Scott: I suppose we should start this week with the thing that everyone is talking about: the odd, unnecessary close up shot of an actor’s flaccid penis. I’m all for gratuitous nudity, and agree that we need to even the scales in the ladies’ direction a bit, but that was pretty shocking…
Oh and the dramatic tear-inducing death of Wylis “Hold The Door” Hodor. That was kind of a big deal, I guess.
I didn’t realize that Hodor’s origin and the reason for his Pokemon-like name repetition was a mystery that needed solving, but this week’s episode “The Door” does it anyway. Hodor’s death was wonderfully done as he bravely holds the line while Bran escapes, all while his younger self screams “Hold the Door” until the words lose all meaning and slur together. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little choked up. Summer the direwolf’s heroic sacrifice was equally as affecting to me. Even the Child of the Forest pulling an Aliens and activating a tree grenade as the undead surrounded her was well executed (Although it was weird that the shot held on this moment for so long as if the child of the forest character was someone we were supposed to care about at all).
These moments were wonderful, but they came on the tale end of a bunch of scenes that don’t make any sense and, in tragically Lost-ian sensibilities, end up creating more new questions than they answered:
How was the Night King able to see Bran in his green dream and why does him dream-touching him suddenly stop all protective magics?
If the wight army can move around that fast why the hell aren’t they at the Wall yet?
Why does the Night King even want Bran? What powers does he have that he either wants or wants to stop?
What was the point of everything Bran has been doing so far? It doesn’t feel like he learned anything of value in his time under the Werewood.
Hodor’s sacrifice, while noble, only buys them minutes as best. How is one person dragging a crippled boy going to outrun an entire army?
What does time travel even mean in context of the show. Can Bran change the past now? Is the show going to end on dream Bran whispering into Sean Bean’s ear that going to King’s Landing to serve as the Hand of the King is a super bad idea?
Look, I’m sure some of these questions will be answered eventually. My point with all this is that this is the first time I’ve felt like the show is intentionally obfuscating information from us. Hodor’s death, and his entire life for that matter, was tragic and sad. But it would have had so much more emotional weight if we clearly understood the motivations by both The Night King and Bloodraven.
Matt: To paraphrase GRRM – “Oh, he’s dead, is he?”
I was also emotionally affected by the Hodor scene. But I think the idea the Bran (unintentionally?) destroyed young Wylis’ mind, robbing him of a full life as a giant stableboy with a crush on Lyanna Stark, was what upset me. That is a pretty tragic idea and completely up to GRRM’s usual standards.
Overall, this episode left me really confused. My wife tends to ask questions during the show to clarify things for herself, which I can usually answer due to having read the books, but this episode most of my answers were along the lines of, “I don’t understand why that character did that,” “I don’t know what’s going on,” “That doesn’t really make sense,” “Oh thank goodness there’s no Dorne in this episode.”
In short, I can’t answer any of your questions, Scott, because I don’t understand the mechanics of the Green Dream, I don’t understand the limits of magic, and I’m super annoyed. People sometimes diss Brandon Sanderson as a writer, but Sanderson’s First Law, that the author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the READER understands said magic, is pretty well regarded. Since Game of Thrones hasn’t conveyed these rules to us, a lot of what happened in this episode feels really random.
Aside: I miss the element of the books that “Frey” has become a swear word in Westeros after the Red Wedding.
Scott: Matt, I completely Freying agree. Magic in Game of Thrones, just like in the Harry Potter series is merely a plot device that can solve and/or create problems whenever it needs to. There are no rules around it in this universe
Gentry: Well this was definitely another “Wooow” episode but in a different way, possibly a frustrated way. I’m just a bit confused as to what really took place and how everything is changed yet again. Or maybe I just didn’t realize the show runners would be pushing so hard on the fast forward button mid way through this season, after easing into this season in just about every story
I’ll admit the Hodor ending, while a bit ironic considering the timing, was very sad, but also upsetting, almost angering. I agree with Matt that watching Bran basically (inadvertently) caused this change in Hodor’s life that by all accounts made it harder and sadder.
Also, George is pretty strict about his time travel rules. I’m trying to figure out if the show just broke one of them with the Hodor result. At the end during the last little “inside the episode” segment B&W tell the story of George basically showing them how Hodor’s name came to be, but it’s confusing when we DON’T really know the rules of greenseeing from a show’s perspective. They really nipped the 3-eyed crow under the hill story in the bud in a span of 10 minutes, and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Matt:Well, like Scott said, what was even the point of it?
