Game of Thrones / Television

Game of Thrones “The Climb” Review

The Climb 1

Last night’s “The Climb” seemed like a stepback in quality from the past two episodes of Game of Thrones, but it was still a good outing in what has been a great season so far.

I have been complaining a bit lately about how Jon’s storyline has taken a back seat so far this season. This week is definitely the most Jon-heavy episode of the season as he is featured in the titular climb. The small group that Mance Rayder sent off to scale the wall has arrived at its base at the beginning of this episode. Much of our time up North is spent watching them make the perilous ascent. Some drama is injected into the affair when a large chunk of ice falls from the Wall that leaves Jon and Ygritte hanging from the climbers above them. Orell decides to cut them free which would send the two plummeting to their death, but Jon manages to swing himself over enough to cling back onto the wall and save himself and Ygritte. Despite the show’s history of killing off major characters, I like to think no one really though Jon would bite it here. It was a fairly fun climb though even if the end with Jon and Ygritte on top was a bit overly dramatic to me. The climb itself was preceded with a conversation where Ygritte tells Jon she knows he is still a Crow at heart. I am not sure how I felt about this particular chat, but it and the episode in general do a good job of conveying that while Jon might want to stay loyal to the Night’s Watch as the honorable guy he is, his relationship with Ygritte will definitely make things complicated. Especially with this being the first relationship like this that Jon has experienced.

There is typically a lot going on in King’s Landing and this week’s happenings continue to center around the upcoming weddings. It begins with a great scene featuring Tywin Lannister and Lady Olenna. I joked last week that Tywin has been mostly just berating his children all season, but Olenna gives as good as she gets in this sequence which was a fun change of pace. They are arguing over the marriage between Loras and Cersei. After a fun back and forth between the two that featured each picking on the other for their respective children (Cersei’s age and possible incestuous relationship, Loras’ homosexuality), a threat to put Loras in the Kingsguard finally gets Olenna to agree to the marriage. This is followed up by a scene featuring Sansa and Loras speaking about their upcoming nuptials. The part where Loras talks about his dreams of a big wedding and mentions everything about it that excites him… except the girl he’d be marrying got a good laugh out of me. Cersei and Tyrion are talking about the marriages that will actually be happening for the two of them, but the most interesting takeaway from this conversation is Tyrion realizing it was Joffrey that tried to have him killed in the Battle of Blackwater not Cersei. After this Tyrion goes off to break the news to Sansa about her real future husband. Shae stuck around for this pronouncement and I can already see her being pissy with Tyrion over it. It should be annoying.

The Climb 3

The next part is where things really get messed up though. Varys finds Littlefinger in the throne room and while they both boast a little about thwarting the other’s plans, Littlefinger lets it be known that he has found a way to punish Ros for informing on him to Varys by handing her over to Joffrey who filled her full of crossbow bolts. Then there is a nice speech about chaos from Littlefinger that even works in the episode title “The Climb” interspersed with some scenes of Joffrey after he has killed Ros and Sansa crying about her future all to some fitting music. It felt like a gigantic reminder of just how awful both Littlefinger and Joffrey are… you know in case you forgot.

We also check in with a handful of storylines elsewhere. The most interesting to me was Melisandre showing up to the Brotherhood without Banners. You have the intriguing connection between Thoros and the red woman. You get a little backstory on how Thoros really came to believe in this God they both worship. Melisandre has come for Gendry though. If you recall a few episodes back, Melisandre said she needed King’s Blood and obviously Gendry as a bastard son of Robert’s fits the bill. An angry Arya confronts her about it. Melisandre’s predictions for the future here are fascinating and make it sound like Arya will be kicking some ass which excites me. Also maybe this will find Melisandre on here little list of names. This portion of the show has a pretty big departure from the books where Melisandre takes another character that has not been featured in the show for her “King’s Blood” but I think using Gendry instead might be a smart change. By taking a character we are more invested in, this storyline might have more oomph to it going forward, but we will have to wait and see.

I liked the scene with Jaime, Brienne and Roose Bolton at Harrenhal too. Watching Jaime try to cut his meat and eat with one hand was cracking me up and Roose’s line about Jaime not overplaying his… position was pretty great as well. Even seeing Brienne dressed in pink had a certain comic value to it. We find out that Roose will send Jaime back to King’s Landing, but not Brienne. It will be interesting to see how Jaime handles this going forward given his growing friendship with her.

