‘Game of Thrones’ 6.05 Recap: “Hold the Door!”

‘Game of Thrones’ rides the proverbial rollercoaster of emotion this week. The majority of the episode is frustratingly dull and the big action climax is a retread of my least favorite scene from the entire series. But then, amazingly, the final scene is the most heartbreaking moment the show has ever had.

Castle Black

Sansa receives a letter with a familiar seal that immediately raises her ire. With Brienne as bodyguard, she slips away from Castle Black and secretly meets Littlefinger at the ramshackle village of Mole’s Town. Baelish professes to be relieved that she escaped from Ramsay Bolton unharmed, but Sansa is hardly pleased to see him. She asks if he knew what kind of monster Ramsay was when he sold her to him, and doesn’t believe him when he denies it. She makes him guess what kind of horrible things Ramsay did to her and won’t let him off the hook when he says he can’t begin to imagine.

Baelish claims that he has come to her aid with the Knights of the Vale. Sansa doesn’t want his help or his army and essentially tells him to fuck off and die. Before they part, however, Baelish offers her a valuable piece of information: Sansa’s great-uncle, the renowned fighter Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully, has successfully fought off the Freys and retaken the land of Riverrun. Baelish suggests that, even if she doesn’t want his own help, the Tully army could be a valuable ally.

Later, Sansa returns to Castle Black and joins Jon Snow in plotting a campaign to overthrow the Boltons from Winterfell. Unfortunately, they are still far short of the number of men they’ll need. Sansa tells him about the Tully army, but lies when Snow asks how she heard about this. Rather than admit that she met with Littlefinger, she claims that she overheard Ramsay talking about it before she escaped.

Sansa orders Brienne to travel to Riverrun and secure an alliance with the Tully army. Brienne is nervous about leaving her, but agrees.


Now sighted again, Arya continues to train in stick-fighting with The Waif. She isn’t very good at it yet and gets her ass whooped. The Waif is kind of a bitch and tells her that she’ll never be one of them.

Jaqen tells Arya about the history of the Faceless Men, who were originally Valyrian slaves before rising up and forming the city of Braavos. Jaqen then gives her a vial of poison with instructions that she is to use it to assassinate an actress named Lady Crane. This will be Arya’s second chance to redeem and prove herself.

Arya scopes out her target by posing as a commoner and attending the actress’ new play, a broad farce about King Robert, Cersei and Joffrey. Arya greatly enjoys this part, but is less amused when a character representing her own father is portrayed as a total buffoon. Sneaking backstage between acts, Arya witnesses the actress drinking from a jug of rum that will make a convenient delivery method for the poison.

Arya returns to the House of Black and White to report on her reconnaissance. She tells Jaqen that the actress seems like a decent lady and asks too many questions about who paid for the hit. Jaqen tells her not to concern herself about it: “Does death only come for the wicked and leave the decent behind?” Arya speculates that the younger actress playing Sansa in the play is probably responsible.

The Iron Islands

At an election ceremony called the kingsmoot, Yara Greyjoy steps forward to make her claim for the throne. Many of the sexists in attendance scoff at the notion of a woman leading them. (Hmmm, could this be a teensy metaphor for real-world politics, I wonder… ?) One points out that Balon Greyjoy still has a living male heir – his son Theon. After a moment of hesitation in which his motives are not clear, Theon supports his sister, reminding everyone that she’s a badass military commander. He says that she’s their true queen.

Just as it looks like Yara has the election wrapped up, her uncle Euron Greyjoy reveals himself and announces his own bid for the throne. He ridicules Theon as a cowardly, incompetent eunuch and freely admits to murdering King Balon. (In fact, he apologizes for not doing it years earlier.) As a campaign platform, he pledges to sail across the Narrow Sea, where he will marry Daenerys Stormborn and merge the Ironborn navy with her army, forming the greatest military power in the world. The warhawks and misogynists in the crowd like the sound of this. Needless to say, Daenerys herself is completely unaware of his existence, much less his plans for her.

Recognizing their defeat, Yara and Theon flee the Iron Islands with their loyal naval commanders, stealing a big portion of the navy’s fleet. While they do this, Euron is crowned in a bizarre ceremony that requires him to be drowned in the sea first. If he survives, he’s king. Although it looks for a moment like he may not, he eventually coughs the water out of his lungs and recovers. For his first decree, he gleefully declares that he’s going to murder his niece and nephew. When he realizes what they’ve done, he orders a thousand new ships to be built immediately.

