Opening The Door (Season 6, Episode 5) (Recap)

Bran+Hodor+Summer+Shaggydog

We’re still in the afterglow of Daenerys’ Dothraki coup last week, and, perhaps fittingly, tonight’s episode is full of strong women, some poised for leadership. Not all of the women are good, of course. (I mean, come on — this is Game of Thrones.) But, they all wield power.

In “The Door,” Leaf atones for her past mistakes, but, frankly, her atonement isn’t enough.

Unable to learn from his sister’s mistakes with the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant, Tyrion opens the door to a powerful high priestess for R’hllor — and this one looks far more dangerous than child-burning Melisandre.

The Kingsmoot assembles and Yara puts herself forward as queen. Arya holds the power of life or death, not only for a target but also herself.

“The Door” also teaches us a lot more about the beginnings of the House of Black and White. Bran’s greensight reveals the birth of the Others and why Hodor can only speak one word.

Hodor has legions of fans, and for a long time, we’ve wondered why he can only say one word. In fact, French blogger Didymus wrote a great article on this website, “The Mystery of Hodor’s Brain” postulating that he had Broca’s aphasia. Instead, we learned tonight that Hodor’s disability comes not from an unfortunate accident but rather a sacrifice.

Bastard vs. Bastard: Who Will Win the North’s Loyalty?

The North is on the brink of all out war, and Sansa and Jon are making moves to scoop up any aligned houses.

The North storyline begins when Sansa receives word that Littlefinger is in Mole’s Town and meets him there but not without protection. Brienne of Tarth is now her sworn protector.

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Sansa (Sophie Turner) confronts Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). © HBO, Helen Sloan.

When she finds Littlefinger in the wreckage from the Mole’s Town raid, the first Sansa demands to know if he knew what Ramsay was like. He claims he didn’t, but she has learned too much from Littlefinger to believe him. She knows him. And, her body is still in pain from Ramsay’s savage sexual abuse.

Sansa lets Littlefinger leave with his life — Brienne would have happily killed him for Sansa. Littlefinger gives her a bit of intel as a parting gift: her great uncle Blackfish Tully has rebuilt his army and retaken Riverrun. Littlefinger advises Sansa to go to him.

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Brienne’s hand rests on her sword as she waits for Sansa to tell her whether or not to kill Littlefinger. Brienne is portrayed by Gwendoline Christie. © HBO, Helen Sloan.

Sansa retorts she has an army: Jon’s army. Littlefinder scoffs. And, this is where things get interesting. Littlefinger doesn’t see much value in her half brother’s army. Does Littlefinger know who Jon’s real parents were? Does Littlefinger just shrewdly realize Jon’s army may not be that loyal to his half sister? Or, is he trying to get Sansa away from Castle Black? A little of the old divide and conquer…

**

Later on, Jon, Davos, Sansa, Brienne, Melisandre, and Dolorous Edd meet to strategize. Ramsay has Jon and Sansa’s little brother, Rickon, and Jon has Ramsay’s wife. Both sides are effectively at war.

Peering down at a map spread out over the wooden table, Jon declares that they won’t survive if they don’t get more men. But Ramsay already has aligned with the two biggest houses: the Umbers and Karstarks. (In fact, the Umbers gave Rickon to Ramsay.)

Sansa thinks that the Karstarks might join them once they find out that they “have another choice.” That choice is a legitimate heir to House Stark: Sansa.

Davos, however, politely points out that the Karstarks know a Stark beheaded their father, so they might not be so keen to ally with one again.

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Sansa (Sophie Turner) lies about who told her Blackfish Tully rebuilt his army. and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) knows the truth. © HBO.

Sansa’s reply is a bit arrogant, or maybe it’s just confident. She challenges Davos, “How well do you know the North, Davos?” Sansa argues the North is loyal.

The dialog that follows echoes the classic real-world debate about late medieval alliances, kinship, and affinities.

“I may not know the North, but I know men,” Davos tells Sansa. “They’re more or less the same in any corner of the world. Even the bravest of them do not want to see their wives and children skinned for a lost cause. Jon’s got to convince them to fight alongside him and they need to believe it’s a fight they can win.

