We should have seen it coming. It’s Game of Thrones. Not only does the show have a track record of ripping out our hearts and stomping on them until we scream “No more!”, but this week’s episode, The Door, was the midseason episode. No way we were getting through that without taking some serious damage to our delicate hope-filled hearts. Anyone who’s not seen the episode yet (what are you doing here?) might think I’m overacting. Everyone who has seen it, knows that’s not possible. Hodor is gone. And I'm hoping he's not coming back as a White Walker, but who knows? Possibly the only character in Game of Thrones without an agenda sacrificed himself to save his friends and went down fighting.
Not only have we lost one of the most beloved characters on the show, but it happened just seconds after we discovered the truth behind his origins. Oh you cruel, cruel man George R. R. Martin. We knew there had to be some meaning to the word ‘Hodor’ as soon as we realised at the beginning of the season that Wylis hadn’t always been a one-word man. As it turns out Hodor was actually “Hold the door” which is what Meera was shouting at Hodor when she was trying to escape with Bran from the White Walkers. Bran, who was at the time mind-melding with the dying Three-Eyed Raven, heard her tell him to warg into Hodor so they could escape, but in his confused state he warged into young Hodor in his vision. When he heard Meera telling him to “Hold the door” so did Wylis and it caused a sort of seizure which caused him to repeatedly yell “Hold the door! Hold the door! Hodor!” Yep, Bran and his super-convenient-at-explaining-the-past visions fucked up Hodor royally, but the large-hearted hero still died to save him.
Even for a show in which you can see almost every twist and turn coming a mile away, Hodor’s death was done perfectly. No sooner was I screaming in my head: “Hold the door… is Hodor!’ than I was watching the gentle giant's face get ripped apart by White Walkers. I know it doesn’t sound perfect, but as actor Kristian Nairn has said himself since, it felt very true to Hodor that he would sacrifice himself for his friends. The reveal of his origins and death came from author George R. R. Martin despite the show now overtaking (and sometimes changing) the books. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss explain how the creator of Game of Thrones told them in a hotel room how Hodor become Hodor and they just looked at each and said “Holy shit.” Yeah, our sentiments exactly.
This wasn’t the only reveal that came from Bran’s storyline in this week’s episode - he’s definitely having a much more interesting time of it than the last few seasons. We also found out how the White Walkers were originally created. Basically, the Children of the Forest shoved some Obsidian, aka Dragon Glass, into the heart of a man who was supposed to protect nature from mankind who were slowing destroying it. Sound familiar? Long story short, it didn’t go so well and now the Children of the Forest are trying to fight them along with everyone else. With yet another throwback to the original season, we discover that those creeping patterns made of dead bodies we keep seeing are actually the Children of the Forest’s ancient symbols. Remember Will the Ranger who saw Wildling body parts arranged in a bizarre pattern in the pilot? And then the horses which were laid out in a swirling pattern? In this episode, we see a similar symbol during the ritual the Children of the Forest use to make the White Walkers and so another question is answered.
All in all, Bran and his cohorts haven’t had a great week. Hodor is dead, Summer is dead, the Three-Eyed Raven is dead, their Children of the Forest friend Leaf is dead. Bran is currently in the middle of a mega brain upload from the Three-Eyed Raven who admitted right before he started it that Bran wasn’t ready for it, and Meera is basically on her own, running from the White Walkers while dragging Bran’s useless body behind her. Yeah, this is not what success looks like. Thankfully, Jon and Sansa seem to be getting on a bit better.
This episode sets up the return of House Tully and Brynden ‘the Blackfish’ as Sansa learns that her Uncle has reformed the Tully army and retaken Riverrun. She finds out from Littlefinger who looks suitable shamed when she confronts him about marrying her off to psychopath and all-round bad guy Ramsay Bolton, but she lets him live. Why? Quite possibly because she knows he could help her in the future which just goes to show how much the manipulative Petyr Baelish has rubbed off on her. The other worrying development is that she lies to her brother Jon about how she comes across this information, which is not something trusted allies/family do, you know? Jon Snow and his growing war council set out in the episode to try and gain the support of the lesser Northern Houses, while Sansa sends Brienne to her Uncle to call for his support.
Although I loved watching Sansa make Littlefinger squirm while Brienne stood in the background looking menacing, there’s nothing much to report here other than what I’ve already said. It is worth noting, however, House Manderly gets a name drop which if you’ve read the books you’ll know is important because they are one of the only big northern houses still loyal to the Starks with Wyman Manderly just playing along with the Boltons. Also, Davos mentioned the one big obstacle against Jon’s success and that’s the fact that he’s not a legitimate Stark. *cough* Looks like he’s going to have to do something about that then. *cough* Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t report back that epic love story that is Briemund is well on its way with Brienne mentioning “that Wildling fellow with the beard” and Tormund smiling at her while on horseback. Yes, smiling. It was the best.
The other big news of the episode was who won the Kingsmoot in the Iron Islands and as you’d probably expect, it wasn’t the totally-sensible-choice Yara because, you know, she’s a woman so it would be insane for her to rule. Props to her Uncle Euron who held his hands up and admitted to killing King Balon and then went on to make enough dick jokes to get the rest of the Iron Island Lords to vote him into power. While this was going on, Yara and Theon jumped into some boats with a few loyal followers and set sail outta there, which turned out to be a good idea as King Euron’s first royal decree was to murder them. Who knows where they’re going, but Euron’s ‘election’ and the fact that he’s planning on seducing Daenerys with his boats (just like he is in the books) confirms that .
Speaking of Daenerys, her storyline is in a holding pattern at the moment after her conquest of the Dothraki, but she does get a touching moment with Jorah in this week’s episode. While the Mother of Dragons is trying to work out how to banish the man who betrayed her, but keep the man who saved her, her choice gets made for her as Jorah reveals he has Greyscale. As she realises he’s dying we see how much he truly means to her despite everything he’s done and it’s genuinely quite beautiful. Daario was just standing there looking awkward obviously, but other than that… beautiful.
While that was about it for Dany and co, back in Meereen Tyrion and Varys have managed to maintain a certain amount of peace thanks to their pact with the Masters. It’s not enough though, as Tyrion points out, the people need to know their Queen is responsible for this peace and so he asks for the help of the other Red Priestess, Kinvara, in spreading the word. Turns out she’s more than happy to help as Daenerys is the chosen one. Wait, what? I thought that was Jon Snow? Or maybe Stannis? Looks like there’s dissension in the ranks.
As you can probably tell, absolutely LOADS happened in this episode and all of it was good. Well, not good good, but good TV good. With just the right mixture of action and explanation, The Door simultaneously broke us while building us up for the rest of the series. Now that we’re halfway through season 6, things will surely start heating up even more as Jon builds his army and Daenerys plans to cross the Narrow Sea. Who will win the North? Will Bran kill anyone else? More importantly, when will Tormund and Brienne get it on?