Originally published on Post-Modern Sleaze (26/05/16).
OK, so, you know when you usually get told that this review is ‘MAJOR SPOILER’? Well this one is M.A.J.O.R S.P.O.I.L.E.R! Please take heed and watch episode 6 before reading this; any damage done here is irreparable.
As so above. If you were situated on the wrong side of the Atlantic come Monday morning, then the Internet was a dangerous place to be, especially social media, and especially Twitter. There’s only so many times you can see the hashtag #HoldTheDoor before you clutch your face, delete your apps and put your phone on aeroplane mode, but alas, this is what we are dealing with here. It’s one of those ones.
One of those ones starts, as appears as tradition in this series, at Castle Black; it appears that Peter Baelish, aka. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), the man of mystery and manipulation, is also capable of time travel, having somehow navigated his way from the Vale of Arryn all the way to the Mole’s Town in an unbelievably speedy manner. He has come, of course to offer his dear Sansa (Sophie Turner) his services but she’s having none of it, and who can blame her. She accuses him of knowing what she was heading to when he delivered her to Ramsay Bolton, and orders him to describe what he thinks Ramsay did to her on their wedding night. She says she ‘can still feel what he did inside of [her]’, and watching Littlefinger squirm uncomfortably makes for rather satisfactory viewing.
It is becoming more and more apparent that Sansa is maturing and taking her own fate out of the hands of men; her recount of her rape it done without a shred of self pity. It seems that she has come to terms with it, and it is one more thing to add fuel to her fire. Littlefinger informs Sansa that her uncle, the Blackfish, has retaken Riverrun and has formed an army, however – for whatever reason – he withholds that he has the Vale’s army in motion. What is his motive here? One can only (tentatively) assume that, in Sansa’s apparent rejection of him, he may use that army for other purposes. We later meet Sansa with Jon, Davos, Melisandre, Tormund, Brienne and Pod as they are planning where to go from here. Sansa lies to them as to her source of where she learned of the Blackfish army. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) later asks her why, and she doesn’t answer, though she does send Brienne away to meet with her uncle. As they leave Mole’s Town to sway the Northern Houses into joining their cause, it seems that Sansa is intent in doing this on her own terms.
(PS. Tormund’s crush on Brienne is killing me.)
Over in the Iron Islands, we find the Kingsmoot. Despite Yara (Gemma Whelan) putting up a good case despite the Ironborn’s admonitions of her gender (and Theon’s two cents), she is drowned out by the bravado of their uncle Euron, who confesses to killing Balon and promises the Ironborn that if he is king, he will take their fleet East to Daenerys and marry her so that together they can take Westeros. They like the sound of that of course, and as they are busy inaugurating him (aka. Drowning, because ‘born and born again’ and all that). Yara, Theon (Alfie Allen) and some loyal supporters flee with the fleet of ships. The pesky pair.
Over on the warmer (and dryer) side of things, and Arya (Maisie Williams) is taking a beating again. In all fairness to her though, she is slowly, but surely, putting up a better fight. Jaqen tasks her with assassinating an actress, who just so happens to be in a comedy portraying the death of Robert Baratheon and the beheading of Ned Stark who, in creative liberty, is depicted as an idiot. It evidently touches a nerve.
Having escaped from Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finally gives in to Jorah’s (Iain Glen) pursuits and pardons him for being faithful. He responds by confessing love for her (cue squirming by Daario Naharis) as well as revealing his Grey Scale. Dany appears distraught and orders him to obey his queen and to find the cure for his disease. It is all rather touching, and you can’t help but feel for Jorah fulfilling his need to acquire his Queen’s forgiveness.
In Meereen, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is assuming his deal with the Masters a success, as in the two weeks since there has been no deaths or action by rebel group Sons Of The Harpy. However, he needs to convince the people that Daenerys is responsible for their newfound peace, so it makes perfect sense for him to recruit the High Priestess of the Lord Of Light to share the word for him. She agrees because Daenerys is evidently the “Chosen One”, just like Stannis. Varys is far more dubious, actually even borderline hostile; he doesn’t trust those who use magic thanks to a sorcerer castrating him as a child. He brands her a “fanatic” yet is rankled to discover she knows his story. The High Priestess agrees to aid them and leaves, and you can’t help but feel that this is all going to go a bit Kingslanding…
Let’s return to the Three Eyed Raven’s tree, and Bran (Isaac Hemptead-Wright) is in a memory. A very, very old one, it turns out. We watch as the Children of the Forest impale a living human man whose body subsequently begins to chill with ice. Is this the birth of the Night’s King? It seems very likely, and with the Children of the Forest having created him to kill humans who were taking over their land, what does this mean for the motives of both they and the Wights? Can the Wights control their urge to purge humanity, or is it their curse to pursue it forever? It’s an unexpected turn of events, and will be interesting to see where this goes in the future.
And talking of unexpected things, it’s about to get emotional. It’s becoming a bit hard to not go full H.A.M at Bran as he becomes more and more impatient at the progress of his training under the Three Eyed Raven. He takes it upon himself to go back into a memory on his own. He finds himself before the Wierwood tree, facing an army of the dead. He walks through it, bewildered, before stopping to inspect the four Wights. Only they are also inspecting him. They can see him, and now so can the dead. The Night’s King grabs his arm and he wakes; according to the Three Eyed Raven, the Night’s King can now see where they are and will be coming for them. They can, and they do. Soon enough they are attacked from outside, but both the Raven and Bran are back in dreamland, this time it’s Winterfell again, and they are watching young Hodor. Bran is dragged from the fray as chaos ensues around them; both the Raven and the Children of the Forest perish (though not before Meera slays a Wight), and as they escape through a back door, Meera screams at Hodor to hold it shut. It appears Bran cannot wake, and instead of warging into Hodor outside of the dream, he wargs into young dream Hodor instead, controlling old Hodor through time via this memory. Young Hodor fits in a panic; he can hear Meera screeching “Hold the door!”, because as old Hodor is slowly being ripped apart by the dead. Young, dream Hodor’s fate is sealed, for “Hold the door” becomes “holdthedoor” becomes “Hodor”.
It’s such a sad yet heroic moment, and you can’t help but feel a sense of guilt for having misunderstood Hodor for all of these years. You hate Bran for being so selfish. You have a reinforced sense of admiration for George R.R Martin for having woven this twist into the plot from the beginning of this 20+ year journey. You can’t help but wonder how much of the current GoT world as we know it is really as it seems.
I’m too exhausted to ask questions this week, but let’s find solace in the fact that this is easily the best episode of this season (so far), and one of the best Game Of Thrones episodes in its history.