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Monday, May 6, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x6 - "The Climb"

All right, we get it, Ygritte. Jon Snow is a cunning linguist. He doesn't know nothing, Jon Snow. Ygritte has pledged herself to be Jon Snow's woman and promises to cut off his cock if he ever betrayed her. Notice she didn't threaten to harm his tongue. Ygritte also knows Jon Snow's secret, that he's a double double agent and remains loyal to the Night's Watch, even though he's an oathbreaker for laying with a woman. But there's no time for more cunning linguistics. There is a Wall the wildlings must climb.

"The Climb" is a brisk mostly-talkie about the climb of the Wall and about much more. It's a quieter episode where events that began weeks ago have now begun to take their effect and things have gotten decidedly worse for several of the denizens of Westeros. "The Climb" was malevolently explained via ghastly metaphor by Littlefinger to Varys. Littlefinger and Varys were the secret Merv Griffin of the game show "Who Wants to Marry Sansa Stark?" and both tried to have the game rigged to go their way. Littlefinger was considerably more cunning and won the game, simply because he pulled the strings of more players. Varys now knows Littlefinger used one of his male whores to seduce Loras Tyrell for information about the Tyrell plot to marry Sansa to Loras, which Littlefinger fed to Tywin, who successfully counter plotted to have Sansa promised to Tyrion while Cercei is now pledged to Loras. All of this was at the expense of Varys' informant Ros, who was given to Joffrey as crossbow target practice. What an ignominious end to Ros, the best former prostitute in Westeros. Ros will be missed.

Tywin personally negotiated Cercei's betrothal to the Knight of Flowers with Lady Olenna in one of the most ripping scenes of the season. When you have great actors like Charles Dance and Diana Rigg butt heads with this type of material, they can set the screen aflame. The Queen of Thorns really had one futile card to play, that Cercei is too old for Loras and may not be able to produce children. It was also a bit of a debate over each family's disgusting secrets and whether homosexuality is more disgraceful than incest. They could debate that until the ravens come home. The best line was Olenna admitting Loras is "a sword swallower through and through". (Not that anything's wrong with a discreet bit of buggery, according to the Queen of Thorns.) Tywin had all the power here and he threatened to use it: he could assign Loras Tyrell to the Kingsguard so he can never marry and thus Highgarden would be inherited by Joffrey and Margaery's future children. Check and mate.

Though she can't see it this way yet, in a way, sparing Sansa from marrying Loras is a gift to her, judging from their awkward first date. Like any little boy, Loras has long dreamed of his lavish wedding and what kind of dress the, bride. Yes, bride... will wear. That date was painful to witness, even for Tyrion and Cercei. Tyrion seems satisfied with Cercei's non-admittance that it was Joffrey who ordered the Kingsguard to kill him at Blackwater. Which they both agree was typical Joffrey stupidity. Cercei did finally give Tyrion his due for his efforts in saving King's Landing from Stannis. But it fell to Tyrion to tell Sansa - in front of Shae, mind you - that she now has the honor of marrying Tyrion Lannister. Sansa took the news as well as you'd expect. But at least she didn't try to kill herself or anything. We never saw Loras' reaction to the news of his new engagement, but I'll bet he shed as many tears, if not more.

Melissandre arrived in the Riverlands to interrupt Arya's archery lesson, and we learned a lot more about the drunken Thoros of Myr. That he was sent to King's Landing to convert Robert Baratheon to the Lord of Light but decided drinking and whoring were better uses of his time since he didn't much care for the one true god. That changed when Beric Dondarrion was murdered by the Mountain and he asked the Lord of Light to spare him. And five more times, Thoros has been able to bring Beric back, which astounds Melissandre. I mean, she thought a murderous black smoke queef baby with Stannis was a boon from the Lord of Light; what's this about bringing men back to the living? Sadly for Gendry, he's the reason Melissandre has come and a couple of sacks of gold buys Gendry and shatters his dreams of smithing for the Brotherhood. Poor Gendry. It sucks to have Robert Baratheon's blood in you. Melissandre meets Arya for the first (and last) time, and she sees darkness and different colored eyes in Arya. Foreshadowing.

Meanwhile, at Riverrun, two of Walder Frey's deformed inbred sons arrive to negotiate with a contrite, eager to please Robb about what it will take for Ser Walder to overlook Robb's grievous oathbreaking and make nice and give Robb his armies, please? Ser Walder wants a formal apology, ownership of Harrenhaal, and for Edmure Tully to wed one of his daughters. Edmure understandably balks but gets king-pressured into aqcuiescing. "You're paying for my sins, Uncle", Robb tells him. Yeah, what bullshit is that? Robb gets to break his oath and marry hot Talisa but Edmure has to marry a Frey so Robb can get some more soldiers to replace the ones he bungled and lost by being a crappy king and killing his most loyal banner man, because his mother set the Kingslayer free? All because Edmure lost 200 men in a dumb move that didn't kill the Mountain? Robb sucks. He's a hypocrite. Catelyn sucks too.

The Kingslayer, now clean as a whistle and sharp as a thistle, finally has a good meal with Lord Bolton and Brienne, but can't cut the meat with one hand. Bolton agrees to allow Jaime passage to King's Landing as payment for his maiming, but also to assure Tywin that he, Lord Bolton, had nothing to do with that, and don't come to Harrenhaal and seek vengeance, please, thank you. Brienne has to stay since she abetted Catelyn's treason. Jaime however is a step closer to coming home and being reunited with Cercei and won't she be disappointed when she finds out Jaime can no longer swing a sword and force her future husband Loras to come down with a case of sword-in-bowels?

On either side of the Wall are tales of camping. Sam Tarly regales Gilly and Gilly's baby with stories of what to expect when they reach Castle Black. Oh, it's a wonderful place full of hearths of fire, venison stew and onions, and crows singing. Meanwhile, somewhere between Winterfell and the Wall, Meera Reed and Osha just can't get along and have one of those arguments over who skins a rabbit better that still sounds awfully polite because of the British accents. They almost come to blows but little lord Bran commands them to chill out, yo. We're suddenly reminded Rickon exists when Jojen has a seizure in his sleep. The visions sometimes bring them about. Jojen must have had a remarkable vision: It's Christmas time, he's a little younger, Liam Neeson is his dad, and there was this girl who sang and he chased her through an airport to tell her he loved her. No, nothing that awesome, just that he saw Jon Snow on the wrong side of the Wall surrounded by enemies. Everyone is let down. I just want to hear Jojen tell Bran "Let's get the shit kicked out of us by love."

Both those tales of camping are slightly more interesting than this edition of X Marks The Spot of Theon's Weekly Torture. This week, Ramsay Bolton decided to fuck with Theon by lying about who he is and flaying the skin off his pinkie. We don't really need to see Theon tortured every episode, do we? That would reek of overkill.

Finally, back to the Climb, a harrowing sequence as Jon Snow, Ygritte, and the Wildlings attempt to scale the Wall as the Wall "fights back" and tries to kill them. Ygritte and Jon both nearly fall to their doom, not helped by their tether line almost being cut, but Jon heroically does right by his woman and saves them both. They both succeed in arduously scaling the mighty Wall and reach the top, fulfilling Ygritte's wish to see the world from the top of the Wall. And there's no better place for two young lovers to make out. That Jon Snow. He's got a great girl, he's climbed the Wall, he's on top of the world.