A lot of significant things happened in “Book of the Stranger” the fourth episode of Game of Thrones Season 6. Sansa and Jon Snow reunited after over five seasons apart, Daenerys gained control of an enormous Dothraki army…but you know what blew up the internet more than anything? The instant romantic chemistry between the wildling Tormund Giantsbane and Brienne of Tarth.
— Game of Thrones Meme (@Thrones_Memes) May 17, 2016
— The Pixel Factor (@ThePixelFactor) May 17, 2016
Well, there was certainly chemistry on Tormund’s side. We’re not sure Brienne was feeling it, or even knew what was happening. In any case, director Daniel Sackheim was pleased to get this kind of response. “Honestly, I’m surprised anyone even noticed,” he told Tech Insider. “I mean it was meant to be a little grace note, and the fact that it’s blown up with the buzz it has on the internet and on the blogosphere is kind of shocking to me.”
But isn’t that always the way of the internet? You never can tell what it’ll run with. “I think it’s great, and it was certainly a fun moment to direct,” Sackheim continued. “It’s cool because they’re two characters who are sort of expressly cut off from emotions. Certainly [Brienne] is. She’s not particularly forthcoming or feminine. She’s all about her charge, her duty, her responsibility, and you hardly ever get to see her as person.”
Tormund, you know, he’s a f—ing wildling! The notion of these two unlikely people coming together, I think it’s very cool. I’m very grateful that I got the chance to direct a little bit of humor in both ‘Oathbreaker’ and “The Book of the Stranger.”
Between Tormund’s advances, Jorah’s failed attack to blind his Dothraki attacker with sand, and Pycelle’s slow shuffle out of Tommen’s room, there were actually a few laugh-out-loud moments in “Book of the Stranger.” Unfortunately, we don’t see a romance between Brienne and Tormund developing anytime soon. According to HBO’s synopsis for “The Door,” Brienne will be going “on a mission.” Presumably, that’ll take her away from her wildling admirer, but now that the producers knows that the fans are into it, maybe these two could meet up in the future?
If not, they’ll always have Castle Black.
Elsewhere, Sackheim talked to The Hollywood Reporter about what he and the Game of Thrones showrunners were going for during Daenerys’ big pyromania moment.
She doesn’t show a regal-ness in [“Oathbreaker” and “Book of the Stranger”], and we really wanted to flip the switch when she comes outside and goes through those doors. We wanted her to let everybody know who she is — including Jorah (Iain Glen) and Daario (Michiel Huisman)…We wanted to clearly distinguish everything we’ve seen from the end of the last season and the beginning of this one.
Sackheim also discussed directing Jon Snow’s resurrection scene (“We talked about it, not surprisingly, as a rebirth — as when a child is born, they’re sort of helpless. That’s what we wanted to communicate.”) and the reunion between Jon and Sansa, a scene Sackheim didn’t at first realize would become as notable as it did.
You know, to tell you the truth, when I was in the moment, I approached it rather mechanically. And there were a couple of crew people off to the side who started to cry. When I saw that, I realized the exact power of what this was. 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.
Daniel Sackheim’s Season 6 episodes are over. Next, the reins get turned over to Jack Bender, who will direct Episodes 5 and 6: “The Door” and “Blood of My Blood.” Let’s see if his work goes over as well as Sackheim’s did.