Game of Thrones "The Climb" Review: A Tough Haul for All

By Tim Surette

May 06, 2013

Game of Thrones S03E06: "The Climb"

Oops. Just a couple weeks after I declared Game of Thrones' third season to be hands-down the best one yet, the series dipped into problematic territory with "The Climb." (Big disclaimer so some of you don't go into berserker mode: Even at its most problematic, Game of Thrones is still a fantastic watch.) 

Game of Thrones is based on books, so occasionally, watching it feels like reading a book. What's more, the show's source tomes double as dumbbells; at a weighty 1,000-plus pages, they're hardly quick reads, which means that at times we'll be slogging through some slow builds rather than regularly paced fire-breathing climaxes. That's what "The Climb" felt like to me, and the metaphor was not lost. No, it wasn't as hard as climbing a 700-foot wall of ice, but a lack of harmony between scenes and less doubling back to individual characters (only Jon on the Wall and the many creatures of King's Landing were seen more than once during "The Climb") made for treacherous and fragmented travel through the hour.

Of course, Game of Thrones is probably best gulped down in mini-marathons, where the viewer decides when it's time to end a session. If this were the book, we'd all just thumb on over to the next chapter, because who wants to end an evening with some spit-swapping on a giant block of frozen water? Even with the additions of "in between" storylines that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have created, they're still slaves to the chronology of the book. Maybe the way to watch Game of Thrones IS to just wait until the DVD set comes out and spend an entire Saturday immersed in it? 

Anyway, strap on your ice-climbing shoe picks and let's discuss "The Climb."

"You're both very good at skinning rabbits." —Bran Stark

Unless you're a survivalist who hunts game or your parents were killed by rabbits, I'm not sure what you could have taken away from the Super Kids Psychic Department. Osha and Meera got all catty over who was better at skinning rabbits while the "men" daydreamed. So the women do all the hunting and cooking while the men sleep? Are we sure Bran and company are a pack of wolves and not a pride of lions? 

I don't get Osha's anger toward Meera. Is this tough wildling woman feeling threatened by a teenage girl? Is their conflict even important? Bran's storyline is a drag in Season 3, with check-ins designed to make sure we know he still exists. Yep, he still exists. And yes, the kids still have dreams. But this time, Jojen's vision merely told us what was going on elsewhere (Jon is on the wrong side of the Wall!). Is Jojen getting Game of Thrones directly transmitted into his head? Can he also get Boardwalk Empire? I know I'd prefer mental replays of HBO GO over the voices that tell me to do bad things. 

One thing that was VERY IMPORTANT: Rickon said some lines! Good job, kiddo. Start your Emmy campaign. Also, where was Hodor? Was he just Hodoring in the woods? This episode needed more Hodor. Hodor.

"I  don't like that woman." —Arya Stark

Whereas Bran was just lying around doing nothing while nothing happened around him, at least Arya did nothing with interesting things happening around her. It's almost time to stop labeling this plot as Arya's and start calling it Thoros's or Beric's, but for the sake of consistency (and to honor Ned) let's stick with Arya for now. One thing we talked about last week was the power of R'hllor, the Lord of Light, and how the religion was more widespread than we initially thought. Melisandre used it to birth a shadow baby, Thoros used it to bring Beric back to life, and Stannis's wife Selyse evoked it to bless her jars of dead babies. There was a sense that those who embraced the flames and harnessed the power were new formidable foes, but in "The Climb" we saw that they have a way to go.

Melisandre showed up to the Brotherhood of Banners' clubhouse on business, but the matter of religious pleasantries came first. And what we saw was a great divide between the way Melisandre practices and the way Beric and Thoros keep it real with the Lord. Gee, one group of religious freaks does things one way, and another does them another way. I wonder where George R.R. Martin got the inspiration for that? But their discussion further explained how kooky this Lord of Light actually is. Melisandre was genuinely in awe of his (or her!) powers of resurrection, and I bet Thoros would be equally impressed if he knew she queefed out a shadow baby assassin. While various factions of the religion are fanatical in their own ways, no one knows exactly what the Lord of Light's powers really are or how they're used. And until these fire-loving nutjobs unify under one person (pick a leader and give him/her a giant funny-looking hat), they'll never take the throne without subverting the sitting king (something Thoros failed to do with Robert previously). 

But Melisandre was still betting on Stannis thanks to something a campfire told her, and her business with Thoros wasn't one of swapping religious one-ups. She was there to pick up Gendry, who as a bastard of Robert Baratheon, has some of that precious king's blood in him. I'm a fan of Gendry, so I really hope Melisandre's plans involve taking a few drops of Gendry's blood and turning him into a giant flaming killing machine instead of hanging him like a deer and bleeding him out. Any followers of R'hllor know the spell for turning a lobster into a king?

