This week’s Game of Thrones episode is called “The Door,” and let me say up front that this episode was AMAZING. It was incredibly well crafted, there were some beautiful sequences, the tragedy was narratively satisfying and the complicated elements of the story were patiently and artistically told.
So, not to build it up too much, but I think they knocked it out of the park this week. If you’re not caught up yet and want to be surprised, then stop reading now!
W started at the Wall again this week, but not with Jon. Instead, this week focused on Sansa, who receives a letter from Littlefinger. He has made record time from The Vale last week and is waiting for her in Mole’s Town. Sansa is rightfully pissed off and confronts him about leading her to Ramsey Bolton. I like this Sansa, I see a little bit of Cersei and a lot of her mother in her. By the end of the scene it is clear that no one believes Petyr’s promises, except the one where he claims that he will do whatever Sansa asks of him. While I do believe her request will technically be granted because of his love for Catelyn, it will be done in the way that best benefits himself and not her. Before leaving, Petyr shares that The Blackfish (Sansa’s uncle) has an army at Riverrun and makes a strange snide comment about Jon only being her half brother.
Speaking of Jon, he is not having a lot of fun planning the attack on Winterfell. While they’ve got a good gathering of minds up there at the wall, they are at a military disadvantage. Sansa shares the news about Riverrun, but hides the information about Petyr’s visit. Encouraged, the Starks divide up the Northern houses not currently sworn to the Boltons to visit and deicide that Brienne is to visit the Riverlands and speak with the Tully’s.
Sansa and Jon continue to be adorable. It turns out that Sansa has made herself a another badass dress, and after Jon claims he “likes the wolf bit” (bless him) she presents him with a cloak she made for him that she designed after Ned’s. As Team Stark leaves to rally the North, poor Ed is left as the extremely reluctant Lord Commander and in control of Castle Black.
One of the many gifts this episode has given us is another amazing Brienne/Tormund moment. Too bad he is not going with her to River Run because all I want are more moments like this:
I’d tell Tormund to play it cool, but I know that if I ever met Gwendolyn, I’d look at her exactly the same way. * insert heart eyes emoji here *
Arya seems to be getting very good at stick fighting. It’s funny how being able to see helps with that. However, the Waif is still determined to discourage Arya enough so that she leaves, telling her “you’ll never be one of us”. According to Jaqen, she has a point because none of the other Faceless Men have been high-born. This leads into a larger history lesson of the Faceless Men, who apparently founded Braavos. After class is over, he gives Arya another gift from the Many-Faced God to deliver, which is also apparently her last chance. Either Arya succeeds, or she dies.
Apparently, Arya is to deliver the gift to a performer who is playing Cersei in a theater troupe. We get to watch a play along with Arya portraying the events in Kings Landing over the past few years, including Ned’s execution. However much she denies it, Arya is clearly affected by the inaccurate portrayal of her father and is still very much a Stark.
I loved the fight choreography in this bit, and I’m curious to see how Arya handles her new assignment since I think she was set up to fail. I really enjoyed the chapter George RR Martin released on his livejournal that takes place while Arya is with the theater troupe, so I am looking forward to this part of her story.
The Iron Islands
Time for a Kingsmoot! This episode was a great one for book readers, the Kingsmoot is something that many of us have been looking forward to for a while.
All of the captains have gathered to vote on the next leader of the Iron Islands, and Yara makes her claim to the throne with Theon backing her up. Even though Yara would be their first queen ever, there seems to be a lot of support for her until Yuron Greyjoy shows up. After freely admitting to his brother’s murder, Yuron claims that his plan is to build a fleet, sail over to Essos, marry Dany in exchange for the fleet, and through that union rule over Westeros. It is an ambitious plan, to say the least, but the iron born have been the brunt of jokes for far too long and they quickly vote him the victor. Yuron is crowned king and Theon, Yara and their men escape. After he wakes, the first thing Yuron proposes is to murder his niece and nephew. Luckily they are long gone with all of the best ships, but that doesn’t stop Yuron from beginning construction of his master fleet immediately.