The Climb 2

More stuff worth noting:

  • Joining Joffrey and Littlefinger in the brutality portion of the show is Theon’s torturer. Dude is a little nuts and he begins to skin Theon at the end by the looks of it. Do non-book readers know who this is yet? I can’t tell if they would or not.
  • In a deal to make amends with the Freys, Robb has Edmure agree to marrying one of Walder’s daughters. I’m not loving Season 3 Robb, but with Edmure being an annoying dolt (which is kind of his thing), it is easy to be on Robb’s side here.
  • We check in with Sam and Gilly. Sam shows her a piece of Dragonglass he found back in Season 2 and sings her a song. Felt like one of those compulsory check-ins this show does so characters don’t miss too many episodes in a row.
  • The Bran storyline has been the worst as far as these check-ins go. Nothing of value seems to have happened since his first appearance this season. Apparently green dreams take their toll on Jojen this week. So there is that. I didn’t even really enjoy Osha and Meera squabbling though it was kind of smooth for Bran to bring up when Osha had him at knife point to straighten her out.
  • I watched an episode of Arrow right after this one that featured an archery lesson very similar to Arya’s from Anguy. Odd timing.
  • I swear me not liking this episode as much as the past couple isn’t just because Daenerys wasn’t in it. Though that couldn’t have helped.

This was still a good episode and I certainly enjoyed watching it, but afterwards I didn’t find myself as smitten with it as the past couple. That isn’t too surprising given how excellent they were, but maybe I had hoped they keep that level of quality throughout the season. I like to think we are just recharging for the final stretch of the season with this one. I did enjoy a couple of the developments a lot though and we seem to be in a good spot moving forward.

How did you feel about last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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7 thoughts on “Game of Thrones “The Climb” Review

  1. Even though it was great to see Jon’s story progress, I didn’t enjoy this episode as much as the rest of the season either. The climb was interesting enough, I guess — a nice change of pace and a more suspenseful kind of action — but too many of the scenes felt like filler or something. Kind of like what you said about the Bran and Sam scenes, which didn’t quite seem necessary. Still, I understand that not every episode can be packed with game-changing political decisions, battles, action, whatever.

    And I agree about Robb this season, too! I’ve always rooted for Robb, and I still do, but his hypocrisy in this episode about the arranged political marriage got on my nerves. I’m sort of hoping his negative traits don’t outweigh all the things I initially liked about his character, although it seems one of the cool things about this series is that you never know when a villainous character will start growing on you, or vice versa…

    • I think it’d be better if instead of say giving us one Sam scene and one Bran scene, give us two Sam scenes this week maybe where a little more can happen and give Bran a couple next week. Or maybe save that Jaime scene for when there is more going on with his character. There is obviously a point to many of these one-off scenes (though some of these Bran ones truly feel pointless), but if they paired them with another scene it might help them land better for the week. Who knows if this would be better, but I feel it might help.

      I am not sure what they are doing with Robb. I know he is still kind of a kid so to speak and makes mistakes, but something about him this year just isn’t working as well for me. Hopefully they get him on track soon.

  2. Overall, I think I liked this episode even if it doesn’t have a big ending like ep #4. I find it curious that Lady Tyrell would bring up Cersei’s age. I assumed that Cersei is still of child bearing age which is why Tywin believes she is marriage material and can solidify the union with children. I need to rewatch this scene, but when Lady Tyrell breaks the quill does that mean Loras won’t join the King’s guard and is arranged to marry Cersei? (Based on the books, I know what will happen, just trying to figure out what the TV version is implying).

    I thought the Wall Scenes were thrilling. The end scene was great to show that Jon is devoted to Ygritte – something viewers need to know, which as you said, will make things very complicated.

    For viewers that pay close attention to house mottos and sigils they should have a good hunch as to who Theon’s torturer might be.

    I thought the Sam scene with the dragonglass would pay off at the end which would have made this episode stronger. Maybe next episode?

    • (Warning to non-book readers, I’m going to mention some upcoming book stuff in this comment that are potential spoilers for the show so watch out!)

      Her picking on the age thing was a stretch. Cersei isn’t that old. Maybe just a way for Olenna to try and object to the wedding. Any way she could I suppose. Tywin was going to write an order to make Loras a member of the Kingsguard, so I assume the breaking of the quill was Olenna going along with the marriage. I just checked Wikipedia and it said this as well. I guess something else will cause the breakup of that wedding soon.

      I figured the flaying thing with Theon might finally tip viewers off which is why I was curious.

      The upcoming Dragonglass/Slayer scene happens earlier in the book. I was definitely hoping the opening scene this week meant it might happen this week. Soon though I suppose!

      • Omg, thanks so much. This scene has boggled my mind since I first watched it (probably because I suck with actually watching episodes to study them), and your comment helped me understand a little. Now back to watching this episode with the renewed understanding!

  3. Hey Matt, Great review as usual. Sorry it took me so long to read it. I definitely agree that this week’s episode wasn’t quite as strong as the past two, but it still had some great moments. Theon’s torture scene in particular really got to me. I know Theon was a dick in the last season, but man am I ever feeling bad for him though. I like how the show is making him into such a tragic figure. His torturer (won’t say his name just in case) is terrifyingly psychotic. Love it.

    • Yeah, I really hated Theon last year. And his Book 2 Chapters are some of my least favorite in the books to be honest. But I do feel bad for him now. This torturer is definitely an entertaining kind of crazy though so that is a plus.

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