The fourth (and best) episode of this season of Game of Thrones, "Book of the Stranger," begins hilariously: Jon Snow — who dramatically stormed out of Castle Black at the end of the last episode — is still hanging out at Castle Black. He's tensely packing. He must have forgotten that he still had to pack. Edd is passive-aggressively fondling a sword and pouting. Jon makes a dad joke, and Edd does his best Matthew Lawrence in Mrs. Doubtfire impression.
Despite Edd's best attempts at being detached and salty, the two begin to snipe bitterly at one another. Edd makes an important point about the White Walkers existing, which is something everyone on this show only remembers when it is convenient to the narrative. But whatever, there's a loud trumpet to pay attention to now! Everything I've ever learned about Game of Thrones by watching Game of Thrones for what feels like my entire life leads me to believe that this trumpet is heralding something unthinkably terrible, like a White Walker or Jeremy Renner. Nay. For once — probably only for once — the Game of Thrones writers have allowed one good thing to happen to Sansa Stark, erstwhile rape victim and infinite vessel of unholy misery. That thing is that she gets to see one of her relatives for the first time in, what, five seasons? Sansa's crying. Jon Snow's crying. I'm crying. You're crying. Matthew Lawrence is crying. Jeremy Renner is peeing in a sandbox somewhere.
Sansa and Jon catch up over some Au Bon Pain. We inexplicably miss the part where Sansa explains that she was raped once per hour for the duration of her marriage and the part where Jon explains that he was stabbed to death and brought back to life by demon magic. What's important is that we know that the soup is good.
It's a testament to Game of Thrones's specific brand of fuckery that Sansa and Jon's good-natured catch-up session induces this train of thought: Are they flirting? Oh, wait, they're related. No worries. Wow, lots of sexual tension here. They're going to fuck. They totally should. This show has destroyed me. Sansa apologizes to Jon for being an "ass," probably because he is hot now. Jon forgives her, probably because she is hot now. They share a beer. They decide to team up to murder thousands. They don't fuck ….yet. ;)
Ser Davos lightly burns (pun intended) Melisandre by implying that she does not know from her Princes That Were Promised, then demands she tell him what happened to Shireen. Before Melisandre can explain that she turned Shireen into a human s'more for absolutely no reason, Brienne pops up. Ser Davos introduces himself, but Brienne stacks multiple power moves on top of each other, building a very complex Jenga Tower of Shade. First, she makes Ser Davos feel like an idiot for not remembering her, even though they once made out at a frat party. Then she implicates both Melisandre and Davos in Renley Baratheon's death. THEN she's like, "Oh, I killed Stannis, lol. Kay, see you in the war."
Over in The Vale of Arryn, Robin is being himself, which is to say, the living embodiment of that feeling when you get a lot of wet sand in your bathing suit. Littlefinger steps off of an exceedingly tragic version of the covered wagon from Oregon Trail and is like,
Littlefinger gives Robin a falcon, driving home the point that he is the exact opposite of a falcon. One of the billions of old white men — Beerflee? — on this show stands around looking suspicious of Littlefinger's motives, even though he himself has probably just raped several virgins and decapitated a herd of goats with a bagel knife out of boredom. He asks Littlefinger why Sansa ended up with the Boltons instead of in a place called The Fingers, which, to be fair, sounds almost as bad. Littlefinger responds by manipulating Robin into contemplating hurling Beerflee out the moon door. The moon door is my favorite thing on this show. More moon doors, I always say. Give everyone a moon door. Give every moon door a moon door. Beerflee, who disagrees, hurriedly apologizes, agrees to be loyal, and runs home to puke.
Littlefinger and Robin decide to help Sansa take back the North and join The Fray, even though they haven't really had a hit since 2010.
