"Hold the door!" -- an exclamation that isn't just for "the straggler who's a little too far away to request that you spare them two seconds of moderate pulling but they shout it anyway" anymore.
This week's Game of Thrones episode, "The Door," was a true game-changer, most notably in the area north of the Wall. We dove deeper into Bran's abilities, delved into Westeros' fantastical history via greensight, and watched the White Walkers raid the previously magically protected cave under the weirwood tree -- the last of which is a tragedy Bran will carry with him for the rest of his life, as it led to the death of not only his direwolf, Summer, but also our favorite one-word dunce, Hodor.
The grand finale, in which Hodor went out a hero, wasn't just the kind of edge-of-your-seat entertainment that'll leave a crease in your buttocks for weeks to come (seriously, put ice on that or something), it rewrote the rules of a world we thought we knew. Just when you think you know a fantasy world...
Let's break it down.
The Children of the Forest created the White Walkers
Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven greensighted back in time, to the brink of battle. The reveal was abrupt and bloody -- or, your run-of-the-mill Game of Thrones truth bomb. Visiting the very same weirwood, we see one of the Children driving a stone dagger through the chest of a Westerosi MFA student/barista. Instantly, he's reborn with ice-blue eyes and the first White Walker is born.
This has more thematic weight than anything else; the Children of the Forest, supernatural creatures worshipped by the people of the North (Starks included), created the White Walkers out of self-defense. Now those little dryad types know how Robert Oppenheimer felt.
Bran is now the Three-Eyed Raven
Bran accidentally inciting a White Walker mini-war was in the cards: his brooding attitude towards the Three-Eyed Raven after the Tower of Joy vision sparked a future act of defiance and the trailers teased an encounter with the undead horde. Bran was all set to go out on his own this episode -- and boy, did he ever. His creepy eye-to-eye (and hand-to-wrist) with the Night's King was more terrifying than any forgot-to-study-for-the-test nightmare, and then the Three-Eyed Raven made it downright apocalyptic by saying, "The time has come... for you to become me." Commence data transfer! Do not unplug this device while download is in progress!
What did the elder time-traveler mean when he told Bran that he was going to become the Three-Eyed Raven? Is it an Atlas-like position that someone must hold for the universe to stay in balance? Is the Three-Eyed Raven like Sam from Quantum Leap, constantly ducking in and out of history trying to right the wrongs (and occasionally screwing up everything)? Is it a government position with benefits? Whatever the case, the Three-Eyed Raven we knew is no more. Long live the Bran-Eyed Raven.
Bran now carries a White Walker mark
A promotion isn't the only thing Bran received this episode. Without NEOSPORIN in his pack, it may be a while until Bran can shake his White Walker wound. The touch allowed the Night's King to lead his roving army of undead straight to the weirwood tree and break through the Children of the Forest's fiery magic.
Seeing as how Bran's now on the run and will inevitably cross back into the main narrative in no time, we expect the White Walkers to take full advantage in the coming battles. Or is it a two-way street? If the Children of the Forest manifested the Night's King and also granted Bran the Three-Eyed Raven mantle, could he find a way to warg into his enemy and tip the battle odds down the road? We're getting ahead of ourselves. Immediate prediction: Bran is in deep shit.
Meera kills a White Walker
Game of Thrones obsessives gasped when Bran's unmemorable companion ended a chaotic battle with frost zombies by nailing a White Walker lieutenant with a spear and shattering him into pieces. Because hold the phone -- only Jon Snow could do that! And suddenly the theory that Meera is Jon's secret twin, found in the Tower of Joy at the tail end of the memory that Bran still hasn't seen, could actually be true.
Slow down, Children of the Theory Forest: Samwell Tarly gifted Meera a spearhead made of obsidian when they met at the Nightfort. Like Valyrian steel, it's a substance with the ability to kill White Walkers (and make them, as Bran's opening vision makes clear). Verdict is still out on Meera's lineage, but her ace kill this episode is thanks to a future maester named Sam. Love that guy!
In his post-episode remarks, David Benioff recounted the notes sessions where George R.R. Martin explained Hodor's origins. They were in a hotel room, and Martin just kind of... told them. Said Benioff: "We were just looking at each other and thinking... holy shit."
Benioff and writing partner D.B. Weiss bottled up that reaction in the final moments of this episode, which were both heartbreaking and provocative in terms of possible plot ramifications. We knew the Hodor origin story was coming -- back in this season's second episode, Bran encountered young Hodie alongside half-pint versions of his father -- and the payoff in "The Door" was straight out of Interstellar, as it's revealed that Bran caused his towering companion's brain malfunction during a greensight gone bad.
During the weirwood attack, Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven go back to a day from his father's past -- 97% downloaded! -- and there's not enough time. The White Walkers are closing in and Meera has to get Bran out of there. Her cries ripple through space and reach the greensighting Bran, who deviates from the plan and wargs inside Hodor during time travel. Back in the present, Meera screams, "Hold the door" to a warged-out Hodor as she flees with Bran. When the superpowered kid finally unplugs from his friend's brain, it's too late -- the past Hodor is fried, creating a paradoxical butterfly event. Bran created the timeline in which he already exists.
This lends credence to a few theories. One, Bran can legitimately time-travel. Though Weiss and Benioff refer to the greensight scenes as "visions," they are something more, able to be impacted, closer to real time-travel than, say, Harry Potter's Pensieve flashbacks. The twist could mean anything for Bran's destiny on Game of Thrones. Two, Bran's colossal screwup could also hint at what the Three-Eyed Raven did wrong back in his day. There's a running theory that the Three-Eyed Raven whispered into Aerys II Targaryen's ear eons ago, convinced the royal brute he was hearing things, and made the Mad King the Mad King. The Hodor warging episode doesn't work in exactly the same way, but "The Door" leaves the door open.
And now for the big question: what do you think?