“The Door” opens – pun intended – on Sansa doing some sewing. She receives a letter with a mockingbird seal; apparently Littlefinger has used his teleporter (how else does he travel so fast?) and is awaiting her in Mole’s Town. She arrives with Brienne, whom Littlefinger doesn’t look too thrilled to see.
He tells Sansa he’s happy to see her unharmed. She scoffs at this and asks what he’s doing there. Littlefinger tells her he’s brought the Vale army to her aid, which he left encamped at Moat Cailin. Sansa asks if he knew about Ramsay – “if you didn’t know, you’re an idiot, and if you did know, you’re my enemy.” Sansa then goes on to vaguely hint at the abuse she suffered. She asks him what he thinks Ramsay did and forces him to guess. It’s a very uncomfortable conversation for both Littlefinger and for us watchers, but Sansa is hardened now and doesn’t flinch from the truth.
Littlefinger tells her he didn’t know, that he made a mistake and underestimated Ramsay. Sansa continues to give him disturbing hints about what she suffered – she’s not letting him off the hook for this one. Littlefinger says he’ll protect her, but she’s done with his lies. She says he can’t even protect himself if she orders Brienne to cut him down. Sansa doesn’t need him anymore.
Littlefinger tells her he will do whatever she wants, even die. Sansa orders him to go back to Moat Cailin, but he gives her one more bit of information – her great uncle, Brynden Tully (the Blackfish), has retaken Riverrun and suggests she needs his army. Sansa says she has an army to which he replies “your brother’s army…half brother.” Leave it to Littlefinger to sow the seeds of discontent on his way out.
Over to Braavos, and we have yet more stick fighting in the House of Black and White. Arya’s eyesight doesn’t seem to be helping much as the Waif continues to beat her down. She tells Arya she’ll never be one of them – calling her Lady Stark – and Jaqen enters, saying the Waif has a point.
Jaqen takes Arya into the Hall of Faces, telling her about the origin of the Faceless Men. They were not highborn, but slaves in Valyria. The Many Faced God told their founder how to shed his face and give the gift; he in turn told others and eventually the masters and overseers were gone. The Faceless Men fled and founded Braavos and the temple.
Jaqen tells Arya she is one of them, if she desires. Arya says she has no desires, and Jaqen presents her with a vial of poison. She asks who and is told it’s an actress (Lady Crane). Jaqen tells her this is her second chance and there won’t be a third. “One way or another, a face will added to the Hall.” Arya had better tread carefully.
Arya goes to watch the play, which parodies the events that kick of the War of the Five Kings – King Robert’s death, Ned’s “treason,” and Ned’s beheading (with a nice reference to The Winds of Winter thrown in for fun). Arya initially seems to be amused but quickly appears distressed at the portrayal – Robert and Ned are idiots, and Cersei and Joffrey are sympathetic. There is also a scheming Tyrion and naïve and exploited Sansa. It’s interesting to see her once again in the crowd, unable to affect the events that are playing out before her. It seems she hasn’t really become No One.
We are taken backstage and treated to a close up of “Joffrey’s” penis as he laments finding warts (not sure I really needed to see that…). “Sansa” is criticized for her unconvincing performance and is told to do better. Arya sees Lady Crane sharing a drink with “Tyrion” as they flirt and compliment each other. Arya returns to Jaqen with a plan to poison the rum, which only Lady Crane drinks; she wants to use a face from the Hall but is told she isn’t ready. She observes that Lady Crane is a good actress and seems a decent woman, to which Jaqen responds, “Does death only come for the wicked and leave the decent behind?” Unfortunately not, as we’ve seen since season one.
Arya wants to know who wants Lady Crane dead, and deduces it must be “Sansa,” who is jealous of her talent (I’m not sure how a lowly, mediocre actress can afford to hire a Faceless Man, but I digress). Jaqen tells her she must decide if she wants to serve, and Arya says she has decided. Jaqen states that a servant doesn’t ask questions. Somehow I don’t see Arya being a servant – perhaps she’ll kill “Sansa” instead?
Another day, another vision courtesy of weirwood.net, and this time Bran sees the Children of the Forest back when the lands beyond the Wall were green. They are in a stone circle spiral around a weirwood, where a man has been stripped to the waist and lashed to the tree. It seems to be some kind of ritual/sacrifice, and Leaf steps up with an obsidian dagger in hand. She slowly drives it into the man’s chest, and we see his eyes turn White Walker blue…
Bran awakes to find Leaf looking at him. He accuses her of creating the White Walkers, and she defends it by saying they were at war and being slaughtered, their sacred trees cut down. They needed a weapon to defend themselves from men. Unfortunately, it seems their creation got out of hand and away from their control.
