'Game of Thrones' Recap: The White Walkers Rock Bran's World

bran and white walkers - game of thrones recap

This article contains massive spoilers for "The Door," the fifth episode of the sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones. Proceed with caution.

PETA has got to be pissed at Game of Thrones. First of all, Sansa gave Jon Snow a cloak that looked like it was made out of approximately 23 dead giant foxes all strung together. (Sansa is such a spoiled rich girl, she even has her own vanity clothing line.) Then the show went and killed another one of the Stark children's direwolves.

Summer got hacked to death by a group of zombies as Hodor and Meera Reed were pulling Bran away from the attack of the Night's King and the Four Horsemen of the Bran-pocalypse. That means that only two of the six direwolves from the pilot episode are still alive: Jon Snow's good friend Ghost and Arya's wayward d-wolf, Nymeria, which she set free in the Riverlands during Season 1. It's hard out there for our four-legged friends.

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Under the weirwood tree: White Walker supremacists

We can go no further before we talk about Hodor, the gentle giant who was physically incapable of saying as many words as Guardians of the Galaxy's Groot. Fans had always assumed that Hodor was only able to say his name, but when Bran was visiting the past in an episode earlier this season, we learned that his real name was Wylis, and that he had once been a normal person.

So, what was up with all this Hodor nonsense? It turns out that his name is an elided version of "hold the door," the instruction that Meera Reed shouts repeatedly at him as they're trying to escape the army of the dead as the tree cave is crumbling down around them.

But let's go back to the beginning of the episode. Bran accompanies the Three-Eyed Raven deep into the past via greensight and learns that the Children of the Forest, those little imps that look like Lady Gaga had a brood of spider babies, created the White Walkers. Humans were encroaching on their turf, and they were afraid of losing all of their land and sacred trees, so they drove a piece of dragonglass into a man's heart and magically turned him into a White Walker.

Later, Bran gets bored while the Three-Eyed Raven is zoning out and decides to smoke some trees on his own. He visits the location where the Children of the Forest brewed up that first White Walker, only Bran finds himself in a much more recent time period that stars an undead army instead of Lady Gaga's spider babies. And then he sees the Night's King, whom we can assume is the very first White Walker; worse, the Night's King also sees Bran and grabs his arm.

Apparently, that undoes the magic that protects the cave from the White Walkers and their army of the dead, so the Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran that he has to leave -- but that first, Bran has to "become him." What does that mean? He has to become an old man? He has to become the Highlander of wargs? He has to have a tree growing out of his body like my older brother said would happen to me if I swallowed watermelon seeds?

For some reason, even as the Night's King and company arrive outside the cave and commence knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door, the Three-Eyed Raven takes Bran back to Winterfell in the past, where a preteen Ned Stark is leaving to be fostered in the Vale.

What is so important about the moment in time that the Three-Eyed Raven brings Bran back to? Why doesn't he bring Bran back to the Tower of Joy so we can find out who Jon Snow's mom really is? Why doesn't he take him back to Dallas in 1963 so we can find out what really happened on that grassy knoll? The answer lies with Hodor.

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While in the past, Bran hears Meera screaming that they need him to take over Hodor's body so that Hodor can help them all escape. In the past, the Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran to listen to his friend. And then something happens to Hodor. In the present, he gets those all-white warg eyes, and then they revert back to his natural blue. Bran is now controlling him -- but is he doing it in the past or in the present?

This is exactly why I hate time travel. There are just so many questions involved. Like, did this all have to happen just so Hodor could have a seizure back in the day, which is what ruined his mind? If Bran had died when he fell out of that window in Episode 1, would Hodor have snapped out of it and been fine again? Who knows?! Stupid time travel.

Anyway, Meera is telling Hodor to "hold the door," and that is all the gentle giant can hear or say in the past, the two time periods bleeding together, with Bran serving as a conduit between them. We can learn a few things about Bran's powers from this. As we learned at the Tower of Joy, when Ned heard Bran call for him, his actions in the present can certainly affect the past. Is Bran's purpose that he can influence the past, so that he can reshape people's destinies? One thing's for sure: we know that warging through time is hazardous to Hodor's health.

The entire action sequence at the tree was the best moment of the season so far. Not only was it full of action, magic, and life-or-death consequences, it ended with Hodor serving that one purpose: to "hold the door." He held it for as long as he could so that Bran and Meera could escape, and it was such a touching and sad moment as the dead slowly clawed him apart. That is when Game of Thrones is at its best: when it's blending intense action with real emotion about the characters we care about.

Bran and Meera seemed to escape into the snowy night, but God knows where they've gone off to. They're miles away from any sort of civilization and they're well north of the Wall -- it's the Night's King's territory. Now that Bran has been marked, the White Walkers will probably be able to find him wherever he runs. It's like mystical LoJack.

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Castle Black: Brienne and Tormund 4Eva

The best thing that Sansa Stark ever did was stand in Mole's Town with Brienne of Tarth and tell Littlefinger that if he didn't know what Ramsay would do to her then he was an idiot, and if he did know, he was her enemy. Then she made him describe what Ramsay did to her, and it was such a specific and excruciating punishment that it was absolutely wonderful.

