Game of Thrones Recap: The Climb
If And Now His Watch Is Ended was my favourite Game of Thrones episode to date, The Climb was perhaps the episode I’ve liked the least thus far.
It lacked…something. Excitement? High stakes? Dragons? All of the above?
The episode unfolds with Sam and Gilly and her bastard son, singing Kumbaya around a sputtering fire. Gilly realizes that Sam must be highborn as she watches his feeble attempts to stoke the flames, and the truth about his past is finally brought to light. It’s a sweet scene, but I couldn’t truly enjoy it, as I was too distracted by all of the things that seem to have slipped their minds. I mean, they’re sitting in the middle of a dark forest on the wrong side of the wall, surrounded by White Walkers and a literal murder of Crows (see what I did there?). Is a roaring fire and a sing-along really a good idea? Haven’t those two seen The Hunger Games?
Before we leave the pair to make some s’mores, Sam whips out his dagger to show Gilly.
What? NO! Get your mind out of the gutter! I meant a literal dagger. I know that this is Game of Thrones but Sam is basically the last chaste character remaining now that Jon has experienced the Westeros version of Girls Gone Wild (aptly named Girls Gone Wildling).
Anyway, he shows Gilly the obsidian dagger he found, and you just know it’s going to be important at some point in the future, because when you’re in a show with- what- a dozen lead characters, every second of screen time counts.
Or at least you’d think so.
The next scene felt like a bit of a useless transition. Meera and Osha are bickering about skinning rabbits while they skin rabbits.
Why can’t you guys just be more like Peter Dinklage?!
I hope those weren’t real rabbits, because last year there were these two baby bunnies that hung out around my house and I named them Humphrey and Hubert and watched them grow into fine little rabbits and- anyway, it was upsetting. I hope if those were real rabbits someone actually ate them and didn’t just waste rabbits for the sake of pointless, catty banter.
Anyway, Jojen has one of his dreams (so melodramatic), and wakes up to inform the group that he dreamt of Jon Snow beyond The Wall, surrounded by foes.
A split-second later, we’re beyond The Wall with Jon Snow. He’s preparing for his dreaded ascent, and he’s surrounded by Wildlings.
Whoa. Step aside, Sylvia Browne!
Ygritte is helping him with his questionable climbing equipment while she commends him- once more- on his oral mastery. All right, all right- we get it- Jon Snow is the only man in Westeros who understands that cunnilingus doesn’t actually refer to a cunning linguist (sorry Littlefinger).
At this point, I can’t help but feel indignant on Daenerys’ behalf. In the novels, her first time was pretty sweet, and I don’t mean “sweet” in an Ashton-Kutcher-Comedy sort of way. It was surprisingly tender, romantic, even, and yet in the show she basically spent her wedding night attempting futile conversation with her barbarian husband and weeping. I get it, we had to be able to appreciate her arc within a ten-episode timeframe, and so she had to rise above some pretty dire circumstances, but still, it’s not fair that all the boys are having first-time experiences that read like a medieval “Letters to Penthouse” (“Ravens to Penthouse”?) while she basically cried and thought happy thoughts about puppies and kittens for the entire half of the first season.
Anyway, Ygritte is getting kind of weirdly clingy, but instead of scribbling “Ygritte + Jon = True Love” or “Mrs. Ned Stark’s Bastard” on her animal skin notebooks, she threatens to “cut his cock off” if he ever so much as entertains the notion of leaving her. That’s what you get when you date a woman with red hair, boys! Consider yourselves warned.
We leave those two to continue exchanging sweet nothings, and finally visit the other side of The Wall. Arya’s in the middle of an archery lesson when Melisandre shows up, and- wait. What?! Melisandre! What are you doing here?! How did she-? How did they-? This is one of those things that most definitely did not take place in the novels, and I- like Arya- do not like this sudden turn of events.
