So, so many reunions in this week’s episode. On the siblings front, Sansa and Jon, Yara and Theon and Margaery and
Loras Loras all got to see each other again after significant time apart. Littlefinger was reunited with Lord Robyn Arryn (and, more importantly, with us the viewers). Tyrion got to reacquaint himself with the slaver who briefly owned him. And Daario Naharis and Jorah Mormont are back with their queen.
Just as important as these reunions were the tactical plans were put into motion. Ramsay Bolton is about to face armies on two fronts — those loyal to House Arryn in the Eyrie and those loyal to the Starks in the North. There is a battle coming to King's Landing, with the Tyrell army set to march on the capital. And, of course, Khaleesi has her horde back.
As always, check out Alyssa Rosenberg's review on Act Four and catch the two of us on Facebook Live Monday at 3 p.m. (one hour later than usual this week) where we break down the episode and answer your questions.
She will always be Khaleesi
Daenerys never stopped being Khaleesi, even if she was the only one who considered herself worthy of the title the last few years. But there can be no debate now.
Daenerys couldn't have done it without some crucial help from her suitors, Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis, rivals for her affection but partners in her emancipation. As they track her to Vaes Dothrak, Daario teases Jorah about his age, telling him to sit and catch his breath before implying he wouldn't be able to "handle" the Queen of Dragons should he ever find himself given the opportunity. "I don't think your heart can take it," Daario tells him. As they prepare to enter Vaes Dothrak, Jorah makes Daario leave his weapons behind. Those would blow their cover, since weapons can't be brought into the city. Daario also spots Jorah's greyscale. "You know what happens?" he asks Jorah. Jorah affirms that he does.
The not-quite-buddies manage to sneak into the Dothraki city under the cover of night, knowing that Dany is being held with the widows of the former khals, the Dosh Khaleen. They are cornered by a couple of Dothraki who quickly figure out that Jorah is not the wine merchant he claimed to be, and Jorah gets a Rougned Odor-worthy punch to the face that knocks him down and just when it seems as if he's a goner, getting strangled to death, Daario saves the day with a dagger to the back and then smashes the guy's face to bits with a rock to hide the fact that someone brought a weapon into the sacred city.
Soon enough they track down Dany, who was getting some fresh air, away from the smelly old Dosh Khaleen widows. Daario and Jorah want to get her out of there; she knows that's not possible. But she has a plan. And it's a good one.
She is brought before Khal Moro and his bloodriders, who will decide her fate. Best-case scenario? Become a smelly Dosh Khaleen. Worst-case? You know how it goes in this universe. There's some spirited debate — some dismiss her as a pale midget, some want to sell her to the masters of Yunkai for 10,000 horses, some are just very impolite and disgusting. Dany decides to offer her take on the matter at hand, which comes as a shock to the Khal and his men, who tell her she has no say in the matter.
But Dany continues. She has some history with this temple. It's where she trusted a sorceress and her blood magic in an attempt to save Khal Drogo. It's where Drogo promised to ride horses across the sea. "You are small men," she tells the assembled. "None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki. But I am. So I will." This is met with laughter and rape threats — and some animal rape threats just for good measure. (Classy, Khal Moro!) But Dany won't let the threat of violation by horse keep her down — she knows exactly what is coming. "Did you really think we would serve you?" Khal Moro asks. "You're not going to serve," she tells him. "You're going to die." (If only she said this in Axl Rose voice.)
Dany pushes the torches down and sets the temple ablaze. The bloodriders panic and try to escape, but the doors have been bolted shut. The temple is engulfed, the leaders are dead. Thousands of Dothraki converge on the scene and are greeted by Khaleesi emerging from the burning temple — fully nude (and no, that wasn't a body double) — with the hordes bowing down before her. She has her khalasar back.
Finally, a Stark reunion
It's been so long since any two Stark children were in the company of each other. And even if we're not sure if Jon Snow is actually a Stark, both he and Sansa think he is, so their reunion was a welcome warm moment on this show. They haven't seen each other since Sansa left for King's Landing back in season one. Sansa's arrival at the Wall was well-timed, since Jon was about to skip town, having given up his post of Lord Commander. But Sansa, Brienne and Podrick riding up to Castle Black changed his plans. Jon and Sansa catch up over some soup, regret ever leaving Winterfell and reminisce about being sulking and awful back in the day. Sansa wants Jon to lead an army against the Boltons to regain Winterfell; Jon is tired of fighting. "I've killed brothers of the Night's Watch, I've killed wildlings, I've killed men I admire. I hung a boy younger than Bran," he tells Sansa. (You act like that last one is a bad thing, Jon.) Sansa seems to get it but she's determined. "If we don't take back the North we'll never be safe," she says to Jon. "I want you to help me, but I'll do it myself if I have to."
Later, the worst dinner party ever — Eddison, Jon, Sansa, Pod, Tormund and Brienne (who seems like she'll have to deal with some advances from Tormund in the near future) — is interrupted by a correspondence from Ramsay Bolton. From the sound of it, Ramsay writes his own letters. He has Rickon as a prisoner, he wants Sansa back and if he doesn't get what he wants — it'll be the usual rape, dogs, torture, murder, yadda yadda yadda. Get some new material, Ramsay. Sansa knows what must be done. "A monster has taken our home and our brother — we have to go back to Winterfell and save them both," she says. Jon knows it must be done.
