It is quite possible that the ending of this one episode was just as devastating as the ending to season five as a whole. Episode five of season six of Game of Thrones is entitled “The Door” – and when one realises why exactly it’s named “The Door”, I can guarantee you that the tears are inevitable.
Spoiler alert: Spoilers everywhere. It is recommended that you watch the episode before reading this recap/review!
We begin the episode with Sansa, who goes to see Littlefinger at Molestown, a little town near Castle Black. Luckily Brienne comes along as well. Sansa knows Littlefinger knew what kind of monster Ramsay Bolton was when he arranged for them to get married, and Sophie Turner as Sansa is putting on such a good performance as Sansa 2.0 who is actively seeking revenge for what has happened to her and her family. There is some great dialogue here, and such a strong performance by Sophie Turner. Littlefinger suggests that Sansa should go to Riverrun to meet with her uncle, Brynden “Blackfish” Tully, and the rest of her mother’s family. The Tullys have an army who would pledge their support for Sansa, and Sansa needs an army of her own, one she can trust – not just her half brother’s army. Littlefinger is shady, and I do not trust whatever he’s planning – and I still have no idea about what exactly he’s masterminding.
Back to Arya in the House of Black and White, we are treated to a nice fighting montage where she keeps getting dominated by the Waif. Luckily, Jaqen H’ghar saves the day again, and takes her away. He provides a nice background to the Faceless Men, and informs us that the original Faceless Men founded the city of Braavos; now we know why everyone in Braavos has such a healthy respect for them. But I want to know more about this aspect of Thrones lore – fingers crossed we get more canon information in the sixth book. Jaqen gives Arya the task to kill an actress, Lady Crane (played by the flawless Essie Davis). Arya goes to watch Lady Crane in a play which just so happens to be a comedic retelling of season one and a bit of season two of the show, in the form of some sloppy poetry. Arya is not amused, but must remember that technically she is no one, and must keep a brave face. Still, she has to see her father portrayed like an idiot and her sister humiliated on stage. Not cool. Arya learns who Lady Crane is and how to kill her. She seems like a nice person, but Jaqen reminds her that even nice people have to die. Arya wonders who wants Lady Crane dead, and wonders whether a younger actress has taken out a contract for her death. Arya appears to be having misgivings about this.
Did anyone else spot a little cameo by Richard E Grant in this scene? I hope we see more of him!
Also, let’s have a chat about the fact that Game of Thrones just shoved a penis right into our face during this part of the episode. Just as the scene is zooming in to Arya’s face, and we’re leaning forward to see what happens – bam! Right in the face. Unnecessary. I’m all for the gender equality of nudity on television, because nudity doesn’t bother me. But this just felt like a bad joke on behalf of the showrunners. Again – not cool.
We then go to Bran, who is being treated to a flashback with the Three Eyed Raven (TER), seeing the Children of the Forest making the first White Walker. We get some explanation about how men were waging war on the Children, and they made the White Walkers to defend themselves. But this doesn’t make much sense to me. Anyway, Bran seems to be learning whatever the TER wants him to know before he can leave the safety of the caves.
Then, my favourite Thrones family, the Greyjoys – we’re at the Kingsmoot, which is a ceremony to nominate the next King of the Iron Islands. Yara nominates herself, and Theon provides his support. The Ironborn seem to be backing Yara to be the very first Queen of the Iron Islands until Euron Greyjoy shows up. Euron admits to killing his brother Balon Greyjoy, the previous King of the Iron Islands, but that was because Balon wasn’t getting them anywhere. Euron says he has more experience than Yara, that he’s going to build the biggest fleet ever, and will sail to Meereen to meet with Daenerys Targaryen, who has an army of her own and three dragons. What’s more, Euron plans to seduce Daenerys with his ultimate manliness and with his fleet of ships. He proposes that together with Daenerys, they will conquer the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The Ironborn seem to be pretty taken by this proposal, and vote for Euron as their King. Euron is crowned King of the Iron Islands in the salty seas whilst Theon and Yara escape with all the ships. After being crowned King, Euron pledges to go and kill Theon and Yara, but finds them gone. Instead, he implores the Ironborn to build a thousand ships, and then he will give them the world.
