Bran and the Raven witness a period long ago when the leaf creatures turned a human male into the first white-walker, the Night King to battle against mankind who had been destroying their lands. At the wall, Sansa receives a letter and meets with Littlefinger but threatens him after what she went through with Ramsey. Before he leaves, Littlefinger tells her to find the Blackfish, her Tully uncle to gain his men for her army. Sansa later sends Brienne to find the Blackfish while she and Jon leave the wall to begin finding smaller families to join their army. Across the sea, Arya is given another chance to attempt an assassination as she infiltrates a traveling theater, but begins asking questions which the faceless man doesn’t approve of. Further east, Jorah shows Daenerys his grey skin and tries to leave but Dany orders him to find a cure and return to him when she takes Westeros. In Meereen, Tyrion enlists the aid of another red woman from the red temple to help support Daenerys but Varys voices his own concern when they momentarily spar in verbal debate. In the Iron Islands, Theon shows support for Yara’s claim of the crown, but Euron arrives and admits he killed Balon and offers to bring Daenerys with his large fleet to help take Westeros. He gains the people’s support and is crowned king as Yara, Theon, and her men flee in their ships. In the deep north, Bran visits the same location from earlier but is consumed by the dead and the Night King who marks him. The Raven realizes the White-Walkers are coming and warns Bran. While they peruse another memory at Winterfell, the Night King arrives and storms the cave, killing the Raven while he’s still in the flashback. His white-walkers kill Summer and the leaf creatures as Bran wargs into Hodor and pulls Bran’s body with Meera. They escape through a backway and Hodor keeps the door closed allowing for Meera to escape. Bran, still in the flashback somehow supplants Meera’s command to “Hold the door” into Hodor when he was still a child. Past-Hodor collapses and repeatedly yells “Hold the door” until his mind reverts to simply saying “Hodor.” In the present, Hodor is seen being clawed and torn by the White-walkers, presumably to death.
Our mid-season climb has resulted in a multitude of character deaths, all of which will be whole-heartedly felt by the fan-base including myself. Some answers to the White-Walker origin are given, the rest we can infer as the fan-theories are about to explode like never before. The cost came in the lives of Summer, one of the last direwolves, Leaf, the Raven, and unless a miracle happens, Hodor himself, who we now know got the name from a time-traveling paradox that will undoubtedly leave some interesting questions for many to try and answer from here on out. The sense of urgency is growing in the north, but how this will connect everyone left in this game remains to be seen. Definitely a favorable episode if not a sullen and costly one.
To start, I didn’t think they’d topple the subject of Sansa confronting Littlefinger so soon. She threw out all her emotional rage in the guide of subtle but harsh personality. There’s a pure aspect to her nature where she’s performing with strength but still lacking the in the knowledge that she could have used Littlefinger’s army and still had him imprisoned or worse. Whether pride or anger induced, she did away with Littlefinger as she tried his best to apologize for what happened to her. Where he draws the line on the truth of it is anyone’s guess but suffice it to say, she owned him in that scene and rightly so.
The final segment brought back the swarm of frozen dead along with the white-walkers and the Night’s King who reigned in on the chaos and death it inevitably brings. Such a dreadful and stinging moment to witness as so many sacrificed themselves to allow Bran and Meera to escape. They’re more alone now than ever and the only conceivable direction they can is south of the wall, to return to Jon. If that isn’t in the plan books, then Bran is eternally screwed. We have no idea if or how he will manifest his powers now that he’s no longer in the cave with the raven. His presence was necessary originally for him to flashback, but he was still in the flashback when he left, which is odd and worthy to note moving forward. Hodor’s origin was finally revealed, a sincere and tragic message bottled through time signaling the end of a very loyal and simple friend. May the book be kinder when the scene arises.
Our descriptions and stories of the leaf creatures has been very minimal and at most we got one line about how mankind was destroying them and they felt they had to act by turning a human against them. But as weapons go, these became self-serving in their own way and broke out of whatever control they might have been under. There’s a lot we can infer but the issue I draw here is how little we got to know these creatures beforehand, at least from the show’s perspective. Maybe what came before isn’t that much of a deal, but it helps us understand how turbulent the world was back then. We don’t even get a sliver of information about the raven, who he was and why he was able to draw on the power of nature to flashback, warg, and communicate with his allies. I feel we’re missing some key pieces of the plot that’s been replaced by things like the High Sparrow having dull conversations and a theatrical retelling of the first two seasons that went on far longer than it should have.