Time for the Kingsmoot on the Iron Islands, and Yara stakes her claim to the “Salt Throne” (it’s the Seastone Chair! I just can’t get on board with this name change…). The ironborn men say they’ve never had a queen, and Yara reminds them of all the other things they never done – which basically boils down to never being successful at much of anything. They tell her a woman will never lead them, not when Balon’s male heir has returned.
Theon (looking much more Theon and less Reekish), steps up to step aside and throw his support behind his sister. He tells everyone that Yara is true Ironborn and the rightful ruler. The men start chanting her name but are interrupted by Euron, who has conveniently arrived just in time. Euron claims the throne for himself, blasting Theon for his blunders and saying that since he has no cock that explains his support for a woman.
Yara suspiciously wonders when he arrived, and states that her first act as queen will be to execute Euron for Balon’s murder. Euron has no qualms admitting his deed, saying that Balon was leading them nowhere and that he should have done it long ago. Theon says that would have been hard since he has been gone for so long, and that Yara has always been there and being a leader. Euron makes more jokes about Theon’s castration and says he will build a fleet to take him to Daenerys. He will win her over and take the Seven Kingdoms.
As the crowd chants Euron’s name, Yara and Theon apparently see the writing on the wall and take off – heading for a fleet of ships anchored off the coast (hopefully heading to Meereen to warn Dany about their crazy uncle). Meanwhile, Euron is baptized the Ironborn way – drowned and revived in homage to the Drowned God. The priest (Aeron – Balon and Euron’s brother although the show never makes note of it) crowns him with driftwood, and Euron tells his men it’s time to murder his niece and nephew. Euron’s a real family guy… Maybe Aeron is better off not being mentioned as his brother. He sees the ships taking sail and doesn’t let it bother him – he commands his men to start building him a fleet, and he will give them this world.
Over in Essos, Daenerys overlooks Vaes Dothrak with Daario and Jorah. She tells Jorah she banished him twice, and he came back both times and saved her. She can’t take him back and can’t send him away. Jorah tells her he must, revealing his greyscale. Dany asks if there is a cure, and how long he has – Jorah doesn’t know either answer. She tells him she’s sorry, but he says he’s only ever wanted to serve her and that he loves her and always will. He says goodbye and begins to walk away, but she stops him. Dany gives Jorah an emotional command to find a cure and heal himself, so he can return to her. She needs him by her side when she takes the Seven Kingdoms. Cue the tears…
In Meereen, Varys talks to Grey Worm about the status of the city, and it seems a fragile peace has taken hold. Tyrion doesn’t think it’s enough – they need to know that Daenerys is responsible for the peace (and makes a nice dig at her long string of titles). He needs to find someone trustworthy to convince the people. Varys asks where they will find him, and Tyrion responds with Varys’s line from season 5: “Who said anything about him?”
In the Great Pyramid, Tyrion and Varys meet with Kinvara, the High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis. Tyrion entreats her for help, but Kinvara had already planned to help – Daenerys is the One who was Promised, her dragons a gift from the Lord of Light. She tells them she will spread the word that Daenerys will lead the people against the darkness.
Varys isn’t buying it, and throws Stannis Baratheon in her face, saying a red priestess anointed him as the Chosen One, and he was defeated. Kinvara is undeterred, telling him that everything is the Lord’s will but that people making mistakes. Varys asks why they should trust her, and she says that everyone is what and where they are for a reason.
Kinvara brings up Varys’s castration, and tells him that terrible event made him become the powerful man he is. She asks if she remembers the voice from the flames when his parts were thrown on the fire, and if he wants to know what it said and the name of the one who spoke. Varys is clearly horrified at her knowledge, but she says they serve the same queen, and if he is her true friend he has nothing to fear. It’s too bad Tyrion doesn’t know about his sister’s issues with trying to ally with fanatics…I don’t see this turning out well.
Back to the cave, and Bran is lying awake. He decides to take the opportunity to plug back in to the weirnet alone while everyone else is sleeping (big mistake Bran). He is taken back to the weirwood and stone spiral from his earlier vision, only this time it’s covered in snow. It appears he is in the present, and there is a large army of the undead waiting there.
Bran walks through them to find White Walkers on the other side. The Night’s King turns to look at him (he actually sees Bran!), and Bran turns around to see the wight army has followed suit. Brans looks horrified and turns back around to see the Night’s King standing right beside him. Bran panics and tries to get away, but not before the Night’s King grabs his arm.
Bran awakes in a panic, waking the others. He tells the Three Eyed Raven that the Night’s King saw him, but the Three Eyed Raven knows Bran has been touched. There is a mark on Bran’s arm, and the Three Eyed Raven tells Bran the Night’s King will come for him, and the magic will no longer protect the cave now that his mark is on Bran. He says they must all leave and that Bran must now become the Three Eyed Raven. Bran asks if he ready, and is told he isn’t.
