#GOT S6 EP5 Part One: George R.R. Martin Has Jokes (or RIP Hodor)
George R. R. Martin Has Jokes
If you want to jump right to the Hodor stuff, scroll down (it is explained in great detail).
Okay, I usually wait until tomorrow to post my "not a Recap" and I will post Part 2 Tomorrow, but something so significant happened tonight that I absolutely had to break tradition and write this tonight. I say this is "not a recap" because I leave that to "After The Thrones (HBO)" and to the "Ask The Maester" column, both of which are excellent (although I may have them beat this time).
George R.R. Martin's millions of dollars have millions of dollars, George Martin is married to "the lovely and talented Paris, and now (drumroll please) we have been alerted that...
George R.R. Martin has a sense of humor (I know, I know, surprised the Hell out of me too).
As always, * spoiler alert * - (and one really big spoiler, over a decade in the making).
The Pun That Walked (His Name Was Walder, he's dead now, only in death...oh, you know the rest)
Pun: A joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.
"A Game Of Thrones" the first book in the series "A Song Of Ice And Fire" was published on August 6th of 1996 and Hodor was in that book. In other words, Walder has been carrying Bran around on his back since 1996 (almost 20 years).
This means that since 1996, George R. R. Martin has been carrying around a pun in his head just like Hodor has been carrying Brandon Stark (there is no way something this significant was a Benioff and Weiss creation). What was that pun? Why is it that Walder (or Willis as he is called on the show, I suspect because there were already Big Walder and Little Walder Frey characters as well) repeats Hodor so incessantly that it has become his most commonly known name (seriously, he is Hodor worldwide),
Okay, enough gilding of the lily, he is Hodor because, and much more detail on this in a second, he is repeating "Hold The Door" over and over again.
Hodor = short hand in brain-damaged speak for Hold The Door.
It is a pun.
By the way, while that is a clearly a classic "Old Man Pun" but it is also the punchline of one of one of the oldest speech impediment jokes known to man (sadly, many versions of that joke are inappropriate).
I kind of have this vision of any number of people interviewing George R. R. Martin about Hodor over the years as he fights off the giggles while trying to answer whatever the actual questions were.
Do you get that this is one of the most serious and least humorous (but 100% awesome) series maybe ever broadcast in the history of television which is so true it sounds like hyperbole but clearly is not (but there is no way it takes this title in literature, nobody can top the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in the world of fiction, have you read LOTR?).
Anyway, that is still true but has to be somewhat rethought in light of the recent evidence that one of the core storylines was at least partially constructed entirely around a pun.
Explaining What Happened (In Case You Are Confused) - Greensight and Warging
Okay, I am going to explain this in as simple terms as I can. There is a pretty decent amount of information on Warging in the books, so I am drawing from that source material pretty heavily here.
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is both a "Greenseer" and a "Warg" (the magical unicorn).
Warging usually only works on animals, but Bran is a whole different level of powerful, so he can Warg people too, or at least he can Warg Hodor (Kristian Nairn).
Warging can destroy the brain of the person doing the Warging. When the person doing the Warging stays in the animals mind for too long (the Warg loses himself in the animal and starts imagining themselves as the animal, forgetting their original human form more and more) or during traumatic events like the physical death of the host (this causes the Warg to often lose their mind entirely) Warging can affect the Warg's brain.
So, Bran and the 3 Eyed Crow (Max Von Sydow) were Greenseeing (visiting periods in time by plugging into the root memory of trees) a moment far in his families past at Winterfell at the exact same time the Night King and his White Walker minions attack the tree where Bran's physical body currently resides (his body is in the tree but his consciousness is lost in his Greenseeing).
The young Willis/Hodor (the one that can still talk and normally interact with other people) is in the distant past that Bran's consciousness is visiting while the older Hodor is attending to Bran's physical body in the tree (where the attack is happening). So, Bran, the 3 Eyed Crow, and Hodor are present in both the past (the Greensight or Greensite) and in the present (in the tree).
Meera (Ellie Kendrick) starts screaming at Bran's physical body (in the present) that he needs to Warg present day Hodor immediately (or they will all soon be dead at the hands of the Night King and his horde of White Walkers). Somehow, this message gets through from the present day tree all the way to the distant past to both Bran and 3 Eye and the 3 Eyed Crow tells Bran to "listen to his friend."
So, as near as I can tell, Bran's consciousness in the distant past manages to Warg present day Hodor's body (becoming Hodor/Bran).
So, Bran's consciousness is simultaneously in BOTH the distant past (the time when his Father was a child and Hodor was a boy) and partially in the present-day Hodor's brain helping Meera protect his actual physical body. He is 100% Warging Hodor in the present (Hodor/Bran), and it would appear also connecting Willis/Hodor in the past to Hodor/Bran in the present.
Holy SHIT, Bran has some skills. His brain physically resides in his physical body while his consciousness inhabits his Greenseeing pseudo-body in the distant past, Hodor/Bran in the present, and Hodor/Willis (also in the distant past).
Are you still with me?
