SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS in this behind-the-scenes look at the Game of Thrones episode "The Door"! If you’re behind in your Game of Thrones watching and/or A Song of Ice and Fire reading, stop now and wait until you’re caught up - and even then, you'd better wait until your heart can take it.
The cave battle between the White Walkers and our heroes in this pivotal episode needed all of the things to happen: stunts, VFX, SFX, art department, new ways to work inside a small set, friendly floors for fights and falls, pyro, wire work, green screen, air mortars, extensive make-up and prosthetics taking up to 10 hours (in the case of the Children of the Forest), all ending with tears when a wrap was called on Kristian Nairn’s beloved character Hodor.
Will we ever get over that Hodor death scene? No. And that’s fine. Hodor forever. Also, Summer. Let’s pour a 40 of arbor gold on the ground for yet another lost direwolf.
But before we get to that particular Gulf of Grief, let’s look back at what led to Hodor's momentous sacrifice for his friends. A crazy battle was set off when Bran went warging by himself and got marked by the Night King. The touch broke the warding to the entrance of the cave, basically dispelling the magic that protected the cave from the Night King, the White Walkers, and their army of wights.
Leaf and the other Children of the Forest fended off the White Walkers while Meera, Hodor, and a history-downloading Bran made a break for a secret back door in the cave. That corridor was the goal of Hodor’s entire life, as he hauled the new Three-Eyed Raven down it and away from certain death. As Meera pulled Bran into the blizzard of night, she called out for Hodor to "hold the door" - and because Bran was still warging/time-traveling with Wylis aka Young Hodor, the phrase seared into Wylis' mind and triggered a seizure that garbled the words into "Hodor." It was both his name and his destiny, which he fulfilled at last as he held the door while the wights' hands tore at him, allowing Bran and Meera to escape.
As awful as that moment was, it could have been even worse, according to the episode’s director Jack Bender - the original plan was to have Hodor ripped to pieces by the undead, Walking Dead style. But showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss thought better of it, arguing that an overly gruesome death would take away from the emotional impact of Hodor's loss for the audience. Good call. We did not need to see Hodor torn apart in front of us.Let’s look at what went into the cave battle, the demise of the Three-Eyed Raven, the possible extinction of the Children, the death of Summer, the rise of Bran, and the Hodor death scene we don’t want to talk about after this. Okay?
“I talked about it with Dave and Dan a lot. I said, ‘What the dead would be doing to Hodor would be ripping his clothes off once they got through that door. They would be ripping his flesh off. If the dead can go through wood, they’re going to be tearing Hodor apart.’ And they said something to me that really stuck. Which was ‘If it’s too horrific, we’re not going to feel the loss of Hodor.’”
Thanks for not taking the Walkers-rip-Noah-apart-in-a-revolving-door route.