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Game Of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 4 – Book Of The Stranger Review

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★★★★

Game of Thrones fans beware! The night is dark and full of terrors, and this review will have spoilers. Which could be a scarier prospect. If you're in need of a catch up, you can read this to get you up to speed. This week: Reunions aplenty and Dany getting to show a little of that fire we all know and love.

Stark return

Sansa arrives at Castle Black. Davos and Melisandre discuss what should happen next.

Jon Snow doesn't get to smile much, but his genuine joy at seeing Sansa arrive at Castle Black – good thing he hadn't left already, isn't it? – is a welcome change from his usual Ser Mopesalot style. Being dead has given him some perspective. The quiet scene between Kit Harington and Sophie Turner (who must be happy to be working together after several years) is filled with genuine warmth as they discuss old times. But while Sansa is spoiling for a fight to regain Winterfell and the North, Jon makes clear that he's done. Wonder how long it'll be before he changes his mind? As for Davos and Melisandre, it seems she's fully switched allegiance to Jon now she's brought him back from the dead. Word of advice, Jon boy: alliances with the Red Woman rarely end well, as Stannis could tell you if he wasn't six feet under. Talking of, some great interplay between Brienne and Davos about her killing of the man. It's a wonder everyone isn't fighting already. Gwendoline Christie's poisonous delivery of the phrase "Blood Magic" was typically tipped with scorn.

Littlefingers in every Eyrie

Littlefinger sways his stepson, Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli) towards the need to battle Ramsay.

Petyr's back, everyone! So good to have Aidan Gillen back a-scheming and a-plotting, tactically running rings around everyone else. And he adds in a few quieter notes, making it clear that Littlefinger, for all his bravado, was still hurt by Ramsay's swiping of Sansa. We're not sure how much Robin will be much help, but he is a lord and he does command an army (or at least Royce – Rupert Vansittart – does), so he has his uses. Hope he gets used to those strings Petyr Baelish will be pulling...

Mockery and democracy

Tyrion looks to strike a deal with the Masters. The residents of Meereen aren't pleased – including Missandei and Grey Worm.

Some nimble thinking and diplomacy from Tyrion, who is smart enough to know that some terrible conditions can't be changed overnight despite Dany's wishes (and dragon power). But Peter Dinklage (and the writers, who in this case are once again show co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss) makes it clear that for all his smarts, Tyrion is still tap dancing to keep the peace in a city where ancient tensions run deep and sour. Some Abraham Lincoln parallels here for Tyrion, and the show leans into the idea of the Masters being on the losing end of history.

Jorah & Daario, Mission: Sort-Of Possible

Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis reach Vaes Dothrak and plan to sneak in so they can find Daenerys. Daario discovers Jorah's terrible secret.

The banter between the pair here is fun and refreshing and it's good to have them back in a proper scene. We could have done without Jorah becoming the scene's Basil Exposition to catch us up, but it's a brief moment. And then it all turns darker and sadder when Jorah's greyscale infection is revealed. Their little expedition into the Dothraki capital re-injects the fun, and you can almost hear the drumbeats of the place as the pair's own Mission: Impossible theme tune. It all goes a bit wrong, but it's a welcome sight to see Daario once again proving that he's a sneaky warrior, and even helping to cover the evidence of their strike. Dany, meanwhile, is clearly starting to think of a possible future, and even makes a friend before she's discovered by the boys.

Margaery's priest encounter

Margaery is lectured by the Sparrow and has a family reunion of her own.

Another episode, another rambling anecdote/religious lesson delivered by the High Sparrow, which once again makes you thankful for Jonathan Pryce's performance. He really could make reading the phone book interesting. Natalie Dormer brings a slightly defeated air to Margaery, but you also have the feeling that she's got the Sparrow's number. And if/when someone gets to kill the chatty priest, will they make some quip about "a load of cobblers", given his former profession? But there's better to come, as she's finally allowed to see the haunted shell of a man that is Ser Loras (Finn Jones), clearly close to breaking under the less-than-tender mercies of the Sparrow's followers. After getting to know the flamboyant, happy Loras, this wounded animal is a real change, and it's well brought to life by Jones.

