Sorry, Miley, but I’m going to have to disagree with you: “The Climb” is about how fast you get there (Mance Rayder is waiting) and it is about what’s waiting on the other side (the Night’s Watch, and the Seven Kingdoms beyond).
Oh wait, your 2009 pop hit doesn’t refer to this week’s episode of Game of Thrones? My bad. Those lyrics about taking chances and getting knocked down is so prescient – at least in Jon Snow’s case — I thought you might have a touch of the greensight. I suppose, then, that “7 Things” doesn’t apply to the ways Sansa’s probably contemplating offing herself and “Party in the USA” isn’t about Tywin and Lady Tyrell’s wedding negotiations? OK then. Let’s quit while I’m behind and move on to reviewing the major developments in “The Climb.”
THE WILDLINGS | Jon and the band of free folk prepare to climb the 700-ft. ice wall by tying on some less-than-sturdy looking crampons. The newly devirginized Snow is afraid, but Ygritte is thrumming with anticipation. “I’ve waited my whole life to see the world from up there,” she muses, then informs Jon that the spikes he’s wearing belonged to a man who “wasn’t good to me the way you’re good to me. He didn’t do that thing you do with your tongue.” (Ha! And just so you have an accurate sense of the scene, Rose Leslie draws out that last word so it sounds like “tonnnnnnnngue,” which gives Kit Harington all the more time to have Jon die of embarrassment.)
I do enjoy the turnabout at play in this pairing: In a show where women are the targets of (at best) sexual teasing and (at worst) sexual violence, it’s refreshing to see Ygritte unabashedly taunt Jon in such a playful, open manner. She grows serious, though, when she shares that she knows he’s still loyal to the Night’s Watch – regardless of what he told Mance Rayder. That’s well and good, but there’s a new, redheaded sheriff in town. “I’m your woman now, Jon Snow. You’re going to be loyal to your woman,” she informs him. “It’s you and me that matters to me and you.” The fiery wildling warns him not ever to betray her, and he promises he won’t – a vow I’m pretty sure he makes up his mind to keep when she threatens to dismember one of his most prized parts “and wear it around me neck.” (And Jaime thought he had it bad with his hand-on-a-rope…)
Jon, Ygritte, Tormund Giantsbane and Orell climb the 700-ft. ice wall with rudimentary picks, the aforementioned bear-trap shoes and a rope. At one point, Ygritte sticks her pick into the ice, causing it to catastrophically crack, and GREAT, YGRITTE. YOU BROKE THE WALL. The avalanche-like icefall that follows knocks Jon and his lady off so they’re just dangling from a line connected to the wildlings above. Orell, who has made no secret of wanting Jon dead, starts sawing through the rope so Snow and Ygritte’s dead weight won’t bring down the rest of their party. But Jon manages to latch himself back onto the sheer face just in time to save him and his honey. (Side note: I know it’s not real, but that whole sequence still made my feet sweat in fear.) Everyone eventually makes it to the top, where Ygritte gets the views (both north and south) she’s been waiting for and she and Jon make out like teenagers.
HOUSE STARK: RED-ITED EDITION | Arya’s practicing her bow skills with the Brotherhood Without Banners when Stannis’ red priestess Melisandre rides up. Everyone’s surprised to see her, and she in turn is surprised to learn that Thoros has brought Beric back from the dead six times. Thoros confesses that despite being sent to King’s Landing years ago to turn Robert Baratheon into a worshipper of R’hllor, he’d lost faith. Only when The Mountain “drove a lance through this one’s heart,” he says, gesturing to Beric, did he truly ask the Lord of Light for help. “For the first time in my life, the Lord replied,” Thoros recalls, moved. Melisandre shakes off her shock and gets down to business: She’s there to take Gendry.
Arya’s not a fan of that plan. As Melisandre’s men are leading the young blacksmith and his mid-90s-esque facial hair away, Ms. Stark protests loudly. Melisandre gazes into Arya’s eyes, says she sees “darkness” in her and predicts the girl will kill three people in her lifetime. The priestess attempts to comfort Gendry by telling him he is destined for greatness, and then they’re off.
