The Starks - we have seen them separated, beaten down, some die, and to an extent, they've lost their dominion over the North.
The series made us fall in love with them, only to tear our hearts out every time something bad happens to them.
So it was a welcome sight when this week's episode, "Book of the Stranger", opened with something that we have waited for since the first season: an actual Stark reunion. Sansa has made her way safely to Castle Black with Brienne and Pod, and she and her half-brother Jon share a long overdue family hug.
The two of course reminiscence about the past, and she apologizes for being a horrible sister. Well, we do remember the brat she kind of was in the first season, and it was apparent that she and Jon weren't particularly close. But after losing most of their family for a time, the two now share a strong bond. While Jon is still despondent from the ordeal of what he went through, Sansa seems determined, urging her brother to take up arms and to reclaim Winterfell. Jon remains unconvinced.
Outside, Ser Davos speaks to Melisandre and after all that has happened, he finally asks what happened during Stannis' final days, and he asks about Shireen. The Red Priestess does not reply, and Ser Davos wishes to press the matter further, but is interrupted by Brienne. The knight reveals that she saw Stannis' army destroyed, that she is the one who slayed the would-be-King, and with a dark tone, she says she remembers the shadow assassin.
In the Vale, Lord Baelish finally returns to the young Lord Arryn. The young noble greets him fondly, and the nobles surrounding him are unnerved by his influence on their lord, which shows how skilled a politician he truly is. Petyr then lets it slip, that Sansa has escaped from Ramsay and is moving to safety within the walls of Castle Black. Lord Arryn thinks carefully and tells Petyr, "We should help Sansa, she's my cousin". He agrees, and with one stroke it looks like Lady Stark will have an army after all, whether she knows it or not. Lord Baelish then turns to the nobles to gather the Knights of the Vale to arms.
In Meereen, Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Greyworm meet with the Masters of Astapor, much to the chagrin of the two former slaves. Tyrion of course only sees maneuvering, and he proposes that instead of abolishing slavery overnight, "We'll give you seven years to adjust", in exchange for their withdrawal of the support of the Sons of the Harpy.
The slaves of Meereen aren't pleased with the meeting, and they bring their complaints to Tyrion afterward. The dwarf tries to convince them, but they turn to Greyworm and Missandei. The two make it appear that are behind Tyrion, but in private, Greyworm makes it clear what he thinks, and that Tyrion has no idea who the Masters truly are.
In Vaes Dothrak, Daario and Ser Jorah make plans on how they could rescue Daenerys from the city, and they decide to wait until nightfall. While making plans, Daario accidentally discovers Ser Jorah's stone skin.
They penetrate the city in the evening, and end up killing two men who discover them.
In the other side, Daenerys bored with the Dosh Khaleen, goes out with another former Khaleesi to pee in the outside bushes. As luck would have it, she encounters Jorah and Daario. They grab the other woman, and urge Daenerys to flee with them, but she tells them she has a better idea, and she needs their help in other ways.
In King's Landing, at the Sept of Baelor, Margaery is taken to the High Sparrow. He counsels her about sin, and the Queen tries to appear meek as she trades words with the fanatic. Thinking that he may be getting through to her, he leads her to her brother's cell. She is brought in, and she goes to Ser Loras, who is lying down and appears broken. She urges him to be strong, but the knight just wants the misery to stop. Margaery embraces him, giving him as much hope she could muster.
Nearby in the Red Keep, Tommen reveals a secret to Cersei that he discerned from the High Sparrow.
With this information in hand, she and Jaime speak with their Uncle Kevan and Lady Olenna. She makes it clear that she wants an alliance to defeat the High Sparrow. She then says what she learned from Tommen: Margaery will soon undergo the 'Walk of Shame' that Cersei endured. Lady Olenna is horrified, and Jaime proposes that the Tyrells bring their army into the city to stop such an event, rescue the Queen, and maybe kill the High Sparrow. Kevan asks what he is to do when this is happening, since Tommen has given instructions to not directly go against the High Sparrow. Jaime responds that they should follow the King, do nothing, and let the Tyrells handle it. Kevan protests, but Olenna responds in kind, and agrees with the plan.
In the Iron Islands, Theon finally comes home. He steps into the Hall of Pyke and meets with his sister. Yara, remembering the time she tried to rescue him, proceeds to berate her brother. He cries and says he is sorry but Yara is unrelenting, shouting "What do you want?!" at him.
Theon responds simply; "You should rule the Iron Islands, let me help you." Her face softens with the response.
In Winterfell , Ramsay summons the wildling Osha to his chambers. He asks her questions about the Starks, and wonders what use she could be of to him. In response she tries to seduce him, but Ramsay is no fool; he recalls how he got Theon to tell him anything, including the time Osha rescued Rickon and Bran during the ironborn occupation of Winterfell. She tries to reach for a knife in the table, but too little too late as the cold hearted Lord Bolton stabs her directly to the throat.
Back in Castle Black, a letter arrives from Ramsay. It is given to Jon Snow while he is eating with Sansa, Tormund and others who dwell in the fortress. He reads it out loud; "You have betrayed the North", it says, by bringing in the Wildlings. The letter also reveals that Rickon is held in Winterfell and if Sansa is not brought back, Ramsay will go North and slay all the wildlings. Jon hesitates in the last part, but Sansa grabs the letter and reads the threat of her being raped multiple times if the Lord Bolton is denied.
Jon then asks how many soldiers Ramsay has, Sansa answers that she heard that they were 5,000 strong. Jon then turns to Tormund, asking him how many wildlings can take up arms. He answers with 2,000.
Jon looks crestfallen, but Sansa tells him that there are many houses in the North who are still loyal to the Starks, and they will come if the last remaining son of Eddard calls on them.
Back in Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys is finally brought before the Khals in the temple of the Dosh Khaleen. She says she doesn't belong there and then proposes that she lead the Dothraki to greatness.
The Khals laugh at her, but Daenerys, seeing their reaction clutches at one of the lighted braziers and topples it over. The wooden structure immediately catches fire, she proceeds to topple the other braziers. She after all, being of Targaryen blood had inherited immunity to fire.
The Khals try to rush out, but the doors have been barred by Ser Jorah and Daario beforehand. The Khals die one by one as the temple burns.
A crowd of Dothraki then gather around the burning structure. The doors then give way, and a naked, unharmed Daenerys walks out. The people are in awe, and just like her original Khalasar that witnessed her untouched by her husband's funeral pyre, they all bow down. Ser Jorah and Daario come near, and Daenerys surveys the people, knowing full well that she has once again gained a formidable army.
What did you guys think of "Book of the Stranger"? We are on the edge of our seats for next week's episode!