Game of Thrones: “The Door” Season 6 Episode 5 Review

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Before “The Door,” season six ad been relatively light on tension. In place of it, some major characters had some really good things happen to them, which, I think, was necessary for this saga. Game of Thrones is not kind to its heroes, but alas, Jon has his life, Arya has her eyes, Sansa has at least part of her family, and Daenerys has the Dothraki. The good guys are winning all over the world, which means now is the perfect time to remind us of the horrific threat that awaits them.

Despite his siblings’ victories, Bran loses hard in “The Door,” though his loss may be opening more, uh, doors to how powerful he can become in the future. His visions with the Three-Eyed Raven lead to the knowledge that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to combat the first men. This bit of Westeros history deepens the White Walkers’ relationship with their enemies, which, by episode’s end, includes their creators. But as Bran gets cocky with his powers, he makes an unfortunate connection to the Night’s King, who manages to touch him, learning exactly where he is and tearing down the magic keeping his army out. This means it’s time for Bran to leave, finally giving his storyline a very necessary jolt. But that jolt ended up being more stirring than expected when the White Walkers show up at the tree seemingly hours later. The action here was tremendous, with the Children of the Forest combatting their opposites, as Bran, stuck in a vision, must warg into Hodor to get them out of there.

Thrones has done an excellent job using the White Walkers sparingly enough that when they do show up, there’s a tension and horror unlike anything other on this series. It was present in “Hardhome” and it’s present again here. Meera manages to kill one with a spear presumably made of Dragon Glass, but the narrow escape is only made possible by Hodor holding the door the wights are trying to breach. But Bran’s connection to Hodor in his vision is where things get messy. With Meera’s calls seemingly overwhelming a young Hodor, “Hold the door!” slowly being combined into “Hodor,” it appears that Bran can at least somewhat influence time itself. I look forward to how the show will explore these abilities more, but for now, it’s time to mourn Hodor, who’s death was spectacularly heroic.

Yara and Theon also suffered a loss this week, as their uncle Euron essentially Donald Trumped his was to the throne of the Iron Islands (misogyny and all). Again, though, there was legitimate tension here. Would Theon pledge allegiance to his sister? Would the people of Pyke follow a woman? Like Bran’s, the Greyjoys’ plotline just got blown up, now with an uncertain future. As they flee with the city’s best ships, Euron commands his citizens to build him a navy. Euron might be the villain this show needs right now, as Ramsay has grown stale.

Arya’s story was also blown wide up, though in a much quieter manner. Her instructions to bring the face of an actress playing Cersei Lannister in a local production is loaded with irony. But as she sits watching a frankly hilarious recount of Thrones‘ first season, Arya’s role as a girl with no name is questioned. I’ve been waiting for the show to confront this piece of who Arya is. As she watches an actor butcher her father’s warm, loving personality, she’s reminded that she isn’t no one. She can’t just drop her name because a god or her training demands it. This young woman, so consumed by rage, may have rushed into something she didn’t think all the way through. How the show will put her in a position to still be Arya while using the knowledge of her training will be interesting to see. Arya’s arc just got thrown a big curveball. It’s also something that could only happen now that Arya has matured. This is another case of Thrones‘ incredible grace as it navigates its later seasons.

Meanwhile, Daenerys’ victory with the Dothraki is stunted by Jorah’s greyscale reveal. His life is no longer in her hands, but nature’s, perhaps the only force she can’t conquer. Their goodbye was tearful, but Dany left him with the hope of finding a cure. For all these two have been through, this scene was appropriately solemn and emotionally complex. The scene sets up hopefully a more cheerful reunion, but this is Game of Thrones after all.

Finally, Littlefinger also has to confront his failures. As Sansa spells them out to him, we see some rare genuine emotion within King’s Landing’s best schemer. But make no mistake, “The Door” still kept Sansa deservingly on the winning side this week. The plans to retake Winterfell appear to be going well enough, as she and Jon prepare to ride off to the Northern families to build the new Stark army. Having this positive momentum still lingering from the beginning of the season at least in one area showcases that the writers really know what they’re doing this season. That balance is important for keeping Thrones dynamic.

That said, Tyrion’s political maneuverings in Meereen have grown a bit lifeless. This week he needs a red priestess to help spread the word of Daenerys’ strength as queen. It’s a necessary move for this storyline, but can’t compare to the rest of the episode. Meereen remains a bit of a question mark for Thrones. It doesn’t seem feasible for the overall story that this city will remain in the big picture for much longer, making it hard to care for.

But even so, “The Door” was top tier Game of Thrones. A shocking death, big character moves, and horrific action gave season six the tension that was missing from earlier episodes. Halfway through the season, that’s a great place to be in. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • Tormund creeping on Brienne is just great comedy, which this show could stand to remind us more that it is capable of.
  • Will Theon and Yara sail to Essos? They have a fairly large fleet, perhaps this is how Daenerys finally makes her way over the Narrow Sea.
  • For those Avatar: The Last Airbender fans out there, Braavos’ theater scene is a lot like Ember Island’s.
  • Bran has officially lost everyone he initially set out on his journey with. It’s just him and Meera now. Man, Thrones is really trimming down its supporting cast this year.
  • Four weeks without Dorne. Will they even reappear this season at all?

By Matt Dougherty

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