This 'Game of Thrones' discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin's books, but will generally only discuss events that have happened on HBO's televised version -- not that it matters much now that the show is going its own way. Still, please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.
Episode 6.05, "The Door"
FINAL SCORE: Violence 7, Sex 5
(Scoring is typically 1 point per on-screen death or nude character, but the reviewer reserves the right to award bonus points or adjust the score as necessary.)
Totals: One White Walker shattered with dragonglass, and one direwolf torn to bits by wights, who also killed several Children of the Forest. I don't know how many exactly. Like, five of them? Six? That last scene was so dark I could barely see anything. If I didn't spend half my night rocking a newborn baby to sleep I'd go back, turn up the brightness, and carefully count the deaths shot by shot, but I'm not putting in that kind of effort for the assholes who made the White Walkers in the first place. Screw them. We'll call it five.
Notes: Non-deadly violence included a badass girlfight with staffs; a near-drowning; and a magical stab in the chest that created the first White Walker. That's the thing with invasive species, man. You've got a Human problem, so you bring in some White Walkers, then all of a sudden you have a White Walker problem, so you bring in dragons. Now you've got a dragon problem. Sweet!
Totals: One set of breasts featured prominently in several shots across two scenes; one spectacular close-up of an uncircumcised penis and accompanying scrotum.
Notes: Because the young actress's breasts were shown in two different scenes, I awarded Sex one point for each scene. I also scored two points for the close-up on the dick, because that is true dedication to earning your TV-MA rating.
Finally, I'm awarding a bonus point for staging a play featuring an actress whose main purpose was showing her boobs, then having another character criticize the actress's performance. That's either supreme irony or a pointed barb at the recap community; either way, it has my utmost respect.
Hold The Door, I Don't Want Them to See My Tears
Six seasons, man. The word "Hodor" was a punchline for six full seasons -- the character spoke his first "Hodor" in the series' fourth episode -- and his aphasia was so charming that it was the only thing we missed from Bran's absence in Season 5. Hodor provided fatalistic levity to one of the darker story lines in a dark show. So you've been paralyzed? Hodor. Father decapitated? Hodor. Mother's throat slit? Hodor. On the run from your family's enemies and into a winterscape patrolled by an army of the dead? HODOR, my man. So much Hodor. As Winston Churchill once said, "KEEP CALM AND HODOR ON."
That's what six years of monoverbal communication does: because Hodor used "Hodor" to mean everything, it ultimately meant nothing. That is, until the moment we saw the young Hodor (er, Wylis) collapse into a seizure caused by a time-traveling warg who needed the future Wylis to hold the door against a furious barrage of reanimated corpses. Possessed by another being, perhaps witnessing his own horrific death, repeating a mantra to save his paralyzed master ... Hodor. Hold the door.
God dammit, "Game of Thrones." That is one long-ass con to twist my heart, and I'd absolutely hate it if I didn't respect the hell out of the execution.
If you're not inclined to be won over by the episode's heart-rending climax, this could be a possible list of grievances with the events north of The Wall:
- What was Bran's motivation for going into the Root Matrix alone? (Like, besides him being a dumb teenager.)
- Bran has access to all of Westerosi history, and he transports directly into the Night's King's lap?
- Even if you're invisible, what human sees an army of the dead and says, "I should probably walk through the ranks, y'know, get a better look"?
- The Night's King touched Bran in a VR history book, so now the magic that protects the heart tree from wights and White Walkers doesn't work any more? Okay.
- With the heart tree under attack, why was the Three-Eyed Raven showing Bran a lame-ass scene from Winterfell? It was like the climax of The Matrix, except instead of battling an army of Agent Smiths, Neo was watching infomercials.
- Exactly how far is Meera supposed to get dragging Bran on the sledge before they're overtaken by the army of the dead?
- Oh, a time-traveler's influence was part of history all along? Cool idea, did you get it from Back to the Future or The Terminator?
Of course, all of these complaints exist in a world with dragons and magic and ice zombies, so where exactly are we drawing the line for plausibility? That's the double-edged sword an author faces in creating a fantasy world: the more engrossing it is, the surer an audience will be in their belief of what's feasible. And when something's as richly imagined as the world of "Game of Thrones," the show can fall flat when it plays fast and loose with character motivations. (Oh hey, Dorne story line! Didn't see you come in.)
A Girl Can Get Her Ass Kicked. Again.
As a columnist who just awarded points for naked breasts, I'm hardly the voice to champion the feminism of "Game of Thrones." But consider Arya's fight scene in the House of Black and White: in any other popular series -- particularly in the realms of sci-fi and fantasy -- a fight between two teenage girls (or any two women, for that matter) would be at least mildly sexualized. This is a genre that practically invented the armored bustier, after all.
