So much sadness!  This episode was the best of the season, definitely receiving a passing grade.  While there are spoilers for Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, chances are events will play out differently in the novels than they do on the show.Before shit gets too real, let’s appreciate the non-cannon sexual tension between Tormund and Brienne-

Arya is given her first mission.  The mission itself is based on an unreleased chapter in Winds.  In the released chapter Mercy, she kills  Raff the Sweetling, in Braavos  guarding Mace Tyrell, who has been sent to by Cersei to deal with the Crown’s debts to the Iron Bank.  Last season in the episode Mercy, Arya kills Meryn Trant, which may have taken the place of a revenge killing taking place this season.

One thing is for sure, that Arya, as much as she wants to be No One, is not.  She’s Arya Stark.  The portrayal of Ned in the play she is watching affects her greatly.  There’s a very real possibility that Arya does not go through with this mission.  What does that mean for her?  Hopefully a trip back to Westeros.  Sam has yet to stop in Braavos on his way to Old Town.  Hopefully they cross paths, and Arya returns with Sam to Westeros.

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While not exactly in Dorne territory, the scenes from the Iron Islands were not that great.  The kingsmoot was absolutely unnecessary with Asha/Yara the only claimant going into the moot.  No one even knows Euron is showing up, until he does.  I’m fairly certain that viewers who haven’t read the books even realize that Aeron, the Drowned God priest, is also one of Asha/Yara and Theon’s uncles.  The dialogue for Yara/Asha and Theon is okay.  The scene is meh, but it’s okay- until Euron shows up.  His dialogue is atrocious.  He freely admits to killing Balon, and everyone is just “Oh, cool.  I wondered what had happened.” The kin-slaying acceptance continues, when after Euron is baptized/crowned, he tells the men with him, including the Damphair, “Let’s go kill my niece and nephew.”  For real?  As the group walks up the rocks in search of Asha/Yara and Theon, gung-ho on murder, I laughed because it looked more like a scene from the ABC musical-comedy Galavant.

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Alas, there would be no murder that morning for Euron.  Somehow Asha/Yara and Theon were able to convince a boatload, (pun intended), of captains to abscond with the Iron Fleet.  No word of this made its way to Euron beforehand?  He didn’t question the low coronation turnout?  Undeterred, Euron orders everyone in the Iron Islands to start chopping down trees, he has to build a bajillion ships, so that he can find/murder his niece and nephew, and then force Dany to marry him.  Good luck with that.  When he does find them, chances are Dany will have already sided with Yara/Asha, making her part of her Vaes Dothrak girl power army.  They will kill Euron and add his new ships to those brought by Yara/Asha and Theon.

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Very little Dany/Jorah/Dario this week after last week’s Khal burning.  She and Jorah have a “moment.”  She sends him to find a cure for his Greyscale so that he may return to her later, and stand at her side.  Jorah, boner in pocket, races off to find some ointment and a pack of condoms.

Tyrion and Varys meet with a Red Priestess named Kinvara, who wears the same necklace as Mel.  It is Tyrion who has called for her, hoping to use her and her Red Priests as PR for Dany while she is gone.  There is a tentative peace between the cities, and he wants to keep it that way.  She’s from Volantis, were we saw another Red Priestess last season, played by Rila Fukushima.  In the novels, it’s a Red Priest, Moqorro, who is sent by another, Benerro, to meet with Dany.

Varys makes his concerns known, he is not a fan of magic or religion.  Kinvara is successful in making him a believer, to an extent.  She tells him a story about his past, specifically words heard in the fire his penis and testicles were thrown into when he was a child.  When Mel is brought up, she states that everyone is where they need to be, even though Mel believes Jon to be The Prince That Was Promised/Azor Ahai, and her believing this to be Dany.  What’s I disliked most here, is how out of character this is for Tyrion, as far as his book character is concerned.  He’s much more fickle in who he chooses to ally himself with.  His thoughts from Dance-

“Haldon Halfmaester has spoken of using the Red Priest to Young Griff’s advantage, Tyrion recalled.  Now that he had seen and heard the man himself, that struck him as a very bad idea.  He hoped Griff had better sense.  Some allies are more dangerous than enemies.”