Some historians who have studied Wars of the Roses have observed that late medieval nobles allied with the side they thought was most likely to win. Others, however, have noted that Richard III’s massive northern affinity was partly due to the exceptional loyalty the North had to his wife Anne Neville’s family. (By this, I mean not so much to comment on Richard’s affinity, but rather on the exceptional loyalty of Northerners.)

Jon believes that if they can slowly garner the smaller houses’ support, it could equal to that of the bigger houses.

Sansa believes that the North Remembers and the northerners will risk everything for the Stark name.

When Davos notes that Jon doesn’t have the Stark name, Sansa states that she does and Ramsay is just as much a bastard as Jon.

At this point, Sansa whips out a game changing bit of intel: her uncle Blackfish Tully has re-formed his army and retaken Riverrun. But, Sansa lies about the source of her information, no doubt because she knows that the others would question its accuracy.

Sansa is manipulating the others, trying to sway them to see things her way. It’s for a good cause: to save her brother and oust the evil Ramsay. But, she’s keeping secrets to get her way, and this might not end well for her.

Will Sansa be a power broker or a fool? Is she doomed to be the “stupid girl, who never learns”?

Braavos: Arya’s Old Life Provides Her Final Test

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Arya (Maisie Williams) appears to ponder the ethics of killing an innocent woman, even if she does look like Cersei. © HBO.

Arya’s training with the Waif continues. The two spar in a training room in the House of Black and White. Arya still can’t win against the Waif, even when the Waif throws aside her staff and fights Arya unarmed.

The Waif is trying to beat Arya down, erase her identity.“You’ll never be one of us Lady Stark,” the Waif scoffs.

Jaqen H’ghar tells Arya that the Waif has a point. All the first faceless men were slaves out of the mines of Valyria. They weren’t the daughters of lords and ladies.

Jaqen is not happy with Arya’s failure to kill the Thin Man, so he gives her another mission. She must kill an actress at the theater named Lady Crane. If Arya fails to kill her, that will be Arya’s last chance. And, Jaqen tells her ominously they will add another face to the wall, one way or another.

**

It turns out that Jaqen has sent Arya on the ultimate test. Is she still Arya Stark? Does she still have feelings about her old life? Can she kill without question like a good soldier should?

Unfortunately for Arya, the theater is showing a disturbing production of the last minutes of her life before she went into hiding: her father’s execution.

The play is replete with a wimpy Joffrey, a drunken King Robert, a silly Sansa, a depraved Richard III-like Tyrion, and a fake plaster head that goes flying from the chopping block when Ned is beheaded. In this version of events, nobody looks good, including Arya’s father. They’re all stupid Highborns.

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Is this Amanda Peet doing a cameo as a member of the audience? Amanda is a huge fan (and therefore spectator) of the work of her husband, showrunner David Benioff, so this cameo is definitely art imitating life — and adds to the “meta-meta” of this whole scene. © HBO.

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Earlier this season, David Benioff appears to have done a cameo as an audience member listening to a ribald joke about Cersei’s walk of atonement — moments before the Mountain killed the jokester. © HBO.

After the show, Arya sneaks backstage, pretending she’s a stage hand, where she spies on Lady Crane who portrayed Cersei. In a bit of art imitating life, underneath Lady Crane’s blonde Cersei wig, the actress has dark hair. As Lady Crane combs her wig, the young actress who played Sansa furiously grumbles she only had two lines.

**

Later on that night, Arya tells Jaqen her plan for killing Lady Crane. She will poison her rum. Lady Crane is the only one who drinks it.

But, Arya is troubled. Is Lady Crane a bad person? Does she deserve to die? Are they only being hired to kill her because a younger, less talented actress wants her rival dead? (It’s delightfully ironic that fake “Sansa” is trying to kill fake “Cersei.”)

Jaqen warns her it doesn’t matter. The price has been paid.

Does Arya truly want to be faceless? Can she lead this nihilistic existence?

Yara & the Kingsmoot

The kingsmoot has finally come. The ironborn are going to choose their next king.

Yara puts forward her claim to the salt throne. She speaks well — and like any leader, she can certainly inspire. But, a man in the crowd cuts her off. Shouldn’t Theon, Balon’s male heir be the next king? How dare she even speak?

