Game of Thrones knows how to bring the pain, so much so it should be called Pain of Thrones. The notices before each episode warn us against violence and nudity. But they don’t warn viewers that we will have our still-beating hearts ripped out of our chests. Here are 5 things that slayed us in the fifth episode, “The Door.”
WARNING: SPOILERS APLENTY
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The Meaning of the Name Hodor
Game of Thrones has had many painful deaths, but Hodor’s death was particularly cruel: Hodor was a simple giant of a man, affable despite an inability to communicate with any word other than “Hodor.” But as we learned in this season, Hodor was once named Wylim (“Walder” in George R.R. Martin’s novels), and he was as intelligent as any stable boy you’d see in that time and place.
In “The Door,” Bran, Meera, the Three-Eyed Raven, and the remaining Children of the Forest (elf-like creatures who are older than the race of Men) are attacked by the Night’s King and his White Walkers. (More on them, below.) Bran, who was focused on a vision of Winterfell thirty-something years in the past, dimly hears the commotion in the present. As Meera drags Bran’s unconscious body to safety, she screams at Hodor to keep the White Walkers from following them: “Hold the door!”
In the past, Walder hears the command. Bran watches as the boy drops to the ground and writhes as the command fills his mind. He screams, “Hold the door, hold the door,” over and over again, until the words merge into one. Hodor.
In the present, Hodor is torn apart by the undead. But he manages to hold the door.
May the Old Gods and the New watch over you, Wylim.
Please note that Bran, in the present, can affect what’s happened in the past. This may be important later.
The Origin of the White Walkers
Readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire have known that the White Walkers are an almost unstoppable evil, and they’re growing in force. But we never knew how they came to be.
Now we do. In a scene from the past, Bran sees the Children of the Forest surround a man who is tied to a Heart Tree—a man with a suspicious resemblance to the Stark family. A Child of the Forest take a blade and plunge it into the man’s chest. As he screams, the Child buries it deep in the man’s heart. Then he ices over.
Yes, the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers. To protect themselves against Men.
[This is not good.]
Considering that the Children of the Forest helped Bran and Meera get to the safety of their cave, it’s shocking to learn that they were once the enemies of Men. (Note: Book readers may be less shocked.)
Arya sees her father’s beheading in a play
Arya Stark has been hiding in Braavos, learning the ways of the Faceless Men (and learning that she’s not as good as she need to be, as the Waif showed her in one awesome combat scene). Jaqen H’ghar (the man who wears his face, anyway) sends her to become a seamstress for a company of actors, as a ruse to poison the company’s leading lady. Arya watches one of their plays from the audience.
In this play, we see the death of King Robert told as a Shakespearean comedy, complete with rhyming couplets. Here, Cersei and Joffrey are the heroes…and the villain is Ned Stark. Arya watches his beheading at a distance (meanwhile, poor Sansa was up close and personal). And as someone who just rewatched that particular episode “Baelor,” I can see the differences between the Arya of then and the Arya of now. In both cases, they were unable to look away as Ned is executed. But the older Arya is a much more careworn version of herself.
And the fact that everyone around her was laughing at that play made it that much more painful.
Sansa shows Petyr her wrath
Throughout Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark has had it bad. Watching her father die. Beaten by King Joffrey’s thugs. Force married to Tyrion. But being force married to Ramsay Bolton was the worst of all, because he was a mad dog with no leash. Petyr Baelish had arranged that marriage. And now Littlefinger has turned up in the nearby village, asking how she is.
Sansa asks Petyr, “What do you think he did to me?” As Petyr evades the question, Sansa persists. “I can still feel it. I don’t mean ‘in my tender heart, it still pains me so,’ I can still fell what he did in my body, standing here right now… You said you would protect me.”
[It seems she can do her own protecting now.]
The fact that she said those words with such steel kept me from bawling. Sansa has learned to stand on her own. But what a cost.
Daenerys orders Jorah to leave…and return
After Dany, Jorah, and Daario have left the city of Vaes Dothrak (see previous episode of freakin’ awesome) and discuss their situation. Dany releases that she can’t banish Jorah, because he just won’t stay banished. But Jorah shows her that he’s contracted the fatal grey scale, and he offers to banish himself.
In the most heartfelt conversation the two of them have ever had, Dany tells him, “I command you to find a cure, wherever it is in this world. I command you to heal yourself. And then return to me.”
Seeing the way she cares about Jorah was a bittersweet moment for me, because I know she loves him as a dear friend and nothing more. But seeing her tell him to return in front of her obnoxious lover Daario made it all the more sweeter.
Other highlights include:
You know how Hodor died in the fight with the White Walkers? He wasn’t the only casualty. RIP Summer the Direwolf.
Yara Greyjoy makes a bid for he title of Queen of the Iron Islands, only to have it stolen from Balon’s dastardly brother and killer, Euron Greyjoy. (Sidenote: The Euron of the novels was far more brutal. He rips the tongue out of his crew members, to keep them from talking about him. That’s one of his more pleasant aspects.)
A priestess of R’hllor is summoned to Meereen, where she is asked to support Queen Daenerys. She gives her support—but not without showing Varys her special talent of knowing his past. The followers of the Lord of Light may be creepy—and share a strangely similar fashion sense—but they really do know magic.
Sansa orders Brienne to get support of her uncle, Brynden Tully, who is still fighting the Lannisters and therefore the Boltons. Brienne is reluctant to leave, but Sansa swears Jon will keep her safe.
Sansa, Jon, and an army of Wildlings head south to retake Winterfell.
Dany leads the Dothraki out of the city of Vaes Dothrak.
Featured Image Credit: HBO.