We soon discover, during a conversation that takes place between Melisandre, Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr, that the priestess of R’hllor requires Gendry for something we can only assume is terrible. Guys, I swear to God(s), if something happens to Gendry my anger in response will make Catelyn Stark seem sapient in comparison.
Alright, what’s next- oh. Gross. It’s Theon. I got about 2.5 second into this scene before it became glaringly apparent to me that I could not withstand torture. I spent this entire scene contemplating ways Theon could kill himself because even for Game of Thrones it was horrible. His sadistic tormenter taunts him ruthlessly throughout the scene, and then flays some skin off his pinkie finger because this is Game of Thrones and everything is terrible. I couldn’t watch. I sat in front of my TV with my eyes shut, shaking my head. Gross. I officially would not wish this on my worst enemy- and I can say that with complete confidence, because Theon Greyjoy basically is my worst enemy and I genuinely pity him at this point.
Let’s move on, because I don’t know about you guys, but my skin is crawling.
Okay, we abandon Theon to visit Riverrun, where Robb Stark is in a meeting with two of Walder Frey’s sons. In case you’ve forgotten (like Robb Stark did), Walder Frey is the man whose daughter Robb had vowed to marry. Clearly, that’s no longer an option. Robb married for love, because if Game of Thrones needed anything, it was more Nick Cassavetes. Now if Robb wants an alliance with the Freys, his Uncle, Edmure, will be forced to wed Frey’s daughter, Roslin. Edmure objects, but is quickly shut down by both Robb and the Blackfish, who imply that this marriage is the very least he can do, considering his previous battlefield blunders. I don’t know, man, if I were Edmure I would have taken this opportunity to point out that the reason the meeting was taking place was because Robb Stark had decided to break his solemn vows and marry a naughty nurse in a Braveheart‘esque secret ceremony, but whatever. I guess as a woman I’m supposed to find the whole Robb/Talisa arc terribly romantic, but instead I just find it terrible. It’s terrible.
Anyway, Edmure- who isn’t nearly as sassy as Talisa- quietly consents and that’s that! Problem solved! So glad we worked that out, guys, because the repercussions could have been pretty gruesome otherwise! Phew!
Speaking of tentative agreements, back at Harrenhal Roose Bolton is meeting with a squeaky clean Jaime and Brienne. He agrees to send Jaime on his way back to King’s Landing, so long as he vows to tell his father that the Boltons had nothing to do with his lack of a sword-hand. Jaime accepts (unfortunately pinky-swearing was out of the question), and all is well until it is revealed that Brienne will not be joining him on his journey home. Jaime isn’t thrilled by the prospect of leaving his unlikely companion behind, but despite his protests, Roose insists that she remain (NOOOoooo).
When we finally make it back to King’s Landing, we’re made privy to yet another meeting- this one taking place between Tywin Lannister and Olenna. They’re discussing Cersei’s upcoming nuptials, her age, and Ser Loras’ contrary sexual preference. Well, Tywin is. He believes that marrying Cersei will help to remove the “stain” from Loras’ name. In response, Olenna- who is proud of her grandson’s “sword swallowing” abilities- brushes off the insult as she would a pesky gnat, and implies that surely even he- Tywin Lannister- dabbled in a bit of swordplay with other boys as a young man. Tywin laughs and winks and they both sit down cross-legged on the floor to discuss their wild youths and- nope. Just kidding. Tywin is not at all amused by the implication, and suggests that Highgarden must have a high tolerance for such unsavoury “afflictions”. Olenna, who clearly does not take kindly to her grandson being called an abomination, comes back with something along the lines of- “Yeah, well, even we draw the line at incest.”
Tywin then turns the tables, making the same thinly veiled threat that he was once the recipient of. He says that if Olenna refuses to wed Loras to Cersei, he will name him a member of The Kingsguard- as The Mad King once did to his own eldest son, Jaime. This means that even despite his lack of a menopausal wife, Loras won’t be having any children regardless, and the house of Tyrell will slowly but surely fade into oblivion. The scene ends with Olenna plucking Tywin’s quill from his fingers and snapping it in half, and we’re all left wondering whether or not the wedding has in fact been called off.