Theon steps before the crowd. We hear the same ominous music that played when Theon made some of his more treacherous decisions. Will he use this moment to seize the salt throne for himself? Has Theon actually grown and learned from his mistakes?

It turns out he has.

He doesn’t betray Yara. Rather he throws his support behind her, not once but twice.

Yara has been all but declared then next ruler. But, then Euron Greyjoy emerges and puts himself forward as the next king.

Yara suddenly realizes who killed her father — and why. She accuses Euron of the murder and announces her first act as queen will be to execute him.

But, Euron sways the crowd away from Yara through his “strength.” He openly acknowledges that he killed Balon, claiming it was because Balon wasn’t leading them anywhere. Worse, Balon had waged two fruitless wars. Euron proclaims he should rule because he paid the iron price for the salt throne. He also proposes a marriage alliance with Daenerys, so they can rule the world.

The crowd loves it, and he’s instantly proclaimed king.

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Damphair is portrayed by Michael Feast. © HBO.

But, Yara and Theon know their days are numbered.

As Euron’s brother Damphair consecrates Euron as king (by drowning him by the beach), Yara and Theon high-tail it off of the Iron Islands.

Theon, Yara, and her followers run to the ships. They manage to get all the best ships and sail away before their uncle Euron has even come to after his drowning.

As soon as Euron can speak, he demands to know where his niece and nephew are. He wants to execute them. When he learns they’ve left with his best ships, he commands that everyone start cutting wood and spinning flax. He wants to build a thousand ships to hunt Yara and Theon out of existence.

Daenerys Gives Jorah a Final Order

Daenerys is at her wits’ end with Jorah. He has saved her life twice. But, she’s still angry from his betrayal. She refuses to let him back into her service, but she can’t send him away.

Jorah counters that she must send him away.

He then lifts his shirt to reveal his forearm, covered in greyscale.

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Since one of the stonemen touched him, The greyscale is advancing rapidly up Jorah’s forearm. (Jorah is portrayed by Iain Glenn.) © HBO.

Daenerys’ real feelings come out. She’s devastated.

Jorah admits he has always and will always love Daenerys. All he’s ever wanted is to serve her.

She gives him one last command: he must find a cure for the greyscale, heal himself, and return to her service. She will need him at her side when she rules the Seven Kingdoms.

Jorah then takes his leave of her. He watches from the distance as Daenerys and Daario lead her new khalasar of khalasars out of the Vaes Dothrak.

(Author’s note: I have not been the biggest fan of Emilia Clarke’s acting in the past, but, much to her credit, it has improved significantly in the last two seasons. In this small scene, Emilia knocks it out of the park. I was genuinely moved — and it was largely due to her performance.)

Tyrion Takes a Queue from Real Kings

In Meereen, we find Tyrion pouring himself wine and discussing how to shore up Daenerys’ rule while she is gone. Since Tyrion compromised on emancipation with the slave masters, the Sons of the Harpy’s killings have stopped and there’s peace.

But, Tyrion doesn’t think it’s enough to have peace in Meereen. The people need to know Daenerys is responsible for it. The people must realize that Daenerys has the moral high ground. While the Sons of the Harpy may be resisting the  foreign invaders, Daenerys brought about an end to the violence.

Tyrion notes they need somebody the people can trust, somebody they know cannot be bought or influenced. In other words, they need a credible mouthpiece to deliver their story.

So what does Tyrion do? Exactly what so many leaders throughout the ages did. He looks to religious leaders to carry his message to the people. (Let’s hope his collaboration with the leaders goes better than Cersei and Stannis’ did.)

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Kinvara (Ania Bukstein) may be Meereen’s next wild card. © HBO.

Next thing you know, a new red priestess is in the throne room of the Great Pyramid.

Her name is Kinvara. She’s the high priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis and the First Servant of the Lord of Light.

Kinvara declares she will help the Tyrion and Varys because Daenerys is the “one who was promised.” To Kinvara, Dany’s dragons are “fire made flesh” — a sign of her divine favor.

But, the next part should be a big ole red flag. She declares the dragons will “purify non-believers by the thousands, burning their sins and flesh away.” YIKES! How efficient. This makes Melisandre’s heretic burnings look tame.

Working with Kinvara could be an incredibly dangerous proposition. Those dragons must look mighty tempting to a fire-loving priestess of R’hllor.

