Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 6 episode, "The Door," written by executive producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Jack Bender (of Lost fame).
(Check out last week's recap here if you missed it.)
In short: Sansa got to confront Littlefinger one-on-one about exactly what kind of hell he dumped her in with the Boltons. She then used new information gained by the seemingly penitent Petyr to help incentivize northern Houses to join the Stark banner against Ramsey. In Braavos, Arya is given her second chance by Jaqen H'ghar to join the Faceless Men officially with an assignment to kill an actress in a traveling show. In the Iron Islands, Yara Greyjoy tries to claim the throne as Queen, with Theon's support, but their uncle Euron claims it for his own. Far away in the aftermath of Dany's ascension to Dothraki leader (again), she confronts Jorah and learns his terrible secret. While in Meereen, Tyrion and Varys might have gotten in way over their heads by summoning Kinvara, a new Lord of Light Priestess, to sway the Meereen people to believe in Dany as a real agent of change. Lastly, Bran makes a major seer boo-boo by going on a vision quest solo, which allows the Night's King to find him, touch him and then attack him in the protected heart tree, opening the door for a shattering realization and loss.
Bran's impatience to know more set off a chain of events that arguably might be one of the most affecting revelations on the show yet. First off, we (through Bran) discovered that the Night's King was a human man, turned by the Children of the Forest to protect them from the encroaching destruction of their sacred spaces by man. So the Big Bad walkers aren't just ghouls, but they're actually empowered versions of man, now bent on eradicating the puny versions of themselves. Oh, irony. ... We'll count that news as the first "I didn't see that coming" moment of the episode.
But that wasn't enough for Bran, who decided to vision quest on his own as the Three-Eyed Raven slept and found himself at the heart tree in winter surrounded by White Walkers and the Night's King. What's worse, they saw him back, and he was even grabbed by the King before Bran was brought back to the present and essentially told by the Three-Eyed Raven that he would have to take over the job -- NOW. Nope, Bran isn't ready, but that's what happens when you go brain joyriding without permission.
The last act then devolved into a horror nightmare with the Night's King actually showing up with his demons and breaking through the Children of the Forest's charms and fire to get to Bran. The scrambling undead warriors were a terrifying vision of a Harryhausen, Snyder Dawn of the Dead fast-moving zombie mash-up, with a little Aliens ambulatory xenomorph thrown in for scares. Meera's fear was palpable (and understandable) as she raced to get Bran out of the caves. It was Hodor who ended up the savior of his charge in the other, even more potent "I didn't see it coming" moment. While in his trance, Bran was able to control his panic-stricken friend in the present, and in the past as a young man in Winterfell, to summon Hodor's courage to help him escape by using his brawn to fight off the White Walkers. In a sequence wonderfully intercut to gradually reveal what was happening, we come to witness the mind-bending paradox that the reason a once-normal Hodor became monosyllabic was because of Bran's control of him, which created a huge seizure that would leave him screaming "Hold the Door!" All of that played out as we watched present Hodor in fact hold the door against the horde of demons to give Meera and Bran the time to escape. As Hodor was clawed to death, we're left weaping with the impact of his sacrifice. Damn you, George R.R. Martin, for that incredible full-circle revelation, and Benioff and Weiss for executing it so perfectly!
The other tissue moment of the night for me was Dany confronting Jorah and Daario the morning after her triumphant ascension. Despite her tongue-lashing, she did show her appreciation to her loyal men, but then Jorah turned the tables by revealing his greyscale and that he was going to go die peacefully somewhere alone before it took over his entire body. Emilia Clarke got me right in the feels with her immediate realization of Jorah's impending doom. Her eyes filling with pure heartbreak to Jorah's confession of love was beautiful. It made me truly wish that her command of him to find a cure and come back to her side might be possible. Jorah's made some dumb choices, but he's always had Dany's back, and I would truly hate to see him go down without seeing her fulfill her destiny.
Sansa confronting Littlefinger with Brienne by her side was another emotional high-water mark. For a show that showcases women getting the lion's share of brutality, it really meant something that Sansa got to confront Petyr with the undeterred question of "Do you know what Ramsey did to me?" He tried to demure but she pressed and make the snake listen to what his strategic decision making meant to her body and mind, which are changed forever. It was a powerful moment that was incredibly earned. Would it have been better if Brienne also cut him in half? You bet, but Sansa's a player now and she's got more need of his weasel knowledge to come.
Tyrion and Varys uncorked their very own Meereen Melisandre with Kinvara, who proved she wasn't just an empty fanatic as she proceeded to grill Vary's about his past mutilation as a child, with the specifics of what occured in a moment that no one should know but the participants. Seeing him so unnerved by the Lord of Light priestess said all we needed to know about this new player and how much damage she could potentially do.
Arya's story seemed to regress again at the open of the episode with another ass-kicking and loss at stick-fighting. Thankfully, Jaqen stepped in and actually revealed the origins of the Faceless Men and how the Hall of Faces functions. Arya was assigned her last-chance assignment to kill an actress. So she staked out the play and came to severely dislike the entertainment that portrayed her father, Ned, as a throne-ambitious dolt. Things got even more tasteless when we got a warty penis in the frame, and Arya had to wrestle with the fact that her target didn't seem like that evil of a woman. She questioned Jaqen about it and he said there's no judgment in what they do. They kill and that's it, leaving her to ponder if that's who she wants to be. Seems to me like the play reminded her that there are more deserving prey back in King's Landing if she's going to choose to go full-out assassin.
Yara losing her throne wasn't exactly a barn-burner for me. Euron seems to fit that sexist realm of misogynists perfectly. Does she really think she's going to change those small-minded men? Rather than watch her and Euron fight it out, I was happy to see her and Theon skip out with the fastest boats. They have got to do better than in the land they are from, right? Plus, good luck building a 1,000 ships toot sweet with that sorry lot of iron-deficient leftovers, Euron.
Things to Ponder...
How long is going to take for Tormund Giantsbane to get Brienne to see him for the ginger prince that he is? Does anyone give a better look of love than that Wilding? She may react to his flirting with a Calvin-esque face of disgust now, but come on, Tarth Queen! Open your eyes to the devotion that awaits a mere horse away!
How fantastic was Leaf's Vasquez from Aliens sacrifice moment? Those Children of the Forest were some badass warriors with their fireballs of doom. That they got wiped out by their own creations is a total cautionary tale moment, but they were certainly heroic to the end. The question that remains is, how in the world can Meera and Bran survive alone in the open winter with the White Walkers of hell coming for them?
Edd, yes, you are the Lord Commander now. I like your lack of formality.
What did you think of "The Door"? Did the Hodor revelation knock you upside down?