At the Wall, Sansa is displaying expert level dress and making.  She’s also informed that Littlefinger is in Molestown, an obvious choice, as it’s basically a giant whorehouse.  I’m starting to believe that LF has a Tupac style hologram.  How else does he travel so quickly?  Brienne accompanies Sansa, and LF looks to be a bit uncomfortable in her presence.  Sansa doesn’t hold back as she confronts LF, asking him if he knew about Ramsay.  There were two options she offered him to choose from- either he didn’t know, because he’s an idiot’ or he did and he’s piece of shit.  He’s a piece of shit.  LF informs Sansa that her Great-Uncle, Brynden Tully, aka “The Blackfish,” has taken back control of Rivverrun.  When she tells him she has her own army, he makes a comment about it being her brother’s army, nay “half-brother’s” army.  Always the schemer, he’s trying to plant a seed of doubt in Sansa’s mind.

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Later, Sansa informs Jon of the news, only she tells him she heard this before escaping Winterfell.  Brienne confronts her about this later.  Sansa has decided to travel with Jon and Davos to the Northern houses, and is sending Brienne to Rivverrun to meet with the Blackfish.  This makes Brienne uncomfortable, as she is still weary about the people surrounding Sansa, specifically Davos, Mel, and Tormund.  Speaking of, they have no idea the other exists in the novels, but Tormund eye-boning Brienne is great.  What is in the novels, is Brienne being sent to Rivverrun.  However, she is sent by Stoneheart in place of hanging, tasked to bring Jamie to Stoneheart so that she can revenge kill him.  Stoneheart is unaware that Sansa is safe in the Vale as “Alayne Stone.”  What it does mean, is that we get the “Siege of Riverrun,” and Tobias Menzies is back at Edmure Tully.  A huge difference is going to be Jamie.  In the novels, he’s on a road to redemption.  He’s declined to be Cersei’s champion and has left her to fend for herself after discovering the numerous affair she has had, while she has been his one and only.  Not everyone will be accounted for at the end of the siege, that’s certain.

Okay.  This is it.  The events beyond the Wall have surpassed the novels.  Surpassed the novels and broken our collective hearts with spoilers of sadness.

In the first shocking moment of the night, we learn the origins of the Others, known as the White Walkers, (WW), on the show.  It’s been a long held theory that the Others were a creation of the Children of the Forest (CotF).  There are many stories told about this time on Westeros.  Many told by Old Nan to Bran.  There’s even a theory that Bran himself is Bran the Builder and while there is a timeline, we know from Sam that that timeline is not trustworthy, nor are the tales of Bran the Builder or his actual existence.  Sam tells Jon-

“The oldest histories we have were written after the Andals came to Westeros. The First Men only left us runes on rocks, so everything we know about the Age of Heroes and the Dawn Age and the Long Night comes from accounts set down by septons thousands of years later. There are archmaesters at the Citadel who question all of it. Those old histories are full of kings who reigned for a hundred years, and knights riding around a thousand years before there were knights.”

The patterns the Others leave bodies in their murder wake are similar to those the CotF carve into stones.  We learn this through a vision bran has while greenseeing with the Three-Eyed Raven, (Crow/Bloodraven in the novels).  Bran is audience to a group of CotF, including Leaf, and watches as she plunges an obsidian dagger through the heart of a First Man, who is tied to a Weirwood tree.  That tree that appears to be the Weirwood Bran is currently residing in with his companions.

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After the dagger has fully entered the man’s body, his eyes turn an icy blue, the blue of the Others.  A shocked Bran confronts Leaf.  She admits that they created the Others as a weapon to use against the First Men.  The First men, realizing that the CotF were able to use Weirwood trees to spy on their movements, began to cut the trees down.

The CotF worship the Weirwood trees, so this wasn’t something that they took lightly.  Destroying the Weirwood forests throughout Westeros was akin to setting fire to the places of worship of any modern day religion, across our entire country.  It was the final act in a long waged war between the CotF and First Men, that prompted the CotF to create a weapon of mass destruction.  The specifics on how they lost control of the Others is not yet known, however on the show this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something used as a weapon against others, become the downfall of the user.  Cersei and the High Sparrow come to mind.

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Bran, bored and unable to quell his curiosity, decides to take a solo trip into the Weirnet.  Let this be a tale of caution, kids!  When the adults tell you that you aren’t ready for the Weirnet, you stay off the damn Weirnet!  Why isn’t that shit password protected?!  Bran returns to the place of the last vision, but it is an undetermined amount of time later.  The stones in front of the Weirwood are in the same strange, swirled pattern as they were in Season 3, when Mance comments “Always the artists,” and the landscape is no longer green and lush, but iced over.  There’s a horde of wights standing silently, as if awaiting orders.  Bran passes through them, until he is face to face with the Others.  He turns to look at the Wights, who turn towards him.  In shock #3 of the night, the Night’s King, as we know him on the show, touches Bran.  He screams and ends his Weirnet session.  3EC knows that he has been touched, despite Bran’s insistence that he isn’t sure.  The proof is in the icy mark on Bran’s forearm.