Kinvara knows that Tyrion & co want respect while they govern. Kenvara states she will send for her most eloquent priests and priestesses to spread the word that Daenerys is fighting against the darkness.

But, Varys is wary. He brings up the last prince who was promised, Stannis Baratheon.

Tyrion tries to shut Varys up before he alienates Kinvara. Varys is having none of it.

Varys denounces Kinvara and her ilk as “fanatics” who believe they are always right because everything is the lord’s will.

Kinvara merely looks amused and shrugs. Everything is the lord’s will. She attributes the issues to men being flawed and prone to making mistakes.

Varys challenges Kinvara. Why should he trust her to know more than the priestess who counseled Stannis?

Kinvara strikes back. She brings up the voice that spoke to Varys from the flames after he was cut. A voice that still terrifies and haunts Varys. Kinvara not only knows about the voice, she knows what it said and the name of the one who spoke.

Varys looks perplexed — and is likely terrified.

Kinvara then lays down her threat: “We serve the same the queen. If you are her true friend, you have nothing to fear from me.”

And, that’s what’s scary. Why are we suddenly talking about Kinvara’s ability to harm Varys? Just how powerful is Kinvara???

Bran, the Children, and the Others

Bran is still lying in the three-eyed raven’s cave, under the weirwood tree.

He is dreaming with his greensight again, only this time he is seeing the creation of the White Walkers. Leaf (who is one of the Children) turned a man into the first White Walker by stabbing him in the heart with a stone knife, possibly an obsidian dagger.

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Leaf (Kae Alexander) with some of the other Children. © HBO.

When Bran wakes up, Leaf defends her actions, explaining that the Children created the White Walkers to protect themselves against his race. The Children were at war with men. Men were attacking the Children and cutting down their sacred trees.

Bran crawls across the floor, illicitly touches a root, and plunges into another vision. This time, the weirwood tree is covered with snow and Bran turns around to see an army of wights. He walks among them unseen, until he meets the Night King and the other White Walkers.

But, the Night King can see him. Not only that, he touches Bran.

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The Night King sees Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and marks him. © HBO.

When Bran wakes up, he tells the three-eyed raven that the Night King touched him.

The raven tells Bran that he must leave the cave. The Night King’s mark is upon him. The Night King will not only be able to track Bran to the cave, but also enter it, despite its protecting warding. And, he will come for Bran.

The raven also tells Bran that he must now take over from him, even though Bran isn’t yet ready.

Bran keeps drifting in and out of his greensight visions, but Meera senses something is wrong. She runs outside to discover the Night King has arrived with a massive wight army. The wights attack.

Leaf commands Meera “Get Bran and run!”

When Meera reaches Bran, he is still lost in his greensight dream.

Outside the cave, Leaf and the other Children hurl fireballs and light a ring of fire at the tree’s entrance.  This barely slows the attack down. The Night King and the white walkers walk right through the flames. Piece of cake.

Meera desperately tries to awaken Bran, who has traveled back in time with Hodor, to when his dad and Hodor were young at Winterfell.

Meera needs Hodor to carry Bran out of the tree — and she needs him fast. Otherwise, the wights — who are now pouring in through the cave’s roof — will kill them.

Hearing Meera’s pleas, he lets Hodor wake up, but Bran remains in the dream.

And, it’s just in time. Meera hurls a weirwood root; it zaps and kills one of the white walkers.

Although Bran’s direwolf Summer tries to protect his charge, the wights overcome the direwolf. Is he dead? Or maybe ~~please~~ just injured?

This gives Meera and Hodor enough time to flee with Bran on his sled. Leaf sacrifices herself, blowing herself up with a fireball as the wights attack, so Bran can get away.

Bran & co. reach the cave’s exit, with the wights in hot pursuit. Meera and Bran will never outrun the wights without somebody barricading the door to stop the wights.

Meera yells to Hodor, “Hold the Door!”

Hodor pushes the door with all the might of his half-giant frame. But, he is beginning to wimper and cry out as the wight’s hack through the door with their axes and blades.

Faintly, through his greensight, Bran can hear the words “Hold the Door” and “Ho… door” blurring into one. The young dream-world Hodor (Willis) is having a seizure. As Willis’ aunt, Old Nan, tries to comfort him, Willis cries, “Hold the door.”

