Game of Thrones Season 3 is here! Need to catch up? Don't miss Regina Thorne's Season 2 refresher or her recap of episode 3.01, episode 3.02, episode 3.03, episode 3.04, and episode 3.05. And now, onto last night's episode 3.06, “The Climb."
“We’re just soldiers in their armies and there’s plenty more to carry on if we go down. It’s you and me that matters to me and you.” In the game of thrones, there are kings and queens, lords and priests and generals, and at the very bottom of the ladder, there are the pawns whose only hope of survival is that they matter to someone else. Unless you have someone to give you a hand when you slip, you’re doomed to fall.
We open with Sam and Gilly, who’ve taken a moment during their headlong flight from Craster’s Keep to have a fireside chat. Sam shows Gilly the dragonglass knife he uncovered at the Fist of the First Men last season, and then sings a song about the Seven Gods to lull Gilly’s baby to sleep. This scene is super cute and sweet, even without marshmallows to toast over their campfire, but I keep waiting for a White Walker to pop up out of the woods and behead someone. Game of Thrones: where even a lullaby can be scary.
Also in the wilderness, Osha and Meera are at each other’s throats about the best way to skin a rabbit. Bran urges them to play nicely together and they cobble together a half-apology that neither of them truly means until Jojen starts having a seizure related to one of his prophetic dream. This time, Jojen has dreamt about Jon Snow being surrounded by enemies. Well, that doesn’t sound so good for Bran since he’s hoping to make his way to Jon at the Wall.
It also doesn’t sound so good for Jon, who’s about to climb the Wall along with Tormund, Orell, Ygritte and a number of unnamed Wildlings. According to Ygritte, Tormund’s climbed the wall fifty times before, but Jon is understandably nervous about his introduction to the sport of ice climbing. Ygritte has kindly found some spikes for Jon that once belonged to her previous boyfriend, someone who wasn’t as skilled with his tongue as Jon. Awww, Jon Snow knows more than he thinks! Ygritte also knows more than Jon Snow thinks, remarking that he’s brave and loyal and “you didn’t stop being a Crow when you walked into Mance Rayder’s tent.” Ygritte believes that Jon has chosen her now over his vows, pointing out that neither the Night’s Watch nor Mance Rayder care about the individual soldiers of their respective armies. She warns Jon that if he betrays her, she’ll cut off his “pretty cock” and wear it around her neck. Well, that took an unexpected turn!
We cut to a scene of Arya shooting arrows at a straw target. She’s a good shot; in a horrific bit of foreshadowing, Arya has hit her target “face, tits and balls.” Anguy tells her she’s too slow and Arya is all set to argue, but the archery lesson is interrupted by the arrival of Melisandre and four of Stannis’s soldiers. The scene that follows is so fantastic that I’m just not going to think about how Mel managed to navigate the war-torn Riverlands flying Stannis’s flag and why, if she can travel wherever she wants to, she didn’t just go kill Joffrey.
Thoros and Melisandre provide some backstory in High Valyrian. It seems Thoros was sent to convert Robert to the ways of the Lord of Light and instead was converted to the Ways of Drunkenness and Whoremongering. Given Robert’s proclivities, I wonder if Mel wouldn’t have been a better choice to convert him!
Mel examines Beric, clearly a little put out that drunk, scruffy Thoros seems to be more powerful than she is (shadowbabies are all very well, but I haven’t seen Mel raise the dead yet.) Thoros modestly credits Rh’llor (aka the Lord of Light); when Beric died, Thoros said the only words he knew because Beric was his friend, though he believed at the time that “all the gods were stories we told children to make them behave.” Beric rose from the dead, and now Thoros and Beric are true believers: “Our god is the one true god and all men must serve him.” Uh oh! It looks like the Brotherhood are just as much fanatics as Melisandre, though they have a more affable outward appearance.
Thanks to their joint worship of Rh’llor, Beric and Thoros don’t object to Melisandre taking Gendry, who believed he was their family until this rude awakening. Arya is furious on Gendry’s behalf, dismissing Beric’s excuse that the Lord of Light needs Gendry as hypocrisy because the Brotherhood accepts Mel’s generous payment for the boy. Gendry, who feels understandably betrayed, is not soothed by Melisandre cooing to him that he’ll make kings rise and fall. Arya, still braver than...well, anyone, really, confronts Mel calling her a witch who will hurt Gendry. Mel doesn’t deny Arya’s accusations, but tells Arya that there’s a darkness in her (well, yeah, because why wouldn’t there be at this point?) and that Arya will shut brown, blue and green eyes forever. I’m trying hard to remember who has brown eyes and blue ones in this story, but I sincerely hope the green eyes belong to Joffrey!
