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GAME OF THRONES Recap: Burn It All Down and Kill It With Fire

Hello, fair citizens of the Realm! It’s that time of year again—the most wonderful of them all—Game of Thrones season. And, in addition to winter: spoilers are coming! As this is a recap, it goes over everything in crazy detail, so proceed at your own risk and don’t say we didn’t warn you in the comments below.

Well, folks—the fourth episode of a season always tends to deliver when it comes to Game of Thrones, and in the show’s sixth season, “The Book of the Stranger” did not disappoint. It was as if everyone in the Realm realized they had shit to get done and were all outta f**ks. No one was having any of it tonight, in the best way: It’s almost as if they all realized at once that there’s like, several wars—both metaphorical and literal—going on and taking action is super necessary. And this went double for tonight’s MVPs, Sansa and Dany, who pulled quadruple duty tonight on the “let’s burn it all to the ground like we’re Beyoncé and the Realm is our personal Jay-Z.”

Alright, so: full disclosure, I’ve been listening to Lemonade a lot because basically the album and I are one now, so it’s maybe influenced my way of thinking a bit. (For instance: to me he’s Ramsay Bolton now.) But honestly, isn’t that (essentially) what Game of Thrones asked us to do when they played the cinematic music video opus before the season premiere? I think, if anything, HBO has wanted us to do this the whole time. And so I will oblige because Beyoncé Dany really managed the impossible tonight: convincing the Dothraki to join her cause and support her as the Stallion Who Mounts the World. Westeros here we come?! Maybe?!


Because even though she’s, arguably, been the golden child [insert terrible joke about Viserys here] the whole series long, the way the show—and the books, to a point—has written her character has always been in the tiniest of glimpses of her education rather than the actual reason she rules and why people support her. She’s not just some spoiled kid with a rich daddy and a hefty amount of entitlement issues. No: she’s had to struggle and make mistakes and work for what seems to be her fate. And she’s always been one to show her strength (being unburnt, controlling the dragons, recruiting supporters) only when absolutely necessary, which makes it easy to forget. (Especially when she makes mistakes—of which there are many.)

But it was certainly necessary in the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen tonight when she burned that mother DOWN to the ground—if only the Khals had listened! A fun thing to do? Cue up “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and re-watch that last scene with Dany burning the Temple to the ground. (I mean, shit, the song even has the line, “I am the dragon breathing fire,” in it.)

Who else but the one true leader could burn a sacred place to the ground and have everyone bow in thanks and fealty rather than tear her limb from limb? (And no, she did not use a body double.) “None of you are fit to lead. But I am, so I will,” she even stated very coolly at one point, which: OK I WILL SIGN UP FOR THIS.


But Dany wasn’t the only boss babe gettin’ shit done on the show tonight: that title is co-held by Sansa Stark. It was a reunion that had this particular recapper—and surely anyone watching with eyes and a heart—screaming and shouting and clapping like she, Brienne, and Pod had taken me to church. (I mean, I may have been speaking in tongues—who’s to know?) Swooping in right in the nick of time (after “Oathbreaker,” I was almost convinced Jon and Sansa were going to miss each other), Sansa and Jon’s reunion brought a bit of clarity to the mission at hand for Jon: to help his sister reclaim the North and save Rickon from the evil hands of Ramslay. Sure, he was a bit of a bitchtit about it—”But Sansaaaaaaaaaa, I’ve been like, fighting foreverrrrrrr I’m so tiiiiiired these duuudes literally murdered me waahhhhhh” – Jon Snow (basically) all episode—but thank the Old Gods, Sansa was there to put him in his place. (And she didn’t even bring up the fact that she’s been threatened with and/or actually raped nearly every day of her life since leaving Winterfell as a child.) Because homegirl knows that “If we don’t take back the North we’ll never be safe—but I’ll do it myself if I have to.” YOU SLAY, SANSA. YOU SLAY!

