The fifth episode of season six “Game of Thrones” aired on Sunday, May 22, marking the midseason on the wildly popular series. Now that we are at the halfway point, let’s take a look back at what we’ve seen so far in Westeros (we’ll save Daenerys and Arya for another time) and what it means for the future of the show and the wars to come. Beware: Spoilers Ahead.
After all the confusion and anger that followed the last episode of season five, the question has finally been answered: Jon Snow lives! (Yet remains a little dead and gloomy on the inside, but what’s new?) The brooding Lord Commander was revived by the Lady Melisandre in the second episode of the season, cruelly keeping fans waiting an entire week and most of an episode to discover his fate. Rightfully, one of his first actions as the risen Lord Commander was to deal with the mutineers, including Olly and Alliser Thorne. With his last words, Thorne forced Snow to ponder over the kind of life he will live as a formerly dead man, never reaching the end of his fate. After these words, Snow declared his watch over and ended his service as a man of the Night’s Watch. (Which is technically okay since he served until his death, right?) At first, this left me confused about his future in the show. I had hoped that he would live, head to Winterfell and take it back from the Boltons, but he can’t do it alone. Luckily, soon after, Sansa Stark arrived to the wall with Brienne and Podrick. With two of the Starks reunited, especially with a legitimate Stark child, there is a better chance of rallying northern families against the Boltons. Also, the one survivor of the Red Wedding appears to be making a comeback this season. Catelyn Stark’s uncle, Brynden Tully, is rallying a Tully army that might be able assist Sansa and Jon. This is discussed after a letter is sent from the Boltons demanding that Sansa be sent back to them, before something happens to a Stark we have not seen for a while…
Back at Winterfell, Ramsey Bolton murdered his father, Roose, after learning that he will have a legitimate son to take the throne. Then, perhaps as an homage to his creepy dog kennel ex-girlfriend, he had his stepmother and stepbrother ripped apart by the dogs. And to top it off, guess who arrived to Winterfell, into the clutches of this madman? Rickon, Osha and the dead body of Shaggydog are delivered to Ramsey and as we know, Ramsey takes only what he can use. By episode five, Rickon is the only one left alive as a bargaining chip. I think there is a huge possibility of a three Stark reunion when Jon and Sansa rally an army to take back Winterfell and save Rickon in the first war to come, but this show loves to prove me wrong, so fingers crossed.
Another conflict to look forward to: Cersei and the Sparrows. This part has not been heavily touched upon, but it is clear that something must be done about the radical religious group that has taken over King’s Landing. The humiliated the Queen Mother, and now are threatening to do the same to Queen Margaery. In a conversation between the Lannister twins, Olenna Tyrell and Kevan Lannister (head of the Kingsguard) it looked like the Tyrells will be sending over an army to take King’s Landing back from the Sparrows. One popular theory suggests that the Tyrells will keep control of King’s Landing and will become the ruling family, much like the Lannisters took power from the Targaryens. Personally, I am completely fine with the possibility. The decline of the Lannisters has been long coming, and it looks as if they have just been holding on to whatever scraps of power they have for dear life. The Tyrells have for long been a looming presence and have proven, with their stronger army and more provisions, the ability to ‘serve the realm’ better, but again, “Game of Thrones” loves crazy third options that nobody expects but suddenly make a lot of sense, so one can only hope.
The Iron Islands is a GOT location we have not explored much, but this season is about to change all of that. Back in Theon’s homeland, his father has just been murdered by his crazy Uncle Euron Greyjoy. Apparently, Euron has been travelling the world and was driven mad by a storm that he met on his travels. Now he returns to the Iron Islands with aspirations to take the Salt Throne, travel to Essos, marry Daenerys Targaryen, then return to Westeros and rule the entire realm… good luck with that, Euron. Theon has returned to his homeland and pledges his support for his sister Yara to take the Salt Throne, however during the trial for the throne, Euron arrives and mocks the siblings, lowering their claim to the throne and humiliating them. Euron is crowned king after a bizarre drowning ritual and Yara and Theon flee the Iron Islands with a fleet of ships.
