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[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the fifth episode of Game of Thrones‘ sixth season, “The Door.”]
“Hold the door!”
With those three words, one of the earliest Game of Thrones questions came to an end, in an absolutely brutal way. Viewers now know exactly why Winterfell’s friendliest giant Wylis came to be associated with the word “Hodor,” and what the word means, albeit at the expense of the gentle soul’s life — and it’s all thanks to Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright).
Fans speculated that Bran’s ability to visit the past was more than just observational, and that he could actually interact with history. As it turns out, those theories were accurate, as evidenced by Bran naming and subsequently condemning his big-hearted bodyguard. There truly are no happy endings on this show, not even for someone who seemed as untouchable as poor Hodor.
Here’s how the whole episode played out.
In the North
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) quietly knits at Castle Black, when she receives a letter. It’s from Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), asking to meet her in nearby Mole’s Town. Sansa complies, traveling along with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), but with a sharper tongue than last she met Lord Baelish.
“Did you know about Ramsay?” she asks him. “If you didn’t know, you’re an idiot. If you did know, you’re my enemy.”
Sansa proceeds to put Littlefinger in his place, filling him in on the gory details of Ramsay’s abusive ways. Through all this, Littlefinger swears that he wants to help her conquer the North, but she does not want his aid: “You freed me from the monsters who murdered my family and gave me to other monsters who murdered my family.”
Before he goes, Littlefinger does offer some sound advice: Sansa’s relative Brynden Blackfish (Clive Russell) has retaken Riverrun from the Lannisters. She later informs Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and her other allies about the development, and subsequently sends Brienne south to recruit House Tully’s help. Brienne does not want to leave Sansa alone with Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and Davos (Liam Cunningham), still not trusting them due to their blood magic murder of Renly Baratheon. But Sansa tells Brienne that Jon will keep her safe, and sends her away regardless.
Halfway across the world, Sansa’s sister Arya (Maisie Williams) fights a battle of her own, sparring with the Waif (Faye Marsay), and getting badly beaten in the process. “You’ll never be one of us, Lady Stark,” says the Waif, and for his part, Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) agrees: “She has a point.”
Jaqen takes Arya back to the Hall of Faces, delivering a history lesson on how the Faceless Men were once slaves in Old Valyria, before establishing their present order in Braavos. What’s more, he delivers an assignment: Arya must kill a local theater performer named Lady Crane, for reasons unknown. The assignment becomes even murkier once Arya watches Lady Crane’s play, all about Robert Baratheon’s death and Joffrey’s ascension to the throne — complete with a retelling of Ned Stark’s death that makes the deceased Lord of Winterfell look like a fool.
Arya, clearly unnerved, goes backstage and observes Lady Crane, who played Cersei in the play. Even though Crane wore the face of one of Arya’s oldest enemies, she comes across as a decent human being. Arya says as much when she reports back to Jaqen, wondering why the assassination needs to be carried out, but Jaqen does not want to hear it: “A servant does not ask questions.”
At the Iron Islands
For the first time in years, Theon (Alfie Allen) actually resembles his old self, cleaned up and garbed in House Greyjoy’s armor. He proudly endorses his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan) during the Kingsmoot, saying she’s the best possible candidate to become Queen of the Iron Islands.
But another contender emerges: Euron (Pilou Asbaek), Theon and Yara’s uncle, who proudly admits he murdered his own brother Balon and says he will lead the Ironborn toward victory over the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. He announces plans to align with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), and use their combined power to conquer Westeros.
Following the speech, Euron wins the Salt Throne, and with his first act, he calls for Theon and Yara’s deaths. Balon Greyjoy’s two surviving children have already sailed away from Pyke, however, bringing the best ships in the fleet with them. Euron turns to his people and offers a promise: “Build me a thousand ships, and I will give you the world.”
The Meereenese Knot
At Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) have their first real conversation since she sent him into exile. He not only confesses about his growing greyscale affliction, but also his feelings for her. “All I’ve ever wanted is to serve you,” he says. “Tyrion Lannister was right. I love you. I’ll always love you.”
With that, he turns to leave, but a tearful Daenerys instead gives him new orders to go and seek out a cure for greyscale: “I command you to heal yourself and then return to me. When I take the Seven Kingdoms, I need you by my side.”
Meanwhile in Meereen, peace reigns throughout the city, thanks to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) striking up his deal with the masters. But peace is not enough. He needs the people to know who instituted the terms, and with that, decides to strike up yet another arrangement with the Red Priests of R’hllor, who are becoming increasingly powerful throughout the city.
Tyrion and Varys (Conleth Hill) meet with a woman named Kinarva, who serves the Lord of Light, and identifies Daenerys as “the one who was promised.” Varys is skeptical; the famously magic-averse eunuch calls Kinarva out on the Lord of Light’s previous support of Stannis Baratheon, a man now long dead. Why should they trust her now? With that challenge, Kinarva digs deep into Varys‘ past, recounting intimate details about his castration that only he would know.
“Do you remember what you heard that night when the sorcerer tossed your parts in the fire? You heard a voice call out from the flames,” she tells him. “Do you remember? Should I tell you what the voice said? Should I tell you the name of the one who spoke? We serve the same queen. If you are her true friend, you have nothing to fear from me.”
For the first time in six seasons, Varys looks genuinely unsettled… and rightfully so.
The Fall of the Raven
In the past, the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) shows Bran how the White Walkers were created. He watches as the Children of the Forest plunge an obsidian dagger into a human man’s heart, turning him into an icy-eyed monster. When Bran wakes up, one of the Children defends their actions: “We were at war. We were being slaughtered. Our sacred trees were being cut down. We needed to defend ourselves from you — from men.”
Later, Bran goes green-seeing once again, this time without permission from the Raven. He returns to the same site as the White Walkers’ birthplace, only this time in the frozen modern day. There, he sees the Night’s King… and even more importantly, the Night’s King sees Bran, grabbing him and branding him. When Bran wakes up, he frantically tells the Raven about what happened. The old sorcerer warns that the White Walkers will be upon them soon, and now “the time has come for you to become me.”
Bran and the Raven travel back to Winterfell once again, as a young Eddard Stark prepares to leave to be fostered by Jon Arryn at The Vale. Meanwhile, in the present, the Night’s King and his minions launch a full-scale assault on the cave. The Children attempt to hold them off, while Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) desperately tries to wake Bran from his vision. She tells Bran that he needs to warg into Hodor in order for them to escape.
Inside the vision, Bran hears Meera’s plea. “Listen to your friend, Brandon,” says the Raven, and so he does. Bran simultaneously exists in the past and wargs into Hodor in the present, using the giant’s body to help flee the cave. In the process, Bran’s direwolf Summer dies battling wights, while the Night’s King kills the Raven, turning him to coal-like ash in the wind.
The undead monsters are gaining on Bran, Hodor and Meera, even as the trio escape through a secret door. Hodor leans his back against the door as Meera drags Bran off into the frozen night. “Hold the door,” she shouts back at Hodor, and he complies… but Bran, still mentally in the past, hears these words, and accidentally wargs into Hodor’s past self, Wyllis. The young version of Hodor convulses on the ground and repeats the same three words over and over: “Hold the door! Hold the door! Hold the door!”
In the present, Hodor does indeed hold the door, at the expense of his own life, as wights tear him to shreds… and in the Winterfell vision, Bran tearfully watches Wyllis‘ words transform into something tragically familiar: “Hodor! Hodor! Hodor!” In an utterly heartbreaking twist of fate, it turns out that Bran is and always was responsible for not only naming Hodor, but getting him killed as well.
Watch this video to learn more about how time travel works on Game of Thrones:
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