‘Game of Thrones’ Recap 6×05: Time Is a Bran Circle

Isaac Hempstead Wright and Vladimir Furdik.
Isaac Hempstead Wright and Vladimir Furdik. courtesy of HBO

Editor’s Note: Wow, this is exciting! After half a season of sitting out the action, I, Drew Grant, mother of tvDownload, firstborn of the Whitehall Offices, Warden of the Corner Office Without a View, have finally learned how to warg in and take over these recaps. Expect to see my commentary in italics throughout. 

Vinnie: I’m pretty sure this episode of Game of Thrones just destroyed the very notion of chivalry. How can anyone expect me to ever hold the door for someone again without sobbing for 10-15 minutes afterward?

Ben: That was dark. That was like a montage of Forrest Gump running intercut with footage of him getting run over by a semi and convulsing by the side of the highway. Jesus.

Vinnie: There is a legitimate chance someone asks me to hold the elevator at work tomorrow and I immediately drop into the fetal position. I go into this show thinking I’m emotionally ready for anything and, surprise, I was WRONG. This was devastating. This was too much. This was SO sad. Or should I say HO-sad.

Ben: You should not.

Vinnie: I’m sorry. I’m still in a deep, black mourning period where humor doesn’t exist. It’s all I can do to not copy-paste the sad face emoji 10,000 times into a Word document and call it a recap. Hodor–lovable, loyal, and brave to the end–is dead. RIP, gentle giant. You’re throwing Game of Thrones-themed trance raves in a better place now.

A look inside one of those raves.
A look inside one of those raves. HBO

Ben: You mean not doing the literal heavy lifting of the kid who mind-assaulted you into simpleton-hood during his flashback shenanigans? Yeah, I’d say so.

Vinnie: The one thing I didn’t love is the explanation for the Night’s King being able to get through the Three-Eyed Raven and Children of the Forest’s defenses, which basically amounted to being super good at freeze tag. Like haha YOU’RE IT, also I’m bringing my army to straight slaughter your paraplegic ass now watch me.

Ed note: I also didn’t like that whole flashback to find out how the White Walkers were created. If I needed a zombie origin story that has absolutely no bearing on the plot at hand, I would watch Fear of the Walking Dead. Also, it’s still hella confusing! If those tree children created the White Walkers, why can’t they control them? Why are there 4 zombie prime guys who get to ride horses and are impervious to fire? Why do they want to kill their creators? What is the zombie end-game here? Don’t know; don’t care.

Ben: It highlights the shittiness of Bran. The fate of the world hangs in your hands, you immobile twat. SO many people have died to get you up to that tree — maybe follow the rulebook once you’re there?! Maybe the guy who has been there for 1,000 years knows better? Maybe taking a midnight stroll through a field of Ice Zombies, already knowing that people in flashbacks can sense you isn’t the best idea?

Oh, and another direwolf bites the dust because at this point Weiss and Benioff have revealed themselves to be insidious cat people, which is to say untrustworthy and possibly evil. Who is even left? Ghost? Nymeria, presumably?

Vinnie: Is it wrong that I couldn’t even remember of the name of Bran’s direwolf until I Google’d it? Summer? More like Fall, am I right? (I’m sorry, I’m still not in a good place). 

Can we talk about that Hodor origin story? Bran went back in time, which made him vulnerable in the present, so he Warg’d into Hodor in both the past AND the present, therefore setting in motion poor Wyllis the stableboy’s entire existence as a simpleminded giant, all leading to one, final courageous as balls moment where he literally puts an entire army on his back to save Bran and Meera’s life.

Ben: That’s how I understood it. And how ineffective was that Zombie army? Even before Hodor earned his namesake, they were being held back by a bunch of overgrown lilliputians and outrun by a tired teenager pushing a passed out teenager.

Ed. note: Yeah, but those zombies who climbed around the ceilings and walls like disgusting cockroaches really freaked me out. Still, didn’t explain why that tree child couldn’t have thrown one of her globes of fire from a safe distance DOWN the hall, instead of letting them overtake her. And how did so many zombies still make it bast the explosion when their one phobia (besides Valyrian Steel) is getting Scarecrow’d?

