Game of Thrones: Season 6 Episode 5 Review – The Door
As Game of Thrones slides into its mid-season point, the show offered us last night what we feel has been the strongest episode of Season 6 so far. It was unique in one other respect too – for the episode was also leaked early, by none other than HBO themselves. Below you will find our spoiler-filler review of last night’s episode.
Upon its opening, the show provided us with more of what we found so interesting last week – a strong Sansa Stark who is no longer so easily swayed. We loved her discussion with Littlefinger, in which she well and truly cowed him and put him in his place. “You said you would protect me… I don’t need you anymore,” she confidently throws at a Petyr, who is stunned into silence. Cowing Littlefinger is no easy feat and we can see that the writers are finally starting to make up for their mis-steps with Sansa in Season 5.
This episode offered another glance (the first being at King Joffrey’s wedding) at the theatrical entertainment that serves to humour the people of Westeros. Here, the subject of the play was very precisely honed in on the death of King Robert and the execution of Ned Stark (with a portrayal of the Lannisters that Cersei would undoubtedly kill over, if she had seen it). The actors and actresses act out the highly insulting and basely comical play as Arya watches on with disgust.
Notably, one of the lines in the play is “I feel the winds of Winter as they lick across the land,” which undoubtedly is a nod to the A Song of Ice and Fire instalment that George R. R. Martin is currently writing: The Winds of Winter.
Arya’s storyline itself is somewhat a tedious watch. While other characters all seem to be progressing and finding new levels of strength, for a long time now Arya has simply been playing out the training that Jaqen H’Gar puts her through, remaining in a static phase. We realise that she is working towards the completion of this training, but her narrative never seems to provide anything interesting. Currently, she is tasked with a murder that is nothing different to what we have already seen Arya attempt before.
The show also continued to focus, welcomely, on the Iron Islands. The show not only addressed the Kingsmoot, but showed the actual Kingsmoot take place. This greatly pleased us, as it is a moment pulled directly from the books, and here it played out much the same. Yara (Asha) tried her luck at the Kingsmoot and, just as in the books, Euron enters and outdoes her, garnering more cheers and securing the salt throne (quite how he expects his men to build 1000 ships from scratch in any short period of time though, is beyond us).
We even got to witness the Greyjoy ritual of drowning their men and having them survive the drowning process. The only thing missing to make this Greyjoy-focus perfect was the inclusion of Victarion Greyjoy, unfortunately, we are never likely to see.
The church of the Lord of Light is also built upon rather well here, when Tyrion is introduced to Kinvara – High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis. We thought that Anika Bukstein had a real presence about her and she feels like a strong addition to the show. We assume this is all leading to the introduction of whomever Ian McShane will play (McShane already having revealed that he will play someone in a priest-like role).
As Game of Thrones is want to do, every episode this season has ended with a grand scene that is intended to stick in the mind. No episode this season has achieved this greater than this one. It is first revealed that the children of the forest are the makers of the white walkers. This answer makes sense to us (although you have to wonder why they created something so powerful without a contingency plan to stop it – and no, those ridiculous magic grenades don’t count).
The show then veers into the territory that it often succeeds best in – showing us the white walkers in all their terrifying glory. The scene where Bran walks through the army, apparently undetected, had us on edge for its entire duration.
The episode then provides its most disappointing choice, which is the execution of Summer. The show is thoroughly relentless of late in its execution of the Starks’ direwolves, to the point now where you almost wonder what they did to the writers. Only recently the show executed Rickon’s direwolf Shaggydog.
We queried in a previous review why the other direwolves don’t seem to feel the loss of their siblings in the show, when they feel this dramatically in the books. It’s an annoying mis-step from the writers, only second to the fact that they are slaughtering the direwovles so thick and fast that soon we’ll have none left.
As a wonderful finale, the show provided its most emotionally hard-hitting reveal this season. This is the death of Hodor, set alongside Bran’s discovery of how Hodor lost his ability to speak as a boy, and of where the word “Hodor” in fact comes from. We loved this entire sequence. Not only is it an answer that we assumed we’d never get, but the show executed this so smartly and in a manner so respectful to the character that we were left impressed.
Although it may sound foolish out of context, “Hodor” is a shortening of “Hold the door” (note too, the episode’s title), which is what Meera repeatedly shouts at Hodor during their escape. It is Bran’s lingering in the past that causes Hodor to have the fit as a boy and to lose his speech – repeating only that single phrase from then on.
All of this was Bran’s doing, in truth, due to him residing among the walkers in his mind for too long. This makes not only Hodor’s death Bran’s fault, but also all of the deaths that occurred here, including that of his own direwolf, and we do wonder whether Bran will come to realise this.
Like Brienne’s view of Jon, this episode left us “a bit brooding”, due to the heavy loss suffered. Yet, like Jon himself, we’re just happy that the show is alive and most importantly: providing us with content that we want to see.