There was a lot of commotion surrounding the latest installment to Game of Thronesâ€™ sixth season, â€œThe Door,â€ prior to the airing of episode.Â Some rumors claimed this one was going to especially significant. And although there were some big reveals, Iâ€™m not sure if â€œThe Doorâ€ lived up to expectation.
We now know â€œThe Doorâ€ refers to Hodor’s miserable origin–being perpetually locked in time, holding the door closed to save Bran from the Army of Dead. Hodorâ€™s death was unquestionably sad and very disturbing, especially since it’s Bran who signs his death warrant, but something about the reveal felt like an afterthought. Wyllis seizing as heâ€™s being taken over by Bran and repeating â€œhold the doorâ€ until it became â€œHodorâ€ was, as good as an effort as it was, campy as hell. And Game of Thrones has not had the success it has had because itâ€™s a charming, campy show. Itâ€™s not Dr. Who. Itâ€™s a serious, complicated show. And although it was poignant to see Hodor sacrifice himself to save Bran (in what was a horrific way to die), and exciting to find out the answer to a much speculated question, Iâ€™m not convinced this was planned very far in advance. Hodor is Hodor because weâ€™ve officially introduced time travel into this series! I’ve previously championed for more magic in this show, but in a story that is getting bigger and more spread out by the episode, doesnâ€™t this just risk complicating matters? I’ve never read the books, but I’d love to know if this was telegraphed in the source material. Luckily, I donâ€™t think Weiss and Benioff (or George R.R. Martin) are the types to abuse the idea of a deus ex machina, which is my main fear with this turn. I donâ€™t want the story to get lazy. Still, unless weâ€™re getting another five seasons, the Game of Thrones world needs to start contracting to come to a satisfying end.
I didnâ€™t dislike everything about this storyline. On the contrary, happenings beyond the wall always feel like part of the bigger picture, which is why Branâ€™s journey actually does work for me. It was heavily suggested that Bran could interact with the people in his Warg trips to the past, specifically in the scene at the Tower of Joy when Bran calls out to Ned. So none of this is a surprise, the execution has just thrown me. In addition, the final extended scene of the Army of Dead descending onto the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven was awesome. Game of Thrones rarely dips its toe into horror. In fact, itâ€™s basically only when dealing with the White Walkers or the Army of Dead that it plays with the genre. This was a great nod to the zombie films, with the undead somehow being able to race along the ceiling in the most unsettling of ways. Shout out to Meera for getting more than one line! And Leaf and Hodor get to share this episodes MVP award, both being badasses and sacrificing their lives for the greater good. Or just Bran. Now itâ€™s just Meera dragging Bran (Who has extra powers now? He is the new Three-Eyed Raven after all) through the bleak expanse North of the Wall, searching for safety.
Speaking of Leaf, the reveal that totally landed for me was that The Children were the ones who created the White Walkers in order to protect themselves from the First Men. Itâ€™s all cyclical here. When push comes to shove, you do what you need to in order to save yourself and your people. The Children didnâ€™t know the fallout of their decision. It was just necessary for the moment. The Children seem like a very powerful people, considering they were just able to create White Walkers with their own magic. But itâ€™s unclear how many of them still exist, and itâ€™s obvious that their creation has grown far out of their control.
Unfortunately, much of the remainder of “The Door” acts as filler. Back in Vaes Dothrak, we get to see the most cringe-worthy scene in recent memory. Iâ€™m not sure if Emilia Clarkeâ€™s wig was just off, or if the score was strange, or if it was just the writing, but Daenerys getting emotional and sending Jorah off to find the cure to greyscale after he tells her he loves her was dreadful to watch. Daenerys has paid virtually no mind to Jorah for quite some time. Even if sheâ€™s finally learning to appreciate him, her tearful response was wildly out of character. The scene was saccharine, melodramatic, poorly executed, and had no right to be in this episode. I legitimately love this show and I tend to be forgiving because of this, but a scene cannot fly in Game of Thrones. Give us more of Sansa figuring out her place as a leader. More of Varys and Tyrion dissecting modern society. Give us anything better than this.
While season six of Game of Thrones started off as an excellent return to form from a streaky season five, as it has reached its midway point, itâ€™s starting to struggle to make all of its moving pieces work. Even if broader arcs are doing OK, the show is doing a dangerous dance with schlock. The back half of this season will have to do a lot to propel the many errant plots we’re dealing with forward, and to bring the quality of storytelling back up to par.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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