We only wonder if Melisandre’s going to tag along now that her newly christened Prince That Was Promised is galavanting off to save poor not-so-baby Rickon. Too bad they’re too late on the Tonks Osha front. Regardless of what happens when this battle rages on, I only hope—after the Wildlings rally behind Jon Snow and Sansa in the fight for the North because duh—that Tormund and Brienne fall in love along the way BECAUSEIMEANIJUST (!!!).


Elsewhere, we saw another tough cookie—Yara Greyjoy—really hand Theon/Reek’s ass to him on a platter. It did, admittedly, feel a bit harsh but homegirl has to show strength, especially if she’s going to lead the Iron Islands and try to win the kingsmoot. In contrast, Cersei and Jaime’s scheming to murder the High Sparrow felt way less harsh but way more foolish—less a sign of strength than it was a flailing bit of desperate manipulation to try and dismantle the virus that SHE PLANTED INSIDE THE WALLS OF THE RED KEEP TO BEGIN WITH. Cersei, girl: you gotta stop this. And by “this” I mean “everything you’re doing out of desperation and a need for power that’s not truly yours no matter which way you view it,” (though we agree that the High Sparrow and his Faith Militant are no good).

Hey: at least there’s one Lannister with a brain worth its weight in all that Casterly gold. Which is to say we got some of that primo Tyrion leadership in Meereen tonight, too: even though Missandei and Grey Worm were having NONE.OF.IT. From his ideas—allowing the other free cities seven years to end slavery—to his way of doing business (with prostitutes), Missandei and Grey Worm were both the embodiment of side-eye any time Tyrion said or did anything. But everyone’s favorite imp would not cower at their—and the rest of the Meereenese elite—concern over his practices; rather than do it their way, he was all “I ain’t no mother of dragons so like, chill OK?” (basically).


But his methods did feel pretty intelligent and thoughtful, even if he had the whitest white man response when Missandei asked him, “How many days were you a slave?” “Long enough to know” is literally never the right answer to that question, Tyrion. Literally never. But we digress: his insight into the rich’s desires was totally on the mark and exactly what should’ve been done. “I don’t trust the masters, I trust their self-interest,” he stated, before mentioning that he knows none of the other Free Cities leaders trust him. “Their contempt is their weakness.” It’ll be interesting to see how this develops now that, we assume, Dany will be on her way back with the whole of the Dothraki with her.

Other Thoughts:

  • Welcome, Robyn Arryn, to the “puberty is a bitch” club. You, Bran, and Rickon should get some Members’ Only jackets.
  • Also: Robyn sure is becoming quite the vindictive little thing, isn’t he? (No surprise there, thanks to Uncle Littlefinger.)
  • World’s Most Littlefinger-iest Quote: “The time has come to join the fray” HEY I SEE THAT WORDPLAY YOU DID THERE, GUYS. I SEE IT AND I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING AT.
  • MAJOR LOLs to Cersei for saying “Margaery’s safety is paramount” with a straight face. GIRL DON’T LIE.
  • LOVED another Old Nan reference in tonight’s episode. Something tells me they’re building to something here.
  • “What you gonna do?” “Get warm.” – Jon Snowiest quote of the evening.
  • BRIENNE!!!!!! (Sorry, we just had to mention her.)
  • ICYMI: Daario knows Ser Jorah has greyscale now.
  • Teeny tiny annoyance: what’s up with all those walls in Vaes Dothrak, eh? It’s been said, both on the show and in the books repeatedly, that they have no permanent walls there. And we’ve NEVER seen a single goddamn wall in any of the overhead shots, either: so where the FUCK were these walls that Daario and Mr. Nice Mormont were skulking around behind? This just felt lazy.
  • Anyone else notice just HOW different (and, frankly, modern?) the dialogue has been without the GRRM source material to support the more intensely philosophical/story-driven moments?

Want to know everything else that’s going to happen this season? Check out all the totally real, not-at-all-fake spoilers we got from the cast below:


What did you think of tonight’s episode? Let us know in the comments below.


Images: HBO

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor, co-host of Fangirling, and resident Khaleesi of House Nerdist. Find her on Twitter (@alicialutes).

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