Episode 4 of the season made me happy on a lot of levels, and I don't know whether it was a choice of the directors or the writers but sticking to few storylines, but coming back to them throughout the episode, pushing them forward worked really well here.
1. We start out with something that has been desired by fans since season 1. Some sort of reunion between Starks. Sansa is reunited with Jon. It's amazing how connected we are with these characters and how happy we are to see them reunited when Sansa and Jon never shared a scene, ever. And despite that, it felt completely real, and very emotional. It was definitely a great way to open the episode.
The scene that followed where they actually interact was also quite good. We can expect that Jon told Sansa about his resurrection, but we aren't clear on whether Sansa told everything to Jon, especially about Littlefinger. Regardless, I also was glad to see that it's Sansa who pushes war on Jon. It's incredible how much praise the show gets for just putting Sansa in a spot where she is not a punching bag. And I think they are going to keep going in that direction. It's certainly refreshing, and I'm liking it so far.
I was a little let down by how little time was given to the Davos, Mel, Brienne conversation. If Davos isn't going to be explicitly told that Shireen was burned alive, why even have that scene? Having him find out about Stannis, but not about Shireen, just doesn't make sense. I hope it isn't just so he can have a dramatic moment looking at her pyre, which we seem to have seen in the trailer. Logically, he should have demanded the truth from Mel by now. The fact that he has not makes little sense. Also, and this is just me, but while I love Brienne, her declaring Renly as the true king, and staying angry at Mel and Davos annoys me. She knows that by law, Stannis was the true king. As dutiful as she is, she can't admit that she joined Renly's army because she loved him, and not because he was the true king.
2. Littlefinger's back! A little late, but better late than never I suppose. Also Robin is back, and he still sucks at everything. Although, it seems that Littlefinger's manipulation of Robin has payed off, as Lord Royce's accusations are shut down with a threat of death. It seems that Littlefinger's hold on the Vale will only remain as long as he has Robin on his side. He now has put the Vale into the fray, and that may anger some Lords, especially now that Royce heavily distrusts Littlefinger. I do wonder how big a role this army will have. Something that many people suspect, is that the Vale army will be the "sweeper" of the Battle of Winterfell. Like the Tyrells vs Stannis, or Stannis vs the Wildlings, they're the wildcard who will turn the tide of the battle surprising everyone. I'm happy to see Littlefinger back either way.
3. Politics in Meereen, finally! I'm happy to see Tyrion deal with people and being successful at it, through the thing that it appears only Tyrion and Hizdahr seem to understand in this world. Politics is the art of compromise. It's hard to push Slaver's Bay into a new economic system especially when the area is quite barren and desolate, but seven years is a reasonable period. I do wonder however, whether this will work. Tyrion's offer is generous but the masters are not trustworthy. Tyrion's ace in the hole are the dragons, but they're unreliable at best, so if the Harpies are not dismantled after this, and I suspect they will return, I wonder what will be Tyrion's backup. As biased as he may be, Greyworm's line "They will use you" may very well be true. Tyrion's faith in the masters can very well backfire. A great scene regardless, and certainly the most character we've seen out of both Greyworm and Missandei. No fault of the actors, but their characters are quite bland.
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4. Moving right along we go to the Dothraki Sea where Daario and Jorah continue to emotionally jab each other, until Jorah finally reveals he has contracted grayscale. I have to say, after the scenes between Jorah and Tyrion last season, these scenes with Daario are not that memorable. They're certainly entertaining, but I get little else out of them. They arrive at Vaes Dothrak where they are discovered by two sentinels who are subsquentely killed. They make it to Dany who remains untouched by the Dosh Khaleen way of life. Although I did like her conversation with that other young woman. I felt like she was really getting into her head which thankfully shows Daenerys' quick wit and ability to make people come around on her point of view. Then Upon finding Daario and Jorah she devises a plan.
