We open on the Wall, where Sansa is catching up on her sewing. It’s so hard to juggle needlework with escaping your psychopathic husband and raising an army to take back the North. A raven arrives and it’s from Littlefinger, who wants to catch up for coffee in Mole’s Town.
The scene that follows is basically Sansa tearing Littlefinger a new one in magnificent fashion, cementing her newfound badass status. It’s the first time ever that we see Lord Baelish not just squirm, but also express something resembling contrition. He’s still the show’s greatest enigma, and it’s hard to believe he wasn’t aware that Ramsay is a monster – but this scene shows us that there’s something beneath the surface other than sleeze and cunning. And this week’s best one liner goes to Sansa: You freed me from the monsters who murdered my family…and you gave me to other monsters who murdered my family.
Unfortunately she decides to let Littlefinger live, and he scurries off to lay his chaos eggs elsewhere. If only she shared her brother Bran’s aptitude for getting people killed. But before he leaves, Littlefinger informs her that her great uncle, the Blackfish, has gathered Tully forces and retaken Riverrun. Yay! I miss the Blackfish.
House of Black and Boring. Arya is getting beaten up by the Waif. Again. Jaquen H’ghar comes in, and even he looks fucking tired of this plotline. He takes Arya to the Hall of Faces and gives her a bottle of poison to kill an actress in a local play that he clearly hated.
Arya attends the play, which turns out to be based on the death of King Robert and the fall of Ned Stark. This touches a nerve and I feel momentarily hopeful that Arya might get her stabby-stabby on soon. Nope. Arya ducks behind stage afterwards, supposedly to scope things out and figure out how she will kill the actress, but I’m pretty sure this scene was mostly to show a token penis and hit HBO’s episode tit quota.
Bran-o-vision time. Bran and 3-Eyes are visiting a weirwood tree in an undisclosed location, although it looks North-ish. The Children of the Forest have chained a man to the weirwood’s trunk and things are about to get kinky. One of them plunges a knife (is it dragon glass?) into the guy’s heart, and his eyes glow blue. Turns out the Children created the White Walkers in order to fight off the invasion of mankind, which is kind of like letting a heaving sack of baby huntsman spiders hatch on your ceiling so they’ll eat the mosquitos. That happened to me once.
Now we’re in the Iron Islands, just in time for Kingsmoot Fest 2016. Yara stakes her claim and Theon backs her. I can barely recognize Alfie Allen now that he’s washed/shaved/cut the Reek away. Euron Greyjoy arrives, admits to killing his brother Balon, and announces his intentions to sail his fleet across the Narrow Sea and marry Daenerys Targaryen. Pack some fire-retardent blankets, buddy.
Those fickle Ironborn give Euron their vote, and he’s off for the official drowning initiation ceremony, giving Yara, Theon and friends the chance to steal away with the entire Ironborn fleet.
Vaes Dothrak, where Daenerys is rocking fresh hair and surveying the leftovers of last week’s mixed Khal grill. She turns and we see Jorah and Daario. The three of them stand there. It’s awkward. Why are they all standing 3 metres apart??
Dany tells Jorah that she can’t take him back, but she can’t send him away. He says she has to send him away, and rolls up his sleeve to show off the progress of his greyscale. Dany freaks out and tells him she’s sorry. Jorah tells her he loves her. Daario stands there. Jorah turns to go, but Daenerys gets her Khaleesi on and commands him to find a cure, then return to her side. Jorah’s all ‘Yes, ma’am’. Awww.
Meanwhile, back in Meereen, Tyrion, Varys, Missandei and Grey Worm are having yet another strategy meeting. No one brought Jatz crackers.
Do you remember the scenes in the Star Wars prequels where the characters would converse woodenly and at length about the Trade Federation and embargos and the Senate and democracy, and you were all ‘For fuck’s sake, George. We’re not here to audit galactic politics, just show us some fucking lightsabers!’ That’s what these Meereen exposition scenes remind me off. We get it – Tyrion is honing his political chops. SHOW US SOME FUCKING DRAGONS.
