I've been highly critical of Season 6 of Game of Thrones because it's been so grossly disjointed and at times the direction feels off. However, Episode 5 is one of the very best episodes of the whole series.
Before we get to the pivotal ending moment, let me talk about a few other things. First and foremost, the direction is excellent in this episode. This is the first GOT episode directed by veteran TV director Jack Bender, and man does he do a fantastic job. From the small scenes, such as Sansa taking on Littlefinger, to the grand scenes, such as Bran walking through the army of the undead, the compositions, blocking, and cuts, all work well.
I won't get into every scene, but there were a lot of very strong emotional moments in this episode. Jorah revealing his greyscale and his love for Daenerys. Yara seeking claim to the throne of the Iron Islands. The Red Priestess messing with Varys. Sansa, with Brienne at her back, telling Littlefinger about her hurt. Arya, reacting to the play about her family, and then questioning why she must kill her target.
This is all very powerful stuff. One terrific scene after another. Strong emotional moment after moment. It doesn't get much better than this.
But, of course, this episode will always be remembered for what happened to Hodor. The reveal with Bran standing before a young Hodor, as the Three-Eyed Raven is turned to dust, and the chase that follows through the cave--it's one of the best scenes of one of the best shows ever made. The series so needed this moment, and it delivered beyond what we thought it could.
So I'm happy. Game of Thrones is back, and oh is it good.