TVTV Recaps

GAME OF THRONES “The Climb” Recap

Welcome back to my weekly recap of Game of Thrones! As always, these recaps are written for the benefit of those who have not read the books. Also, seeing as how this is a recap, and not a review, spoilers are indeed ahead. On with the show…


“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. Some, given a chance to climb, refuse. They cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”

So says Littlefinger to a dissembling Verys in this typically-two-faced-titled episode of Game of Thrones, another brilliant installment in the show’s epic third season, a season that has ratcheted up the crossing and double-crossing to such extremes that men like Littlefinger and Verys now openly discuss their respective hamstringing of each other’s interests with little more than a shrug and offhanded “bros gotta do what bros gotta do.”

But who can blame them? Master manipulators at King’s Landing always seem to have a hard time when Tywin Lannister is in town, the ultimate manipulator and non-putter-upper with anyone’s shit. Even the silver-tongued Olenna Tyrell meets her match with Tywin this week, who informs her that she’ll allow the marriage between Cersei and Loras to go forward or he’ll just put Loras’ name down as one of the Kingsguard’s new recruits and the Tyrell name will die forever with his newly-celibate ass. For once, Olenna has little to say and resorts to snapping Tywin’s ever-present quill in half as he readies it to give the order. Joffrey may be King, but while he’s crossbowing the ever-loving shit out of prostitutes with a detached boredom (RIP Ros), it’s Tywin who has everyone in Westeros quaking in their boots.

For their part, Cersei and Tyrion are as displeased with their new arrangements as anyone. Tyrion, an expert schemer in his own right, briefly tries to coerce Cersei into admitting her involvement in his attempted assassination at Blackwater as an interesting diversion, but his heart just isn’t into ruining people these days and he soon tires of the exercise. Take it from the Imp’s words himself. He’s “fucked” and he knows it. To top it off, it apparently falls on Tyrion himself to break the news to an oblivious Sansa Stark, the occasion being all the more dreadfully-awkward when a suspicious Shae refuses to leave her lady’s bedchambers and that Sansa was, minutes ago, over the goddamn moon at the thought of finally getting out of King’s Landing for a legitimate reason, bashfully confiding her happiness to potential husband Loras Tyrell, Olenna and Margery’s chosen suitor. Alas, that possibility is swiftly dashed and a sobbing Sansa watches Baelish sail away and, with him, her escape. At least one thing seems perfectly clear at this point – if Sansa is ever to leave the city, it’s not going to be anytime soon.

While near everyone at King’s Landing is busy climbing over backstabbed enemies in a race to the top, Jon Snow participates in this episode’s literal climb – the Wildings’ much-anticipated summit of The Wall. Jon and Ygritte have a moment before the push, which should be setting off some extreme ‘Romeo & Juliet’-esque alarm bells in even the greenest college classic literature major’s head, especially the part when you come to find out that Ygritte’s been three steps ahead of his little ploy from the start, but is basically cool with it, telling him that she’s fully aware that he’s still a Crow and has some scheme up his sleeve. But it’s no biggie as long as he pledges to put her first. The dude’s still coming down from the high of last week’s vapor cave sexy time, so he doesn’t have any problem with that. Ironically, for all the Wildings’ smirking tips for Jon on how to climb the wall without blowing it for everyone, it’s Ygritte’s ice axe chop that takes down a whole section, Wildings included, and it’s Jon who saves the day, save some Orell attempted murder-ish. Everyone with a name makes it to the top and it’s just so beautiful up there that Jon delays beating the absolute dog crap out of Orell so that he and Ygritte can have a kissy-face moment with a breathtaking view and holy god I’ve watched this show long enough to know that something bad is going to happen to THEM at some point!

Arya in Game of Thrones episode "The Climb"

Much has been bandied about among fans regarding the mysterious Lord of Light and the extent of His powers. And lemme tell ya – today’s episode made things no clearer. Melisandre comes across Beric’s party out in the woods and is flabbergasted that He would bring Beric Dondarrion back to life six times, especially via the beseeching of drunken lout (and previous nonbeliever) Thoros. The Lord of Light clearly has something UBER-special planned for Beric when the demon baby birthgiver says that such a feat should be “impossible”. Instead of hanging around to solve that conundrum, however, she decides to go ahead and take what she came for – poor, poor Baratheon bastard Gendry. So much for him joining the Brotherhood Without Banners. Yes, Stannis. Some of Melisandre’s magic requires the blood of a king. So we found this kid out in the wilderness with some of that hot king blood. Now get your biggest barrel and sharpest knife. Arya ain’t havin’ that shit and tries to stop Melisandre. The Red Woman is about to backhand her Red Woman style before getting spooked big time, not only claiming  to see “darkness” staring back at her, but all the eyes of the people Arya is about to murder as well. She also drops the “we will meet again” line, making one wonder if Arya’s supposed upcoming Revenge Tour of Westeros might end up playing at Dragonstone at some point. Arya is, of course, puzzled by the whole thing. Not every day that a witch tells you that you’re a homicidal maniac waiting to roam free.

