More setup and machinations this week on Game of Thrones, with a few really great little scenes slipped in between the big reveals that should start paying dividends immediately. Of course, I said that last week, and this week we again got a lot of walking and talking, with people being built up just to be torn down. We left Dany and Stannis out of things, and shoehorned Theon painfully in (literally), but other than that there were updates from all across the realm, which Littlefinger tells us is little more than a figment of our imaginations. Varys asks what we are left with if not this shared delusion: chaos? It’s a pit. “It’s not a pit,” Littlefinger counters, “it’s a ladder.” Hit the jump to find out why you should have learned from your position to not overplay your… position.
Few things in Westeros are ever what they seem. Just as one becomes complacent, the rug is pulled out. I had actually grown used to Ros, after two seasons of her being kinda useless and taking up precious narrative space, this year she actually started to become slightly interesting. So of course she had to die. Gruesomely. And at the hands of Joffrey because, in case you forgot, he’s a fucking deranged monster.
Her fellow red head she had hoped to help got stuck another way, too — Sansa, after readying for a marriage to the biggest heartthrob in Westeros, who has dreamed all his life about weddings (with a woman. Totally, no, seriously! With a woman I swear! …) has had it all snatched from her so that she can be married to a disfigured Imp (as she will see it) and be part of the family who has caused her all of her life’s pain and terror. Her only hope of escape, meanwhile, sets sail.
“The Climb” was where the book series and the TV series really diverged totally, and I felt at times a little bit like Sansa standing on the shore crying for what could have been. So many things were changed and adjusted or just totally new in this episode that it’s not even worth discussing. Weiss and Benioff have made the show wholly their own now, for better or worse. The night is dark and full of terrors.
A few things worked really well, though. Jaime and Brienne’s scene was touching, funny, and full of charming threats from both Jaime and Roose. Jaime and Brienne have had no time to get comfortable at Harrenhal, despite them having baths and clean clothes (and good food, if they can cut it), because Roose is ready to ship Jaime on his way and “deal” with Brienne. The two are too connected now for their separation to go down easily, and Roose’s charms mask a black void underneath of untold horror.
Speaking of which, the “Karstark” at the “Karhold” continues to flay and torture Theon. He’s a liar, and a maniac, and if you were playing the guessing game at home of who this kid was, you should remember that the Bolton banner has a man on an X-shaped cross being flayed … but so few things are clear in Westeros (and so many things changed), what can be taken for granted? The scene was excruciating though, and the casting on both sides continually proving exceptional as flayer and flayee have been terrible to behold.
Elsewhere, flaying was occurring on rabbits as well, with Osha and Meera inexplicably and unhelpfully butting heads while Jojen has a Green Dream that Jon is North of the Wall. He is, and manages to make it up despite Orell trying to get rid of him and Ygritte along the way. Their relationship escalated quickly — from a one-night stand to an eternal bond of loyalty, with the penalty being a knob as a necklace (they really like hanging body parents from their necks in the Seven Kingdoms, don’t they?)
Finally, there was more theology about R’hllor, The Lord of Light, and Thoros, Beric and Mel’s place in his plans. Gendry is apparently in his plans as well (taking the place of another character in the book and making it less of a big deal for Stannis, I would think but, we’ll see), but Arya is left behind because Mel sees in her eyes nothing but death and darkness. When it comes to climbing the ladder in the realm, that’s not a bad trait to have.
This was a disjointed episode that continued to set up some big things to come, including several weddings (Joffrey’s, Edmure’s, Tyrion and Sansa’s) a battle (the Wildings and the Night’s Watch) as well as some small-time adventures among some of everyone’s favorite characters (Arya, Jaime, Brienne). With only four episodes left, there’s a lot to get done, but “The Climb” was a building block that was immersive in the world (always appreciated), but what it mostly taught us was to always be on your guard.
Episode Rating: B+
— R.I.P., Ros. Seriously, she didn’t deserve to go out like that.
— Really sad we didn’t get to see Tyrion have to explain himself to Sansa and Shae. That would have been a trifecta of powerhouse acting. Also it wasn’t as horrendous as the way Sansa found out in the books but, y’ know.
— Melisandre and Arya meeting was … odd.
— “I’m you’re woman now, and you’re going to be loyal to your woman” – Ygritte.
— Sam, Gilly, the baby, the singing and the Dragon Glass … cute.I wonder if he’ll finally have to use that soon …
— Edmure was so perfectly cast, and I loved his interactions with his family after the Freys left the room. But seriously, Robb getting annoyed with him for not wanting to marry someone because he wanted to hold out for someone better looking? Pot, kettle, King in the North …
— The Boltons are fucking nuts.
— Loras explaining his dream wedding was fantastic.
— Queen of Thorns + Tywin Lannister = the fiercest AARP meeting ever. Also, quips of note: “he’s a sword-swallower through and through” and “a discreet bit of buggery.”
— This is more of a complaint from last week, but I’m a little annoyed that Loras has seemingly forgotten the love of his life so quickly. One of my favorite lines in the entire series so far was him describing his love for Renly after his death as, “when the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”
— “The climb is all there is.”