Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 5 ‘The Door’ – the one with Richard E Grant in it
Hodor holds the door, and everybody cries
In the latest edition of George RR Martin hates his readers and wants to hurt them, Bran finally leaves the cave north of the wall, Sansa meets with Littlefinger, Jon formulates a plan to unite the North behind the Starks, while the Iron Islanders crown a new king and Tyrion gets religion. The List's resident Game of Thrones nerds Rebecca Monks and Scott Henderson get emotional as they discuss the latest episode 'The Door'.
****SPOILERS FOR SEASON 6 EPISODE 5 FOLLOW****
Hold the door.
Scott, that episode made me feel feelings. All this time, he has been anticipating his own death. I honestly can't stop thinking about it. Of all of the seven thousand death scenes in Game of Thrones, that was by far the most harrowing. I hope those little Children of the Forest shits are happy with themselves.
It really was an outstanding episode. This conversation between Bran and the Creepy Old Tree Man sticks out for me:
'The time has come for you to become me'
'Am I ready?'
It got me thinking: every time a villain has got into a position of power, they have deemed themselves ready for it (Joffrey on the Iron Throne, Cersei as Queen, Littlefinger with literally every rogue position he has acquired). Every time a 'hero' is given power, they are not (Jon Snow as Lord Commander, Dany as Khaleesi, Ned Stark as Hand). It offers a lesson for leadership, doesn't it? That in order to do well in a position of authority you have to be aware of your own personal shortcomings and how to overcome them.
Sansa and Jon Snow's storyline is my favourite at the moment, I think. Although I am extremely unhappy about her sending Brianne away. For one, peaceful moment, I would like Brianne not to be galavanting around Westeros on one failed mission or another. Can't she just stay by her side, and help her negotiate stratergy with Jon and his little pony tail?
Both Arya and Dany need some action. It feels like those characters are in storyline purgatory.
Well, Dany has been in storyline purgatory for six years, but I'll come back to that later. Collectively Game of Thrones fans are feeling feelings today. Unlike all the 'shock deaths' that have gone before – you know, like Ros – Hodor is one that I just didn't see coming (because I didn't read it I guess) and one that I feel a greatest sense of sadness about. It is also a show moment that is the first to truly make me miss experiencing it in George RR Martin's storytelling. When I thinking back to late nights I've spent gripped in page-turning disbelief (Red Wedding, Jon's murder), I feel like I'm missing something by watching rather than reading. Now that being said, I think the cutting back and forth in time and the slow realisation that 'hold the door' was morphing into 'Hodor' was as close as it could possibly have been to replicating Martin's pacing in his big moments. It was just beautiful and tragic enough for you to not think too hard about time loops. But speaking of time loops, it was a stroke of genius bringing in Lost alum Jack 'Not Penny's Boat' Bender to direct this episode.
Here's the thing though, we still don't know what the hell the Three-Eyed Raven / Creepy Old Tree Man was (RIP) or what Bran is supposed to become other than someone who turns innocent young stable boys into sacrificial simpletons. I do hope that Bran's powers don't turn into some great deus ex machina in this plot – it might be that the experience of what happened to Hodor teaches him the dangers of interfering with the past.
Another great scene this week was between Sansa and Littlefinger, despite the fact I'm equally unhappy about Brianne 'gallivanting' around Westeros ('is that the kind of thing you say when you get your dick chopped off?'), I think the character development and the brilliant work of Sophie Turner almost justifies the decisions Weiss and Benioff made with her last season (okay, not really). Littlefinger comes off badly because I don't believe either that he would have given Sansa to the Bolton's if he'd known about Ramsey's proclivities nor do I believe he's stupid enough not to have known that was going to end so badly. It's a character misstep in service to plot.
As for the Arya stoyline, you could be forgiven for thinking she was stuck in a staff-fighting time loop herself, but there was also a nice scene at the mummers show as we saw yet another re-enactment of King Robert, King Joffery and Ned's beheading (sad face). And by the way, look, it's only Richard E Grant!!
