Aidan Gillen, Alfie Allen, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Carice van Houten, CGI, Cleganebowl, Comedy, Conleth Hill, Daario Naharis, Daenerys Targaryen, Dragons, Emilia Clarke, Euron Greyjoy, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones Season Six, George RR Martin, GoT, Grey Worm, Gwendoline Christie, Hodor, Hold the Door, Iain Glen, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Iwan Rheon, Jaqen H'ghar, Jon Snow, Jorah Mormont, King's Landing, Kingsmoot, Kit Harington, Kristian Nairn, Kristofer Hivju, Liam Cunningham, Littlefinger, Maisie Williams, Max von Sydow, Meereen, Melisandre, Michiel Huisman, Natalie Dormer, Ned Stark, Peter Dinklage, Pilou Asbaek, Ramsay Bolton, Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner, Summer, Television, The Door, The Night King, The Night's Watch, The Three-Eyed-Raven, The Wall, The White Walkers, Theon Greyjoy, TV, Tyrion Lannister, Varys, Vladimir Furdik, Westeros, White Walkers, Winterfell, Yara Greyjoy
When I first saw that the fifth episode of season six was called “The Door” I had expected that title to be some sort of analogy regarding life and death, and in a way it was. Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) opened the door between life and death by allowing the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) to mark him, and in doing so he caused the deaths of the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow), Hodor (Kristian Nairn), and Summer. However, more literally the title related to Hodor and the origin of his name, as he had to ‘hold the door’ to keep Bran alive.
Personally, I thought that this origin story was a little strange because it seems harsh to brand a child with a name as a result of a mental breakdown; still, I suppose the “Game of Thrones” universe has always been a bit off-kilter. Still, the fact that Hodor gave his life to save Bran and was the way that he was because of his loyalty made his character all the more loveable, and gave him a lot more gravitas. Before this episode he was predominantly used for comic relief, but now when we watch the series back we will know that his simplicity, so to speak, is the result of heroism and not stupidity. In a world of duplicitous and often malicious people he was kind and courageous, which makes him one of the most memorable characters on the show.
Hodor’s death, as well as Summer’s, was representative of the fact that Bran’s childhood is slowly fading away, and that winter has finally arrived. In a quite literal sense winter killed summer in this episode, which probably marks a shift in the story. If Bran is going to head south – which would make sense given that heading deeper into the snow would take him into the white walker’s territory – then this could be the catalyst to take the walkers past The Wall and into the realms of men, after all, it’s likely that the magic that protected the lair of the Three-Eyed Raven is the same magic that protects The Wall. If this is the case then Bran’s passing The Wall as a marked man could allow the walkers to follow him, which would make his idiocy in this episode all the more frustrating.
I have to say that from my perspective Bran’s scenes were the least compelling of the entire episode, even though they had the biggest ramifications, because they relied on a suspension of disbelief. Through Bran we learnt about the origin of the white walkers and of Hodor, but the way the scenes were executed marred the moments for me. It seems silly to me that something as important as stopping Bran from allowing the Night King to touch him wouldn’t have at least been mentioned by the Three-Eyed Raven, because the fact that this information could’ve saved multiple lives and saved a species makes it worth knowing! It’s possible that with time travel now in place in the “Game of Thrones” universe in a minimalistic way, the Three-Eyed Raven knew what was going to happen before it happened and thus intentionally withheld information, but that still feels a little cheap to me.
Other issues I had with Bran’s scenes were: 1) the acting of the young man playing Wylis; 2) the acting of Isaac Hempstead-Wright; 3) the fact that Leaf (Kae Alexander) – the child of the forest – sacrificed herself to kill the wights when she could’ve just as easily thrown the fireball in their direction; 4) the CGI, which was quite poor and jarring to look at – I know that there’s a budget in place and that the special effects on the show are usually great, but the CGI here tarnished the impact of the wights for me; and 5) the fact that Bran’s being marked caused the death of a beloved character and could possibly have a huge part to play in the wars to come, yet it wasn’t explained before or after it occurred.
So much of the magic involved in this storyline is just there and we’re supposed to accept it, even though no effort is made to make it feel believable! The dragons are great because their birth was ritualistic and they feel other-worldly whilst remaining partly possible, but the magic in Bran’s storyline is so prevalent and unearned. As far as I can tell, magic occurs in Bran’s storyline when there’s no other way to either give exposition or fill a hole in the story, which makes it feel like a plot device and nothing more.
Elsewhere, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) had a reunion of sorts, although it wasn’t a very warm one. It’s still unclear exactly what Littlefinger knew about Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) before he left Sansa in his care, but I think that either way he made a mistake. Sansa said that either Littlefinger was an idiot for leaving her at Winterfell, or he was her enemy, and she’s probably right.
Both actors did a great job in this scene, and from the perspective of someone who loves dialogue-heavy episodes I really enjoyed watching the pair chat. The way that both characters acted in this scene left me unsure as to who was playing who, because it seemed like Littlefinger was genuinely surprised by Sansa’s assertiveness, but also that he had a plan. Sansa has now sent Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) to The Riverlands because of what he said, so he still has a high level of control, and it remains unclear whether or not he told the truth – this is Littlefinger we’re talking about, so this whole wild goose chase could easily be a trap.
