Game of Thrones, S6 Ep5 – The Door

An unexpectedly heartbreaking episode of Game of Thrones that covered Sansa’s determination to take back Winterfell, Arya’s continuing journey to becoming a Faceless Man, Tyrion’s struggles with managing Mereen, the struggle for the Salt Throne, and two important origin stories discovered during Bran’s visions. No scenes in King’s Landing this time around, and that’s just as well considering everything that went down in this episode.

Game of Thrones, S6 Ep5 - The DoorOne of the best scenes was Sansa finally confronting Littlefinger about his leaving her with Ramsay. Filled with strength and danger and a righteous indignation at all she had suffered, she faced Petyr Baelish and harshly reminded him of all she had suffered because of his political maneuverings. She staunchly refused his help and sent him away coldly. Here is a particularly powerful part of her cutting remarks to him:

“You freed me from the monsters who murdered my family and you gave me to other monsters, who murdered my family. Go back to Moat Cailin, my brother and I will take back the North on our own.”

Sansa joins Jon as they make plans to retake the North, actively participating in the discussions of war strategy along with Ser Davos and Brienne. She sends the latter off to negotiate terms with Brynden Tully, who has apparently retaken Riverrun. While Sansa shows her support for Jon (making him a nice Stark coat and everything), her decision to lie to him about getting the information about the Tully’s is a bit perplexing.

Meanwhile, we spent a bit more time with Arya during her training to become a Faceless Man. She acquitted herself a bit better during her sparring sessions with the Waif, who continued to resent her noble status. Jaqen then gave Arya an assignment to kill an actress who happened to be performing in a play that basically covered the events of Game of Thrones season one. The pain was obvious in Arya’s face as she watched the crowd laugh at an inaccurate portrayal of her father as a fool and as his death became a comic event of a cheap show. She also then began questioning whether her target was worth killing.

Game of Thrones, S6 Ep5 - The DoorThe Iron Islands got a little more prominence in this episode as the Kingsmoot was convened to determine the next ruler of the Ironborn. Yara Greyjoy steps up to make a claim, even if no woman has ever ruled the Iron Islands before. But she has an excellent reputation as a leader and fighter and there were men who were willing to support her. Theon also proclaimed his support for his sister and described her many merits. The tide would have turned in their favor were it not for the arrival of their ambitious uncle, Euron, who easily admitted to murdering his own brother for the throne.

To his credit, Euron mentions Daenerys and how building a grand fleet of ships to ally himself with the great queen would forward his ambitions of conquering Westeros. During a brutal ceremony that requires Euron to be practically drowned before he is crowned king, Yara and Theon escape, taking with them the best ships and sailing towards gods know where. Hopefully, their uncle doesn’t catch up with them, considering he wants them both dead.

There is a moving scene as Ser Jorah professes his love to Daenerys while also revealing his doomed fate via greyscale. Daenerys forgives him and commands him to find a cure. While this is most unlikely, it was good to see them both parting on good terms as Daenerys led her new army of Dothraki.

Tyrion and Varys are having a tricky time of maintaining the “fragile peace” in Mereen. To attempt to keep control of the public narrative, Tyrion decides to ask the help of a Red Priestess named Kinvara, whose appearance was teased in promotional photos for this Game of Thrones episode. She is another religious fanatic like Melisandre who believes that Daenerys is the chosen one who rose from the flames (now where have we heard this before?) Varys is wisely skeptical of Kinvara’s involvement and the priestess manages to say some things that spook the Master of Whispers, and it’s worrisome because no one ever spooks Varys. It looks like Tyrion is out of his depth with this one.

Game of Thrones, S6 Ep5 - The DoorAnd then we get to Bran’s side of things, where two important origin stories are unearthed through his visions. In a visit to the distant past, Bran discovers that it was the Children of the Forest who created the White Walkers. This is a monumental revelation helps give more context to the existence of the Walkers, considering they were initially created by the Children to protect the latter from the First Men. There had always been wars since the dawn of time and the Children needed champions to keep them safe. But something went awry along the way and they became the manifestations of evil in Game of Thrones.

In a careless move by Bran, he comes face to face with an army of White Walkers and gets grabbed by the Night King himself. This compromises his location with the Three-Eyed Raven and sure enough, the Walkers are at their door (how they managed to get there so quickly is never really explained.) Meera Reed struggles to wake Bran, who is still stuck in Winterfell of old, watching the child versions of his father and uncle, as well as a young Wyllis.

Game of Thrones, S6 Ep5 - The DoorAnd it is when the walkers and zombies are almost upon them that the heartbreaking truth is revealed about Hodor. Since Bran was possessing the latter’s adult body while also somehow facing the child, the young Stark served as a conduit between past and present. And as Meera Reed continuously howled, “Hold the door! Hold the door!” the faithful giant did as he was told and managed to hold off the enemy, giving Bran and Meera time to escape even as he was ripped to shreds. In the past, Wyllis had a violent seizure and Bran watched in horror as the boy repeated the words “Hold the door!” until they blended into one distinct word, Hodor.

While we as viewers are used to seeing characters violently killed off on Game of Thrones, this death was particularly affecting because not only was this a character who had been around since the first season, but Hodor also is one of the rare few who could still be called innocent on this show. How his final sacrifice became the origin of his disability was also a brilliant albeit painful twist. This is even more powerful when we consider that this particular reveal came from author George R.R. Martin himself. Hodor will be truly missed.

Once you’ve dried your tears, you can check out the preview for next week’s episode of Game of Thrones: