Game of Thrones sure knows how to pull at your heartstrings at the drop of a hat. Last night’s episode did so in spectacular fashion — finally revealing just how Hodor got his name. It was a brutally heartbreaking ending to a stellar, and relatively clean, episode.
But before we relive that trauma, let’s take a trip to Castle Black, where Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) is back and reunited with his love unrequited, the still very underage Sansa (Sophie Turner). However, it wasn’t the reunion the lovelorn Lord Baelish had hoped for. Sansa, with Brienne behind her, immediately interrogates him to see if he knew what marrying her off to Ramsay Bolton would mean for her. She asks him to detail (in list form) exactly what he thinks Ramsay did to her. It’s a sad, painful reminder of the abuse that Sansa endured (and still endures) at the hands of the psychopath who stole Winterfell. But before he’s cast out, Littlefinger uses his last remaining hand — Brynden Blackfish, Sansa’s uncle. He cleverly reminds the eldest Stark that her uncle (on her mother’s side) could very well be a useful ally in the war against the Boltons, and that he is the key to making it happen. Sansa may hate Littlefinger right now, but it looks like she might need him.
Sansa, Jon (Kit Harington) and Ser Davos must come up with a better strategy in order to bolster their army. This is where Sansa (who’s politicking with the best of them) suggests utilizing House Tully. It’s certainly a good start, but it’s not enough. They figure if they secure smaller and still loyal houses in the North, along with Riverrun, they can stand a pretty good chance. So, off they go to gather some much-needed man power, leaving Edd as the reluctant Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
(Side note: who knew Tormund liked blondes? The tall, amazonian kind, too. Poor Brienne. It was a great and well-placed moment of levity that sought to remind us viewers that GOT still has a pretty keen sense of humor.)
In Braavos, the other Stark sister (Maisie Williams) now officially goes by “no one.” She’s sent on a mission to murder an actress in order to prove her worth. While on recon duty, she’s in the audience of a comedy play about the end of King Robert’s reign, where her father Ned is portrayed as a crass, bumbling buffoon. In that moment, as she watched the fictional recreation of her father’s death, it’s achingly obvious that she’s very much still Arya Stark, and won’t ever stop being so. There’s a lot of rage in this one, and I’m looking forward to seeing just who she takes it out on once she can get her hands on some merchandise in the Hall of Faces.
Meanwhile, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is on another epic psychedelic adventure alongside the Three Eyed Raven. This time it has nothing to do with Ned. This time, they’re made witness to a bizarre gathering/ritual sacrifice of the Children of the Forest (the leafy, alien-looking ladies who hang around Bran). And with that comes a pretty shocking revelation: the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers in order to fight against the men attempting to seize their lands. Well, that was dumb. Especially considering how the episode ends for the forest dwellers. As I’ve said before, Game of Thrones certainly isn’t lacking a sense of irony.
But before that truth can fully settle in, we’re taken south and across the sea to the Iron Islands, where the Greyjoy Kingsmoot is underway. Yara looks set to become ruler, backed by (most of) the men, and even her brother Theon. This is, until Euron suddenly appears. He says a few words, even admitting to killing Baylon, and swiftly steals the throne from Yara, the rightful, but unfortunately female, heir. Sexism runs deep in the Ironborn.
Sufficiently drowned and crowned, Euron has plans to steal the Seven Kingdoms by seducing Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) with his ships. Luckily, Yara and Theon steal all the good ships, and it’s going to take some time before the new King of the Iron Islands can build a whole new fleet of ships. If nothing else, at least there’s finally a reason to watch any parts featuring the Greyjoys.
After flaming out in last week’s episode, Dany is ready to head back to Meereen But before she can, she has a score to settle with Ser Jorah. This is what makes Daenerys so great as a character. Sure, she’s ruthless, mighty and powerful when she needs to be. But, she also has a big heart. She cares about Jorah, maybe not in the same way he cares about her, but it’s love nonetheless. Theirs is a beautiful friendship, and I really hope they see each other again. Find a cure Jorah, find a cure.
With Daenerys on her way back to Meereen, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Varys, Missandei and Grey Worm ruminate over Tyrion’s plan regarding Slaver’s Bay. It’s highly doubtful that the people of Meereen will support it. So, naturally, they bring in the High Red Priestess from Volantis, who sees Dany as the “chosen one,” to essentially sell the campaign to the people. I have a feeling this won’t work out they way they hope it will. If Melisandre is any indication, these witchy women house some pretty major (and possibly deadly) secrets.
It’s time we talk about what happened back beyond the wall. Bran, ever the reckless teenager, goes on a super smart white-eyed vision quest by himself, where he finds himself surrounded by White Walkers. Winter has come. And unlike any other vision he’s been on before, they know he’s there. Whoops.
Now marked by the Night King, Bran and friends are in serious trouble. They’re coming for him. Of course, as the White Walkers storm the cave, Bran’s on another trip. Now Meera, Hodor and the last remaining Child of the Forest must get Bran out while still in his vegetative state. Dragging him on a sled, they make their way to a back exit, and the rest is Game of Thrones history.
Despite a lot of gratuitous deaths, this season has pretty much hit all the right notes in terms of honoring its most well-beloved characters. This episode more than most.
Hodor has always been a lovable galumph, a gentle giant if you will. “The Door” showed a side to him we’ve never seen before. Finding out that Hodor’s lifelong affliction of speech came from trying to save Bran Stark from a herd of wights makes him a not only a likable and sympathetic character, but a hero. “Hold the door!” will never mean the same thing again.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/MT.