Monday, May 23, 2016

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: The Door

Before this season started showrunners Benioff and Weiss said that they didn't see more than thirteen episodes after this season's completion. Based on how recent events are turning out I wonder if that estimate might have been generous. This show is definitely in the home stretch. It's ruthless in cutting down story lines and characters. There are multiple confirmations of some long held fan theories, some of which were a definite minority opinion. I really wish that I had been able to get most of this from the books instead of the show but as many people have pointed out GRRM works at his pace, not ours. He's made his decisions. So it goes. Anyway we open up at Castle Black with Sansa sewing something in what I am sure is a reference back to happier days at Winterfell when she showed great aptitude at needlework, unlike her tomboy sister Arya. Sansa has received a letter from Littlefinger. She goes to see him but takes Brienne along with her. Littlefinger is very happy to see her unharmed as he says. Sansa scoffs at this and wants to know if Littlefinger knew what kind of man Ramsay Bolton was. She points out that Littlefinger sold her from one group of people who murdered her family to another group of people who murdered her family. And she says that she is still damaged from Ramsay's perversions and rapes, not just mentally or emotionally but physically. Sansa says that she's sure a filthy whore monger like Littlefinger knows exactly what she's talking about even though high born ladies aren't supposed to speak of such things. Sansa says why shouldn't she just have Brienne kill Littlefinger right then and there. Littlefinger says he's sorry and would die for her if need be. Sansa says that she doesn't need or trust Littlefinger. Sansa says that she and her brother Jon will retake the North without Littlefinger's assistance. Littlefinger tells Sansa that that's all well and good if she doesn't want his help but her great uncle Brynden Tully has reconstituted some Tully forces and taken Riverrun. Maybe Sansa should ask him for help. And Littlefinger points out that Jon is Sansa's half-brother, not full brother.

In Braavos Arya is still getting her butt beaten by the Waif when they spar with quarterstaffs. Arya is better but the Waif is just that good. In fact the Waif is so much better than Arya that she contemptuously fights Arya without a quarterstaff and still wins. The Waif says this is because Arya is still "Lady Stark". The Waif doesn't think that Arya can ever forsake her previous identity. The Waif is offended that Arya is even there. Watching this Jaqen H'ghar explains to Arya that the first Faceless Men were former slaves who founded Braavos. He gives Arya a new target. He tells her that this is her second and final chance. The target is an actress by name of Lady Crane. Going to the theater to watch her mark, Arya is offended to see the acting troupe portray her sister as a busty dimwit and her father as a corrupt bumbling oaf. By the way for all the people who were complaining that this show didn't have enough male nudity the theater scene throws in an actor complaining about a possible STD mark on his member. Said body part temporarily fills the screen. Are you happy now? Infiltrating the group backstage Arya is privy to all of their worries, banter and rivalries. Reporting back to Jaqen, Arya says that she can poison Lady Crane's rum. But Arya has come to like Lady Crane. Arya doesn't think Lady Crane is such a bad sort, and wants to know who had paid for her murder. Why is Lady Crane on the list? Showing that he's getting a bit annoyed Jaqen reminds his apprentice that death comes for everyone good or bad. He also says that servants don't ask questions. One way or another there is going to be a new face hanging in the House of Black and White. Jaqen isn't going to accept any other questions or half-measures. Either Arya is no one, a servant of the Many Faced God or she is not. Decide.

Bran and The Three Eyed Raven (TER) are time travelling again. Presumably at the same weirwood tree they presently inhabit, Bran watches the Children of the Forest sacrifice a man by killing him with an obsidian knife. The man is reborn as a White Walker. Returning back to the present Bran confronts one of the Children who confirms that she and her kind created the White Walkers as a last ditch defense against humanity.
At the Kingsmoot Yara makes a claim to the Salt Throne (rulership of the Ironborn). She lists her qualifications and history. Yara says she will lead the Ironbron to true glory. Some more conservatively minded Iron Born don't like it because not only is she a woman but the man who they see as the true heir (Theon) is still alive. Theon steps in the circle to his sister's initial dismay. But never fear, he supports Yara. But the family unity and Yara's chance of taking leadership are destroyed by Uncle Euron's arrival. Euron claims the kingship. And by the way he's a man. He has a penis. Yara never did; Theon lost his. Yara accuses Euron of kinslaying while Theon reminds everyone that Euron has been gone for years. But much like some present day politicians, Euron adeptly defuses both charges by admitting to them. Euron says that his brother Balon led them into two pointless wars. Euron's only sorry that he didn't kill Balon earlier. As to the desertion charge, Euron says he's been all over the world and is a better man to lead the Ironborn because of it. He knows of Daenerys, her dragons and her need for a fleet. Euron has such a fleet. Euron says he will marry Daenerys, give her what Theon no longer can, and conquer all of Westeros. He will make the Iron Islands great again. This carries the day and Euron is acclaimed the new king. Theon and Yara don't wait around for the crowning (drowning) ceremony, and their presumable murders, but make away with what looks like half of the fleet. Euron says that's okay. They will build more ships. And he will hunt down his niece and nephew and kill them.

