Ho dear, Hodor! The big chap has been dialogue-lite throughout his time on Game of Thrones but has miraculously managed to convey every emotion through his single line: ‘Hodor’. He’s everybody’s favourite loveable oaf (played by Kristian Nairn), but he was also the holder of a series-defining secret, which exposed the true meaning of the name he came to be known by. More on that later.
This week opened with the oil slick on legs Petyr Baelish’s (Aidan Gillen) arrival at Castle Black looking to grease his way up the social ladder alongside Sansa Stark. It was not the most politic of courses Littlefinger has plotted and, in hindsight, he’ll probably accept that if you sell a young girl into an abusive marriage, it’s probably not a good idea to try and ingratiate yourself with the said child bride… unless you arrive carrying the head of Ramsay Bolton, which he wasn’t, so he got short shrift.
Sansa’s privations at the hands of the Boltons have strengthened her resolve and she is determined to reclaim the honour of the Stark family and find her siblings. With Jon the Bastard at her side, she sets off to build a powerbase among the other houses of the North – but she’d better hurry up because her brother is about to unwittingly lead the White Walkers into the kingdom of men.
The Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea and Burner of Misogynistic Dothraki Khals has proved she is nothing if not resourceful. Having reunited with Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis, Daenerys now rides at the head of 10,000 blood riders and has a date with the Masters and the Sons of the Harpy. However, having fulfilled his pledge to rescue the Queen, Mormont reveals his true affection for her and his affliction with the deadly greyscale. It is a sequence that should have had some emotional weight given Mormont’s popularity, but it was completely eclipsed by the huge revelations that play out during the episode.
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is a participant in most of those revelations. The selfish young gadabout, who is tripping his way around the seven kingdoms with the time-travelling/astral-projection Svengali, Three-Eyed Raven, wanders off down one too many frosty paths and gets himself tagged by the Night’s King, the White Walker chieftain. And once you’re marked, the White Walkers know exactly where you are and how to get to you. So, you better run, Bran.
Unfortunately, he can’t run, because he’s still tripping, leaving his companions and the Children of the Forest, who aren’t blameless in this either, to a face a horde of undead. Nice one, Bran!
This, though, is where several Thrones‘ storylines coalesce in a heart-rending final scene that makes sense of Hodor’s role and relationship with Bran. A couple of episodes ago we got a glimpse of young Hodor (Wylis) as an able bodied stable hand to the Starks through the eyes of Three-Eyed Raven and his young pupil.
Bran visits Winterfell once more in a vision, as the White Walkers close in on the cave in which he lies in a catatonic state, and this time causes Wylis to suffer a seizure and exhort ‘Hold the Door, hold the door’. While in the present, Hodor barricades the back exit of the cave allowing Meera to drag Bran to safety as young Wylis’s ‘Hold the Door’ is echoed through time and repeated by Hodor until the two phrases merge as simply ‘Hodor’. A brilliant, brilliant end to a character that has spanned a whole series of books and an utterly mind-blowing reveal even to new converts to Thrones.
Game of Thrones is broadcast on Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.