"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." —The unnamed guy who Theon must be pretty upset with by now

How bummed must Alfie Allen be this season? After a few seasons of starring in some of the funniest sex scenes in the series and prancing around like his poop does not smell, Theon is getting the business this season. Producers: "Hey Alfie, good news! You're in Season 3." Alfie: "Hey great, because Theon isn't really in Book 3! What am I doing?" Producers: "Mostly crying half naked and almost getting butt raped." Alfie: "Ummm..."

There's really only one more question remaining with this storyline (well, two if you care about whether Theon survives or not and if you do you are a kinder person than I am), and that's who this mystery man that is torturing Theon is. The man came up with a terrible-sounding game, and had Theon guess who he was and why he was treating him so poorly. Theon had his theories: he's one of Rickard Karstark's men getting revenge on Theon for betraying Robb. Sure, the man said. Except also I'm a liar, he said. Or maybe I'm a liar, he said. It didn't really matter, because Theon could have shouted, "You are The Eggplant King and we're in The Butterscotch Realm" and the man still would have given Theon an over aggressive manicure (maybe by the time this is all done, Theon can call himself the new Littlefinger or even Nofingeratall) because he enjoys it.

I'm really enjoying this truly wicked performance by Iwan Rheon (Misfits), but that's about all I'm getting out of Theon's story this season. Seriously, it's like the show isn't even trying to pretend it isn't dragging this out. Not only did they straight-up ask the ONE QUESTION we want to know about it, they blatantly ignored answering it with a bunch of crazy talk. Was this really worth taking away time from other characters who need the screen time? How about a few minutes of Pod walking down the street like a sex panther while all the ladies go rubber-legged and get the vapors in his presence instead? 

"Can I see her first?" —Edmure Tully

How many weddings can this season pack in? Is this a sweeping fantasy epic full of dragons and sword fights or is it As the World Turns? Game of Thrones? More like Game of Betrothed! The latest to have his hand forced into marriage was Edmure Tully, who was requested by Frey reps to marry one of Walder Frey's fugly daughters as retribution for Robb breaking his own marriage promise to Walder. We all know Edmure is the toolest of all tools, but how about that comedic timing by Tobias Menzies! His "Who me?" response to the wedding request followed by the "Uhhh, NO," was perfectly suited for the character. But it was the "Can I see her first?" that put it over the top. That is a very reasonable question, people! I would have lost it if someone said, "Maybe she has a cool personality."

There's no room for fairy-tale weddings in Westeros. Everyone else in the room knew what had to be done, but that's because everyone else wasn't about to commit to a life of waking up next to a buck-toothed dog (Frey ladies are reknown for their homeliness). "I had something less permanent in mind," Edmure said of making penance for letting The Mountain run free, but eventually he relented and said okay fine. What was he going to do? Marriage is merely political in Westeros, and if it means one rump ride to sire an heir and save the kingdom, then that's what it has to be. Everyone gets their jollies on the side anyway. At least Robb promised to reward him in return, so Edmure can think of that as lifts his wife's veil on their wedding day.

"Instead you're sitting here, watching me fail at dinner. Why might that be?" —Jaime Lannister

Here's another scene that just sort of sits there, a quick catch up with one of the storylines with not much payoff. "The Climb" did a lot of checking in with characters, but didn't give them much to do. It's as if we flipped the channel to make sure they were still alive, comfirmed it, then moved on. But since we're here, let's overanalyze it. 

If we learned anything last week from The Karstarks, it's that bannermen are fairweather friends. Yeah, they supported Robb, but only when it suited them (and okay, beheading the lord of a house is reason for that house to bounce on out, but if they were true to Robb they would have chosen loyalty to their king over thirst for justice). There's a similar potential situation brewing with House Bolton, and Roose Bolton's action with Jaime definitely raise an eyebrow. At some point, these bannermen have to make tough decisions about what team they're really on. Roose has a valuable chip in Jaime Lannister, but instead of selling him off to the highest bidder, he decided that once Jaime is well enough, Jaime can skip back to King's Landing into the open arms of his father and open legs of his sister as long as he tells Tywin the truth: That Roose had nothing to do with cutting off Jaime's hand, and presumably, that the decision to let Jaime return home was solely Roose's.

Sounds like someone is trying to curry favor with the reigning champs, doesn't it? With Robb's army Karstark-less and wilting, maybe it's not such a bad idea to suck up to the Lannisters. This game is all about winning; there's no future in being honorable. Sorry, it's true! This is a practical decision on Roose's part, but Roose's absent personality doesn't make it easy to appreciate it. Are you as suspicious of Roose Bolton as I am?

"Don't every betray me." —Ygritte

Whenever a woman says that, the next thing that obviously happens is that she gets betrayed. This week Jon's story provided most of the action via a small-screen fantasy version of Cliffhanger. They climbed the damn Wall! It was thrilling, for sure—particularly the wall-valanche that almost sent Jon and Ygritte to death by gravity (and splattering on the ground). But really, the most treacherous walk Jon took in this episode happened when he told Ygritte he wouldn't betray her, knowing full well that when the time comes, he might have to. He obviously has real feelings for her, and she does too, but if Jon is still a member of the Night's Watch, he's going to have to leave her behind. If you thought redheads were a fiery bunch, wait 'til you see how a wildling redhead acts.