I've been thinking that a lot: 'I wonder how this will work on the page...'
There are moments that I feel the series did better than the book (I know, sacrilige), but Jon's death was one of them. Strangely, I found it quite unaffecting when I read it, but Kit Harrington did a great job on screen. I look forward to seeing how GRRM portrays Hodor's final moments. Crying and reading is hard to do, but dammit, I'll risk it for Hodor.
See when we had Bran's Ned flashback, a lot of fans were excited but also anxious that it would wrap up the R+L=J theory too soon, and that would be that. Perhaps Bran's unfortunate encounter with the past will prevent him from returning to that moment, and discovering what lies atop the tower? It would be frustrating for sure: I want to see what Rhaegar looks like, and I want to see whether there will be a little baby Jon, but it would be a good way for the writers to keep building tension.
I disagree that Dany has been in purgatory for years. Her journey thus far has been diverting but essential: she had to learn to rule, she had to learn to fail, she had to grow up. But now she's done both of those things, and it's time to move on, not get swept up by yet another Dothraki herd and have yet another reason to have an emotional chat with a sexually frustrated Ser Jorah. She's done everything she has to do now, it's time to get to Westeros, hen. Leave Ser Friendzone to his Greyscale and board a boat.
Back to Sansa: her character development has been the most significant of the series for me, though there are problems with it (she is yet another female character whose development is rooted in sexual abuse). I'll come back to that point as it's something worth discussing thoroughly and within the wider context of the series. One significant way that Sansa has developed for me is that she no longer needs a protector. She had The Hound in Kings Landing, then Littlefinger in the Vale. She feels comfortable sending Brianne away because she has learned to be her own defence, and that's a power move if nothign else.
'I don't need you anymore. You can't protect me.'
I'm overly harsh on Dany all the time, I know. To be honest I often feel the same with Dany chapters in the books also, partly though, because I think the entire Mereen storyline was a ploy by GRRM to create more time for himself once his originally planned trilogy morphed into something a little, er, grander in ambition, and also to age her up. On the other hand, you're right, it is a necessary evil for her to learn to rule. And perhaps most importantly, for her dragons to grow to full size. After all, it's all very well and good having dragons, but if they aren't much bigger than a flying horse they are hardly going to strike fear into the great armies of Westeros.
Ah, Ser Friendzone. It was a nice moment Dany finally forgiving him as he road off into the sunset. Feel like they have deliberately left the door slightly ajar for Ser Jorah to find a life-saving cure for Greyscale – or perhaps some other crucial bit of information essential to Dany taking the Seven Kingdoms back.
I'm not sure we'll ever meet Rhaegar, but it would be really amazing if we got to see the Tourney at Harrenhal when he gave the winters rose to Lyanna Stark, crowning her queen of love and beauty instead of his wife Princess Elia of Dorne. Awkward... Like you say though, this season feels early to reveal the answer to R+L=J, maybe it'll come in the finale, or maybe they are saving it so it can be revealed in the Winds of Winter.
Before we close this out, we have to talk about the new Red Priestess Kinvara (hope you noticed her glamour necklace) how about the disturbing recounting of Lord Varys encounters with magic as a youth? Seriously creepy. And what do you think she would make of Melisandre's latest Prince that was Promised? How many Princes that were Promised does a priestess get in her career you think?
Kinvara knows how to accesorise, alright. I think her purpose is to add credence to Meli. For all those thinking that Jon and Dany's fates are entwined, it's interesting to note that they are both in the counsel of Red Women now.
I am purposefully ignoring the Kings Moot, because yes, what is dead may never die, but what is boring may never move to discuss it.
Episode rating and final thoughts
Best episode I've seen in a long, long time. Utterly heartbreaking.
'Hold the door' – a phrase that enters the lexicon of great tragedy. But there was much more greatness to this episode, which was most affecting I've seen in a long time.
Game of Thrones airs Mondays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic, and on demand elsewhere.