#GoT S6 EP5 Part Two: Plays Within Plays, Prophecies, and Holding Doors

Part Two?

Thanks for all the traffic to my Hodor article yesterday, very flattering.

Feel free to skip this part if you want to get right to the details, this is where I do some naval gazing and apologia. Just head down to the next Header.

I realize that my "not a recap" really kind of is a recap.

When I started doing #GameofThrones I had just finished over two months of working very hard on recaps of the HBO series Vinyl and I wanted to share my thoughts but was not sure that I had the energy or time to handle full recaps of #GoT which is a very complicated show in many ways (my relationship to it is also complicated because I have read the books many times).

In addition, I was not sure there was a need for another Game of Thrones recap. I have always been really impressed by the deep reservoir of #GameofThrones knowledge between Jason Concepcion (Ask The Maester) and Mallory Rubin (The Ringer's "Mother of Dragons"). I also really enjoyed the recaps by Andy Greenwald (told from the perspective of someone who had ONLY seen the show and who had not read the books). I was not sure I could compete. 

But, while "After The Thrones" is a really great show and I still heartily endorse it (and will always be a die-hard Bill Simmons fan), now that Andy, Mallory, and Jason are all employed by HBO they are mostly only explaining (really well) what has happened on each episode without commenting on much else. None of them seem to be taking any of the critical stances in regards the show that made them a must-read for me in the first place (back in the Grantland days). In other words, I still see space for a more critical perspective on the show. 

I have also found, much to my surprise, that I get a few nuggets in that are not being covered in the other places. And most important, I am enjoying myself.

So, fine, I am doing recaps.

And yesterday I only covered the Hodor, Bran, and Meera part of the story. so here is part two of my "recap."

As always, if you have not seen Episode 5 don't read on, 


One More Really Important Thing About Bran

It turns out I was right yesterday about "Hold The Door" being George R.R. Martin's 20-year-old joke. So, I have that going for me (and someone argued I was wrong about that too). Either Benioff or Weiss actually said "Holy Shit" in reaction to GRRM telling them this (which is also pretty funny). 

I am not an expert in theoretical physics, like most of you I just watch a TON of Sci-Fi and Fantasy (sadly, I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express recently either). So, I may be wrong about this, but I am pretty sure something somewhat unprecedented happened last night and it COULD have HUGE implications for the show. Beyond the show, I am also really fascinated to see how it plays out in practice.

Yesterday, I theorized to a friend that Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wrightis now one of the three most powerful people on the show (Nights King, Bran, and Daenerys). But after some consideration, I am pretty sure that Bran is (potentially) the most powerful person on the show.


It wasn't just the show that broke all the rules of linear storytelling yesterday. Bran demonstrated that his character is capable of breaking all of the rules as well. Bran, in a moment of personal emergency, was able to act in both the future and the past in ways that changed both.

Generally, the theory's of time paradox work like this:

1) Changing the past alters the future

In Back to the Future II (1989) - 1950's Biff manages to get information on future world series winners through Marty McFly's error and makes bets in the 1950's that alter the future entirely. When Marty returns from the past to what had been his real present, the entire timeline was changed (because Biff was now the richest man on earth). The present he knew has been erased and altered to one he barely recognizes.

2) Changing the past creates an alternate future that runs parallel to the known timeline

If I remember correctly, this is why there were two parallel Earth's on the Fox television show Fringe. It may also be why there are parallel Earth's on the CW television show "The Flash" (although they have not entirely explained the origin of the parallel Earth's yet). The parallel timelines probably can't intersect without causing more paradox problems (although on both of these shows they do).

But, in both of these examples, the story is still following a linear process. Someone went to the past and did something that changed the future.

Bran is something entirely different.

Bran was present in both the present and the past at the same time and is clearly capable of changing both. The implications of this could be very far-reaching. 

Remember that Bran was acting on instinct and not attempting to alter either the future or the past while ultimately changing both (and in some ways creating his own origin story as a result). 

I have been kicking around some possibilities. 

It seems possible that Bran could use this power to manipulate the past and the future consciously. That he could make choices that made the world conform to his will. That he could become living prophecy. In a sense, we have always reserved that kind of power for Gods.

What if, for instance, Bran were to hang out with Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) at the same time he is Greenseeing the time just before Jamie threw him out the window. What if, at the same time, he Wargs present day Jamie just like he Warged Willis/Hodor and say suicides present day Jamie. 

If Jamie in the past becomes a vegetable before the incest incident, does that mean that Brandon Stark walks again in the present? Does the war of the 5 Kings change entirely? How does the logic of this ultimately work out? 

Honestly, I suspect they will just pretend this mostly never happened (beyond suggesting that Bran has serious powers) and move entirely back to a linear storyline. But, now that Benioff and Weiss (and GRRM) have opened this Pandora's box, will the logic of the rest of the show suffer as a result (now that we know what Bran is actually capable of). 

Let's face it, Bran has Godlike powers and I am just scratching the surface of what this could mean for him and the #GoT universe, and I am not sure this "present at both ends" paradox has been explored here or anywhere else before. If anyone is more well-versed in the theoretical implications of this, please let me know what your thoughts are.

Don't get me wrong, I get that he has some extreme limitations (does he have to hold one of the special tree roots to do deep Greenseeing, for instance and that he has no working legs) but at the end of the day would you rather have Dragons or the ability to make Dragons disappear (maybe as if they had never existed)? 

Also, Chris Ryan said something interesting on "After The Thrones" in that Hodor "Holding The Door" was in a sense a metaphor for how Westeros deals with the White Walker problem. They let the Night's Watch hold the door and just hope for the best. Pretty apt.

Okay, enough about Bran already, time to move on (although I kind of love that my grammar checker thinks "Bran" refers to the substance in cereal and not a proper name).

Sansa Is NOT Messing Around

Sure Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) still seems more than a little naive at times but I am so happy she is no longer just letting life happen to her. I am enjoying the new and empowered Sansa (and was really tired of seeing horrible things done to her).

Anyway, the episode starts with Sansa getting a letter from Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) asking her to meet him in Mole Town (been a long time since we have visited Mole Town I sure remember Sam and Gilly's adventures there).

The last few episodes have been very good, I do not mean to be over-critical, but this Littlefinger stuff is reducing his character from Machiavelian genius (and arguably the instigator of all of the original parts of the non-walker parts of the story) to a somewhat bumbling idiot (and Sansa rightly calls him out for it).

Yes, I get that Peter Baelish switches allegiances easily, but it makes no sense for him to leave Sansa with Ramsay (fully aware of Ramsay's proclivities) take the entire scope of Sansa's "time" with Ramsay to return to the Vale and then immediately decide to turn and run back to the Wall (seemingly on a magic carpet). 

Anyway, Sansa dismisses him and his help (which is good because Baelish serves one Master and that Master is named Peter Baelish) which should be interesting to see playing out (since he has already ordered the Armies of the Vale to the Wall in defense of Sansa). She also makes him sit through a fairly detailed recounting of all the things Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) did to her (yup, even when we are spared a physical Ramsay appearance we still must be reminded how awful he is - B & W, WE KNOW HE IS AWFUL).

Okay, this one time, in fairness, her recounting the events served a narrative purpose, it showed that Sansa has figured out what Littlefinger really is. But, I am really tired of Ramsay Bolton.

Also, we probably should be wary of any advice that Littlefinger gives Sansa (as I am pretty sure Baelish benefits less if Sansa is successful in defeating Ramsay and more if he can take up her matyred banner).

Oh right, the point, Sansa is getting "her" army together to fight Ramsay. She keeps forgetting, however, that it is really Jon Snow's army as it exists now (the wildlings). First, she is reminded of this by Littlefinger (who suggests she can get more forces at Riverrun which has been retaken by her Great Uncle The Blackfish). And again, she forgets this point when she is sitting around the table planning the next phase in growing the "Stark" army with Jon, Davos, Brienne, and Tormund. 

Sansa says that people of the North "remember the Starks" and will "fight" for them.

Davos (Liam Cunningham) says that Jon (Kit Harrington) is not a Stark

And, without blinking, Sansa says "No, but I am." 

Jon spent most of his time at Winterfell being reminded by Sansa's Mother how much he was "not a Stark" so I suspect she did more damage to this alliance than even she knows. No amount of giving Jon new Stark clothes will heal this wound (yes, Sansa gives Jon a new Stark outfit she made with a Direwolf logo included). She also lies to him about where she got the information about the Blackfish's army at Riverrun.

I could go on, but Sansa and Jon (with wildlings) are going on a mission to round up more men across the smaller houses of the North. Sansa has also sent Brienne to recruit the Blackfish and his forces to their cause. I am pretty sure that Davos is going to head to House Manderly on his own recruiting trip (where he was sent on a similar mission by Stannis in the books). I hope this is the case because Lord Manderly is one of the most interesting characters in the books IMHO. 

Oh, and Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) finally admits he is now the Lord Commander (since Jon and everyone else left on their respective  recruiting missions).

The Iron Islands Are Magical

The only story line that I believe has been messed up worse than The Iron Islands is Dorne (which has been a total disaster). 

