Can you believe it? We’re already halfway through the season! There are now only five episodes of season 6 left. Last week the show did some fan service and gave us some amazing and heartwarming scenes, like Daenerys’ rebirth and Jon and Sansa reuniting (you can read my review for that episode here). I knew that after giving us an episode with so many happy and hopeful scenes, things were only going to get worse, and unfortunately, I was right. Episode 5 was probably the most gut-wrenching episode we’ve had this season, with the final scene revealing the answer to a question many fans had been wondering from the first episode of the show, why does Hodor say “Hodor?”
We begin the episode at the Night’s Watch, and it seems like some time has past since the last episode. Sansa receives a letter from Littlefinger, and meets with him at Mole’s Town, along with Brienne. This scene was both amazing and painful to watch. Sansa is no longer the naive little girl she once was, she’s been through so much suffering, and it’s made her stronger. She doesn’t give Littlefinger a chance to play around with words and manipulate her, she’s direct in her approach and accuses him for leaving her with Ramsay. It’s a rare moment when we see Littlefinger utterly speechless. For a character that has been involved in so many schemes and caused so many deaths, it’s refreshing to see him getting called out for his actions. Sansa demands to know what he thinks Ramsay did to her, and Petyr reluctantly answers, asking whether she was beaten and cut. Sansa acknowledges his response, and also implies on how she was raped by him. Littlefinger seems genuinely sorry, he had underestimated Ramsay and tells Sansa he will do anything to protect her, however Sansa has had enough of him. She refuses his and the Vale’s help, and tells him to leave. Before departing Littlefinger gives her some final advice, that her great-uncle Brynden Tully has retaken Riverrun and that she should go ask for his help.
Back at Castle Black Jon and Davos are going over battle plans, and they realise they are short of men. Jon decides that they will need to recruit from all the other smaller houses of the North to get enough men. Sansa tells them that the North remembers, and there are still those who are loyal to House Stark. Davos questions this, saying that Jon doesn’t have the Stark name, but Sansa reminds him that she is a Stark. Jon almost seems taken aback or offended in this scene, possibly because he wasn’t referred to as a Stark. Sansa also tells him that House Tully has an army after the Blackfish returned, but she lies about how she gained that information. It’s possible she doesn’t want to talk about Littlefinger and the Knight’s of the Vale in case Jon wants their help, as she doesn’t want anything to do with Littlefinger. They all depart Castle Black to rally the Northern Houses, while Sansa sends Brienne to Riverrun to get the Tully’s help.
Arya continues her trying with the Faceless Men, and is given her first task by Jaqen. She is sent to kill an actress who is performing a play. It’s not just any play however, as Arya sits in the crowd we realise that this play is a reenactment of the death of King Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark. Now I don’t know if Jaqen purposely sent her on this mission to see how she would react or if it was just a coincidence. The actress Arya has to kill is the one portraying Cersei Lannister, a character who is already on Arya’s hit list. After Arya returns to Jaqen, she asks him various questions about the task, making her seem reluctant. She notes that the actress she has been sent to kill seems like a decent women, and she believes the younger actress from the cast is jealous of her. Interestingly, the younger actress portrayed Sansa in the play. Arya killing the older actress would enable the younger one to get a larger role in the play. This could possibly forshadow Arya killing the real Cersei Lannister in the future, which may directly influence Sansa’s story in the long run.
A major plot from the books is finally included, the Kingsmoot. With Balon dead the Iron Island needs a new leader, and Yara elects herself. Theon is there to support her, as are the men who Yara has captained on her ship. However Euron Greyjoy arrives, and is quick to admit that he was the one who killed Balon. The Ironborn almost replicate the Dothraki here, they follow the strongest. Euron promises them riches and glory, after he builds his fleet of a thousand ships. He’s heard about Daenerys and intends to marry her. As his crowning (or drowning) ceremony begins, Theon, Yara and men loyal to them gallivant away from the Iron Islands, taking the best ships with them. It will be interesting to see where they plan to go.
We have a quick scene here where we see the Dothraki preparing to leave for Meereen. Daenerys is confronted with Jorah, where she admits that she can’t banish him or keep him by her side. Under the watchful eyes of Daario, Jorah makes the decision for her. He shows her his affliction with Grey Scale, and after finally admitting that he loves her, he turns to leave. Daenerys commands him to stay put. This was probably my favourite Daenerys scene of this season. I’ve never considered Emilia Clarke to be a great actress, but she did a brilliant job during this scene. Daenerys tells Jorah that he must find a cure for his greyscale, and then come back to her, as she wants him by her side when she takes Westeros. Though he’s still in the friendzone, I’m glad Jorah’s finally been forgiven. Unfortunately after spending half the season looking for Daenerys, he will once again become Jorah the Explorer, as he tries to find a cure.
