Writers: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss.
Directors: Jack Bender.
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie, et al.
Synopsis: Tyrion seeks a strange ally; Bran learns a great deal; Brienne goes on a mission; Arya gets a chance to prove herself.
Seven Hells, let me just take a minute to calm down. There was so much to take in this week, and in the similar vein of the blazing success which was ‘Book of the Stranger,’ we can see that ‘The Door’ delivered on so many similar levels – and then some. We kick off slowly – and mysteriously – at the wall, witnessing Littlefinger’s plan in action, as Sansa receives word of Littlefinger’s pledge of support. Perhaps knowing full well of the outcome of his actions, Littlefinger meets with reluctant Sansa and Brienne in the nearby Mole’s Town. Understandably, Sansa is out for blood – wanting to know why he would willingly hand her over to Ramsay, he does after-all apparently know the secrets of everyone, as she says.
Littlefinger plays idiot over enemy, claiming to have no knowledge of Ramsay’s pleasant sensibilities. Sansa’s taken the red pill, she’s seen what happens when you trust Littlefinger, and now she’s awake to those consequences – she won’t make the same mistake again. After she forces Littlefinger to deliberate on all the things Ramsay did to her, we’re left wondering whether he is sincerely disappointed in himself, he seems genuine, but that’s the problem – he always does. He offers help once more, which Sansa quickly turns away, but leaves her with one piece of information before he returns to the Vale, that her great-uncle Brynden “Blackfish” Tulley has gathered the remainder of the Tulley forces and have retaken Riverrun and that she ought to seek him out.
Later, Jon, Ser Davos and Sansa meet to discuss their battle-plan, examining the odds of successfully retaking Winterfell against the combined forces of the Umbers, Boltons and Karstarks. Sansa notes that the Umbers gave Ramsay, Rickon and that they can hang for it, but the Karstarks aren’t aware that they have another option as to who to support as ruler of the North. Jon notes that the other Northern houses, such as House Manderly of White Harbor and House Mormont of Bear Island have yet to declare support, and that they would rally under the Stark name. Knowing it won’t be enough, Sansa provides the information that Littlefinger gave her, and lies regarding its origin, and besides her, Brienne is clearly disapproving of Sansa’s lie, but silently sits before Sansa suggests she rides South to meet with her great-uncle. Later, Brienne approaches Sansa in private, saying she feels uncomfortable leaving her alone at Castle Black, Sansa tells her not worry, and later, they ride to rally their prospective forces.
In hindsight, we have to wonder if this was Littlefinger’s plan all along, presumably knowing the full extent of the political landscape and the goings-on behind closed doors, it would make sense for Littlefinger to get Sansa and the other houses of the North to fight House Bolton and to remove them from said landscape. With this in mind, and a quick bit of speculation on my part, is it possible that Littlefinger got wind of Rickon and Osha’s whereabouts and handed them over to House Umber as the motivating play to force Jon, Sansa, the Wildling army and the armies of the North to wipe Ramsay out. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he handed Ramsay a Stark, even if this time it is indirectly.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Game of Thrones without the obligatory Arya getting smacked around segment. Yes, her sparring against the Waif continues, and the first of a series of Matrix allusions come to mind as the Waif drops her weapon and decides to go all Neo on our favourite No One. Once she’s dropped, Jaqen H’ghar walks her through to the halls of the Faceless Men and begins to tell her of their history. Originating as Valyrian slaves, they killed their masters before migrating to and founding Braavos. Ayra is assigned a task in the form of one more chance – Jaqen notes that she will not receive a third, implying she’ll be killed should she fail. The task – to kill an actress named Lady Crane, who plays Cersei Lannister in a play recounting the death of Robert Baratheon, as well as the execution of Eddard Stark. What a convenient meta-narrative, where we see No One having to observe a portrayal of the very thing she has been taught to forget. As can be expected, Ayra is uncomfortable by the play’s incorrect portrayal of the events, that portray Ned as a fool and a traitor, whilst simultaneously showing Joffrey to be a half-decent human being.
