It’s been a season of momentum for Game of Thrones this year. We’ve now officially hit the halfway mark, and things are progressing more and more with each passing episode. This week, we got a series of stunning reveals, a new king in Westeros, and hints at massive battle to come. It was a story that had viewers on the edge of their collective seats, only further proving that the HBO series may very well be better off without published novels to back it up. Existing for the first time without concrete book material as a source, Game of Thrones has reached new levels in Season 6.
“The Door” was an episode defined by unexpected reveals. Suddenly, we know far more about the entirety of the Song of Ice and Fire story than we ever have, marked by a turning point of sorts. The narrative has arrived at a point of no return, and the series is far better off for it. With just five weeks to go before the end of the season, things are only continuing to ramp up. So let’s talk about that episode, shall we?
1. Sansa begins to find her strength
There’s a strong argument to be made for Sansa as the most tortured and miserable character on Game of Thrones (Theon/Reek-excepted). Her direwolf was sentenced to death in Season 1, she spent Seasons 2 and 3 betrothed to Joffrey, was forcefully married to Tyrion short after that, and then finally, found herself married off to the only character more eminently hatable than Joffrey, Ramsay Bolton.
She’s since found her strength and voice though, having escaped Winterfell and gone north to Castle Black. Under the protection of Jon Snow and Brienne, she’s begun the initial plans to unseat the Boltons as Wardens of the North. Petyr Baelish arrives on the scene to offer her the Knights of the Vale and an apology, but Sansa has gone far behind needing a male presence to own her life anymore. Turning Baelish away, she begins to form a plan to unite Jon’s Wildling army with what’s left of the Tullys.
2. Arya learns to serve
While Sansa’s story paints her as a potential conqueror, things are going decidedly different for Arya over in Braavos. She’s learning to serve the Many-Faced god as a Faceless Man, as part of an ancient order of assassins. Her latest assignment takes her to a stage production of what amounts to Season 1, painting a harrowing picture of how the Stark family is thought of in hindsight (read: not fondly). She’s assigned to kill one of the actresses, at the behest of a competitor who pays the Faceless Men a fee to get the job done. If Arya gets it done, it’ll be her first murder in cold blood, and could mark a major turning point for her character.
3. The first White Walkers
In the Game of Thrones universe, the origin behind the White Walkers has largely been a mystery. All we really know about them is that they were responsible for “The Long Night,” an invasion of Westeros that saw them beaten back by the Children of the Forest and the First Men (and subsequently leading to the construction of the Wall). “The Door” tells us exactly when and how they first arrived though.
Thousands of years ago, the Children and the First Men were bitter rivals, engaged in a bloody struggle for control of the North. In an effort to tip the scales in their favor, the Children of the Forest created the first White Walker, by pushing dragonglass straight into the chest of a captured human. Of course we know they later turned on their masters, and it’s an intriguing origin for what amounts to the biggest threat to all of Westeros.
4. The Iron Islands get a new king
It’s been a while since the Iron Islands was an integral part of the Game of Thrones story. It might not be long though before they’re integral to the next great conflict in Westeros. After killing his brother Balon, Euron Greyjoy has been crowned king, promising to build the largest fleet the world has ever known, and to offer it to Daenerys Targaryen in hopes of brokering a wedding. We know the Sons of the Harpy burned Daenerys own fleet, and a Greyjoy fleet would make the perfect replacement for her eventual invasion of Westeros.
5. Tyrion and Varys make a strange new ally
Of all the gods, new and old, none have made their presence felt as much as the Lord of Light. It’s the one deity in all of Game of Thrones that’s actually directly affected the story, from the leaches in the flames that indirectly killed Robb Stark, Joffrey, and Balon, to the demon smoke baby that creeped us all out on a fundamental level. In order to keep control of Meereen, Tyrion and Varys enlist the help of a different Red Priest, who promises to preach the good word about Daenerys’s role in saving the world. It leads to one particularly interesting moment, where we see the usually unflappable Varys completely and utterly terrified. If this Red Priest is half as creepy as Melisandre, then we could be in for a wild ride here.
6. Here come the White Walkers
It’s long been hinted that the White Walkers will end up being the primary villains of the series, and things continue to point firmly in that direction. The Others have found Bran, and with the aid of their zombie army, they lay siege to the Three-Eyed Raven’s hideout. It’s a thrilling 20-minute sequence that closes out the episode, and has Bran, Meera, and Hodor running for their lives against the most terrifying force in all of Game of Thrones. It’s Hodor though who suddenly becomes more important than anyone else in this episode…
7. The origin of Hodor
Hodor’s a character whose origin has generally been thought of as inconsequential in the greater scheme of things. As it turns out, it may actually have widespread implications that change the entire story forever. While the White Walkers attack their cave, Bran is mired in a flashback that takes him back to the day his father left for the Vale as a child. Meera, in an attempt to save them from the oncoming assault, begs the comatose Bran to warg into Hodor and save them. Young Hodor (known back then as Wylis) is present in Bran’s vision, and through some sort of connection between the past and present, passes out and begins seizing.
Bran eventually wargs into present-day Hodor (but remains in the vision of the past), and while Meera screams “HOLD THE DOOR!”, young Wylis begins to repeat after her, hearing her voice piercing through the veil. “Hold the door!” then slowly morphs into “Hodor,” forever turning normal, everyday Wylis into Hodor. Sadly, just as we learn this, present-day Hodor finds himself torn apart by wights while holding the door. All death aside, what this shows us is that Bran actually has the ability to alter the very fabric of reality when he’s in the past. This in turn leads us to wonder: Just how will he utilize that power in the future?
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