Remember the joy we all felt after last week’s episode of Game of Thrones? The brief reprieve from the self-inflicted misery we all actively choose to put ourselves through every Sunday? I hope you cherished it, because this week David Benioff and D.B. Weiss did what they do best: ruined your life, probably while they laughed and rolled around in their mountains of money.
The main takeaway from this episode, other than the fact that you can never love anything in this god-forsaken show, is that Brann can fuck with the past. This could have about a thousand implications for everything that’s happened in the past five seasons, and the internet is already churning out theories about what else this kid has ruined. Did Brann’s meddling drive King Aerys mad, ultimately causing the war that put Robert Baratheon on the throne? Did Brann build the Wall? Was Brann behind 9/11? No one knows, but literally anything is possible at this point, except the possibility that any of us will ever feel joy again. But more on that later, let’s get into what actually happened during that 55-minute clusterfuck last night.
Sansa receives a secretive letter from none other than good old Uncle Baelish, the asshole who sold her to Ramsey Bolton fully knowing he was a sociopath. Despite the countless red flags that he set off, Sansa had actually trusted Littlefinger at one point, probably because they didn’t teach children about the dangers of predators at Winterfell. Sansa literally trusts no bitch due to the hundred of grievances she’s suffered in her short life, so this betrayal was more than your average seedy deal. Sansa is fucking pissed.
She goes to meet Baelish, accompanied by Brienne, and makes it very clear from the onset how little shit she is there to deal with.
Baelish: You have no idea how happy I am to see you unharmed.
Sansa: Do me a favor and define “unharmed” real quick.
In a bold move that is an entire 180 from the demure lady of seasons' past, Sansa makes Littlefinger tell her what he thinks Ramsey did to her. His pathetic apologies are met with zero kindness, zero sympathy, and zero fucks about what this actual piece of human trash has to say to her.
“I can still feel it. I don’t mean ‘in my tender heart is still pains me so.’ I can still feel what he did to my body, standing here right now.”
—Sansa “I have not time for the weakness of men” Stark.
Although she could have Brienne kill him right there, Sansa instead banishes Baelish from her sight. During this single interaction she has managed to do the one thing that five seasons of treachery and bloodshed didn’t: unnerve Littlefinger. While his regret may or may not be sincere, his fear absolutely is. Season six is the season that the women take Westeros, and even in the early stages it is beautiful to watch.
Petyr’s parting advice for Sansa: rally an army that is solely yours. Whether out of real concern or to plant a seed of doubt in her mind, Littlefinger tells her to get an army of her own and not one that is loyal to Jon first. He lets her know that her uncle, the Black Fish, has rallied an army and retaken Riverrun. Is this a trap? Most definitely.
Later, Team Stark holds a tactical meeting during which Sansa and Davos discuss policy, Jon throws a fit and Tormund continues to make aggressive bedroom eyes at Brienne. They’re discussing which Northern families they’ll be able to bring to their side. While the Umbers are immediately tossed out for their recent betrayal in the form of delivering Rickon right into Ramsey’s grubby hands, popular opinion in the fan world is that this was just a ploy to get closer to the enemy. Fingers fucking crossed.
It is decided that their best bet would be to make the rounds to the smaller Northern families and secretly rally them to their cause, which would be easy with Sansa around if only they had an army not entirely made of wildlings. At this point, Sansa lets everyone in on her intel about her Uncle and his army at Riverrun, but lies about how she received her information.
Brienne confronts Sansa about this slight omission, partly because she’s concerned, but mostly because she’s terrified of the idea of a prolonged trip with Tormund.
Sansa: You don’t trust Jon?
Brienne: I mean, he’s whiny as fuck but fine otherwise I guess.
Despite Brienne’s misgivings, Team Stark has made their decision: ride for Riverrun ASAP. Sansa made her and Jon matching dire wolf outfits, and I’m only slightly weeping.
Three minutes into Avenge the North and Chill, and he gives you this look:
Jon makes some time to say goodbye to his last friend at the wall, Edd, whose name I’ve totally known this entire time.
