The Game of Thrones is whispers in a corridor, dialogues in great empty halls and pacts made and broken in defiled villages just as much as it is swords and spears and giants on a battlefield. Each small agreement and discussion carries the weight of the Seven Kingdoms and when one faction believes they’re doing something for the good of all, they are just as likely creating their undoing. In ‘The Door’, Game of Thrones shows us that we’re all responsible for the monsters that eventually come knocking and mercy isn’t something to be counted upon.
FULL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
So, I’m still wiping the liquid from all of my face holes…
…Ahem, we’ll get to that in a bit.
‘The Door’ spends its length proving to us that at this point in the war, everyone has blood on their hands and world is as gray as the Northern sky. Sansa meets with Littlefinger in a defiled village and acts with pure emotion in detailing her defilement under Ramsay Snow*. Littlefinger has the army of the Eyrie at his back and is prepared to help Sansa and the Northern armies take back Winterfell. We’ve learned to trust Littlefinger solely by what will get him closer to the Iron Throne and this feels like an earnest plan on his part. What happens after that doesn’t yet matter because the Starks regaining Winterfell would be entirely in the best interest of Baelish.
But did Sansa just sign the death warrant for herself and/or ones she loves by sending Littlefinger on his merry way and refusing his army? Sansa is forever scarred by Baelish “saving her from monsters and delivering her to monsters” but it’s been proven that when a Stark acts emotionally, they tend to lose their heads. Sansa’s lying to Jon is another potential issue in that they must make the rounds of the North in order to find enough men to fight the Bastard’s armies. Littlefinger would have made that task much easier and Jon would have seen that fact. Another monster made…
Arya, in her eternal struggle to be no one already, is sent to case an actress marked for death and sees a play in which the execution of her father is dramatized. The distortion of the story is almost unbearable for Arya and the viewer to watch but it is a total case of the winners writing the history book. As of now, the Lannisters hold the Iron Throne and their story is the one being bandied about Westeros. More concerning is the fact that no one still recognizes the heroics of Tyrion, as his character is shown being the deceiving imp behind the death of Ned Stark**. Arya obviously still hasn’t shed her “Lady Stark” moniker and this task in killing the actress will be her last chance to prove herself just a girl.
Also, penis. Full-on penis. About damned time Game of Thrones stopped foolin’ around and deliver us the junk.
In Pyke (now part of our opening credits), book readers are saved from the clunky, yet interesting, chunk of A Feast for Crows that is the Greyjoy Kingsmoot. Yara Greyjoy, with the backing of Theon, looks to be the Iron Islands first Queen until ole Uncle Euron comes calling. He outwardly admits killing his brother the king and proclaims he will be the one to unify Pyke with the Seven Kingdoms and secure their rightful place in the annals of history. Euron and Yara aren’t actually fighting a different war but it’s Euron’s name drop of Daenerys Targaryen and his vow to bring her armies to Westeros that wins over the crowd. This is what we all want! Unfortunately, we want Theon and Yara to do it and they’ve hit a mega speed bump, now running for their lives after Euron takes the Salt Throne and swears to murder them.
In Meereen, Tyrion and Varys meet with their local Red Woman in order to garner public favor for Dany. The Priestess Kinvara is on board because of R’hllor’s current belief that Dany is the true heir to the Iron Throne; a fact not unseen by Varys and he makes his stance on the Lord of Light’s wishy-washy nature a little too clear. While Tyrion would like to just accept this small victory, Varys prods Kinvara until she wields her own knowledge by recounting the story of Varys’ own monster-making moment. She even threatens to lift the curtain on the secret voice that Varys heard in the fire where his man-parts were simmering.
There are few true otherworldly powers that we know exist in this world and The Lord of Light, for whatever it’s worth, is definitely one of them.
