Game of Thrones: 306 “The Climb” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
As usual, there was a metric ton of stuff going down in Westeros this week, so let’s crack on.
Beyond the Wall
Having rescued them from Craster’s Keep, Sam fails at making Gilly and her baby a decent fire until she instructs him on fire-construction. He shows her the dragonglass he found at the Fist of the First Men, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she isn’t interested, and proceeds to tell her stories of Castle Black and life on the other side of the Wall, culminating in him singing a song to her. The whole ordeal is pretty awkward, but Sam remains a fairly endearing character and one of the few who remains basically decent.
Elsewhere, Jon and the Wildling party prepare to climb the Wall to attack Castle Black: Ygritte tells Jon that she knows he is still a brother of the Night’s Watch at heart, and she doesn’t care as long as he never betrays her. During the spectacular climb, Ygritte’s ice-pick causes a huge crack which dislodges a good deal of ice and kills a number of Wildlings. As she and Jon fall, Orell decides to save himself and Tormund by cutting the safety rope and letting Ygritte and Jon fall to their deaths. However, Jon manages to save them and they ultimately complete the climb, looking out over the view of both the North and South sides of the Wall. It’s a surprisingly beautiful and peaceful end to the episode, particularly considering the proposed bloodshed on the other side of the Wall.
Over on Team Bran, Meera Reed and Osha start arguing about who is better at hunting and skinning rabbits until Bran defuses the situation in one of the more patronising ways he could have done (“You’re both very good at skinning rabbits” might as well have been accompanied by a pat on the head). The whole thing is interrupted by Jojen rudely having a seizure, apparently caused by his visions, a side effect which understandably worries Bran. What worries Bran more, however, is Jojen informing him that in the vision he saw Jon Snow surrounded by Wildlings.
Meanwhile, the subplot known as ‘Theon’s Horrible Time’ continues as the creepy cleaning boy continues to taunt and torture him. He tells Theon that they will play a game (and how difficult must it have been for Iwan Rheon to say that without doing the Saw voice?), wherein if Theon doesn’t guess where he is, who the boy is and why he is being tortured then he will have his pinky finger removed. After what seems to be a series of correct guesses concerning the boy’s relation to the Karstarks, the boy reveals that he is a liar, and tears the skin off Theon’s finger. Iwan Rheon is proving intensely creepy in these sections, and since his identity has been concealed for so long I’m assuming he’s going to be someone significant when we finally discover his identity. It’s also gotten to the point where I do feel sorry for Theon: sure, he kind of screwed over the Starks last season, but no-one deserves the kind of thing he’s currently going through.
As Anguy of the Brotherhood teaches Arya how to use a bow more effectively, she notices a group of people approaching: a group of people led by none other than the Red-Headed Homewrecker herself, Melisandre. She speaks to Thoros in Valyrian before being introduced to Beric: she is understandably shocked about his multiple deaths, particularly considering the fact that Thoros has always been a drunken degenerate and generally not a very good priest (although he’s much more fun at parties than a good priest), and Thoros tells her that he had stopped believing in the Lord of Light until he was able to bring Beric back from the dead. They ask Melisandre why she has come, and it soon transpires that she needs Gendry for some presumably nefarious purposes: the Brotherhood hand him over in return for a large quantity of gold, and Arya confronts Melisandre who claims that she has great darkness within her, and implies that Arya will be responsible for a lot of death, before telling her that they will meet again and riding off. A lot of this segment felt like foreshadowing, and I’m very interested to see where things go from here: for instance, I’d always considered Gendry something of a secondary character, but here it seems he has some significance.
At Riverrun, Robb and the Tullys meet with some representatives of House Frey, who inform them that Lord Walder needs three things: a formal apology from Robb; control of Harrenhal and all its lands; and for Edmure Tully to marry Roslin, one of his daughters. Robb quickly agrees to the first two, but Edmure takes some persuasion to acquiesce to House Frey’s request. Considering the slight that Robb placed on House Frey by breaking his oath, I was surprised that it was resolved so quickly, but apparently an agreement of marriage between two Houses cures all ills in the world of Game of Thrones.
At Harrenhal, Roose Bolton informs Jaime that he will be going home to King’s Landing, provided he doesn’t tell Tywin that it was Bolton’s men who were responsible for the removal of his hand. Jaime agrees, and assumes that Brienne will be accompanying him: however, Roose informs them both that she will stay in his custody for aiding and abetting treason. This was quite disappointing, as Jaime and Brienne have proven to be one of the most interesting pairings on the show, and I’m not ready to see them split up just yet.
Finally, in King’s Landing Tywin and Olenna meet to discuss the upcoming nuptials in what transpires to be a perfect storm of amazing grouchiness. There is a brief argument which is settled when Tywin threatens to make Loras a knight of the Kingsguard which means that the Tyrell bloodline will effectively reach a dead end due to the Kingsguard vows against marriage and inheritance. Olenna relents and gives her consent to the Loras-Cersei marriage arrangement.
Meanwhile, Sansa and Loras continue this episode’s trend of awkward conversations between couples, while Tyrion and Cersei bemoan their situations. Tyrion also uses this conversation to deduce that it was Joffrey, not Cersei, who ordered his murder at the Battle of Blackwater, but Cersei tells Tyrion that his life is no longer in danger now Tywin is the Hand of the King. Tyrion is then faced with the difficult job of telling Sansa that the arrangements surrounding her wedding have changed significantly, a conversation which we never fully witness, but it clearly devastates Sansa.
Finally, Littlefinger proves himself to be the most sinister man in King’s Landing in a conversation with Varys: he reveals that he was aware of Varys’ arrangement with Ros, and it is revealed that he sold her to a friend who wanted to ‘try something daring’. Shortly after this, that ‘friend’ is revealed as Joffrey, and the ‘daring’ thing he wanted to try was murdering Ros with his crossbow like the nice little boy he is.
While there was a lot going on in this week’s episode, a lot of it felt as though it was establishing significant events for later in the season. However, it was still a watchable, and at times quite disturbing episode, with some fantastic visuals in the segment beyond the Wall.