The climb was capped off by a stunning view from the top of the Wall, one side looking north toward wildling white and the other side looking south toward what Ygritte has never seen before. They totally went for the PDA—much to Thormund and Orell's chagrin—in a sequence that I suppose was romantic but to me was a bit too Titanic-y. There's no room for actual love in Game of Thrones! Get a room!

"You men may have a stomach for bloodshed and slaughter, but this is another matter entirely." —Olenna Redwyne Tyrell

There was no finer scene in "The Climb" than Tywin Lannister and Olenna "Queen of Thorns" Tyrell verbally sparring the only way two old curmudgeons can. These two are the most fearless people in King's Landing, equal parts immovable object and unstoppable force. They're also quite different when it comes to social matters. Tywin is a scarier version of Rush Limbaugh (actually, Rush is probably scary enough on his own); this week, he referred to Loras's homosexuality as an "affliction" and a "stain." Olenna is progressive; she's not bothered by sexual preferences and had no problem asking Tywin how much grabass he played with his young same-sex cousins growing up (Tywin's answer was a definitive "NO," but methinks he doth protest too much). 

And their verbal war was really a battle of whose family has the dirtiest laundry. Loras is gay, but at least he isn't into incest like Cersei. If the incest rumors are true, then Joffrey doesn't have a claim to the throne, and Margaery's wedding with Joffrey would be a waste to the Tyrells. But Cersei may be too old to bear children, which would make Tywin's request of a Loras/Cersei wedding also useless to the Tyrells. Ultimately, Tywin threatened to assign Loras to the chaste Kingsguard—which would ensure the Tyrell name would fade away—unless Olenna agreed to Cersei and Loras, and the old coot relented because she saw no other option for the future of her family. But not without one last swing: She broke Tywin's quill (his real power), and said, "It's a rare enough thing, a man who lives up to his reputation." Which is another way of saying, "Everyone told me you were an asshole, and they were right."

"We're all being shipped off to Hell together." —Cersei Lannister

The scary thing about all this Loras and Cersei talk is that it's just as much about Sansa as it is any of the other parts. Who is undergoing more torture right now, Sansa or Theon? The princess was absolutely clueless about the behind-the-scenes machinations, and watching her lost in Loras' eyes was about as sad (pathetic, not depressing) as it gets. But all these machinations came to a head in the second half of "The Climb," providing a dizzying finish that moved disproportionately faster than the rest of the episode. 

Tyrion told Sansa (and Shae) about their marriage. Littlefinger found out that all his plans had been blocked by Varys' countermoves, particularly his hope to marry Sansa. Littlefinger had Ros killed by Joffrey for giving Varys information, and earned some favor from Joffrey in the process. Sansa wept delicious tears. And Littlefinger sailed off to the Eyrie to marry the Iron Throne of women (in aesthetics alone), Lysa Arryn. 

The realm is indeed slightly more protected thanks to Varys' interference, but it is also chaotic in that it relies on a trio of flimsy marriages. Littlefinger, always one to make the best out of a bad situation, sees the chaos as a ladder to climb to power. Does he already have a plan ready, or is this chaos he speaks of yet to come? 

Whatever the case may be, it must be said that Ros got the biggest ripoff death in the entire series! I'm totally inconsolable over this. She's just dead, hanging there with a bunch of crossbow bolts sticking out of her like one of Arya's target dummies while Littlefinger's ladder metaphor drones on and on. Ugh! It was shocking and it was cruel. if Game of Thrones really wanted to play to its strengths about how the little person can also have a huge impact on who sits on the Iron Throne, they would have given the sweet, dear prostitute a little more of an exit. After starting off as little more than a source of boobs and a character wholly created for the show, Ros became a much more powerful player and important part of the whispers. It's a shame she didn't get that respect she deserved.



WEEKLY POWER RANKINGS

Each week, I'll rank the episodes of Season 3 from best to worst. But remember, these are just my opinions! Feel free to post your own in the comments!

This week:
"The Climb" felt like that episode—you know, the one episode of the season that's just designed to get a lot of stuff out of the way at once, a hour that just has to take one on the chin. We checked in with characters but didn't spend much quality time with them. The scenes with Bran, Theon, and Samwell didn't give us much at all and felt unnecessary unless you wanted to hear Sam sing. In terms of structure, which will always be a challenge for Game of Thrones, "The Climb" didn't work that well. I think I'm dropping this to the bottom of the list as payback for my dear, sweet Ros. I was totally going to re-enact Pretty Woman with her, too. :(  

1. "And Now His Watch Is Ended" (Episode 4)

Jaime vomited horse pee-pee, Varys crafted a plot to derail Littlefinger's plan to marry Sansa, the Brotherhood Without Banners brought the Hound to trial, Dany got her army with a little trickery, and anarchy took over the Night's Watch. 

2. "Walk of Punishment" (Episode 3)

Dany concocted a plan to buy the Unsullied from their slave master and offered a dragon as payment. Jaime and Brienne found out that being untrue will cost them a lot more than their honor. Tyrion got a new job as Master of Coin, Catelyn attended her father's funeral, Hot Pie said goodbye to Arya, and Jon was headed to the Wall.

3. "Kissed By Fire" (Episode 5)

Themes of loyalty and oaths were explored with the help of Bryan Cogman's excellent script, creating an episode unlike most. Jon and Ygritte went hot-tubbing in a cave, Jaime and Brienne went hot-tubbing in custody, and Stannis's dead babies went hot-tubbing in jars. 

4. "Valar Dohaeris" (Episode 1)

The season premiere found Tyrion wondering why he wasn't getting dap for saving King's Landing, Jon getting pledged into the Wildling fraternity, Davos pissing off his friend's girlfriend, and Dany shopping for an army.

5. "Dark Wings, Dark Words" (Episode 2)

We saw Arya, Jaime, and Bran for the first time in this season. But the most exciting parts of the episode were the introductions of the Queen of Thorns, Thoros of Myr, and the Reed super siblings. And we may as well mention that Joffrey got a boner from imagining Margaery killing things, that pervert.

6. "The Climb" (Episode 6)

Jon and Ygritte climbed a big ice cube, and Tywin got his way with the King's Landings marriages. Sansa cried, Edmure was betrothed to one of Walder Frey's daughters, and Gendry was taken away from Melisandre.




NOTES FROM THE RAVENS

– Of all the characters in the series, Dany seems to be the one the show misses most when she's not included. Yes, she's a fan favorite and role model for all aspiring teen queen conquerors, but the geographical contrasts between the North, King's Landing, and Dany's desert beyond the sea is one of the simple visual pleasures of the series (and you're kidding yourself if you don't think half the fun of watching the show is just staring at it). We ALWAYS see the icy north in some aspect, but when the tan of the sand isn't around, I feel it.

– Not much to say about Samwell and Gilly in this episode except that they were in the woods on the run, with Sam in charge, so the next time we see them they'll probably be popsicles.

– Oh sure, when Joffrey has a crossbow and dreams of killing things it's disturbing and he's a serial killer in the making, but when Arya does it, it's adorable. Double standard!

– "It's more of a brooch, really." —Loras 

– "The Lysa Arryn of chairs." —Varys (Ooh, burn!)

– Arya may not like Melisandre, but the red witch pretty much confirmed that Arya will be killing a lot of people soon ("shutting their eyes forever"), so she can't be all that bad.

– Well of course Jaime isn't going to get anywhere using a two-pronged fork to cut his steak (he eventually moved on to a knife but who knows what he was thinking when he was using a fork). Pick that thing up and eat with your hand like a real man, Jaime!

– Tyrion took Cersei's silence to the question of "Did you, or did you not order Ser Mandon to kill me during the Battle of the Blackwater?" as denial. But why? She's obviously guilty, Tyr! Why did he come to suspect Joffrey? Or is it better for Tyrion to let Cersei convince herself that she didn't have a role in it? Perhaps he took Varys's advice about being patient with regard to vengeance; in calling Cersei out about it now, he gains nothing unless he planned to get her back right then and there. He's got an extra step on her if he knows Cersei did it while she thinks he suspects it was Joffrey.


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  • Dirk13 Jun 04, 2013

    Also, what, that picture of Dinklage wasn't worthy of captioning with the far better quote of his "I'm so ****ed" :P ?

  • Dirk13 Jun 04, 2013

    What exactly are these "in between" storylines they added?

    And actually, interestingly enough, I've been playing catchup, and have been watching multiple episodes at a time (three the other evening in fact), but oddly I DID stop at this one and go to bed, I guess because I was tired. The end of this episode was no hand being cut off or anything, so I will admit it to falling a bit short, but Little Fingers creepy goose bumpy speech about climbing the ladder of chaos was stuff slowly started to ramp up? That was pretty cool....and yes made falling asleep admittedly mildly discomforting.

  • Devon39219 May 19, 2013

    Oh gawd Ros... I hope Joffrey's end will be painful and filled with torture like Theons story!

  • ionee24 May 12, 2013

    I didn't even notice Dany was missing until you pointed out. Long overdue bit with Bran & Osha and How sweet are Sam & Gilly?

  • ElisabethMuld May 10, 2013

    I was a little late with watching this episode (due to moving halfway across the world, which nobody cares about), but i gotta be honest Tim I understand that you may not have liked this episode, but your overall negativity was completely baffling to me. I thought this episode was amazing, again the show has opted for the subtlety that the book has i when it matters. When lady melissandre showed up at the Brotherhood without banners i was like, whaaaaaaat!? But once I got it, I thought it was brilliant. Gendry is Edric. Good decision show. And after having complained about Theon's scenes for weeks, i have finally come around. This is a show and not a book, we need these scenes to get it and boy will we. Last buT not least any conversation between tyrion and cercei is a bonus in my book. Also i thonk that convo made it pretty clear that it was indeed joff who tried to kill tyrion. Just watch it again.
    Honestly, I didn't even miss Dany. She's travelling right now, we need other character to have some screen time. To me the season is only getting better with episode and this one was no exception.

  • ionee24 May 12, 2013

    I'm not so sure if Gendry is Edric Strom as much as an amalgam of Edric Storm, Ned Dayne and Justin Massey on the show.

  • ElisabethMuld May 15, 2013

    Yeah sure. Could totally be. I just meant that in that moment, I got where the show was going and it made complete and total sense to me :).

  • Mey May 08, 2013

    My brain is fuzzy, not the nice kind, I hope this isn’t all so painful :) On with the random ‘rantiness’:

    Ros :’-(
    I was super sad for Ros, not because I loved her so much or anything, she wanted to see the South and swim with sharks, she saw (I bet Winterfell finally felt cosier and warmer and Theon the best regular to hope for...) but because she saw it coming, she knew Baelish was great danger to her and I don’t know, it has a Kathie Durst feel to it that moves me.
    Because of that I also think Ros’ demise may come back to bite a couple of tushies at some point. She knew she was getting screwed, she may not have been so sadly sacrificed. I have to hope. Ros deserves my hope and blues that she’s gone in an absolutely horrid manner. RIP hooker.

    In a same mellow energy, I cried so much when they took Gendry, I thought we were safe and then the red whore (I love Carice Van Houten (the woman’s named after the best hot cocoa ever! Lol), just Melisandre smells like a thousand dead rats, I do hate that woman too!x) shows up all hooked up on who comes from whose hoo ha and has been fathered by whom and I ain’t liking it papa! I did not see that coming, I mean sure she pulled some magic blood tracking spell since to the best of everyone else’s knowledge the bastard on the run had been killed before Harrenhal, but without seeing her track him... I didn’t expect to lay hands on him so fast and no, no, no lol I adore Gendry, I want nothing nasty to happen to him, I feel for him like I feel for Jon Snow (largely corrupted by my genealogy obsession on him :p), all that is gold does not glitter, they’re my Aragorn figures here, don’t hurt them, they’re meant to be pure and embody union and truth unfolded when all is said is done. I care Mr Martin and other show people, Don’t you dare break my heart (again).

    Theon
    Whoever that kid is (isn’t he simply the bastard Bolton said he had sent after Theon? That’s not so different than a Karstark motive-wise (except now since those aren’t so chummy with Robb, but the initial vendetta would still be about betraying Robb so it’s not so powerful as a personal thing, unless he’s riding my bastard/hostage parallel, then he’s on to Theon as an ingrate Stark pupil) except it would make the suspense and questions on his identity quite flat. Because to be honest, finding out who he is moves me about as much as finding what fairy tale character Dr Whale was on OUAT. Not at all. What drives me insanely curious and deeply interested is his actual personality, the bloke is as sadistic as the fruit of Lannister incest! What is wrong with him, why can’t yo calm yo tits, love? ^^
    Seriously, I think having Theon not so much at the forefront is far from being a “check point”, the amount of pain he’s taking now is critical. It not only physically mirrors his partly self inflicted life misery but it also shows the core of his being that he’s going to have to sell back to everyone else once he’s out of it. Pair that with the motives and nature of his extreme beautician and those scenes are quite essential. Why? Because build-up! Doesn’t happen for big epic battle scenes only, character emotional arcs also need build-up and this is fine material for that for a character who, no matter what you think of him, is very important and superbly played (and maybe another critical character, I don’t know yet :p)

    Pout point and Jaime & Brienne <3:
    I don’t get the complaint/criticism/observation with a perfume of disapprobation that is “checking in on characters”. Those moments to me are what makes the show so good, so organic, what enables the characters to sit in, the actors to shine in incarnating characters instead of merely performing emotions. If I wanted something ridiculously shiny all the time with an improbable plot changing every week and characters who have no soul and have crazy things happen to them every second because that’s only way to animate them (cause a stir around them) I’d still be watching The Vampire Diaries.
    I had to resume reading because after that whole intro I was all ‘booh’ and didn’t want to read a review that announced itself as the fruit of either book or plain formulaic telly inappropriate expectations.
    Example: I thought the Jaime/Brienne/Bolton scene was wonderful. I utterly adore the faerie hoo ha out of the love child that is the chemistry between Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (in real life I probably tower around her knees and his pelvic bone so I have very realistic dreams of being a kitten hugged by these two :p). Last week already Gwendoline Christie showed us what acting was as she stood naked conveying all of Brienne’s demeanour as if she sported the mightiest of armours before she gave us a master class on how acting is reacting too; this week Nikolaj Coster-Waldau pulled a very fine Johnny Depp with his plate acting and the amount of tacit dialogue that went on between the two while they didn’t face each other was stunning (and that was even before the cutest hand grab ever).
    Anyone who is bored or just waiting for another type of things to happen while sitting before a scene like that, I’m sorry but as much as I respect your feelings, I cannot take your opinion as a point, I am just sorry for you that you don’t feel and sense the beauty, the depth, and feel somehow unsatisfied just because nothing strategic or technical happens. I may get such a point on True Blood where some sub-plots have an odd way to not connect at all with whatever main feeling the season is about and yet don’t bring that much to characters either (lfrit, I mean lfrit lol) but even there, I feel if-ee when it’s systematically questioned. I’d rather have a show that breaks a tiny bit of pace or fluidity (here I disagree about the former, accept the latter) but is creative and organic than some formulaic soulless piece of wannabe drama that glorifies cheap clichés and breeds automatic everything (plot twists, acting...). Seriously: build-up, it’s a thing :-)
    As for the latent book point behind all this, watchers often get the critique from book readers that we’re lazy, well a) there’s just the same amount of reading as you watch (it’s called reading too, not over-analysing; and analysing doesn’t have to be restricted to cerebral implications, the relating was strong in that scene, why being so pejorative and judgemental? :p) if you actually bother to commit, so not so lazy and b) way to be hasty and careless, even with reading a book, if you really cannot enjoy psychological exposition for what it is, read the York Notes (equivalent for viewers: watch the trailers). A show’s very nature is to last in time, evolve and nurture characters over the course of events, if you want a story wrapped up in a defined amount of time, something to be gulped down in a week-end, I suggest, whether on paper or screen, a different genre than the “series” type.

    Robb (+ sensitive hoo ha rant)
    Robb’s plan is a mystery to me. I don’t get the old Frey (another fine chocolate, is there a message about eating chocolate in Game Of Thrones? It cannot be coincidence... :p), you had a future King’s word your daughter’d be Queen and now you’re still on board with siding with him when a) he’s not in the best position ever and b) he’s already betrayed you once; because he’s offering to downgrade same daughter to vaguely into his to-be Kingly family? It must be me, I am notorious for not getting squad to what makes a transaction good. Poor daughter though, I hope she ends up being a super interesting character with a critical bit, just to rub stupid Robb’s pathetic excuse of a love interest’s nose into her uselessness’s dirt. Can you tell I’m not fond of Robb’s “wife”? I know as a fellow dark haired/eyed girl I should be at least a bit of team her but I’ve found her so useless and oil-stain-ish. When she first was introduced I thought she was a cue for Robb’s death, some form of “he’ll get some before he kicks the bucket”. Her big character moment in the tent with Robb left me so unaffected I somehow lost a bit of respect for Robb after that. Like, you fell for that, mate?. I thought there was a clumsy parallel between her privileged lady’s reaction to misery/slaves... and Daenerys’ experience when first sold to the Dothraki and then her encounter with the reality of the unsullied except Daenerys was so pure and magnificent in being open minded and hearted. Talisa still just feels like a poor little rich girl to me.
    Also back to the actual plot, I have a another pout moment about the review, I mean when you see how men treat beautiful women it’s plain insulting to insinuate Edmure’ll actually suffer from having to do a non-pageant material wench. Don’t over estimate yourselves guys, many beauty queens feel like “butt-toothed dogs” both in the sack and in life precisely because men focus way too much on how the bride and the marriage will look. Because of those prejudices, bed can also happen to be much better with a man who doesn’t see the 8th wonder in you... Honestly, Cersei may be extremely beautiful, she’s also an incestuous rotten bitch and as awesome as Tyrion is, he’s a scarred dwarf, but sure when it comes to moral traits or characters we adore, prejudices are gross, they become cool and actually casual elements to discuss in a review when it’s about a girl’s looks *sarcasm*. I really felt the scene, as explicit as it was, wasn’t making the situation any less pleasant than Tywin’s wedding announcements last week. I regret this review almost made that wedding sound like the worst thing on earth (worst than wedding gay or Machiavellian people) just because the girl is *said* to not be sweet on the eye.
    Anyway...

    Varys/Baelish
    I said two weeks ago Varys feared chaos so having him spell it this week comforted me with my viewing abilities :p (I am getting this show you guys, it’s quite amazing when you think it’s some epic story filled with political concerns, something I get zero about in real life, narrated in a language that isn’t even my own :p) and I loved that it showed just how dangerous Baelish is. He basically just confirmed Varys’ words saying he’d burn the realm if he could be king of the ashes and that Plutonian energy is to be reckoned with because at that stage they are in very similar situations. Except one is the wise type of sneaky, he knows the wind blows cold when you’re on top and so Varys will basically keep it to the league he’s reached now and make everything he can to preserve the order that warrants it while as Baelish climbs the social ladder, his ambition gains momentum and through the power of knowledge that he shares with Varys he wants the power-power that is Cersei’s and is basically ready to destroy everything, if he cannot have it, he doesn’t care that it exists, something new will come and apparently because this new would be brought about by a destruction he participated in and thrived in, it will be logically better and his?
    I’m thinking Baelish probably has taken a couple of pages from Aerys Targaryen’s mad king playbook cause his attitude is super extremist but no matter how much I personally find corporate sharks that take advantage of chaos to betray more efficiently and sit in the boss’ chair super pathetic, it’s a fact those people very often succeed and they’re ridiculously dangerous.
    My main question is, is Baelish counting on the chaos likely to come from mama dragon descending on King’s Landing or is he just going to push the imminent one a little further to be in charge when she shows up or try to destroy her and steal the dragons? Baelish has no leash on, I can see him having the wildest schemes, who knows what he’s going to cook up in the Vale, fuelled by Lysa’s uncompromising Lannister hatred... throw in how he handled poor Ros, not just having her wacked but how and making it symbolically useful to him... the bloke is plain scary.

    This is even blunter and unsatisfying as I had accepted it would be :p Apparently my comment was way too long for tv.com so I cut half of it. We’ll see if this comes out... #DerangedMey

  • ionee24 May 08, 2013

    Can you imagine the kid of babies Olenna and Tywin could've had together if they only would've met sooner?

  • Draconax May 08, 2013

    Absolutely loved the scene between Olenna and Tywin. One of my favorite scenes of the whole season.

  • TrueTvWatcher May 08, 2013

    I loved Lord Balish's monologue about "the climb" and how the theme came through in many character experiences.

  • MintberryCrunch May 08, 2013

    Whilst the episode was still good I agree that it was probably the weakest of the season so far. Anyway on with my ramblings;

    The opening scene with Sam and Gilly seemed a little forced to me, its great to have some time on their story to emphasise just how lost and alone they are before we catch up with them at a more exciting moment but I couldn't help thinking that the whole dagger conversation was very unnatural and screamed of the writers going "Don't forget about this weapon, Sam has it!", the usual GoT subtlety was lacking.

    Again with Bran and co. in the next scene it was more as a purpose to remind us of their existence but I would prefer if they had shortened both scenes (and steal some time from some others) to have Meera tell Bran the story of the knight of the laughing tree. Although we finally got to see the frailty of Jojen that has been lacking so far.

    Next up we had the two focal characters of this episode in many ways, Jon and Ygritte. I don't mind that they spent so much of the episode on them though as it was necessary to illustrate their importance to one another. Jon's mental wrestling with his loyalty to The Watch and his love of Ygritte is spread over many chapters in the books so its right that they got a good amount of screen-time to emphasise that it is more than just tomfoolery in caves between them. The final shot felt kind of strange for GoT which (similar to most shows) end with a game change, shock or if possible death, but its good to mix it up and a long drawback showing the views of South and North of the wall is nothing to complain about.

    Ok, so when Melisandre left Stannis and knowing what I know she wants I assumed she must be going to Gendry as the only bastard of Robert we know of (trust me theres probably plenty that escaped the baby murdering morning, that old king got around). Still it was a brilliant surprise to see her turn up and interact with characters that I never thought would have a chance to (non book readers, this is all new to us as well). Speaking of awesome interaction, Melisandre's aversion to Arya and her comments were particularly interesting, I think its partially eluding to things that will happen with her and partially a sort of trick to make people think more of a later Arya story (book people - milk).
    What is interesting is what they are going to do with Gendr'y story, whether it will follow the exact line of Edric Story (whom he is replacing) exactly. As we barley see or even hear of Edric and his fortunes I believe we will be getting a whole lot more Gendry but I'm not too certain that it bodes well for the young smith.

    Ah Theon, the beginning of the pity inducing phase of his story is more properly starting. His young tormentor is certainly a nasty piece of work but I thought this whole scene was executed so perfectly. It also illustrates why it's important for us book readers to not talk about who he is, as it lessens scenes such as this. Having said that as Tim was crying it out from the get go I do wonder if there's anyone in these comments who doesn't know, after having his finger flayed I think Theon will have finally grasped it as well.

    Robb and his most loyal had a nice sit down with some Freys, I loved the garb they got for the Freys, it emphasises their image as a dirty backward house with more heirs than decency. Edmure is playing the prat to perfection and his incredulous bickering to Robb was entertaining before he resolved himself to his new future, marrying the offspring of creepy old Walder Frey.

    Jaime and Brienne's scene was one of the very few to be in the book (this episode had a lot of created stuff varying in how similar it was to its book counterparts wildly). Acted out by the brilliant Roose Bolton I thought the dinner was extremeley good even in its briefness. The key thing they got across is how Brienne thinks she is their equal and is part of any bargain but has completley missed the crux of their verbal sparring, Roose doesn't intend to take any blame for Jaime's hand and seems to fear Tywin's repercussions, probably a wise move as the Reynes of Castamere would attest to if they hadn't all been wiped out by the proud lion.

    Tywin and Olenna had their much anticipated conversation and as is the custom of most meetings Tywin came out on top. It seems they have removed Willas and Garlen Tyrell (Loras' older brothers in the books). My prediction on this new story of Loras is that Cersei will have Joffrey name him to the Kingsguard to avoid her marriage.

    Speaking of Loras, his wedding fantasizing was hilarious as was Olenna's sword eater quip.

    And then we come to the conclusion, and my good favourite Littlefinger. Ok so now I see a lot more hate for him (and there already was a fair bit) but let me explain this almost indefensible position of having him as a favourite character. So the key thing is that its possible to like an evil character, this is not some condoning of his actions but rather an appreciation of him within the world he lives. Just as I liked Stringer Bell but don't condone heroin sale I also like Littlefinger but find him to be truly ruthless the point of psychopathic behaviour. Also it should be noted that in the books his dirtier secrets (of which giving Ros to Joffrey would be one) are never mentioned or really alluded to and he is portrayed more as a cunning player of the game who will stop at nothing to reach the top. So I'll keep flying my team Littlefinger flag even if the show steadily drops team membership down to just me with more amoral decisions which lead to "pointless" deaths.
    Many have said that this death was pointless but really it wasn't, a) it showed that betraying Littlefinger has dire consequences and b) he gained favour with Joffrey, that is more his driving force for the actions he took to be honest, anything to climb one more rung. Also with Littlefinger now departed for the Vale, Ros would have been truly pointless and so the writers seized an opportunity to turn her end into something more impactful.


    Overall a weakish episode with one or two annoyances, but still better than most other television (and certainly what's currently airing). I hole GoT to a higher standard, one more associated with The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and the like.





  • borgsblueyes May 08, 2013

    Great review. I have to agree about Ros's death. While Ros was no Ned, it was shocking to see a character as likeable and street savvy of Ros go out like that, and it highlighted a more evil side of Littlefinger perfectly. He didn't just have Ros killed for her betrayal of whispering to the Spider, he sent her to Joffrey knowing how sadistic he is, to be tormented and tortured. To me this makes him worse than Joffrey. I do however disagree that he was more interested in gaining favour with Joffrey, instead gaining favour with Joffrey was a happy by product of getting rid of a snitch. I would not cross Littlefinger.
    Was it just me or did the series gave away a little of what is to come in the books? Melisandre told Arya that they will meet again, and they haven't so far. I found this interesting because you can link her other comments to Arya's story. Not a huge spoiler by any means, just a point of note.
    This was a slower episode, but I think all hell will break loose soon and then they won't have time for conversation, so we had to be reminded who was on the periphery. While on the subject of side characters, Sam is the only character that isn't working for me in the show compared to the book. I love book Sam, I am totally indifferent to show Sam, which is a pity. Hopefully they can bring him some life in the coming episodes, he is a fairly important character.

  • ionee24 May 12, 2013

    I think he just did to spite Varys. If Littlefinger could've sent Varys instead of Ros, he would've done that

  • borgsblueyes May 08, 2013

    The only thing about Ros that gets me is, with all her street smarts, and obviously knowing Littlefinger very well, it was pretty stupid on her part to spill his secrets. She should have known better.

  • ionee24 May 12, 2013

    It was the only thing Ros could've done to stop Littlefinger: Ros was the Jon Snow of King's Landing and died serving the cause/House that she believed in (Sansa was still a Stark, after all).

  • JayAtkinson May 08, 2013

    I'm inclined to agree about the scene with Theon and the mystery torture-loving former broom-sweep. A lot of people, including Tim I believe, have said it was a pointless scene---but I think it was essential in conveying the level of suffering Theon is going to endure, the reasons (or lack thereof) behind the torture, and the type of sadistic character the torturer is, which is essential knowledge for the future of a few storylines, if not serving much relevance in the present. It is all far from pointless, and not torture for torture's sake. And, as you said, it was all brilliantly executed. The performances were perfect.

    As far as the torturer's identity go, I can see why they are stringing it out. Because to reveal his name and his affiliation would cast a shadow of suspicion over certain other people and characters and give away twists that are yet to come. So it makes sense not to reveal yet who he is....but, as said, the clues are there is you really pay attention to his scenes----not to mention if you pay attention to certain house banners.

  • ionee24 May 12, 2013

    The last book explained Theon's state of mind due to a series of tortures that were hard to picture because the character wasn't even mentioned since the third book. The show doesn't have the luxury to skip until the last season for us to understand: it has to show us what was done to Theon to understand what will become of him later on.

  • JayAtkinson May 13, 2013

    You took the words right out of my brain.

  • borgsblueyes May 08, 2013

    I agree with Theons story not being pointless, but then we have book hindsight on our side :) His journey is important as it will shape future Theon. Plus it would be no good just showing him several episodes later and not explaining what happened him. Unless they did flashbacks and that would be awful!

  • MintberryCrunch May 08, 2013

    Exactly. That is why I was trying to get people to not discuss Theon, as if you connect the dots (which isn't hard once everyone is shouting the torturer's name) then it lessens later developments. Even finding out where he is doesn't ruin it as much as knowing the true identity of his guard.

    Cheers once again for taking the time to read my thoughts, I seem to have gone overboard even by own standards this week.

  • MintberryCrunch May 08, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

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