GAME OF THRONES: Season 6, Episode 5 'The Door'

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Game of Thrones has never fled or flinched when it comes to death, sex, or any subject deemed taboo by modern society. The show tackles these subjects with a type of maniacal ingenuity, deftly dictating our reactions to and perceptions of moments both celebratory and tragic. Whether it's a matter of fans crying out in protest over the rape and subsequent abuse of Sansa Stark or long-time Jon/Ygritte shippers rejoicing over the consummation of the couple's love in a steamy cave, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have always exerted their control over their audience. That control becomes even more apparent in the tectonic fifth episode of the show's sixth season, aptly titled The Door. Continuing the show's now-famous tradition of unceremoniously killing off beloved characters, this week's heartbreaking entry ends on a cliffhanger the likes of which none saw coming. If the last week's theme was triumph, this week's is most definitely tragedy.

Bran continues his “lessons” with the Three-Eyed Raven until an unexpected wrinkle dashes his hopes for an uneventful training period. Arya is slowly becoming more competent and more confident, but her journey to becoming a servant of the Many-Faced God has never been more confusing or more challenging. Euron and Yara Greyjoy vie for power, each of them firm in their belief that they're what's best for the Iron Islands. Jon and half-sister Sansa prepare to rally the North against the Boltons, while across the world, Tyrion, Varys, and company seek help from a powerful new ally.

In a stunning final scene that will reverberate throughout its past, present, and future, The Door finally reveals one of the show's last lingering secrets, one that has pervaded our minds and hearts since its auspicious debut. It's unclear what this means for the series going forward; it sheds more light on what's passed than on what's in store, but that doesn't mean it's not compelling. The fact that the show can turn minor characters into pivotal players in the span of seconds stands as a testament to its superior storytelling.

For the first time since he was introduced, Bran actually finds himself on the meatier end of the show's plot. His scenes not only shove the story in a direction that's both unexpected and undeniably exciting, but they also divulge more about what's been and what's going to be than any other character arc currently in motion. It'll be exciting to see where (and when) he travels next.

The Door is Game of Thrones at its very best. It's savage, enthralling, and utterly heartbreaking, and it will likely cement itself as one of the strongest, most upsetting episodes in the show's half-decade history. It still suffers from some blatant pacing issues, but that's easily overlooked once you recognise how propulsive and exciting this latest entry is.

Here's to hoping that next week's episode follows up on this spectacular instalment in a satisfying way.

Check back in next week for an in-depth review of the next episode, titled Blood of My Blood.

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