At Castle Black, Jon and company are planning their strategy to retake the North. Davos lists the houses that have declared for Ramsay. Sansa has given up on the Umbers, but that the Karstarks didn’t realize they had another choice. Davos counters that Robb killed their lord, but Sansa says Northerners are more loyal.
Davos argues that while that may be so, he knows men and even the bravest won’t fight for a lost cause. They have to be convinced they can win. Jon says they can start with the smaller houses – their combined strength would equal the larger ones. The North remembers the Stark name and will fight for it – Davos asserts Jon doesn’t have the Stark name, but Sansa says she does. She compares Jon to Ramsay in that they are both their fathers’ sons, even if they don’t have the name (Jon looks pretty hurt by this exchange). Sansa goes on to say the Tullys will support them, and that the Blackfish has reformed an army. She lies about the source of the information, saying Ramsay received a raven before she escaped.
Later, Sansa and Brienne are arguing because Sansa wants to send her to the riverlands to recruit the Tully. Brienne doesn’t want to leave her as she is sworn to protect her. Sansa says she’s safe with Jon (who Brienne calls trustworthy but brooding – no kidding). Brienne doesn’t trust the others – Davos and Melisandre supported Stannis and were involved in blood magic to kill Renly, and she even throws poor Tormund under the bus (come on Brienne, he’s just smitten with you – give the guy a break). Sansa argues that Jon will keep her safe, that she trusts him. Brienne asks why she lied to him then, and Sansa doesn’t have and answer.
Sansa walks outside as their group is preparing to leave, wearing a new dress (I dig the wolf embroidery and apparently Jon does too). She presents Jon with a cloak she made for him, like the one Ned used to wear (a guilt gift perhaps?). He thanks her and appears genuinely touched. Tormund gives Brienne another longing look, and she is not amused. Jon and Edd say their goodbyes, and Jon tells him not to knock the Wall down while he’s gone (uh oh, foreshadowing anyone?).
Back at the cave, Bran and the Three Eyed Raven are in vision mode (presumably uploading knowledge Bran will need before they leave) while Meera and Hodor make preparation for the journey. As they talk Meera notices their breath in the air, a sign that the temperature is dropping considerably. She fearfully runs to the cave entrance, where Leaf and the other Children are looking out at the wight army, with the Night’s King at their head. He touches the ground and appears to break the magical protection surrounding them.
Meera runs back inside to get Bran, desperately trying to wake him. He and the Three Eyed Raven are in a vision back at Winterfell, where a young Ned is preparing to leave to be fostered at the Vale. Meanwhile Meera does her best to get Bran out, while the Children fight off wights and Hodor panics. The White Walkers walk into the cave, as the wights surround the tree and begin falling through the cave ceiling.
Meera fights off the wights as she continues to try and wake Bran, telling him they need Hodor. Her voice breaks through to him in the vision, and he hears her telling him to warg into Hodor. The Three Eyed Raven tells Bran to listen to her, and as Bran looks at young Hodor (Wyllis) in the vision, he wargs into Hodor in the present. Hodor picks up the stretcher Bran is lying on and begins dragging him away. A White Walker enters and Meera kills him with an obsidian spear. More wights appear, and Summer jumps into the fight, giving Meera and Leaf a chance to run. Sadly, Summer is overcome and killed (not another direwolf! Cue more tears).
The Night’s King enters and head straight for the Three Eyed Raven. In the vision, he tells Bran to leave him as he dissolves and floats away. In the cave, the wights are relentlessly chasing Meera, Hodor, and Bran, so Leaf stops running and arms a grenade-like weapon. She waits for the wights to overwhelm her, then detonates it, taking them out with her.
Hodor and Meera finally reach a door that will take them out of the cave. Hodor manages to open it just before another group of wights reach them, then slams it shut. Meera yells for him to hold the door as she drags Bran away. In the vision, Bran looks at young Hodor/Wyllis, who looks right back at him. Wyllis’s eyes turn white, and he falls to the ground in a seizure.
Wyllis yells “hold the door” over and over as we cut back to the present, with Hodor holding the door as the wights begin to break through and tear into him. Meera looks back, helpless, as she has to continue on and get Bran to safety. Back in the vision, Bran stares equally helplessly at Wyllis, whose calls of “hold the door” gradually run together and become “hodor” (didn’t think I had any tears left, but not so. Touché, Game of Thrones).
What do you think happened at the end? Did Bran warg past Hodor as well as present Hodor, breaking his mind and making him what he became? Was this always destined to happen, and the Three Eyed Raven knew Bran needed to be in that vision at that exact time? Hopefully the mystery will be explained in future episodes.