Vinnie: I still can’t really think about it without rigorously squeezing a stress ball. That was some next-level “time is a flat circle” nonsense. Somewhere, Nic Pizzolatto is openly weeping. (Well, more than he normal is, which is a lot). Let’s discuss some stuff from that end scene that isn’t directly Hodor-related, just so I can get my heart rate back down.

Ed. note: Oy! Not to mention the fact that the design of the tree from above is like a direct descendent of the True Detective spiral. 

First shot
So check it out: this becomes… HBO
...this, which looks a lot like
…this, which looks a lot like… HBO
…this. HBO

Feel free to send your Yellow King/Three-Eyed Raven conspiracy theories to my P.O. box, which I’ve hidden somewhere in one of my articles about either Game of Thrones or True Detective. (That should keep you busy for awhile.)

Ben: You’re exhibiting so many feelings about this. It’s disconcerting. They border on “Feelz.”

This episode got me like ^
This episode got me like ^ HBO

Vinnie: It’s interesting that the Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran “It’s time for you to become me,” and not just because Max von Sydow has the ability to fill every line he gets with so much gravitas it explodes. Because next we see these two, they’re again just casually watching some old Stark home videos. Bran’s ultimate, final test can’t be watching baby Ned Stark learn a vaguely inspiring Instagram quote, can it?

I think in order to “become” next level Time-Travel-Tree Master (unofficial title), Bran needed to realize his abilities aren’t all fun and, uh, Joy. I’m betting the Three Eyed Raven royally fucked someone near and dear to him in his past life as well, a moment with dire enough consequences to literally made him climb a tree with grief.

Ben: I’m so worried about is this time folding onto itself/”change history” bull. If Bran has a monologue about how he “has to go back to that one moment” I will lose my shit.  I smelled Lindelof on you last night, Game of Thrones. And there are definitely enough dead characters to fill the Sistine chapel in a clunky “character-based” finale.

Vinnie: I don’t know why everyone’s so concerned with Dany’s dragons, when apparently Sansa Stark has the ability to straight scorch Earth with her calm, righteous fury. Oh man, if you look up the word “satisfying” in your Maester’s journal, there’s a picture of Sansa making Littlefinger feel like the littlest finger of them all with the most deserved scolding in the history of scoldings:

Sansa: “Either you didn’t know about Ramsay and you’re an idiot, or you did know and you’re my enemy.”

Petyr Baelish: *mustache somehow gets thinner*

Ben: Go have a Powerade, Vinnie Boy, and let me to step up to the plate of “Feelz” for this segment because fuuuuuuuuck yes. God, could I love Sansa any more this season? This was the calling out of all calling outs. The strength, the attitude, the seething rage and anger.  She wasn’t just raped by Ramsay, apparently he enjoyed beating and cutting her too and she is ever so rightfully pissed at the daddy-uncle-lover that brought her there. Fans were so enraged at Sansa’s storyline last year but it has all brought her here. Also, business schools should teach the power move of bringing Brienne of Tarth to meetings.

Queen in the North.
Queen in the North! HBO

Also, she lied to Jon! Which, you know what? I’m all for. The “Inside the Episode” segment goes into how — for better or worse — some of Littlefinger has imprinted on her by now. She understands the need for keeping some options to herself and that a remorseful Littlefinger might be more useful to her alive than dead if rallying the north alongside Jon doesn’t work.

Six seasons in, Sansa Stark is officially done with everyone’s crap and I love every second of it. Marry me, Sophie Turner.

Ed. note: This scene was as brilliant a response to last season’s criticism of the gratuitously awful wedding night rape as it was a Ramsay Bolton girl-crush deflator. (So I have mixed feelings.) But I love how Sansa doesn’t even get graphic with what’s happened to her, it’s all left up to the viewer (and Littlefinger’s) imagination, which is somehow more horrifying than watching a hundred seasons of Theon crucification BDSM CBT. (DON’T GOOGLE IT, DON’T GOOGLE IT.) It’s like the creators were finally saying “See, there WAS a point to showing you all the violence and rape and torture, and that’s so when we DON’T show it, it makes the possibilities so much more terrifying to contemplate. And the upshot of Sansa’s surviving all this off-camera body-horror is that without ever seeing the moment in which her heart became cold steel, we know that she stands before Littlefinger, transformed.

Vinnie: I’m back. My Powerade tasted like tears and remembrances of friends long lost. But back to the Wall, where we got more team strategy meetings. I did love the subtle callback and juxtaposition to season one Sansa, whose biggest character trait you may remember is being ALL ABOUT embroidery.

