The first three episodes focused on Ice.
Tonight we saw the return of Fire.
Daenerys had one of her incredible showstopping moments this week; plus we finally got a Stark family reunion that was one of the most joyous moments in the show’s history. It’s been said that season 6 is a rather uplifting season, relatively speaking, after the pitch-black darkness of season 5. There’s no better example of that then “Book of the Stranger”: Sansa reunited with Jon; Theon rejoined with Yara; Jorah and Daario found Dany. Even Cersei is joining forces with Lady Olenna.
In fact: This just might be the happiest Game of Thrones episode in the show’s history (oh, er, sorry Osha).
We start with…
Castle Black: Dolorous Edd checks out Jon Snow’s sword, and asks where he’ll go. Jon says he’s headed south to get warm, and points out the Night’s Watch loophole we talked about last week that allows him to leave. You can bet Dolorous is wishing the mutineers killed him instead.
Then there’s commotion at the gate, and…it’s Sansa, Brienne, and Podrick, all looking very cold. We start to realize: This might actually happen. Unless Jon is leaving via some backdoor we don’t even know about. They enter the courtyard, and Sansa locks eyes with Jon. They just stare at each other. It’s a beautiful moment. This is so effective because it’s like they’ve both had so many struggles and disappointments, it’s like their feelings mirror our own — they can’t believe a Stark reunion is going to happen either.
They approach each other and I half-expect a resurrected Olly to fire an arrow into Sansa just before she reaches him (with Melisandre off to the side going, “What? You didn’t think I’d just bring you back, did you?”).
They embrace; Twitter explodes. Then we get a scene with the two catching up. They’re actually smiling, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark. Reunions, smiles, apologies, hugs… What show is this?! We want this scene to be longer. It’s so cathartic. If the whole episode was just these two telling their respective stories to each other, I think we’d probably be fine with that.
And then, just like that, the fun is over. These siblings have totally different priorities. Jon wants to go lay on a beach in Dorne (and, really, who can blame him?) while Sansa wants to raise and army and get Winterfell back (and, really, who can blame her?). Their journeys have led them to each other, yet on a collision course.
“If we don’t take the North, we’ll never be safe,” newly kick-butt Sansa declares. “I want you to help me, but I’ll do it myself if I have to.”
Outside, Davos selects this moment to ask Melisandre: Heeeey, so what ever happened to Shireen, anyway?
The Red Woman tries to duck it. She’s then rescued, sort of, not exactly, by Brienne coming up and glaring down at her. Either Brienne is a lot taller than I realized or Melisandre is a lot shorter. Brienne accuses Melisandre of birthing that shadow baby to kill Renly, which she’s still annoyed about.
Melisandre stares at Brienne as if to say: Dude, that happened like four seasons ago, I’ve done so much worse since then.
Then Brienne brags to both of them that she personally killed Stannis.
Clearly this is a conversation that’s To Be Continued on all fronts.