Four Letter Nerd

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 5 Review; The Door

The next time I ride an elevator is not a time I look forward to. I expect that I’ll be on board,waiting patiently for the car to begin its ascension when someone in a rush calls from outside the car to, “Hold the Door.”

I’m not sure how I will explain the tears that will fill my eyes following the uttering of that phrase. That is, unless I’m with other Game of Thrones viewers, who will be crying as well. We will have to comfort each other in that moment when we are reminded of the event that cost our beloved Hodor both his ability to speak and his life. And the young man responsible for both of these moments was(emphasis here on was) one of the few remaining blameless characters left on the show.

Bran has been a victim at every turn his story has taken. This was a kid who was pushed out of a window the very first episode. He’s been the underdog cripple whose found a way to overcome every circumstance forced upon him. But for the first time, Bran got selfish. And it cost him and those around him dearly.

Outside of the tragic loss of Hodor, the theme for the rest of the show was how everything is really coming together. Jon and Sansa are on the move gathering alliances so they can take back Winterfell. The Greyjoys appear on their way to meet with Daenarys; a partnership that, if Dany ever decides to finally make her way to Westeros, makes so much sense. And even something small like the alliance Tyrion makes with a red priestess could prove an important similarity if the world of Meereen should ever connect with those in the North.

Let’s start with Ary…I mean “A Girl Who Has No Name” and a satirical play that proved itself to be strangely accurate. (I’ll also have some important background information in the “Of Note” section regarding the pixie looking characters known as the “Children of the Forest” and the importance of their actions, both from the past and the present, tonight).

Braavos

It’s sparring time with Arya and the Waif (the Queen Bee of the House of Black and White) and even though Arya can see now, she still gets handled rather easily. The Waif even puts down her weapon and still has no problem knocking down”Lady Stark.”

Jaqen feels the Waif’s insult is the perfect time to tell Arya the history of the vague temple she now calls home. And the story of the people who started The House of Black and White sounds an awful lot like Arya’s (Lords and Ladies who became servants who then came to Braavos). He gives her a new assignment and one last chance to complete the task she’s given.

Episode 5 Arya House of Black and White

Arya discussing the Faceless Men with Jaqen.

The target is an actress named Mrs. Crane. Her role: Cersei Lannister. It’s a Braavosi edition of “Drunk History” explaining the beginning of the War of Five Kings in a humorous tone. And Arya laughs hysterically at the portrayal of the Lannisters and King Robert. But when her father walks out on stage as a bumbling oaf, her amusement ceases. Ned Stark never carried himself the way the actor portraying him on stage did, but the thought process is not that far off from the one that cost Lord Stark his head.

Arya has to relive her father’s beheading, but this time as a comical moment. This does not keep her from her job, however,which is spying out Mrs. Crane and finding a way to kill her. But she finds Mrs. Crane to be a good person who is married to the actor playing Tyrion (oh the irony!!!) She’s also the only person who drinks rum backstage, information she tells Jaqen along with many questions as to who wants her killed and why. To which Jaqen responds, “A girl does not need to ask questions.” I wonder if Ned, Catelyn, and Sansa would ever get jealous at how easily Jaqen gets Arya to shut up.

Vaes Dothrak

In the aftermath of the “Great Burning of the Khals,” Daenarys discovers Jorah, who she’s sent away twice yet he still comes back to safe her, has greyscale. And because of his condition, Jorah means to go away again and die alone. But Dany will have none of that. She tells Jorah to go and find a cure, then come back to her. Now keep in mind, Jorah’s condition is one that’s existed for thousands of years and no maester or physician from any culture has found a cure. So we’ll see how a knight with zero medical training can magically discover it.

Meereen

It seems Tyrion’s deal struck last week as worked. No one has died and the Sons of the Harpy are absent in the lives of those in Meereen. But Tyrion says it’s not enough. Though the Halfman is the one behind the recent political maneuverings in Meereen, he understands that Daenarys must receive credit for it if the peace is to hold.

Enter Kinvara, another attractive red priestess. I think someone needs to file a lawsuit against the Red Temple for discriminating against ugly women, because it sure seems like every red priestess is an attractive female with a nice figure. She’s the High Priestess of the Red Temple in Volantis (a city Tyrion visited last season).

Episode 5 Meereen red priest

Kinvara, who will be speaking on Dany’s behalf in Meereen.

If you recall last season, Tyrion noticed a red priestess preaching that Daenarys was Azor Ahai, the one that was promised. And after seeing the crowds these servants of the Lord of Light draw, Tyrion wisely calls upon one to come and proclaim Dany’s name in her absence.

But Varys is skeptical. Because after all, Stannis was also proclaimed Azor Ahai by another attractive red priestess and he’s now dead. “Humans make mistakes” is the response from Kinvara, who then goes about recalling Varys past and how he heard some voice in the fire the night he became a Eunuch. She even goes so far as to say that low point in Varys’s life was a blessing because it put him on a path to serve Daenarys. Both Tyrion and Varys seem uncomfortable through this entire exchange. Because that’s the job of a good red priestess: to leave you in complete discomfort with whatever you’ve just seen and heard.

