May 23, 2016
Ever since Season 1 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Hodor (Kristian Nairn) has served as the hulking, brain-damaged servant of House Stark. Over and over, he repeats what people believe is his name, uttering nothing else.
In Episode 55 (“The Door”), viewers finally learn what Hodor has tried to communicate for the last five years. His real name is Wyllis, by the way. And he’s saying “Hodor,” a contraction of “Hold the door!”
That’s just what Wyllis does, using his beastly strength to hold a door shut as crippled Brandon Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and companion Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) escape from the Cave of the Three-Eyed Raven.
This is Wyllis’ final sacrifice. For he’s viciously set upon by “wights,” the corpses reanimated by the lethal White Walkers. Wyllis holds the door shut just long enough for Bran and Meera to disappear into the snow.
Earlier in the episode, Bran uses his magical “warg” abilities to travel far back in time and see how the White Walkers were created.
Bran watches Leaf (Kae Alexander), one of the fairy-like Children of the Forest, plunge a knife into a man’s chest. Suddenly the victim’s eyes turn icy blue as he transforms from an ordinary human into the supernatural Night King (Vladimir Furdik), ruthless leader of the White Walkers.
The Children acted out of necessity, Leaf explains, for her race was being slaughtered by the First Men and needed an army of White Walkers for protection. That army eventually rebelled, putting the Children in grave danger once more.
Later, Bran has another, even more terrifying vision. He sees the Night King and thousands of his undead soldiers. The king grabs Bran’s arm, making a mark.
“You must leave, all of you,” the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) shouts, for the king will arrive and murder all in his path.
“The time has come,” the mystical Raven also tells Bran, “for you to become me!”
Is Bran ready to assume such an awesome responsibility? According to the Raven, the answer is “no.” But at least Bran is alive and fulfilling his destiny.
Here are some other key developments as Season 6 reaches its halfway point:
• At Castle Black, Bran’s half-brother Jon Snow (Kit Harington) strategizes on how to retake Winterfell from evil Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). Jon’s half-sister, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), believes that Northern families will remain loyal to her late father, Ned Stark (Sean Bean). But Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) isn’t so sure. Even the bravest men, he cautions, “don’t want to see their wives and children skinned for a lost cause.”
• In Braavos, Sansa’s younger sister, Arya (Maisie Williams), receives an assignment from the Faceless Men assassins guild. Her target is Lady Crane (Essie Davis), an actress with a local theater troupe. “A girl has been given a second chance,” Arya’s mentor, Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), says. “There will not be a third.”
• On the Iron Islands, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) claims the Salt Throne after killing his older brother, Balon (Patrick Malahide). Euron’s grandiose plan is to build a gigantic fleet of ships, marry Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and conquer the Seven Kingdoms.
• As for Dany, she’s busy leading the Dothraki warriors. Her advisor, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), meanwhile, struggles to control the former slave city of Meereen. Tyrion seeks help from Kinvara (Ania Bukstein), a high priestess who intends to sic Dany’s dragons on nonbelievers, “burning their sins and flesh away.” But Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) is skeptical of this religious fanatic. “We serve the same queen,” Kinvara claims. “If you are her true friend, you have nothing to fear from me.”