This week’s Game of Thrones featured the return of a terrible enemy, the death of a beloved character, and a few more heartwarming moments that fans are still getting used to seeing. As usual, beware, spoilers ahead.
Last week’s episode opened with an epic smackdown between Sansa and Littlefinger. They meet in secret in Mole’s Town, with Brienne looking like she wants to physically rip Petyr Baelish’s head from his body with her bare hands. I don’t know how many times Sansa played out her Littlefinger revenge fantasy in her head but the moment is nigh and she absolutely reads him to filth. It’s incredible, but it’s also heartbreaking.
Sansa forces him to listen to details of the abuse she suffered at Ramsay’s hands. She holds Littlefinger responsible for the things Ramsay did because she believes that he always knew what kind of a sadistic monster he was. Sansa says to Baelish, “I can still feel what he did in my body, standing here right now,” and many have taken this to mean that Sansa is pregnant. I’m not convinced that’s the case but I really hope not because the world needs fewer Boltons, not more.
Sansa tells Littlefinger that she could 100% have Brienne kill him where he stands and, as satisfying as that might be for her, she lets him live on the condition that she will have nothing to do with him ever again. As a parting gift, Littlefinger tells her that she has a potential ally in her great uncle Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully, who has retaken Riverrun. Between the Tully forces and the Knights of the Vale, Littlefinger could really help the Stark cause, but Sansa doesn’t trust him.
Later in the episode, Sansa is back at Castle Black with Jon and the others. Together, they’re trying to figure out who could be allies to their cause. Sansa tells Jon and the others about the Blackfish but lies about where she found out. This will cause problems later, obviously. Sansa’s got some major trust issues, understandably, but Jon’s about as trustworthy and good as they come. If you can’t trust him, who can you trust? Right before the gang left the wall, Sansa gave Jon a fur with the Stark sigil that matches her dress. Not only is this a sweet gift between the newly reunited brother and sister, it’s also a large token of acceptance. Sansa was a mini-Catelyn back when they all lived at Winterfell. She treated Jon as Catelyn did–a bastard and an outsider. Now, after so many years, Sansa has not only accepted him as a brother but invited him to be the Leader of the Stark house and inviting him to wear the Stark direwolf. No wonder he smiled so brightly, it was a huge moment for him!
While Dany’s plotline was far from this week’s most explosive plotline, it did a reasonable job at breaking hearts across the world. We pick up after her plan with Ser Jorah and Daario won the Dothraki’s faith in her. Dany had trouble coming to terms with Jorah’s overall role in her life; he betrayed her, he returned after being banished twice, he advised her loyally, and he saved her life. She can’t keep him around, but sending him away is unthinkable.
Jorah takes this moment to reveal his Greyscale, and that he is leaving for her own safety. Dany commands him to scour the globe until he finds the cure, and then meet her in Westeros when she takes the Iron Throne. The scene is full of emotion, a strong reminder that even the bravest characters’ hearts can break. Not to mention, a reminder of just how diverse an actress Emilia Clarke is. When Jorah finally tells Dany that he loves her, the scene is not nearly as creepy as we all thought it would be. It was somehow timed perfectly in the series to make us forget that Jorah is much older, and that this ordeal started when Dany was 12. Masterfully done.
As Tyrion pours some of his beloved wine at the Meereenese small council meeting, Varys asks Grey Worm how many killings have been carried out by the Sons of the Harpy and how many free men have killed slavemasters since their pact with the masters of Astapor, Yunkai and Volantis. Aside from a few the day of the pact – none. Their peace has taken hold. Varys is satisfied by this, but Tyrion is not; in order for the people to believe in the Meereenese government, they have to know that Daenerys is responsible for the peace. (Spoilers: she isn’t.) He decides they need someone to spread the word – someone trustworthy who can’t be bought or influenced.
In the throne room Tyrion and Varys meet with Kinvara, a Red Priestess of R’hllor, the Lord of Light. Tyrion tries to persuade her to help, but Kinvara doesn’t need persuading – after all, Daenerys Targaryen is the Prince(ss?) That Was Promised, and her dragons fire will purify the nonbelievers. Tyrion would prefer to stay away from purification as Daenerys has followers of all faiths. Kinvara announces she will summon her most eloquent priests to spread the word – but Varys, who notably distrusts sorcerers since the whole castrating/burning genitals incident from his childhood, can’t leave it at that.
As Tyrion tries to be polite, Varys points out that Stannis Baratheon was also the “Prince That Was Promised”, according to Melisandre (not to mention her recent shift in attention to Jon Snow). Stannis’ glorious destiny was to lose every battle and then die at Winterfell. Kinvara claims that the Lord of Light does not make mistakes, but his followers can. She correctly notes that Varys simply distrusts magic because of his castration – something she describes in a detail that only someone present could know, which makes Varys extremely uncomfortable. As he looks deeply disturbed, she describes the voice Varys heard in the fire as a child, and tells him that if he is truly Daenerys’ friend, he has nothing to fear. Is she reassuring him, or threatening him?
