"Game of Thrones" (Episode 6x05) Debrief: We Have to Go Back, Bran!
Valar Morghulis, dear readers, and boy do those words ring true throughout this week’s emotional episode. Unlike our previous full episode recaps, we will only focus on Bran’s storyline of this episode, because, as you would know by now, there is much to unpack!
!SPOILERS FOR SEASON 6 EPISODE 5 of GAME of THRONES BEYOND THIS POINT!
HOWIE: I knew something fishy was going on when I saw Jack Bender credited as director of this episode. It’s very fitting that the first Game of Thrones episode he directs involves an emotionally-gripping time-travelly twist. Having directed most of the LOST episodes, Bender is certainly no stranger to the emotional mind-bender (see what I did there?). “The Constant” one of Lost’s most critically-acclaimed episode (and my personal favourite) - directed by Bender - involves Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), whose consciousness is randomly jumping back and forth from his present 2004 self, to his past 1996 self, before he got on the island. In order to save his brain from “overloading” from the time jumps, he needs to contact his "Constant” - a person he knows from the past to connect him back to the present. So as he slips back into the past, he tries to convince the woman he loves, Penny (Sonya Walger), to call him 8 years in the future. What results is the one of most emotionally-satisfying ending to a storyline that introduces a game-changing twist in the show: Time Travel.
HOWIE: #HoldTheDoor shouldn’t have worked as well as it did, but just like that episode of Lost, Game of Thrones succeeds at bringing a complicated sci fi premise into the forefront by tying it to the emotional drama of it's characters. What do you think of this episode, Angie?
ANGIE: It was less of what I thought and more of what I did… which was primarily violent sobbing. Mastermind Martin had this in store for over 20 years when he first gave Wylis his strange nickname! Maybe the emotionality of this episode was aided by the distinct lack of Ramsay? I can’t help but feel there’s a huge reveal that’s slipping under the radar thanks to the heart tearing final scene; and that is the newfound knowledge that the Children of the Forest are the creators of the White Walkers. Thank god they have a last ditch exit strategy in the form of Obsidian in case the unwilling army they created somehow decided to revolt against them! Does Bran’s branding (did you name him that on purpose George?) by the Night's King mean that if he goes south of the wall the Walkers can follow? So many questions and we’re only halfway through the season!
HOWIE: Ramsay’s absence definitely helped. Let’s start with the reveal that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to defend against the First Men. People have been saying that it’s a metaphor for global warming, but I see it more analogous of Weapons of Mass Destruction, a kind of cautionary tale about nuclear warfare and how it would ultimately backfire. I have a sneaking suspicion that the reveal was more impactful with book readers, because the show has not been doing a great job at building up the Children of The Forest, and at communicating to us just what exactly their deal is, and why is it significant that they made the White Walkers in the first place. Were they at war with the First Men? Also, ever notice how the Obsidian weapons are always a one-use type deal? No one ever bothers to pick it back up once they use them.
ANGIE: I think it works for a metaphor for both, but to me the war between the Children of the Forest and the First Men is analogous with white colonisation. But now there’s an added complexity, the White Walkers were created for a specific purpose, without their consent. It’s certainly making me feel things… As for effective weaponry, don’t forget about Valyrian steel and dragon fire! Keep in mind that Jon is in possession of Longclaw, a sword that was in the Mormont family for years (making me think that our doomed friend Jorah maybe isn’t so doomed after all, perhaps he’ll end up at the wall to do a sword swap with Jon and get a bit of Red Woman magic while he’s at it). Since we’ve ventured that way, how about we talk about Essos, I’m interested to see how Arya’s mission plays out - especially thanks to Esse Davis’ interesting role! Isn’t it great to see Aussies featured in GoT?
HOWIE: LOVED Esse Davis as fake Cersei. I give that play 5 stars for being entertaining but 1 star for accuracy. It’s interesting that you mention that The White Walkers were created for a purpose without their consent, as that is exactly what happened to Hodor. The show has been great about showing us the toll being “warged” into by Bran takes on Hodor. He is essentially stripped of any agency from Day 1 of being Hodor, and his whole purpose is just leading to this one thing. Very interesting parallels there. Like we mentioned in our previous articles, the power of prophecy has always been a prominent theme on Game of Thrones, and Hold The Door is an acute physical manifestation of that theme.
