I hope that you weren’t too excited by how things played out last week because all of your hopes for happy moments this week were dashed. Instead, this fifth episode of the season saw normal service resume for Game of Thrones. I’m not sure everyone will be happy about that but damned if it doesn’t keep you hooked right ’til the very end.
So let’s start at the end of the episode, shall we? Bran’s warging powers are probably beyond just warging at this point, even if the three-eyed raven thinks he’s nowhere near ready. Bran’s warging included splitting his powers between time travel and Hodor, having stimuli from the real world permeate the warging world and his visions being so real that the Night’s King uses them to wreck Bran’s warging academy.
This still doesn’t really answer what powers that Bran has through his warging that are so important to the wars to come. He can apparently warg through time with the help of the Three-Eyed Raven but doesn’t that only really serve to see how the White Walkers were defeated in the past? Bran’s whole excursion north only really served to provide some cool flashbacks but he doesn’t really have anything to add to the fight.
That being said, the climax of the episode was seeing the simultaneous origin and ending of Hodor. It’s an origin and ending that will result in you never asking for someone to hold the door again. It’s a beautifully tragic scene that ties back to the ongoing theme of nobody getting what they deserve, even if Bran’s super warging overloaded Wylis’s brain so that holding the door, at some point, was all he was destined to do in his life.
Even if you ignore all the light and fire playing through the scene to create the desired atmosphere. The highlight was the ending with Hodor holding the door against the wights. It’s such a simple touch to mute the sounds of the wights only to hear child Hodor’s brain melting juxtaposed to the slaughter he’s fighting to hold back. It’s very poetic. It’s two different endings played over each other with the ending of both Wylis and Hodor. Alternatively, as I said, it’s like the beginning and end of Hodor.
It’s a credit to George, Dave and Dan (along with actor Kristian Nairn) that Hodor is so beloved that this character’s death provoked such heartbreak among fans who are used to having their hearts broken over and over again.
Meanwhile, in Essos, Ser Friendzone almost got un-friend zoned. It’s just too bad about that contagious through touch Greyscale. Didn’t he touch Dany last season, though, which should make this all a bit of a moot point since she has to worry about it too? In Meereen, Tyrion and Varys met a new Red Priestess who seems to be under the impression that Dany (rather than Jon) is the Lord of Light’s chosen warrior.
You’d think that these would all be big developments but they didn’t really feel like it. Jorah is sent off to “find a cure” to greyscale and Varys’s atheistic beliefs are shaken by the frightening knowledge of the Eastern Red Woman. They’re really good scenes but they add nothing to the story by themselves. Team Dragon really got the short end this week.
Credit it where it’s due, though. Emilia Clarke and Conleth Hill made those scenes work. Emilia hasn’t really had to do too many emotional scenes but she had the tears in her eyes look perfect. She made the whole previously one-sided relationship between Dany and Jorah work in just one scene. And Conleth showed how the new Red Priestess’s knowledge shook Varys to the point where he was willing to go along with Tyrion’s plan to use this Priestess and her followers to preach about Dany’s greatness.
Jaqen’s next test of No One to see if she can set her past aside to complete an assassination. The whole Faceless Men indoctrination thing has not been properly explained. Arya has to become no one and apparently is No One because she got her sight back but she’s still clearly Arya Stark. It’s not even like there’s a conflict between her past and present. She’s just Arya. It doesn’t really make any sense.
Okay, I know I sound harsh on this episode when breaking it down on paper. However, like many of the other episodes this season, it translates so much better on TV than it looks in this review. While some of the story direction leaves you scratching your head when you try to analyze it, this was a brilliantly directed and acted episode. It’s composed in a way that keeps you glued to the TV for an hour and wanting to come back 167 hours later for the next hour.
Other random points of note:
- It wouldn’t be an episode of Game of Thrones without gratuitous nudity.
- The death of a direwolf seems to be a sign of bad things coming. Robb and Grey Wind died almost simultaneously. Shaggydog was killed and Rickon was captured. Summer is mauled by wights and Hodor gets offed. Granted, while there wasn’t as immediate a correlation, things didn’t go so well for Sansa after Lady died, either. So if something happens to Ghost or Nymeria turns up to die, Jon and Arya are in trouble.
- Drowning someone as a coronation ceremony doesn’t seem like such a great idea. The election seems like a big enough pain as it is but having to do it over and over again because you kill the winning candidate just seems like torture. That being said, America should adopt this practice starting with this election.
- Game of Thrones in one line: “Where are my niece and nephew? Let’s go murder them.”
- Max von Sydow sure has a thing for getting slashed diagonally across the chest like that. First, Kylo Ren did him in like that all of five minutes into The Force Awakens. Now, he gets it from Icy Darth Maul.
- Are we ever going to find out who Jon Snow’s mother actually is?
Next week, Hodor might have held the door but the wights are still after Bran and Meera. Maggie’s walk of atonement is put on hold when Lannister and Tyrell forces confront the High Sparrow. Dany and the Dothraki are on the move. And Sam makes it home which after six episodes which makes me concerned that he’s about to die because that’s what this show has done to me. It’s conditioned me to expect to have my heart broken.