After his pact with the Masters of Yunkai and Astapor, Tyrion has managed to bring a fragile peace into the city. However that isn’t enough for the Lannister, he wants to people of Meereen to know that it is because of Daenerys that they have peace. His idea is to use religion as his propaganda machine, and so calls upon the High Priestess of the Lord of Light. Kinvara is more than willing to spread the message of Daenerys’ greatness, as she believes Daenerys is the Price who was Promised, rather than Stannis or Jon, who Melisandre is currently serving. Varys is very sceptical of her, possibly because she is willing to have any non-believers burnt by Daenerys’ dragons. However he is taken aback when Kinvara mentions his castration, and talks about the voices he heard in the fire that night. It is strange to see Varys so intimidated and surprised. It will be interesting to see if this Red Woman has the same effect on Daenerys that Melisandre had on Stannis.
North of the Wall
Bran’s storyline is where this episode excelled. It’s been a while since we’ve had an episode this intense, this well paced with such great twists. We start off with Bran and the Three Eyed Raven (Bloodraven) in another vision. They see a few Children of the Forest sitting around the same heart tree under which Bran is currently living, only there is no snow, and it’s summer. From the weather alone it is evident that this vision is from a long time ago. There is a man tied on to the heart tree, and we see Leaf approach him, holding what seems to resemble a dragonglass blade. She pushes the blade into the man’s chest, and his eyes turn icy blue. We now get one of the biggest revelations of the series, the Children of the Forest are the ones who created the White Walkers. For those of you who don’t know, the Children of the Forest used to be the only inhabitants of Westeros, until the arrival of the First Men. They fought with man for over 2000 years before making a pact and making peace. However having lost many of their own during the war, it seems that the Children decided to make White Walkers as a weapon against man. Leaf says as much to Bran, telling him that they were facing extinction. However the Children lost control over the White Walkers, which led to the Long Night.
Later on while the others sleep in the cave, Bran decides to use the heart tree to access more visions. He is transported to the White Walker army. As he walks past them, he eventually ends up in front of the Night’s King. While all the other White Walkers had been oblivious to Bran, the Night’s King turns to look at him, and suddenly so do all the others. As Bran begins to panic, the Night’s King grabs on to his arm, causing Bran to scream and wake up from the vision. The other’s hear Bran and wake up as well, and Bloodraven tells Bran that he has been marked by the Night’s King, so they are no longer safe in the cave. As Meera and Hodor begin preparing for their departure, Bloodraven takes Bran into another vision one last time.
They’re back in Winterfell, and we see Rickard Stark, Bran’s grandfather, saying goodbye to Ned as he prepares to leave for the Eyrie. While still in the vision, the White Walkers arrive to the cave and Meera desperately tries to wake Bran up. The Children are able to hold off the Wights, but the White Walkers enter the cave where they begin killing the Children in the Forest. Meera throws a dragonglass spear and is able to kill one of them, however the Wights break in through the roof of the cave and even with the help of Summer and the Children, they can’t hold them back. Meera screams at Bran to warg into Hodor, so that he can pick up Bran and get them out of the cave. Bran can hear Meera’s voice while he’s still in the vision, and Bloodraven tells him to “listen to your friend”, which makes me think he had this planned all along, or at least knew it was coming. Bran focuses on the young Wylis in front of him, and is able to warg into Hodor. He picks up the art carrying his body and runs deeper through the cave with Meera. Summer stays behind and attacks the wights, however he is overpowered and is killed while protecting his master. I’m honestly sick of the Stark children losing their Direwolves! We just lost Shaggy Dog two episodes ago, and Summer has been so important to Bran’s storyline and helped with his warging ability. His death had no impact on the plot, it wasn’t necessary, and I feel these direwolves are just being killed off to save the shows CGI budget.
As they continue running through the cave, Leaf, the last of the Children, sacrifices herself to give them more time to escape. She is killed by the monsters she helped create. There is a door leading to the exit of the cave, and after going through with Bran, Meera screams at Hodor to “hold the door”. This was one of the most tragic and heart-wrenching scenes from this show. Bran is still inside his vision at Winterfell, and the young Wylis turns around to look at him, before collapsing on the floor. Somehow his mind became linked with his future self, and he begins shouting “hold the door”. As the present Hodor still stays behind holding the door, the wights are able to break through and they begin tearing and stabbing at him. In the vision, Wylis continues to shout “hold the door”, mirroring the final words Hodor is hearing, until the words become a mumble and eventually begin to sound like “Hodor.” With his mind still linked to Hodor as he dies, Wylis seems to lose all ability to speak. Hodor dies while fulfilling his destiny, his fate had been decided decades before Bran was even born and he died holding the door so that Bran and Meera could escape. This death was unlike any other I’ve witnessed on this show. Hodor was one of the few characters who has been alive from episode 1, and has turned into an iconic character purely because of his name. He seemed like the comic relief in Bran’s story, the half giant who could only say his name. That name had become a joke within this fandom, and to find that it’s origin came from such a tragic event is heartbreaking.