Wow. Best episode of the series so far? Yes, unless future episodes have an army of White Walkers invading the cave of the Three Eyed Raven and killing Hodor, then no. Let’s start at square one.
Sansa bumped into Littlefinger and gave him the hiding he deserved for handing her over to Ramsay Bolton. She reminded him of the horrific events of her wedding night, how Ramsay ‘did what he wanted’ with her body, which was particularly powerful considering Littlefinger ran brothels in King’s Landing. It was a scene that reminded the viewers of the reality of rape and shows that even fantasy like Game of Thrones can touch on serious issues. Sansa, sadly from her experiences, is probably the most changed character from series one. She has transformed from the gullible, passive princess whose only dream was to be queen of King’s Landing to a strong-willed survivor who is now strategically planning to raid Winterfell. Jon, the Hamlet-esque brooder, may still be a favourite amongst viewers but Sansa has proved herself to be the true leader of the North.
Time to reach for the tissues, because Jorah Mormont said the magic three words to Daenerys this week. It is slightly creepy that Daenerys is still a teenager whilst he is middle-aged, so hopefully it was a platonic rather than a lustful, I love you. But, with the Greyscale disease slowly turning him into a zombie, this was probably the right moment to get something that important off his chest, before he doesn’t have a chest at all.
Back in Meereen, Tyrion is still picking up the pieces left after Daenerys’s sudden departure on the back of a dragon. It was a brilliantly dramatic exit, Daenerys, but you haven’t left the others a lot to work with. Tyrion’s shiny new plan involves a Red Priestess who will spread rumours that Daenerys is the Lord of Light, which just seems to be another grand title to add to her already expansive list. The Red Priestess’s words reminded me of Christianity, or another monotheistic religion, trying to make its mark in a pagan world. People have already compared Jon’s resurrection to that of Jesus, so parallels are possible. Plus, Varys’s comment that the Red Priestess’s fanatic logic is that she is always right even when she is wrong seemed to be a slightly controversial dig at religion in general.
This episode earned extra brownie points because it touched upon almost all the Stark sibling’s stories. What with warging, raiding, imprisonment, resurrections and facelessness, they’ve certainly got the most interesting ones. Arya was next, and she is still being beaten up in The Faceless Men HQ. Now, however, Arya has been given a mission to murder an actress in a parodic comedy about her father’s death. When your dead father is being portrayed as a gormless idiot, you would be reaching for the poison, but Arya’s guilt surfaces as she asks Jaqen H’ghar whether it is right to kill an innocent person. Arya’s got to get over that quickly though, as The Faceless Men are basically an assassin’s cult. It is all good training though for Arya’s eventual return to King’s Landing, and she certainly won’t be suffering from any guilt when it comes to murdering the Lannisters
Finally, Bran is back again, and he messed up really badly. You would have thought his parents had taught him not to touch magical, time travelling trees without permission from a blind Three Eyed Raven. But no, he went back to the past and landed straight into a group of White Walkers. What’s more, they managed to grab him and leave a mark on his arm which meant in the present he has become their main target. The Three Eyed Raven’s cave may be magical but it hasn’t upgraded yet to a White Walker security system, because they went on a rampage and killed everyone inside. Bran and Meera Reed managed to escape with the help of Hodor, but then viewers were assaulted with a tragic revelation as to why Hodor is the human version of a broken record. Maybe this was George R.R. Martin’s last minute attempt to create a meta-explanation for a brain injury, but it is certainly clever.
It turns out that Bran can effect the past. As they were escaping, he shouted at young, past Hodor to get older, present Hodor to ‘hold the door’ against the White Walkers. ‘Hold the door’, Hodor…? And this short circuited young Hodor’s brain, so effectively he spent the rest of his life repeating instructions that he would receive in the future at the moment of his death. Confused? I still am, but it means Bran’s powers are far stronger than just warging. This may also further support the theory that the mad Targaryen king could hear voices because that was Bran giving him instructions from the future. That’s enough to drive anyone nuts.
With an episode packed with revelations, plot twists, and major character deaths, this is a good sign for the rest of the series.
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