We’re in uncharted territory on Game of Thrones. There are no books to work from — even George R.R. Martin might be surprised with what’s happening on the HBO series — and things could get confusing. To help you out, after every new episode, our Thrones experts will answer your six most pressing questions. (Also, be sure to check out Uproxx Sports’ NFL logos-as-Thrones characters.
1. Can Sansa trust Littlefinger’s intel?
Ryan: One of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish’s most famous quotes is, “A man with no motive is a man no one suspects. Always keep your foes confused.” And for the most part, he’s been pretty good at hiding all his motives past his overarching quest for power. But it’s hard to deny that there’s something beyond self-interest at play when it comes to his relationship with Sansa Stark. Everything that happened between Petyr and Catelyn forged the man who Littlefinger is, and all that has tied him emotionally to Sansa.
Sure, it may be creepy in many ways, but it’s also sincere.
That being said, you get the feeling Littlefinger would toss his mother out the Moon Door to achieve his greater goals, and Sansa only sits so high on his list of priorities. Still, when a guy shows up with a massive army and an offer to help, maybe you should at least let other people know about it? Sansa keeping her mouth shut about Littlefinger and the Vale army sitting at Moat Cailin could end up being the worst political blunder since she revealed to Cersei Lannister that Ned Stark was planning on escaping the capitol.
Josh: At the season six premiere, actor Aidan Gillen told Vulture that Littlefinger giving Sansa to the Boltons was a “misjudgment,” the implication being that he didn’t know how much of a monster Ramsay is. Gillen continued, “He has so many plates spinning, and it’s not always going to work out the way you want,” adding, “He wants to be close to the power source.” Sophie Turner, on the other hand, said Littlefinger’s “not a stupid man. He knew exactly who the Boltons were, and who Ramsay was.” I believe Turner, and I believe Littlefinger is offering his sincere help. (I also believe this was David Benioff and D. B. Weiss apologizing for what happened last season.)
Does he care about Sansa? Maybe, maybe not. But he loved Sansa’s mother, and he loves power. He’s aligning himself with the team that he feels gives him the best chance at acquiring it. The Boltons are the slumlords of the North, but there’s nowhere for Littlefinger to go — he’s been promoted as far as he can at Vale Industries. Plus, would you wanna work for Old Man Bolton? But if the Starks are in charge, then maybe there’s room for advancement. So, like most characters on this show, it goes back to women and power.
2. Where is Varys’ unease of the Red Priestess coming from?
Josh: The ever-sassy Varys may have met his match in Kinvara, High Priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis, the Flametruth, the Light of Wisdom, the First Servant of the Lord of the Light. (This show puts even Fiona Apple album titles to shame.) She has a solid comeback for every witty putdown, and doesn’t look a day over 957 years old! As Tyrion pointed out, the Spider has a “healthy skepticism of religion” for a very good reason: when he was a child, Varys was sold to a sorcerer who drugged him and, well, kids, that’s how I met your eunuch. Varys’ manhood was thrown into a ritualistic fire — the flames turned blue and a mysterious voice from within whispered… something.
That part’s still unknown, but you can understand why Varys (who was later dismissed by the evil-alchemist, and lived on the streets until he became a master spy and joined the Small Council) is skeptical of another sorcerer, sorceress, or magic-person, even though he and Kinvara both want the same thing: for Daenerys, the “one who was promised,” to remake the world.
Ryan: If a sorcerer threw my genitals into a fire, that would sour me on magic, as well. And now this Red Priestess comes along, and she worships the flames, too. Not only that, but she seems to have an intimate knowledge of what happens when that particular spell is cast. Does she know the words because she saw what happened to Varys? Or because that’s the kind of spell she casts on the regular? From what we know of similarly dressed Melisandre, burning penises doesn’t seem like it would be outside her wheelhouse.
And that’s the thing when dealing with the Red Priests of R’hllor: the ends always justify the means, and their ends are pretty shady for servants of the light. Right now this new red priestess is working with Tyrion and Varys to sell the residents of Meereen on this new peace. That’s good! But what happens when some dark prophecy calls for an entire city to weep blood? And what was that about dragons purifying non-believers by the thousands again? Anything is justifiable when it comes to the Lord of Light and his battle against the Great Other. And as Varys pointed out, it’s not like these priests are always right when it comes to deciphering what needs to be done.
Josh: They’re not always right, but Tyrion knows that religion is nothing if not an effective public relations campaign, and now Kinvara and her kind are off to spread the word of Dany to the people of Essos. Who are they more likely to listen to: a dwarf and a eunuch, or an enchanting sorceress?
3. What are Yara and Theon up to with their rebel Iron fleet?
Ryan: Well, Euron totally stole Yara’s “Let’s Rebuild the Iron Fleet” campaign slogan, so it’s only right that she steal his idea of crossing the Narrow Sea and offering up her ships to Daenerys. We don’t know for sure that this is what she’ll get up to — Yara could just be headed to Dorne to team up with the Sand Snakes and create the ultimate dark horse alliance for control of the Seven Kingdoms. But there’s just something very Greyjoy-y about usurping the plan of the guy who just usurped your cheap wooden crown.
Speaking of that guy, what do we all think of Euron as he’s presented in the show thus far? Book Euron was definitely more badass by all measures. He showed up to the kingsmoot with one eye and chests full of treasure: What’s more pirate than that? He also had a magical horn that legend claims could control dragons. It was all much more compelling than the Euron we saw in this episode who did little more than admit he killed the last king of the Iron Islands and then let all the best ships in his fleet get stolen. Do you think Euron is going to redeem himself, or is the Greyjoy story all about Yara and Theon from this point onwards?