How Willis Became Hodor (and RIP 3 Eyed Crow)
Here is where things get really wild and crazy (I know, hard to believe that it gets even more cray).
As I mentioned the White Walkers are attacking the tree. The White Walkers found out where Bran and the 3 Eyed Crow live because Bran stupidly decided (earlier in the episode) to take a Greenseeing trip without the guidance of 3 Eye and ended up in White Walker land - it turns out that in addition to his other major powers, the Night King can see and touch Greenseers pseudo-bodies while they are Greenseeing.
So, again, the Night King and the horde of White Walkers show up at the tree and start attacking.
As Bran's companion Meera tries desperately to drag Bran's physical body (as most of Bran's consciousness is still lost in Greenseeing the past and Hodor in the present) to safety from the assault of the White Walkers, Hodor/Bran (remember Bran is "running" Hodor) opens the back door of the tree and Meera starts screaming at Hodor/Bran to:
"HOLD THE DOOR"
"HOLD THE DOOR"
And older Hodor/Bran does hold the door closed preventing the onrushing hordes of white walkers from getting to Bran's physical body and Meera. But remember, Hodor is being run by Bran's consciousness in the present (Hodor/Bran) and Bran is also confronting and connecting with Willis/Hodor in the past.
Many people have suggested, over the years, the possibility that Hodor got to be Hodor because of a bad Warging experience in his own past (as in, Hodor used to be a Warg who got caught in his animal when that animal died). It turns out that Hodor was not a Warg but that he DID become Hodor precisely as a result of some good Warging gone bad.
Willis/Hodor was the victim of a brutal Warging time paradox. Hodor/Bran ultimately is controlled by Bran in the future and also connected to Willis/Hodor through Bran to Hodor/Bran (his elder self in the tree).
As he dies in the future he is reduced through that paradox to the last thing his future body hears during it's dying moments.
HOLD THE DOOR
HOLD THE DOOR
Hodor becomes Hodor, because he is both "dead" and alive at the same time, he has been reduced by his experience to ONLY a working body and what was in his head at the moment of his future death. He has literally "seen too much."
In the Game of Thrones universe, people can come back from the dead but there is always a cost. In a sense, Willis/Hodor is forced to come back from Hodor/Bran's death, even though he has yet to live the rest of his life. He is stuck in a future moment from which he cannot escape.
I think that this also explains why it was Bran and not Hodor who suffers the damage (and this gets even more complicated), if Hodor has ONLY died in the future and not lived with the knowledge of his death, Bran's brain would be the one reduced to mush because Bran would have experienced the death of his adopted host.
But Bran doesn't experience the death of Hodor/Bran, Willis/Bran does. Bran became the Warg conduit between the two Hodors. Bran is involved, but Willis is the one that pays the price (forever after becoming Hodor).
Apparently, what crushes the brain while Warging is that the brain cannot handle the knowledge of physically dying (in another body) and return from the adopted host sane. The brain experiences the death and dies (more or less) regardless of the body in which the death happened. This is why it is considered important, in the books, to exit the host before death.
Hodor, because he was existing "Warged" in both in the past and in the present at the time of his death, was the consciousness that could not handle the physical death of his own physical body (which is why he falls to the ground and starts repeating Hodor).
Past Willis becomes trapped in future Hodor.
In the simplest possible sense, Hodor is (and I feel bad for this):
We do now understand the rules of Warging much more. And George R. R. Martin is one crazy genius.
But one other important thing, this means that the linear rules have been shattered, in this case, the future instigated a whole series of past events (at least for one character). So umm, not sure what that means but seems important because linearity is kind of the mooring for all storytelling and for how we human beings generally think (because it is how we experience life).
Other Stuff You Might Want to Know Here
Yes, it does kind of say a lot that GRRM's Big Joke comes about through the death of a beloved character (is anything more GRRM than killing off beloved characters honestly?).
Yes, what sparks Bran going super-ninja Warg Greenseer is hearing is Dad told (by his Grandfather) that if he must fight "he should win." So Bran goes into super ninja mode (listen to your friend Brandon).
Yes, the three-eyed crow is now toast.
Yes, the children of the forest created the White Walkers (to protect against humans) and now have been extinguished by their desperate creation.
Yes, yet another Direwolf is with us no more (RIP Summer). That leaves only ONE (possibly two - nobody knows what happened to Arya's) Direwolf (almost the first even in the whole series is the kids convincing Ned to keep the Direwolves).
Yes, the Night King is still totally awesome (Geeking out for NK bigtime). One of his Lieutenants gets toasted by Dragonglass (I assume).
And finally, things are looking pretty bleak for Bran. There is no more Hodor to carry him around and he and Meera are now entirely on their own against a large horde of white walkers (and the NK).
Oh, and he is still kind of in dreamland and still has no real working legs.
Hardy Har, GRRM (seriously, that was pretty "punny"
This week just in the tree "area" we lost Hodor, The Three Eyed Crow, Summer, and all of the Children of the Forest.
Part two tomorrow.
Did you like my breakdown, or are you even more confused? I did the best I could, but I am pretty sure I am 100% right on this one. Let me know what you think, leave a comment!