Ten minutes. All it took was ten minutes to break the hearts of Game of Thrones fans all over the world. Ten minutes of intense, heart stopping action that also managed to answer one of the most enduring questions of the entire book and TV series.
And it’s not Jon Snow’s mother but the story of Hodor.
They managed to lure us into a false sense of security, giving little away as we took up Sansa’s story at Castle Black.
She receives a letter from Petyr Baelish, who’s managed to make the journey north from the Vale with remarkable speed. With Brienne in tow, she meets with Littlefinger in Mole’s Town.
But if he was thinking she’d fling her self at his feet with relief, then he was sadly mistaken. Sansa has been changed by her experiences with Ramsay and her earlier insipidness has been replaced by a determined maturity.
He may have been hoping for a reunion, but he gets a showdown dripping with guilt.
“Did you know about Ramsay? If you didn’t know, you’re an idiot. If you did know, you’re my enemy”.
“You freed me from the monsters who murdered my family and you gave me to other monsters who murdered my family”
Sansa is having none of his apologies or his promises of protection. She’s not evenly vaguely impressed that he’s brought the Knights of the Vale with him.
The girl is hard to impress.
But before he goes, he tells her about her Great Uncle, the Blackfish, who has rallied the remaining Tully forces and has recaptured Riverrun. The revolution has begun!
Meantime in Braavos, Arya’s decision to become ‘No One’ is tested when she’s given her first job as an assassin for the Faceless Men. Lady Crane is an actress with a travelling troop of performers.
Dressed as one of the Braavosi locals, Arya is in the audience as they put on a show depicting the death of King Robert and the rise of his son Joffrey. Her father is made out to be a buffoon from the north and a figure of ridicule.
She’s clearly upset at how her father is depicted, which suggests she may not have entirely surrendered her ‘true self’.
Arya announces how she will kill Lady Crane, but you just know that the ‘old’ Arya would much prefer to get rid of the actress, who’s playing her sister, Sansa.
On the Iron Islands, they’re deciding who should sit on the Salt Throne and lead the Iron-born. Yara delivers a sales pitch about leading them to greatness, until someone suggests the job should go to the SON of the late King.
Theon steps forward and declares there’s only person fit to lead them, whether it be on land or sea. He declares his support for Yara.
“She is a reever. She is a warrior. She is Iron-born. We will find no better leader. This is our Queen”.
But before we can all hail, Queen Yara another contender steps forward. Uncle Euron claims the Salt Throne, happily admitting he killed the old King. He has some big plans and they involve a woman with three dragons.
Euron has decided to build the fleet to help Daenerys in her conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. He’s also planning to marry her.
“I won’t seduce her, the Iron Fleet will seduce her. And together we’re going to take the Seven Kingdoms”.
Guess who gets to wear the crown of the Iron Islands? Hint; it’s not Yara. She and Theon have fled for their lives, taking with them much of the Iron Fleet.
Unaware of King Euron’s intentions, Daenerys confronts Jorah, the man she’s twice banished. Put on the spot, he confesses two great secrets. He loves her and always will. But don’t get too close because he’s got the dreaded Grey Scale.
Dany commands him to leave her and find a cure for his affliction. It sounds kind of harsh, but she softens the blow with:
“When I take the Seven Kingdoms, I need you by my side”.
So, off he trots while she rides at the head of her new Dothraki army. Her only possible destination (for the time being) is Meereen, where Tyrion is proving to more than just a Dragon Whisperer; he’s also a spin-doctor, who could probably make a killing on the celebrity-political circuit.
There have been no deaths among the Sons of the Harpy or the freed slaves since the peace deal was reached with the Wise Masters of Yunkai and Astapor.
But as Tyrion points out, that’s not enough. If this is to be a lasting peace, the people need to know that this was all the work of Queen Daenerys.
“The Sons of the Harpy have a good story; resist the foreign invaders. Our Queen has a better story; the Mother of Dragons, the breaker of chains. All that”.
So, he enlists the help of the local Red Woman who sounds spookily similar to Melisandre and who has also seen the future in the flames.
“You don’t need to persuade me. I come to help. Daenerys Stormborn is the one who was promised … she has been sent to lead the people against the darkness is this war and the Great War still to come”.
Yes, it does sound very familiar. And as Varys points out, a similar pronouncement was made about King Stannis and where did that get him.
But the Spider is thrown when Red Woman Mk 2 makes reference to the ‘second-rate sorcerer’ who turned him into a eunuch. She knows a little too much about that particular procedure and Varys doesn’t know what to make of it.
Melisandre, meantime, has joined Jon and Sansa’s War Council as they make plans for the future; all of which centre on recapturing Winterfell. Sansa lets drop that Riverrun is now in friendly hands and it’s decided they’ll retake the north one clan at a time.
Their brother Bran continues to learn the ways of the Old Man In the Tree aka The Three Eyed Raven. It’s through Bran’s dream walks that we learn the truth of the White Walkers.
The Children created them in a war against mankind. The blue-eyed Zombie Lords were created because their sacred trees were being chopped down and their very future was at stake.
So, where did it all go wrong?
In another of his dream walks, Bran is grabbed on the arm by one of the Night Lords, creating a gateway for the undead and they’re coming for Bran.
What then unfolds is one of the most heartbreaking ten minutes of TV as the White Walkers descend on the cave beneath the Heart Tree.
Bran has gone back in time in his dream walk. He’s back at Winterfell as his grandfather talks to his father and uncle Benjen. Meera is desperately trying to rouse him as the zombies pour into the cave, killing the Childen and The Old Man.
She and Hodor make for the door to the outside, dragging an unconscious Bran. Meera orders him to “Hold The Door”, while she drags Bran into the swirling snow outside.
Back in the Winterfell dream world, Willis falls to the ground and screams “Hold the Door, Hold the Door, Hold Door, Hol dor, Holdor, Hodor”.
With a look of understanding and horror, Bran realises that he is to blame for Willis becoming Hodor. If he hadn’t gone dream walking unchaperoned, then Willis would have stayed as he was and would never have become Hodor.
In the real world, Hodor is bravely holding the door shut as the undead claw at his face and eventually overwhelm him. Meera looks back and drags Bran away.
#heartbroken #hodor #nothodor
I did not see this coming. Never in a million years did I think they’d kill off Hodor. I mean, this sort of dramatic ending is usually reserved for episode nine, not five.
I’m kinda dreading what David Benioff and Dan Weiss are planning for this season’s penultimate episode. Unless it’s killing off Ramsay. I’d be OK with that. More than happy with that.
Nikole Gunn has been a watcher of TV since the 70s. A writer of words since the 80s. A reader of the news since the 90s; mostly on Triple M, Nova and Gold.
Twitter - @NikoleGunn