SPOILERS, OF COURSE.

This is the kind of episode that gets you off your feet and just puts you in the moment of each scene. The obvious would be Daenerys’ now apparent command of all the khalasars of the Dothraki, but the episode essentially puts everyone in their best character zones.

 

We see Sansa and Jon together. Now that was an emotional moment, for after seasons of sh*t raining down on the Starks’ parade, we finally saw two of them together without having either killed. (Remember Arya seeing Robb’s headless body with his direwolf’s head paraded around post-Red Wedding? That was the last time any of them were together in one place, as far as I remember.)

Jon and Sansa are both characters of family. Jon, as a bastard; Sansa, as one who rode the front seat to the deaths of those she loved. Sansa’s will is centered on home, reclaiming it, whatever’s left of the Winterfell that was torn down because, perhaps in her reflections, was partially triggered because she was love-struck with the eldest Baratheon (um… Lannister) boy.

Jon, on the other hand, technically fulfilled his promise of serving the Night’s Watch until his death, as wittingly explained in his opening dialogue (I served, I fought, I got killed. My watch was ended… technically. That was pretty accurate.) And how providential it is to have Sansa back to give him a reason to fight once more, triggered by Ramsey’s well-written “Come and see” letter.  [And come on, Jon, after the act of resurrection, do you think anyone would let you go as Lord Commander? They’re all sticking with you, that’s for sure.]

Now off to Mereen. Tyrion is the best negotiator of them all. It is known. (LOL I just had to use that.) And in Dany’s absence Tyrion finds himself in a critical position of doing what Dany cannot do – decide well, mediate, broker. His wit is his supernatural power in this series. (And you know, given the 3-headed dragon theory, an excellent negotiator with a dragon always wins. So he has to prove himself worthy of leading sensibly — something which the fire queen and the cold king seemingly cannot do to save their lives. Get the triumvirate?)

Jump to Daenerys. This episode reminds us why, despite her leadership flaws, she is someone you cannot be enemies with, even without her dragons. GURL. DOES. NOT. BURN. And while Jon inspires following in battle, and Tyrion inspires following by sheer wit, Dany inspires following by pure awe. She makes you believe because she is truly all that her insanely long name says she is.

(Addendum May 17; this paragraph) I was semi-hoping the three dragons would show up during the Khal meeting. The scene still ended in murder but it could have been cooler if the three dragons showed up, or just Drogon. The Targaryens were not just riders. They felt and thought with their dragons. And while reinforcing Dany’s resistance to fire as a strong characteristic (which is actually not as programmed in the books), it would have been a huge leap of character development if she is shown to be learning to connect with the dragons — even just Drogon because obviously it is her own dragon (Drogo love there, I’m forever a fan).

The same back in the character-strength zone is seen for other players – Littlefinger has his cunning entry point “into the fray”; Brienne has her chance for vengeance and redemption; the Lannister siblings/lovers are back in control (can’t wait for Civil War: King’s Landing version); Theon is safe, sane, and home.

And all of these are significant in contrast with Episode 3 “Oathbreaker” wherein all primary characters are placed in situations that test the limits of their endurance of an unfair expectation set. This episode sets the characters in parallel arcs wherein they all go back to their core strengths. Sure, politics is ugly and the world is cruel, but what they have – mad negotiation skills, magical fire-resistance, and loyalty-inspiring leadership (with extra resurrection plus points) – can bring them back in control and in the heart of the war they are meant to play.

In playing the game of thrones, some die, but some do win.

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Other notes:

[1] Ramsey and Osha. Still a better love story than Twilight.

[2] Stupid episode skipped the cliffhanger from the Tower of Joy. One more week to confirm R+L=J.

[3] Melisandre’s atonement begins. I am happy Davos brought up Shereen again.

[4] Jon does not wear fur clothes anymore. Ice and Fire, right? Because he’s Azor Ahai. Old red woman gets that right.

[5] This:

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