The second-best thing Sansa Stark ever did was tell Jon Snow to cut off his man bun. Wait, she didn't do that. God, I wish someone would. I guess that means the second-best thing that she ever did was lie about where she found out about her uncle Brynden the Blackfish getting the Tully army back together. She tells Jon that she learned it at Winterfell before she escaped, not wanting everyone to know that she met up with Littlefinger.

As much as she hates Littlefinger, Sansa learned at his knee and knows just how to manipulate people to get what she wants. The crew sitting around the table looked like a ragtag bunch of misfits. It was Brienne, Jon, Ser Davos, that guy from the Night's Watch whose name I can never remember, and Tormund, who was thinking up "this could be us but you playin'" memes about Brienne while everyone was talking. That is a rather easy bunch to manipulate.

However, Littlefinger never would have made the mistake that Sansa did. When Jon Snow said that they needed more men to defeat the Boltons and take back Winterfell, she should have told them that Littlefinger offered her the Knights of the Vale, an especially good and large army that hasn't been decimated by any of the assorted wars that have been going on. Sansa, sadly, is still a novice.

arya with faceless man - game of thrones recap

Braavos: live from Braavos, it's Suuunday night!

Arya is also a novice, and she gets another butt-whupping from the intern, who punches Arya so hard in the face that she can't even keep that one braid on her head anymore. Jaqen tells her that the first Faceless Men were not lords and ladies, they were servants who figured out how to serve the Many-Faced God. That might be why it is so hard for someone with as powerful a name as Arya Stark to give up her identity.

He tells her that she has to go kill an actress, but doesn't tell her that the actress is playing the part of Cersei Lannister in a rather crude (in all respects of the word) pantomime about Robert Baratheon's death. Was this assignment on purpose? Did Jaqen want her to see her father portrayed as a dick-grabbing, power-hungry jerk so that she could get over everything that has happened to her? If she could see this and not react, is she really no one? If she can see Cersei and Joffrey with his warty penis (seriously, we finally see a penis, and it is covered in warts?) and not cross them off her list, has she achieved some new status? It is ironic that, by proxy, she might just get to kill Cersei just like she always wanted.

However, I have a feeling that she's going to mess this up somehow (maybe someone else drinks the rum?) and it will all go badly for her. I just have this sneaking suspicion. Or maybe seeing fake Ned beheaded will remind her who she really is, and she'll decide to go and kill the real-deal Cersei?

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Meereen: the priestess with the leastest

Well, we finally know the first thing that Khaleesi did after she burned down the temple of the dosh khaleen. She got the braids put back in her hair. But what happened to her amazing dragon necklace that they took away from her?

She wasn't thinking about hair or jewelry when she had a rather touching exchange with Jorah where she sent him off looking for a cure for greyscale so that he could be with her when she took over the Seven Kingdoms. We know that Shireen, Stannis' daughter, survived greyscale, but it's easier for young children to get over the disease than adults. According to how Stannis tells it, they're not even sure what cured Shireen. They had so many doctors, maesters, and magicians come in to try to get rid of it, one of them eventually worked, though they're not sure which one.

Speaking of magicians, Tyrion and Varys called in Kinvara, the high priestess of Volantis, so that she could convince the increasing number of followers of the Lord of Light in Meereen that Daenerys is the one who brokered peace between the former masters and slaves and kept the attacks of the Sons of the Harpy at bay. Kinvara's a very powerful woman and wears a necklace similar to Melisandre's. Don't let her take it off, Tyrion. We now know what lies beneath!

Varys has an especially hard time dealing with her, and she scares him off by telling him about the voice he heard when a sorcerer burned his "parts" in the fire the day he was castrated. That is a prophesy I want to hear. Strangely enough, Kinvara thinks that the "one who was promised" is Daenerys, whereas Melisandre now thinks that it is Jon Snow. Can it be both of them? Maybe they're related somehow, like Sofia Coppola and Nic Cage?

kingsmoot game of thrones

The Iron Islands: get the fleet out of here

I think that it is time we get rid of the Electoral College and elect our leaders by the kingsmoot, like those ruffians in the Iron Islands. They just all walk out to some picturesque cliff, have a short debate, and then drown the victor to see what happens, while the loser runs off to her ships to escape into the night. The whole thing is decided in an afternoon, rather than being dragged out for months of debates and primaries and general elections and more stupid Facebook posts with #BernieBro, #NeverTrump, #ImWithHer attached. God, November can't get here fast enough.

But now that I think about it, this was very similar to our current presidential election. One of the candidates was a very qualified but widely disliked woman whom many people didn't want to take office mainly because she was a woman. She was up against a blowhard interloper who swoops in with untested rhetoric about how he's going to make the Iron Islands great again by building something enormous and being a jerk to all the other countries. Let's just hope that our election doesn't end up with the blowhard winning, like this one did.

What was great about his victory, however, is that Euron Greyjoy, the man with perhaps the worst facial hair on a show full of bad goatees, is that he wants to bring their fleet to Daenerys Targaryen so that they can help her take over the world. I'm glad that all of these disparate storylines are starting to coalesce. If Bran and Meera end up with Jon and Sansa, and the Iron Islands link up with what is happening across the Narrow Sea, we won't have to jump around so much, and then we can forget about King's Landing altogether, like we delightfully did this episode.

Check out all the latest Game of Thrones Season 6 photos that tease the next episode.

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Brian Moylan previously ranked the Real Housewives for Thrillist and misses Ser Pounce. Find him on Twitter: @BrianJMoylan.