Their saviour appeared to be the Coldhands character from the books, and later revealed himself to be Bran's uncle Benjen Stark (the one who dropped Jon off at the Wall).
If there was any doubt about the two characters being the same person, co-showrunner D.B. Weiss has put it to bed.
"Coldhands Benjen obviously has a lot to do with the Three-Eyed Raven over the past several years since his disappearance and he’s got a bit of a window into Bran’s purpose," he explains in an 'Inside the episode' HBO video.
In the books, Coldhands is a mysterious figure from beyond the Wall who looks like a Wight but appears to have the intelligence of a human and be a force for good.
Benjen matched this description in the episode, arriving cloaked on horseback and carrying a flame flail.
Showing his disfigured face, he tells Bran and Meera how a White Walker stabbed him in the gut with a sword of ice, but the Children of the Forest stopped the Walkers’ magic from taking hold by plunging a shard of dragonglass into his heart.
"Benjen was so important in the early episodes," co-showrunner David Benioff added, "he’s an important character that just disappears it’s one of the mysteries that’s been out there for several seasons and we’ve been looking forward to bringing back."
Ned's brother clearly knows a lot about what Bran's been up to, and apparently will serve as his guardian as he prepares to face the Night King.
In a fast-cutting flashback, the episode also saw Bran get a glimpse of the Mad King for the first time.
You can watch the trailer for the next episode here.
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