A stunning episode.
Some have called it the most heartbreaking moment on Game of Thrones thus far. In all honesty, the deaths of Ned, Robb, Catelyn and Jon were all bigger blows for this particular reviewer, but the final scenes of The Door still no doubt packed a punch. Before we get into that though, there is much to discuss. After six seasons of wondering, we finally get an explanation for the White Walkers. In a vision, Bran sees one of the Children of the Tree creating the Night King by impaling a soldier with dragonglass. Confronting Leaf back in the cave, Bran learns that the White Walkers were created to fight against the First Men. It’s an old tale for a new story in many ways, as we’ve heard it all before. A weapon is created that can no longer be controlled and becomes a threat. Still it was quite the reveal, and finally filled a giant hole in the lore of GoT. Bran decided to go back into a vision without the Three Eyed Raven, and this time in the present. He saw the Night King and an army of wights beyond the Wall. Unfortunately for him, the Night King saw him too and grabbed his arm, leaving an icy scar. It was terrifying and undeniably thrilling. The power of the Night King being reemphasised for the first time since the finale of the masterpiece that was Hardhome. Because he was touched by the White Walker, the Night King could now enter the cave. Thus there was a race against time to transfer the knowledge of the Three-Eyed Raven to Bran. This resulted in the best end sequence of the season thus far.
The story of Bran and the Raven once more in the tranquil past of Winterfell, was juxtapositioned with the pure panic and havoc of the White Walkers attacking the cave. To go into detail of what happened next would take pages, but quite simply the Children of the Forest (and Summer) sacrificed themselves to save Bran. Meera screamed at Bran to wake up and control Hodor as the giant man sat in a corner afraid. Splitting his consciousness Bran remained in the past yet warged into Hodor in the present. They then made their escape running as the dead fell from above and scampered all around them. Inside the cave, The Night King killed the Raven. Hodor, Meera and Bran burst out of the door. Meera then screamed at Hodor to hold the door. The pressure of the situation got to Bran and he inadvertently warged into the young Wylis/Hodor of the past, who suffered a seizure. He could hear Meera’s screams to hold the door, and repeated the words, slurring them until all he could say was Hodor. Intense right? Game of Thrones has this ability to shock like no other show on television today. It’s not just in the writing, although that was superb, but in the actual execution. I think another crew would have butchered the intended impact of that final scene. The actors themselves deserve great credit. None of the members of that scene have been major characters over the past six seasons and yet it was the most gripping piece of television seen thus far this year. Just incredible.
Elsewhere, there was less riveting action, but still some brilliant story development. After a brief cameo last week, Littlefinger returned once more, meeting Sansa and Brienne in Molestown. It was good to see Sansa rejecting Littlefinger after what he has made her endure. She is no longer the scared girl of season one, but has developed into a fierce individual not unlike Catelyn once was. He did reveal that her great-uncle Brynden “Blackfish” Tully had retaken Riverrun. Sansa tells Jon this but lies when asked how she knows. We get a great little scene of Jon and Sansa planning their attack. First of course they must recruit, so I guess we’ll have to wait another few weeks before we see the war. The reunion of Sansa and Jon seemed like a type of destiny. They would work together to defeat the evil Ramsay. However, seeds have no doubt been sown to suggest that there is in fact going to be problems on the way, not least Brienne’s distrust of Davos and Melisandre, and Sansa lying to Jon. Perhaps it won’t be as straight-forward as first thought.
Equally across the sea in Braavos, complications arose too. Arya seemed finally set on fulfilling her destiny and becoming a faceless warrior. Jaqen H’ghar sent her out to kill an actress playing Cersei in a play of Robert Baratheon’s death and Ned Stark’s execution. This was nothing short of superb. It harkened back to that traumatic scene at the end of the first season when a young scared Arya had to watch her father being killed. She has come a long way since then, but she was clearly disturbed at reliving that day. How is her tale going to end? She has been learning the ways of the Faceless Men, but can she truly be one of them? The love of her family still has such a great hold on her, even if she does try and subdue it. Perhaps she will only be able to truly become a faceless warrior when she meets her family once more and makes that crucial decision. The only issue with the current arc is that it feels very similar to Arya’s story from last year. It is an almost a re-run but hopefully this time there is a more impressive ending.
Another of the tales that seemed, before this week, to be loosely tied to the overarching story is that of the Greyjoys. In The Door though, we got an intriguing development. Theon could not convince the people of the Iron Islands to vote for Yara as Queen and instead Euron was named King (dreadful crown though). Fearing death Yara and Theon fled. Euron promised to marry Daenerys Targaryen by offering her the Iron Fleet, and then take the Iron Throne. It appears that after dipping in and out, the Greyjoys are back in the game. The War of the Five Kings is over, all are dead, and the new breed is stepping up to replace them. Finally the Greyjoys are focusing on more than just the North. A bit of ambition never hurt did it? A meeting between Euron and Daenerys is an interesting idea but surely Daeny would not be trusting of such a man? Or perhaps he will indeed be the catalyst for her return to Westeros. With the Unsullied, the Dothraki and the Iron Fleet she would certainly be a force to be reckoned with. Her advisors would no doubt push her to agree to such a deal.
Speaking of the Khaleesi, she only appeared briefly this week, after her magnificent display at the close of episode four. GoT has always been superb at making the audience feel for the minor characters in this great tale (see: Hodor), and Jorah Mormont is no different. He is a flawed man, but he is brave and heroic, and has an undying love for Daenerys. There was not a dry eye in the house when, after five and a half seasons, he admitted that love to her. Due to his greyscale his life had been cut short and so he vowed to leave. Daeny was having none of it though, ordering him to find a cure and return to her, so he can by her side when she takes Westeros. It was a heartfelt sentiment, and it would be an incredible sight to see the old warrior return in the future. He seems destined to give his life for his Khaleesi.
Finally, along with the emotion of this episode, there was some (much-needed?) politics. Tyrion has been at the forefront of the saga in Meereen this season, and thus far it has been superior to the tales we suffered through last time round. This week there was another shift. To preserve public support, Tyrion enlisted the help of a red priestess, Kinvara, who will spread the message that Daeny is the chosen one. Varys was clearly untrustworthy of their new ally. It’s interesting sure, but it’s not particularly earth-shattering. It’s been above-average thus far, and here’s hoping this injection of new-blood can lead to some major excitement in Meereen.
The team behind GoT is quite simply brilliant at tying things together. Ends may be loose for seasons on end, but they are always returned to and closed. We got some major events in this particular episode, with the White Walker revelation, and Hodor’s death being the most notable. Elsewhere the quality remained high too, with the cogs turning across the seven kingdoms and beyond. Just as things appear straight-forward a spanner is thrown in the works, and the audience is left to question everything all over again. The tension is building and building, and after a couple more weeks of this quality, the stories will no doubt burst into a type of mayhem we could never have imagined. The creators always have an ace up their sleeves, and know how to pull the rug out from underneath the audience. We eagerly await it.