So, in the books, the Kingsmoot was a HUGE event with thousands of folks attending. The television version seems to have invited about 100 Iron Islanders. This could have made sense if it meant that only Captains were invited. However, after Euron (Pilou Asbaek) wins the driftwood crown Yara (Gemma Whalen)  and Theon (Alfie Allen) make off with all of the choice ships of the entire Iron Islands fleet after losing.

If the Captains were at the Kingsmoot, why weren't the sailors able to guard the ships? Also, it is a set of Islands not one with a common port for the fleet. This whole thing has a keystone cops feel to it. 

Also, why is Euron a total idiot?

In the books, Euron has been all over the world, is VERY powerful and clever, and even has vast magic at his disposal. He also ultimately wins the Driftwood crown because he shows off that in his travels he recovered a horn that is supposed to be able to control dragons.

On the show he gave a mostly clown-like speech and claims he, like so many before him, will wow the Queen of Dragons with the size of his "member" and she will fall right in line and marry him. Yup, that seems likely. 

I am not saying that she could not use transportation across the sea for her ever-growing armies. But, when the TV version of Euron finds  out Yara and Theon have taken off with his totally unguarded ships (nautical and military genius that he is) he orders his remaining forces (what looks to be about twenty people) to build a three thousand ship navy Toot Suite. 

So, just like Littlefinger can teleport from The Vale to Mole Town when he wants to (in mere seconds it appeared). I suspect the Iron Fleet with its thousands of ships to be fully operational in a few weeks defying all the laws of shipbuilding and manpower.

As you might have suspected, I am giving this portion of the show a healthy helping of Jar-Jar's (For newcomers, every week I give out recognition in the form of "The Jar-Jar Binks awards" for poor writing in a segment of a television show or movie).

Tyrion Lincoln, The West Wing Years

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is becoming a true spin doctor (soon for an expert panel seat at CNN?). He realizes that he is selling the "Daenerys Brand" in Meereen and wants to tell a competitively superior story (to that of the Sons of the Harpy).

To pull this off, he decides to call in the High Red Priestess to connect the people, the church, and the Queen. This idea worked really well for Cersei (Lena Headey) with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) so I am sure that it will be smooth sailing in Meereen just like it was in Kings Landing.

Oh, the High Red Priestess also seems to have some serious skills. She knows Varys' whole history almost as if she had been there himself when he was made a eunuch. Varys (Conleth Hill) is pretty impressed by this since to me memory he has told two people his story ever.

Arya Underfoot (and Plays within Plays)

The second most time in this episode was spent on Arya (although it might not have seemed like it). When we first catch up with Arya (Masie Williams) she is getting her ass kicked (again) by the only other young girl assassin among "the faceless man posse." 

Maybe this is just me, but Arya trained with one of the best swordsmen in the world as a young girl. Arya has been fighting (and killing) her way across Westeros for five seasons and thousands of pages. Yet now, she just can't seem to master fighting with sticks?

Oh, and apparently fighting with sticks is a stand-in for all if the skills that the best assassins in the world have mastered? This part of the books is just not translating very well to screen either IMHO. Don't get me wrong, there are parts Benioff and Weiss get REALLY right. The show can be mesmerizing and it even improves on the books at times. But when they get things wrong, they really get them wrong (and clunky).

So, anyway, Arya gets a new assignment. She is to rub out an actress.

Oddly enough, this vignette actually has source material, it is a drastically changed version of the first of two new Chapters that George R.R. Martin released to his site from the long-awaited next book in the series "The Winds of Winter."

One of the main differences is that in the written chapter, Arya has become a devastatingly talented assassin. Oh, and she isn't watching a play about the events that destroyed her own family. It is interesting to see the first season replayed in a jewel boxed and parody version. 

I suppose that the reason for the play in the larger play is to show that Arya is still a Stark. Seeing the play revealed as much as anything that the girl who has been kicking her ass for two seasons now is right, Arya is only learning the skills of the Faceless men to use them in her ongoing revenge on the people on her list.

As Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) put it, in regards to Arya's true lack of facelessness, "She has a point."

Of course right after that, he gives her the assignment, so who knows what is going on here?

Oh, Jorah came clean about his Grey Scale with Daenerys and she sentenced him to wander the earth until he finds a cure.

Okay, well that is the rest of S6 EP5, we should be all caught up now. This recap stuff sure is a TON of work :).

What did you think of Episode 5? What did you think about Bran's magic powers? Any theories on how time-paradoxes work with his unique combination of abilities? Let me know what you think, leave a comment!