Ben: Well! The embroidery is important. It’s the gravy of the meat pie, Mancuso. Keep your peasant propaganda to King’s Landing plot.

Vinnie: Also I’m really looking forward to Tormund and Brienne finally giving in to their forbidden lust, having a baby son, and naming it Hagrid.

Ben: is it weird that I really, really want to watch? Like, all of it. We saw a close-up of a wart-ridden — and I believe uncircumsized — penis in this episode in Arya’s storyline. Brienne and Tormund would be a beautiful dance by comparison. A Ballad of Bears.

Pictured: Tormund, Brienne, and Jorah Mormont's cousin Ser ThirdWheel.
Pictured: Tormund, Brienne, and Jorah Mormont’s cousin Ser ThirdWheel. HBO

Vinnie: Speaking of, Arya checks out Game of Thrones as produced by Adam Sandler and starring Kevin James. I’m pretty sure that fake Tyrion was actually Rob Schneider, all kidding aside. And man, it looked like they were just now putting on season one? Spoiler culture in Braavos must be out of control.

So, regarding the state of Arya’s plotline right now–I’m not even upset they’re still, STILL, doing the whole stick-whacking thing. Truthfully, I think if anyone in Westeros ever got a glimpse at how THAT particular sausage got made, they’d be a little more hesitant to hire the Faceless Men for anything. That’s like walking into the back of a restaurant to see the cook repeatedly bludgeoning a steak with a baseball bat and screaming “YOU’LL NEVER BE CHICKEN.” But hey, that’s another story, and also probably a spoiler for AMC’s Feed the Beast.

Ed. note: We know we’re going to see more of that theater troupe, though, because throwing Withnail in the background with one line would just be the world’s weirdest Richard E. Grant cameo. And yes, I’m including his stint as Jessa’s boyfriend on Girls.

According to Wikipedia, his character's name is "Izembaro."
According to Wikipedia, his character’s name is “Izembaro.” HBO

Also guys, that play was SO LONG because not only did Arya have to feel her Arya-rage over his father being played as a buffoon, but because she literally needed to be caught up about what’s happened with the rest of her family. Seeing her watch Sansa get married to Tyrion, you see a girl’s wheels start to turn. 

Ben: It does feel like we went back a step there. Arya’s back to obviously being someone again, asking questions, inquiring about faces… Do you want to lose your sight again?! Although, wow, does the Waif know how to Kung-fu. Those punches were fast as lightning and you what? It was a little bit frightening, though, in the end I really admired her expert timing… All right, I’ll stop. It had to be done.

Vinnie: My real problem is it’s been so long, and so uneventful, that I wonder why Arya is even still there? Does she have a non-flimsy motivation right now? I mean, yeah, she had the kill list, but there are approximately 1 billion other ways to get murder training in the Game of Thrones universe, and most if not all of them don’t involve the room at the back of Party City where they keep the old Halloween masks.

Ben: As to the Waif’s “You’ll never be one of us, lady Stark”… there are literally only two of you, home girl. Don’t crap on the new recruits. It’s a weirdly lopsided organization and either we need to learn more about its inner workings beyond vials of poison and hit lists or they need to let Arya go do her thing — which I predict will be where the season ends.

The Empire Strikes Whack.
The Empire Strikes Whack. HBO

Vinnie: Wow, that Kingsmoot doesn’t really work as a five minute scene, huh? At the least, it made the Ironborn look really, really dumb. “Boo women! Wait, pirate ships you say? Hooray, women! Wait, dragons and bewbs you say? Hooray Euron!” It was like a 14 year old finding out you can have an opinion on the internet for the first time.

With that said. absolutely everything would have been forgiven if Euron had just straight up drowned during his crowning ceremony. Double points if it was followed by five uninterrupted minutes of the rest of the Ironborn standing around awkwardly looking at each other. Triple points if they played the Curb Your Enthusiasm song over it.

Ben: Calling it now, this most certainly is not the next Oberyn. What a disappointment! He’s just your barrel-chested, neckbearding uncle that keeps making fun of his effete East Coast nephew’s fancy three-syllable words, questioning his manhood at dinner and mocking his niece’s feminist rhetoric. We all have a Euron in the family and that guy gives you a Trump biography at Christmas. There’s nothing new or bold about that guy except maybe his ridiculous crown.

