Season 6 Episode 5 of Game of Thrones, called “The Door,” opened up an entire new view on time travel and the role it might play in the series, which we will be exploring in this post. Share your own theories in comments at the end of the story or let us know what you think about the different ideas.
Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 5. Continue at your own risk.
Game of Thrones dropped a big ol’ bomb on us, and fans are still trying to pick up the pieces. How did Meera’s saying “hold the door” in the future cause Hodor to lose his mind in the past? Does that create a time paradox? Why did Bran and Bloodraven watch an old re-run of little kid Ned and Hodor when they could have been watching something more interesting like, oh I don’t know, the Tower of Joy? And just how powerful IS Bran?
Fans have been wrestling with these questions and we’ve clipped some of our favorite thoughts on the matter below, along with some commentary about the top theories on how the show is using time travel. These fan theories almost all contradict one another, because this is still very much a mystery. And that’s why we love it.
First, let’s review what we saw happen in the episode. Bran was with Three-Eyed Raven in the past, watching the younger versions of Ned and Hodor in a scene where he felt very much at peace and at home. At this point, the Night’s King shows up with the White Walkers and their wight zombie hordes to descend upon what some people call the “weirwood.net” servers. Bran heard Meera yelling at him to warg into Hodor. He does something that is still debated, Hodor in the present is taken over, and he pushes open a door and gets Meera and Bran out to safety. Then Meera yells “hold the door!”
The ‘Hodor is a Greenseer’ Theory
In a Reddit thread titled “My Bran and Hodor theory,” submitter enzaz92 suggested that Bran didn’t warg into Hodor’s past self at all, but Hodor is a greenseer himself, just like Bran. According to this theory, Hodor had a vision of his future death and that is what caused the brain damage. Most people in the thread disagreed with the theory, but it’s a fascinating, out-of-the-box idea. Here are some quotes from what enzaz92 wrote:
So it seems like most people think that Bran can affect the past, but that wasn’t my initial reaction… The scene then cuts back to Bran and his vision. We then see Hodor’s eyes change and he falls into what appears to be a seizure. … Ok, so what happened? I think Hodor was a greenseer much like Jojen was. Hodor had a vision of his future/death and fell into a seizure. Jojen also had seizures due to his visions. However, Hodor’s seizure left him permanently damaged.
TL;DR: Bran can’t change the past (the ink is dry), Hodor was greenseer.”
Many Redditors disagreed with this theory, insisting that Bran had indeed warged into present Hodor through the past. However, some fans have found reasons to give this theory more credence. For example, they point out that past, younger Hodor showed no signs of being warged when Bran first warged into future Hodor. He didn’t have a seizure when older Hodor was first brought under control.
However, others point out that because Hodor isn’t a greenseer, the act of creating a bridge between his younger consciousness and his future consciousness was too much for his mind and it broke.
Some Fans Are Worried This Could Make the Show Too Time-Travel Focused, With Bran at the Center of Everything
Some fans are worried that the show will lose its heart and inner conflict. If Bran truly can control the past, they point out, then he could be the source of every conflict and problem in the show. But that outcome would cheapen the show for them, they argued.
On Reddit, Yauld created a thread devoted to this topic. Here is some of what Yauld wrote:
After tonight’s episode, we find out that Bran can not only make sound ripples in the past … but also interact and directly cause the past, present and future. … G.R.R.M has repeatedly said that the only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself. … However, mainly, it (time travel) also worries me.
Did Aerys … grow paranoid? Did generations of inbreeding make the gods ‘Flip a coin,’?
Nope, it’s me Bran Stark! Bran did it. It wasn’t the human condition… It was Bran Stark on a time travelling adventure. Oops!
Yauld went on to point out more moments that could be cheapened if Bran were at the heart of them. He mentioned Benjen, Varys’ kidnapping by an evil wizard, even the existence of the gods themselves:
That’s right, – the complexities of religion – flame gods, belief, non-belief? … I was the god damn gods all along! It was Bran! I played you all like fiddles! I also speak from the water as the drowned god, I showed Melisandre ‘Snow’ when she asked for Azor Ahai, I am the old and I am the seven. I am the weirwood trees in the forests.
