Spoiler-free summary: Season 3 hits its stride in a less epic but more plot driven episode. Sam and Gilly continue their journey south, Jojen Reed has a vision, Jon and Ygritte discuss their new relationship, the wildlings look to the wall, the Brotherhood have a surprise visitor, Theon’s captor plays a game, Robb negotiates with the Frey’s, Lord Bolton decides the fate of his prisoners, Tywin pushes to secure his betrothals, Varys and Littlefinger discuss differing ambitions, and Sansa’s dreams shatter around her.
As someone who loves Game of Thrones so much it borders on the pathological, a GoT review presented the perfect opportunity to introduce you to both my mental instability and written voice. Peachy, here, and it’s very nice to meet you.
You may be wondering why I would bother reviewing a show six episodes in to its third season. That question can be simply rebuffed. I have read A Storm of Swords; arguably the most important events in GoT history will go down in the next five weeks and I am so excited to be discussing them with you! As the totally irrelevant Dothraki phrase goes anha dothrak adakhataan (i’m about to eat).
* Episode spoilers galore from here on *
‘The Climb’ opens with Gilly completely undermining Sam’s manliness. In a subtle attempt to salvage it, he shows her the dragon glass he found at the Fist of the First Men back in season 2. I’m sure we know this show well enough to realise that that an ‘oh, look at my dragon glass’ moment wasn’t just a scene filler. However, a nice scene that featured John Bradley singing a Southern lullaby referencing the Seven, and a convincing interaction between the two characters.
I wasn’t as convinced by the rabbit skinning argument, though Meera’s comment about punching rabbits to death was something Joffrey might have lol’d at. Undoubtedly, the highlight of this scene was Hodor waking up and saying ‘Hodor’. BEST. In terms of plot, though, the development here was Bran discovering that Jon Snow isn’t just chilling at Castle Black, and that stuff is going down at the Wall.
This episode gave Jon and Ygritte the kind of chemistry they’ve been missing all season, with some great dialogue (“don’t betray me…i’ll cut your pretty cock right off and wear it around me neck”) that made me sad that we didn’t have some banter in the lead up to last weeks cave-happenings. Water under the bridge though, as this episode more than made up for my doubts concerning TV JonGritte. The last scene removed them completely.
Back in the south, I found myself starting to hate Melissandre less – which makes no sense – but it might be because she recognised Arya for how badass she is and all but told us all how badass she will be in the future. Her cross in to the storyline of the more relatable Brotherhood also shed light on (pun intended) differing styles of worship when it comes to the Red God. R’hllor continues to gain significance in the series; what began as a foreign religion to reflect how weird we all think Stannis is has become a real and major power in the world. On a semi-unrelated note, Paul Kaye is excellent as Thoros of Myr.
The main source of action in The Climb comes, unsurprisingly, with the climbing of the Wall. Scenes that were epic enough in their own right (seriously, this stuff is standard now but imagine how amazing it would have seemed back in season 1?) were made even better by some pretty awesome CGI and fantastic JonGritte moments.
Photo: The Washington Times
Elsewhere we finally got to see Iwan Rheon have a real stab (pun also intended) at playing the messed up Ramsay Snow (Theon’s torture dude) in a long and uncomfortable scene. I’m pretty sure the director achieved what he was going for here, but the whole thing was just too weird and jarring for me. Rheon does a good job at portraying Ramsay’s instability, but not how…dangerous he is. He just comes across as a twisted kid. The writers decision to follow Theon’s journey on screen (when it fizzles out for a few books in the series) is not one i’m too keen on, but hey, call me old fashioned for not wanting to watch peoples fingers being skinned every week.
Robb’s negotiation with the Frey’s sets up some major events for later this season. It’s weddings galore it seems, with Edmure Tully agreeing to marry Walder Frey’s daughter in exchange for their continued allegiance to Robb. Meanwhile in Harrenhall, Lord Bolton shows he has a greater agenda than appearances suggest as he considers what to do with Jaime and Brienne. As always, the interaction between these two characters is subtly fantastic. Yet despite how much we love them, it seems Jaime is off to King’s Landing while Brienne is, uh, not. Look forward to the next episode for where this one goes.
We finally got a scene with Diana Rigg (Lady Olenna) and Charles Dance (Tywin)! Huzzah! I was anticipating this one almost as much as an Olenna-Tyrion scene, and it did not disappoint. However here Tywin wins the upper hand, securing a Cersei-Loras engagement by threatening to name Ser Loras to the Kingsguard. Smooth move. But not before Lady Olenna quizzes him on his homosexual experiences and lands a massive burn in reference to Cersei and Jaime’s ‘activities’. This character is the best.
So it seems Loras will be marry Cersei, who may be more seasoned than Sansa but as Tyrion quipped, is still “missing some of his favourite parts”. It’ll be interesting to see how Shae reacts to Tyrion’s new betrhothal next week, and how the show handles the Tyrion-Sansa dynamic.
The title references the literal climb experienced by the wildings, as well as the metaphorical climb in the Game of Thrones, which Littlefinger so chillingly reminds of us of. Scenes with Littlefinger and Varys are always excellent and this one was especially memorable. The writers are getting in at least one death per episode and this weeks unlucky lady was Ros, the northern whore we’ve known since episode 1. Despite not existing in the books, she has had a pleasant arc over three seasons and has done pretty well to last this long. But it seems cruel that her demise should be at the hands of Prince Prick, back in true form this week after a month or so of skipping through halls with Margaery. But not before impaling Ros’ knee, arm and a bit of bed post. In any other series the death of a recurring character would trigger an inkling of mourning, but my heart has been turned to stone by GoT. Ros’ death is like a toe-stub if you think back to Season 1’s “Baelor”.*
Dany was absent but not necessarily missed. Rhythmically, this episode flowed better than others of the season. That can be attributed to the loving hands of producers Benioff & Weiss, who penned the episode. Both dudes are very talented writers in their own right, and have done a beautiful job converting the series from books to small screen. And we have them to thank for the inclusion of the stunning Above-the-Wall shots in the episodes final minute. Wow.
* slight spoiler: my heart will be iron by the time season 3 ends.