**WARNING** This review contains Spoilers for GoT Season 6 up to, and including, the latest episode!
It’s peculiar looking back over the previous seasons of Game of Thrones and thinking about the countless deaths of beloved characters that have befallen us hardened viewers. Barely an episode goes by without a supporting character or two getting sent to their death and yet each season there is always at least one moment of utter heartbreak that sends the internet into a rapturous frenzy of woe. So far this season we have bid farewell to Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Trystane Martell, Roose Bolton, Walda, Walda’s new born babe, Balon Greyjoy, Ser Alliser Thorne, Othell Yarwyck, Bowen Marsh, Olly the little creepy kid, Shaggy Dog, Osha, Khal Moro and if we include flashbacks Ser Arthur Dayne and everyone else who got cut down at the Tower of Joy in episode 3. But this was a big one that for me sits aside some of GoT’s most emotionally crushing moments. Before we get to the unpleasantness there were plenty of other items on the agenda in this week’s episode.
Sansa takes control, whilst Tormund continues to put the moves on Brienne.
Sansa receives a message from everyone’s favourite husky voiced manipulator who has apparently travelled by jetpack in order to get to Molestown in his attempts to reconnect with Sansa. Ignoring the questionable logistics of his travel arrangements it was an interesting scene watching the once naive Sansa, so long a chess piece for others, tear into Littlefinger with a brutally blunt line of questioning. A less thoughtful Sansa may have commanded Brienne to shove Oathkeeper up Littlefinger’s backside but Sansa too now plays the game, and it’s perhaps wise of her to keep Baelish alive as even though she no longer trusts the man his information and command over the Vale could yet prove useful. She lies to John about how she came across the information she has (That the Blackfish, last seen going out for a perfectly timed piss on a tree at the Red Wedding, has retaken Riverrun) not revealing it was Littlefinger who informed her. Meanwhile Brienne, having dealt with Tormund’s suggestive chicken eating in the last episode, gets a look of pure wildling glee from the man who once claimed to have sex with a bear. Clearly he likes the look of Brienne and though a little critical voice inside my head tells me that the show is just using this relationship as fan service this image is so far my favourite of season 6, and the meme’s that it has inspired make me all kinds of happy.
Jorah finally tells Dany what we’ve known for five years.
Seeing Jorah reveal his greyscale to Dany was a little heart breaking in itself, but we have somewhat made peace with the fact that Jorah is living on borrowed time. But seeing him finally tell Daenarys what she already knows, that he loves her, was powerful in its simplicity. It was devoid of passion or energy. A statement of fact from a tiring, dying man who in this episode reveals he plans on ending his suffering before he goes full stone man. Seeing her return his admittance with her typical passionate furore, the desperation of a woman who has finally forgiven one of her closest confidantes only to discover his doom, was a nice moment for Jorah. Whether her ordering him to find a cure will come to anything I’m not sure. Usually in Game of Thrones a slight cut is a death sentence but with Red priests becoming more abundantly numerous could Jorah have a shot? Especially if the Red priests truly do support Daenarys.
Iron Islands election coverage: Man shows up and admits murder, crowned instantly.
The Iron Islands have always felt like a murky, boring Segway for me. I’ve never much cared for them since the end of season 2 finding their occasional appearances nothing more than a reminder that their still around. However with the arrival of Euron, the death of Balon and the re-emergence of Theon it seemed like the King’s Moot (the choosing of the new King/Queen or the Iron Islands) could be an interesting sequence. Yara declared her intent to become the first female leader of the Iron born and following a rousing speech of support by Theon things are looking good for her claim. However Euron shows up talks about reaching out to Daenarys, mocks Theon a couple of times for not having a penis anymore, then admits to the murder of his brother King Balon and is crowned almost instantaneously. Euron then gets drowned for a little bit (Imagine how awkward it would have been if he hadn’t coughed that water up) before having the most underdressed ceremonial crown in the seven Kingdoms placed upon his head. Now, thirty minutes later than he probably should have done, he plans to murder Yara and Theon only to discover they have stolen his best ships and have absconded to lands unknown. Have they set off to reach Danaerys first? Or are they heading elsewhere. Even though I wasn’t too gripped by the Kings Moot I am intrigued where Yara and Theon go from here.
Arya Stark, This is your life!
I sure hope all of this endless stick fighting pays off, it’s all Arya is seemingly being trained to do. She gets a bit of a beating from the Waif again, because we’ve been a bit short of that this season, and J’aqen informs her of a new target, her second chance and she won’t get a third (Cue ominous music). Turns out the target is an actress in a play based on the recent happenings in Kings Landing and once again Arya has to stand by and watch her father’s head being removed. The woman Arya is researching in her murder preparations seems to be a kind enough person and this seems to unnerve Arya slightly. Considering the content of the play this seems like a test for Arya to see if she can truly become no one and is infinitely more interesting than all of the endless stick fighting. I can’t help but wonder what the theatre troupe manager has to do with all this, he’s being played by Richard E. Grant for Christ’s sake so he must be important for something? Maybe it’s a misdirect, but I doubt it. Also we got a warty penis on display, I’m not sure why. Maybe GoT is trying to even the nudity field for men and women but it seems unfair that I get to appreciate Emilia Clarke stood naked in front of a burning Dothraki hut last week and this week my girlfriend gets two seconds of an ill penis. Just saying, doesn’t seem that fair.