Interrupted counselling

Cersei talks sense into Tommen and interrupts a Small Council meeting.

We may finally be on the brink of some real vengeance from Cersei and Jaime after what has seemed like an age of talking about it. Yes, there's more repeated exposition about what happened to Cersei (surely everyone in that room knows), but used as emotional leverage both towards Tommen (to get him to act) and Cersei (as a reminder from Olenna Tyrell about Cersei's effectiveness the last time she dealt with the Sparrow), it works. It's just rewarding to see Lena Headey get back into kick-ass mode, hatching her plot to have the Tyrell army essentially do the work of the Lannister's forces in a fight against the Sparrow. But will it end up in her favour?

Theon's homecoming

Theon returns to Pyke and reunites with an angry Yara.

Some sterling, quiet anger here from Gemma Whelan's Yara, who is convinced her brother died when she met him as Reek, and frustrated that her men died trying to rescue him. The bond between the siblings is still palpable and Alfie Allen gives good sob as the tearful, remorseful Theon.

Osha's end

Osha tries to manipulate Ramsay and comes off the worse for it.

Ramsay: still a bastard. It's a disappointing final scene for Natalia Tena's Osha, and we do wish she had killed Ramsay and gotten rid of the one-note evil. Actually, scratch that: we'll wait and hope Sansa has her righteous revenge. But despite Iwan Rheon's best efforts, Ramsay remains the least compelling character as an actual person right now, even as he's useful as a plot-pushing player in the Game.

A letter from the lord

Jon Snow and co. receive a letter from Ramsay.

We'll get to the letter in a moment, but between Sansa's arrival and now this scene, do we detect some chemistry between Tormund and Brienne? Now that's a romantic comedy we'd watch. As for the delivery, it's really an extension of Ramsay's evil and, as we mentioned above, a spur that finally pushes Jon into action and confirms Sansa's need to A) enact vengeance and B) rescue Rickon. We put him second because, let's be brutally honest, does anyone besides her care about Rickon?

READ THIS: Who are Jon Snow's real parents?

Dany gets her way

Danaerys escapes the clutches of the Dothraki's Khals in spectacular style

If the earlier Dany scene was a taste, this is full on Unburnt as Dany endures sexist mockery from Khal Moro and co. (this lot really are obsessed with horse willies, aren't they?) and then not so much turns the tables as spills the fire braziers and roasts Moro and the rest before emerging from the flames untouched in a callback to her Season One finale shocker. It's strong work from Clarke before the fire starts and wonderful to Dany back at her powerful best. Looks like she'll have another army to help her in her quest: Some Mothers of Dragons do 'ave em...

While many were happy with the big Jon revival before, Dany's big moment carries more power because it has all that history behind it and shows the Mother of Dragons being proactive again. We're finally picking up the pace and some stories – Dany, Castle Black and King's Landing – are clicking properly. We noticeably didn't visit with Arya this week, and though Maisie Williams was missed, her frustrating story wasn't.

In summary

Highlight: She is the Mother of Dragons, and she brings you... fire! And doesn't even need Drogon to do it.

Lowlight: Osha's end wasn't particularly great.

Kill of the week: Khal Moro and the rest of the Brothraki at the barbecue.

Quote of the week: "What do I have to gain? If I win, I'm the shit who killed an old man. If I lose, I'm the shit who was killed by an old man..." Daario speaks the truth about why he won't fight Jorah.

MVP: Sansa, for getting a different emotion out of Jon Snow.

Random thought: The ghost of Ned Stark – to be played of course by Sean Bean – going around slaughtering those who have done him wrong should be made into a spin-off called Ned Reckoning. If Rickon dies before the series' end, have it be a two-hander called Ned Rickoning. Yes, we'll get our cloak.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Game of Thrones season 6

Season 6, Episode review guide

Episode 1 - The Red Woman

Episode 2 - Home

Episode 3 - Oathbreaker

Episode 5 - The Door

Episode 6 - Blood of My Blood

Episode 7 - The Broken Man

Episode 8 - No One

Episode 9 - Battle of the Bastards

Episode 10 - The Winds of Winter

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