Published on May 25th, 2016 | by Bean1
Game of Thrones Review – Season 6 Episode 5 “The Door”
WARNING! BIG SPOILERS!!
Game of Thrones has upped it’s already considerable ante since moving beyond George R R Martin’s published works in it’s sixth season. Each episode has been revelatory, an exercise in gratifying narrative breakthroughs and gathering momentum. “The Door” continues to reveal the origins of past mysteries and does so in ways I thought the show, if not incapable of, then perhaps uninterested in. Such is the toll of five years of suffering that beauty and poignancy have had little room to weave their magic in Westeros. But no more.
In Moles Town Sansa achieves new stature and agency in a brutally honest exchange with her erstwhile puppeteer Littlefinger. The opportunities to watch Baelish squirm, particularly at the hand of women, are few and far between, and in fact I’d never seen him breach his own smug veneer with so much doubt before. As enormously satisfying as that was, what was more impressive about the scene was how the writing and Sophie Turner’s admirable delivery left no room for obscurity. She allows this man, who has been manipulating her since season 1, the engineer of so much of her and her family’s misery, absolutely no chance to defend his devious actions. It does much to counter the many allegations of gratuitous violence against the women in Game of Thrones to have one of it’s prime ‘victims’ name her violations in this way.
Arya faces more choices in Braavos, as her tutelage under the Waif continues. Jacquen H’Gaar seems to approve of her progress and gives her a new mission. She accepts her job to assassinate an actress and must reconcile that the motives of the clients of the Many Faced God may not be noble but rather petty and self-serving. Whilst this obviously does not jibe with her innate sense of honour, she chooses to convince her mentor of her willingness to become worthy of the ‘nobody’ status. The scene with the players in the town square, a parody of her family’s undoing, open the wounds of loss though, and one can only wonder what her end-game is at this stage.
On the Iron Islands, Yara claims the Salt Throne at the moot, is seconded by Theon, but is usurped by her prodigally returned Uncle Euron. An interesting scene made up of three rousing speeches, Euron’s supremacy rests on his plan extending to include an alliance with the Mother of Dragons. Little does he know that she will take no such man as her king; she has no need of one. As he is busy being crowned – in a ritual involving drowning, yikes – Yara and Theon make off with his best ships and escape, who knows hence.
Daenerys meanwhile confronts her former advisor, Ser Jorah. As he reveals his infection with Greyscale to his Queen and finally admits his undying love before he takes his leave, it is unclear on what level this love is requited. She forgives him, in front of Daario, and commands that he seek out the cure that will return him to health and to her side. This is the companion she requires for her rule, a man not perfect (he did betray her once, after all) but so faithful he will attempt anything to redeem himself. The subject of redemption is one deeply rooted in Jorah’s character; it seems the balancing force in a man too able to love a woman to the ruin of his own wellbeing. Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke give heartbreakingly beautiful performances in this scene, one yearning and yet acquiescing and the other overcoming her own pride and loss of trust.
Varys and Tyrion continue to work out the political backbone to reshaping Meereen with the help of their advisors Grey Worm and Missande. The Lannister is savvy enough to know that Daenerys’ rulership requires more than dragons and a mission for freedom to keep the restless masses from changing their minds. Employing Kinvara, High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis and, one may presume therefore, Melisandre’s boss, into their cause is easily done, but the cost is as yet not fully known. She appears to wish all Daenerys’ followers to convert to worshiping the Lord of Light, lest they burnt to a fiery crisp, but Varys is skeptical of her claims of success. What follows is an unsettling display of her powers which seriously disturbs Varys’ core beliefs and pragmatism. What might it mean that Varys was involved in a sacrifice to the Lord of Light?
At the Wall, Jon and Sansa sit down with their war council of Edd, Ser Davos, Melisandre, Tormund and Brienne to plan out their attack on Winterfell. Sansa, despite her personal evolution, still remains reticent in one aspect and chooses not to share with Jon the origin of her knowledge that her uncle, the Blackfish, has retaken Moat Caelyn and could join their cause. This concerns Brienne, thinking her infected by the seed of doubt in her bond with Jon that Littlefinger tried to plant, and Sansa can give no truly satisfactory answer as to why she lied. The roots of her mother’s mistrust run deep perhaps, but she must outgrow them if the Stark/Snow alliance is to truly work. Her gift of Stark-branded apparel speaks volumes however, and feels more an invitation into the family than an assauging of guilt.
Bran, having earlier discovered that the Children of the Forest, at war with men, created the White Walkers, an uncontrollable enemy with no allegiance, wargs into the distant past, this time alone. His frustration at being kept back from the truth, distant from the present struggles of his family, has morphed into a kind of arrogance with his powers. To amble through the horde of wights with a curiosity that exceeds normal mortal self-preservation proves the holes in his knowledge and experience. This goes disastrously wrong when it turns out the Night King, first of all White Walkers, can not only see him but reach him physically, and is coming for him. Thus begins Bran’s ascension to become the One-Eyed Raven, a step with a heavy cost that rings through the lives and histories of his companions.
The losses are great as the Night King and his horde descend on the cave to capture Bran. Leaf and all the remaining Children of the Forest fall to wights, Summer the direwolf bravely fends of as many as it can before succumbing and the Three-Eyed Raven Obi-Wans into nothingness as the Night King fells him in the past vision Bran is in. The real tragedy of the episode, and without question the most viscerally moving sequence I’ve ever seen on Game of Thrones, occurs as we realise the true origin of Hodor’s malady. The choice to sacrifice young Wylis in this way has already been made unwittingly by Bran when he wargs into present-day Hodor, so he knows he cannot change his decision and must watch his friend disintegrate before his eyes. The transition from “Hold the door” to “Hodor” utterly broke me, and I can’t think of a more devastating piece of television. Words literally fail me.
Goodbye Wylis, farewell Hodor the hero.
Review by Nina Clark
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