Valar morghulis. All men must die, even if the man in question is a Three-Eyed Raven. This week’s Game Of Thrones episode saw the omniscient tree man kick it, along with Leaf and her fellow Children Of The Forest; Hodor, whose tragic backstory is revealed and happens at the same time; and Summer, who joins several of her direwolf brethren in dog heaven. Here’s your weekly guide to the recently deceased:
Who died? Hodor, born Wylis, died at the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven after it came under attack by the Night’s King and his army of wights. Hodor was what is referred to in Westeros as “simpleminded” and was unable to say any word other than what was long thought to be the nonsense syllables “Hodor,” which is how he got his nickname. The great-grandson of longtime Stark servant Old Nan, Hodor grew up in Winterfell and worked as a stable boy at the castle, both before and after the traumatic seizure that caused his disability. After Bran Stark was paralyzed, Hodor became his constant companion, carrying the young lord on his back. After Winterfell was seized by Theon Greyjoy, Hodor was among the small band that fled the castle and accompanied his master all the way north of the Wall so Bran could begin his training with the Three-Eyed Raven. Gentle and sweet of disposition despite his enormous size, Hodor was a beloved companion who died as he lived: protecting the Starks.
How did they die? Presumably overpowered by the army of undead wights swarming the cave after their numbers grew too large for even a strong man like Hodor to hold the door to the cave closed.
How shocking was it? We don’t see Hodor’s death on screen, so the real shock was in the circumstances surrounding it, which explain how Hodor became Hodor in the first place. Basically, when the Night’s King arrived at the cave, Bran was warging back to Winterfell before Hodor became disabled. While attempting to warg into Hodor to help his friends escape in the present, Bran accidentally entered Wylis’ mind in the past as well, giving the young man a vision of his own death. The shock of the incident was so great that Wylis went into a seizure, and while writhing on the ground he repeated the words he heard echoing from the present—“hold the door”—and shortened them to “Hodor.” For the emotional impact, Hodor gets a 4 on a scale of “died peacefully in their sleep” (zero) to “eyes squished like grapes inside their skull” (5).
How awesome was it? It’s awesome that Hodor was able to give Meera and Bran enough time to escape, but we’re very sad to see him go.
How much do we care? Seven Hells, a lot. Hodor has always been a fan favorite, and it’s been assumed that without Hodor to literally carry his broken body, Bran Stark would die. Plus, that origin story was a real punch in the gut. On a scale of “nameless mercenary” (zero) to “Jon Snow” (5), Hodor earns the rare 5.
What does this mean for the show? With only Meera, who lacks Hodor’s immense physical strength, to help him move around, Bran is at a significant disadvantage north of the Wall. Frankly, we’re not sure how he will survive. On the bright side, actor Kristian Nairn’s DJ career can now continue apace.
The Three-Eyed Raven
Who died? The man known as the Three-Eyed Raven died during a siege upon his home, a cave underneath a weirwood tree deep in the haunted woods north of the Wall. His background is unknown; in his human form, he appears as an elderly man, though he frequently presents himself as his namesake bird in dreams and visions. A follower of the Old Gods Of The Forest, he was a master of Greensight, the ability to see faraway places and distant times. This power allowed him to travel through space and time, though physically his body had fused with the roots of the tree under which he lived. He was teaching young Bran Stark, who was also born with this ability, how to increase and control these powers when he died.
How did they die? Stabbed through the heart by the Night King, who was able to enter the cave after Bran accidentally touched the monstrous commander in a vision.
How shocking was it? This one kind of threw us for a loop, honestly, considering he had just told Bran that he wasn’t even close to completing his training earlier in the episode. Although, in Game Of Thrones, thinking someone is too important to die is usually a good indicator of their impending death, so maybe we should have seen it coming. Regardless, a solid 3 for the suddenness and violence of his death.
How awesome was it? He turned into black smoke after being stabbed, which looked pretty cool.
How much do we care? The Three-Eyed Raven didn’t even have a human form until the end of season four, so there’s not a lot of humanity to get invested in. Still, he was important to the story: 3.
What does this mean for the show? Bran is without a master, long before he’s ready. But given the Three-Eyed Raven’s considerable psychic abilities, maybe death isn’t the end for him.
Leaf (and her nameless Children Of The Forest fellows)
Who died? Leaf, one of the Children Of The Forest, died sacrificing herself so Bran, Hodor, and Meera could escape the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave, where she lived with several other Children.
How did they die? Using her powerful magic to charge an explosive, Leaf allowed the White Walkers to catch up and waited until they formed a stabbing scrum around her before she set off her device. It gave Hodor the time he needed to force open the door, allowing Bran and Meera to escape the wights.
How shocking was it? Leaf was more redshirt than anything, but damn, what a way for one of the Children Of The Forest to go. Her intense sacrifice garners a 4. We may not have cared about her, but her death made all the difference for some people we are invested in.
How awesome was it? Actually, considering she was getting stabbed by a scary undead horde, it was pretty awesome that she set off her explosive device while dying.
How much do we care? Not much at all. It never seemed like Leaf had much of a part to play in the story to come. As nice a gesture as it was, this is only a 2.
What does it mean for the show? Leaf, along with the other couple Children Of The Forest, all died fighting the Whitle Walkers in this episode—creatures of their own creation. We don’t know, but it’s possible all the Children are dead now, hoisted on their own petard.
Who died? Summer, Bran’s direwolf, died protecting him as he fled the White Walkers in the Three-Eyed Raven’s subterranean cave.
How did they die? Attacking the White Walkers while Bran, Hodor, Meera, and Leaf fled from the cave. A group of the wights surrounded Summer and took her down.
How shocking was it? This death isn’t on the level of the other death in this episode, especially since Summer was barely shown in the Bran-centric episodes leading up to this one. Still, it was surprising and gruesome that she tried to fight so many wights at once. We don’t see the undead tearing her apart, but Summer’s whimpers and howls make this a 3, which is like a 5 for a direwolf.
How awesome was it? The opposite of awesome—sad and unnecessary.
How much do we care? The direwolves are a small plot detail but nonetheless provide a unifying element among the Stark children. Unfortunately, that motif has turned from “each Stark has a direwolf” to “each Stark’s direwolf dies.” Summer’s passing gets a 3.
What does it mean for the show? There are now two direwolves left: Jon Snow’s Ghost (traveling with him) and Arya’s Nymeria (currently wild in the Riverlands, possibly leading a large wolf pack). Bran loses a special pet and protector, and Westeros loses a little of the magic that makes its capriciousness bearable.