Hold the door! Hold the door!
Wow. Game of Thrones’ fifth episode of its sixth season went to bizarro world, gave us some time travel, ripped out our hearts, and opened up a can of worms that will inform every episode going forward.
And then there was a crazy villain reveal.
Hopefully I’ve written enough words so that a spoiler doesn’t appear on the Twitter link, so let’s dive in.
Hodor’s death orchestrated through time at the hands of Bran was a new sort of death for Game of Thrones. Where the deaths of Robb, Catelyn, Joffrey and others gave us a shock or a fist-pump of joy, Hodor was the one person in this universe who had never wronged another character. He was the simple-minded stable boy turned Bran-taxi/warg-weapon.
His death reveals to us that his one purpose in this series was to “Hodor,” or “hold the door.” George R. R. Martin’s first mention of Hodor in the books came in Bran’s second chapter and the eighth chapter in A Game of Thrones. (Published in 1996!) Setting aside the marvel of GRRM’s long-game in setting this up, it provides a bit of relief from the shock deaths and provides us a true hero’s death (though Hodor’s lack of agency could tarnish that thought a bit).
Story-wise, his death shifts Game of Thrones from a brutal fantasy epic to a brutal fantasy epic that’s been masterminded for the better part of two decades. And that’s a key difference, in my mind. With the knowledge that things were meant to play out this way, it removes some of the nihilism inherent in seeing beloved character after beloved character bite the dust. I can’t see this show getting any less brutal, mind you. But, as new character Kinvara says, “Everyone is what they are and where they are for a reason.”
If you need a moment to catch your breath after that, I can’t blame you. “The Door” had enough tent-pole, “whoa” reveals to fill three episodes, let alone one.
Not the least of which was the revelation that the White Walkers were not formed from some natural happenstance — they were a created weapon! The Three-Eyed Raven takes Bran and his training thousands of years into the past, to show him and the audience that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to slow down the colonization of Westeros from the First Men. Clearly things did not go as planned. The real question now is who will take up the fight against them. Bran, with his unfinished training? Daenerys and her dragons?
Sansa undergoes the most dramatic character shift in “The Door.” While she obviously hates what Littlefinger has put her through, she’s taking on an awful lot of his manipulative characteristics. When she withholds her meeting from Jon, it’s clear that she has a lot more in her mind than she’s letting on. Maybe she’ll take a page out of Daenerys’ book and pursue her own throne. Queen in the North? After all, she is the one with the Stark name.
Overall, “The Door” was an incredible, jam-packed episode. But I can’t just let it all slide. My main beef is with the ridiculousness of the Iron Islands plot line.
I get that the show has to cut a few corners here and there for production reasons, so maybe I need to be more lenient. But let’s recap the kingsmoot: heir’s daughter claims throne with support of rightful male heir; long-missing heir’s brother shows up from nowhere; said claimant admits to murdering rightful king on grounds that rightful king wasn’t leading them anywhere meaningful (ignoring that rightful king led an excursion against the north, which, while unsuccessful, definitely wasn’t nothing); claimant promises to join dragon queen whom none of the Iron Islanders have ever seen; claimant gains support and is drowned (what happens if he’s unable to self-resuscitate?); new king leads his followers off to murder his niece and nephew, and the crowd goes along with it, even though the two were leading in the exit polls until very late in the game.
I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for indulging me.
With so many huge revelations, it can be exhausting to try to contemplate where the show goes from here. I’ll relegate more of my comments to the “Stray Observations” and leave you with the hope that everyone is, indeed, where they are supposed to be. You know, in case you’d ever wondered if that were true on this wild, wild show.
– Summer! No! The wolves are just droping like flies these days.
– I was initially terrified of the time-travel ramifications that Hodor’s death could imply, though I don’t think we’ll see anything on the level of Lost. Still, I have to wonder where we go from here. Perhaps a reveal about how the Starks found the direwolves…?
– Sansa’s talk with Littlefinger seemed like something of an apology to the audience from the showrunners. Not sure how she made it to Mole’s Town and back without Jon noticing, but I guess we’ll have to let that one slide.
– You know your show has built considerable goodwill when you can drop “Blackfish re-forms Tully army, re-takes Riverrun” as a throwaway line.
– The waif should channel her inner Morpheus: “Stop trying to hit me and hit me!”
– Braavosi theatre seems to be rather … interesting.
– Bad, Children of the Forest! Bad!
– I hope the show delves into exactly how the Children lost control of the Walkers. Still has to be more to the Night King than we’ve seen, right?
– You know why the great lords of Westeros don’t take you seriously, Iron Islanders? It’s the crown. Definitely the stick crown.
– Daenerys sending Jorah off to find a cure seems a little too rom-com to me. Still, Emilia Clarke’s face as she sends him off was a great mixture of sorrow and hopefulness. Well done by her.
– High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis. Flame of Truth. Light of Wisdom. First Servant of the Lord of Light. Could we fit a few more titles in there, Kinvara?
– “Terrible things happen for a reason.” Was that line delivered by Kinvara or the showrunners?
– You are correct, Brienne. Jon does seem a bit brooding. But that’s hardly a new thing.
– Good idea, Edd. Close that gate.
Episode 606 Preview: “Blood of My Blood”
Synopsis: An old foe will be making a return, Gilly will meet Sam’s family, and Arya must make a “difficult choice.”
Thanks for reading. See you next week for “Blood of My Blood.” Valor dohaeris.