(Hodor. Spoilers. Hodor.)
There has been a lot of talk about how Season 6 of Game of Thrones is the first that will go into uncharted territory. But that hasn’t been quite true. Yes, there have been some important revelations and changes, but most of the biggest events involved things book readers had suspected for years, such as Jon Snow’s resurrection and R+L=J. Other elements in the season, from the Kingsmoot to the upcoming Siege of Riverrun, are taken from earlier books.
The end of last night’s barn burner of an episode, “The Door,” was the first time that book readers have had a true “Holy shit, what just happened?” moment in the show’s entire run. That’s partly the result of some excellent misdirection—most people suspected we’d complete the Tower of Joy sequence before Bran was forced out of the tree—but mostly it’s because the end of this episode was genuinely surprising and tragic. In less than ten minutes we lost Summer (how can we possibly be down to only two direwolves?), the Children of the Forest, the Three-Eyed Raven (Casting Max Von Sydow was a stroke of genius), and, last but far from least, Hodor. Hodor’s death was given extra resonance from the flashback that was occurring simultaneously: This was the moment that loyal Hodor’s entire life was building toward. It’s also, as David Benioff revealed in the “Inside the Thrones” feature that followed the episode, something that will definitely be in the books to come.
Aside from the deaths—seriously, how can there only be two direwolves left?—“The Door” was an episode built around one of Game of Thrones’s favorite themes: that the best laid plans of mice and men often lead to boatloads of unintended consequences that fuck everything up. Euron didn’t see Yara’s treachery coming after claiming the Salt Throne, and that will almost certainly screw up his plan to sail across the Narrow Sea and marry Daenerys, even if he does live in a world where it’s possible to, say, travel from the Vale to the Wall in a matter of weeks. Speaking of, Littlefinger is perhaps the epitome of this problem, as he will now have to deal with the backlash from having married Sansa to Ramsay—being Littlefinger, though, he was still able to drive a wedge between Sansa and Jon, even as he was being chewed out by the former. The scene between Varys and Kinvara in this episode, coupled with Hodor’s origin story, suggest that it’s possible that these moments were predestined, but that feels too neat for this show, where every action prompts a reaction, and every decision, good or ill, is punished in some way.