NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Game of Thrones”, including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review
Game of Thrones continues to impress at its latest season’s halfway mark, with, “The Door” being an episode as exciting as it was heartbreaking. This week’s episode mostly revolved around the Stark siblings, to the point where King’s Landing didn’t even show up at all, but we did get a few peeks at current events in Essos, as well as the answer to Yara’s attempt to claim the throne of the Iron Islands.
The gradual renewed rise of House Greyjoy has been featured a fair bit this season, and that took a pretty big turn, when the island’s leaders and everyday folk get together to appoint a successor to the late King Balon. Yara quickly throws her hat in the ring, and Theon, true to his word, tries to assure the public that Yara is the right choice for the Ironborn leader, even if she would be the first queen in the history of the nation. It looks like things are about to go Yara’s way, but Euron seizes the event away from her at the last second, calling attention to Balon’s faulty leadership, which sees Euron elected instead. After the (surprisingly dangerous!) ritual that crowns Euron king of the Iron Islands, Theon and Yara are then forced on the run, as Euron prepares to give chase. One has to wonder if a feeble House Greyjoy is better than a House Greyjoy that’s at war with itself, but I can probably imagine that the latter is not a better state for the house, especially with the White Walkers on the way.
Over in Essos, things looked a little brighter, even if the Essos plots largely felt like filler material that was overshadowed by everything else. Seeing Tyrion and Varys begin dealing with a Red Priestess of Volantis is kind of interesting at least, and the scene where Daenerys bids Jorah cure himself and return is nicely emotional, on top of establishing an excuse for Daenerys and Daario to depart Vaes Dothrak together. Even the passing mention by Euron about uniting House Greyjoy with Daenerys is pretty promising. All in all though, the Essos plots couldn’t keep pace with everything else. They amounted to a lot of talking, and a lot of teasing developments for later, but not much else. Given the frequent excitement and satisfying developments throughout the episode, the Essos stories felt slower and less interesting, even if they certainly weren’t bad.
Like I said though, most of this episode was carried by the Stark siblings, particularly Bran, who has the biggest developments in the episode. Before that though, we get to see a rather interesting scene of Arya doing recon on an assassination target, after she is allowed to resume her training for the Faceless Men, where she gets a glimpse at how the rest of the kingdom views the slaying of her father, the treachery of Joffrey, and Sansa being married off to Tyrion. Surprisingly, Arya manages to keep her cool however, and calmly speaks with Jaqen H’Ghar about her target seeming like a decent woman, an actress in the play that she saw. Jaqen raises an interesting point though, when he says that death does not merely come for the wicked and spare the decent, and that with the price being paid, a face must be added to the wall. This was a very effective look at the harsh, outwardly amoral look at the world that the Faceless Men hold, and seeing Arya start to become pulled into it more could be taken as both a promising and a troubling thing. After all, if Arya is going to abandon decency in favour of purpose, would this theoretically put her at odds with her siblings?
Meanwhile, at The Wall, Sansa reunites with Littlefinger, though surprisingly, rejects his aid, saying that she can’t forgive him for seeing her married off to Ramsay. As much as Sansa has too often been a victim on this show, until this season mostly, it’s hard not to sympathize with her here, even when she’s making a questionable military call, since we do have a very good idea of just how violent and sick Ramsay is at this point. Still, this does leave House Stark with no real means of taking on Ramsay’s forces, until Jon suggests rallying the smaller houses and building a ragtag army up. It’s a fine idea, even if it takes Sansa and Jon away from The Wall, along with the remains of Stannis’ forces and Podrick, and sends Brienne over to Riverrun by herself to make contact with Sansa’s uncle, Brynden Tully, The legendary Blackfish. Having the Blackfish in Sansa’s corner would definitely be an asset, though sending away Brienne is a pretty risky move, even if it could also lend itself to more cool storylines later this season.
Davos pointing out the need for Sansa to have her own army however, and not just rely on Jon and his Wildling forces, is also worth noting. Like I said, Sansa is starting to shed the constant weight of being a tiresome victim on this show, and is starting to live up to her Stark lineage, even after all that she’s been through. As much as viewers would anticipate Jon being the means to take back Winterfell, it doesn’t really mean anything unless Sansa is there to lay proper claim to her home. This puts Sansa in greater danger than she’s ever been in, and makes her character more interesting than she’s ever been in the entire history of Game of Thrones here, which is awesome!
Even then though, Bran’s arc easily steals the episode with a huge revelation about the White Walkers, namely that they were created by the Children of the Forest to fight back against the First Men. The reveal that the White Walkers were an out-of-control invention by the Children of the Forest is certainly very interesting, and helps to explain why Bran was lured to the Three-Eyed Raven, likely as a means to achieve penance and make right what’s been done. The use of Dragonglass to create them also helps to explain why Dragonglass is the only thing that can destroy them to boot.
This huge twist with the Children of the Forest and the White Walkers is why the cost to Bran and his forces by the end of the episode is so shocking and powerful. After Bran Wargs himself into the present instead of the past, he finds himself surrounded by the White Walker army! After being touched by the Night’s King, the White Walkers are then able to enter the Three-Eyed Raven’s dwelling, forcing Bran to be carried off by Meera, as the Children of the Forest, along with Bran’s Direwolf, all sacrifice themselves in a futile effort to slow the White Walkers down. The Three-Eyed Raven also dies as the Night’s King enters his dwelling, forcing Bran to be split between the past and the present, which causes him to accidentally Warg into the young Hodor, back when he was Wylis. As Meera commands Bran to, “Hold the door!”, the present-day Hodor ends up holding the door behind Meera and Bran as they run away, with Hodor dying as the White Walkers break through, and the past Hodor witnessing his own death in the future, which leads to him seizing and constantly shouting, “Hold the door!” in the past. After a few seconds, the continuous command becomes more slurred and garbled, until finally, all Wylis can say is, “Hodor.” The episode then ends on this very tragic note.
Yes, Bran is the one responsible for Hodor’s peculiar mental condition, and that was a fantastic twist with his character that nicely highlighted the hubris and danger between both Bran and the Children of the Forest. Hodor is just the latest in several unnecessary deaths at the hands of the White Walkers, and the way that the episode portrayed his heartbreaking final moments, while also revealing the origin of how Wylis became Hodor, was excellent. It’s hard not to tear up as Bran not only breaks Hodor’s mind in the past, but also kills him in the present, simply because he’s not truly ready to succeed the Three-Eyed Raven, who also died because of Bran’s ill-advised Warging. Holy crap. Bran’s definitely going to be feeling a huge weight of guilt the next time that we see him, especially now that he has just one ally left in Meera. Is there really any hope for his character now? There better be, considering that Bran is probably the world’s best chance, alongside Jon, of actually stopping the White Walkers when they properly reach the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
“The Door” was another excellent episode of Game of Thrones, especially when it answered some very big questions surrounding both the White Walkers and Hodor. There was a heavy air of sadness throughout much of the episode, even for this world, as Daenerys must bid farewell to Jorah, Arya must struggle with assassinating someone who probably doesn’t deserve it, and of course, Bran lost both Hodor and the Three-Eyed Raven because of his own mistake. At least Sansa and Jon beginning the effort to take back the North was a little more uplifting, even if that comes with its own dangers. Still, as much as it’s probably a tactical error, Sansa telling off Littlefinger was already pretty satisfying. Is any plot really worth forcing someone to marry Ramsay Bolton?
- Euron seizing the Iron Islands away from Yara
- Arya seeing a different side of her past and the Faceless Men
- Bran's costly mistake and tragedy with Hodor
- Essos storylines are less interesting