At Vaes Dothrak Ser Friendzone reveals his greyscale to Daenerys and says hey it's been real, I love you and I've just got to go. Cue Isaac Hayes music. Daenerys tears up and orders Jorah to find a cure and return to her. Jorah watches as Daenerys marches off with her Dothraki army. In Meereen the peace is holding. Grey Worm and Missandei still don't like it but Tyrion thinks this is confirmation that he was right to make deals with the slavers. Now all he needs is better PR for Daenerys (and himself) in Meereen. Who better to provide that then the local dominant religion. The Red Priestess Kinvara, attired in the normal revealing gown comes to see Tyrion and company. She already knows what they want. She agrees to help sing Daenerys' praises. After all she thinks that Daenerys is the One Who Was Promised. Varys scoffs at this and rather atypically reveals his passionate distrust of all religions. As Varys says Melisandre said Stannis was the One Who Was Promised. And Stannis lost. And Stannis is dead. So perhaps religious fanatics don't know as much as they say they do. But Kinvara does not lose her equanimity. She says that people make mistakes but God doesn't. She also knows some of the events that occurred the night that Varys was castrated. These are things she shouldn't know. Varys is shaken. At Castle Black, Jon Snow and group are looking at maps of the North. Jon says that they need more men. And he doesn't see where they are going to get them. Sansa says that with a Stark name to follow that the other houses will rise up. Meaning no offense, Davos says that if that were the case why didn't they do so already. Sansa wonders how well the southerner Davos knows the North. Davos concedes that he doesn't know the North but pivots smartly by saying he's been all over. He knows men. They need something more. Sansa says that Jon and she both have the Stark name. If they go to the smaller houses they should be able to unify them against Ramsay and the larger houses backing him. She also reveals that they might be able to count on her great uncle Brynden. However for whatever reason she doesn't tell Jon where she got this information from, lying and saying she heard the news about the Tullys at Winterfell.

So it's settled, Jon and Sansa will travel through the North trying to raise resistance while Brienne, at Sansa's orders, will go to Riverrun to ask for help from what's left of the Tullys. Brienne doesn't like this plan. She doesn't like leaving Sansa alone among men she doesn't know. Sansa says that she'll be fine. After all Jon is her brother. Brienne counters that it wasn't reallyJon she was worried about but speaking of Jon why did Sansa lie to him if she trusts him? Tormund is still giving Brienne the old "I wonder what you look like naked and in my bed" stare. Sansa has sewn a wolf sigil on her dress. She's also done her best to recreate the wolf's cloak that her father used to wear as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of The North. She gives the cloak to Jon. Bran wakes up and finds that everyone else is asleep. He time travels again by himself. It's unclear if he is going to the future or the past. He sees the army of the dead but they don't see him. Then he sees the White Walkers and the Night King. The Night King does see him and then so does everyone else. The Night King grabs Bran but Bran comes back to his own time/body. The TER says that Bran has been marked. The Night King will come for him and will no longer be deterred by the wards against his entry. Thanks a lot Bran! They have little time left. Bran must become the TER.
Meera wants to go home and has a bad feeling about what's going on. Bran and TER are time travelling again. They are in Winterfell watching as a young Ned Stark prepares to leave for his fostering in the Vale. Ned's father tells him not to start any fights but if he finds himself in one, win. In our time Meera just doesn't like something. She runs outside and sees that the Army of the Dead, along with White Walkers and the Night King have come. The Children of the Forest try to hold them off but there are too many. They inexorably press forward. Meera tries to wake Bran up to get him to warg into Hodor. Bran can only hear her vaguely. Now the White Walkers are inside the weirwood cave. Meera kills a White Walker with an obsidian spear but as mentioned the good guys are outnumbered exponentially. And since it's Sunday it must be time for another Stark direwolf to die. Summer makes a last stand. He jumps into the fray and goes out hard. There's a final piteous whimper and that's it for him. In the past TER tells Bran to listen to your friend. Still in the past Bran wargs into Hodor (apparently both past Hodor or Willas and present day Hodor). In the present the Night King kills TER, who disintegrates in the past. In the present the warged Hodor is pulling Bran away as he and Meera run for the back exit. 

The last remaining of the Children of the Forest, Leaf(?), sacrifices herself to get them more time. With the wights close on their heels Bran, Meera and Hodor make it out the back door. Meera takes Bran and yells back at Hodor to hold the door. In the past Hodor has apparently had a seizure as a result of the warging. His eyes have rolled back as Bran has warged into him.  He's screaming "Hold the door!" repeatedly. He shortens this to "Holdadoor" and eventually to "Hodor!". In the present Hodor is yelling Hodor over and over again as he does indeed hold the door long enough for Bran and Meera to escape even as the wights stab him through the door and later rip him apart.

What I liked
  • There is confirmation that Bran can change the past or to put it another way actions today can have impact on the past. 
  • There is confirmation that the White Walkers are modified humans created by the original inhabitants of Westeros in order to fight the invading humans. At the very least this might give Bran pause about accepting assistance from the Children of the Forest or taking everything they tell him as the gospel truth.
  • Sansa finally catching on to some truths about Littlefinger. I thought the actress did a great job with that confrontation scene even if I don't like what the writers did with the aftermath. Why not accept Littlefinger's help and then arrange an accident for him up north?
  • Littlefinger's essentially Satanic attempt to maintain influence with Sansa and sow doubt in her mind by saying that Jon is her half-brother. Littlefinger always mixes lies and truth for his own benefit.
  • Theon's backing of his sister's claim even though it didn't work out. 

What I didn't like
  • I hate seeing the wolves killed off. 
  • If Bran would have minded his own business (not go climbing when he wasn't supposed to and not go time traveling when he wasn't supposed to) the entire history of Westeros would be different. Seriously to hell with that kid.
  • Last week Littlefinger is in the Vale this week he's in the North? Does he have a helicopter? Subway? Air balloon?
  • If Sansa knows that Littlefinger is not a good man, then why trust what he said about her great-uncle. Why hide from Jon where she got that information? Why send Brienne away?
  • I know the Iron Born pride themselves more on direct action than sly intrigue but how stupid do you have to be not to have a guard on the ships?
  • Hodor's maiming and death. 
  • Perhaps the show is making a point that these are close to end times and so taboos are breaking down but along with incest and violation of guest right, kinslaying is supposed to be one of the big no-nos. It seems a little odd that Euron would freely admit to it.
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