This week was all reunions, peace treaties and one sick power play. Jon is reunited with Sansa, Theon is reunited with Yara, Margaery is reunited with Loras, (less excitingly) Sweetrobyn is reunited with Littlefinger, and many of our favorite characters are making some big, and seemingly smart moves. The big headlines this week are the reunion of Jon and Sansa and Dany’s badass takedown of the assembled Khals at Vaes Dothra, both highly satisfying. After last week’s fairly stagnant episode, things have lurched forward and we can start to see where things are headed.
The writers of Game of Thrones uncharacteristically place the Jon/Sansa reunion at the beginning of the episode; it is the kind of thing that might normally be saved until the closing moments of an episode but the happy moment needs to happen right away to get the Starks talking about the recovery of Rickon and Winterfell. Jon and Sansa are not exactly the pair of Starks that would make for the most cathartic of reunions, that would be Jon and Arya, Jon and Bran (they came so close!), or Sansa and Arya, but it is really nice to see any two of the Starks back together for the first time since The Red Wedding. While Jon is talking a big game about leaving The Night’s Watch to stay with Sansa, it seems unlikely that he will actually do so. Jon is the show’s character on The Wall, a position that will become very important when the inevitable battle with The Others is met. Perhaps Ramsey will make good on his threats and bring the fight to Jon, forcing him to take up arms in the defense of Castle Black once again.
Speaking of Ramsey, his scenes are, and have been since his first appearance, pretty much a drag and tonight’s was no exception. Ramsey is now the show’s primary villain and the writers don’t seem to want to risk making him seem less evil by giving him any qualities besides “evil,” which makes him less compelling than the show’s other bad guys. Tonight’s killing Osha seemed to be intended only to remind us that Ramsey is dangerous and evil and that no character is safe on Game of Thrones. The manner of Osha’s death is a bit of a disservice to the character; it is understandable that the writers would choose this character to die, but the character, who has been on the show since the second season and has been a great help to the two youngest Starks, deserved better than a single scene in her final episode and deserved for that one scene to be more than her failed seduction of a murderous psychopath. There does, however, seem to be a greater plot against Ramsey; remember that Rickon and Osha were delivered to Ramsey by Smalljon Umber, who might be holding a grudge against the Bolton’s for the killing of his father and made a great show of not kneeling to Ramsey as liege lord. The only thing that does not quite hold up in the Umber/Stark conspiracy theory is that Rickon would have, apparently, allowed the killing of poor Shaggydog. Still, there may well be more to the presence of the Smalljon than meets the eye.
Most of the night’s “Throne Gaming” is done by Lannisters, both by Cersei and Jaime in King’s Landing and by Tyrion in Mereen. In a very neat bit of writing, both Tyrion and Cersei are adhering to words of advice given to them by their father, “We make peace with our enemies, not our friends.” The Lannisters on both sides of the Narrow Sea are having to make compromises in the present to serve their plans for the future with Tyrion giving the Wise Masters seven years to abolish slavery themselves and Cersei finally seeing the wisdom in making common cause with the Tyrells. While Tyrion’s plan is troubling, especially to the former slaves of Dany’s small council, Cersei is finally making what seems to be a smart move after a series of shortsighted missteps. The coming weeks promise some serious action in King’s Landing as the Lannisters and Tyrells move to take down the High Septon before Margaery can make the same “walk of atonement” that Cersei did. We can expect the Lannister/Tyrell plan to go wrong simply because the plan was made on camera and we know that one of those plans ever work out.
After weeks of passivity from Danaerys she finally makes a move and what a move it is. It was obvious that Dany would not be long for the Dosh Khaleen but that did not make her takeover any less satisfying. The season’s first moment of real badassery comes with Dany emerging, Terminator-style from the building in which she has burned the various khals to death; the moment is clearly meant to mirror the end of the first season, when she came away from Drogo’s funeral pyre with her newly-hatched dragons and it will, just as with the earlier episode, represent a point at which Danaerys Targaryen’s power takes a giant leap forward.
Elsewhere, we get hints of more tensions to come. Littlefinger is back in The Vale and making plans, via the young Lord Robyn, to seize Winterfell. Brienne is hinting to Daavos and Melisandre that her avenging of Renly may not yet be complete and Theon is throws in with his long lost sister, Yara. This has generally been a week of consolidating power and rallying for a big push; it bodes well for the weeks to come.
WEEK 4 POWER RANKINGS
- Dany: What a comeback! The mother of dragons has freed herself and come away with a massive horde of Dothraki, making her the most powerful woman in Essos. With Tyrion working on her behalf to end support for The Sons of The Harpy, she’s in better shape than ever and may be looking to take her game to Westeros sooner than we thought.
- Littlefinger: With his first episode back this season Littlefinger has positioned himself as the lord-all-but-in-name of the Vale. Look for him to make a big move against Ramsey in the coming weeks.
- The Lannister Twins: Cersei and Jaime got smart this week and aligned themselves with the Tyrells. While almost no plan goes off without a hitch in Westeros, the one they are formulating to rescue Margaery hints that they have newly embraced smart political strategizing.
- Ramsey: Ramsey thwarted one assassination attempt this week and still holds power but forces are aligning against him with Littlefinger rallying the armies of the Vale and Jon turning his attention, and that of Tormund Giantsbane and the Wildlings toward Winterfell and the imprisoned Rickon. Also Smalljon is up to something, right?
- The High Sparrow: Still looking pretty good, it seems that he is about to brake Margaery, or that Margaery is about to break for the sake of Loras. However, things may change soon as the Lannisters and Tyrells make their moves.
- Tyrion: Things are going okay but not great for Tyrion. His moves seem sage but are not earning him the love of his subordinates. Still, Dany will be headed back soon and Tyrion works best behind the scenes.
- The Starks: The Starks are a mixed bag for now. Rickon Is imprisoned and his only friends, Osha and Shaggydog, are dead. Sansa and Jon are together and could prove a formidable team. No appearances from Arya or Bran tonight, we can assume that they are still in their respective trainings.
- 8: Stannis’ Old Crew: Not much action out of Melisandre and Daavos this week but Brienne is throwing them some series side-eye which does not bode well for the future.
- 9/10: (Tie) The Young Greyjoys and Crow’s Eye: We can assume the positioning of the newly created team of Yara and Theon , and Euron Greyjoy will be made clear by next week’s kingsmoot.
Not Ranked: Margaery remains in the clutches of The Faith; Sam makes no appearance and we can assume he is still headed toward an unhappy reunion with his father; Ellaria and The Sand Snakes are still not around, making it seem more and more like Dorne is an aborted plotline; still no Bronn.