The most emotionally crafted death in the series so far, and it wholly and completely wrecked me.
(Spoiler Warning) We lost a somewhat forgotten about, adrift in the background, but beloved character on tonight’s season six episode of “Game of Thrones,” meaningfully titled “The Door.” This death was probably the most emotionally crafted death in the series so far, and it wholly and completely wrecked me. Seriously, I haven’t cried that hard during an episode of any television show since Michael Scott left “The Office” in 2011.
Tonight, sadly and beautifully, HBO sacrificed a minor character that turned painfully major during the moments of his death: Hodor. We discovered through flashbacks that the reason Hodor was only able to say “Hodor” was entirely because of Bran. In a fateful twist, Bran travels back to when Hodor (then, Willas) and his father, Ned, were young. In the present, the White Walkers have located Bran are breaking into the cave. In a desperate attempt to save himself and his friends in the present, Bran wargs into Hodor in the past, causing past Hodor to have a fitful seizure. In the present, Meera yells, “hold the door” repeatedly to Hodor in order to hold off the White Walkers. During these moments of confusion, past Hodor repeats “hold the door” while he seizes, until the words blend into his contorted name, the only word he is ever able to say for the rest of his life. As Bran watches Hodor have this damaging seizure in the past, he holds the door closed in the present while warged inside of Hodor’s body as Meera escapes into the snow, dragging Bran’s own limp body away from the scene. We watch, in frantic moments of horror and realization, as Hodor gets torn apart by the White Walkers, doing the only two things he knows how to do.
And saving Bran.
There have been many gruesome deaths on “Game of Thrones” (Robb and Catelyn Stark, Oberyn Martell, and Walda and Baby Bolton, to name a few). In fact, violent deaths are what the show is known for. But what the show really hasn’t included so far is a grippingly emotional death with a story that leaves your heart in throbbing knots.
This storyline may not have been planned out by George R. R. Martin since the first book in the series, but it was definitely premeditated. Hodor was a character that we always somewhat wondered about, but we never thought there was actually going to be an intricate backstory reveal about him. Certainly there was no way he could have played such an important role in Bran’s life. But “The Door” showed us that each life really does have its own predetermined destiny.
So far, this season has been one of the best by far. There haven’t been any off episodes at all, and the stories are all progressing at an exciting pace. In tonight’s episode, Theon and Yara have stolen the Iron Islands’ fleet of ships and could possibly be heading to team up with Daenerys in the east. It is revealed that the Children of the Forest (the branchy, elf-like creatures that live with the Three-Eyed Raven) were the ones who originally created the White Walkers. Sansa told off Little Finger, and she and Jon are gearing up to fight Ramsay at Winterfell. Arya is assigned the task of assassinating an actress. Jorah confesses his love for Daenerys one last time as well as his Greyscale infection, and Daenerys sends him away to find a cure. Tyrion and Varys meet with the High Priestess of the Lord of Light, who appears to be wearing the same red dress and, more importantly, necklace that Melisandre wears…so The Red Woman’s age-defying jewelry isn’t one of a kind?
And, of course, the White Walkers have destroyed the cave and killed the Three-Eyed Raven, all of the Children of the Forest, Bran’s wolf, Summer (which was also an extremely devastating loss, although it was not covered for nearly as long), and our dear Hodor. It’s also worth mentioning that Meera killed a White Walker with a spear…perhaps tipped with Dragon Glass? Hopefully that will be addressed soon.
Bran and Meera have just barely escaped into the swirling snow, but how far will Meera be able to drag Bran by herself? Where can they go, and will they be able to outrun the remaining White Walkers? Until next Sunday.