I think it’s kind of funny that nobody really seems to care much about the reveal that the Children created the Others.
Gentry: Oh oh, I do! Haha, I mean, I care to the extent that if this is what’s going down in the books then it’s a pretty big reveal, but also it’s been one of the main theories for quite some time so wasn’t too shocking to see it confirmed.
Scott: I think the reason for that Matt, is that the reveal is just so casually thrown in there. The show doesn’t really play it as a big powerful moment.
Gentry: Right, I would have expected a stronger reaction from Bran, to be honest.
Matt: It sort of just doesn’t matter because now we know or believe that the Children aren’t secretly bad guys. They understandably created a weapon against Men in the distant past, but now they’re aligned with humans. Unless we just watched all the remaining Children die, in which case it REALLY doesn’t matter.
Gentry: Haha, I think you nailed it.
Scott: I think the way they played the drama in that scene, it was the last of the Children dying.
Matt: So this is the story of humanity trapped between a fire-based bioweapon and an ice-based bioweapon.
Scott: It’s disappointing. This isn’t some unknowable evil anymore. It’s just a weapon that went out of control.
Gentry: Looks like a pretty hard stamp on the route the show wants to go with the Children and “beyond the wall.” Sounds kind of like Prometheus.
Scott: Don’t you ever mention that movie again!
I am assuming that Bran is now going to go back and meet up with the rest of the cast down south, which means all this talk about learning what was in the far North this season was totally wrong. All we “learned” was in a 30 second scene.
So I think we’re all in agreement here that while the emotional beats landed for us, because we all love and care about these characters so much, especially Hodor, it was the overarching plot stuff that faltered in the “Beyond the wall” scenes this week.
Gentry: Very much so. It’s killing me that I keep going back and reading your questions and literally cannot answers most of them, which is frustrating when this season and the shows current story I feel still had potential to make it grow. But it looks more like an indication they are REALLY driving the characters and story back south for good…
Matt: I wonder if this is what non-book-readers feel like all the time.
Scott: That’s a fair point, Matt. We’ve had the luxury of knowing the answers to every single question (just about) all this time. Now suddenly we don’t, and I’m whining about it.
Ok, I want to jump over to Arya
Matt: Yeah. That Scene.
Scott: That penis though…
Scott: Anyway, I love the arc of Arya and her character. But this Faceless Men stuff has just completely stagnated. She is still in training, still getting her asked kicked, and still clearly having doubts about “Nameless Assassin” as her trade of choice
And then this week the show completely halts any sense of forward momentum so we can watch Arya watch a play that comically recaps the show that we’ve all been watching
Matt: I noticed this episode that every time the show changed to a new character I sort of groaned and that made me realized *I’m not excited about any of these plots*.
Scott: It’s like when a chapter of the book ends on a crazy cliffhanger, and the next chapter is from the perspective of Quentyn Martell. In the back of my mind I always wonder…would it be cool to just skip this?
Matt: Yeah, the problem being that more and more of the show plot thread are becoming Quentynish. But that play was such an awkward scene. Was it supposed to be?
Scott: I can’t decide. I think it was supposed to play as really hurtful to Arya, but the tone was all messed up. There’s some interesting commentary in there regarding how history perceives characters that we know…
Matt: Yeah. Arya knows that the play is being unfair to Ned, but *doesn’t* know that it’s being harsh to Tyrion.
Scott: Yeah, but so what?
Matt: I mean, it’s all about testing whether she’s really “No One”, but I think we know that she’s not.
Scott: I really thought the point of watching the play was that, with Arya’s target playing Cersei, she would use that as fuel and be able to go through with the murder, but it’s clear that she’s A) completely able to separate that and B) probably wouldn’t want to do it anyway.
Matt: So it hasn’t occurred to her up to this point that she might have to kill a good person as a paid assassin?
Gentry: I think it’s interesting that we see almost the exact same play in King’s Landing during Joff’s wedding, except now the play has evolved as you both mentioned. Remember it was Sansa and Tyrion watching an unfair account of Ned as the King’s hand followed by Tyrion being humiliated by his nephew just for being a dwarf. The difference now is Tywin and Joff are dead. Does this strengthen or weaken the Braavosi’s one-sided approach? Was there mention of a royal party in the audience at all? That would have been a good addition. What I took note of his even after all she’s been through, after her furious attempt at becoming “no one”, Arya still has the same “that’s wrong, how dare you!” look on her face that Sansa had whenever she saw the play, which tells us a lot about her future. If anything, they emphasize Ned’s lines and actions even more in this version to give us a real sense of Arya’s current mental state, even if she herself can’t see it.