Over in Meereen, Tyrion is essentially setting fire to all of Daenerys's questionably effective freeing-the-slaves work (apparently, the writers modeled this whole plot point after Abe Lincoln, which, OK, sure). He's negotiating with the enemies — the Masters of Slaver's Bay — by offering them seven more years of slavery and a slew of prostitutes under the condition that they halt their funding of a comically costumed terrorist organization. Missandei and Grey Worm are unhappy about this, seeing as both were once slaves and now are #blessed to spend their days trailing hubristic white people beneath the blazing sun while sporting restrictive leather garments.
The free men of Meereen are similarly displeased by Tyrion's blithe whiteness. But Tyrion is unconcerned and unmoving, side-eyeing Grey Worm and Missandei until they verbally profess their approval of his plan. Somehow, he even gets Missandei to quote him. This appears to placate the enraged men. But backstage, Grey Worm and Missandei are like, "Youuuu fucking white idiot. You think you're coming for these bros, but these bros are coming for you." It would seem that Tyrion is not heeding Beyoncé's most holy and powerful words of warning: "When you play me, you play yourself. Don't play yourself."
Elsewhere, Jorah and Daario are training for one of those men-only races where whoever gets the sweatiest and the filthiest and throws up the most in public has the biggest dick. Jorah is having a hard time because he's old and being slowly consumed by a fatal virus, so Daario has the bigger dick. Even though this is already decided, the two proceed to argue about who has the bigger dick. Meanwhile, Dany wears a grocery bag in the city below. Finally, Daario and Jorah agree to dispose of their weapons and rescue Dany, which was the point all along. Jorah accidentally exposes his greyscale to Daario. Now Daario definitely has the bigger dick.
Down in Dothrakiville, everyone is playing drums and having sex in public, because this is the extremely nuanced way in which Game of Thrones deals with race. "I wish I'd been born a Dothraki!" announces Daario, which is the Game of Thrones version of "Oh my god, I love your hair, can I touch it?" Bumbling white men that they are, Daario and Jorah are almost immediately identified as trespassers; they respond by murdering two Dothraki in the street, then crushing one of their skulls by way of "covering up" the crime. This is played for comic relief.
Dany is chilling at the Dosh Khaleen among multiple old women, women she describes as "stinky." She announces to everyone that she has to pee. Even though she has been there for, at the very least, several days, she does not know where the bathroom is.
As women have been doing since the beginning of time and will continue to do until Earth is desiccated by the sun, Dany and one of the Dosh Khaleen bond on the way to the bathroom. As men have been doing since the beginning of time and will continue to do until Earth is desiccated by the sun, Jorah and Daario interrupt them. Jorah and Daario's plan for rescuing Dany is, "We have to go now!!! Run!!" Dany is like, "That is literally the worst idea I've ever heard. You are useless and if I didn't need the occasional sexcapade for stress relief, I would use your dicks as jewelry organizers. BRB."
Margaery gets more than 12 seconds of screen time, which means Natalie Dormer must have apologized to the Game of Thrones writers for making that horror movie in which she played the adult, suicidal versions of Lindsay Lohan's twins from The Parent Trap. As a reward, Natalie is gifted a lengthy scene in which she sits on a dirt floor and is subjected to a lecture from — wait, guess — an old white dude. This time, it's the High Sparrow. He rambles on about the emptiness of material wealth and how, if you get drunk enough, you will never need shoes again. Finally, Margaery is allowed to visit her similarly imprisoned brother Loras. He is in considerably worse shape than she. This is not as fun of a sibling reunion as the other one.
Margaery tries to get Loras to see the bright side of all of this, which is that they are both going to have such sharp cheekbones and healthy hair from all of the starvation and lack of showers. Loras just begs her to "make it stop" and proclaims he is "not strong," because he is gay and this is Game of Thrones. Loras's sentiment is echoed across town, where Cersei chides child groom Tommen for seeking the counsel of drunk perv Grand Maester and encourages him to take down the High Sparrow. Tommen reveals that the High Sparrow has told him something fucked up, something he swore he'd never share. Obviously, Cersei makes him share it. What is it? I don't know, because this show is extremely annoying.