Jon: Have fun being Lord Commander.
Edd: Hahaha wut.
The scene opens on another bout of
child abuse sparring in the House of Black and White, with the usual words of encouragement from Arya’s mentor.
Waif: You will never be one of us. You came to this foreign land for no reason. Everything you’ve sacrificed has been in vain.
Arya: Bruh, can you chill for ONE SECOND.
This pep talk is followed by a sound beating for Arya, who can’t even best an unarmed girl with a giant stick. Honestly, Syrio is rolling in his grave.
Surprise, surprise: Jacquen is lurking in the corner watching two young girls climb all over each other. He leads Arya into the giant hall full of faces and tells her the story of the first faceless men. It is the least interesting origin story in this episode (which is made up of a few pretty important ones) so I’m not going to bother recounting it. Go watch the episode.
Jacquen tells Arya that it’s finally time; she can become one of them if she wants to. This, like everything else he says, is a test because No One is not allowed to desire anything. Arya catches on, which means she actually gets another chance. I’m honestly so sick of these people and their weird fucking wordplay.
He offers her a mission: kill an actress named Lady Crane. He is very clear that she better not fuck up, because there are no third chances at the House of Black and White. I would hate to see what zero tolerance looks like if lenient was taking away her eyesight.
Arya arrives at the Lady’s play, which is a very theatrical reenactment of basically everything that went down in King’s Landing back in season one. It’s all fun and games watching Robert Baratheon fart to death until shit starts to hit way too close to home for Arya. In this retelling of the events, Cersei (Lady Crane) is a kindhearted wife and mother, Joffrey is a just and sympathetic ruler, and Ned Stark is a bumbling idiot who tried to steal the throne away from them. Arya does not take kindly to this retelling, and some screenwriters are probably going to lose their lives for it.
Backstage, the actors bitch and moan about their roles, but I was too distracted to understand anything the first time around, because we are forced into a full screen shot of fake Joffrey’s balls. My Sunday nights don’t need this. They are depressing enough as is.
The actress who played Sansa is whining about her minimal screen time while Lady Crane talks to the actor who played Tyrion about her love of rum. Arya recounts this later to Jacquen, letting him know that it would be super easy to poison this woman, if only she had access to one of the many faces.
The Many Faced God sounds kind of like a hitman to me, because it is made pretty clear that the only reason this woman is going to die is because Fake Sansa is jealous of her role. Like you do you, Jacquen, but don’t play your assassin club off as a religion.
It’s time for the Kingsmoot, which apparently is an ancient Iron Islands word for an over-hyped, anticlimactic conversation about who should rule. Yara makes her play, and is almost instantly met with skepticism because men on this show are generally the worst.
Crowd: We’ve never had a queen before!!
Yara: And we’ve also never succeeded at anything. Crazy coincidence.
Some loud bystanders make the obvious point that Yara shouldn’t rule when Theon, the last male heir, is standing right there. Clearly no one has looked at Theon for more than five seconds, otherwise they would prop Balon’s dead body up on the throne before letting that sad sack be in charge of anything.
Theon, against all odds, rallies the crowd to Yara’s side with a moving speech about how she is literally the only viable candidate for this job. It almost looks like it’s going to work until in walks Euron, who acquires the instant upper hand because he possesses a penis.
Yara outs Euron for murdering Balon, and rather than be even moderately sheepish about it he’s like, “fuck right I did.” He goes on to tell the crowd that his plan for the Iron Islands is to ally with Danaerys Targaryen, using his impressive fleet of ships and far less impressive dick to woo her. So, just to be clear, Euron is more fit to rule than a woman because he plans to use a more powerful woman to achieve his goals. Logic.
It looks like Euron’s victory is pretty unanimous, so while he undergoes the archaic Iron Island ceremony in which he literally has to drown in the ocean in order to ascend the throne, Yara makes the far smarter move of stealing his entire fleet. With Theon and her supporters in tow, Yara makes away with the best boats the Iron Island has to offer while Euron pukes up salt water on the beach, further proving that men can talk all they like, but BITCHES GET STUFF DONE.