Dany, looking over her latest conquest must now deal with her monstrous creation in Jorah Mormont. Jorah finally admits his love for Khaleesi in a moment of sweet earnestness and even draws tears from Dany’s eyes. She keeps banishing him but he keeps fighting back. A doomed man, Jorah admits defeat as he becomes more Stone Man but Dany won’t have it. She directly orders him to find a cure and return to her when he does. We haven’t seen the last of old Jorah Mormont.
In the most obvious monster-making revelation, we learn that the Children of the Forest (another true otherworldly power) created the Whitewalkers in order to defend themselves from the encroaching First Men. Their Frankenstein-ian creation turned against them at some point and are now threatening to punish the world because of the Children’s arrogance.
When Bran goes wandering off into the dreams of The Three-Eyed Raven alone, he sees the repeated swirling symbol around the Weirwood tree and the hordes of Whitewalkers standing outside of it. He also gets a glimpse of the Night King.
Who gets a glimpse back.
Bran, unable to escape, is grabbed by the Night King which undoes the spell protecting their cave that bars the Whitewalkers from entering. Trapped in a glimpse of history, Bran sees his grandfather ride from Winterfell and a young Hodor being a dutiful and loquacious son.
The Whitewalkers crash into the cave, tearing apart the Children one by one. Bran just barely wakes to warg into Hodor and carries his body toward the backdoor on a cart. Allowing his master a couple extra seconds, Bran’s direwolf, Summer, attacks the horde only to be ripped to shreds***. The Three-Eyed Raven is torn in half by the Night King and the last Child of the Forest sacrifices its life to buy a little more time.
Reaching the backdoor, Meera drags Bran’s cart off into the snow and shouts to Hodor to hold the door.
Bran sees Hodor’s young eyes go white as present Hodor keeps the undead horde at bay. Young Hodor slips into a seizure where “Hold the door” melts into “Hodor”. Bran and Meera escape as Hodor is sacrificed.
…Whew, ok. Got a little carried away. Seeing the meaning of Hodor at the moment of his ultimate sacrifice was an expectation I had, but not one I was prepared to witness. Hodor, while a totally minor character in the grand scheme of things, is one of the beating hearts of Game of Thrones. He is purely and simply a good man who loves Bran and will do anything for him. That purity is missing in so much of Westeros and losing a character who embodies it is a real saddening blow.
So, what did we learn? First, Bran can seemingly control elements of the past. Those in the worlds he visited with The Three-Eyed Raven have been hinted at feeling his presence before, but now we see that they can be directly affected by Bran being there. In the True Detective flat circle, Bran (or really Meera for being the one to shout to him?) created the “monstrous” Hodor, proving that this was all set in motion long before Bran was even born. Interesting stuff but an equally problematic and powerful weapon to wield in any story.
In HBO’s post-show discussion with show runners and writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, we learn that the Hodor explanation came from the mouth of George R.R. Martin himself. I do question if this was a good idea to follow the creator directly. How much time did Hodor’s sacrifice actually buy Meera and Bran? Hodor shouldn’t be the reason why a war is decided but his death should absolutely carry some weight for the characters closest to him. Maybe that’s the point? Maybe Bran will see that he unnecessarily created a torturous life for such a sweet soul. Consequence in action.
What did you think of the Hodor revelation? Will past manipulation be something the show explores further? In an episode that was entirely people talking in rooms, Game of Thrones manages to be just as engaging as when dragons scorch non-believers and make me cry horribly ugly tears while doing so.
“Hold the door.” – Hodor
- Lost alum Jack Bender directed this episode, his first of two this season.
- Tormund’s fancy for Brienne is endlessly entertaining.
- I’d like to tell Sansa that she’d be hard-pressed to find a house that didn’t have a hand in killing a Stark or two.
- The wishy-washy nature of the Ironborn at the Kingsmoot is eerily reminiscent of the American public during a Presidential election.
- “I love you. I’ll always love you.” from Jorah almost got me to tears.
- What is it with me and crying with this show?
Check out my reviews of previous episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’:
*F— off, bastard!
**Though I’m all for seeing “Tyrion” bitchslap “Joffrey” one more time.
***This is where the angry tears started.