Who would have guess that what might be Game of Thrones’ most emotionally wrenching moment ever would belong to Hodor? The twist that Hodor’s name, the only word he is able to say, came from a kind of crippling flash-forward to the moment of his death is shattering. The moment reveals that Hodor is not only sacrificing his life for Bran but he has unwittingly sacrificed his entire life for Bran, unable to express himself from the moment he envisioned his own fate as a child until his death. It’s the stuff of tragedy and as lyrical a moment as any in the show’s history. But that was at the end of the episode, and a lot happened before. This was a good episode.
The episode starts with yet another reunion. This time it’s Sansa and her one-time mentor Littlefinger. It’s a satisfying scene as it allows Sansa to announce that she will no longer be a pawn and that she is now one of the players. More importantly, Sansa takes Littlefinger to task for giving her to Ramsey. Game of Thrones’ relationship to the sexual violence it portrays has always been more than a bit questionable, so giving Sansa the chance to expound upon the lasting effects of her rape feels like the writers trying to address some the show’s previous missteps. The scene works well and, for the first time, Littlefinger seems legitimately shamed and vulnerable. Finally something isn’t going his way. I’m guessing Sansa has not seen the last of Petyr Baelish, but for now he’s going to have to sell it somewhere else.
The Kingsmoot has finally gone down and, while the actual event was somewhat underwhelming, it did introduce some interesting possibilities for the future; specifically the mission proposed by newly minted King of the Iron Islands, Euron Greyjoy, to build the Iron Islanders fleet and join forces with Danaerys. Unfortunately, Theon and Yara find themselves having to flee from the Iron Islands and, I would guess, from the remainder of the season. It would not be a surprise if the show steps away from Iron Islands for a bit while the aforementioned shipbuilding takes place. It seems like the writers have never had a real strong idea about what to do with the Greyjoy clan, so far it’s been kind of mystery why that particular plot wasn’t excised for the show, Even with Euron’s announced plan, the plot seems somewhat ancillary, which is not to say it won’t go to interesting places. My guess is that Theon and Yara will pop up next season to join forces with Sansa and Jon.
Looks like Arya, after weeks of abuse at the hands of The Waif, finally has something to do again, and is sent on a mission to assassinate an actress. It seems unlikely that this mission will go as planned as Arya has noted that the actress seems like a nice person and the leader of the troupe of mummers is played by Richard E. Grant, and you don’t hire talent like that for nothing. The Waif is likely right in stating that Arya doesn’t belong in the House of Black and White, this mission seems likely to cause a permanent rift between her and Jaqen H’hgar (perhaps leading to his death?), sending Arya on her way back to Westeros.
After all the reunions of recent weeks, we get some heartbreaking farewells. Dany finally reconciles with Jorah and now the old man can die happy. While Dany commands him to find a cure for his greyscale and return to her, all involved know better. The scene is unusual for Game of Thrones as two characters are allowed to say a heartfelt goodbye before one of them dies, this show does not usually afford its characters that kindness. It’s a nice scene and it’s nice that Daario doesn’t ruin it with his shitiness. Also in Essos, Tyrion and Varys meet with Kinvara, “High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis.” It makes sense that a Queen who cannot be hurt by fire and, indeed, seems born of fire, would hold some appeal for the followers of the Lord of Light. This plotline promises to bear fruit down the road but really not a lot happened in Mereen tonight.
So Bran’s time in the tree is finally done. This is a welcome development for the show but the events that take place to affect this outcome are devastating. Bran is going to be carrying a large burden of guilt going forward as he not only compromises the security of the tree, giving The Night’s King their location and access to the premises, resulting in the deaths of The Three-Eyed Raven, The Children, Summer (we’re down to two of six direwolves still living) and Hodor. Bran had better turn out to be the savior of the world and he probably will. The death of Hodar, shown simultaneously with the moment in which he lost his ability to express himself is absolutely devastating. Essentially, the entire purpose of Hodor’s life, without him knowing it, has been for him to, in his last moments, “hold the door” while Bran made his escape. It is one of the great moments of the show, even more so for its sense of epic tragedy. Farewell, Hodor.
WEEK 5 POWER RANKINGS
- Dany: While she did have to say goodbye to loyal follower Jorah this week, Dany is still in charge of the vast khalisar and on her way back to Mereen. The Mother of Dragons is still in a position of great power and looks to hold onto it going forward.
- Euron Greyjoy: Newly named King of The Iron Islands and with his people freshly galvanized, Euron is looking unstoppable for weeks to come. He’ll be headed to Mereen soon and looking to marry his power to Dany’s in what could be a dynamic duo.
- Ramsey: No appearance this week but we can assume he’s still sitting pretty in control of Winterfell with a hostage Rickon Stark and the combined powers of the Karstark and Umber families at his back.
- The Lannister Twins: Also no appearance this week, likely still formulating their plans to free Margaery and Loras with the assistance of the Tyrell family.
- The Starks: Bran and Rickon are still on the skids, but things are looking way up for Sansa, Arya, and Jon. Sansa and Jon are amassing a formidable army and looking to swell its ranks at Riverrun with the forces of the newly reemerged Blackfish. Also, Arya looks to be nearly done with her training at the House of Black and White.
- The High Sparrow: No appearance this week but we can assume that the High Sparrow is still large and in charge in King’s Landing. Things seem likely to change next week, but who knows?
- Littlefinger: Baelish slips a bit this week after his rejection by Sansa. He may still control the Knights of the Vale but it seems that Littlefinger’s ability to manipulate may not be working as well as it used to.
- Tyrion: Didn’t do much this week but he did ally himself with a Red Priestess, a move that could be brilliant or disastrous.
- Stannis Old Crew: Davos and Melisandre have pretty much fallen in with the Starks at this point. Neither seems to have a ton of direction at this point.
- The Young Greyjoys: They are out of power and out town, having lost the Kingsmoot and taken to the high seas. They’re outcasts for the time being and will look to turn their fortunes around in the coming weeks.
Not Ranked: Margaery’s scenario has not yet changed. Sam has still not reappeared after his one scene this season, and there is still no sign of Ellaria and The Sand Snakes. I’ve given up on Bronn.