5. In King's Landing things are also starting to move, thankfully. Margaery finally makes an appearance in a scene with the High Sparrow in which he reveals his origin story. I have to say, the High Sparrow, despite not having shown any signs of being a schemer, comes off as the biggest schemer currently on the show, even more than Littlefinger, perhaps because Littlefinger only showed up in this episode. I don't know what it is about Jonathan Pryce, but I don't buy for a second that this guy is not planning something. This makes the way he tells his story feel like how the Joker told his backstory in the Dark Knight. Like it's all a lie he tells people. I was convinced that Margaery was falling for it, and it felt right when she saw her brother and twisted her acting in front of the High Sparrow saying that he had been trying to get to her and that Loras should not let them get to him. Of course Loras is badly broken, and bleeding, which I suppose relates to torture in some way. I wonder if he told the High Sparrow something, or if Margaery is going to, to spare her brother. These were the best High Sparrow scenes this season, which is good. But then we got even more development within the Small Council. Upon receiving a piece of information from Tommen, Cersei reveals to Olenna that Margaery is bound to do a walk of shame. This leads to the decision to bring in the Tyrell army, stop Margaery's walk of shame, saving the King's image, but ending the Sparrows. I like to see the Small Council, full of interesting characters finally getting stuff done. But I do wonder, and I know I'm not the only one, since we never saw the High Sparrow tell Tommen about the walk, and we never saw Tommen telling Cersei that same thing, I wonder if someone is playing someone else. A play by the High Sparrow on the Small Council through Tommen would be very cool.
6. At Pyke, Theon has arrived. I do thing this teleporting thing will not stop, and if they have to do it to move stories along faster, then by all means, go ahead D&D. I have to say, this scene between Theon and Yara felt very much in character for both of them. I liked it quite a lot. Although I keep getting more and more concerned about Euron. New characters are not being given their proper time to reveal motivations or plans, or impact on the story. Thinking back to season 4. Oberyn Martell, his opening scene, in episode 1 alone, was 7 minutes long. That's almost as long as his brother got in season 5. I'm really starting to worry whether we'll get to know and fall in love with these new characters.
At Winterfell, Osha is brought to Ramsay for whatever reason. I assume he knew she was always loyal to the Starks and as such was always planning on killing her, because she picks up a knife, and there he is with another one down her neck. That Umber conspiracy seems less likely with every episode, and Rickon's return is starting to look like an excuse to bring Jon back in the fray.
7. Which brings us to Castle Black, again. That's what I liked about this episode. It wasn't a series of check-ups. Ok, some were, but a lot of storylines got follow-ups that moved the plot along. Arriving at the end, I felt that more happened in this episode. Anyway, at Castle Black a Bolton messenger arrives with a letter. Yes, that's right, the show did the Pink Letter. I really liked this. The circumstances aren't the same, which makes me appreciate it more, it feels like something that was done to honour the books, but that remains true to the story of the show. Whether it was Ramsay the author, or someone else (Littlefinger being the top suspect), this was great. While it makes Rickon just a motivator, it brings great character out of Sansa and Tormund. The scene itself was quite good, starting with great comedy from Tormund, Brienne and Edd, and the letter itself was also quite interesting to hear.
8. And finally, we return one more time to Vaes Dothrak, which was great, for the same reasons I pointed out above. Dany meets with the Khals at their reunion, gives what is despite everything a really good, threatening speech, and then lights the temple on fire, burning them all alive, while leaving her unarmed. And I say despite everything because, while this scene is super epic, it's also super contrived. That fire must be magical to be spreading so fast that it burns the temple down in seconds, and all of the Khals. Normally I forgive these little coincidences, but here I was taken out of the scene completely because the show overestimated my ability to believe in things that don't feel real. I felt like I had to buy into it because it was so epic, but I never went "wow", because Dany should not have won with such a bad plan. Like we expected, the Dothraki were only there to be won back.
Overall, a better episode. The opening was fantastic and the scenes were all around good throughout. The ending was a little lacking for me, but that may not be the case for others. Leave your opinion or theories in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading.