This review contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 6, episode 5 – The Door. This is your only warning.
In last week’s preview, we saw Sansa meet up with Littlefinger, and it’s their… erm, reunion that we kick things off with this week. This scene is simultaneously satisfying and disappointing.
Last week, I praised Sophie Turner for her fantastic portrayal of Sansa, and how that character has grown so much since the starter seasons and how she actually has quite a bit of backbone. We see that backbone again here, as Sansa grills Littlefinger on how much he knew about Ramsay.
She’s understandably angry with him about how she was treated, and while it is satisfying to see Littlefinger get schooled, I couldn’t help but feel that this episode was a big backstep for her. My reasoning? She puts her understandable anger, pain and trauma ahead of the bigger picture. She turns not only Littlefinger, but the thousands of Vale soldiers away, she knows that they are critical for winning Winterfell.
Maybe it’s overconfidence that they can amass a large enough army, but it definitely comes across as putting her feelings before the attack she pushed for, which is definitely frustrating and puts a big time delay on the heavily anticipated Bastardbowl.
They don’t let us stew too long in our frustration, though, as the show makes a trip to Braavos to catch up with Arya. She is sadly still training with the other student, aka Smuggy McSmugFace, but luckily Jaqen H’ghar whisks Arya away. It seems they have finally decided she is worthy once more, and set her a new target to take out. It’s here, though, that we get a scene that reminded me heavily of that episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Arya’s target is an actress, and she just happens to be starring in a play that seems to contain a mishmash telling of Ned Stark’s death. What’s interesting here, is that a very traumatic part of Arya’s life is being played for laughs, and even the horrific Joffrey is being played like a victim. This was undoubtedly a test from Jaqen, who was probably trying to see if she is truly “no one”.
As we saw in last week’s preview, Bran’s next trip into the past is sadly not a continuation of the Tower of Joy. It is, instead, the shocking revelation that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to fight against the First Men. While it doesn’t go into too much detail, the inference here is that they created the Night King, and several lieutenants, who then went on to create the huge army we’ve seen before.
The showrunners seem to have it out for Theon, as next we see an impassioned Yara Greyjoy making her case for the Salt Throne and…. almost seems to get it before Euron turns up. As disappointing as it is for Yara to be scuppered here, Euron’s speech for the Throne has some pretty interesting ramifications as he pledges to take the Iron Fleet to Daenerys to help her take Westeros.
Things turn ugly, though, as Euron is crowned and promptly tries to murder Theon and Yara, who happily managed to escape with the Iron Islands’ best ships while he was being crowned. Theon just can’t catch a break.
Speaking of Dany, she had the honour of ending last week’s episode in awesome fashion, and we spend a moment to catch up with her so we get to the good stuff later on. While this scene does little more than keep things ticking over in terms of story, it’s still a great scene as Dany finally forgives Ser Jorah, and instead of allowing to leave and die quietly of greyscale she commands him to find a cure. Some strong performances from Emilia Clarke and Iain Glen make this a pretty emotional scene, and leave me hopeful that we might just be seeing more of Ser Jorah.
The next scene at the Wall, despite the satisfying continuation of the Brienne and Tormund ship, does exemplify my earlier frustrations with Sansa as we see Jon and Davos scramble to come up with houses loyal enough to lend them soliders to take on Ramsay. Oh, if only Sansa hadn’t turned away thousands of soldiers! Ugh.
It seems that despite that decision, there might be hope yet as Jon, Sansa, Brienne, Tormund and company all head out to try and gather an army for the battle for Winterfell.
The episode finishes up with a healthy does of Bran, and continues the thread of the Night King. Earlier in the episode, Bran went into a vision without the Three-Eyed Raven, and was touched by the Night King. This meant that the White Walkers are now able to enter the cave, and they have turned up in full force. Bran and the Raven are ever so helpfully mid vision, so the Children of the Forest and the others fight to hold them off while they try to get Bran and Hodor out of the cave.
Meera’s crys of “Bran wake up!” finally reach him after minutes of desperate fighting, and he uses vision-Hodor to control current Hodor in the cave to help them get out. He has “warged into” Hodor before, but this time he’s doing it from the past… which ends up having very real, and horrible, ramifications. As they finally escape the cave, there is nothing but a door and Hodor to keep the wildlings at bay while Meera runs away with Bran in the sled.
She cries repeatedly, “Hold the door, hold the door!” and past Hodor hears her and goes into some sort of seizure. Here we finally learn why Hodor is the only word he can say, as he seizes he cries “Hold the door, hold the door!” over and over, which gradually morphs into “Hold door, hold door… hodor, hodor, hodor!”
So, essentially, Bran broke Hodor’s mind by time travelling back and warging into him. Not only does this have horrible connotations for Bran having destroyed Hodor’s life, it also means that Bran can change the past with his powers. This has very real possibilites to mess with things, and probably not a good way.
As we have seen many times, messing with the past never ends well, and even though this once with Hodor, it meant he was there to save his friends – it was done at the cost of his entire life. Imagine the temptation Bran will face, as he undoubtedly will contemplate going back to change the past and stop Ned Stark from being killed.
Overall, while tinged with a hefty dose of sadness, this was another good episode from Game of Thrones. It was undoubtedly one of the weaker episodes since the season returned, but not every episode can have huge, epic cliffhanger events. It keeps things moving nicely, with each segment being handled well and leading to some very interesting potential for next episode.