SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 5: “The Door,” do not read on.
We finally learn about the mysterious origin of the White Walkers in this week’s dream heavy Game of Thrones episode.
Bran’s revelation shakes up the past, present and future in Westeros and beyond. He learns the White Walkers are a superweapon created in a time of desperation by the Children of the Forest in order to combat the First Men. It’s a fitting way to unveil a threat that’s been amplifying tension for years now. The series opened up with the Blue-eyed monsters partaking in a savage killing, now as a climax looms, it’s satisfying for viewers to see the Others for what they really are — a tool of destruction, an army of death, rebirth and magic. A cancer that threatens to do exactly what they were manifested to do, bring on an apocalypse.
Sansa and Jon arrange to unite the North against the Bolton army, they don Northern riding clothes and set out to band with the Tully forces in Riverrun. Euron Greyjoy claims the Salt Throne and drives Yara and Theon out of the Iron Islands. The murderous Greyjoy King intends on sailing across the sea to join forces with Daenerys to conquer Westeros. However, Theon and Yara take off with much of the Iron Fleet, along with several of their ships.
Back in Mereen, Tyrion and Varys call on a Red Priestess named Kinvara to help reinforce Queen Daenerys’ notoriety in the city. Varys seems skeptical until the Red Woman takes him back to his painful past, around the time he became a Eunuch. The same ominous music that plays when Melisandre enters the screen erupts as this new High Priestess turns a frightened Varys into a believer of magic.
Indeed, one should believe in magic enough to tread carefully. The Three-Eyed Raven tried to warn Bran of the dangers associated with entering the past alone. But the crippled Stark boy turns impatient and wargs in the dream-like network, only to see himself surrounded by an army of wights, controlled by the Night’s King and his fellow Walkers on horse back. Bran becomes shaken when the Night’s King spots him in the vision and attempts to grasp his arm. As Bran snaps back to the present, the Three-Eyed Raven tells him he must leave, that the Walkers now know where he is, and will hunt him down.
This leads to a heartbreaking death, or, should I say quite a few deaths, but one character’s demise shows us how magic works in this universe, and how the past has been playing a pivotal role in the devastation of the Stark family since the beginning. Hodor, the gentle giant whose been Bran’s aid for years, appears in the past as a young man named Wylis.
As Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven are stuck in the past — Hodor, Meera and the remaining Children of the Forest are attacked by the Night’s King and his undead army. As the wights devastate the cave — killing the last Children of the Forest, and Bran’s direwolf, Summer — Hodor desperately holds off the undead long enough for Bran and Meera to escape. As Bran is still locked in with the Three-Eyed Raven, the latter is murdered by the Night’s King. Bran then wargs into Past Hodor, effectively merging them together in the present which allows Hodor to save Bran from the wights, but also causes Past Hodor/Wylis to have a seizure. Wylis falls to the floor and begins thrashing around, repeating the words “Hold The Door… Hold The Door… Hold The Door… Hold The Door… Holthedoor… Holddoor… Hodor…Hodor.”
Truly an earth-shattering event. We now know that Bran’s time in the past has shaped at least one character’s fate. Whether this means he has adjusted the timeline in ways that will manipulate the endgame of the series, we still don’t know. It’s a telling, if not heartbreaking way to show us the consequences and weight of magic in this world. Hodor’s destiny was to protect Bran, or to become possessed by Bran and be sacrificed. So tragic, hopefully his death will help the young Stark escape the Others and find Sansa and Jon as they take back the North. It’s an interesting, albeit convoluted way to distinguish the mystery behind the White Walkers, while letting us sneak into the inner-workings of this story. From the Tower of Joy, the moments in Winterfell where Bran witnesses the Starks before they were scattered, and the ultimate destiny for everyone involved. A destiny that could be an eternal winter, the aforementioned White Walker apocalypse, or perhaps Bran will search the timeline further and find a way to survive before the Others complete their mission to eradicate a species that seem so keen on eradicating themselves. Lets hope the Three-Eyed Raven prepared Bran enough take over as the last Greenseer.