In the second episode of Game of Thrones' Season 6 ,it was revealed Hodor was once named Wylis, a talkative young man who hung out with Ned, Lyanna, and Benjen Stark when they were all children. Up until now, Hodor has been regarded as a minor character whose primary function appeared to be transporting Bran from place to place. Suddenly, Hodor seems way more important. The gentle giant of a man once had plenty of words to express himself, and now he's left with just one: Hodor — and it is not even his real name. That begs the question, what happened to Wylis? The answer may be based in very real science and link the character to the show's biggest mystery.
NY Mag dived deep into the science of speech loss and suggested that Hodor may suffer from expressive aphasia. First diagnosed in 1861, it is a condition which causes the progressive loss of speech. In less severe cases, people suffering from expressive aphasia can string together sentences, but, in more severe cases, a person's vocabulary can shrink down to a single word, like say, Hodor.
Stroke patients are the most likely sufferers of expressive aphasia, but the condition can also be caused by head trauma. Wylis, who worked as a stable boy, could have experienced a head trauma from being kicked by a horse, or, if he truly is holding valuable information to the plot, being part of the raid on The Tower of Joy.
By now, you are probably familiar with the popular R + L = J theory, but, just in case you aren't, here is the short version: fans believe that Dany's older brother Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned's sister Lyanna are the true parents of Jon Snow, and that Lyanna died giving birth to Jon at The Tower of Joy. Ned led a raid on the tower to rescue Lyanna, and, once he made his way to her, he made his sister a mysterious promise. Most people believe that promise was to keep Jon's Targaryen lineage a secret to prevent him from being killed.
In the books, there is no mention of Hodor fighting in Robert's Rebellion, the war that led to the Mad King Aerys' death and the end of the Targaryen reign. However, the show is doing its own thing this season and Bran's visit to the past suggested Lyanna and Wylis could have been confidantes. There was definitely a familiarity there, and, although Wylis was never much of a fighter (and Old Nan wanted to keep it that way), he may have picked up sword if it meant rescuing Lyanna or fighting alongside Ned. This would be especially true if Wylis harbored a crush on Lyanna, who appeared to be kind to him.
Wylis' lack of skill when it came to fighting could have easily led to a traumatic brain injury, but what if that injury is preventing him from telling the world that Lyanna Stark is Jon's mother? The secret of Jon's lineage could have been locked in Wylis' head this whole time. Maybe Ned was not alone in the room when Lyanna died at all. Wylis could have been with him and "Hodor" could possibly even mean "hold her" if Wylis held Lyanna as she died. I could be stretching here, but I would not put it past the show to reveal Wylis and Lyanna have a connection no one ever expected.
The idea that trauma to his head could have led to Wylis' loss of speech and a life spent with no other word but Hodor to express himself is heartbreaking. Wylis could be yet another person whose life was irrecoverably changed by the events of Robert's Rebellion. One violent blow to the head while in the service of the Starks may be the origin of Hodor, and the end of Wylis — and in this world of fantasy, Wylis' fate could very well be grounded in science, making it all the sadder.
Images: HBO; Giphy