We went from the happiest episode of Game of Thrones ever last week, to easily one of the saddest.
With tonight’s “The Door,” season 6 continues to rack up what’s looking like the drama’s highest body count yet — we’re only halfway through the season and have lost name-characters every week. But none have been as gut-wrenching as the loss of poor Hodor, with Thrones delivering a triple mind-freak punch by revealing the origin of his condition, his dreadful demise, and Bran’s responsibility for both.
Plus, oh yes, the Starks lost another damn direwolf.
We start with…
Mole’s Town: A place whose very name, like Flea Bottom, tells you that the property values are never going to be high here.
We get Sansa’s long-awaited face-off with Littlefinger. She rightly rips him for selling her to a sadist. “Would you like to hear about my wedding night?” she asks, and plenty of viewers yell, “No!” Sansa continues: “I can still feel it, what he did in my body standing here right now.” Shudder.
Littlefinger is smart enough to not argue. He looks uncharacteristically shamefaced and uncertain. “I made a mistake a horrible mistake,” he says. You think?
Yet Littlefinger isn’t the only one who’s uncomfortable here. Sansa almost looks as if she’s addressing the audience. She’s confronting us with the rawness of her ordeal. It’s a smart scene because tackles the most controversial decision in the history of Thrones from a perspective that some felt was lacking in season 5 — exploring the emotional and physical impact of Ramsay’s actions on Sansa.
Littlefinger saves one bit of news to reveal at the end: Sansa’s uncle, Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully, has re-taken his home of Riverrun from the Freys (Tywin Lannister gave Riverrun to the Freys as a Red Wedding gift). This means she could be able to wrangle a Tully army in her fight against the Boltons. And Littlefinger says his Knights of the Vale will be there for her too, not that she wants his help.
Actually, two bits. He can’t resist calling Jon Snow her “half-brother.” He wants Sansa to trust him, and only him, and their newfound alliance might not serve his eventual purpose. So he plants that tiny seed on the way out the door.
Braavos: Arya and the Waif are practicing staff fighting. I’m wondering if the staff is going to be Arya’s preferred weapon moving forward, like Morgan on The Walking Dead. She could inflict some serious damage against Georgia-based zombies with those skills.
The Faceless Man enters and says he’s ready to give Arya another shot. Her task should be exceedingly simple: Kill an actress named Lady Crane. She’s warned not to mess it up. Arya goes to check out her target’s play. We’re hoping for Hamilton because this would probably be the only way we’re ever going to get to see it. But no — the troupe is putting on the stage version of Game of Thrones. The actors tell the story of the rise and fall of King Joffrey. We feel play-within-a-play meta dizziness as we realize Arya is tasked with killing off an actor playing a part in a warped mirror version of Game of Thrones within Game of Thrones.
At first Arya is amused, but then the play’s hillbilly version of Ned Stark comes along. At one point she watches from the crowd as fake-Ned gets beheaded, just like he did in the first season. Except now Joffrey is sympathetic, Cersei is caring, Ned is ambitious, and Tyrion is sinister. The broad strokes of the story are correct, but the playwright’s assumptions about the characters’ motives are wrong, and I wonder if this is the Thrones writers’ way of riffing on the show’s own online commentary. That would add yet another meta level to this whole endeavor and I suddenly have to hit pause, take a few deep breaths — and this is all before Game of Thrones abruptly turns into a time-travel show.
Then suddenly given a random backstage shot of male full frontal nudity, and now this really feels like some reverse version of Thrones.
Arya notices Lady Crane drinks rum and nobody else does. So that will be her killing technique.