Monday, June 26, 2017

Game of Thrones (Re)Watch 6.5: "The Door"

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6.5 “The Door”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Jack Bender

This episode is all over the place, plotting-wise and characterization-wise. The writers clearly have no idea what to do with Sansa, the Kingsmoot is a hot mess, Arya’s conscience comes and goes as necessary, Jorah’s inability to take no for an answer finally pays off, and Bran’s complete self-centeredness gets a lot of people killed.

Up at the Wall, Sansa is sewing. But, wait, I thought the Feathered Black Dress of Sexual Manipulation was the last time she wanted to sew? I thought she was a Strong Woman™ now, and everyone knows sewing is Weak and Girly! But apparently it’s important that her clothes not look exactly like the Night’s Watch uniform, and Jon needs a new outfit now, too, so Sansa’s taking care of it. Here’s the thing: this is perfectly reasonable. Sansa’s not a member of the Night’s Watch, so she can’t wear their clothes, because what you wear in this society is important. But since all she left Winterfell with was the dress she was wearing, she does need new clothes—something warmer, at least—so she’s modifying what she can find at the Wall so she’s clothed but not dressing up like Night’s Watch. She also makes a new outfit for Jon, reflecting his change in status. Good! This episode also sees her using her political savvy to try to get help from the Tullys, which is a good move, too. She rejects Petyr’s help/manipulation, primarily because of his role in her marriage to Ramsay. This is all great, except that in the overall development of Sansa’s character, it’s wildly inconsistent. The inconsistency continues with Sansa’s decision not to trust Jon fully with all the information she has and how she has it. Also, when they discuss how to get the remaining families of the North to join their army, she forcefully points out that while Jon’s not a Stark, she is . . . and Jon’s just as much Ned’s son as Ramsay is Roose’s. So she’s the one Stark left (as far as everyone knows), but Jon’s going to be the one in charge? This makes even less sense when they run across Lyanna Mormont, because her role shows that the North will accept a girl in charge, so Sansa handing control over to a bastard-born man makes no sense. To lead the armies? Sure, maybe; Jon has experience. But it’s wicked obvious that Sansa intends Jon to be in charge of the North when this is all over. They’re not trying to reconquer Winterfell to make her Queen in the North.

Meanwhile, Tormund can’t stop ogling Brienne, and I’m not really sure how I feel about this. It’s clearly supposed to be funny, but why? Just because of Tormund’s face? Because Brienne isn’t traditionally attractive, so of course it’s hilarious that this wildling giant (who brags about having had sex with a bear) drools over her? Because she’s so clearly uncomfortable with his drooling? All of the above? Also considering that they don’t see each other for the rest of the season, what purpose does this really serve other than to get the audience laughing at the discomfort of a woman faced with the lustful stare of a man she barely knows?

Over in Braavos, Arya gets her second chance to prove that she can serve the Many-Faced God rather than haring off on her own agenda. Jaqen sends her out to kill Lady Crane, a wildly popular actress who’s currently playing Queen Cersei in the Free Cities’ version of the crazy wild politics happening in King’s Landing. The play apparently manages to cover the first three seasons plus a few episodes of the show (featuring the very funny Kevin Eldon as Camello as Ned Stark). Of course, they get everything wrong, but it’s wrong in a way that makes sense if you haven’t been privy to the inner workings of the people involved the way we have.

Arya manages to weasel her way backstage, where we’re treated to an up-close look at the Joffrey-actor examining his penis for warts. Thanks. This isn’t exactly what we meant when we asked for equal representation in nudity, guys (especially since it's quickly followed up by boobs to balance everything out). She observes the players for a bit, then goes back to Jaqen to try to figure out why Lady Crane deserves to die. Jaqen tells her it doesn’t matter; the Faceless Men are servants, and they have a contract.

Over in the Iron Islands, the Kingsmoot takes all of three minutes. Theon essentially abdicates in favor of Yara, then Euron shows up (again, looking way less intimidating than he’s described in the books) and promises to build a fleet, sail east, marry Daenerys, and take the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms. Despite also admitting that he killed Balon, this gets the support of the Ironborn and they declare him king. While the priests drown him and bless him, Theon and Yara run away with the entire fleet.

In Vaes Dothrak, Dany chides Jorah for not following her orders again, but one look at his greyscale-infected arm has her crying and not killing him like she promised to do. Instead, she orders him to go find a cure and come back to her. Because refusing to hear “no,” telling a woman you love her, and constantly throwing yourself in her path is obviously the way to get her to like you again.

In Meereen, Tyrion and Varys turn to propaganda by bringing in a red priestess to tell everyone how awesome Daenerys is. The priestess, Kinvara, is perfectly happy to do just that because Daenerys is the One Who Was Promised. Sure, she knows Melisandre named Stannis the Promised One, but anyone can make mistakes. She convinces Varys because she knows that he heard a voice in the flames when he was castrated, and she claims to know who the speaker is and what she/he/it said.

Finally, up beyond the Wall, Bran gets another revelation that’s just kind of tossed at us without any kind of analysis before all hell breaks loose. He and Brynden visit the Children of the Forest back before their near-extinction, and we see a heart tree surrounded by standing stones that spiral out in the same pattern the Walkers created with horse pieces at the Fist of the First Men. Bran watches a Child shove an obsidian dagger into the heart of a human man—all the way, so the whole thing goes into his chest—and leave it there. His eyes turn blue. When Bran comes to, Leaf explains that they were at war and they had to defend themselves. So we find out that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers as a defense against the First Men—and then we bounce right out of there and move on. I have so many questions.

Later, Bran’s acting like a spoiled toddler who doesn’t want to take a nap, throwing sticks at Brynden, then taking himself into the visions without Brynden’s help. He winds up alerting the Night King to his presence and giving away their position, not to mention managing to break the magic that blocks the Walkers and wights from coming into the cave. Way to go, Bran. Meera, Hodor, and Leaf start packing the sledge, but Brynden needs to pass the mantle of Greenseer on to Bran right now, which apparently means taking him back into vision-Winterfell. This is where Bran’s abysmal treatment of Hodor as less than human comes full circle (and it’s a very complicated circle). Bran won’t come out of the vision, despite Meera needing his help to calm Hodor and get himself into the sledge. Hodor starts panicking, Meera’s screaming at Bran, the Children are fighting, and Bran can kind of hear all of this in the vision so he wargs into Hodor—but Hodor from the past, Wylis before he’s Hodor—somehow managing to control present-Hodor this way. Meera, Bran, and Hodor escape the cave, leaving Summer, Brynden, and Leaf to die, then Meera orders Hodor to “hold the door” and leaves him behind with Bran still vision-warged into him, giving him no choice. In the past, Wylis collapses as he witnesses his own death and starts yelling “hold the door,” which mushes its way down to “hodor.” And faithful Hodor, who never did anything to deserve the way these awful people have treated him, dies holding that door.

White Walker #3
Brynden Rivers, the Three-Eyed Raven

Next week: Coldhands arrives. Margaery starts the long game. Sam and Gilly at Horn Hill. Arya makes a choice. Dany makes a speech.

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