So Kinvera is going to be in the streets of Meereen, praising Daenarys name until she makes it back, hopefully with Drogon in tow. She even has a bunch of titles that take 15 minutes to speak in succession just like the Mother of Dragons. A couple of kindred spirits, those two are.

The Iron Islands

I was worried going into season six that the Iron Islands would be this season’s Dorne. And in some ways, this has proven true. I wasn’t impressed with any of the dialogue given to Euron Greyjoy, the prodigal Greyjoy brother who returned home to take the Iron Chair. And much like Dorne last season, Euron has very little development. We saw this guy on a shaking bridge for five minutes and we are now supposed to believe him to be a potential suitor for Daenarys?

But at least the Iron Islands, unlike Dorne, fits into the end game narrative. And the connection seems so obvious now: ships. Of course, Daenarys needs ships. It’s as if the whole creation of the Iron Born was so they could provide a critical need to the Mother of Dragons. And while I don’t take Euron’s claim that he’s a potential suitor for Dany, his presence did get those ships moving towards Meereen.

It’s Kingsmoot time!!! Funny how the Iron Born are the closest to our modern democracies than any body else in Westeros. Yara steps forward and makes her case for why she should be queen. But the Iron Born have never had a queen, a point the men attending the Pyke Caucus quickly point out to her. But Theon holds true to his word, stumping for her and giving a really great speech that gets everyone chanting “Yara, Yara.” We have our first queen of the Iron…

Wait!!! It’s Euron!!! Euron Greyjoy has returned!!! The Crows Eye!!! The Crows Eye is back!!! (that’s his nickname in the books, one that I hate that it doesn’t appear the show intends to use) For all the old school wrestling fans, just imagine Jim Ross saying that last line with Stone Cold theme music playing in the background. Euron makes his case that he wants to “Make the Iron Islands Great Again” by tying themselves to Daenarys. He will provide ships and she will agree to marry him. Its just that simple. But Euron, while he’s being drowned (more on that later), forgets to secure those ships and the niece and nephew he means to murder. Because I guess he figured they’d just hang around while the crazy uncle who came back and murdered their father and whom they threatened to kill was being inaugurated.

Episode 5 Euron

Euron making his case at the Kingsmoot

Theon and Yara sneak off and take the ships with them. Now we are never told directly where they intend to go, but I think we can safely assume that these ships are heading to Meereen in attempt to beat Euron to Slaver’s Bay. But Euron instructs the Iron Born to build new ships from whatever materials they can find, as he means to run down Theon and Yara. The race to Meereen is on!!!

The Wall

Sansa is knitting when she receives a letter. Petyr Baelish wants to speak with her at Mole’s Town. You’ll recall Mole’s Town was the brothel where Gilly was hiding out when the Wildlings came and killed every one (but her and little Sam) there. I like the consistency here as the place is in ruins with no one residing there anymore.

And I was really glad to see Sansa stand up for herself here. Lord Littlefinger needed to be held accountable for the situation he put Sansa in. And she definitely does that, making him inquire how Ramsey hurt her. But while Sansa has come a long way, she loses a sense of that political maneuvering she’s developed over the last couple of seasons when she refuses Littlefinger’s help. This would have been a great opportunity to use Littlefinger’s regret to aid her cause in retaking Winterfell. She thinks the North will all rally to her because she’s a former Stark and she doesn’t want Baelish or his army around.

Episode 5 Sansa and Littlefinger

Sansa and Littlefinger discuss how his actions have affected her.

But Sansa’s thinking is quickly taken to task by Davos, who points out that the Stark name must prove it can win before people will blindly follow it. Sansa did receive one piece of valuable information from Littlefinger: Brendan “The Blackfish” Tully has retaken Riverrun and has an army that can be of assistance (though Sansa doesn’t reveal her source). With other, smaller families in the North still undeclared (two of three big families are committed to Ramsey), there’s men to be brought together that could give Jon and Sansa the formidable force they need.

Episode 5 North Map

The map of the North as Jon and company find the families who will fight for them.

So Jon, Sansa, Davos, Melisandre, and Tormund are on their way to tour the North to align families to their cause while Brienne and Pod will head to the Riverlands to try and get the Blackfish on their side.

Beyond the Wall

This one’s going to be tough. And not just for the emotional ending, but also for all the information the three visions Bran saw contained. The first vision may have been the most important. I’ll save my “Children of the Forest” background for the bottom, but it is revealed here that the Whitewalkers were a creation of the children to protect themselves against men.

Episode 5 Children of the Forest

The Children of the Forest right before they turn a man into a Whitewalker.

The second vision is Bran going out on his own. Without the guidance of the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran sees an army of Wights, who don’t notice him until the Night’s King and the rest of the ruling council of Whitewalkers notice him. One touch from the Night’s King is all it takes and now he can penetrate the cave where Bran and crew have been residing all season. They must leave, even though Bran is not ready to become whatever it is the Three-Eyed Raven wants him to become.