Once Euron realizes that his neice and nephew have made off with his fleet and thus all of his power, he commands his remaining followers to build him a new one. Shouldn’t take any time at all.
On a rock overlooking the entire Dothraki army that is now hers, Danaerys quietly contemplates how else she can smash the patriarchy while Daario and Jorah look on, probably still very turned on from the fire show the night before. It would appear that she’s come to terms with the fact that she could fly her dragons to Winterfell right then and there, and Jorah would still show up and pledge his undying love for her.
Khaleesi: I banish you twice and yet here you are, saving my life and breathing heavily.
Jorah: It’s kind of my thing.
Jorah decides that this moment is the best he’s going to get, and reveals both his greyscale and love for Danaerys in a quick one-two punch. She is moved to tears by the former, but the latter probably didn’t help things.
Jorah: I love you. I’ll always love you.
Jorah tries to do the honorable thing and leave before he becomes a rock monster, but Dany is like, “nah I’m not done with you yet.” She commands him to find a cure for his disease and then come back so that she can rule the seven kingdoms with him by her side.
This is the best possible outcome, because now we probably won’t have to see him until next season. Plus, this means she can hook up with Daario in peace without Jorah lurking nearby. The tactical foresight, I swear. No wonder this woman can conquer nations.
Back in Mereen, the small council is rehashing just exactly what’s happened since the very unpopular negotiations meetings.
Varys: So, how many attacks have there been by the Sons of the Harpy since our little talk with the masters?
Grey Worm: None
Varys: Weird. Maybe shut the fuck up next time the big kids talk about politics.
But for Tyrion, this is not enough. In order for Meereen to have true peace, everyone needs to know that Khaleesi is the sole reason for their newfound security. He wants a spokesperson to basically tell the entire city that Danaerys is their savior, but the catch is that it has to be someone that everyone trusts implicitly. Tyrion would have made a fantastic PR consultant in another world.
Who does he pick? A priestess named Kinvara. She’s the First Lady of the Lord of Light, so basically the Queen of the Melisandres. This woman believes that Danaerys is the “one who was promised,” but she also wants to use her to enact a religious revolution.
Apparently, the only requirements for being a priestess in this church are ample cleavage and the innate ability to be incredibly condescending to anyone who questions you. Sign me up.
Tyrion seems more than okay with letting Kinvara do whatever she wants if it means he gets his endorsement, which is ironic because the last time a Lannister let a religious leader into the ruling party’s inner circle, the Sparrows took over King’s Landing. Weird, looks like Cersei and Tyrion have more in common than they thought.
Varys is openly skeptical of this woman, her abilities, her religion, and probably her excessive cleavage. This is the third time that a priestess of the Lord of Light has been “sure” about a prophesized savior (Stannis, Jon, and now Dany), and it would appear he has some more personal issues with this religion in particular. Kinvara comes back at him with what I can only image were some frighteningly accurate details about his castration, because for the first time possibly ever we see Varys stumble. Even Tyrion looks scared. Jesus Christ, bring Danaerys back before this fire witch starts burning children alive.
I considered skipping this entire portion and pretending it didn't happen, but I'm sure that would result in some nasty comments so HERE WE GO. What follows is the tale of Brandon Stark and how he ruined (possibly literally) everyone's life.
Back in the big creepy tree that they're all just living in, Brann and the Raven are off on another warging adventure. Honestly, if I was Meera I would be pissed, too. Brann gets to sleep all day and visit other timelines while she chills in a cave with Hodor, who we all know isn't much of a conversationalist. But now we know why and honestly it's too soon for those kind of comments. My bad.
Brann's vision takes him to some Stonehenge-looking place, where the leader of the First Children is performing a super casual sacrifice of a human. You know, just another day in Westeros. This wouldn't even bear retelling if it weren't for the fact that the guy's eyes turned a very familiar shade of ice blue. That's right, the First Children are responsible for creating the White Walkers.