ANGIE: The creation of Hodor is a paradox that only adds to the tragedy, but unlike the White Walkers, Hodor was aware of his fate from a young age and yet still fulfils it (if it’s truly Wylis in control at the end rather than Bran). His memory of future events might even explain his fear of violence, as he went through life he would have suffered with each new door - it’s truly a character journey that gets sadder/more fucked up the closer you look. The play may not have been accurate but I do love the insight into what the average Joe would make of the Kings Landing storyline. Oh and allow me to blow your mind, Arya played HERSELF in that play!
HOWIE: Holy shit, you’re right. My mind IS blown. Great pick up there Maester Angie. I think from what we’ve seen so far, and by how she reacts to the play, it’s highly unlikely that Arya will ultimately give up her identity as a Stark and become No One. And honestly, I’d much rather that she doesn't.
ANGIE: Can we talk about Bran’s influence on the past for a second? The Mad King Aery’s heard voices, is it such a stretch to think that it may be a consequence of Bran? Also, the Stark children are referenced to hearing things on the wind at crucial points, for example, when Jon turns back to the dead mama Direwolf to find Ghost, is it because he sensed a presence or because Bran told him to? Regardless, it doesn’t excuse Bran of being the living embodiment ‘curiosity killed the cat’. And it certainly doesn’t excuse the showrunners of killing so many direwolves!! Although I do understand the powerful symbolism of “Summer is dead.” All I can say is that we better not see a Wight version of Summer or dear old Hodor. I need to see Nymeria running wild as the head of a wolfpack this season to ease my aching heart.
HOWIE: RIP Summer. He died for nothing. I hope we don’t ever see Nymeria on screen, so that at least I can imagine her having a wonderful life as a wolfpack leader somewhere in the wild woods of Westeros. At this point, if we see a Direwolf on screen this season, it will probably be the last time. Ghost is most definitely going to die next. RE: Bran, people have been giving him a hard time, giving him shade for “ruining everything”, but you know what? He’s just a kid with a shitty mentor. Like WTF Three Eyed Raven, would it KILL you to be less cryptic with your teachings? How about a “hey bro don’t tap into the magic realm by yourself without my supervision or else White Walkers will straight up fuck us up” heads up?. I blame Mr Tree Guy over there for Bran’s present and future mistakes. This leads us to the closer for this debrief: SPECULATION CORNER. Interesting point about the Mad King and Bran. If I remember correctly, his last words were “Burn them all”, right before cool guy Kingslayer Jaime backstabbed him, and we assumed that it was referring to everyone in Kings Landing, but perhaps he was referring to White Walkers? A botched Bran meddling-with-the-past attempt perhaps?
ANGIE: It is known to be his last words and yes, I was thinking the exact same thing. Maybe we’ll see it unfold in the next episode? The only hope Meera and Bran have is miraculously bumping into someone powerful and on their side, maybe long, lost Uncle Benjen? Maybe Meera’s pa Howland Reed? Maybe an as of yet unseen but very, very cool character? I just hope Brienne’s trip to the Riverlands goes off without a pebble or stone in her path… all I’m sure of is that Tormund would never leave her hanging. Sorry Howie, I know you hate it when I’m so self-righteously arcane, I’m imagining you doing this right now:
HOWIE: I JUST CAN’T STAND IT. But I also have a crackpot, non-book informed theory: Three Eyed Raven kept talking about how Bran will “become me”, maybe the Three Eyed Raven is OLD BRAN?? That would truly mean that everything is his fault. Try to debunk it. You can’t, can you? But seriously, if we are going to posit that the whispers that the Mad King heard were Bran, then it maybe isn’t a stretch to also posit that maybe what the red priests (and Varys) heard in the flames could also be Bran? Bran = Lord of Light?
HOWIE: I think that's a perfect way to end this discussion. Breaking the (Fourth) Wall again to thank the readers for reading through our drivel as we make sense of this episode! What do you do you think Bran's new powers mean for the future of the show? What are your crackpot conspiracy theories? Let us know in the comments below!
Here's the preview for the next episode (things still not looking good for Bran):