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

I wasn’t planning on writing about this week’s Game of Thrones. I like to touch base every once in a while, but this episode was special for so many reasons. There are full recaps all over the internet, I just wanted to highlight a few things that may have gotten lost beneath that devastating conclusion. As several critics have pointed out, “The Door” (as well as next week’s episode) was directed by Jack Bender, who directed some of the best episodes of Lost, including “The Constant.” I haven’t finished Lost, but between Game of Thrones and Teaves podcast host Regan Lloyd (who just watched “The Constant”), this week is full of reminders that I need to keep watching Lost. There are spoilers for this episode of Game of Thrones, as well as some spoilers for this particular episode of Lost.

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John Locke wins the Iron Throne. Image courtesy of Matt Patches.

Jack Bender is a fantastic director, and the perfect choice for an episode which involved someone existing in both the past and the present – this is what happened to Desmond in The Constant. The story is always grounded in the character. Three weeks ago we learned that Hodor was originally named Wyllis. He was always a stableboy, but what happened to him? We find out this week that Wyllis’ entire destiny was bound up in his identity of Hodor. The creation and destruction of a beloved character are all tied up in one moment. Bran has warged into Hodor in the present, but his presence in the past leads to Wyllis hearing Meera’s shouts of “Hold the door!”, and he has a fit, and a contraction of that phrase is all he’s able to say for the rest of his life and becomes his final act of heroism.

Alan Sepinwall linked to a clip of the final scene of “The Constant,” and rewatching that clip brought home another similarity to this week’s Game of Thrones, which was Dany and Jorah’s (hopefully brief) parting. A story is irrelevant unless we connect to it in some way, and the best way to do that is through character. “The Constant” wasn’t just a well-directed episode of Lost that had to make time-travel believable, it was also a love story between two characters with history. When I watched Desmond tell Penny he loved her, it wasn’t so different to Jorah’s confession of love to his khaleesi. Despite his betrayals, Jorah’s service to Daenerys Targaryen has been unwavering. As she said, she banished him twice, he came back twice and he saved her life. Dany may not love Jorah the way that he loves her, but the thought of losing him brings her to tears. Their relationship means much more to her than whatever she has going on with Daario.

Other thoughts:

  • Essie Davis appears as A Girl’s next target for assassination, an actress playing Cersei Lannister in a Braavosi play. Arya’s perfectly happy to laugh at Joffrey getting slapped, but then she has to relive her father’s execution and find out that Sansa married Tyrion Lannister. The Many-Faced God is testing if she can truly become no one, and I don’t think she wants to.
  • Speaking of which, having a religion be the face of an order of assassins is bizarre. Arya quickly figures out that the person who wants Phryne Fisher dead is probably the actress who played Sansa in the play. The faceless man asks her if death only comes for the wicked, and that servants of the Many-Faced God do not question, but if the Faceless Men are truly servants of the Many-Faced God, they wouldn’t be assassins for hire. How is Arya killing someone for her own selfish reasons any different to her killing an actress for someone else’s selfish reasons? Money explains all.
  • Sophie Turner is killing it this season, and I really hope she gets an Emmy nomination for her work. If she does, she has some great clips to choose from, and her takedown of Littlefinger is one of my favourite moments in the entire series.
  • As David Sims noted on Twitter, there was nary a Ramsay on this week’s episode, and I didn’t even notice he was missing.
  • Finally links to some great pieces: Joanna Robinson has answers to questions you may have had after watching the episode, and Myles McNutt’s review on The A.V. Club is the best analysis of that final sequence in the episode I’ve read so far (not to mention that he captures how difficult it would be to convey this sequence in the written word). Both of these pieces are by book readers, but all that Hodor stuff was new information to book readers, and book spoilers have been carefully marked.
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