It also seems like Littlefinger wanted to drive a wedge between Jon (Kit Harington) and Sansa, perhaps because he perceives the former to be a threat, but I doubt that this will work. Jon is the closest thing to family that Sansa has got right now, so if she starts to doubt his trustworthiness I think it would be wholly unbelievable. She did keep important information from him, but I think she did that because she wants to keep her cards close to her chest, and also perhaps because if the rest of the people in the war room knew about Littlefinger’s army then they would probably want to side with him.
Arya (Maisie Williams) isn’t quite as empowered as her sister right now, as she tries to become a servant of the Many-Faced God. The writers are really pushing the idea that she isn’t going to succeed in her journey to become No One because she clearly doesn’t want to kill the actress from the play, so I’m expecting her to make a run for it before the end of the season. Arya as a character has always had a keen sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, and even though she’s a capable killer she chooses her victims carefully. She wants to kill people who deserve to die, so she isn’t going to like being a glorified hitman for malicious and jealous people.
Still, if Arya does try to escape then it’s hard to see what her end game could possibly be – there are faceless men all over the world, so if she goes against their wishes then surely she will be a wanted woman for the rest of her days. This isn’t a particularly brilliant life for a character who has suffered since childhood, so it wouldn’t be very satisfying from a viewer’s perspective.
I loved Arya’s scenes in this episode, especially the play, because the dialogue was well-written and as always Maisie Williams’ acting was perfect. Arya is my favourite character on the show so I am a little biased, but I still thought that her scenes here had it all. Comedy, grief, drama, foreboding, male nudity – what more could you want? I just hope that it all pays off by the end of season six.
Another character that I’m growing quite fond of, surprisingly, is Yara (Gemma Whelan). She’s always been a fairly likeable character on the show because she’s a powerful woman who is also quite kind for an ironborn, but now she’s becoming more interesting because she could have a part to play in the wider story.
I’ve really enjoyed the Greyjoy storyline so far this season, mostly because I think that Euron (Pilou Asbæk) is an interesting character, but I feel that it has been rushed a little bit. Euron’s argument and his plan were sound – although I don’t think he’ll sell Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) on his marriage proposal – but the kingsmoot should’ve been a huge political battle between him and Yara for the Salt Throne, whereas it turned out to be a five minute war of words for a crown made out of twigs. It was a fine five minutes – Euron admitted that he’d murdered his brother and Theon (Alfie Allen) sided with his sister – but it could’ve been a lot better if the showrunners just took their time.
The real issues I had with the Greyjoy scenes in this episode were more specific than an issue with the streamlining of their storyline, most notably the fact that Euron spoke about building 1,000 ships as though it was an afternoon’s work, and also that he allowed his main opposition to steal his biggest assets right in front of his nose! If he knew that becoming the leader of the ironborn would require an elaborate (and very cool) ceremony, surely he should’ve kept them locked up somewhere where they couldn’t cause any trouble? Still, it seems like there’s now going to be a race between Euron’s forces and Yara’s forces to reach Daenerys, which I feel is really exciting if they give it some screen time.
Speaking of Daenerys, she had an all too brief cameo in this episode, and in my opinion it was one of the worst moments of the season so far. Although I’m personally glad that Jorah (Iain Glen) has finally told her how he feels, I found the scene itself both silly and cheesy. First off, Dany said that she couldn’t take Jorah back but she also couldn’t send him away, yet once she found out that he had a deadly disease she commanded him to find a cure and return to her! I don’t know how everyone else feels about that U-Turn, but to me asking him to return is taking him back! Jorah should’ve caught greyscale a long time ago because the sympathy vote would’ve saved him a lot of hassle!
Finally, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) continued to rule in Meereen in Daenerys’ stead, and he began a propaganda push in the city. His thought processes are rational enough – he wants to sway public opinion towards Daenerys and force a particular narrative down their throats – but the way he’s applying them is pretty naïve. I don’t think he fully appreciates the danger that having a red priestess in your service poses, and it seems like Kinvara (Ania Bukstein) may be even more dangerous than Melisandre (Carice van Houten).
This scene was well executed, as there was a lot of fire around to light the room (which was clearly intentional) and the actors played off one another wonderfully. I thought the actress playing Kinvara did a really good job of making her seem powerful, and she portrayed the same sense of self-confidence that Melisandre had back in the early seasons. I see this storyline getting better with time, and I’m excited to see where it goes, but I’m very worried for poor old Varys (Conleth Hill)!
Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought the dialogue was well written and I appreciated the fact that we got to spend more time with characters than we have previously in season six. I didn’t really care for Bran’s scenes, even though conceptually they were probably the most interesting of the episode, but I thought that everything else was pretty good. If things weren’t being so rushed then this episode would undoubtedly have been better – for example, more time should’ve been spent on the kingsmoot – but that’s just something that we’re going to have to accept from here on out. Storylines are in a good place right now, and with half the season left to go I’m expecting a lot of fireworks! Bring on Cleganebowl, Bastardbowl, and widespread bloodshed!