Meanwhile, in the current day, Hodor’s older current-day counterpart is buckling against the crush of wights, as they smash through the root-covered door. Their skeletal hands push through the wood to rip Hodor’s flesh, claw his face, and stab him.

Despite the pain, Hodor is resolute. He won’t stop holding the door. And, young Willis becomes locked into the vocabulary of his future last words: “Hodor.”

Meera and Bran get away. Hodor dies protecting them.

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Hodor (Kristian Nairn) holding the door. Bye, bye Hodor. We’ll miss you. © HBO.

*

It’s surprising how sad it was when Hodor died. After all, he was a secondary character with so few lines, but his self-sacrifice was quite touching.

I was not happy, however, to hear that Bran must take over for the three-eyed raven. The three-eyed raven lives in a tree, is part of a tree. Is that Bran’s fate?? Is that why Summer may be dead? #notcool (All those direwolves are symbolic/foreshadowing-y beasts.)

On the direwolf front, are all the Starks destined to lose their wolves? So far, Sansa, Rob, and Rickon’s wolves are dead. Nymeria, Arya’s wolf, is MIA. Until tonight, only Ghost and Summer were accounted for.

And, speaking of Sansa, she’s changed. Post-Ramsay Sansa is very adult and determined. Her experiences with Joffrey, Ramsay, and Littlefinger have hardened her. Plus Littlefinger has taught her how to manipulate and wield power.

Sansa’s arc gives us insight into the lives of queens and one of the reasons Cersei is so tough, power-seeking, and manipulative. Cersei had to be to survive not only her father using her like a pawn, but also the disillusionment of discovering her prince loved a dead girl and preferred whores and wine to her.

Medieval princesses and queens had to endure forced marriages, the lethal-stakes power politics, being abandoned with their in-law’s family, betrayal, domestic abuse, and rape. As Cersei once said to Oberyn Martell, “Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls.”

everywhere-world-hurt-girls-cerseiI’m rooting for Sansa and hoping that her plan to ally with Blackfish doesn’t blow up in her face. I don’t want her to be the “stupid little girl, who never learns.”

I’m also rooting for Yara. She nearly became the Iron Island’s first queen in tonight’s episode. And, despite her loss to the felonious Euron, many of the ironborn are still willing to follow her.

Right now, Game of Thrones is full of strong female characters, poised for leadership — and I’m loving it.

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

14 Comments

  • Reply May 23, 2016

    Apocalyptic Queen

    I haven’t seen the episode yet (I’m in the UK).

    Also, have only read books 1 & 2 (so forgive me if what I say next turns out to be slightly “spoilery”).

    Following the episode here are my observations.

    “Fake Sansa” trying to kill “fake Cersei” – Could this be a significant piece of foreshadowing on the showrunners’ part? Could Sansa potentially be the “younger”, “more beautiful” who casts Cersei down? She is starting to morph into a bit of a warrior and seems to have lost all the pretensions associated with old Sansa. If Rickon dies and Bran is still awol, she could also become Wardeness/ queen of the North and she would have Jon’s backing, plus the support of the Northern and Vale armies (I don’t think Ramsay will even factor into this, I think his days are well and truly numbered).

    I am disappointed that she allowed Littlefinger to live though (as I feel he will betray her to Cersei even if the latter is too depleted to do anything about it), but having finally mastered the “game of thrones”, she may have other plans for him until he has outlived his usefulness.

    I am also finding the Greyjoy storyline interesting (finally). Will Euron venture south to “negotiate” with Daenerys? (Not that he would last long), or perhaps, Yara and Theon, desperate for support, will meet Daenerys to thwart Euron’s plans. Either plotline could see Daenerys equipped with a fleet by the end of the season to retake Kings Landing.

    I am also loving Daenerys and Jorah’s storyline and am so glad that the showrunners have (so far) resisted the urge to kill him. It fits in with some of the characters’ redemption arcs.

    The one storyline I am finding boring and disappointing at the moment is Cersei’s. I have heard that book Cersei is descending into a tyrannical mess yet show Cersei appears calm, rational and doing business with the Tyrrells against the Faith Militant.
    Surely (purely in the interests of entertainment), this “alliance” will be temporary, and once the influence of the Faith Militant are removed, she will resume her plotting and try to remove the Tyrrells (much depends on the outcomes of Cersei’s and Margaery’s trials and who is employed in the trial by combat).
    I hope Cersei’s wicked ways return as I’m finding this particular plotline to be rather stagnant!