After learning more of her intended target, Ayra returns to the House of Black and White, and begins to question Jaqen about the nature of her target. She deduces that the actress playing Sansa Stark is jealous of Lady Crane and may have taken out the contract against her life, but Jaqen warns her that servants do not ask questions.
We see an interesting situation occur this episode when Arya is tasked to kill an actress that plays Cersei Lannister. I only mention this as the same Cersei Lannister is on Ayra’s kill-list. In a strange turn of events, it seems that she may get to kill Cersei Lannister after all, even if it is an actress, so that counts, right? The problem is, Arya has her own sense of justice, and according to that, she feels the people she kills deserve it. So when she’s assigned an assassination that doesn’t line up with her code, she’s conflicted.
Next up, the adventures of Bran and Three Eyes continue, and unexpectedly, we learn something integral that we’ve been wondering for a long time. Where did the White Walkers come from? Now, we know. Bran and Three Eyes partake in a vision-quest where we see the Children of the Forest sacrifice a man, who, strapped against a weirwood tree, is impaled with a dragonglass dagger, transforming him into the first White Walker – presumably the Night’s King. As Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven leave their vision, Bran confronts Leaf about creating the White Walkers. She ominously explains that she had no choice, that they had to create the White Walkers as they were at war with the First Men.
Later, whilst everyone is sleeping, Bran lies awake and decides to observe a vision without the guidance of his teacher – he reaches for a root of the tree and instead of venturing into the past to explore the memories of his ancestors, he is instead transported elsewhere in the present – to the presumed site of the creation of the White Walkers. As he walks, he realises what he is witnessing and observes a huge army of wights led by the Night’s King. He approaches him, thinking they cannot observe him, and unaware of his surroundings, is touched by the Night King. Screaming and breaking the vision, the Three-Eyed Raven realises what Bran has done, warning him that he must leave ahead of schedule, as the Night’s King has marked him with his touch and will now be on his way. Bran – worried – tries to find comfort in the notion that the Night King won’t be able to access the cave, and is quickly found to be wrong.
Next up, we’re presented the Kingsmoot, where Yara makes the claim to the Salt Thrones, as she intended to at the end of the last episode. Her claim is quickly refuted by the Ironborn Men, due to her being a woman and the fact that the Iron Islands have never had a queen. Doubt arises when Theon is present, being the true – male – heir to the throne. He quickly silences them, backing Yara’s claim, and they begin to cheer for her, her claim is contested from Euron Greyjoy. Yara asks Euron when he returned to the Iron Islands, and after finding out it was but a few days ago, states that her first act as Queen of the Iron Islands is to kill her father’s killer – Euron. What’s unexpected is his radical transparency, as Euron openly admits to the murder of his brother, whilst simultaneously denouncing him for leading the Ironborn into a pitiful excuse for a people. Euron then makes some emasculating jokes at Theon’s expense. However, Theon and Yara, realizing that their political strategy – an appeal to their honour – is useless against Euron, rounds up their best ships and made for the horizon. (What’s interesting is the current social climate in which the character of Euron is written – whose political tactics seem to echo that of current American presidential candidate Donald Trump).
All the while, Euron appeals to the glory of the Ironborn, announcing that he intends to conquer Westeros by marrying Daenerys Targaryen and offering her the entirety of the Iron Fleet, and impressed, the Ironborn choose their new King. He is crowned by being drowned and brought back to life, and upon realising the threat they present, decides to kill Theon and Yara, and discovers they have commandeered the best ships of the Iron Fleet and whatever Ironborn men are still loyal to them. Instead, Euron commands every man to bend wood, and every woman to spin flax for sails so that they can begin construction on a new fleet.
Appearing in only a short segment this episode, we get to see a now fully-clothed Daenerys, with Jorah and Daario. The Khaleesi appears to judge Jorah for his return after his banishment, ultimately arriving at the conclusion that he saved her life and she owes him. Approaching to thank him, he stops her, revealing his greyscale to her, and admitting that he loves her, in an emotional, heart-wrenching scene, where she seems to accept his love, but not reciprocate it.