We cut to a scene of the wildlings, tiny as ants, climbing the immensity of the wall. Ygritte looks like she’s enjoying herself, teasing Jon for checking out her ass, and Jon actually smiles back at her. This is the most fun life-threatening situation ever!
Meanwhile, Theon is not having fun at all, though the Boy Janitor/Torturer seems to be enjoying himself intensely playing painful and awful games with Theon; at least we solve the mystery of who was blowing the horn that so irritated Theon in Season 2. So now I’m going to call him Evil Horatio Hornblower until the show sees fit to give him an actual name. Whatever you think Theon deserves, this scene was stomach-turning, though the torture wasn’t purely gratuitous since we learned some facts: Hornblower knows the Stark boys are alive, and hints that he means to hunt them down (uh oh! I hope Jojen has a dream about that) and we also know he’s not an Umber, Karstark or whoever else Theon guessed. Lastly, we learn that Hornblower is skilled at flaying, skinning Theon’s finger as deftly as Osha skinned that rabbit. I think the show has provided enough clues for us to guess who Hornblower really is.
Down in Riverrun, Robb meets the Freys, who wear the hats the Night’s Watch has abandoned, though they live in more temperate climes. The Freys use the upper hand they now have over Robb, demanding a formal apology, Harrenhal (which is currently occupied by Roose Bolton and which the Lannisters promised to Littlefinger so I’m wondering how that will work out) and the kicker: Edmure’s hand in marriage for Walder Frey’s daughter Roslin.
Furthermore, the Freys want the wedding within the fortnight, since they are understandably wary of long engagements. Heh! After the Freys walk out, Robb, Catelyn, Edmure and the Blackfish discuss the proposal. Edmure doesn’t want to marry the girl without at least meeting her first, and the Blackfish and Catelyn kind of get in his face about it. When Edmure insists that “no man can compel another man to marry” the Blackfish says that “the laws of my fist are about to compel your teeth.” Heh! Then the Blackfish adds some extra guilt about Edmure messing up Robb’s battle plans. I’m still waiting for someone to mention that it wasn’t Edmure who pissed off the Freys in the first place, but Robb with his hasty marriage because who needed that bridge and those troops anyway? Finally, Robb asks nicely, saying that he’s winning the battles but losing the war, and that he understands that “you’re paying for my sins uncle, it’s not fair or right, I’ll remember it.” Edmure agrees to the marriage! Et tu, Brutus! (Sorry, I’ve been waiting to use that since Tobias Menzies was cast as Edmure!)
At Harrenhal, Jaime (now with 90% less mud), Brienne and Roose dine together. Roose isn’t done baiting Jaime, having provided him with a large slab of meat that he can’t cut with his left hand alone. Jaime saws ineffectually and noisily at his meat, while Roose and Brienne exchange pleasantries about Brienne’s dress and how Brienne serves the traitor Lady Catelyn. Brienne’s finally reaches over to hold Jaime’s meat down with her fork for him, half concerned and half just wanting the scraping noises to stop.
Jaime asks why Roose hasn’t sent them back to Robb Stark, instead of “watching me fail at dinner.” Roose mentions that many people would pay a great deal for Jaime, and Jaime reminds Roose who would pay the most and who would make Roose pay the most for Jaime’s demise. Roose is amused by Jaime’s veiled threat, suggesting that his safest course is to kill Jaime and Brienne and burn their bodies. Brienne reaches for her own blunt table knife but Jaime puts his hand on top of hers and keeps playing the game of words with Roose.
Roose concedes that he will send Jaime back to King’s Landing, as soon as he’s well enough to travel, provided Jaime promises to tell Tywin that Roose had nothing to do with Jaime’s maiming. When Jaime pours wine for a toast to his further incident-free journey with Brienne, Roose drops his bombshell: Brienne won’t be leaving Harrenhal. Jaime insists that she goes with him, and Roose tells Jaime he’s unable to insist on anything, reminding him about the last time he overplayed his hand. Breaking up Brienne and Jaime is cruel, Lord Bolton!!
In King’s Landing, Tywin and Olenna have a sparring match of their own, and they are unsurprisingly awesome together. If looks and words could kill, they’d both be bleeding from a dozen wounds by the end of this conversation. Olenna is vehemently opposed to the match between Loras and Cersei; if only she knew Cersei is similarly opposed. Tywin says his daughter is rich, the Queen Regent, as well as the most beautiful woman in the Seven Kingdoms (and I could go on a pages-long digression about how beauty is the only quality of Cersei’s that Tywin values, and how screwed up is that?) but Olenna insists Cersei is “old.” Tywin mentions Loras’s homosexuality as a drawback, so Olenna brings up the rumors of incest. Finally, Tywin says that if Loras won’t marry Cersei, he’ll be appointed to the Kingsguard, and Highgarden will lose its heir for good. Olenna finally concedes defeat, though knowing her, she has some other plan up her sleeve. (I’m surprised she fought Tywin so directly on the matter, to be honest!)
