Monday, September 4, 2017

Game of Thrones 6.05: "The Door"

“What do you think he did to me?”

“The Door” was a bit more Stark-focused than many preceding episodes of “Game of Thrones” have been, and I appreciated that. I am a Stark family fan first and foremost when it comes to this series. Sure, I enjoy Tyrion’s scheming and appreciate that he survives using brains over brawn. I also enjoy that Daenerys is a badass Mother of Dragons. What first drew me into the show, and the Song of Ice and Fire world in general, however, was the Starks. That scene in the pilot episode where they’re just playing around at swordfighting in the yard, oblivious to the fact that their lives were about to be destroyed, is still burned into my brain all these years later. Like Sansa, I desperately want to see the Starks reclaim what was theirs, because they were the first “window” characters through which I saw Westeros. And they have been through so, so much. Speaking of the Stark household, we also learn more of Hodor in this episode, although that learning has tragic consequences. This was the infamous “Hold the door!” episode, and the scene in question was brutal.

As the episode opens, Sansa gets a letter sealed with Littlefinger’s mockingbird sigil. He wants to meet with her in Molestown, and she complies. When Littlefinger has the gall to say he’s glad Sansa is “unharmed,” Sansa is quick to correct him. She is rightfully pissed off that Petyr left her to Ramsay Bolton. Either he knew about Ramsay’s proclivities, which would be unforgiveable, or he didn’t know about them, which would be very uncharacteristic of someone who trades on information like Littlefinger does. Sansa makes him guess what Ramsay did to her, and she takes him through it all. She tells him she doesn’t want his help with the upcoming war – Jon’s army will be enough. Petyr tells Sansa that her uncle the Blackfish has reclaimed Riverrun, and it might be wise to get his support. He also plants a little seed of doubt about Jon, reminding Sansa that he’s only her “half” brother.

Littlefinger’s little dig sticks. Jon calls a meeting to figure out their next move. Davos is feeling nervous about their chances of turning a sufficient number of Northern families against the Boltons. Sansa insists that she knows the North, and they’re loyal, while Davos insists he knows how men in general act. Jon may have Stark blood, but he doesn’t have the Stark name to rally around. Sansa mentions that the Blackfish has retaken Riverrun, but when asked how she knows this, she just says that Ramsay got a raven saying so before she left. She’s not quite trusting Jon enough to reveal her meeting with Littlefinger. She gives Brienne the special mission to go enlist the Blackfish while the rest of the group starts South together. Before they leave, Sansa gives Jon a piece of clothing with a Stark direwolf sigil, and Jon is genuinely touched by the gesture.

Meanwhile, in Braavos, Arya is still training with the Waif, and it’s not going especially well. Jaqen tells Aarya the history of the Faceless Men – how they freed themselves from slavery and founded Braavos. All the faces they are permitted to use are carved on the walls of their Hall. It’s pretty cool actually. Jaqen gives Arya a mission that is basically going to be her last chance to prove her worth to the Faceless Men. She must kill an actress named Lady Crane. Arya goes to see Lady Crane in a nearby performance of a rather farcical play about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of King Robert and her father. At first, she’s amused, but when “Ned” appears, it takes a turn and Arya is the only one not laughing. This particular scene made me want to book my ticket to the Maryland Renaissance Festival – it felt like that sort of performance! Arya heads backstage after the show, and she hears Lady Crane talking about how she likes to drink rum. Back at the Hall, she talks to Jaqen about the situation. She starts speculating about who might have asked the Faceless Men to kill Lady Crane – her prime suspect is the young actress who was playing Sansa. Jaqen tells Arya that it’s not her place to speculate. She needs to just do her job.

We next head to the Iron Islands, where the Kingsmoot has been convened to crown their next leader. Yara makes the first claim, and there are a lot of people who are supportive, but there are also, of course, some misogynists who don’t think the Iron Islands can have a queen. To his credit, Theon steps up for his sister and tells the crowd how qualified she is and that he’s forfeiting his claim to the throne for her. This gets a lot more support from the crowd. Everything is ruined, however, when Yara and Theon’s Uncle Euron, who actually killed the previous King in the first place, shows up. He gives a big speech about how he wants to strengthen the Iron Islands through an alliance with Daenerys, and since he’s got a penis, the crowd eats it up. Theon again stresses that Yara was there for the Iron Islands when nobody else was, and she has proven leadership skills, but the crowd isn’t having it. In that scene, Yara is all of us competent women who have been mansplained to. This scene hit a little too close to home, actually. Euron is crowned in a ritual that actually involves him drowning in tribute to the Drowned God, and while this is happening, Yara, Theon, and a bunch of their followers escape with the best shops. Once he comes to, Euron orders his supporters to build more ships to follow them.

Let’s head back across the Narrow Sea to check in with Dany and her crew. Her reunion with Jorah and Daario is kind of sweet. Dany doesn’t know what to do with Jorah, since she’s banished him twice, but he still keeps saving her. Jorah admits two things – that he loves Dany and that he has Grey Scale. Dany commands Jorah to find a cure for himself, then she rides off impressively with her entourage. In Meereen, Tyrion and Varys are still trying to make their political victory (the deal with the Masters) stick. Violence has decreased dramatically, but they want to make sure everybody knows that Dany is ultimately responsible for that decreased violence. Tyrion, surprisingly, enlists the help of a Red Priestess, who says her priests will say that Dany is the chosen one from their prophesy. Varys is skeptical, especially considering all the trouble Melisandre has caused. Eventually, however, the Priestess wins him over, and they come to an accord.

We wrap this post up in the far North, where Bran is plugged into the cave with the Three-Eyed Raven. Through a vision, we learn that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to protect themselves from humans, and then that plan backfired. Later, Bran has another vision on his own. This time he sees the White Walkers and the Night King. In the vision, the Night King grabs his arm. When he comes to, Bran is told that he’s not safe in the cave anymore because he’s been marked by the Night King, and the Three-Eyed Raven needs to download all his knowledge into Bran ASAP before the White Walkers attack the cave. The attack starts in the middle of this info dump, and it is brutal. As Hodor, Bran (still unconscious), and Meera near an exit to the cave, the White Walkers are closing in. Meera instructs Hodor to “hold the door” while she drags Bran away. At that moment, Bran is having a vision of a young Ned leaving Winterfell, and Hodor is in the background. As Hodor is holding the door and being overtaken by the White Walkers, Hodor in the vision suddenly has a seizure. As he’s convulsing, he starts saying “hold the door,” which as his brain is damaged, becomes “Hodor.”

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