Cersei and Jaime charge into the small council meeting and convince Olenna Tyrell that it's in her best interest to join forces and destroy the Sparrow, lest they face a dystopian future wherein nobody wears shoes. Olenna agrees, and though Uncle Kevan protests, they all steamroll him. Hush, Uncle Kevan. Time for bed.
Theon is having a nice time at sea. No idea how he got to sea from the hinterlands, where he was being pursued by bloodthirsty predators, but anyway. He spies his hometown in the distance: "Oh, look, a bridge hung with wet Scotch tape and Juicy Fruit." He walks into his sister Yara's lair, where she sits in front of a fire, drawing up plans for a highway built atop a pile of PBR cans. He is wearing this.
What is this???? It's a Patagonia fleece that traveled back in time from the apocalypse. It's a size XS Abercrombie & Fitch sweater that an extremely burly giant stole from his little sister's closet, wore for 600 years, then used to put out hundreds of forest fires. It is all of the wool from the dozens of decapitated goats from earlier, sewn together and then placed calmly in the crosshairs of an automated weapon. It is unforgivable.
Speaking of forgiveness (another #theme in this episode), Yara is mad at Theon for being psychologically and physically tortured by a insane despot. He apologizes for this egregious mistake. She accuses him of conspiring to steal the throne from her. He's like, "No, literally, I am barely a shell of a person." She's like, "OK, fine, let me put my face very close to yours but not kiss you." Another not-great sibling reunion, albeit one similarly wrought with sexual tension (even though both parties are aware that Theon's dick is gone).
Ramsay is murderin' an apple in his chambers. Osha enters in a nightgown. Clearly she is doomed. Though she gets very close to killing Ramsay, reaching for his apple knife as she pretends to seduce him, ultimately Ramsay kills her via the classic "second apple knife" trick. Ol' Two Apple Knives Ramsay. I'll miss Osha, whose entire thing on this show was escorting an ungrateful child around Westeros and then getting apple-sliced to death.
Tormund Giantsbane is making eyes at Brienne across the table at the Wall. Back off, Tormund. Brienne is spoken for (remember, she and Sansa are definitely going to fuck, just as soon as Sansa finishes fucking her bastard brother!).
Sansa and Jon have the same exact argument they had earlier, except this time, thanks to a fun and fancy letter delivered straight from Ramsay's lips to Jon Snow's table, it features Extra Rape Threats From Ramsay. "Winterfell is mine, buster," is what I think I hear Jon Snow read the first time. I am going to pretend he did. Finally, Jon agrees that he and Sansa have to go back to Winterfell with a giant wildling army, if for no other reason than he wants to find his old vape.
Back in Dothrakiville, Dany is standing in front of a group of rape-threat-happy Dothraki men (so, men on Game of Thrones) who get to decide whether Dany is worthy of living out her days among smelly women who don't pee for days at a time. Her other options: being sold into slavery, being raped a lot, or having to wear Theon's sweater. Dany asks the men if they'd like to hear what she thinks, which is that she should be the ruler of the Dothraki. The rape threats increase in urgency and creativity. But the good news is that the same person who built the Greyjoys' bridge built this Dothraki hut, which is made entirely of wicker and features prominent fire pits. Recognizing this design flaw, Dany proceeds to BURN THE MOTHERFUCKING ENTIRE HUT TO THE FLOOR.
Moments later, Dany emerges from the chopstick treehouse completely unscathed and deeply nude. The stunned Dothraki bow before their new(ish) leader. She's Khaleesi again. Just like she was a few seasons ago? Meaning the last, like, thousands of hours of Dany's life were kind of pointless? No crowd-surfing on her subjects this time, though, which is nice. Also, Dany, you can touch fire, why don't you just do that to get out of everything, including parking tickets? Whatever, overall, this is great!!! Murder more men, Game of Thrones!!! I'm not crying, it's just all of the incinerated Dothraki flesh ashing into my eyes. Jorah and Daario, dicks momentarily forgotten, bow before their queen. The music soars. I'm screaming. This show is occasionally not a trash-can fire. Sometimes it is a wicker-hut fire.