Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Jack Bender
Sansa meets with Littlefinger after receiving a letter bearing his sigil. Although surprised to see Brienne, he expresses relief Sansa is “unharmed.” Sansa corrects her former guardian, forcing him to hear about the pain she endured with Ramsay. Dismissing his offer of aid, Sansa declares she will take back the North with her own army. In parting, Littlefinger informs her Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully has retaken Riverrun, and reminds her the army she has is not hers, but her half-brother’s.
Jon Snow takes counsel as to who might join the Stark army. Davos has concerns about Jon’s appeal, but Sansa is confident her trueborn status will bolster Jon's; his legitimacy is no different than Ramsay’s. She divulges news of the restored Tully forces, but not her real source. Once in her chambers, Sansa orders Brienne to ride to Riverrun and enlist the Blackfish to their cause. Brienne, hesitant to leave Sansa, also questions why Sansa withheld her meeting with Littlefinger. Readying to leave Castle Black, Sansa gives Jon a handmade cloak bearing the Stark sigil. The group departs, while Edd, in his first act as Lord Commander, remains in the courtyard and orders the closing of the gate.
The Waif continues to drill Arya, mocking her high-born origins. Jaqen H’ghar explains that the Faceless Men were slaves in Valyria before establishing the Free City of Braavos and the House of Black & White. Handing Arya a vial, Jaqen tells her an actress, Lady Crane, will be the next to receive the Many-Faced God’s “gift.”
Arya enjoys the spectacle of the actors re-enacting the War of the Five Kings, playing Baratheons and Lannisters, but her pleasure ceases when her father, and his execution, are caricatured. Arya sneaks into the dressing room to observe her target – the actress playing Cersei – who appears to be a clever, decent woman. Arya later shares with Jaqen her plan to poison Lady Crane’s rum. Arya suspects that a jealous younger actress, Bianca, has commissioned the kill. Jaqen cuts her off, reminding her a servant does not question.
Thousands of years in the past, in a lush green locale, Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven find Leaf and other Children of the Forest huddled in front of a weirwood tree with a man tied to it. Leaf inserts a shard of dragonglass into the man's chest, and his eyes turn ice blue. The Children of the Forest created the White Walkers. Pulled back to the cave, Bran demands to know why. “We needed to defend ourselves,” Leaf says, “From you. From men.”
Yara Greyjoy is met with skepticism at the kingsmoot until Theon asserts she is the “rightful ruler.” Her supporters’ cheers are interrupted by Euron Greyjoy, who steps forward to lay his claim to the Salt Throne. Accused of Balon’s murder, he apologizes only for not having done it sooner. Euron proposes re-building the enormous “Iron Fleet,” which he will deliver to Daenerys Targaryen in exchange for her hand in marriage. Together they will destroy the lords of Westeros and rule all Seven Kingdoms, not just the Iron Islands. After his proposal, Euron is chosen as king.
In accordance with tradition, the priest Aeron Greyjoy drowns Euron. When his brother revives, Aeron places a driftwood crown on his head. Euron rallies his supporters to kill Yara and Theon, but discovers they have stolen off with his best ships. The new king tells his subjects to begin building anew.
Daenerys debates what to do with Jorah, but he tells her he must be sent away. Revealing his ever-spreading greyscale, Jorah professes, “Tyrion Lannister was right. I love you.” Daenerys stops her loyal bodyguard from leaving to give one final command: Find a cure and return to her.
Temporary peace has come to Meereen, but Tyrion wants people to know that Daenerys is responsible. Looking for a voice the people will believe, Tyrion and Varys meet with Kinvara, a High Priestess of the Lord of Light. In order to prove her power to the skeptical Varys, she speaks of the night he was mutilated and heard a voice call out from the flames. The priestess asks Varys, “Should I tell you what the voice said? Should I tell you the name of the one who spoke?”
Bored, Bran grasps the weirwood and returns to the location where the first White Walker was born, only to find it now a frozen wasteland. He sees the Army of the Dead and walks amongst the wights, until the Night King, astride his horse, looks directly at him. Frozen in fear, Bran realizes the entire army has turned to face him. The Night King closes his hand around the boy’s forearm. Screaming, Bran opens his eyes in the cave; the Three-Eyed Raven tells them they all must leave; by touching Bran, the Night King has broken the cave’s magical protection. First, however, Bran must become him. “Am I ready?” Bran asks. “No,” says his tutor.
While the Three-Eyed Raven is transferring his knowledge to Bran, Meera notices a chill in the cave. She rushes to the entrance and finds the Army of the Dead gathered outside. While the Children try to hold them off, Meera runs back into the cave. Bran is stuck in a vision watching young Ned bid farewell to his own father, Rickard, in the courtyard at Winterfell, and cannot be stirred. Meera yells for the panicking Hodor to get Bran onto the sledge. Faintly hearing Meera’s pleas for help even in the past, Bran wargs into a terrified Hodor, who pulls the motionless boy through the tunnels alongside Meera, chased by wights from all sides. Bran’s direwolf, Summer, is killed in the fight, and Leaf sacrifices herself so they have a chance to escape out a back door.
Inside the cave, the Night King approaches the immobile Three-Eyed Raven, blade aloft. The old man tells Bran, “leave me,” and turns to ash in the courtyard as the Night King destroys his body. Bran sees Wylis staring at him, and the stable boy collapses to the ground, eyes rolled back.
Outside the door of the cave, Meera pulls the sledge into the blizzard, yelling for Hodor to “hold the door” against the relentless wights. As he does so, his past-self, Wylis – linked to him through Bran’s powers – begins to repeat Meera’s command. The dead grasp at Hodor, tearing at him, but he refuses to let them through, sacrificing himself to save his friends. In the past, Bran watches the convulsing young Wylis fuse “Hold the door” into one word: “Hodor.” The only word he’ll ever speak again.