Bran is informed that time is up.  3EC takes him back in time, to a seemingly mundane, albeit sweet, moment.  Ned is preparing to leave for the Vale, and is saying his goodbye’s to his brother Benjen and Father Rickard.  While this is happening, Meera has a sweet “conversation” with Hodor about breakfast foods, while she packs for their impending travel.  When she notices the cold on her breath, shit hits the fan.  Hodor stops functioning on the most basic level.  He’s freaking out.  Meera runs to the entrance of the cave and finds Leaf and other CotF facing off against an un-dead army led by the Others.  Leaf sends Meera inside to help Bran escape, while she and the other CotF desperately try to fight off the Others.  It’s futile.

While greenseeing, Bran can hear Meera yell for Bran to wake up.  She needs him to control Hodor, who is terrified beyond following an order.  3EC tells Bran to listen to her, and suddenly Hodor’s eyes roll back for a split second, and he stands.  Bran’s connection with the Weirwood is severed, as Meera, Hodor and Leaf run with Bran’s body, still greenseeing, to the back of the cave.  Summer lunges into a group of wights, sacrificing himself and signaling not only his physical death, but the metaphorical death of Summer, as well as the death of Bran being a Summer child, as Old Nan so fondly called him.

As they run, 3EC can sense he is about to die, and tells Bran, “The time has come.”  With this, he disappears from the vision in a cloud of black as the NK cuts through him.  With this,  he locks eyes with Wylis, Walder in the novels.  Meera’s voice cuts through the vision.  While present day Bran is skinchanged into present day Hodor, he creates a psychic link of sorts with Wylis/Walder in the past.  The gentle, passive, and kind stable boy’s eyes roll back, and he falls to ground.  Generally, when the eyes have rolled back, showing the whites, it’s due to skin-changing.  Warging as it is only known as on the show.

Wylis/Walder falls to the ground, screaming “Hold the door!”  Eventually, the words meld into “Hodor.”  Old Nan, who, if memory serves, is Hodor’s Great-great-Grandma, believes Wylis/Walder, was kicked in the head by a horse. This is what she tells in her stories, at least.  This makes sense, as he was working with the horses at the time of thos incident.  So there it is.  This version of Wylis becoming Hodor is probably not the version that will be in the novels, but I do believe that “Hold the door,” is the phrase that creates Hodor.

The actions of Wylis/Walder after his eyes roll, are very disturbing, reminiscent of an event in Dance.  In the novel, when Varamyr, (Orell on the show), attempts to skinchange into the wildling woman Thistle as he dies, she reacts violently, clawing at her face, expelling the presence of Varamyr from her mind.  Varamyr knew that this was a huge no-no, to skinchange into a human.  It isn’t easy, and will destroy the mind of the human.  This would mean that Bran had to have skinchanged into Wylis/Walder, because without the broken mind, future Bran would not have had Hodor to help save his life during his travels.  Bran wouldn’t have been able to control his movements.

Bran and Meera, it could be argued, kill Hodor.  Unless reaching the moment in the future that created the past somehow frees Hodor’s mind from the timeloop, allowing him to choose to hold the door on his own free will.  That’s to be seen.  All I know is, is that I was watching it in disbelief as Meera runs away, knowing she is sacrificing Hodor.  Jojen, Summer and Leaf all knowingly sacrificed themselves to save Bran.  I would like to have had that choice given to Hodor.

How long can Meera drag Bran?  What will the consequences of Bran’s actions be?  Will we see a wight Hodor?  Would his mind being held by Bran allow him to resist the Others magic, enabling him to aid Bran?  Without a Coldhands cast, can we assume that Benjen will fill these shows?  While he has been theorized to be the creature we know as Coldhands, Martin has said this is not the case, but it’s obvious Meera needs help, ASAP.

Oh, almost forgot.  Complaint of the night?  Summer’s death.  Still alive in the novels. his death will be much more heartbreaking.  In Swords, when Greywind dies, it’s after taking out a butt-load of Frey traitors.  He’s fighting for his life, for Robb’s life.  He isn’t given this respect on the show.  We know nothing of how Shaggydog was captured and killed.  Nymeria is probably still alive only because she hasn’t had to be on screen.  How long do she and Ghost have?  Who knows.  On the show they are also a fraction of their size in the novels.  Their heads reach to a man’s shoulder, if memory serves.  The show likes it’s dragons.  Granted, a ball on a stick is easier to work with than a pack of dogs.  Just give them the deaths they deserve.

Until next week!