But this scene stands as a stark counter: two young women in burlap sacks, barely lit, letting the violence do the talking. It gets by on stellar fight choreography and solid characterization, and the notion of either girl baring cleavage or showing more leg is laughable. Maybe that seems obvious, or too low of a bar to applaud for clearing. But it's a bar that doesn't get cleared with regularity in any other media -- video games, comic book movies, even female-targeted movies like the Divergent series.
"Game of Thrones" has earned plenty of criticism, often deserved, for tit-fueled sexposition and its portrayal of sexual violence. I don't know if the absence of exploitation counts as progress, but it's only fair to credit the show when it rises above the status quo.
(I am sorry for talking about feminism. Please do not @ me.)
"Go Find a Cure"
DANY: I've banished you twice now, and twice you've come back, and I'm not thankful even though you've repeatedly saved my life. So I'm gonna continue to be an unforgiving hardass for no reason, but, like, at least you're no longer officially banished.
JORAH: Gotta go. Deadly disease.
DANY: Oh shit! Sorry sorry sorry. Now I'm gonna act like I care about you for the first time in several seasons.
JORAH: Anyway, love you, gonna go die alone. Bye.
DANY: Wait! Stop! I, uh, COMMAND you to find a cure that may not exist. Go search the world for it.
JORAH: So ... the effect is the same? I'm still leaving?
DANY: Well, yes.
JORAH: You're not, like, gonna do anything to help me find the cure?
DANY: You know, I would, but I'm just super-busy with leading the Dothraki and getting back to Meereen. Plus I still have to find my other dragon ...
DANY: But I totally can't rule Westeros without you! So come on back when you're cured. Now get going!
DANY: Miss you already!
Don't Everybody Help at Once
I don't mean to brag, but my first job was as a lifeguard. I've taken a lot of CPR classes, and, uh, I don't recall the part of resuscitation that's just "Stand around and wait for the person with water in his lungs to wake up." Although it would have made my job considerably easier.
Okay, yes: I recognize that rescue breathing may not have been developed in the Middle Ages-like society of Westeros, but if it hadn't, how is there a religious rite of passage that requires drowning your new king? Seems like a good way to end up with a lot of dead prospective kings:
"Throw this body in the pile. Okay, who's next up in the kingsmoot? Hello? Anyone? Who wants to be king? C'mon, if you survive the drowning, you get a crown made of our roundest driftwood."
And while we're on the subject of Euron Greyjoy, homeboy looks like Pacey went on the Russell Crowe diet.
(We also would have accepted Fat Jedi Ewan McGregor.)
Proposed Titles for a Rom-Com Starring Tormund and Brienne
How to Bruise a Guy in 10 Days
You've Got Chain Mail
Love at First Fight
While You Were Reaving
A Change of Tarth
Sleepless in the Battle
Big Love, Actually
The Red Wedding Planner
When Hairy Met Tally
Four Weddings and Thousands of Funerals
(GIF via Uproxx)
And You, Madam, are no Melisandre
Listen, lady. Melisandre has five-plus seasons of sliding out of her clothes, drinking poison, taking baths, burning people alive, using a man's seed to birth shadow assassins, and RAISING JON SNOW FROM THE GODDAM DEAD. So if you think you can just waltz in here with your cleavage and weird confidence and magic necklace that hides your gross old body and think you're gonna be the new Red Woman, you got another thing coming.
Ditch the clothes, kill some people, then we'll talk.
Don't Blame Me, I Grunted For Yara
That kingsmoot was very 2016 general election— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) May 23, 2016
@fmanjoo almost hilariously so. the super qualified female dynastic candidate vs the crude, braggadocious successful traveling pirate!— Billy Silverman (@billmatic) May 23, 2016
Ned Starks, Ranked
1. Handsome Young Ned
2. Season 1 Ned
3. Developmentally Disabled Theater Ned
tfw the theater is unkind to your tragic family history and also your hair is wack
Move them buns back, girl.
Direwolf Roll Call
1. Grey Wind (Robb) -- shot full of crossbow bolts at the Red Wedding
2. Lady (Sansa) -- executed by Ned (at Cersei's insistence) after Nymeria defended Arya from Joffrey
3. Nymeria (Arya) -- chased away by Arya in Season 1
4. Summer (Bran) -- torn apart by an army of the dead, THANKS A LOT BRAN
5. Shaggydog (Rickon) -- decapitated (or so we're meant to believe) when Rickon was captured by the Umbers
6. Ghost (Jon Snow) -- YAY, ONE OF THE SUPERDOGS IS STILL ALIVE
- Genital warts: 2
- Theatrical death farts: 3
- Slaps of Fictitious Joffrey: 2
- Trees that express my online brand: 1
DNP, Coach's Decision
Everyone in King's Landing. Everyone in (present-day) Winterfell. Everyone in Dorne, who died on the way back to their home planet. Sam and Gilly. Bronn. #GiveBronnAStoryLine