Vaes Dothrak

While she’s trying to decide whether to welcome him back as an advisor or banish him again, Jorah reveals his greyscale infection to Daenerys. She asks if there’s a cure, but he doesn’t know. Jorah professes his love for the queen but says that he must leave her. He plans to kill himself before the disease progresses too far. As he turns to leave, she gives him one last command. She orders him to search the world and find a cure for his disease, then return to her when he’s cured.


Following Tyrion’s treaty with the slave masters, attacks by the Sons of the Harpy have noticeably quieted. Tyrion declares this a “fragile peace.” In order to prolong it, he suggests that they need a hero for the people of Meereen to rally around.

Tyrion and Varys meet with Kinvara, the High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis, hoping to convince her to spread the word of Queen Daenerys’ greatness across the kingdoms. To Tyrion’s relief, she is very open to this. She believes that Daenerys is the fabled Prince That Was Promised. However, she also believes that the queen’s dragons will purify all the non-believers in the land. Tyrion isn’t so keen on that part, but he tries to brush it aside.

Varys is much less impressed with Kinvara or her religion. He reminds her that another Red Priestess (Melisandre) believed that Stannis Baratheon was the Prince That Was Promised, and that didn’t work out for her too well. Kinvara then demonstrates some of her power by recounting details about the night of Varys’ castration that only he could know, including a voice that he heard talking to him from the torch flames. Uncharacteristically for him, Varys is visibly shaken by her words.

The North

Bran continues exploring visions of the past with the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow). In their latest, they return back to ancient times to witness the Children of the Forest holding a ceremony in a Stonehenge-like structure. The girl named Leaf briefly glances at the Raven, once again suggesting that these visions don’t just show the past, but actually interact with it. The Children have a human man captive. Leaf plunges a dagger made of Dragonglass into his chest. Rather than die, the victim’s eyes turn icy blue.

Bran awakens and accuses Leaf of creating the first White Walker. She admits that this is true. She says that the Children were at war with the First Men (the first humans in Westeros) and were desperate for a weapon to protect their sacred tree. The existence of the White Walkers is her fault.

Bran returns to see more of this vision on his own later, when the Raven is sleeping. This time, he sees the sacred tree surrounded by a huge army of the undead, all frozen in place. The scene is eerily quiet. Bran walks right through the zombies and skeletons until he finds their leader, the Night King. As he gets close, the Night King turns to look right at him, and then the entire army turns as well. Bran is startled and reacts too slowly when the Night King reaches out and grabs his arm.

Bran jolts awake again and tells the Raven what happened. The Raven is disconcerted when he hears that the Night King touched Bran. He says that the White Walkers will come for them soon and will be able to enter the tree now. He tells Bran that it’s time for him to leave, and that he will have to become the new Raven whether he’s ready or not.

Their retreat is delayed, however, when the Raven and Bran stop for one more vision to watch young Ned Stark in Winterfell again. Why this is suddenly so important is not clear to me. Bran’s friend Meera stands by waiting for him to wake up when she suddenly senses something wrong and runs to the entrance to the tree. There she sees the massive White Walker army outside. She runs back to get Bran while the Children attempt unsuccessfully to defend the entrance.

The army swarms over the tree and overwhelms the Children’s defenses. Much like the groan-inducing Season 4 finale, we get another cheesy scene of little girls flinging magical fireballs at a never-ending horde of CGI walking skeletons. This sort of thing is my least favorite part of the show.

Meera tries to jostle Bran awake, but he remains stuck in the dream watching his family and the stable boy Wylis, who will grow up to become Hodor. Meanwhile, the adult Hodor cowers next to him, sitting and rocking and ever-repeating the only word he knows: “Hodor, Hodor, Hodor…”

Meera screams and screams and screams for Bran, begging him to warg and take control of Hodor to defend them. Finally, Bran hears a faint echo of her voice. Although a piece of him remains in the vision, another part takes over Hodor. The lumbering oaf grabs Brans’ sled and hauls him toward a secret back exit.

The White Walkers push further and further into the tree until the Night King finds the Raven tangled in its roots and kills him. Bran’s direwolf Summer also dies in the battle. (Are there any wolves left after this?) A group of skeletons charge down the hallway after Bran and Meera. Leaf holds them off for a moment by pulling a Lt. Gorman and blowing herself up with a magical hand grenade.

Hodor and Meera race out the exit with Bran’s still-unconscious body in tow. Hodor tries to slam the door shut, but the skeletons are right on it, pushing their way out. Hodor stays behind as Meera picks up the sled and runs away with bran, shouting “Hold the door!” Skeleton hands reach through and claw at his face.

In his vision of Winterfell, Bran sees young Wylis suddenly collapse to the ground, suffering a terrible seizure. His body shudders uncontrollably as he repeats the phrase, “Hold the door! Hold the door! Hold the door!” The more he says them, the words become an unintelligible, “Hoe doe door! Hoe doe door! Hoe doe door!” and then, eventually, “Hodor… Hodor… Hodor…” Bran can do nothing but watch, devastated by the realization that he is responsible for what happened to his friend.

Episode Verdict

This is a very uneven episode. The final Hodor scene is so powerful that it certainly leaves a strong positive impression at the end, and Daenerys’ latest goodbye to Jorah is also pretty touching, but the majority of the episode is a bit of a slog to get to those parts. As much as I’ve said in the past that I enjoy the political maneuvering on the show, much of the plotting in this episode felt stagnant to me. The biggest developments come in the Theon and Yara storyline, but those just aren’t characters I feel particularly invested in.

I take it that we’re supposed to assume that the White Walkers kill Hodor at the end, but we never actually see him get an on-screen death. Will he be resurrected as an undead wight? Or will the fact that Bran was warged into him at the time prevent that?

A better question: Did the White Walkers only come at the tree from one direction? Didn’t they surround it? How were there none at all waiting at the back door? Even assuming that’s the case, how far can Meera possibly get dragging Bran before they catch up with her? That doesn’t seem like much of an escape plan.


  1. Timcharger

    And the winner of this week’s guess the recap’s
    title quote contest is…

    …forfeit/everyone/no one? The answer is so obvious that
    it isn’t much of a contest. It’s like a Division 3 team playing
    the top ranked Division 1 team. But then again, predicting
    Josh is no easy task. Yeah, stand a little taller, you did it,
    you predicted it. Bravo!

  2. Scott

    I believe Arya’s Direwolf is still roaming the countryside, wrecking havoc for the enemies of the Starks (which, apparently is a parallel to Ayra’s journey … alone and an assassin).

    When Nymeria attacked Joffrey in season 1, she ordered to leave. Unless I’m mistaken, we’ve not seen her since.

    • Timcharger

      That’s in the book; in the show we don’t know
      what happened to Nymeria.

      Ghost is still alive. And there’s theories that
      Shaggydog’s severed head looked a little small,
      perhaps it’s an imposter. And Summer’s “death,”
      we really didn’t see. We heard her moan, but
      maybe she made it? Or maybe the White Walker
      Night King, instead of mounting a wight-horse,
      will now ride a wight-direwolf. Winter rides on

    • Timcharger

      The responses were to this:
      The North
      Josh: “Bran’s direwolf Summer also dies in the battle. (Are there any wolves left after this?)”

      Now when I walk by a pet owner walking his/her
      Siberian Husky. I always greet the dog, Hi Ghost.

    • David Voss

      Nymeria may be the large wolf that’s rumored to be near the Riverlands. She has not been seen since Arya sent her away in season 1.

      That would leave us 2 direwolves, which must be expensive to CGI. 🙂

  3. Timcharger

    The Iron(y) Islands

    Josh: “(Hmmm, could this be a teensy metaphor for real-world politics, I wonder… ?)”

    And we had a candidate during the debate brazenly
    boast about his pecker size. Euron Greyjoy guarantees
    that he has no problems down there.

    Damn it; it’s gonna happen. Euron is going make us
    build a thousand mile wall, I meant, a thousand ships.
    And the best part, Daenerys Targaryen is going to pay
    for them, Euron says.

  4. David Voss

    This was Jack Bender’s (of LOST) directorial debut on Game of Thrones. With the time travel seemingly an element of the show now, I can see why they brought him on.

    The death of Hodor was a pretty big reveal, but not as big (IMO) as that the Children of the Forest originally created the White Walkers. Neither of these happened in the books, but we are past that point in the story anyways.

    I thought I caught the GOT theme song being played at the end of the play that Arya witnessed. Did anyone else catch that? I’ll have to re-watch it to make sure.

    • Timcharger

      “not as big (IMO) as that the Children of the Forest originally created the White Walkers.”

      Josh: “The Children have a human man captive. Leaf plunges a dagger made of Dragonglass into his chest. Rather than die, the victim’s eyes turn icy blue.”

      That same theme of Cersei arming the Faith Militant
      and that backfiring. Children of the Forest creating
      the White Walkers and also caused their own
      extinction? Is the entire species of Forest Children
      all gone now?

      We have Hodor, Summer, AND a whole species?
      Damn! GoT keeps raising the stakes.


      About the dragonglass…
      Here’s the instructions manual:
      A. Plunge once, you become the immortal undead.
      B. Plunge twice, you burst into crystal shards.

      • Timcharger

        Or maybe?

        Children of the Forest plunges dragonglass,
        you become the immortal undead. But if a
        man is holding the dragonglass during the
        plunge, then you die.

