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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: Game of Thrones "The Climb"

Non Spoiler Review:
Jon and Ygritte attempt to scale the Wall. Tywin negotiates with Olenna over the new marriage match while in Riverrun, Robb hears the terms of rapprochement with Lord Frey. Jaime and Brienne learn of their fate, as Theon tries to guess the identity of his captor. The Brotherhood receives a surprise visitor from the south, which does not bode well for Gendry. 

The Climb brought another series of effective pairings, particular Tywin and Olenna's tense but hilarious exchange over the matter of Loras and Cersei's infamous tastes. That was countered to great effect by the horrific final exchange between Varys and Baelish, and a chilling shot that is sure to linger with viewers. 

While events continue to grow more ominous, Game of Thrones enters the final stretch of this season with plenty of storylines to juggle, and a growing amount of characters in jeopardy.

Spoilers Now!
Sam and Gilly struggle to keep warm north of the Wall, with a few days march until they reach it. Once their fire is going, Sam shows her the obsidian he found at the Fist of the First Men. He comforts her with talk of the Wall and the safety of Castle Black.

Arya is practicing her archery. She's good, but not as good as she thinks she is, chides Anguy. He counsels her on her form as Arya spies someone approaching, and the Brotherhood goes to meet the new arrivals. Melisandre greets Thoros, announcing she comes as a friend. She reminds him the high priests gave him a mission to turn King Robert from the false gods. He failed, he explains, preferring whoring and drinking instead.

Melisandre is brought to Beric, and she sees the evidence of his fatal wounds. She informs Thoros he should not have such power. He counters he just asked for their god's favor and he responded as his will. Thoros admits his faith had faltered by the time he came to Westeros, until the Mountain killed Beric, and he uttered the old words out of habit, only to have the man resurrected. He knew then their god is the one true god and all men must serve him. Melisandre asks Beric what he saw on the other side. Beric counters there is no other side. Only darkness. They have someone she needs.

Arya doesn't like any of it, and as Thoros asks Gendry's forgiveness, he's taken away. Despite Arya's protests, Beric explains the lord of light needs the boy. Melisandre gives Thoros gold in exchange, leading Arya to utter her disgust. Melisandre assures Gendry he's more than any of them can ever be. He will make kings rise and fall. Arya accuses her of being a witch. Melisandre sees a darkness in her, and in that darkness eyes staring back—brown, blue, green. Eyes she'll shut forever. We will meet again, Melisandre says, and rides off with her new captive.

Jon, Tormud, Orell and Ygritte arrive at the Wall, preparing for their climb. Only Tormund has climbed it before. Ygritte's waited her whole life to reach its summit. She compliments Jon that he's a proper lover, and his secret is safe with her—he's loyal and he's brave. He never stopped being a crow. The Night's Watch and Mance Rayder don't care if either of them live or die, she explains. But she warns him never to betray her. Jon promises. 

The Wildlings make their climb as Jon struggles. The ice cracks and causes an avalanche, killing several and leaving Tormund and Orell holding on to the ropes of Ygritte and Jon. Orell wants to cut them lose and severs the rope. Jon swings to an outcropping and saves himself and Ygritte as the rope falls. 

Theon is woken by Ramsay's taunts of further torture. He tells him to figure out where he is and who he is. Theon manages to guess he's held at Karhold, and that his captor is a Karstark. He suggests Torrhen was his brother and his father is Lord Rickard Karstark. Ramsay announces he's correct and he wins their game. Ramsay then says he never asked if he was a liar, and proceeds to slice open his finger. He's torturing him because he enjoys it.

Osha and Meera aren't getting along, prompting Bran to chide them both, and orders them to make peace. Jojen begins to struggle in his sleep, so his sister rushes to his side. She explains the visions take their toll on him, and he's in the midst of one. He wakens, revealing he saw Jon Snow on the wrong side of the Wall surrounded by enemies. 

Frey's sons arrive at Riverrun with an offer to continue their alliance on the condition Lord Frey receive a formal apology. Robb agrees, as well as handing over Harrenhal in restitution once the war is over and they have no further strategic need. The final condition requires Lord Edmure to wed one of his daughters. He wants the wedding to proceed quickly, rather than wait for the end of the war. 

Edmure says no, but Blackfish threatens him to obey. Robb agrees. If he refuses, their alliance is dead. Edmure thinks he may be able to have a daughter of his choosing, but Robb has no time to haggle and suggests he can make amends for his failed battle. They're lost if they don't proceed with the marriage. Edmure reluctantly concedes, and Robb promises to remember what he's done for him.

Brienne and Jaime are brought to eat with Roose. Brienne explains her orders from Catelyn, but he informs her that Lady Stark is now Robb's prisoner. Jaime wonders why he's not sent him back to Robb. As soon as he's well enough, Roose will let him ride to King's Landing as long as he swears to tell his father the truth—Roose had nothing to do with his maiming. Jaime thinks it all sounds suspicious. Brienne won't be going. Roose is charging her with abetting treason. 