Episode 5 Bran sees the Whitewalkers

Bran sees the Whitewalkers in his rogue vision.

Bran gets one final vision before he goes. It’s his father being sent off to the Vale (exclusive book knowledge for you their folks). But that is mostly in the background as Bran notices Hodor and is distracted by the voices in his head from the present. You’ll remember in episode 3 how Bran was able to speak to his father and his father heard something before going up into the Tower of Joy. Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t just the wind. Bran can be heard (and in some cases seen) by the people in his visions.

Meanwhile, in the present, all hell has broken loose. The Whitewalkers have come for Bran and all the power of the Children cannot stop them. They enter the cave and kill the Three-Eyed Raven (though was he actually alive? I still have so many questions about this guy). Bran, in his vision, sees the Three Eyed Raven vanish before he wargs into Hodor.

Hodor drags Bran out of the cave with Meera close behind. A couple of heroic sacrifices are made to help them escape, the most tragic being that of Summer (Bran’s direwolf) He takes on the Wights and dies, leaving us with two remaining direwolves. The Children of the Forest are next, shooting whatever they can before the last remaining plays the part of Kamikazi fighter, blowing up a fireball that kills her and a number of Wights. Meera was also able to take out one of the Whitewalkers with a spear that had a point of Dragonglass at the end of it.

Episode 5 Meera and Hodor

Hodor and Meera attempting to escape the cave.

Bran, Meera, and Hodor get out of the cave. But the door doesn’t have any way to be locked. So Bran keeps Hodor on the door. Meera yells “Hold the Door” numerous times. But because Bran is in the past and the present (this whole time travel thing could get confusing over the coming weeks) the warging affects both young and present Hodor. The young Hodor wargs out shaking on the ground, saying “Hold the Door” over and over again. In one of the shows best scenes, we flip back and forth between Hodor making the ultimate sacrifice holding those Wights in while Bran and Meera escape and the young Hodor, whose “Hold the Door” eventually becomes “Hodor.” Now, I will have a new perspective everytime I rewatch scenes where Hodor is freaking out because of all the noise knowing what he’s having to relive. RIP Hodor.

Of Note:

-The show has done a particularly poor job explaining the Children of the Forest. Their importance has been alluded to in brief moments, but I doubt anyone who hasn’t read the texts would have a clear understanding of them. The Children were the original inhabitants of Westeros when the first men came on a land bridge. They warred with the first men, but eventually came to a peace agreement, an agreement that was ratified by the faces carved into Weirwood trees. Another group of men, known as the Andals, came later on and wanting nothing to do with the Children. So the Children disappeared to the far reaches of the North. It was to protect themselves against the Andal invasion that the children created the Whitewalkers. And it is likely that mission programmed into the Whitewalkers  is the reason they want to destroy men so badly.

-We also saw our most accurate portrayal of baptism for those who worship the drowned god. And it is a literal drowning. A person is held underneath the water until he stops breathing. He’s then brought up to see if he breathes again. Rarely is a person held down long enough where they aren’t able to recover. But some have died during this baptism ceremony.

-Jaqen briefly mentioned the history of Braavos tonight, a city created by former slaves who were escaping Valyrian conquerers. Much like Arya, they were men and women who ruled various territories but were captured and forced into slavery by the Valyrians.

-“Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains…all that.” I’m really glad to see the show poke fun at all the names Daenarys has received through all these seasons. They’ve done this several times during season six.

-How many people are left for Dolorous Edd to lead at the Wall? It seemed like he was commanding about fifteen men when he was reminded that he is indeed Lord Commander. I fear the next time we see the Wall (which could be a while), it will be a very tragic occasion.

-Another guy I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of for awhile is Littlefinger. The question is will he provide aid to Sansa despite her rejection? Or will he turn to another side fighting against her?

-And Game of Thrones didn’t leave out the men tonight in it’s nude scenes. The actor playing the part of Joffrey in the Braavosi version of Game of Thrones showed his man parts. That makes it the scorecard something like 5,000 to 3, with boobs still comfortably in the lead.

Questions

-Will Bran and Meera be able to escape the Whitewalkers?

-Who else will join Jon and Sansa in their attempt to take back Winterfell? And is Littlefinger’s information about the Blackfish accurate?

-Will Kinvara be effective in keeping the people of Meereen solidly on the side of the queen?

-Will Jorah find a cure for Greyscale? How long before Dany returns to Meereen? And is Drogon planning on showing back up anytime soon?

-Which of the Iron Born fleets will get to Meereen first?

-What’s the reason for Arya having to kill someone portraying a person on her kill list? That can’t just be a coincidence can it?

We didn’t get many scenes for next week in the preview, but it does look like we’ve got battle at the Holy Sept to look forward to. Also, I will be launching an article on Thursday reviewing Bran’s visions up to this point and all the symbolism contained within them.

 

 

 

 

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Jeff Merrick

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