feelings of despair, loathing, heartache, not to mention that admittedly sadistic little kick we all seem to get at every so-called ‘beautiful death’. With this series’ latest chapter however, is ‘The Song Of Ice And Fire’ finally adding a tune of hope to its sombre symphony?
In the North, Castle Black receives some very special guests, but the time is fast approaching for the Night’s Watch and Wildlings alike to take up arms against a common threat. In King’s Landing, as Margaery’s Walk of Atonement draws closer, Cersei and Jaime cultivate their influence over the Small Council. Across the Narrow Sea, Tyrion makes a dangerous deal with the masters of Slaver’s Bay, whilst in Vaes Dothrak, Daenarys’ liberation from the Dothraki Khals is at hand.
An episode of reunions and retribution, ‘Book of the Stranger’ packs an incredible amount into its running time, even by the show’s usual standards. From the return of the conniving Lord Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish, to the ever-despicable Ramsay Bolton, from Sansa Stark finally coming into her own as a woman with resolve to be reckoned with, to perhaps Daenarys Targaryen’s most awe-inspiring moment yet, many an immense payoff was accomplished this week. We’ve seen a remarkable evolution in so many of these characters over the years, and this episode allows for faint echoes back to times past and the different people they once were, the contrast consequently all the more pronounced.
Some episodes simply manoeuvre pieces on the chessboard. Others roll the dice, and others still take things to Russian-roulette levels of extremity. Remarkably, this episode feels like each and every one of those purposes was delivered to equally tremendous effect, offering emotionality, epic visuals and the promise of many a major thing to come. Dare we hope that the Wars to Come may fare better for our protagonists than the wars gone by?