    Finally, not sure if we’ll see the return of Dorne this season however if we do, they could provide useful allies for the Tyrrells, should Margaery’s trial go “pear-shaped”.

    • Reply May 24, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      I wonder if you are right about Sansa and Cersei. I’ve always assumed that younger person would be Maergery, but based on everything you’ve said, it could just as easily be Sansa. If you’re right, the High Sparrow won’t triumph.

      New Sansa + North vs. Cersei + King’s Landing = Worthy Adversary

      Okay, that’s bad math, but you get the idea.

      It’s basically weak capital vs. the North, which is exactly what happened in the Wars of the Roses.

      I think you may be on to something.

      • Reply May 25, 2016

        Apocalyptic Queen

        I don’t think the High Sparrow will triumph against Cersei (I think she will triumph and be around for a good while yet – going by some interesting and very well thought out speculative theories on the forum of ice and fire). But I think they may triumph to some degree over Margaery.

        Margaery to me, represents a fusion of Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon – with the cunning, ambition and intelligence of the former and the humility, popularity and kindness of the latter. Like Catherine of Aragon, she marries her late husband’s younger brother and like Anne, she is arrested on charges of adultery (in the books). This suggests to me that she might die soon, either by execution, or in the midsts of a battle between the Faith and the Tyrells.

        In the books, she has been released on house arrest with rumours that the charges against her are not sufficient to incur a conviction, so the trial is said to be a mere formality. This has led many readers to speculate that she will indeed survive. However, I believe this is a red herring. After all, the trial of Lady Jane Grey was said to be a formality and that Mary I planned to release her – however we all know what became of poor Jane. I might be wrong but I feel the historic parallels are clear and that this does not set a good precedent for Margaery.

  • Reply May 23, 2016

    Martine

    Hi Jamie
    Great re cap as always! x
    Oh…SO much to process about this episode and so much I want to write! However, I’m going to hold back on all those thoughts until later. So right now, I’ll just focus on one of the things that hit me hard in that episode- and one that you so eloquently mentioned. I quote:

    ” The play is complete with a wimpy Joffrey, a drunken King Robert, a silly Sansa, a depraved Richard III-like Tyrion, and a fake plaster head that goes flying from the chopping block when Ned is beheaded. In this version of events, nobody looks good, including Arya’s father. They’re all stupid Highborns….”

    Every Ricardian watching the Braavos play scene must have been yelling at the screen and yet again cursing ‘The Man From Stratford’ and his awful ‘history’ play (or was it just me..? Lol).

    Recently the BBC here in the UK have broadcast ‘The Hollow Crown’ adaptations of Henry VI parts 1 and 2 and Richard III. Yet again, we got the ‘history is written by the Tudor victors’ version of Richard III, so similar to the portrayal by the Braavosi actors of both Ned Stark and Tyrion ( both discussed at length here in other articles on the site as aspects of Richard III)
    The BBC Richard III play had Mr B. Cumberbatch doing his best ‘very evil villain ‘ and sporting the requisite and compulsory ‘hunch and limp’ combo.

    Surely this GoT play within the episode that ‘rewrites’ history is an intentional and very specific comparison by GRRM to that S’ Speare play? It was done brilliantly for the screen by Dan/ David and the episode director Jack Bender. I must of course mention the great Richard E Grant here ! He was superb and I suspect that D and D are putting his legendary skills to further use in more episodes ( I have reason to believe that D and D are great fans of the classic Richard E Grant movie ‘Withnail and I ‘ as they’ve referenced lines from it in other episodes of GoT !)

    It was horrible- but a fantastically effective dramatic effect – watching poor Arya witnessing her very real, tragic and heartbreaking history presented in a terrible and farcical way. But a way that may then become the ‘definitive version’ of these events and people for ever more..