This is bound to make it more difficult for Euron to attempt to sail to Essos, but by episode five he has commanded the people of the Iron Island to immediately build more ships. We are left to wonder where Yara and Theon will go with their navy. I hope that they will be able to get involved with Jon Snow’s efforts to claim Winterfell, but honestly anything is better than Euron’s plan. He’ll be dragon food as soon as he sets foot on Essos.
Now for the most abstract war to come: Winter. What is winter? Where is it coming from? Well, for a few seasons it has become obvious that winter is not only the coming of the season and the intense cold and misery that threatens the realm, but also the coming of the white walkers. In the saddest episode of the season, and perhaps the most emotionally gripping episode in the show’s history, we learn the origin of the white walkers, as well as our dear beloved friend, Hodor. In episode five, “The Doors,” Bran gets a little too comfortable with his ability to walk through time or “greensee.” After finding out that the Children of the forest (the little tree humans) created the white walkers to protect themselves against the first men (humans, who were destroying their trees… typical), he looks for more information and uses his greensight without his teacher, the Three-Eyed Raven. In his vision he sees an army of white walkers. They appear to not be able to see him, so he walks through the crowd, like an idiot. Sorry, but under no circumstances would I, or any other rational person, feel it is appropriate to frolic among the dead ice zombies. The Night’s King, or the creepy snow demon that seems to rule over the white walkers, appears behind Bran and marks him, and suddenly all the white walkers can see him. Bran wakes up and sees that he is marked in real life, and this is when it gets extremely sad, extremely fast.
The Three Eyed Raven notes that this mark means that the Night’s King can find him and enter the formerly protected cave. In a hurry, he tries to give Bran a little How To Be A Three-Eyed Raven crash course and greensees with him for the last time. In this vision, he is back at Winterfell, when Hodor, or Wyllis (as we discovered earlier in the season) was just a boy. Meanwhile, in real time, the white walkers, wights (normal zombies), and the Night’s King have arrived at the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and begun their attack. Meera, Hodor, Summer and Bran must escape. Summer and the Three-Eyed Raven are killed by the wights, and Bran’s consciousness remains in the past. Meera and Hodor manage to get Bran out through a backdoor, though the wights are right behind it pushing and trying to get through to attack them. Meera orders Hodor to “Hold The Door” (hint, hint), which young Wyllis hears through Bran in the past. Fans are left to do a little guess work here, but the main idea is that within the greensight, Bran wargs into past Hodor, which causes him to witness his own death while holding the door. Past Hodor hears Meera yelling “Hold the Door” and repeats it in his seizure. The resulting brain damaged caused this phrase to be the last thing that he can say, abbreviated to “Hodor.” HOld the DoOR. HODOR.
This heartbreaking revelation reveals a few things. First, time travel is now possible and Bran can directly affect things that happen in the past. This means that if Bran wanted to, he could warn his father of his season one death, or perhaps tell his mother about the Red Wedding, though this would never happen. Bran has also learned about the consequences of his actions. Though it was necessary for Wyllis to become Hodor, Bran has managed to reduce a man’s entire existence down to a phrase, so I’m pretty sure Bran will be extra careful the next time. Next, the white walkers will forever know where Bran is. The walkers seem to have a little beef with the Three-Eyed Raven and since Bran is the new one, and he has been marked, I’m sure the Night’s King will be after Bran whenever he can. Third, Winter is most definitely here. If the battle at Hardhome in season five wasn’t enough to tell you, this episode most definitely is.
I was a bit disappointed by the first four episodes of season six. They seemed to drag on and the happiness of the Stark resurrection and reunion were making me a bit skeptical, but episode five brought back the twisted “Game of Thrones” we know and love. I’m looking forward to seeing how different characters will play a part in the wars to come.