TV Review: Game of Thrones – “The Door”

The Door
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Game of Thrones reviews here.
Game of Thrones is on a roll. The show hasn’t felt this confident in a long while, and if it keeps up this momentum then Season 6 might just end up being the best Game of Thrones season yet.
For the second week in a row, one of the show’s weakest storylines delivered in a major way. But where Daenerys’s big ending last week was a retread used to restore her to her former glory, “The Door” pushed Bran towards new and exciting places while tying together story threads from all over, including the past and the present. From action and suspense to story revelations and deepening mythology and especially to a character-driven emotional gut-punch, the climax of “The Door” was perfect in every way.
The revelations began early in “The Door”, as Bran learned that the Children of the Forest were the ones responsible for the creation of the White Walkers all those ages ago to help them combat mankind. Even on a show with necromancy and dragons, this was a notable bit of fantasy storytelling, a piece of ancient history reminiscent of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.
Sansa and LittlefingerBran’s metaphysical journeys brought him face-to-face with the Night King, which alerted the latter to Bran’s presence. This launched a fantastic climactic showdown as the White Walkers and an army of wights attacked the Three-Eyed Raven’s lair. As an action sequence alone, it was excellent. The suspense and adrenaline were sky-high, and the visuals were splendid, as the Children used their magical explosives to keep the nightmarish undead at bay, before they and the Three-Eyed Raven perished.
The scene ended in one of the most emotional, well-crafted moments in the show’s history, with Hodor sacrificing his life as his tragic origin played out. Bran was still in the past when he warged into Hodor, transporting young Wylis’s mind to his future death, in which he held back a horde of wights while Meera repeatedly shouted at him to “Hold the door!”—a phrase he would forever repeat as “Hodor”. Hodor’s origin and his death were, in a way, the same event—a sad story come full circle. The editing between Hodor dying in the present and Wylis convulsing and screaming in the past was both chilling and emotional, our minds racing at the revelation while our hearts broke at the double tragedy. As soon as I saw that “The Door” was directed by Jack Bender, the Lost fan in me knew I was in for a treat. It was a masterful scene.
On a show that often teeters dangerously close to “death fatigue”, and in a world that’s starting to view death in fiction as an occasionally easy and cheap device, “The Door” provided the perfect example of a sacrifice that served a major purpose, and a death scene done right.
The ending of “The Door” was important in more ways than one. The idea that Bran could actually affect the past had been teased before, but this was the first explicit confirmation. In simple terms, this was time travel, though it was immediately made clear that the show would follow the “whatever happened, happened” time travel philosophy. Still, even though Bran can’t change the past events of the series, it will be very interesting to see what other past events, if any, Bran may have affected.
Another scene from “The Door” that I loved was Sansa’s confrontation with Littlefinger, in which she admonished him for having left her with Ramsay. There was a meta element to Sansa’s dialogue, with Littlefinger doubling as a proxy for the writers. “You promised me a great role then abandoned me with Ramsay despite knowing what he was like” is a sentiment that can be targeted at both Littlefinger in-universe and the showrunners in real life. Season 6 has been finally doing right by Sansa, so it was great to see last season’s biggest blunder explicitly addressed. It was a rare but very welcome moment of self-reflection.
Another subplot that continued to gain much-needed traction was the Pyke storyline. Much like Arya’s journey two episodes ago, the whole Kingsmoot story, which I half-expected to take several episodes, was handled entirely in a neat montage. Euron became King of the Iron Islands, and his first order of business was to target Theon and Yara, who luckily escaped. KinvaraNot only was there forward momentum, but Euron’s plan to seek out and ally with Daenerys was an excellent way of bringing yet another side-plot into the main picture. I’m glad to see Game of Thrones continuing to weave all sorts of threads together.
Speaking of Daenerys, she had one short scene this week in which she said a touching goodbye to Jorah. I don’t think the writers had much of a plan for Jorah going forward, so it was a wise move to shelve him until he is needed again. And in case no opportunity to bring him back ever arises, the scene was also fitting as a potential end for Jorah. If he never returns, it’s up to the viewer to decide if he found a cure for grayscale and lived happily or died before becoming a Stone Man.
Daenerys’s absence in Meereen has led to interesting if not yet entirely exciting scenarios. Tyrion sought out another Red Priestess, Kinvara, intending to use her to rally people behind Daenerys as a prophesied saviour. The wisdom of this plan or lack thereof is yet to be revealed. This could be another High Sparrow blunder by Tyrion, or Kinvara could be as wrong about Daenerys as Melisandre was about Stannis. My favourite option, though, is the one that involves both Kinvara being right about Daenerys and Melisandre being right about Jon Snow. This is A Song of Ice and Fire after all.
Finally, Arya returned this week to continue her journey to become an assassin, this time being handed a new target. Easily the best part of this subplot was the scene in which Arya watched the play, essentially a satirical reenactment of Season 1, though one that mocked Sansa and Ned Stark and painted the latter as a traitor. Seeing Arya’s anger bubble just beneath the surface and the pain she felt at watching her family being ridiculed was great. Her training with the Faceless Men would have her forget her old self, but these flashes of the Arya we fell in love with are far more interesting to me than watching her become “no one”.
Ultimately, “The Door” continued Season 6’s storytelling momentum, but more importantly delivered an impactful payoff that worked on every level, from mythology to character to emotion.

Rating: 5/5 (Perfect)

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