There’s only one word that comes to mind when seeing Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) emerge from the burning wreckage of a Dothraki temple, completely unscathed, and it’s best said with a Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) impression: “Khaleesi.”
The fierce conclusion to Game of Thrones season six’s latest episode, “Book of the Stranger,” lit a fire under the Targaryen story in a very real way, pushing Daenerys back on the path toward Westeros with an entire army of Dothraki at her side. But she’s far from the only character on the HBO show marching toward war — her opposite number in the frozen north is about to deal with a conflict of his own.
Here are all the main stories from the past week in Thrones.
Burn The House Down
Daenerys‘ fiery turn happened in the blink of an eye… for viewers, at least. Behind the scenes, putting the moment together took an incredible effort that lasted across two different locations and two weeks, according to director Daniel Sackheim — and that’s just in terms of shooting.
“The amount of time and prep that went into it all was probably about three months or more,” he told THR. “It took two months just to build it. It’s an amazing application, or devotion, to provide the resources for a building that burns down in about three minutes.”
No More to Moro
The heir apparent to Khal Drogo did not last long. Joe Naufahu first appeared as Khal Moro starting in the season six premiere, and only survived for four episodes total before becoming Dany’s latest burn victim. For his part, Naufahu views the whole thing as a major misunderstanding between two powerful figures.
“I think there was a point where Khal Moro was trying to keep her safe, or what he thought was safe,” Naufahu said. “He thought he was protecting her. I think when she flipped and wanted to do things her way, he tried to stand up to her. She obviously had all the power when she couldn’t get burned, but definitely, there was a big power struggle between them in that room.”
The Stark Reunion
Moving past the bloody business in Meereen, Game of Thrones delivered one of its most optimistic scenes ever with the reunion of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Sansa (Sophie Turner), the first Stark siblings to appear onscreen together since Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Rickon (Art Parkinson) parted ways back in season three. Viewers weren’t the only ones feeling emotional; according to the episode’s director, even crew members were crying while shooting the scene.
“When I saw that, I realized the exact power of what this was,” Sackheim said. “Sometimes as a director, you’re just looking at what’s in front of you, and not taking into account the bigger picture and the epic nature of two siblings who have been separated for six seasons — and have never had scenes together, and were both really looking forward to it — reuniting.”
Jon Snow Goes to War
Of course, this being Game of Thrones, even the happiest moments come tinged in blood. Now that they’re back together, Jon and Sansa have agreed that they must go to war against Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) to save their brother and rally the North back together. It’s a tall order on paper, but considering all the possible angles, it’s actually Ramsay who should be shaking in his boots.
But does Jon have the backbone to lead the troops to war right now? Since returning from the dead, he’s been understandably shell-shocked, looking for rest far away from the Wall. Sackheim told THR that Jon’s current arc mirrors the Kübler-Ross model of handling grief: “For a character who has been so immensely powerful, strong and commanding, we wanted to find the absolute opposite dynamic of that. We talked about that a lot. But also, there’s a hollowness to him. He knows what’s on the other side. He knows there’s nothing on the other side. There is no afterlife.”
The Road Ahead
War waits for Jon Snow, but perhaps he’s taking his eye off the true prize. Further north beyond the Wall, the White Walkers continue their march, and it’s a different Stark who is destined for an icy encounter. The previews for the episode feature Bran running into the Night’s King, and the possible ramifications of that meeting are frightening, to say the least.
But there’s much more in the offing for the coming episode of Thrones, based on what the preview informs us. The Kingsmoot finally looks set to take place on the Iron Islands, while in Meereen, a new red priest emerges; it appears that Melisandre (Carice van Houten) isn’t the only R’hllor disciple in the game anymore. What the Lord of Light wants with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and his new city remains to be seen, but it’s bound to reveal itself in the coming episodes, if not the next immediate installment.
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