Hodor’s last stand. When that realization hits and the words just echo from time to time and you see that Hodor has been of one made purpose and having it fulfill at that moment is devastating to watch but epic to witness. Hodor never recovered from that moment, but he did his best to see that Bran and Meera survived. If only somehow Hodor could make it through that a changed man, one who could finally decide for himself what to say. He’ll be missed greatly, a powerful anchor and valued friend to Bran Stark.
Hodor gets his own title tonight, through the cold and fury of frozen death itself. His entire life was built around this temporal moment where he had to do his best to keep the white-walkers at bay. Just when you thought enough sacrifice had occurred with Summer and Leaf, one more had to make a stand. Again, he did his best and only Bran is to blame for the mistake he made in traveling back to that tree. He knows truly what’s at stake now and must grow more powerful if he is to survive.
So now we left with the gigantic hole of temporal paradox where one can simply effect the natural state of the past, yet when dealing with circular time, all things are meant to be. Which means, if Bran makes any more changes in the past, it was because that was what was supposed to happen. Hodor always ended up the way he did because Bran was meant to effect him like that in the past. Bran may come to realize this, but then again, he may also come to realize that truly affecting the past can have disastrous results, as shown tonight.
It’s been long rumored that the man who became the Night’s King (Night King) is in fact a Stark, which paints a grave picture of the family knowing how Bran can be marked by such ways. It might not be familial, but it’d be interesting to know if that’s who he was. The function of the White-walkers seems to crush and destroy all life not just mankind as they were originally designed. If there is a mindful presence within those deep blue eyes, I’d like to see that form before the final season begins. They represent the darkest forces magic has to offer, yet are they the end all be all of the force of evil? For a moment you could feel that the story from ages ago involved so much more crazy elements then what’s carried over through the centuries.
Only two direwolves remain. This is incredibly sad as Nymeria and Ghost are all that remain of the original six. I’m hoping that if Arya becomes “No one” and is back in Westeros in her many faces that Nymeria will find her and somehow recognize her, giving her reason to return to who she was. It’s a thought, even Melisandre said they’d one day meet again. She could also recognize her too. In any case, stop killing the direwolves!
Will Littlefinger sit this one out, or commit the Vale army to the Starks or Boltons? He doesn’t like to get his hands dirty personally, he manipulates until chaos unfolds which means his telling Sansa of Blackfish could be a red herring, leading Sansa and Jon into another trap with the Bolton’s surrounding them. I suppose Brienne will find this out first and foremost and it’s unfortunate that already she’s parting from Sansa after just submitting her new cause. I do think she’ll be alright, but I can’t settle on Littlefinger’s motivation at this point. He knows he’s royally screwed and won’t easily gain Sansa’s trust again, if at all. He won’t act malicious but he won’t sit idly by either without some plan in motion. That army is going somewhere, just don’t know where yet.
Kinvara and Varys’s dialogue had an interesting glaze of animosity, something that usually isn’t presented so thoughtlessly before. Nevermind how or why Tyrion thought of getting a red woman to aid them, but Varys confronting her the way he did only proved to show how knowledgeable she was and how mistakes are indeed made from mankind even when presented with undoubting proof of their powerful natures. I think it was more or less a way to prove Stannis’s death reached Meereen and that Kinvara is every bit as mysterious and capable as Melisandre is. But how many more are there, and do they really serve the lord of light as they claim? And more importantly, is Kinvara just as crone-like without her fancy necklace?
9 out of 10. With the exception of the bland theatrical performance of season one and two’s recap, tonight’s episode started and ended with immensely great scenes. Sansa’s focus of hate came out directly at Littlefinger which may prove less tactical as Jon isn’t currently aware of that meeting. Tyron bringing a red woman into the service of Daenerys may have interesting consequences after the fact, and Bran and Meera are once more fighting for their lives, this time without the armor of Hodor, who we last saw giving his life to keep the White-Walkers behind that crumbling door. With 5 episodes remaining, the north is fitting to be the next great battlefield with Yara and Theon very much the bigger wildcards of the bunch. They have ships, but where will they go and who will they ally against? Winterfell isn’t exactly on the beach. Probably the most enjoyable episode of the season thus far with a bigger sense of understanding and the most tragic which means, more is likely to come and at some steep prices. Just when you think your gut is tough enough, the next punch leaves you gasping yet again. If Hodor is truly gone, may he hold that door forever.
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