Hodor: “Hold the door!”
Hodor just experienced one of the most heartbreaking death scenes we’ve seen on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” He lived the vast majority of his life as a simpleton for the sole purpose of holding the door just long enough for Bran Stark to escape from the White Walkers into the night with Meera Reed. (Bran better go on to do great things, or else Hodor’s death will be even harder to swallow.)
But what exactly happened to Hodor? We’ve got warging, greensight (visiting past events/seeing future events) and an all-out attack from the Night’s King all happening at once. That’s a lot to process.
Hodor Hold The Door Explained: Past and present were linked
“The time has come,” said the Bloodraven.
“The time for what?” asked Bran.
“For you to become me.”
“But, am I ready?” asked Bran. He seemed to already know the answer.
– Season 6 Episode 5 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”
Following this quote, the Bloodraven transports Bran Stark to a memory of the past in Winterfell. That memory is the day Bran’s father, Ned Stark, leaves for the Vale to serve as a ward for Jon Arryn (alongside Robert Baratheon). Young Hodor is present in the memory.
While Bran is visiting the past, the Night’s King and the White Walkers descend upon present-day Bran’s cave. In the chaos that ensues, Meera Reed is begging present-day Bran to warg into Hodor because they need Hodor’s strength to help them escape. The group is only capable of using Hodor’s size and strength during chaotic events to their advantage when Bran wargs into him, because Hodor is terrified of all fighting.
Past-Bran hears Meera’s present-day plea, and the Bloodraven urges Bran to follow her advice. He does, and successfully wargs into present-day Hodor and beings to escape. However, Bran also remains in the memory of the past with past-Hodor.
Present-Hodor successfully breaks through the door to leave the cave, and then Meera screams at him to close the door and “hold the door” to keep the Others trapped inside for as long as possible. Meera’s pleading chant of “hold the door!” is heard in the past as well (because Bran is still there).
Remember: back in Season 6 Episode 3 (and in similar events in the books), Bran calls out to his father during a memory, and his father turns as if he heard something. The Bloodraven explains that Bran very well might have been heard, but if so, it was nothing more than words on the wind. So it has been established that when visiting memories, Bran can indeed be heard.
However, Bran is not the only character involved in both the present-day happenings and past-day memory. Hodor is also present in both events, so he also hears the whispers on the wind of “hold the door!”
At this very moment, past-Hodor turns around and looks in the general direction of where Bran is — likely because that’s where the words “hold the door!” are mysteriously coming from. Nobody else in past-Winterfell reacts to the words, likely because they aren’t linked to the present-day events like Hodor.
Past-Bran then looks at past-Hodor in terror as he realizes what’s happening, and then past-Hodor’s eyes roll into the back of his head as if he had been warged. (When Bran previously successfully warged into present-Hodor, he was looking at past-Hodor, but he wasn’t looking into his eyes; perhaps that is important.)
This hearkens back to the quote from the Bloodraven that Bran is not ready. He is not fully ready to experience memories from the past by himself, evidenced by the fact that he stayed in the memory despite warging present-Hodor, followed by accidentally warging into past-Hodor at the same time. Perhaps the trauma of the event caused Bran to misfire. Perhaps the fact Bran was looking directly at past-Hodor’s face triggered the second warging. In any event, this seemed like a clear mistake on Bran’s part.
However, the Bloodraven transported Bran to this specific memory for a reason — and this is likely the reason why. While Ned Stark leaving for the Vale seems like the most important event of the memory, Bran was actually transported there because he was always meant to (accidentally) turn Hodor into Hodor. As sad as it is, the Bloodraven was simply making sure things are as they always were. “The past is already written. The ink is dry,” he said in a previous episode. You cannot change what already was.
The double-warging incident caused past-Hodor to mentally experience his grisly death, which was to come decades later. He was instantly transported to a traumatic event in the future in which he was being told to “hold the door” while being attacked by zombies. Past-Hodor’s mind was entirely transported into present day due to the double-warging, but his physical body was left unharmed.
Past-Hodor’s mind was returned damaged following present-day Hodor’s death. He woke as a simpleton who had just experienced his own death who could only say “hold the door” — slurred as “Hodor.”
For the rest of his life, and as noted above, Hodor was afraid of all fighting. We knew from the memory early in Season 6 that Hodor was not always afraid of fighting. It’s plausible to think that Hodor became afraid of fighting because every time a fight broke out around him, his true self — somewhere deep in his mind — was thinking: “Is this that fight that ends with my death?”
He held the door.