Elsewhere, Sansa and Loras- still operating under the impression that they are betrothed- are flirting awkwardly beside a fountain, and are unknowingly being watched by their actual betrotheds- Tyrion and Cersei. Tyrion is attempting to joke with his sister to lighten the mood in a many-a-true-word-is-spoken-in-jest kind of way, reassuring her that at least her unhappy marriage will be ended the moment Jaime returns and finds out. He’s not above pushing little kids out of windows to protect her honour, surely he’ll kill her husband! Problem solved!
Even though they discuss who attempted to have Tyrion murdered at The Battle of Blackwater, I would go as far as to call this scene a sibling-bonding moment. The pair of them are almost adorable when Jaime’s gone and they’re both angry at their father. Cersei, like the meanest girl in my grade-school days (she was a huge bitch- she used to tease me about liking the Spice Girls), becomes almost pleasant when she perceives herself to be vulnerable. I remember once this mean girl got into a fight with her clique and I found her crying alone beneath the stairwell and even despite the fact that she constantly teased me I still comforted her. So basically I’m as cool as Tyrion. Well, almost. Kind of. Just pretend.
Even Tyrion, however, has a hard time breaking the news of their impending union to Sansa, who was- of course- in the presence of Shae whilst this conversation was taking place. Thankfully, the scene was cut short before any shrieking commenced (and no, I’m not talking about Sansa).
Shae, it turns out, isn’t the only one displeased by the change in plans. We find Varys and Littlefinger conversing in the throne room, and they’re not exactly exchanging pleasantries. No, it turns out Littlefinger discovered the plot to foil his plans, and- as a result- discovered who had been sharing his secrets with The Spider.
Oh, Ros. We all knew you were going to die. She was created for the sole purpose of the show, and had served her role as an expositional character. Basically everyone in Game of Thrones dies (sometimes more than once), but it was the way that Ros departed that left me feeling dissatisfied. Why did it have to be sexual? We’re already aware that Joffrey is a creep. In fact, a masochistic bedroom-scene was already added in last season and this sexual shock-value is becoming problematic for me. As a geek of the lady variety, I’m often asked if I have issues with the way women are presented in George R.R. Martin’s books. The answer has always been no. Sure, I think it’s a bit silly when he has a straight woman notice another woman’s breasts to the point that a description of them is warranted, but beyond that I believe that the women in his books are merely attempting to- in their various ways- survive in a world that was ruled and run by the opposite sex. I admire many of his female characters, and though I have some issues with certain storylines (I’ve even detested Daenerys at certain points), overall I think he has created some wonderful examples of strong characters who just so happen to have boobs (I know this because they’re always described in great detail)! Honestly, if you asked me to describe any one of my friend’s breasts, my answer would simply be “bigger than mine”.
This particular scene, however, was unsettling. We don’t need to see a woman restrained and ravaged and dead. It added virtually nothing to the plot, so, in the future, how about we leave the monster porn to Hentai. Thanks!
I was too disturbed to truly enjoy the conclusion of this episode, as Jon and Ygritte finally make it to the top of The Wall. Despite having lost more than half of their companions on the way up, they still find it within themselves to share a romantic moment in each other’s arms. It’s sweet, and yet I had a hard time believing that anyone in their right mind would feel anything beyond sheer terror at such a staggering height- knowing that your only option down was to climb and/or free-fall.
Maybe that’s just me, though. Once, when I was a little girl, I climbed up a tree in the park and paused to admire my prowess as a raccoon when I realized how high up I was and proceeded to scream at the very top of my lungs until a dog walker alerted my father and he came to get me down.
I don’t think I’d last long as a Wildling.