Euron in the books is a bit of a charming badass, so I’m sad to see him portrayed as slightly charmless in the show. At least we now know how the Greyjoy storyline will be linked with the rest of the many and varied storylines of the show. There were some beautiful shots during this segment, as well. I honestly love the Ironborn story in the books, so to see it being done a little bit differently is off-putting, much like everything else that’s done differently in the show. Still, I’m really intrigued to see where exactly Yara and Theon are going – and if this ends up with a cool battle on the high seas. And will Euron meet with Daenerys? Or will it take him far too long to build those thousand ships before she starts making her own moves?
Back in the East, Daenerys is outside Vaes Dothrak with Jorah and Daario. Jorah says that Daenerys must send him away, despite the fact that he has been loyal to her through thick and thin, as a result of the greyscale that is taking over his body. He doesn’t know if there’s a cure, nor how long it would take for the greyscale to consume his body, but he has a plan to end things before he turns into a Stone Man. In a heartbreaking moment, Jorah admits (in front of Daario, no less) that he loves Daenerys, and has always loved her. Daenerys commands Jorah to find a cure for greyscale, to heal himself, and then to return to serve her, as she’ll need him when she’s ruling the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. It’s a shame that Stannis has been killed off, because they could have asked him about how he half-cured Shireen. Jorah heads off, and Daenerys, Daario and the Dothraki go somewhere else – perhaps back to Meereen?
In Meereen, Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm and Missandei note that since the pact with Yunkai, Astapor and Volantis, there haven’t been any more murders, and there is a “fragile peace” that has taken hold. But Tyrion knows that the people of Meereen need to know that Daenerys has ensured this peace. He proposes that someone in the city may be able to instil a confidence in Daenerys amongst the people. A Red Priestess by the name of Kinvara is brought to Tyrion and Varys in the Great Pyramid of Meereen. They need her help, but instead she offers her help voluntarily, as she believes that Daenerys is the one who is Promised (also known as Azor Ahai) – kind of like how Melisandre thinks Jon Snow is the Prince who was Promised. Kinvara will get fellow Red Priests and Priestesses to spread the word of Daenerys throughout Meereen so that she can lead them through the darkness. But Varys isn’t convinced, and rightly so, since we know how excellently mixing religion and politics has gone in King’s Landing with the Faith Militant and the High Sparrow. He speaks to Kinvara of Stannis previously being the Prince who was Promised, and what a mistake that was (my heart breaks!). But Kinvara seems to know things that she shouldn’t be able to know – like how Tyrion was in Volantis, and the circumstances of Varys’ castration. Kinvara says she’s not to be feared if Varys is Daenerys’ true friend. Kinvara is too creepy to trust at this point in time. Good one Tyrion.
In the trees again, Bran goes to do a bit of tree-dreaming without the TER’s guidance. Long story short, he ends up being surrounded by White Walkers, and catching the attention of the Night’s King, who marks his arm. There were some very creepy visuals in this scene. Now, the Night’s King and the White Walkers are able to find him, and Meera, and Hodor, in the caves. The TER suggests that they leave immediately. Good one, Bran! The TER also suggests that the time has come for Bran to become a TER in his own right, even though he’s not ready. They enter the vision world together so that Bran can learn what he needs to know before leaving the caves.
At the Wall, Sansa, Jon, Davos, Brienne, Tormund, Melisandre and Dolorous Edd are planning out who they can form alliances with to reclaim the North. Sansa is fierce in knowing who they can trust in the North, but Davos says that Jon should start with the smaller Northern families and build an army over time. Sansa says she will go with Jon since she has the Stark name, and the North remembers – they will fight for that name. She says the Tully family will help too, but doesn’t tell everyone that Littlefinger suggested she go to see the Tullys in Riverrun. This gives more weight to my idea that Littlefinger is setting her up. He’d better not be. Later, Brienne disagrees with Sansa’s decision to see the Tullys and doesn’t trust Littlefinger – fair enough. Sansa believes that Jon will keep her safe. I like the building relationship between Brienne and Sansa. Plus, I am absolutely loving the romantic tension between Brienne and Tormund Giantsbane.