This escape sequence was amazing. Cutting between Yuron’s ceremony with Yara and Theon’s flight, it was beautifully shot and incredibly suspenseful. Just one more example of the amazing visual storytelling that went on in this episode. I’d also like to give a shoutout to the costume details, specifically the driftwood crown.
Vaes Dothrak and Meereen
Dany and Jorah have finally decided to have a rational face to face conversation. She’s banished him twice, but he did save her life so things are sort of even. After FINALLY showing letting Dany know he has greyscale, Jorah confesses his love for her. This was a really touching moment. When you think about it, Jorah is one of Dany’s closest and longest kept friends. Dany was finally ready to accept him back into her life and now is being forced to let him go again and they can’t even hug because of the greyscale! She commands him to go, find the cure, and return to her but everyone basically knows that they will likely never see each other again.
Meanwhile in Meereen it has been two weeks since the awful diplomacy meeting, but surprisingly there have been no murders since the pact was made. Now, the temporary leaders are running into a PR problem. The city needs to think Dany is the one who brokered the peace or else she will not have the respect she needs to rule once she returns.
The group chooses a priestess of the Lord of Light to be their ally. She has a necklace exactly like Melisandre, is super creepy, and believes that Dany is the one who was promised. Varys, who obviously does not like magic, brings up Stannis and is then cowed into submission by the new priestess. Meereen has been not my favorite for a while, but with addition of this new priestess I am actually curious to see what happens next.
Beyond The Wall
Most of the action this week happened with Bran and his crew at the weirwood tree. Continuing their history lessons, the raven shows Bran another weirwood surrounded by stones in a spiral pattern. There are some children of the forest there, who have tied a man to the tree. As Bran watches, they impale the man and turn him into a White Walker. Bran awakes and confronts Leaf, who shares that the children made the White Walkers to protect themselves from men, but over the years that plan has completely backfired.
The next time we join Bran, he has decided to take a trip through the tree on his own. He arrives at the same tree, only present day. The environment itself looked awesome, everything was all overgrown, the stones are all slanted, and I was really admiring the effects before Bran turned around and I completely flipped out. Behind Bran was an army of wights. Bran slowly walks through the crowd of the dead, invisible. However, behind the army are White Walkers. Turns out, they can see Bran and once he has their attention the wights eyes all turn blue and they can see him as well. As Bran is frozen in horror, the Night King grabs his arm and Bran wakes with a start.
This is bad. Turns out that because the Night King touched him, Bran has compromised the spells of protection around the tree. The raven lets Meera know that they need to leave now, and immediately begins “downloading” as much information as possible into Bran, essentially making them both useless to help in the escape. Meera and Hodor could have really used the help, because the White Walkers and their army got to the tree FAST. The children of the forest defend the tree for a while by throwing fire and making a ring of flames around the entrance, but the White Walkers walk right on through and the wights simply swarm up around the tree, attacking them from all sides.
While all this is happening, Bran and the raven are back at the Winterfell of Ned’s childhood. Right as the wights start dropping through the ceiling, Meerda yells at Bran, which he hears in his dream. Without waking he wargs straight into Hodor, and as Summer is slain by wights and the raven by the Walkers, the rest make their escape. I should also mention here that Meera apparently had been using her time to make dragonglass spears, using one to take out a White Walker and it was pretty awesome.
This sequence was horrifying. The effects were amazing, and the image of the wights crawling along all the sides of the tunnel after Bran and co. is one that has been making it hard for me to sleep the past few nights. Things quickly go from bad to worse. As Leaf sacrifices herself to blow up some of the wights, Hodor, Bran, and Meera just barely make it onto the other side of a door with the wights close behind. Meera picks up Brans sled, yelling to Hodor “hold the door!” as she flees. Inside his dream, Bran locks eyes with Wyllis as Meera’s voice cuts through the chatter of Winterfell. Wyllis collapses and as Hodor holds the door and get torn apart by wights, Bran watches in horror as Wyllis looses his mind.
I was a sobbing mess while this was happening, but it was an amazing moment of storytelling. The show took a complicated plot (closed loop time travel guys!) and told it in an artistically beautiful, emotionally satisfying, and non-confusing way. Hodor is a fantastic character. It is amazing how he never held a grudge against Bran, who I am sure he must have recognized. This episode reminded me why I love this show.