There’s a war coming to King’s Landing
The political machinations are kicking into high gear in King's Landing. First, Margaery is brought before the High Sparrow for one of his famous looooong speeches. This one at least tells us a bit of background about the Sparrow and how he got to be the holy windbag he is now. The short version is that he was a cobbler and got wine drunk at an orgy (or perhaps just a normal Westerosi party), woke up ashamed of what went down, realized his sins, ran outside without his shoes and voila — a religious zealot is born. Seems an overreaction to what was probably a killer party.
High Sparrow does let Margaery see her brother, and Loras is not doing well. Margaery has been able to keep her convictions but Loras is a sad, dirty, broken man. Margaery tells him to stay strong but Loras just wants this torture to stop. He is completely helpless and hopeless.
King Tommen gets a visit from his mother and they talk about how to deal with the High Sparrow. Tommen says they have to be careful not to antagonize him and Cersei is like, do you remember what they did to me? Tommen wants to keep Margaery safe and even though he's a dumb kid, he knows enough to know that Cersei can't stand the queen. But "she is the queen and a queen must demand respect," Cersei says.
Cersei and Jaime then visit Olenna Tyrell and Kevan Lannister and try to make some peace. Cersei knows the High Sparrow is counting on them bickering with each other, which will leave his power unchallenged. Cersei tells Olenna that the High Sparrow is planning to make Margaery take the same Walk of Shame that Cersei had to make, and Olenna will not stand for that. So a compromise is reached. The Tyrell army will march against the Faith and the army under Kevan Lannister's command will simply stand aside. (This allows him to keep his vow of not taking arms against the Faith Militant.) Kevan also warns that if things don't go as planned, it will be civil war. "Many people will die no matter what," says Olenna. "Better them than us."
At least you tried, Osha
Back in Winterfell, Ramsay is slicing an apple in the most sexually violent way possible. Osha is brought before the current Lord of Winterfell and they have some verbal sparring but Osha doesn't waste much time getting down to business — namely, attempting to seduce then murder Ramsay, eyeing a knife on the table from the second she enters the room.
She straddles him, undoes his pants and just when she gets her hands on that knife, Ramsay beats her to it. He's not going to be taken out that easily. Osha gets a knife to the neck, which seems to be the killshot of choice this season. So yes, she was brought back after two full seasons away just to be murdered by Ramsay. Lovely.
Theon makes it back home
Theon makes it back to Pyke, but his sister, Yara, isn't exactly thrilled to see him. He cowers in shame as Yara yells at him and tells of her failed rescue mission from the Boltons. "He broke me into a thousand pieces," he tells her. "He sent me one of those pieces, that's why I came for you," she says. Gross. She is suspicious that Theon is showing up right before a new ruler will be chosen (they call it kingsmoot in those parts), but how can anybody who takes one look at Theon decide that he should be ruler of anything? Theon believes this most of all. "You should rule the Iron Islands," he tells Yara. "Let me help you."
—Robin Arryn hasn't learned to shoot arrows any better since we last saw him, but he sure is happy to see "Uncle" Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Uncle Petyr brings Robin a falcon as a name-day gift but he's really there to do what he does best — manipulate weak-minded people to do his bidding! He spares the life of Lord Royce, even though Robin has thoughts of throwing him through A Moon-Shaped Door, and then convinces Robin (quite easily, of course) that now that Sansa has escaped from Ramsay Bolton, an army must be raised to support her. "The time has come to join the fray," he says in that glorious manner where he is clearly acting as the narrator of his own heroic story. This show is always better with a little Littlefinger.
— It will be interesting to see how Brienne deals with Davos and Melisandre. When Brienne told those two that she used to be Kingsguard to Renly Baratheon before he was assassinated with blood magic, you could feel the awkwardness in the air. Brienne also reveals that she's the one who executed Stannis. Melisandre seems generally uneasy with everything going on.
—Tyrion gets do what he does best in Meereen: talk and negotiate. "As a clever man once told me, we make peace with our enemies, not our friends," he tells Grey Worm and Missandei, who are not keen on this whole negotiating thing. (Are we supposed to know the source of that quote? It sounds like it could be a Littlefinger Original.) Tyrion's proposal for the masters is that slavery is forever banned in Meereen and the other cities of Slaver's Bay have a 7-year grace period to phase it out. Tyrion hopes they will consider this offer, as it's the best they will receive.
The slavers don't love the offer, but the former slaves really don't love the offer. They don't know or trust Tyrion. They trust Grey Worm, who grudingly says that if there's a chance for peace, it should be explore. Tyrion is a true adherent of realpolitik and has no time for these righteous stands. "Slavery is bad, war is bad — you can't fix it all," he says. He doesn't trust the masters, but he trusts their self-interests, and that's why he's optimistic for a deal.
— No Arya this week! That automatically makes this a better-than-average episode.