HOUSE STARK: THE-FREY-PLAY EDITION | Robb, Cat, Edmure and the Blackfish meet with two of Walder Frey’s sons in order to soothe hurt feelings/acquire his army. The sons have a list of demands: a public apology, the acquisition of Harrenhal and the marriage of their sister Roslin to Cat’s brother Edmure. (Ha! to Edmure’s reaction to this: “What?”) Robb agrees, and when they’re all alone, reminds his uncle of the military debacle (his fault) that helped get them into this position. Chagrined, Edmure agrees to wed the Frey girl.
HOUSE GREYJOY: PINKY-AND-THE-BRAIN EDITION | The man Theon thought was his rescuer tortures him, making the Ironborn guess who he is and why he’s got him strung up like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. If the torturer wins, Theon will beg him to cut off his pinky finger. (You read that right.) What about if Theon wins? “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention,” the man says, making me a wee bit scared for sniveling little Theon. (Side note: The torturer looks like a demented George O’Malley, no? Let’s refer to him as Georgelgänger until we have better intel.) Georgelgänger toys with Theon by making him think that his guess at his family heritage – Karstark – is correct. But wait, Georgelgänger is a huge liar! He messes with Theon’s little finger in a way so painful that Theon pleads for it to be removed. Georgelgänger’s face is full of sick delight as he coos, “I win.”
HOUSE LANNISTER: FUR-TRIMMED-AND-FANCY-FREE EDITION | Jaime and Brienne – clad in a horrific pink, fur-trimmed gown – sit down to dinner with Roose Bolton. There’s a funny sight gag of Jaime trying to cut his meat one-handed – and I adore the moment that Jaime, without even looking, stills Brienne’s hand on the knife when Bolton threatens to kill them – but the comedy ends when Bolton says he’s going to release Jaime to his father’s custody… but Brienne will stay behind to answer for aiding and abetting treason. Jaime says he must insist that the knight accompany him. “I had hoped you’d learn your lesson about overplaying your… position,” Bolton quips. Hey hey hey, mister. I’ll make the hand jokes around here, thank you very much.
HOUSE LANNISTER: NOBODY’S-HAPPY EDITION | Tywin meets with Lady Olenna to blackmail her into accepting Cersei (who she says is too old) as Loras’ wife. But she calls his bluff: She knows her grandson is “a sword-swallower through and through” (ha!) but thinks incest (cough Jaime and Cersei cough) is completely unnatural. If Loras won’t marry Joff’s mom, Tywin counters, he’ll name him to the Kingsguard, meaning he’ll never marry/never reproduce, and Highgarden will go to Joffrey and Margaery’s kids. The Queen of Thorns acquiesces.
Out by the pond, Loras talks about the following topics with real enthusiasm: brooches, his and Sansa’s wedding reception, the details of her gown. Sansa is so excited about being Mrs. Knight of Flowers and getting the hell out of King’s Landing, she’s oblivious to the extreme gayness of every word he says. Later, when she and Shae are in her quarters, Tyrion reluctantly visits to drop the bomb of his proposal on them both. “This is awkward,” he begins. (Heh, and then sadness. You just know this won’t end well for any of them.)
Meanwhile, Baelish confronts Varys about cooking up the Stark-Tyrell match and reveals that he knew Ros was passing the eunuch information. Littlefinger makes some oblique references to what’s become of her, and I get a really bad feeling in my stomach for the too-smart-for-her-own-good redhead. We soon find out that my anxiety is well-founded: When we cut to Joffrey’s room, where he’s fondling his new crossbow, the camera pans over to the bedpost… and Ros is tied to the frame, shot through with arrows and clearly dead. For the love of the old gods and the new, will someone please stop this kid?
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you afraid Bran will start having fits like Jojen? Did you like Sam’s singing voice? Sound off in the comments!