Josh: On the show, the Iron Islands are a presented as a place where the everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. Kill someone? Admit it in public, and you’ll be elected king (so as long as you don’t drown during your swimming test). It’s funny that you should mention Dorne. Euron actually reminds me of how the Sand Snakes were presented last season: underwritten, and underutilized. (Also, I’m just a simple small-town blogger, but wouldn’t it take weeks, if not months, to build a thousand ships? Theon and Yara have quite a head start.) But he’s not beyond redemption. I have a theory: Euron played a role in the burning of Dany’s ships in Meereen. Maybe he’s even funding the Sons of the Harpy. Now he can swoop in like one of her dragons, all hero-like, and offer his fleet to her. It’s not a bad plan, except for the part where he’s never met Dany. Otherwise, Euron would know she — let alone her Dothraki army, who hate water — would never agree to any of this.
4. What can we take away from the revelation that the Others were created by the Children of the Forest?
Josh: Before answering that question, first, a little history on the Children of the Forest: Westeros belongs to them (and the also-native Giants). They, the non-humans, were there first, many millennia before the First Men, the humans, arrived and ruined everything by cutting down the Children’s holy weirwood trees. The two tribes fought for thousands of years before a peaceful agreement was reached: the Children could have the forests, and the humans everything else. Things were hunky dory(ish) until the White Walkers attacked the Children and the First Men, leading to the creation of the Wall. Bran the Builder (the name isn’t a coincidence — he’s the founder of House Stark) constructed the massive divide, with some help from the magical Children. Author George R.R. Martin once teased that “more than ice went into the raising of the Wall. Remember, these are fantasy novels.” That comment is memorable after this episode, which shows that the Children essentially created the White Walkers, who were unable to enter the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave until the Night’s King touched Bran. If they can do that, there’s reason to believe they should be able to pass through the Wall…
Ryan: So much lore and so many legends to go through to figure out what may or may not happen. According to one tale, the Others can’t cross the Wall so long as “the Night’s Watch stays true.” But did they stay true when Ser Alliser and his men murdered Jon Snow? That’s the second Lord Commander murdered by his men, too. If there’s some sort of department of inspections that came by to rate the trueness of the Night’s Watch, I think they’d get a D.
But I get the feeling that the Others aren’t going to show up until they know they can cross. They certainly didn’t waste any time dropping the hammer on Bran and the Children living under the heart tree as soon as Bran doinked up the magic protections that kept them safe there. There’s no way they’re hanging out north of the Wall by choice — something is definitely keeping them there. What? Who knows. But maybe we’re one more vision away from learning the truth behind that part of the puzzle, too.
5. Is Hodor dead?
Ryan: At first, I thought so. I certainly shed a few tears for him as if he had died. But it’s worth noting that the undead army being held behind that door didn’t terribly maim Hodor from our perspective. The only person we really saw die in that scene was the boy Hodor used to be, Wylis. Wylis ended up getting his brain scrambled by Bran due to whatever freaky Inception rules hold sway in visions. But Hodor himself was still alive and kicking as the final credits ran, making me wonder if he won’t end up trudging after Meera and Bran in the next episode. They could certainly use the help, because wow are they ever boned, regardless of how long Hodor manages to hold the door.
Josh: It’s okay to admit it, Ryan. This is a safe space: Hodor’s dead. It might not be the last time we see him (Kristian Nairn teased, “You don’t actually see him [die]. It’s implied. So who knows? He may come back as a White Walker, maybe he got away”), but we’ve heard our last “Hodor.” That’s the bad news. The good news? His heroic act of bravery saved Bran and Meera’s lives, although now they’re out wandering in the cold like Luke on Hoth after slaying the Wampa. How are they going to get out of this one, with an undead horde hot (figuratively speaking) on their heels? Possibly with some assistance from a long-missing character we briefly saw this episode…
6. Was “hold the door” this show’s new standard for tearjerker moments?
Josh: There are two kinds of heartbreaking moments on Game of Thrones: 1) when someone dies, and 2) when someone doesn’t die. This probably applies to most things in life (you’re sad when your grandmother passes away; you’re gutted when your roommate eats the last frozen burrito), but it’s especially true on this show, where even what (or whom) is dead may never die.
The saddest I-want-to-cry death moment in Thrones history is either Arya watching her father literally lose his head — a moment that was darkly recreated in this episode; the performance got a thumbs down in the Braavos Daily — or the Red Wedding. If the Starks are discounted, then probably Maester Aemon’s final words (“Egg, I dreamed I was old”), Shireen getting burned alive, or, “hold the door.” (The Red Viper v. the Mountain fight was a different kind of heartbreaking.) I’ll never step into an elevator without silently whispering “Hodor” again. As for non-death moments, it’s Jorah pathetically telling Daenerys that he’s always loved her, right?
Ryan: I don’t know what this says about my feelings for humanity, but the saddest parts for me in Game of Thones always involve animals. “Hold the door” was tragic, but I was still reeling from Summer’s sacrificial leap into the undead and subsequent death. That leaves Ghost remaining by Jon Snow’s side, and Arya’s wolf Nymeria off somewhere in the woods. At the clip they’re killing direwolves on the show, it’s probably safer for her out there.
As for Jorah Mormont, he does seem to be the master of a different kind of sad moment. What makes it worse is how the other characters react to his feelings. Daario rubbed her rejection in Jorah’s face several times, going so far as to taunt him about what a dragon she was in the sack. And when Jorah let it slip (yet again) that he love loves Daenerys, she didn’t even acknowledge it, going all regal and giving him commands. I don’t blame her… She doesn’t know how to react to his unwanted advances as a woman, but she can play it off as fealty and respond as his queen. Hey, it could have been worse. She could have told him he was like a brother or father to her.
Josh: Or even worse, a sister. Jorah Mormont, forever alone.