Scott: That’s true, but we all predicted 5 weeks ago that she wasn’t going to fully become a Faceless Person as that involves her completely losing who she is. That kind of defeats the entire point of her arc to begin with.
Matt: Any thoughts on Westeros’ Gang Problem, the Iron Islands?
Scott: The only thing that I enjoyed about the Kingsmoot scene this week was that the characters all acknowledged that nobody gives a shit about the Iron Islands, in both Westeros and on my couch.
Does anyone else feel like a lot of this season is just waiting for the other shoe to drop on a lot of these storylines. We know Euron is going to build a fleet and take it to Dany. But, especially after last week’s hero moment where the Mother of Dragons literally set fire to the patriarchy, is there any doubt that she’s gonna just laugh at Euron, take his ships, and then melt him into Greyjoy soup?”
Matt: Book Euron is much scarier than Show Euron. I can imagine that Book Euron has some kind of five-dimensional mindgame planned, and he has the Magic Dragon Horn Thing. Show Euron reminds me of Kano from the Mortal Kombat movie, just a thuggish buffoon who has been put in the story specifically to be killed by a main character.
Gentry: lolol Kano! Pretty much.
Scott: I just want one week where you don’t mention Mortal Kombat, Matt… But yeah, I think you’re right. He’s sailing to his doom. But first he’s going to chase after Theon and “Yara” so we can wrap up that pointless left over plot line.
Gentry: The Greyjoy story is so flat at this point I was just plain bored the whole time. At least give Euron a patch or something.. Just as Matt says, he looks like some random goon who stepped off a boat just to bully people.
Scott: I think we’re being a little harsh this week, but it’s probably just the hangover from last week’s exemplary episode
Matt: I hope so.
Scott: The main storylines, the one I care about are Dany’s, Jon’s, and whatever is going down in King’s Landing. This week we got a couple short Dany and Jon scenes that really advanced nothing and King’s Landing was left out entirely. With a couple of exceptions this felt like the B-team storyline episode…and it really showed.
Gentry: Yeah never in a million years would I ever thought to call the Bran storyline “B team”, even in the show… but this episode solidified it. I’ll agree with Scott those 3 story lines are the heart (and meat) of the show at the point, and I’d imagine most of the audience has realized it by now.
Matt: We actually got a bit of Tyrion this week, it was just really unimportant. A cool scene with the new Red Woman knowing too much about Varys’ past, I guess. I bet she’s even older than Melisandre.
Scott: Yeah Don’t get me wrong, I love Tyrion’s stuff, but last week he succeeded in bargaining for peace. The stuff I want to see with him now is how Dany takes it when she returns.
I would say I’ve enjoyed this season overall, but this this episode was definitely the low point so far, which is all the more tragic as it had a really great character death there at the end. But I will say that the one thing that season 6 is doing really well: Killing people off.
Game of Thrones has a “too many characters” problem and it seems like the show is finally doing something about it. Season 6 has had some major deaths every episode and I think this is a very good thing.
Matt: Just to riff on that, the book-show dichotomy is becoming really stark for me, the books have literally a hundred times more characters, and it really increases the sense of immersion in the books that you know who Whoresbane Umber and Wyman Manderly are, but you just can’t (and shouldn’t!) try to cram all that into the show.
Gentry: I want to say this episode was the worst of the season, but as Scott mentioned, people are continuing to be killed off and the show is REALLY starting to smooth out it’s edges, which I agree is good. It did also have one of the best (and most tragic) deaths we’ve seen in the series yet, regardless of how big or small the character was. I think I’m just read for these main plot lines to come to a head soon, so I’m hoping we at least get teased by the end of Season 6 that our favorite characters will hopefully be meeting soon.
Final thought, where do treeless Bran’s go?
Matt: Freeze to death offscreen, hopefully.
Scott: That would be the icing* on Bran’s “Screwing up Hodor’s life” cake.
*Pun very much intended.
Thanks as always for your participation gentlemen. I hope for all of our sake that the next episode “Blood of My Blood” is a better one. Until then…hold the door.