Jon, Ygritte, and the Wildlings are still climbing the wall; a section of the Wall sheers off, and a group of Wildlings fall to their deaths. Ygritte falls too and Orell makes haste to cut the rope holding Ygritte and Jon because he hates them just that much. Finally, after some Hollywood action-movie style tension, Jon finds his footing and saves Ygritte too.
Meawhile, in more tranquil conditions, Sansa discusses whether a brooch is a pin with her secret betrothed Loras. Apparently, Loras is very excited about their wedding, specifically the tourney, feast, fringed sleeves and wedding dress aspects of the event, though rather less so about the bride herself. Sansa is so smitten with Loras and his head of curly hair that she’s unfazed by his apparent lack of enthusiasm for her. They can agree on the fact that King’s Landing is the worst place there is.
Elsewhere in the terrible place, Cersei and Tyrion appear to have reached a rapprochement in misery since they’re being “shipped off to hell together.” Cersei remarks that they can get out of their unwanted marriages by having Loras and Sansa killed and Tyrion says that “Loras will certainly come to know a deep and singular misery.”
I’m still gobsmacked that Tyrion and Cersei are having a civil conversation together; Cersei even admits that Tyrion saved the city, which is Tyrion’s cue to ask why she then tried to have him killed during the battle. Cersei is silent as Tyrion pieces together that only two people can give orders to the Kingsguard, and one of them is Joffrey. Tyrion understands why Joffrey wants him dead after the several instances of Impslapping, but he’s still puzzled by the spectacular stupidity of Joffrey’s timing. Cersei asks which one of them will break the news to Sansa, and is yet again surprisingly sympathetic to the girl she enjoyed tormenting herself.
Poor Sansa tries on the dress she’ll wear to Joffrey’s wedding, hoping that her own will be far less drab. She asks Shae whether Shae thinks she can invite her family to the wedding in Highgarden; Shae is non-committal because how likely is the Queen’s brother to invite his new bride’s traitorous family who have been in open rebellion against his sister’s husband to his wedding. I would roll my eyes at Sansa’s naivete but she’s about to get such a horrid shock that I just feel bad for her. As if on cue, Tyrion arrives, wishing to speak to Sansa privately, but she tells him that she trusts Shae, despite Shae’s warnings not to do so. Oh, Sansa! Sometimes you are so much Ned’s daughter that it hurts!
Littlefinger hangs out in his favorite spot, the throne room, where he’s interrupted by his favorite frenemy, Varys. They discuss propaganda (the Iron Throne is made of a thousand melted swords) versus the truth (there are fewer than 200 melted swords) and Varys calls the Throne the “Lysa Arryn of chairs.” Heh! Littlefinger tells Varys that he gotten rid of his “bad investment” Ros, because she was spying on him for Varys. He dismisses Varys’s concern for the realm as meaningless, because “the realm...is a story we agree to tell each other over and over until we forget that it’s a lie.”
As Littlefinger voiceovers that chaos is a ladder that some fail at climbing, we get a chilling shot of Joffrey with his crossbow. Like Arya, he’s been practicing his shooting, only his target was an actual human being, Ros, who’s tied to his bed and filled full of crossbow bolts. I have to be honest, I didn’t care for Ros during the first two seasons; she seemed sandwiched into the show so HBO could live up to being the Her Boobs Out network, but she was getting interesting this season and...I wouldn’t have wished this grisly death for her. She was doomed not only by her double-agent status but because everyone— including Joffrey and, more importantly, Littlefinger—believed the lie that she was Tyrion’s mistress, which makes this doubly awful because she didn’t even matter to Tyrion as a person the way that Shae does.
Littlefinger continues his monologue about some people being offered the chance to climb the ladder and refusing it, as we see Sansa watching a ship sail out of King’s Landing. Littlefinger’s sigil of a mockingbird is stamped on the ship’s sail, and Sansa weeps watching her last chance of escape leave her behind, knowing that she chose to stay for the Tyrell marriage. (On the other hand, considering what Littlefinger does to people who betray him and his creepy interest in Sansa, she might well be better off with Tyrion than in any way under Littlefinger’s control!)
Finally, we get a moment of respite from the terrible goings on; Ygritte and Jon make it to the top of the Wall and take a moment to look back at the snowy wastes from which they’ve come. Then Jon takes Ygritte’s hand and shows her the green lands where he grew up. Overcome with emotion and love, they kiss passionately as we fade away.
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.