Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Holds ‘The Door’ for a Mind-Blowing Reveal and Major Death
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “The Door”:
In earnest, I’m half-infuriated, half-overwhelmed, that the same Game of Thrones hour killing off two or three more notable characters (and another direwolf!) also brought such vast implications about the origins of White Walkers and Bran’s abilities overall; that he’s now directly influenced the past to cause Hodor’s mental trauma. As far as killing off Hodor, the Three-Eyed Raven, Summer and what seemingly remained of the Children of the Forest, this is the fifth straight episode to kill off significant characters, following the Martells in “The Red Woman,” Roose Bolton and Balon Greyjoy in “Home,” Aliser/Olly and Shaggydog in “Oathbreaker,” as well as Osha in “Book of the Stranger,” to the point these deaths become completely desensitizing.
At least with Hodor’s end, “The Door” sacrifices the character to open a new narrative can of worms, one that raises many more questions than the hour solves, and seemingly sends Game of Thrones spiraling into a new genre altogether. What other events of Westeros’ history could Bran have directly influenced? Which of the Raven’s abilities does Bran now possess, and how can he access them without the tree? What exactly was happening in that Winterfell courtyard that the Raven felt it so urgent Bran witness before the Night’s Army arrived? How did the Night’s King see Bran, what’s his investment in killing the Three-Eyed Raven, and for goodness sake, what is their army still doing north of The Wall, that they change course on a dime to destroy the tree?
Obviously, there’s a tremendous question to answer there as well, if we take at face value that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to protect them from men, and seemingly lost control of them along the way. Like all the visions we’ve seen this year, the glimpse only gives us one piece of a much larger puzzle, and it’s impossible to know what to make of that first Walker, or whether the revelation tracks with anything of George R.R. Martin’s larger vision. Presumably, Bran and Meera are off to rejoin the main story somehow (sans Hodor, Summer or anyone for protection, a girl and a paralyzed boy seem too easy of a target), but that spectacular escape sequence offered so much to take in, it’s tough to know if they’ll pay off so tragic a loss as Hodor.
Not to mention, Bran’s adventures took up only a third of the episode this week, other such notable developments offering Sansa the chance to unload on Littlefinger for condemning her to Ramsay’s whims, as well her agency to help strategize retaking the North, and all that independent of the Greyjoy Kingsmoot, or some notable turns for Arya, Jorah and Tyrion. For Sansa at least, it was wonderful to see her placing Littlefinger in the hot seat for a change, adopt some queenly northern threads, and take so active a voice in plotting which houses to reclaim for the Stark legacy. The only thing “The Door” didn’t quite answer* seemed like her decision to keep Littlefinger’s counsel from Jon, something almost too obviously destined to come back to haunt them.
*Well, that and the world’s new favorite ship of Tormund and Brienne. Sure, we got a few more looks, and perhaps Brienne’s tellingly schoolyard disgust with the man, but nothing more significant than we’d already known.
It’s rare that we get to see the Iron Islands taking a significant role in the overall scheme, a meta-point Yara almost acknowledges in her assertion that Westeros largely ignores their existence, and it was nice see both Islanders and Theon rallying for Yara as the new Queen. That is, of course, until the outsider blowhard steps in to demean the female incumbent’s credentials, brush off his own inexperience, and promise to make America the Iron Islands great again, though Euron’s plan to wed Daenerys at least offer the first real promise of connection to the overall story in three seasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if Yara and Theon wind up stealing the plan out from under their uncle (who knows how long it would take to build ships to catch them), just as I’d bet Euron was the one to burn Daenerys’ fleet in the first place.
Once again Arya ended up a bit of a straggler this week, as where the last two hours seemed to dedicate her further toward the Faceless Men in a manner unlikely of the story to sustain, “The Door” somewhat predictably starts walking back that commitment on one of her very first assignments. Surely Jaqen knew that having to endure a play of Westeros’ recent history would test whether Arya was indeed “no one,” or the same girl who witnessed the actual scene of her father beheaded, but this particular schism has felt so long in the making, actually witnessing it feels slow to come, and resignedly in line with the shred of humanity we’ve known Arya to keep for years.
Arguably, Daenerys’ post-power play check-in got a bit short changed this week as well, other than the sweet scene of she and Jorah laying all their cards out on the table, greyscale included. Jorah certainly got his wish to leave the Khaleesi’s service on his own terms, though it’s hard to read if Daenerys ordering him to find a cure has any plausible return, or perhaps offered one last bit of purpose dignify to her old friend’s final days. Meanwhile, her other servants in Mereen continue to play with fire in her absence (metaphorically and literally), to the point I wonder what Daenerys will make upon her return, of Tyrion re-enabling slavery and bargaining with Red Priestesses to keep her in power.
There’s so much to take in and discuss with “The Door,” but for all their revelations and various ends, no Season 6 episodes to date have felt particularly earned or measured, at least beyond the intended shock value. We still don’t know exactly how many episodes lie beyond Season 6, and while I understand the need to converge and excise certain storylines, this first half feels so very much like a going out of business sale. Every character must go!
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Incredible, that for all Sophie Turner’s commanding presence to dress down Littlefinger in that scene, Lord Baelish still manages to shift back the balance of power with a single line reminding Sansa the Wildlings fight for her half-brother, not her.
- Fun as that bare-knuckle fight scene was, does The Waif have any other goals or personality traits (as far as Faceless personalities go) beyond putting Arya down?
- So far as I know, the books had already explained the history of Faceless Men, but it’s of interest to have that backstory dropped into the same hour as an apparent White Walker reveal.
- Welp, can’t say the scales have been balanced entirely, but let’s say that graphically detailed penis shot at least balanced female nudity within the episode.
- Incidentally, why yes, that was Richard E. Grant and Essie Davis among the acting troupe, so presumably we’ll spend a bit more time with them. Plus, bonus Of Monsters and Men cameo as the band!
- Wouldn’t it be great, if after Euron’s customary drowning, he never revived, and everyone stood there like idiots?
- Cute, that Tyrion got to serve back to Varys the “Who said anything about him?” line.
- Also, it’s worth noting that the Kinvara scene transcript leaked as far back as October, for anyone trying to chart what scripts were locked and shooting when.
- Okay, so Meera mentions eating moss for sustenance, but what, if any human constraints does the Three-Eyed Raven have, stuck up in those roots? If he needs to sleep, would he not at least feel when Bran was using the tree unauthorized?
- There were only four White Walkers controlling the Wights, right? I can’t ever tell the underlings apart, how many are there?
- We’re down to Nymeria and Ghost, people! Who wants to bet Nymeria returns just in time for a horrific death?
Game of Thrones Season 6 will return May 29 with “Blood of My Blood,” airing at 9:00 P.M. on HBO.
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