Olenna dines with Tywin, telling him that a wedding between Loras and Cersei is impossible, given she's much too old, for one thing. He brings up her grandson's nocturnal activities, which she is quite aware of. Tywin offers her the chance to clean his name. Her easy going nature about it offends him. She counters that the stain of brothers and sisters is a stain that is much more difficult to wash out. Enough people find it convincing enough to kill Lannisters and Tyrells. If the rumors were true, Tywin counters, then House Tyrell is throwing their prized flower into the dirt with Joffrey, who would not be king at all. Olenna agrees, and can't take that chance with two of her heirs. Tywin decides if she refuses he will name Loras to the Kingsguard. He will never marry or have children. Highgarden will go to the children of Joffrey and Margaery. Olenna concedes, and tells him it's a rare thing for a man to live up to his reputation. She is amenable to the match.

Loras is in the midst of an awkward courting process with Sansa, but both agree King's Landing is the most terrible place there is. Tyrion and Cersei both watch from above. They're all being shipped off to hell together, Cersei muses, though Tyrion points out it's all due to her. She did what she did to protect their family, and admits that his trick with the wildfire saved the city. He confronts her about the order to kill him during the battle. She remains silent and he realizes it's Joffrey who did it. She agrees his life is likely still in danger, but not from Joffrey, given he won't do anything with Tywin there. She wonders if Jaime will ever return.

Shae and Sansa discuss the wedding, but are interrupted by a visit from Tyrion. Sansa explains it's all right that Shae remain, despite Tyrion wanting to speak with her alone, so he awkwardly begins to tell her about their new arrangement.

Varys visits Baelish sitting in the throne room, staring at the Iron Throne. He's flattered Varys is afraid of him getting what he wants. Baelish admits to enjoying thwarting his plan to give Sansa to the Tyrells, but he didn't bring his confidant any enjoyment. She was a bad investment, he explains, and he has a friend who wanted to try something new and daring and was grateful for this fresh experience. Varys says he did what he did for the good of the realm. Baelish reminds him the realm is a story they agree to tell until they forget it's a lie. Chaos is the alternative, Varys says. Chaos is a ladder, Baelish corrects. The climb is all there is. Only the ladder is real. Many who try to climb it fail. In Joffrey's chambers, he leaves Ros impaled with arrows, while Sansa weeps as she and Shae watch Baelish's ship sail. 

Tormund, Orell, Ygritte and Jon reach the top of the Wall. Jon sees a hawk flying above. Ygritte lays eyes on the south for the first time in her life and they share a kiss.

The Verdict:
The Climb saw the end of one of the series' beloved characters. Ros' death was a surprise, to be honest. Given she represented the lowborn perspective, I hadn't anticipated she could be killed so easily and offhand. It's a cap to Loras' comment that King's Landing is the most terrible place there is. That pretty much leaves Shae and Gendry as the audience's perspective on the lords and ladies of Westeros.

As if we didn't need more of a reminder how much it sucks to be lowborn, the Brotherhood (and particularly Thoros and Beric) have lost a lot of traction given how easy they're bought. They abandoned a loyal recruit in Gendry for gold. Gendry's suddenly prominent role in matters doesn't likely bode well for him, but I'm pleased to see he's getting more attention.

I finally got my wish to see Melisandre and Thoros interact with some discussion of their religion. She looks positively jealous that Thoros can resurrect the dead (six times). Kind of makes her devilish smoke monster baby pale in comparison. It appears the priests of the one true god R'hllor have a greater design to convert Westeros to their ways (going back many years if Thoros was to bring Robert into the fold). Will Daenerys run into this religion in the east?

If Joffrey is the one who tried to murder Tyrion, that would remove a significant obstacle from working with his sister to kill their father, which looks increasingly more likely (if Olenna doesn't embark on her own agenda as well). Tywin is a completely awesome villain but the animosity he's roused since returning to the role of Hand of the King seems too much to sustain. I was annoyed that we never got to see Tyrion's whole conversation with Shae and Sansa. That felt like an easy out to avoid a complex scene.

And any thoughts I had that Baelish might be a mellowing were shattered with his terrible punishment for Ros. The look on Varys' face (who remains one of my favorite characters) made for a terrific exchange between them. Varys continues to strive to preserve the realm, but Baelish makes good points that Westeros is barely held together by any common idea (until Daenerys returns, that is).

Theon's plot, and Bran's journey north continue to slowly simmer, and I'm fearful at what's going to happen to Brienne now that Roose has seen fit to send Jaime back to King's Landing (what?!). I don't know how much I trust that, but I doubt either of them will end well.

Ygritte finally managed to grow on me this episode, particularly in her expression of loyalty to Jon and the fact that neither Mance Rayder nor the Night's Watch care about either of them. She's also able to see through his charade, so she has some smarts. I'm happy to see them finally reach the Wall. Whether Tormund and Orell manage to live to see much of the other side remains to be seen.

As the season begins to wind down I'm left considering where we'll end up. I'm seriously doubting Daenerys can make it to Westeros in the short time left, but Mance leading his army into the south is something quite possible. Will we get to see an attack on Casterly Rock? Which marriages will take place? Frey appears to want his wedding as soon as possible, which would likely delay such an attack. However, if the series' trend continues, the penultimate episode will contain a major event as it has in the past.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! The picture of the room with the "no prizes" option is mine. :) My students absolutely love these games, even with no prizes. One other tweak I do: I have 6 tables, so I write the numbers 1-6 on sticks. I show the question, then have every group work together to come up with an answer, THEN I pull the stick to see whose turn it is. If the first table gets it wrong, I pull another stick. When the answer is correct, all the sticks go back in the cup. I found that doing it this way ensured everyone was engaged through the whole game. Play now to game 123 games and run 3 cool math games, game freecell 123

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