We get to see our favorite badass yet again training with the Waif. Her skills with a quarter staff have improved immensely as we watch her deflect nearly every attack. But while her defense is on point, her offensive skills are lacking. She seems a bit frustrated that she hasn’t caused any damage to the Waif and, when knocked down, Arya gets back up in a bit of a huff. The Waif takes her on in hand-to-weapon, and quickly disarms Arya. She tells her that she’ll never be one of the Faceless and refers to Arya as “Lady Stark.” Jaqen H’ghar enters and tells Arya that the Waif has a point. In the hall of faces, Jaqen offers Arya a second and FINAL chance at redemption; to do so she must assassinate an actress currently stationed in Braavos. The actress is in a play that portrays the story of King Robert Baratheon’s death and Eddard Stark’s beheading. Unfortunately, the play is comedic, and Arya is forced to watch he father and sister be ridiculed, and their reputations be soiled for the sake of comedy. After the show, she manages to make it backstage, where she spies on her target. She overhears the actress say that she prefers rum to any other alcohol, which Arya later reveals to Jaqen.
I will say this much…I’m not entirely sure Arya will become one of the Faceless Men. She seems to struggle with letting go of her emotions and her obvious weakness for people and human contact. But it’s possible that she’ll use the skills she learns to help her family. In the end, I think the Waif’s jab at her being someone was more of a foreshadowing, and that Arya Stark is just that: A Stark.
The Kingsmoot is upon us and Yara claims the Salt Throne first. She is the rightful heir…it’s obvious…and Theon back’s her with an emotional speech. (Just a quick aside here to say that I am forever impressed with Alfie Allen’s acting. We’ve all had a range of feels for Theon/Reek, and it’s mostly because of how well Allen executes his material.) While many men speak out against having a woman rule, it seems like the majority of people support her until…Euron shows up. He murdered his brother and he’s here to take the salt throne. He makes some gross dick jokes also involving Dany, and we all already hate him. Too bad everybody on Pyke is just like “eh okay you can rule us”. While he’s going through all of his rituals, Yara and Theon take most of the ships and sail away with a bunch of supporters. Hopefully they’re on the way to Dany. She’s got to get to Westeros somehow, right? And you know it won’t be with Euron!
Finally, we get to the most intense/heartbreaking portion of the episode. Bran, forever the rule breaker, goes into vision mode when he’s not supposed to because he’s bored. He doesn’t go where the Three Eyed Raven is though, he winds up surrounded by an army of wights; he walks through them like it’s no big deal until he comes upon the white walkers. They are scary. Bran looks like he’s about to pass out when BAM! The Night King SEES him. Not only that, the Night King TOUCHES him. He comes out of the vision freaking out. The Three Eyed Raven then reveals that he’s been marked, and the White Walkers are coming for him. Soon. Which means it’s time for him to become the Three Eyed Raven, even though he’s not ready.
A little later, Bran and the Three Eyed Raven are in vision mode when Meera senses the Walkers. She goes outside to see an army quickly approaching the tree. Leaf puts a ring of fire around the tree, which stops the wights but is nothing to the White Walkers. They enter the tree and start wreaking havoc, but Bran and the Three Eyed Raven are still in their vision! Meera shakes Bran desperately trying to wake him up while Leaf, Hodor, and Summer try to fend of Walkers and Wights. Summer dies quickly (RIP sweet baby!) , Meera kills a walker (YES!), and the Three Eyed Raven tells Bran, while they’re in the vision to go help. He wargs into Hodor and Hodor starts fighting. The Night King comes into the vision and kills the Three Eyed Raven. How? WHO EVEN KNOWS. Is he a warg too? So now, Bran’s body (he’s still in the vision), Meera, and Hodor are running for their lives out of the tree and away from the wights. Leaf buys them some time by blowing up herself and some wights (I would feel bad, but she created them). They get out the door and Meera commands Hodor to hold the door shut. Back in Bran’s vision, young Wylis starts to have what looks like a seizure while he yells “HOLD THE DOOR” over and over again until the words mesh into “Hodor”. Bran sees all this and realizes what he’s done. Back in present time, Hodor dies holding the door shut.
How will Bran be able to live with himself knowing that he not only killed Hodor, but was also responsible for his life-long Aphasia?
How will Bran’s story change going forward? He’s the Three Eyed Raven now, and he’s been marked by the Night King. Will he survive? And what will happen if he doesn’t?