Throw me to a horde of White Walkers because after the pure joy of last week's "The Book of the Stranger," last night's Game of Thrones was sad as f*ck. "The Door," the first episode of the series directed by Jack Bender (who also directed the best episode of Lost, "The Constant," which involved similar time travel mindf*ckery), was another excellent episode in an increasingly exciting season, even as it left all its characters on perilously unsure footing. If you haven't watched last night's episode yet, don't read ahead. For everyone else, I'll hold the door.
Hodor. Hodor. Hodor.
Bran's plot this week could have filled the whole episode, which is not something you usually can say about a Bran plot. But in the course of an hour, the audience saw the deaths of the Three-Eyed Raven, Hodor, Leaf, and Summer the direwolf; saw that White Walkers have the ability to track someone by touch and interact with greenseers in the middle of their visions; saw that the children of the forest created the White Walkers; and most poignantly, saw how Hodor got his name. In this episode, it also became clear that Bran can actually have an effect on things that have already happened, though only in a time-is-a-flat-circle kind of way—Hodor had always lost his mind through Bran meddling in time, and so Bran was always going to meddle in time to complete that cause-and-effect. Bran can't change the past unless he already has changed the past. Whoa, dude.
But let's take a moment to note something else: the world of Game of Thrones is unique on television for the way it cares about characters not often represented on TV shows, particularly fantasy TV shows. In season one, Tyrion proclaims his fondness for "cripples, bastards, and broken things"—it's something the show has actualized in the tender and multi-dimensional way it portrays all manner of disabled or mutilated people, including Tyrion, Bran, Jaime, Theon, and Varys. Until this episode, Hodor didn't necessarily get the same treatment, but that appears to have been by design. Taken as a whole, the way this poor but bright stable boy was inadvertently broken by a highborn lord and then used like a packhorse is heartbreaking.
Small direwolf note: with Summer dead, there are only two Stark direwolves left in Westeros: Arya's long-missing wolf Nymeria and Jon's wolf Ghost. Summer's death is especially sad because with Hodor and Summer both dead, Bran has no reliable body to warg into.
It's not called a "Queensmoot" for a reason.
With Ramsay's death in sight (we can hope), the show has to introduce a new psychopath, and so here comes Euron Greyjoy, newly elected King of the Iron Islands, who thinks he's somehow going to be Daenerys' third husband despite her notable dislike of kingslayers. Almost immediately, Theon and Yara are forced to flee from their new king, taking the best of the Ironborn fleet with them.
Anyway, not to be that person, but I liked the Kingsmoot from the books better. I missed Yara's brilliant speech calling for the Iron Islands to make peace with Westeros; the fact that her actual speech both focused on revenge and that Theon took an outsized role in her political campaign was so disappointing to me that I had to pause the TV for a second, which I think is a sign that I am maybe taking this boob-filled HBO show too seriously. But seriously, no dragon horn for Euron?!
It's still much better than anything they did with Dorne last year.
The Sansa Stark show.
First off, Sansa's speech to Littlefinger about the trauma she had to go through with Ramsay shows me that they are taking the ramifications of her repeated rapes seriously. So there's that.
She is also acting more and more like a ruler lately; she was the one dictating military strategy this episode, not Jon Snow or even Davos. As she reminded her emerging court, she is the Stark that the North will rally behind, not a bastard (no matter how magical his resurrection). Which leads me to wonder: how likely is it that she will declare herself Queen in the North? In the same way that she was right that she and Jon would never be safe while the Boltons were alive, there is a chance she will also never be safe with the Lannisters and Tyrells controlling the Iron Throne. The Greyjoys aren't the only people who stand to gain by allying with Daenerys and her dragons.
Whatever happens with her character, Sophie Turner acted the hell out of this episode, so all hail Sansa Stark.
I liked getting to see Meera be heroic. I like Meera.
The play version of Westerosi politics was fascinating. Watching Arya watch her father's execution again from a crowd reminded me of a Bjork music video.
That extreme close-up on a warty c*ck was something, wasn't it?
BONUS BOOK NERD SPECULATION WITH BONUS BOOK NERD SPOILERS:
Right before I happened to watch this episode, I made a joke to my boyfriend about "The Door" being what Hodor was trying to say this whole time. Since I was inexplicably correct, I will make some irresponsible speculation below as a one-time-only, "am I psychic now?" bonus.
The previews see the return of Dany the unrepentant conqueror. It's been a fringe theory on the Internet that Daenerys will ultimately be, in simplistic terms, a "bad guy" who is unable to rule and can only destroy the world with her dragons (as the new red priestess hinted at). On a pure emotional level, I'm rooting against this, since Daenerys is one of the few characters in the universe with a true sense of idealism and justice (she is maybe the one modern character in a world of campy medieval horror)—but as a storytelling turn, it would be a real knife to the gut. And we all know how much George R. R. Martin loves knifes to the gut.
I can't believe I'm holding out this hope, but with Brienne going to the Riverlands, I am going to make a bold prediction: Lady Stoneheart is finally happening. Keep in mind that I have predicted this, silently, to myself, since Season 4. But this year they are really setting it up, and—as a bonus—it seems like Jaime Lannister is also headed to the Riverlands. I say "as a bonus" even though wishing for Lady Stoneheart (or even just the return of the Brotherhood Without Banners) could mean wishing for Jaime and Brienne to fight each other to the death. Which would destroy me even more than this episode did. But seriously, prediction: Brienne is going to die this season. Bookmark this video of an alpaca being stuck in a hole just in case.
The next episode is called "Blood of my Blood." It's how Dothraki khals address their bloodriders—fitting for an episode in which Daenerys will have to choose how to use her new Dothraki army.