Robb Stark deals with no such internal strife. Instead, he has a big pile of bad choices before him resulting from earlier bad choices, not to mention his inner circle pointing at his bad choices at their leisure. Sadly for him, everyone took a day off today while he plows ahead with what sure seems to me like a really, REALLY bad choice. Kowtowing to the most insane-looking creepy old dude in Westeros (which, believe me, is saying a LOT) is bad enough, but Walder Frey isn’t demented enough to not know that he’s got Lord Stark’s balls in a vice. To re-establish their alliance will now not only cost them Harrenhal to the Freys, but Uncle Edmure must now marry into the family that Robb himself refused to. Edmure begs off but if there’s anything Robb’s good at lately, it’s coercing people to help take the load off of his shoulders caused by his own mistakes. So Uncle Eddy is gettin’ hitched and the Lord of the North is now subject to the whims and wishes of the Lord of That One Bridge Everyone Really Needs To Use. This is all gonna turn out just fine.

The show was light on the Jaime and Brienne front this week, but we find out that Lord Bolton found a dress for Brienne to wear at their dinners together, which looks horrible. I’ll allow it, but only if someone promises me that Brienne is going to be allowed to kill some people soon for this affront. Jaime can’t cut steak with one hand, but still manages to be proud enough to threaten Lord Bolton with his Lannister name again. Guess he didn’t learn his lesson from the whole “hand off” incident and Bolton repeats as much. But hey, Bolton assures him that he’ll take him to King’s Landing anyway, despite his incessant “my dad will turn you into a lawn ornament” talk, as long as he doesn’t tell his father that the loss of his hand was Bolton’s doing. The wheels turning in Jaime’s head are practically visible at this news, but nothing happens when his inner Rube Goldberg machine completes its cycle. (For a Lannister, Jaime sure has been written down to the family dimwit. The loss of his hand has clearly neutralized him. He couldn’t outwit his way out of an unguarded room with an unlocked door.) Bolton even refuses to drink from the pitcher of wine at the table but a defeated Jaime can only mutter something along the lines of “Fuck it, I’m drinking anyway.” and “When do we leave?” To which he is told that “we” won’t be going anywhere. Brienne is to stay at Harrenhal and Bolton won’t be persuaded otherwise. Have we seen the last of Westeros’ Odd Couple? Say it ain’t so.

And, frankly, that’s about all to be said about this week’s episode. It almost goes without saying that it’s another stellar hour of television, with alliances delightfully coming together, and disintegrating, as we pass Season 3’s midpoint and rush headlong to the finale. No Daenerys today and, although we did get a bit of Bran, it’s almost not enough to touch on here. Their group still makes for the wall and Jojen has a seizure (or, rather, a vision) in which he tells Bran that he saw Jon Snow on the wall surrounded by enemies. That’s not helping my bad feeling about Mr. Snow. Also, Theon continues to be tortured by the creepy fake rescuer guy, who gets bored and tells Theon he might go easy on him if he guesses who he is. Despite getting chunks of his pinkie getting cut off with every wrong answer, Theon believes he has hit on the answer when he guesses that he is the son of Rickard Karstark. Young Karstark (?) is shocked into quiet before reverting back to ‘maniac torturer’ and claiming to have lied when he admitted his Karstark name, happily returning to some pinkie gouging fun. Who IS this dude, really? Get back to me if Theon manages to get off that goddamn ‘X’ ever again, cuz that storyline ain’t going too far these days.

What did y’all think of this week’s episode? Lemme know in the comments below!

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The Author

Gabriel Ruzin

Gabriel Ruzin

Gabriel is a genre film lover, giddy in the presence of beauty and awesomeness, cranky in the presence of artless junk. His first movie memory is watching Khan die in STAR TREK II as a 4-year-old (true story). Gabriel started his online writing 'career' a few years back on a WP blog before graduating to writing for a few bonafide movie sites, including serving as an editor for two. The Coen brothers, Terry Gilliam, and David Fincher are among his favorite directors. He co-hosted the Telluride Horror Show in 2011, 2012, and will host again in 2013. In the midst of writing a book on THE TWILIGHT ZONE for Applause Books. Film trivia whiz. Facial hair artiste.