"Come on Damphair, let's go pawn some newbs"
“Come on Damphair, let’s go pawn some newbs” HBO

Although his master plan to marry Daenerys is interesting in that it is yet another move to make this world smaller. It’s pretty clear now that burning her ships in the first episode of the season was to set up this turn. I’m at least interested by that. Of all people, Theon might even get to meet Dany if he and Yara make it to Essos first! Who would have thunk it?

Ed. note: I was like 100 percent convinced this was Joshua Jackson. Because why not? It’s another couple months till the next season of The Affair.

Vinnie: Speaking of Dany’s love-life: poor Jorah Mormont, man. He helped save Dany from a lifetime of imprisonment and Dothraki shuffleboard, revealed he’s slowly dying an agonizing death, and even dropped the L-bomb because hey, why not, he’s about to become an actual statue and not just an emotional one. And Daenerys even forgives him for being a legitimate spy, selling secrets to the king who murdered her whole family. And still, the best he gets is “Once you find the cure for this horrible, grotesque and above all incurable disease, travel back here. I have a ‘Love You Like A Brother’ collage to give you.” Ser Friendzone until the end zone, it seems. 

Ben: That Daenerys Stormborn, man. She maneuvers the friend zone with elegance and poise, and just the right dash of high school mindf*ckery. I literally can’t feel worse for Jorah. It’s like telling the girl of your dreams that you have a terminal disease AND that you love her, right in front of the guy she regularly sleeps with and that just spent an entire road trip telling you to smell his fingers. But hey, at least she doesn’t want him to die or whatever.

Doubt Daenerys has ever even seen Titanic
Doubt Daenerys has even seen Titanic HBO

Ed. note: God, poor fucking Jorah. He just wants out at this point. He’s like “Yep, I love you, byeeee!” and that was going to be the perfect mic drop ending to his noble, grey-scaled character. And then Lady of Dragons over here falls for the classic neg, and she’s like “Wait, I’ve got another mission for you! Go like…find a cure for whatever you have, because I’m going to need you by my side and just be super into me, for always.” He should do what all my exes do and be like “Sure, I’ll BRB” and then move his ass to the Westeros equivalent of Pittsburgh to be a bartender.

Vinnie: At least things are looking up in Meereen, where Tyrion and Varys took on their very own servant to the Lord of Light, Kinvara, who has some very impressive blood magic experience on her resume. They do this, mind you, knowing full well that Stannis did the same and had the most hilariously abrupt downfall of anyone on this show. Tyrion doesn’t even have any daughters to burn at the stake, so what could her game plan possibly be? My only wish for this scene was that after Varys brought up Melisandre, Kinvara was like “Oh, her? Homegirl is like 500 years old. You DID know she was like 500 years old, right?”

Ben: “Hi, my name is Kinvara and I totally read the Wikia.” Who is this? Who are you?! Are the Red Priests a matrix of interconnected droids that all experience the same things concurrently. WHO ARE YOU?! That was sexless sexposition. Smirkposition.

I’m not sure I agree with Tyrion’s recruiting of the Red Priests to Dany’s cause. It’s a lot like what his sister did in King’s Landing last season, arming the Sparrows and look how that went. It’s interesting that they’re trying to use religion for political purpose but it just seems like a powder keg of R’hllor monologues waiting to happen.

Vinnie: In other explosion-related news, remember when this show made a whole point about how you should never, under any circumstances, keep dragons locked up in the dark? Are those two dragons…still just chilling in the basement?

Ben: Remember that they’re underfed and have been chained to catacombs for at least a year now. It’s like releasing Robyn Arryn onto a jousting field. They need time to adjust to the sunlight. Considering the direwolf budget is now down to zero — as I don’t believe Jon took Ghost with him — we’ll probably see more dragons soon. The show is getting pretty heavy with the fantastical these days.

Vinnie: I don’t mind it. Political intrigue, high-born subterfuge, the dances of kings and queens, that’s all great. But sometimes a tiny fairy-lady needs to come along and shove a magic rock into a dude’s chest, ya know?

Ouch. Right in the Feelz.
Ouch. Right in the Feelz. HBO
‘Game of Thrones’ Recap 6×05: Time Is a Bran Circle