OK, let me just get this out of the way first, things I liked: The Tormund and Brienne stuff continues to be comedy gold. There was no King’s Landing this week, so always a plus. No Dorne in sight still. And that’s about it, I think. Oh, the Tyrion scenes were… not bad, I think, but I don’t really have much else to say about them.
We start off at The Wall where Sansa gets a letter from Littlefinger who has teleported himself to Mole’s Town. Sansa and Brienne then teleport there without seemingly anyone noticing, particularly Jon. We learn that Littlefinger has already mobilized and teleported an entire army at Moat Cailin. Then follows a rather dreadful scene where Strong Sansa™ tries to maintain her strength while relating to Littlefinger how Ramsay hurt her. Aidan Gillen’s acting is absolutely hilarious in this scene. Of course, Sansa then falls for his manipulations (apparently just one reminder that Jon Snow is her half-brother is enough) so Sansa keeps up the tradition of changing her character on a scene by scene basis and having no internal consistency whatsoever. Davos meanwhile is now helping Jon plan out his siege of Winterfell and still doesn’t seem to care or ask about Stannis or Shireen. I know I sound like a broken record at this point constantly mentioning this, but I can’t help myself. I don’t recognize this character anymore.
Arya’s “training” still continues… for some reason. I thought that was over? They did a big montage and everything last episode. Eh. At least, her plot seems to move a bit forward this episode as she’s sent on a mission to kill an actress. I thought the play stuff went on too long and we should have focused more instead on Arya actually infiltrating that place and things like that – you know, actually interesting things, but that wouldn’t do for this show.
Now starts the really problematic stuff. Bran has a vision with the Raven about the Children of the Forest creating the White Walkers. This scene is just so random and lazy – I mean, there’s no buildup whatsoever for it. Why are we supposed to care about this? We have one character, the Raven, whom we know very little about, showing Bran a vision about how the White Walkers were created, whom we also know very little about, by the Children of the Forest, whom we know even less about. Is having one’s theories be confirmed by a TV show somehow become a measure of quality? The direction in these scenes isn’t great either and the scene where a White Walker is created looks rather cheap and low budget.
The Iron Islands stuff is just awful. Euron Greyjoy shows up like a drunk at a wedding, proudly declares he killed Balon (after Yara says he did – how did she know?), and gets elected king. Remember a few seasons ago (I know that’s a lot to ask of the GOT audience) when Jaime was called the “Kingslayer” and it was supposed to be a huge stain on his name, and we had that great scene in season 3 with him and Brienne in the bath where he gives us his perspective of what happened, etc.? Well, now kingslaying and kinslaying is apparently perfectly okay in Benioff and Weiss’ world (I’m not sure I can call it Westeros anymore). I mean, Euron says “let’s go murder my niece and nephew” and everyone just goes along with him. Oh and then Yara and Theon steal an entire fleet somehow, but no matter, as Euron tells his men they should cut down trees (on an island that has few) and build a 1000 ships. What? Oh, the actor who plays Euron is pretty terrible too.
Then we get a rather hilarious and sappy scene between Jorah and Dany where he finally declares her love for her and she cries and has this tearful goodbye with him. Seriously? Is the show actually telling us that Jorah’s creepy obsession with Dany is actually not only good, but romantic? We’re supposed to root for them or something? Ugh. Also, you know what, I don’t normally hate Emilia Clarke like a lot of the internet does, but today I realized just what is the problem with her acting – it doesn’t feel very sincere or honest and she always seems like she’s “acting” rather than actually simply being her character. Obviously, the writing and direction is also at fault here.
So we come back to Bran and he touches a branch from the Raven’s tree and suddenly he’s back in that same spot as that earlier vision, only in the present day, and he also seems to know who the Night’s King is (we never see this stuff, instead we waste time on filler like that play earlier on). The Night’s King then grabs him and “marks” him somehow (never explained) which means the White Walkers and Wights can now enter the cave (they then magically teleport to the cave entrance). The Raven then says it’s time for Bran to “become” him and takes him to a scene where the stable boy Wylis is going to become Hodor. Never explained why and given the way this show has handled stuff in the past I don’t expect any of this to be explained.
Then starts the most WTF part of the show. The Wights attack – who by the way are now just generic zombies that can move at light speed. It’s frustrating. I was reminded of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the way David Yates designed the Inferi in subtle ways that ensured they wouldn’t be just generic zombies. Not just the design but the way they behaved and the way they were presented – the way they looked emaciated, the way they “hugged” Harry and “welcomed” him into the water instead of simply trying to kill him, etc. – for an intelligent viewer paying attention, they could in fact guess or create a backstory for these monsters, but because Yates doesn’t beat you over the head with it, it’s subtle enough that it doesn’t distract from the scene, which is a very short one, in fact. Meanwhile, Benioff and Weiss have taken interesting villains from the books and turned them into generic, not-scary monsters. The gulf between Benioff/Weiss and someone actually talented like Yates is quite something. Anyway, so we get a really bad rip-off of Aliens when one of the Children, Leaf, sacrifices herself with a bomb in hand (the CGI in this scene by the way is pretty bad). Summer appears for the first time in I don’t know how long and gets killed off unceremoniously two minutes later. I don’t get it – why did they even bother to include the direwolves in the first place? Actually, don’t answer that – I already know the answer. They obviously don’t plan ahead.
So Bran then wargs into Hodor while he’s still in his vision in the past with Wylis and this whole thing just gets confusing as Meera keeps shouting at Hodor in the present to “hold the door” (why is there even a door in a cave?) and for some reason Wylis in the past collapses (although it looks like he’d been warged into by Bran) and has a seizure/epileptic fit and keeps screaming “hold the door” which eventually becomes “Hodor.” None of this makes any sense whatsoever. It’s extremely confusing. But more than all that, I have to say – Hodor? Seriously? Who gives a shit about Hodor? Actually don’t answer that question either – I know the answer. I know there were some (or many) fans of the character, but I never took him to be anything more than a side character and he made no real impression on me. Now, he gets this sudden big dramatic moment, complete with Sad GOT Cello™ playing over the ending scenes, and again, I’m not really sure why I’m supposed to care about any of this stuff. This is such lazy and lackluster storytelling. I was just left with a huge WTF expression on my face once this episode ended.
After several episodes of simply spinning the wheels, now suddenly they’ve crammed in several episodes’ worth of storylines into one episode and as such a lot of it feels rushed (the bit where Bran wakes up from his first vision and Leaf just starts explaining what happened was unintentionally hilarious). They set up the Wylis thing somewhat by having Bran visit him once before, but these visions have been so random, yet at the same time so scripted and inorganic, that I can’t really get emotionally invested in any of them. Honestly, I’m not sure if this is the worst episode of the show, because I mainly really can’t think of what to make of that final scene, but it’s definitely near the bottom for sure.