'Game of Thrones': Hold the door for Hodor, the underdog hero of Westeros

Vishnupriya Bhandaram

May,23 2016 09:50 43 IST

Spoiler Alert: Do not read further if you've not watched Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 5. 

The Door, what an episode! Wow. Last week, I was joyous that there weren't many characters (relevant and important to the show's premise) that died. I think I spoke too soon.

By the end of the episode, I went into a fit, much like how Hodor does and then I hugged my knees and became what can be only described a sobbing mess. After I recovered from a classic Game of Thrones episode, one that simply shreds the viewers' guts, rams daggers into hopeful hearts and mangles one's very core, it all seems to be coming together — bloody beautifully.

First, let's get one thing out of the way: Ser Jorah finally confessed his love for Danaerys, knowing fully well that he is mostly likely going to die of grayscale and also knowing that he will never get out of the friend-zone. Ever.

 

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For anyone who has ever experienced love, unrequited, such a confession would be impassioned, powerful; the scene between Danaerys and Ser Jorah was awkward, artificial and lacked emotional depth. It was wooden (much like Jorah's skin) and underwhelming, especially with Daario Naharis hearing the whole thing (give them some space for God’s sake!). It was a tawdry way of addressing unrequited love and terminal illness.

Kinvara-380In Mereen, another Red Woman, Kinvara, makes an appearance at Tyrion's doorstep. Tyrion, palpably scared (or perhaps charmed by her beauty read as cleavage) was a stuttering mess as he appeared too grateful when she responded positively to him to help Danaerys maintain her reputation as the Mother of Dragons, Unburnt etc among the masses.

Varys on the other hand is quite sceptical, but in that fairly short scene, this new Red Woman shuts Varys up by telling she knows personal things about how his genitals were cut-off by the second grade sorcerer — Varys looks scared and convinced.

There was something off about this new character, she's definitely sketchy and also perhaps someone we should watch out for.

In the grey, cloudy, Iron Islands, Yara doesn't manage to claim the throne. Surprise! Surprise! She is mansplained by her uncle, Euron Greyjoy (who killed Balon) that he would do a much better job than her as a King. All those gathered, smitten and sold by his gregarious mansplaining oration cheer for him. Yara and Theon are now on the run for their lives because right after Euron is proclaimed king he says, "Where are my niece and nephew? Let's go murder them." Ah. Classic Game of Thrones.

There's more brother-sister bonding time in Castle Black and they set out to take the North back, by taking baby steps. Sansa, like I had argued in my earlier piece, is in fact stepping up to take the Stark name and more importantly lead, she is also lying and keeping things from her brother — qualities that are important for leadership in this really twisted fantasy world, I suppose.

Arya's gotten a new assignment to kill and again, it looks like she might mess up because the girl asks too many questions.

All these storylines were small developments, compared to what's going on in Bran Stark's part of the world. Time moves slow in Bran's quarters, also tedious and oft boring. He's a greenseer — a quality/power (almost nonexistent, extremely rare) that allows him to travel to the past, see the present, control the minds of beasts (and Hodor, so probably another human as well) and see into the future.

We have all wondered about Bran's role in the war(s?) to come, what is the three-eyed raven teaching him? Bran is the key to unlocking many mysteries in the past, especially if he knows about Jon Snow's mother: is she Lyanna Stark? Does he also have the Targaryen blood in him?

Bored out of his wits (probably because the Three-Eyed Raven keeps pulling him out of the interesting parts of the past), Bran goes on a solo trip, but what he sees is the army of the dead — the White Walkers and the Night's King (yes, the really bada** Zombie-blue-eyed chap from previous season's Hard Home). Bran stays there too long and the Night's King touches Bran, leaving his mark upon Bran, and the sacred cave is no longer a safe place for Bran because the White Walkers can now enter it and they do. This unauthorised solo weir-wood session cost Bran deeply.

An important revelation in this episode is that the Children of The Forest had in fact created The White Walkers to protect themselves from the men who were plundering their land and their forests.

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In an action-packed ten minutes, Bran and co are asked to run out of there, a place that is now crawling with zombie skeletons. Summer valiantly defends his master and friends and dies. Through the visions, the Three-Eyed Raven takes Bran to the stables in Winterfell, where his grandfather tells a young Ned to "fight to win" and in the background, you see Willys (Hodor). As the Night's King stabs the three-eyed raven, he vanishes into black dust in Winterfell.

Hodor carries Bran out to safety as Meera yells: "Hold the door, Hold the door" and carries Bran's sled. Hodor stands against the door with all his might, keeping the zombies from coming out, screeching Hodor...Hodor...Hodor.

In Winterfell, Willys, the young boy convulses screaming "Hold the door...Hold the door...Hodor."

Replete with supernatural elements — White Walkers, zombie skeletons, Bran's taking control of Hodor's mind and his visions in Winterfell — this portion of the episode was perhaps the most human in all of Game of Thrones history. Unwittingly, Bran is asked to grow up — his childish mistake, his deviance throws him with a slap from his own reality — he is not ready as the Three-Eyed Raven tells him and yet, Bran has to be ready, there is simply no other choice.

 

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The show really triumphs in Hodor's demise. He never said a word other than Hodor in the entire series and yet has gotten the honour and accolades he deserves through his death. Hodor was just as human as humans can be and as heroic as heroes can be.

The show has fully embraced the notions of 'prophecy' and 'destiny' with this — Hodor's entire life was meant for this one beautiful sacrifice. In the previous season, Cersei's encounter with the blood-witch or maegi (also highlighted in season 6) has sown certain seeds in her mind. Throughout the show, various Lords do various awful biddings based on 'unfounded' prophecies.

In the previous seasons of the show, there was a general dismissal of destiny and prophecy. By pitting various prophecies against the other, they didn't mean much and could be dismissed as superstition. Not all the prophecies came true, while some did, so the believers could believe and the non-believers were happy not to. For example, Melisandre did blood magic and revealed that Stannis Baratheon was meant to claim the Iron Throne — that's clearly not the case. Shireen's death was supposed to ward off imminent danger to Stannis as well — again that was not true.  However, Jon Snow coming back to life, Melisandre seeing only Snow in the flames, the fact that Willys' (Hodor) epileptic seizure as a child was meant to protect Bran way ahead in the future is quite troubling to the mind. Prophecies help guide the story — characters on the show are supposed to either confront these destinies or conform to them.

The show seems more comfortable with the supernatural than it was ever before. Game of Thrones, despite its dragons and blood-magic, has been about cause and effect and people's self-interests, agendas — how they generate the plot. Now, it will be interesting to see how much more of 'crystal ball' techniques will influence the story that is essentially about men and women — their bloodlust and quest for absolute power.

 

Correction: The article has been updated to reflect Euron Greyjoy instead of Aeron Greyjoy.