    • Reply May 23, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      Very first of all thanks for the kind words. 🙂
      re: Shakespeare
      You know, its funny, I thought the same thing about Shakespeare with all the rhyming couplets (?). I don’t think they were couplets; it’s been a while, I’d need to look that up. (I’m sure Jun knows! 🙂 ) But, I didn’t make the connection about the layers of “meta-ness” there. E.g., Game of Thrones is a rewrite of Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses, etc. Surely it can’t be an accident that the Tyrion dwarf looks like the Olivier-type Richard IIIs?
      You’re right about Arya. It was a horrible reminder to her of how off the rails her life has gone.

      • Reply May 23, 2016

        Jamie Adair

        I also find it disturbing with Arya, Rickon, Bran… I think to myself, “Is this going to be the fate of all the Stark/York children? To be lost?”
        I don’t think these are spoilers because they are just guesses but spoiler warning anyway…
        Rickon possibly killed next week by Ramsay (lost prince #1), Bran possibly turning into the Welsh god Bran/another prince in the tower (lost prince #2), and then Arya. Will she be as lost to us as her direwolf, or will she remain consumed by revenge like Margaret of York, stuck somewhere across the sea?

        • Reply May 25, 2016

          Apocalyptic Queen

          I feel that the first few episodes of the current season have been very enlightening but subtle as to the eventual paths some of these characters will eventually choose.

          What struck me most in particular is the sort of evolution of the Stark girls.

          For the first time in a long while, Arya experienced a crisis of her condcience and morality. While I have no sympathy for the characters she has so far killed, on Sunday, she seemed to really question her conscience when the life of a theatre troupe performer was threatened. It seems to me that despite all the hardships she’s suffered, she still cannot shake off her identity and I wonder whether she can really shed her conscience to the extent that she murders an innocent woman, even if this were deemed necessary by the FM.
          Will she go ahead and kill the woman? Or will she do so and regret it?

          In contrast to Arya, Sansa is also transforming. But rather it seems to me that she is going in the opposite direction, evolving from a silly little beligerent girl to a strong woman (I think she will be a powerful woman by the end of AGOT). Although she is not shedding her morality, it seems she may be evolving to the point that she could become an efficient and ruthless individual – if the circumstances may so require (perhaps a bit like her rumoured “cousin-in-law” Daenerys Targeryan and her cousin, Jon).

          In short, to me, it feels like new Sansa might be morphing into “old Arya”, and while Arya will never be as pretentious as old Sansa, her character arc might be travelling in the direction of old Sansa to some degree. For instance, if she decides she cannot kill innocent people as part of her training, I would not be surprised to see Arya renounce a life of espionage and crime and decide that peace and long-term happiness are her goals in life, settling down with a Lord and giving up on the quest for revenge, while Sansa perhaps takes up the mantle to avenge the Starks. Not sure if this is the way the story is going – but I find the “role reversal” highly interesting. We are also seeing it being played within the context of their inter-familial relationships.
          Arya and Jon were very close as children but it seemed Sansa was largely indifferent to him.
          Now the tables have turned, and adult Sansa now appears to be building a strong relationship with her “half-brother”. It is a nice twist.

          Wonder how Arya will react to him when/ if she sees Jon. Will the bond still be there?

      • Reply May 24, 2016

        Martine

        Hi again Jamie 🙂
        It wasn’t really that the rhyming couplets or the cadence of the lines in the Braavosi play were like the language of ‘Shakespeare’. I didn’t mean to imply that! LOL. Whoever wrote those plays, the language is undeniably superb. In the Braavosi play they were more like those from what we call Pantomine here in the UK -or even a Punch and Judy show!

        No, my point was more about how dramatists make their own version of ‘history’ that then sticks, no matter how it actually was in reality.

        In Arya’s case she is the one made to watch the shattering truth of her own horror being made farcical and that they make her beloved and honourable father into a villainous clown. We can share that feeling with her – as we know the real story.
        My point is that to those who don’t know the true history it then becomes the true history in the collective imagination. Hence my Richard III analogy.

  • Reply May 24, 2016

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    I feel I have to “white knight” Shakespeare. I don’t see why a glover’s son from Stratford couldn’t have written the plays and am annoyed (I’m not accusing any of the posters here of asserting such a thing) when it is alleged that only a member of the aristocracy could have written them. But – and I said this on another thread here a long time ago I’m sure – if anybody had written during Elizabeth I’s reign (she was after all Henry VII’s grand-daughter) that Richard III was a wonderful person would have very likely run into trouble. One can’t (in my opinion at least) judge Shakespeare as if he were writing in modern times. There is a theory I believe (I’m sure Olga who comments here and has contributed articles) has said something on it – that Shakespeare may have used Richard III’s name as a means of making points about someone who was still alive at the time he wrote.

