Monday, May 23, 2016
Game of Thrones
Wow! That's all I can say after this episode of Game of Thrones. For a show I have criticized in the past, and still have mixed feelings about, I am blown away by this. This was a strong episode, although I have a few issues with it, but the ending was so powerful everything else just pales in comparison. And not only that- but we have book spoilers, and I mean HUGE book spoilers, in this episode. This may be one of the most important episodes in the entire show.
Spoilers from here on out.
We started off again with Sansa in the north, and she meets with Littlefinger, who if you remember last week was just setting out for the north. Well he's there already- and not just in the north, but at Castle Black! The north is immense, as book readers know, so a trip from the Vale to Winterfell should take weeks. Has Sansa been there for weeks already? Well no matter, this is the show. Littlefinger informs her that her uncle, Brynden Blackfish, has retaken Riverrun. Huh? That's a possible book spoiler! He urges her to ally with Brynden. Interesting.
I like how Sansa didn't take any shit from Littlefinger- she put him on notice that she's a player now. Later when she plots strategy with Jon and Davos she lies to Jon about how she found out about Riverrun- and she also says that the north will follow a Stark, kinda making it sound like she's taking the lead. Will a rift open up between Sansa and Jon? I hope not. I did like that she made him that cloak or whatever it was with the Stark insignia on it- that seemed to show she considered him a Stark. And he seemed genuinely moved. Which way is this going to go?
Let's talk Arya for a minute. This week is big for her too- she's still getting beat up by the Waif and she gets her first assignment as a Faceless Man (Woman)? She's sent off on a test- to kill someone performing at a play where her father is mocked. Lady Crane seems nice, she thinks, and gets a rude awakening. She has to come to grips with the fact that she will be asked to kill innocent people- can she do that? And should she do that? I think either she does it, and that makes me afraid for her, or she doesn't and gets booted from the Faceless Men, which might be better for her soul but leaves her without resources again. Either way she's headed to Westeros soon, I think.
We also get a kingsmoot this week. The ironborn need a new ruler and it's between Yara and Euron. Theon throws his support to Yara and it's looking good until Euron blows it all up- unlike the books he's not coy here about killing Balon. He doesn't care who knows, and not only that he also openly proposes going to Daenerys. It's a very streamlined version of the kingsmoot and that's good for the shows purposes- Yara and Theon get out quick and none too soon as Euron's first order of business is to kill them. They take the best ships apparently (how many men do they have? Not many) but Euron says just build more. Euron by the way was not very impressive here, not like the one eyed badass from the books, and no horn either.
We check in with Dany really quick just to see her marching out with her new Dothraki khalasar- heading to Westeros, if not imminently then before long I'll wager. And Tyrion meets the Red Priestess of Volantis, who says that Dany is the one who was promised- and when Varys questions her reliability she stuns him by knowing all about his past. Interesting, but nothing compared to what comes next. The big news this week is Bran.
Two big things happen in Bran's story. First he and the Three Eyed Raven (aka Bloodraven) go to a weirwood tree and see Children of the Forest- the scenery here is beautiful by the way- and they watch as one of the Children (was that Leaf?) sacrifices a man- and turns him into a wight. This is also a huge book spoiler potentially. Did the Children of the Forest create the white walkers? Apparently so. Leaf tells Bran they did it to protect themselves- from man. Obviously something went wrong down the line. It looked like obsidian was used to kill/ turn the man, and we know obsidian is deadly to walkers. Does it have dual effects?
And then that ending. It was electrifying. Bran goes rogue, attracts the attention of the Night King, and it all goes bad. The Night King can now enter the cave and does so, and a horde of walkers assail the weirwood. We lose Summer- nooooo- and Leaf as well, and the Night King kills Bloodraven. Bran only escapes because of Hodor- and that's the most shocking thing of the night. We now know what Hodor means.
Bran is effectively time traveling in the past when he wargs Hodor- who immediately starts thrashing around and saying "Hold the door." Yes Hodor gives his life holding the door so Bran and Meera can escape. Just think about that. Hodor's mind was destroyed all those years ago- as a young Ned Stark was going off to the Eyrie for his fostering- so that he could save Bran's life in the future. And for the rest of his life the only word he ever says is Hodor- a mangled version of hold the door. Powerful stuff.
I've been critical of this show for its poor taste at times but I have to say- that was very emotional and powerfully done. Hodor has been one of the mysteries of the series, and we not only know his story now- plus he's gone- but we also lost Summer and found out the Children of the Forest created the walkers. Biggest episode ever? And the book spoilers are here, people, whether we like it or not.
Since when do the walkers move that fast?
We've lost wolves before- but to lose Bran's wolf? Bran and his wolf have been very important since the beginning of the first book, and to be honest I was shocked by this.
Did you notice how they had Old Nan come up to Hodor and put hand on his arm just before that all happened? Nice touch.
In the aftershow the showrunners confirmed that they learned what Hodor means from George RR Martin. In a hotel room as they were discussing the series. So even though Martin may write it differently, it looks like this is going to happen- and is official.