As he begins to leave, Daenerys tells him to stop, and to do whatever he needs to do to find a cure for his affliction, because upon doing so, she will need him by her side as she takes the Iron Throne. As Jorah rides off into the mountains, Daenerys, with Daario and her new army by her side, leave Vaes Dothrak.
Meanwhile, in Meereen, Grey Worm and Messandei observe how a certain peace has fallen over Meereen, Tyrion and Varys note how it is a stable, albeit uneasy peace since they forged their pact with the Masters of Slaver’s Bay. Tyrion strongly believes however, that in order to keep the peace and public support for Daenerys, they must take measures to preserve the notion that it is Daenerys calling the shots. As an extension of this belief, Tyrion summons for the red priestess of Volantis, Kinvara. Here we see some parallels with Melisandre, who proclaims that Stannis – and now Jon – is the promised one of the Lord of Light, whilst Kinvara believes Daenerys to be the Lord of Light’s chosen. Varys is especially skeptical of her beliefs and religion, pointing out how Melisandre was incorrect about Stannis, so how were they supposed to believe what she was preaching? Kinvara turns to Varys, the skeptic, and forces him to relive his castration, and asks him if he would like to know the name of the voice he heard in his flames. He is stunned, and she pledges her support for their Queen, Daenerys – believing her to be the chosen one, and to use her network of priests to spread the message.
Finally: We’re back in the North, beyond the Wall in the Cave of the Three-Eyed Raven. Deep within another vision, Three Eyes attempts to transfer the knowledge he possesses to Bran through his visions. Meanwhile, Meera talks to Hodor about returning home – the topic of choice; eggs and bacon. As she talks, she notices her breath in the increasingly cold air and runs outside to investigate. There, before her and the Children of the Forest, are an army of wights, and the White Walkers.
She hastily runs back inside in an attempt to wake up Bran. She screams at him, whilst the Children of the Forest attempt to hold back the wight army, but fail as they start to overrun the cave. Meanwhile, bran – still in his vision, witnesses his father Eddard leaving for the Vale of Arryn, as a young Hodor watches, saddened. Echoes of Meera’s cries are heard from within the vision and the Three-Eyed Raven advises him to listen to her. Bran splits his consciousness by both remaining in the vision of the past, whilst simultaneously warging into Hodor in the present. As Bran is incapable of moving in the present, Hodor carries the cart he is on and both they – and Meera, run through the cave. Summer, Bran’s dire wolf attempts to defend them, but dies taking on a group of wights. The symbolism is beautiful, with the death of Summer, Winter has officially begun.
As they make their way down the corridor, Leaf realises that they won’t make it unless she sacrifices herself to hold back the wights – and it’s poetic really, considering she helped create the White Walkers, that she gives herself to them. They reach a sealed door that even Hodor struggles to open. As they barely make it through the door, Meera commands Hodor to “hold the door” shut against the wights while she pulls Bran and flees. While Meera escapes, we see the wights break through the door and begin clawing at Hodor. In the vision, Bran wargs into Wyllis, causing him to unexpectedly seize, and with Bran’s consciousness inside his head, Wyllis hears the echoes of Meera’s orders, and begins to slur the words “hold the door” over and over again, until finally, his words slur into one word – “Hodor.”
There’s so much to say, the episode proves, just as the last did, just how far the season has come and the series as a whole – as it starts to answer questions that were posed in the very early seasons. This idea of going full-circle across the series is accentuated in Bran and Hodor’s story. It implies that everything has transpired exactly how it was supposed to and raises significant philosophical questions about the events that are transpiring in the Game of Thrones mythos. The moment we see Wyllis turn into Hodor is suspenseful, and a heartfelt moment with deep poignancy and significant meaning. It’s a genuinely surprising revelation when we find out that Hodor’s entire life has been sacrificed to save Bran’s years in advance made for one of the most moving deaths, and made us see Hodor in a brand new light, and we finally know what it is that Wyllis is talking about.
We want to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to discuss with us, and enjoy the seven sleeps between this episode and the next but remember, the night is dark and full of terrors. Until next time.
Game Of Thrones airs on HBO in North America, and Sky Atlantic in the UK and Ireland.