Season 6, Episode 5: ‘The Door’
Maybe it says a lot about the people in Game of Thrones that one of the most likeable characters has always been a guy who, like Matt Damon in Team America or Timmy from South Park, can only repeat his own name in different intonations. Maybe it just tells you a lot about the relativity of communication, and how the words we utter mean less than the way in which we use them. Either way, Hodor, the simple minded stable-hand from Winterfell, protector of Bran Stark, is and was a burly champion among men, both for his untiring servitude and his empathetic good nature, all expressed in a singular word, his name: Hodor!
Such was the widespread grief at his apparent death this week that people about the world responded by pasting photos of his head next to the hold button on elevator panels.
If the logic of that particular tribute makes no sense to you, here’s the recap of what went down…
It was all Bran’s fault. Him and his visions. Deciding to transport himself to the present, Bran finds himself in front of an army of wights, and he is touched on the wrist by The Night’s King. Waking up with an icy mark on his skin, The Three Eyed Raven realises Bran has inadvertently given away their location. Damnit Bran. Subsequently, the wights invade, the Three Eyed Raven is killed, and Meera attempts to flee with Bran and Hodor.
Now, while all this is happening, Bran has escaped reality by entering into another vision, this time of Winterfell in the past. He can vaguely hear the screams of Meera in the present, telling him he needs to possess Hodor’s body in order that Hodor can carry Bran away and fight off the white walkers.
Bran does this, splitting his consciousness between the past and the present from within the vision. While Meera yells at Hodor to hold the door, in order to hold back the walkers, Bran becomes overwhelmed and enters simultaneously into the young Hodor at the same time. As past and present irreconcilably collide, young Hodor goes into a seizure, muttering repeatedly ‘hold the door! Hold the door!’ until finally the words are corrupted into ‘Hodor,’ which from that moment is all he can say.
While Hodor’s death is not a matter of empirical certainty, it is one of presumable circumstance, and so we mourn, not just the fatality itself, but the saddening tragedy of a life corrupted by a singular, maddening glitch in time and space.
Hodor, you were too good for this world.
While the emotional gravity of the episode’s final scene makes it easy to forget what came immediately before it, there were, however, a number of other significant moments in ‘The Door.’ Namely:
- John Snow, Davos, and Sansa continued to plot the re-taking of Winterfell, while Brienne was dispatched to the Riverlands to recruit allied armies.
- Sansa reencountered Littlefinger for the first time since being married off to Ramsay Bolton, to whom she described and decried Bolton’s cruelties, before turning down his offer of armed support.
- Jorah, finally admitting his love for Daenerys to her face, was ordered by her to leave and return with a cure for the greyscale affliction which is rotting his arm.
- After backing his sister’s claim to the throne on the Iron Isles, Theon and Yara were forced to flee when Euron Greyjoy was elected by the people as king and decided his niece and nephew must die.
- Arya, after being hit in the face by several wooden sticks, was dispatched with the task of poisoning the actress playing Cersei in a street theatre troupe.
Halfway through the season (as always, passing by too quick!), ‘The Door’ is something of a highpoint, a superlative example of the various facets of action and emotional pull that continue to make Game of Thrones such compelling viewing. The different plot points are blending more effortlessly than they were a few episodes ago, and the production values are (as always) beyond anything else on television. Meanwhile, the addition this week of the very meta, Hamlet like play-within-a-play was an intriguing development, its referential self-parody a welcome amusement.
Hold the door!
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10