Varys is now speechless, and ball less.
In an attempt to persuade Meereen that Daenarys is the right person to be ruling them Tyrion and Varys attempt to build public support through aligning with a red priestess named Kinvara. When they meet Tyrion attempts to forge an alliance based through mutual respect and belief that Daenarys should rule. Varys however becomes aggressive with the priestess based on his past abuses at the hands of a R’hllor worshipping sorcerer. Kinvara then recalls intimate details of Varys’s misfortunate encounter shocking him into a rare silence. Having seen what Melisandre has been able to accomplish throughout the series for the audience it is not particularly shocking that she would be able to gleen these details from the flame so I can’t say it was too entrancing, again though it will be interesting to see what Daenarys thinks of Tyrion’s pacts with Slave traders and religious groups when she returns to Meereen with a Dothraki horde in tow.
Hold the Door
Up beyond the wall Bran discovers that the White Walkers were in fact created by the children of the forest. Having been such mysterious figures of Westerosi folklore it was a question I wasn’t expecting to have answered anytime soon and an interesting plot development that we will hopefully get more details for. Later whilst the others sleep Brann goes off having psychic visions of his own without the watchful presence of the Three Eyed Raven. He sees a gigantic army of Wights and is grabbed on the arm by the Nights King himself. Bran awakes with a scar on his body and is told by the Three Eyed Raven that he has been marked and must leave now as the cave is not safe anymore (Nice one Bran).
The Three eyed Raven takes Bran into another vision of the past to give him some more information he will need in his travels. Before they can leave the Wights and the White Walkers attack the cave whilst the Children of the Forest attempt to hold them back. Eventually they break through and Summer attacks the Wights but is quickly cut down and Leaf (the seemingly last Child of the Forest) sacrifices herself with some form of acorn grenade thing in order to slow the Wights down. In his vision Bran sees his father as a young boy and his grandfather, oh and Hodor (or Wylis) is there again. The Three eyed Raven can’t run away (Y’know being a tree) and is hacked down mid vision by the Nights King. Meera, a mid-vision Bran and Hodor escape through a secret back door and Meera commands Hodor to “Hold the door”. These echoes can be heard in Brans vision and the young version of Hodor collapses into a seizure screaming “Hold the Door” seemingly witnessing his own death in the future, which then becomes “Hodor” and the origin of his name. In the present Hodor holds the Wights at bay for as long as he can, the screen fading to black before we see his fate. Bran watches on in the past and realises he has all sorts of fucked up (Nice one Bran).
Having seen Summer die I assumed that was going to be the big death of the episode but I was unprepared for the dual reveal of Hodor’s tragic past and his inevitable fate to die at that moment. It was brutally affecting because in a show where agendas and motives are driven by greed or lust and honourable action was often rewarded with a swift beheading it was pleasant to see a character so full of innocence “hodor” his way through six seasons of one of the most brutal shows on television without being struck down by the numerous ass hats that populate Westeros. In a pleasing sense I think the sequence was beautifully directed, with some great writing, and what was quite a convoluted concept (as time travel is oft to be) came across as clearly as it did. We are also left with the information that Bran was responsible for Hodor’s condition and if that’s the case can Bran truly influence the events of the future by changing the past? Or, as with Hodor, has he already affected it and can he have no true baring on these events, as the Three Eyed Raven said “The ink is dried”. Needless to say it was a thrilling end to the best episode of this season so far. We are only half way through so there is plenty more to come.
Leaf – “Many Children of the Forest perished, but Leaf was the only one credited with a name and she went out with a literal bang”
The Three Eyed Raven – “Cut to pieces by the Nights king, here’s hoping he has taught Bran enough in the time they spent together”
Summer – “Following the shock demise of Shaggy Dog comes another sudden Direwolf death, I know they must be expensive to animate but come on guys this is just mean”
Hodor – “Hodor”
- If Brienne and Tormund become a thing are we going ‘Brimund’ or ‘Trienne’?
- Did anyone else buy into Brienne pretending she didn’t know Tormund’s name, I sure didn’t.
- Will Jorah find a cure, or in the next episode will we see him carve ‘Jorah was here’ on a wall and hang his greyscale ass?
- 4 Direwolves down, 2 to go. We still got Ghost and possibly Nymeria wherever she’s gotten too, I assume she’s in a boat with Gendry and Benjen Stark.
- The next time I hold a door open for someone I have a horrid feeling I’m going to cry.
- Nice one Bran
Episode Rating 5/5 – the best of the season so far, evoked memories of some of the classic GoT episodes of the past.