What Happens When You Hold the Door?
SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES DOWN BELOW
For those who are die-hards of Bran or all of the sudden jumping on the bandwagon this season, The Door is your episode. Even if you haven’t been his biggest supporter the past five seasons, now is definitely the time to change that up. I’ll admit up until Season 6, his storyline’s been one of the boring ones. But throw that aside, because there’s no doubt that this episode is most poignant and centric to date for Team Bran.
Now there’s plenty to talk about down the line about what happens to Team Bran, but let’s start elsewhere in the North with the Stark siblings (or half-siblings) at Castle Black. After nearly a season of abuse at the hands of Ramsay, Sansa (Sophie Turner) finally confronts Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen), who put her in that mess in the first place. Long story short, Sansa is irate. And you can’t blame her. After the infamous rape scene, the dynamic between master and apprentice is unfortunately gone.
And Littlefinger himself, who’s always one, two, even steps ahead of everyone else is an position of vulnerability. For the first time ever, his web of manipulation is catching up to him and that smugness is wiped away. Ironically enough, the scene mimics and convey the same emotional punch as Dany banishing Jorah at the end of Season 4. Part of me wants Sansa and Littlefinger to make amends down the line. On the positive note, Littlefinger does offer up intel that her relations down south are amassing forces. That might help in the upcoming Bastard Bowl 2016.
Sansa continues to run the show later on when she, Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Jon (Kit Harington) continue to strategize and uses Littlefinger’s info to rally more troops. And after that major resurrection a few episodes back, Jon’s on the backburner, brooding in a corner. The supposed “Prince that was Promised” or Azor Ahai or whatever name you want to call him isn’t doing much. Hopefully that’s a temporary move on the part of the writers. Instead, we get another tease at Briemund shipping. At least it garners a few chuckles in an otherwise serious series of events.
Over on the Iron Islands, it’s Kingsmoot time. As hinted last week, Yara (Gemma Whelan) is the frontrunner for the Sea Salt Throne and even her brother Theon (Alfie Allen) is willing to back up her claim. This is until their uncle Euron (Pilou Asbaek) joins the Kingsmoot and challenges the siblings. The Ironborn could care less that Euron murdered his brother, King Balon a few episodes back. A little bit of sweet talk (namely willing to join forces with Dany) and the Sea Salt Throne is automatically his. Yara and Theon bail after Euron is chosen, but we don’t know where they’re headed off to. Maybe they’re going to join the Starks in the war? The episode doesn’t make it clear where the next stop is.
Across the Narrow Sea, we catch up with Dany (Emilia Clarke), Jorah (Iain Glen) and Daario (Michiel Huisman) coming off that fiery escape last week. It’s a brief check-in, but finally Dany makes amends with Lord Friend Zone over his initial betrayal at the start of the series. See, when you come back twice after you’ve been banished, call that love. And we’ve always known Jorah has loved Dany from the start. The biggest leap in plot advancement here is Dany now knows that Jorah has Greyscale and commands him to find a cure. Between her fiery exit last week and forgiving Jorah, Dany’s actually likeable again. Shocker.
Meereen is quick stop as well this week. Team Meereen meet with a new red woman, Kinvara (Ania Bukstein) who believes that Dany is the chosen one. Guess all the red priestesses can’t get on the same page. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) was so sure that Stannis was the chosen one, then flipped sides on Jon Snow. Now this new one’s believes it’s Dany. For crying out loud, pick one and stick with it. But like Melisandre, this new Kinvara is willing to flood her propganda all over the streets of Meereen, fully confident that it really is Dany. What’s going to happen when she and Melisandre eventually butt heads?
In Braavos, Arya (Maisie Williams) is still training with Faceless cult. As usual, Arya and the Waif (Faye Marsay) fight with sticks for a few minutes. And on schedule comes the Faceless Man (Tom Wlaschiha) offering up some expositional backstory and their order. For the first time since last season, Arya’s on assignment to target an actress (The Babadook’s Essie Davis) reenacting the pivotal events of Season 1. It’s not the first time, people have poked fun of Robert and Ned’s death in the show. And if you don’t, make sure you value your fingers and tongue. To be frank, Arya is still not ready to become a full-fledged Faceless, questioning whether the actress deserves to die or not. Rule number one about the House of Black and White. Don’t question the assignment. Arya’s storyline here is approaching crunch time. Either she’s going to bail or there might be a worse fate than blindness this time around.
Finally we come to everything involving Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright). As I said earlier, The Door is a very Bran-centric episode and it’s broken up into several different segments. There’s plenty of backstory unfolding in this episode, courtesy of Bran’s visions. First up, we learn how the White Walkers were created and that they were originally protectors for the Children of the Forest. In a second vision, Bran transports with the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) to an army of White Walkers. Due to a mishap, he accidentally let’s the Night’s King touch him, ultimately leading the army right to his doorstep. Good job Bran.
But it’s the climax that will ultimately break the hearts of many viewers. In a last stand against the White Walkers, Bran (who’s in mid-vision), Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Hodor (Kristian Nairn) attempt to flee. While this is happening, Bran transports to the Vale, watching a younger version of his father, his other relatives and a normal Hodor. Back in real time, the Three-Eyed Raven is killed as is Bran’s direwolf. Seems like direwolves are going out left and right this season. At least Ghost and Nymeria have been spared the axe so far. The wights continue to overrun the cave and Team Bran escapes. Hodor keeps his back against the door, under instruction to hold the door. The event causes young Hodor to suffer seizures to the point where saying “hold the door” on a loop eventually turns into ‘Hodor.” Sadly, Hodor sacrifices himself so Bran and Meera can escape.
Killing off Hodor is definitely one of the saddest deaths in the history of Game of Thrones. Even Jon Snow’s death can’t compare. At least book readers knew it was coming and many assumed that he’d be brought back to life. Hodor was innocent, simple and loveable. You will be missed.
Even though Season 6 does deviate from George R.R. Martin’s two unfinished novels, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have made it known that this is the real backstory to Hodor’s name. Even from them it was difficult to write and understandably so.
Without the King’s Landing subplot, which returns next week in Blood of My Blood, The Door remains a breathtaking hour, highlighting the action up north and dropping substantital clues at what’s to come in the major war. The hype for the Kingsmoot was well-placed. Same goes for the long-awaited showdown between Littlefinger and Sansa.
Next Week’s Preview: