GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Climb”

     May 5, 2013


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.

game-of-thrones-season-3-tyrion-posterFew 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.

game-of-thrones-the-climbA 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?)

game-of-thrones-the-climb-2Finally, 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+

game-of-thrones-the-climb-1Musings and Miscellanea:

– 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.”

Around The Web
  • doa766

    “– “I’m you’re woman now, and you’re going to be loyal to your woman” – Ygritte.”

    that’s YOUR

    • Allison Keene

      hopefully someone with editing power will change that, it’s a miracle that’s the only typo I make in these reviews at this hour, but thanks for the catch!

      • Morgan Fleur De Lys (@WorkWithMorgan)

        You did use the word “parents” instead of “parts” I think….

  • Allison Keene

    I’m really interested to know how book readers reacted to this ep … can we have a **SPOILERS** thread about it?

    • Caitlin F.

      As was stated earlier, I do agree that the book and the show are diverging now. I was actually pretty unhappy with this episode. Why do they have to change parts of the book and add in other parts that aren’t in the book? I had noticed a few things before this episode, but this episode really embarked on a path of its own. We will see how it pans out!

      • Allison Keene

        It’s the same issue I had with Season 2 where we expected a lot of things to happen but then they were inexplicably changed (not for reasons of budget or anything tangible, either). When I rewatched season 2 I liked it a lot better because I knew what would be different. I think the same will happen with season 3, but for now it just putsbook readers in a weird place.

    • Daan

      You hit the nail on the head with Stannis and Gendry… I also really wonder how that will work out with our beloved Onion Knight. I just see the book and the series as 2 seperate things now though. Everyone knew this would happen so I’m just not gonna stress about it now. Maybe when the series is done we can nerdrage over everything but ’till then, let’s just see how it goes :)

  • Winter is slumming

    I’m curious as to how the show have diverged in these recent episodes. Many book-readers that I have spoken to are less than pleased at all the changes in the plot, but I haven’t had any specific details yet. I suppose it would be easy to just pay a visit to Wikipedia, but I don’t want to spoil the whole series for myself, and I’m sure that others are in the same boat. So what say you, Martin scholars? What has changed and what has remained the same?

  • Daniel

    “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
    I think that may sum up this whole series. Interesting episode… but I am going to need some payoff soon for these “building” episodes.

    • Allison Keene

      According to the description of next week’s ep, I think it’ll all start going nuts then, hah. hopefully.

    • k

      I wrote almost the exact same thing on another thread – it’s almost as if that line is directed to the audience as much as to Theon – GRRM and HBO are definitely going to darker places……

  • Jon


    It’s been about two years since I read book three so my memory is little fogged on the specifics but, I’ve been pretty content with the show in terms of how it relates to the books and the pace. Lets be honest with what lies ahead we need episodes like these. Sure season 3 has made some changes such as the late introduction of the Reeds, the actual dramatization of the torture of Theon, and then the understandable liberties taken with shortening the adventures of Arya and friends. Among other things, I can understand why there doing everything that there doing. Even with what there doing with Jon Snow, as there just is not enough time in the series to deal with it all. But, as for Gendry I don’t get why they decided to do diverge from the original storyline. It just seems senseless. I mean it completely ruins a semi-important future scene between him and Brienne.

    Anyway I’m interested to hear thoughts on differences between the book and show. Where did you think season 3 will end? Red wedding? Will Joffey’s wedding happen this season? Also, most importantly, anyone know what there going to do once they finish books four and five? I assume those two books will take up two seasons, but with book 6 not out yet and the time its going to take book 7 to be released (if ever) what do you think they have planned?

    • Allison Keene

      I agree. and as for the future, I think there’s no way GRRM can keep up with the pace of the show, and they may start doing their own thing more and more. Although, we haven’t really visited Pyke and we haven’t seen Dorne AT ALL, so I presume there will be a lot more of that next year. I also predict all of the weddings will happen this season …

    • James

      I’m predicting that the Red Wedding will happen this year, and Joffrey’s wedding will be next year. That scares me a little, though, because having that happen MIGHT alienate viewers after going through the ending of the first season.

  • Grayden

    I think everyone is forgetting that this “book” is being split into two seasons, so naturally there will be some filler. They will have to create some filler for those characters who traditionally become scarce later on. Though, books 4 & 5 run parallel to each other, chronologically speaking, so expect to see characters, events, moments mashed up together come season “5″ when they start on books 4 & 5, which makes complete sense to me. Book fans should know by now that stuff gets lost, or added, in adaptation.

    Also, anyone who’s read these books should know what the hell is coming. I’ve had it spoiled for me, though i’ve not read the books, and even I know there is potential for some excruciating cliffhangers with the the content of book 3. Prepare yourselves!

    • Daan

      Split into 2 seasons? Where did you get that from? I don’t doubt that a few of the chapters of book 3 won’t be in season 3 (since one of the events in book 3 would make a great season ender ;) ) but with 4 episodes to go I think most of book 3 will be in here.

      • Homer Lannister

        Surely you can’t have read the books, beacause where they are now in the series isn’t even past the halfway mark for a storm of swords. -___-

      • Arthur Dayne

        Season 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones is Book 3: A Storm of Swords split into two seasons. The best is still yet to come. Wait until Oberyn Martell shows up then shit will hit the fan. You think this season ending is going to be shocking? Wait until next season.

      • James

        The announced a long time ago that book 3 will be split into 2 seasons. The Red Wedding is about halfway through the book, and it looks like that will happen during the penultimate episode of this season.

  • bla bla bla

    oh no, the shows not exactly like the books?……ok, im over it now, so moving on, looking forward to next weeks episode!

  • Lance

    I love the books, but I always worried the series was hewing too closely to the books, making all those sexposition scenes necessary. The changes are interesting and so far, I approve.

    I loved the elder Lady Tyrell’s scenes in the books (few as they are, so far), and the actress they got to play her is fantastic, so it’s wonderful that the character is being utilized more in the series than in the novels.

    Sansa, on the other hand, is the most frustrating character for me in the entire Stark clan. She’s always just wanted to live in a fairytale vision of romance and prettiness, and while there’s nothing wrong with that per se, she’s constantly allowed that vision to get in the way of seeing what’s actually going on around her. Despite everything since her role in getting her father’s head lopped off, she hasn’t changed a whit.

  • Chesterfield

    An episode that again shows that the show is at its strongest when it’s not too beholden to the books. It has always been great at delivering the great dramatic moments,. and that’s not gonna change. I don’t hold the books in high enough regard to care about changes being made to fit the story into a TV series format, but I also realize the dramatic power of those big, epic events and surprises that Martin is so good at delivering.
    But I am of the opinion that this show could stand to be a little less true to the books and adhere closer to the “L.A. Confidential school of adaptation”, as in be more willing to throw stuff out and focus on the things that are really interesting, preserving intent, tone and characters from the book, rather than ticking off a checklist of plot points.

    I liked this episode a lot.

    • Homer Lannister

      Ironically this has been rated as one of the worst GoT episodes so far by readers and non readers alike.

      So I’ve got to STRONGLY disagree with you about the show being ‘at its best’ when steering away from the books. There have definately been some excellent deviations such as Arya + Tywin but the greatest moments so far have all been from the book and have all been easily better than any of the deviations to date.

      • Allison Keene

        Yeah I’ve really liked some of the changes, especially how the Tyrells talk a lot more here than in the books, hah. But some of the stuff makes zero sense and that’s what bothers me — I just want show viewers to get the same awesomeness as book readers regarding certain scenes.

      • Chesterfield

        @HOMER LANNISTER: Well, I agree and I don’t agree. You are obviously right about the big moments from the book, and that the show is at its very best when delivering upon those. You’ll get no argument from me there, and I’ll own the fact that I might not have been quite clear enough about what i meant (English is my second language).

        What I meant was that I don’t care at all about staying true to the books SO LONG AS it’s still recognizable as being “Game of Thrones”. And part of that is delivering the beheading of Ned Stark and the sacking of Astapor.

        For instance, if they had changed who cut off Jamie’s hand, I wouldn’t have cared about that since what’s important about that is that Jamie gets his hand cut off. That’s what I mean about the “L.A. Confidential school of adaptation”, in that film they kept the Nite Owl massacre but changed both the perpetrators of and motive for the incident (I’m forget, but they might actually have changed the intended victims as well).

    • Homer Lannister

      The cutter off of jamie’s hand among several other changes are not the types of changes that people are getting worked up about. Those are all understandable.

      What really grates though, is the complete and inexplicable exclusion/limitation of certain v. important characters.

      I understand that it is difficult to show all of the minor or less major characters from the books, but some exclusions (or killings off) of certain characters just feel like butterfly wings flapping slowly but surely now, only to cause an unholy shitstorm of a plot hole later on.

  • Sergio

    I’m really happy with the series, even with all the changes that have been made in order to adapt the story of Westeros in a TV series.
    But all those changes haven’t affected the essence of Martin’s book at all. Instead, many scenes during this season have shown things that the book can’t due to the way it has been written (poitn of view of the main characters). For example, the machinations behind Sansa’s wedding have been better depicted in the series, allowing to understand how the game of thrones is played.
    And you have to understand that there is a budget, and you have to use it the best you can. So, it’s not so traumatic to see Gendry as the target of Melisandre’s plans, because he’s taking the part of a character in the book (in this moment I don’t remember which one) that appears very little, and has the same function that Gendry has in this moment in the series (a sacrifice for the Lord of Light). I don’t see a problem in that change.
    So, GOT has been a great series, and a good example on how a book can be adapted.

    Sorry for my english, or if I spoiled anything (but I think i didn’t).

    • Allison Keene

      You’re all good!

  • Allison Keene

    I left out my favorite quote of the episode: The Iron Throne is the Lysa Arryn of chairs.

  • Bernard

    Allison – I really wish you’d be more careful with spoilers in your recaps. At the very least have someone edit/proof your article before posting.

  • Eric

    Was sansa looking at little fingers boat at the end. Was little finger on it?

  • Jones

    Are you still gonna write Bates Motel recaps? :)

    • Jones

      Sorry for posting it here..

  • Homer Lannister


    The cutter off of jamie’s hand among several other changes are not the types of changes that people are getting worked up about. Those are all understandable. What really grates are the complete and inexplicable exclusion/limitation of certain v. important characters.

    I understand that it is difficult to show all of the minor or less major characters from the books, but some exclusions (or killings off) of certain characters just feel like butterfly wings flapping slowly but surely now, only to cause an unholy shitstorm of a plot hole later on.

  • RunnerX13

    Getting tired of reading about book comparisons each week.

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