    Longer ago than I care to remember a party from my school went to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford to see Richard III. Ian Holm (long before he became a “Sir”) was playing Richard – I remember reading that the production team were aiming for a version where Richard was forced to “play the power game” so they weren’t going for the pantomime villain type depiction of Richard.

    To other things I found myself feeling extremely miffed with Bran – he’s been warned not to stay in his warg state overly long for a reason – but then I had to remember (a) he’s still a kid (b) GoT is a story (albeit with borrowings transposed from history) at the end of the day.

    • Reply May 24, 2016

      Jun

      I agree with Watcher regarding Elizabethan politics. Didn’t Marlowe go to jail and got killed for being a political dissenter? Shakespeare was a successful businessman and he knew which side his bread is buttered. Besides, he was not a historian. He was first and foremost an entertainer and had to sell tickets. Whatever sells! Unfortunately his plays are far more popular than history. Also, while I can totally believe that Richard III was in fact a heroic and honorable man, I am not sure he would have been remembered so long and widely if he had been remembered as one of the heroic and honorable kings in history. Instead, we remember him as this delicious and irresistible villain. As a Shakespeare fan, I love myself a villain like him far, far more than an upstanding good guy. Give me Richard III any day rather than Romeo or … uh, I can’t even think of another upstanding good guy in Shakespeare’s plays. They are all so flawed.

  • Reply May 24, 2016

    Jun

    The play witnessed by Arya in this episode is directly taken from a chapter GRRM has put out on his Web site called “Mercy” with very minor changes. In the chapter, Arya is sent to work in the theater troupe, I guess as training to imitate all walks of life. Remember? Varys also had training as an actor, which has helped him tremendously as a spy.

    The play put on by the very Globe-like troupe is indeed a retelling of AGOT history. Here GRRM’s nod to the Bard is very, very apparent. The play-within-a-play device, which we call “meta”, is taken straight from Hamlet. Here of course GRRM is also making a comment on how history is written.

    This scene is the closest GRRM has gotten to admit that “Yes! I love Shakespeare! And I steal from him!” But then we already know that, don’t we? 🙂

  • Reply May 24, 2016

    Jun

    BTW, I’m not a poetry person so I’m not sure. The lines in the show seem to be simple couplets. Shakespeare plays I think use iambic pentameter? I have not read the sonnets.

  • Reply May 25, 2016

    Argie

    I fear Sansa WILL be the fool yet again. If there’s one thing we know about Littlefinger, it’s that he cannot be trusted. He purposefully dropped that Blackfish bomb knowing full well that Sansa will only trust her family members at this point. He also knows she needs an army to defeat Ramsay. While she IS learning from him, she’s not in his league yet. And while I’m thrilled that she is coming into her own, I fear she has some hard lessons to learn still. The fact that she fell victim to Littlefinger’s snarky comment of “half-brother” by leaving her unwilling to trust Jon completely and reveal her source shows us this. Furthermore, they left the wall immediately after this exchange and she is going to be separated from Brienne, which spark of foreboding. Thankfully, Brienne is loyal to a fault and absolutely untrusting of Littlefinger, so she may save the day again.

    As for Bran, there are a lot of questions to whether Hodor’s fate was sealed back in the day by the gods or what-have-you or if Bran’s greensight Abilities (perhaps he has more power than he realizes) changed the past in preparation for that day. As per the Raven, in this visions, they are simply watching scenes in the past without being able to influence events; if this is not the case and Bran can change the past, the whole ball game is about to change.

    • Reply May 30, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      >>As per the Raven, in this visions, they are simply watching scenes in the past without being able to influence events; if this is not the case and Bran can change the past, the whole ball game is about to change.
      Oh wow. I hadn’t thought of that before. And, this is *quite* possible IMO. I mean, the Night King *saw* Bran. Young Ned *heard* Bran. If he can interact with the visions, why can’t he change them?

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