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‘Game of Thrones’ – The Women of Westeros: ‘The Book of the Stranger’

Talk about girl power. This week’s ‘Game of Thrones’ was chock-full of big moments for its women, including one particularly fiery finale.

The show’s often been criticized for its treatment of women, but this episode seemed to be working to cement the power of its women, and even break down the patriarchy just a little.

In particular, this episode brings us numerous moments in which women choose violence. The men around them are looking for peace, and it’s the women who choose to take what they want by force. Let’s take a look at the characters we saw this week.

Sansa and Brienne: Sansa has reunited with Jon! The most impressive part about this wordless sequence is the fact that this pair had never shared a scene on the show. All of the weight imbued by that scene exists outside of what the show itself has presented, and yet the moment played like a profoundly important one, which speaks to the power that Game of Thrones has.

Once they finally get to talking, it’s clear that Sansa and Jon are after different things. Sansa apologizes for the way she treated Jon, but she also encourages him to retake Winterfell with her. She knows it’s the only way they will ever be safe, but Jon is reluctant until he receives a threatening letter from Ramsay revealing that he has Rickon.

The scenes between Jon and Sansa were powerful because it was clear that Sansa was far more interested in war than Jon. She’s not the timid girl she once was. Instead, she’s becoming a strong woman, one shaped by the numerous horrors she’s had to endure.

*Side Note: Brienne has some amazing scenes in this episode, including one in which she reveals to Davos and Melisandre that she executed Stannis, and two more in which she and Tormund share significant levels of eye contact*

‘Game of Thrones’ via Screen Rant

Melisandre: Melisandre only has one small moment in this episode, but it’s an important contrast to the actions taken by the rest of the women this week. Instead of leading, she chooses to follow. Jon is her new Prince who was Promised, and she’s headed wherever he is. This move is an expected one for Melisandre, but it’s unclear where it will ultimately lead her.

Cersei: Cersei had an outstanding week. She successfully teamed up with Olenna, an ostensible rival, in order to achieve what they perceive as a common goal. They come to an agreement that the Tyrell army will invade King’s Landing in order to save Margaery from enduring her walk of punishment. This plan is mutually beneficial, and Cersei channels her father as she brings discordant sides together for a common end. It’s one of her more thought out plans, and even if things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s clearly her best option.

Margaery: We revisit Margaery for the first time since the premiere, and she’s in rough shape. She has a conversation with the High Sparrow, and he agrees to let her see her brother. Once again, we see a woman who is willing to fight and a man who is ready for peace. Loras has given up. He just wants the horrors he’s endured to stop.

Margaery, on the other hand, is still playing the game. She’s been put in a bad spot, but she’s not willing to quit yet. Her fortitude clearly outstrips her brother’s. This is another scene between two siblings in which the sister proves herself more willing to fight than her brother.

Yara: Speaking of scenes between siblings, Theon returned to the Iron Islands this week and reunites with his sister. Yara’s not exactly happy to see him, especially after she refused to come with her on her mission  to rescue him. Still, Theon  makes it clear that he is uninterested in the throne. He wants to help his sister rule. He’s done fighting.

Daenerys: Obviously this is the episode’s biggest moment. After losing her Dothraki army way back in season 1, Daenerys reclaimed them in a big way on Sunday. As the Khals met to decide her fate, Daenerys decided that none of them were fit to rule the massive army at their command, but she was, so she burns them alive.

As you may recall, Daenerys is immune to fire, so she emerges unscathed with a newly faithful Dothraki army at her command. Prior to this, Jorah and Daario attempt to rescue her. When they get to her, though, she convinces them that the best course of action is not to run, but to conquer. In an episode filled with women convincing men  of their plans, this was the culminating moment.

Daenerys’s emergence from fire mirrors the moment she had all the way back in Season 1, and it suggests that she may finally be headed out of Essos. Many had speculated that Jorah and Daario or Drogon would be critical to Daenerys’s escape, but it turns out she didn’t need them. She escaped on her own terms, and gained a massive army in the process.

Still, it’s interesting to think about whether Daenerys would make a competent leader. This fiery moment was certainly cheer-worthy, but it’s a continuation of what we’ve already come to understand about Daenerys. She’s good at the big moments, the huge statements, and horrible a the day-to-day governing. I guess it’s a good thing she’s recruited Tyrion.

This week’s episode was big for women on Game of Thrones. They consistently chose to fight for what they wanted, even in the face of men who thought there might be another way. Gone are the timid women who are scolded by the men around them. In their place, we’ve got women ready to fight. It’s about time.