Sansa, Jon, Podrick, Melisandre, Jon, Brienne, and presumably Davos as well, all get ready to leave Castle Black to rally support in the North. Sansa has made Jon a leather strap costume type furry garment to wear, just like what Ned used to wear – really sweet. Jon leaves the Night’s Watch under the protection of Dolorous Edd whilst he’s away. Now, the Night’s Watch follow Edd’s command, and he even has to tell them to lower the gates.
In the trees, we now need to get ready for one of the more devastating moments of this entire season. Meera and Hodor are getting ready to leave with Bran and are talking about making food once they’re safe home. Meera has a moment of intuition, noticing the air becoming colder, and runs outside to see an entire army of White Walkers approaching the caves. They have to leave, but Bran is off in a vision with the TER, learning what he has to learn. The Night’s King and his friends approach the caves. In Bran’s vision, he’s at Winterfell, watching his father as a young boy head to the Eyrie to be fostered by House Arryn. The Night’s King and his White Walker friends break into the caves, and Meera defends Bran’s lifeless body against the relentless onslaught of undead.
In the vision, Bran hears that everyone is going to die, and that he needs to warg into Hodor. He looks at young Hodor in the vision. He wargs into present day Hodor, and he gets up and fights. Bran seems to be able to split himself between warging into Hodor, and also still being present in the vision world with the TER. Meera kills a Walker with her spear that must have dragonglass in its tip. Unfortunately, Bran’s direwolf Summer is killed by White Walkers when trying to defend his owner – thus far four of the six Stark direwolves have been killed, and only Arya’s and Jon’s direwolves are left.
In the Winterfell vision, the TER tells Bran that he must leave the caves ASAP. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be able to wake up. The Night’s King has approached the TER whilst he’s dreaming, and kills him. Bran sees the TER explode into ash in his vision of old Winterfell. This scene marks the moment where Game of Thrones wins the trophy for “Most Underuse of Amazing Acting Talent”. I’m glad I got to see Max von Sydow in my favourite television show, but he could have been given a way more awesome character through which to channel his amazing acting skills. But I digress.
Things get hectic as Meera tries to leave with Bran and Hodor. They are chased by White Walkers through a tunnel, being protected by a Child of the Forest. Hodor tries to push through a door so that they can escape. In a scene that mixes between Bran’s Winterfell vision and present time, we learn why Hodor is called Hodor, and why he can only say Hodor. Hodor helps Meera and Bran escape the caves to safety by holding a very heavy door open, and holding it shut whilst they get away. Hodor is killed by White Walkers, his last act of bravery in protecting Bran, having held the role of protector for as long we can remember. In the Winterfell vision, Bran wargs into the young Hodor, who through future-Bran is able to hear future-Meera screaming “Hold the door!”. Young Hodor is essentially traumatised by experiencing his own future death whilst stuck in the past. The episode closes on young Hodor in Bran’s dream – repeating “hold the door” whilst seizing, until this repetition forms the simplified “ho’dor”, his eventual name.
This ending was so upsetting. It’s been quite some time since Game of Thrones has literally made me cry, since when it comes to this show I have a pretty strong guard up when it comes to characters systematically dying. But in combination with not knowing the events of the sixth book, and genuinely loving Hodor as a character who has been around since season one and whose motivations were so pure and trustworthy – this ending was heartbreaking. But this was a strong episode overall. Things seem to continue to be moving forward and gaining some more momentum, and it seems like Tyrion’s Meereen storyline is finally picking up as well.
In the trailer for the next episode, which is entitled “Blood of My Blood”, we see Bran and Meera continuing to escape the White Walkers beyond the Wall, Sam and Gilly going to meet Sam’s rude family, Margaery Tyrell about to conduct a walk of shame like Cersei did last season as instructed by the High Sparrow, Cersei and Jaime organising some kind of shenanigans to take the High Sparrow down a couple of pegs, and Daenerys pledging to take what is hers (with fire and blood).