Bran: Uh you neglected to mention that minor detail.
The Children: You're being kinda dramatic rn.
The leader of the Children tells Brann that they had to create White Walkers in order to win the war on humans. Just like I had to burn my last apartment down because I found a spider in it. These things can't be helped.
In Brann's next vision, which it looks like he jumps into without permission from the Raven, he's back at the Stonehenge setting. Except this time, it's a winter wasteland. GEE, WONDER WHAT HAPPENED THERE.
He turns around to find the entire White Walker army standing behind him, but because it's his vision, he can walk amongst them undetected. JOKES. The Night King spots him, at which point the rest of the army notices his presence as well. The King lunges for Brann and grabs his wrist, which is terrifying, sure, but at least Brann can wake up from this dream unharmed.
JOKES, AGAIN. Brann wakes up screaming with a very noticeable, icy mark on his arm, at which point the Raven lets him know that it's time to GTFO because now that the Night King has seen him, he is no longer safe there.
Raven: It is time for you to become me.
Brann: Wow, am I ready for that?
Raven: LOL nah.
Meera and Hodor are packing up inside while discussing the wonders of bacon (same), and if you're a fool like me you're probably thinking this seems a little premature. I mean, this is Game of Thrones. Everyone lives approximately 500 miles away from each other, so no one ever sets out for their destination and arrives in the same episode, especially not an army of zombies moving entirely on foot, right?
Yeah, the White Walkers don't play by pathetic human rules. The Raven warns Brann to leave and the Night King is at their doorstep, entire army in tow, about five minutes later. If everyone else moved at that rate, this show could have been wrapped up in two seasons.
Assholes who show up to your event when they actually said they would and not an hour and a half late like they're fucking supposed to:
Meera, Hodor and the Children fall into a slight panic. The White Walkers are charging. The cave is collapsing. Weird fire grenades are being thrown everywhere. It is time to go, NOW. But much like that one friend who's still drying her hair when it's time to leave for the pregame, Brann is back in the tree, warging his sweet ass time away.
In his vision, Brann is back in the Winterfell of old, watching young Ned Stark leave for his training at the Vale. This is supremely less important than what's happening back in real life, which is ANOTHER unnecessary Direwolf death. RIP Summer.
Despite the fact that he watches the Raven die in his vision and can hear Meera screaming "We need Hodor!", Brann doesn't seem all that concerned about the very certain death of all of his friends. This is where things get confusing and treacherous, and hearts across the world shattered in a single moment.
Hodor, like all of us, doesn't handle stress or conflict well. In order to get him to be remotely helpful in a crisis, Brann usually has to warg into him and take control. In this case, with White Walkers storming their cave, Brann's services are very much needed. However, instead of waking up and warging into Hodor, he does it in his vision via young Hodor/Wyllis, who is a completely innocent bystander and doesn't deserve any of this nonsense.
Wyllis falls into what looks like a seizure to everyone around him, but we all know is caused by being able to hear the horror what's happening in the present. As everyone runs to him, he repeats the only thing he can make sense of, which is Meera screaming "Hold the door!" over and over again in an attempt to lock the storming White Walkers in the cave that she, Brann, and present day Hodor just escaped.
Wyllis' screams become less articulated, less coherent, as Hodor is clawed to death by the White Walkers. As Brann and Meera escape into the night, the last thing we hear is Wyllis' mumbled cries.
Hold the door
Hol the dor
Hol t dor
That's right, Brann fucking Stark caused the mental and psychological damage that left our angel Hodor with only the ability to speak one word. Did Wyllis see his future self die? Has Hodor always known what lay in store for him? Is it at least comforting to know that everyone in America is weeping together, at this very moment? I don't have answers to any of these questions.
Hodor: too sweet, too pure. We didn't deserve you, and neither did Brann, who couldn't even fucking wake up for your death. May your next life be full of bacon and actual words.