Cut to Tyrion and Varys, having a meeting with a potential political ally. Sigh. Next week on Game of Thrones: Tyrion spell-checks his PowerPoint preso on dragon-raising while Varys tries to fix the conference phone in dungeon 4.
Meet Red Woman II: Essos Edition. She’s creepier than Melisandre and has her very own age-and-gravity-defying necklace. Varys hates her. She tells him all about that time he was eunuched. I have no idea where this is going…not Westeros, that’s for sure.
Back to Bran. Bran is bored, and so decides to fuck everything up. No, really. Everything. Because apparently he didn’t learn his lesson that time everyone told him to stop climbing the fucking tower and he did it anyhow and set off a chain of events that resulted in the War of the Five Kings and his Dad getting his head cut off.
While everyone else is sleeping, Bran jumps aboard the weirwood party bus for a solo ride. He finds himself walking amongst the army of the undead. The Night’s King appears and grabs him. Bran wakes up with a handprint on his arm, and 3-Eyes tells him that the Night’s King has gained access to the cave through him.
Meera’s happy, at least. She packs and chatters to Hodor about how they’re going to go home and eat eggs. And that’s how you know either Meera or Hodor are about to bite it. Rule one of Game of Thrones character survival: never, ever talk about looking forward to the comforts of home. You may as well stick your thumbs into your own eye sockets and Red Viper yourself.
Here we go; Meera notices everyone’s breathing condensation, which is the White Walker way of announcing yourself. The Night’s King has arrived with his army of snow zombies. Meera races to wake Bran while Hodor rocks in a corner.
The Wights descend upon the weirwood. Meera, Summer and the Children of the Forest fight them off while Bran takes his sweet time watching his father as a boy, preparing to leave Winterfell. He hears Meera from a distance, screaming something or other about how everyone is going to die and they need Hodor RIGHT FUCKING NOW, BRAN. Bran gets that dim, slightly delayed look on his face that is the hallmark of teenage boys everywhere.
This is where recapping gets a bit fucking confusing. Bran glances at young Hodor in the yard at Winterfell, but wargs into Hodor beneath the weirwood.
Meera spears a White Walker like a boss.
Bran-Hodor drags warging-Bran away, and Meera and Leaf run after them. Summer stays to fight off the Wights.
Summer dies a horrible death.
I hate you, Bran.
Also…the army of the dead now have a zombie direwolf, which will probably kill someone else we care about later on. So, not Bran.
The Night’s King enters the cave and kills 3-Eyes while he’s still in the Matrix. Sorry, still grieving Summer and never liked that guy anyhow.
The Wights are in hot pursuit of Bran, Hodor, Meera and Leaf, who are running through a tunnel. Leaf is holding a Thermal Detonator, and sacrifices herself by blowing the tunnel up so the others can get away.
Meera, Hodor and Bran reach a door at the end of the tunnel. Hodor manages to push it open, and they drag Bran out into the snow. Meera drags Bran off and tells Hodor to ‘hold the door’, which he does. At this point I don’t know if it’s Hodor-for-realsies or still Bran-Hodor.
Meanwhile, inside Bran’s vision we hear the echo of ‘hold the door’ just before young Hodor’s eyes warg out and he keels over in some sort of cross-pollinated-timestream-warging-induced seizure. He fits on the ground and repeats Meera’s words ‘Hold the door’ over and over and over, until finally they slur together to become ‘Hodor’.
So it turns out Bran’s real talent isn’t green-seeing or warging or even climbing. Nope. It’s being able to screw up someone’s life from two separate points in time, simultaneously. In fact, he fried Hodor’s brain decades before he was even born. That’s talent.
Back in real time, Hodor holds the door. He uses every ounce of his strength to keep the Wights at bay so that Meera and Bran have time to escape, and he pays for it with his life.
Body count: All remaining Children of the Forest, 3-Eyes, Summer and Hodor – in the space of 10 minutes. Good job, Bran. You’ve officially stolen season-one-Sansa’s title as Most Unlikeable Stark Ever.