By James Hancock May 23rd, 2016
I can’t believe we are already at the halfway point of this season of Game of Thrones. The season feels like it is flying by and George R R Martin still has given no indication as to when we can expect to see the publication of The Winds of Winter. What that means is that in only a few weeks time, I’ll once again be deprived of immersing myself in this world. Season 6 has not been my favorite season but GoT is a bit like sex in that even bad sex is better than no sex at all. Long story short, I need to savor this season while it lasts in spite of my nitpicking and griping over the not so subtle shift in writing style ever since the show ran out of books to draw material from. The big revelation this episode was getting to see the origin of Hodor and how he came to suffer from his speech impediment. In the immediate aftermath of the episode, Twitter went absolutely berserk with the #holdthedoor hashtag as countless fans ranted and raved about the ending of the episode. I learned my lesson last week about spoilers on Twitter when many British fans of the show angrily (and justifiably) reminded me that not everyone gets to see the show at the same time. I’ll use more restraint this week when I post this review. What blows my mind, however, is that we live in a world where hundreds of thousands of people every week completely take over one of the world’s largest social media platforms with conversations about a show based on a series of books that I love. We truly live in an age of wonders where the geeks have taken over the planet. But enough pontificating on my part, let’s move on to the episode.
Apart from the finale which I’ll get to in a moment, this episode pushed the story forward on a variety of crucial fronts. Sansa meets with Littlefinger to marshal forces for the retaking of Winterfell and gives him a much deserved verbal lashing for the abuses she suffered at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. Arya continues her training and scopes out a target she has been assigned to kill. The target is performing in a play about the deaths of Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark, a production that shows a decidedly twisted version of the facts. I loved seeing actor Richard E. Grant pop up in the scene, although briefly, and I can only assume we have not seen the last of him. In the first of the major revelations of the episode, Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven witness the origins of the White Walkers who were created by the Children of the Forest in a last ditch effort to fight back against the men that were driving them into extinction. This is a major piece of lore for hardcore fans to think about. Over at the Iron Islands, Euron Greyjoy manages to assert himself as the new king of the Ironborn by claiming that he will build the world’s largest fleet and make it available to Daenerys Targaryen. Rather than swear loyalty, Yara and Theon flee with those still loyal to them. Across the world, Jorah reveals his greyscale disease to Daenerys and she commands him to find a cure and then return to her service. Meanwhile Tyrion and Varys meet with a Red Priestess who in a chilling scene reveals that she knows all about the sorcerer who castrated Varys as a boy as well as the name of the god that Varys heard speak during the ceremony. Lastly we see Sansa and Jon strategizing about how to retake Winterfell and which families they can rally to their aid, including the Blackfish who has recently retaken Riverrun in the South.
But the major scene of this episode takes place in the far north when Bran foolishly uses his power to go exploring on his own without the supervision of the Three-Eyed Raven. As his spiritual form surveys the vast undead army the White Walkers have at their disposal, he accidentally meets the Night’s King who marks his arm. Upon awakening Bran learns that their refuge is no longer safe and that the White Walkers will be coming for him. Almost immediately they are attacked while Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven have one final lesson. As Meera Reed and the Children of the Forest try and keep the army at bay, Bran sees Hodor as a child when he was still capable of speech. What happens next gets a little complicated. The White Walkers manage to kill the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran’s direwolf Summer, and the Children of the Forest all while Meera tries to wake up Bran and drag him to safety on his stretcher. Bran manages to possess Hodor to help while still remaining in his dream state and studying the young Hodor in his dream. In order for Bran to live, Hodor remains behind to hold a door closed against the undead army and somehow the young Hodor is able to see what is happening to him in the future. As he is consumed by undead in the future, the shock is too much for his young mind and his repeated screams of “Hold the door” gradually deteriorate into “Hodor” a word that he is doomed to repeat until his death in the future protecting Bran. Bran obviously did not intend for this happen but he clearly is responsible in a lot of ways for what happened to Hodor both in the past and in the present. Even more interesting is the idea that in Bran’s visions he may be able to have some impact on the timeline. Who can say how this will affect the story in the future. For now, I’m just curious how Bran and Meera will survive with an undead army in pursuit with no food or shelter. Episode 6 needs to hurry up and get here if only so I can finally see the showdown between the Lannisters and the Sparrows which I have linked for your viewing pleasure in the video below. Until next week, as always, the North Remembers.
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