If you want to read more about Bran’s whispers in Game of Thrones and what clues we might find in the book, please read the story below:
A Future Bran in an Alternate Timeline Might be at the Heart of the Story
One favorite theory of Game of Thrones fans is the idea that a future Bran, somewhere in an alternate timeline, is affecting everything. Somewhere in the future, he is altering the timeline trying to fix what he broke. Considering how many things Bran seems to be messing up, some fans don’t think this is too far-fetched.
On Reddit, Thefinalnights wrote:
There are many threads in here suggesting that time is linear or that time is pre-destined. But consider that it’s not. Consider that Bran=Lord of Light theory isn’t Bran in our timeline manipulating this timeline’s events. Consider that Bran is stuck in an alternate future, tethered to a tree somewhere, where the Others/White Walkers have already won. What we’re observing now is a timeline where Bran is trying to fix that timeline and in so doing, look at all the suffering he’s creating for the ones he loves to save the world. That’s a heart in conflict with itself.
For more about the theory that Bran is the Lord of Light, Thefinalnights on Reddit wrote a long description of the idea here.
Most fans didn’t buy into the idea, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.
Hodor’s Dying Mind Was Transferred Into His Younger Self
Some fans are not happy with the idea that Past Hodor’s mind broke because he saw his own death or is constantly reliving it. They posit a different theory, which is the idea that Present Hodor’s mind was transferred into his younger self. The problem is that this didn’t happen until he was almost dead.
On Reddit, submitter coppin-it-washing-it wrote the theory quite eloquently:
Bran does as she asks, and wargs into current-day Hodor to get them out of there. As he is doing that, he notices that young Hodor in wierwood.net can see him. Then, (I think) it all connected somehow, and the fake Bran in the past connected to the sleeping/warged Bran in current time. This also propelled Wylas’ mind forward in time to his old body, while still kind of being controlled by Bran. He does as Meera asks, and holds the door. He is thinking ‘Hold the door’ while his past self screams it out. Then, the wights begin stabbing and clawing him, and Hodor begins to die…
He goes on to explain:
He died, and the last bit of that connected mind between past and future Hodor was the only thing that remained. So, from that day on, young Hodor could only say Hodor, as he was almost braindead when his mind went back to his younger self.
This would also explain why Hodor is so afraid of fighting and even the crypts of Winterfell. It reminds him of when he got stabbed somehow. And he hates Bran’s warging into him because it subconsciously reminds him of how felt when Bran was in his head as he died.
On Reddit, 20person came up with the same theory:
I just had a really horrifying thought. What if when present day Hodor died, his mind was slowly being transferred back to his old body? The more present Hodor gets stabbed, the closer his body is to dying, so more of his mind gets sent back in time. Eventually, present Hodor’s mind (who can only say the word ‘Hodor’) ends up taking over young Hodor’s body. The worst part is, this completes the loop, so he has to go through this over and over again each time he dies, trapped in that cycle of torment…
Perhaps Hodor’s Mind Was Never Broken in an Original Timeline
Some fans don’t like the idea of a paradox and the only way to avoid one is by allowing multiple timelines. In this theory, there is an original timeline that we never saw. In this timeline, Hodor was not brain damaged at first, but still ended up traveling with Bran and Meera
Redditor Derek Wilson wrote out the theory here:
This is how I rationalized it as well. Add that we are watching at least the second timeline. In the first timeline, Wylas never broke his mind but somehow ended up in an identical circumstance as Hodor did. That would solve the time loop paradox.
Other fans dislike the idea and believe that Hodor would never have traveled with Bran and Meera if he had not been brain damaged. But it’s not impossible to imagine a timeline where a healthy Hodor becomes Bran’s protector, similarly to how Brienne became Sansa’s protector. (In fact, there’s a theory that Hodor and Brienne are distantly related, which you can read here.)
Which theory do you like the best or do you have your own theory? Let us know in the comments below.