Hello I will help you with your question,
Yes removing the seat is the only way to open the door without damaging anything. There are bolts at each corner of the seats that you pry off the plastic trim and remove. These take quite a bit of muscle to remove so 1/2 inch drive tools and a cheater bar will be necessary or air impact tools if that is available. I think once you get the door panel off you will find the rod clip has broken, they are inexpensive at the dealer and if you bring the pieces to the parts counter they will instantly know what to get. There is minimum charge so you will want to get anything else you can use at he same time or you will pay $5 for a ten cent piece.
Please let me know how I can help