          • I just rewatched the scene on my phone (I wish I had a super AMOLED TV) and no white walker was killed by a child of the forest. One attempted to kill a white walker, but her dragonglass spear was deflected by the walker’s armor and the child was killed by him. Meera then aimed her spear at his unprotected neck, killing the white walker.

            One of the things I’ve noticed is that the white walkers started wearing armor after Samwell killed one a few seasons back. After 8,000 years they must have forgotten that there are things in the world that can kill them and they adjusted accordingly. 🙂

  5. Timcharger

    The Iron(y) Islands

    Okay so it’s not a primary election. It’s a caucus.
    So Iowa and the Iron(y) Islands also share that
    similarity. But Iowa does sow.

    I see that Hawaii, American Samoa, and the U.S.
    Virgin Islands use the caucus system. I guess it’s
    an island thing.

    And that inauguration process. Wow! We make
    our President walk in the freezing weather in
    that parade to the White House. But we can’t
    hold a candle to the Ironborn.

    It was wise that Yara and Theon ran during the
    inauguration ceremony, but just as likely, the
    Kingsmoot might have needed to do a
    supplemental caucus. The initial winner may
    have died during the inauguration. And they
    may have called Yara back for a do-over.

    • Timcharger

      So for the record, the 2 most
      democratic places in Westeros are the
      Iron(y) Islands and Castle Black.

      I don’t know if living in democracies is
      such a good thing in Westeros.

  6. Timcharger

    Josh: “Now sighted again, Arya continues to train in stick-fighting with The Waif. She isn’t very good at it yet and gets her ass whooped.”

    Huh? What happened? Arya was better when
    she was blind? Last we saw, when Arya was still
    blind, she kicked the Waif’s ass.

    • Timcharger

      Another good 2nd place quote:
      “Does death only come for the wicked and leave the decent behind?”

      So the Faceless Men are just the IMF assassins
      of their world. Pls, pls, pls play the Mission
      Impossible theme song when another mask is
      pulled off by Jaqen H’ghar. Do that pls, GoT.

      So they aren’t a religion at all. Just “paid”
      mercenaries? The Many-Face God that they
      worship is like the Great Costume/Makeup
      Artist in the Sky. The saints of the House of
      Black and White must be all the previous
      Oscar winners of the Best Makeup and
      Hairstyling category.

      I now just want Arya to burn the House of
      Black and White down to the ground. Kill
      this subplot, Arya. The Faceless all deserve
      to die.


      And they created Braavos? Isn’t Braavos a
      great trade, merchant and banking city?

      And the root of their beliefs is just paid
      assassinations? I guess GoT is telling us the
      moral that bankers and assassins are one
      and the same.

  7. Timcharger

    Castle Black

    Josh, you forgot the recap of the best scene
    in the episode. Maybe the best scene this
    season (or even the entire series).

    via GIPHY

  8. Timcharger

    Castle Black
    Josh: “Sansa orders Brienne to travel to Riverrun and secure an alliance with the Tully army. Brienne is nervous about leaving her, but agrees.”

    Since we see them, Sansa & Brienne, ride out together,
    it seems to me that Brienne didn’t agree to Sansa’s
    instructions to ride out to the Blackfish without her.
    Brienne got Sansa to not stay behind at Castle Black.

    It actually looks like they are all riding out together.
    Sansa, Brienne, Jon, Podrick, Davos, Melisandre,
    Tormund, et al. Are they all going to see the Blackfish?
    Or split up later down the road?

  9. Timcharger

    Mole’s Town & Meereen

    I think it is worth noting that both of the two
    most calculating characters of the show were
    unnerved in this episode. And both were
    challenged and taken aback by women.

    Littlefinger by Sansa and Varys by Kinvara.

  10. Timcharger

    Vaes Dothrak
    Josh: “Jorah professes his love for the queen but says that he must leave her.”

    Jorah’s storyline has a completed arc.
    Romance movies would have culminated
    at this scene. Now I’m 50/50 split on
    whether Jorah would commit suicide and
    find a cliff to jump off from, or go to a
    brothel to find a Dany-look-alike.

    As for finding a cure to live to one day
    stand by Dany’s side when she conquers
    Westeros, yeah no. That’s not the GoT way.

  11. Timcharger

    Josh: “Tyrion and Varys meet with Kinvara, the High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis…”

    I very much dig Kinvara, a Rachel-Weisz-like beauty.
    But what happened to GoT’s yellow fever? I
    thought the Red Priestess from Volantis was Rila

    I guess Melisandre can appeal to whatever age we
    want our priestesses to be. And Kinvara can
    transform to whatever ethnicity we desire?

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