All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
3.6 The Climb
THE CLIMB. Reference to a ton of things. There’s the obvious physical climb in the Jon storyline, but it’s also a reference to the climb to power, as eloquently stated in the Littlefinger voiceover towards the end. We also get the Tyrells and Lannister’s ladder match for the Realm- and finally, we get to see Roose Bolton start planting some seeds.
It’s kind of a weird episode as we get a “Previously on” recap that doesn’t usually come with these shows, especially when they move onto binge-watching territory.
We kick the episode off outside Craster’s Keep where Gilly proves her mettle by knowing more survival skills than Sam, but then he pulls out his… dragonglass to protect her. Gilly is probably the first person that genuinely finds Sam’s nerdiness interesting and she hangs onto every word he says.
I guess we are just showing off who is fit for the outdoors, because the scene cuts over to Osha and Meera arguing like five-year-olds over how to skin a rabbit, while Jojen has a seizure in his sleep. Do they every get a bit more into greenseeing in this show? It’s kind of what Bran can do but also not. Anyway, Jojen has a vision of Jon Snow- with the Wildlings.
On cue, Ygritte tells Jon that Tormunds’s already successfully climbed the wall about fifty times and that she’s waited her entire life to see the view from the top of the Wall. It’s extremely visible that Jon’s feelings towards Ygritte are pure and that he loves how she’s adventurous and unfiltered around him. There’s a strong sense that she sees and values his strengths- namely, his bravery and loyalty and using that, she reveals that she’s aware that he’s still loyal to the Night’s Watch. Holding him to his ethics, Ygritte says that as her lover, he has to also show loyalty to her and that in the end- neither of them really matter to each of their respective organizations. Beautiful acting by Kit Harington- he looks so wounded here as he’s held between his two worlds- and he promises himself to Ygritte but he doesn’t even believe himself when he says it.
Ygritte then drops one of her top three lines of all time: “I’ll cut your pretty cock off and wear it ‘round me neck.” We also get a flash of the Tormund we know and love now as he lets a big grin slip.
Somewhere… somewhere, Anguy is observing Arya train with a bow and arrow and giving her tips because he’s a badass and knows what he’s talking about. Anguy seems to be wearing very similar clothing to what the Northmen typically wear- I wonder if he was from the Stark escort sent to capture the Mountain with Beric and ran away after his first death. But Arya would probably know him… Whatever. Anguy is a Northman. I’ve decided. Anyway, Mel rides up and greets fellow Red God lover Thoros and immediately judeges him for being a lapsed follower and there’s a “Give me your name horse master, and I shall give ye mine” moment. Mel can’t believe what she’s seeing when she’s introduced to Beric Dondarrion and all of his scars- and I think a bit slighted when she realizes that foolish and drunk Thoros was blessed with this kind of power and she wasn’t.
There’s a sweet little moment when Arya proclaims she doesn’t like Melisandre and Anguy tells her it’s because she’s a girl and Arya doesn’t quite get the joke. It’s just another little nod to her youth- I expect Arya is supposed to be thirteen or so here. Beric and Thoros hand Gendry over to Mel, because “The Lord of Light” AKA GOLD told them to and Arya is aghast- she can’t believe that after everything, the Brotherhood just gives one of their own up.
Mel makes a few predictions here- she tells Gendry that he is going to make kings rise and fall and Arya that there is a darkness in here, along with all of the eyes of the people Arya will kill, and that they will meet again. I think that Gendry part is just a reference to the blood she takes from him and the eventual sacrifice she has planned, but it would be great to see Gendry finally get a kill or two in. As far as Arya goes, Mel has supposedly left Westeros but will return there to die, as told in the latest season- so it may be fitting that Arya kills Mel. I like that Mel is visibly unnerved when she looks into Arya’s eyes- it makes it feel more genuine that Arya is dangerous.
Over at the Wall, TWENTY GOOD MEN are on their way up and Jon admits he’s having the time of his life before Tormund throws some rocks at him, almost throwing Jon off. Ah, Tormund.
SO MUCH HOUSE BOLTON STARTING NOW. They haven’t said the location yet, but over in the Dreadfort and the seat of House Bolton, Fake Iron Islander (they haven’t said his name yet) is torturing Theon with a kazoo. Supposedly Iwan Rheon based his performance off Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dakr Knight and I must say- it works. He’s really nailed that gleeful maniacal smile. Anyway, he gives Theon the chance to guess where he is and COME ON. Did you grow up in the North or not? Don’t you know the sigil of the second most powerful house in the land you grew up on is a FLAYED MAN? Don’t you know the gruesome history between the Boltons and the Starks and that they fought each other for centuries to be the North’s noble house? Wouldn’t you have learned that House Bolton bent the knee to House Stark and promised that they would stop flaying but only officially stopped when NED HIMSELF, the man you called FATHER, officially outlawed it? Theon, you SUCK.
Within this, Fake Iron Islander has the infamous G.R.R. Martin line, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention,” supposedly the entire theme of the series. And definitely around this point- when things start to go well, they always go very, very bad.
Down at Riverrun and this also has to do with House Bolton, two of Walder Frey’s sons are having a sit down with Robb because Robb wants the Frey army to help take Casterly Rock. In exchange for his help, Walder demands a formal apology (yup), Harrenhal (sure, sure), and for good old uncle Edmure to marry one of his daughters- wait what? Does the need for hot spouses come from the Tully side of things? Because the first question Edmure has is if he can see her first. Also, Cat was like, head over heels for Brandon Stark prior to marrying Ned, both of whom Littlefinger described as “impressive specimens.” Maybe the Tullys are the shallow ones. Hm. Revelations! Anyway, Edmure immediately says no, and I don’t blame him. Suddenly, Robb’s mistakes and war are on his shoulders. But like any leader would and should do, Edmure is willing to compromise for the greater good and relents- he’ll marry the Frey girl, and soon.
Over at Harrenhal (chuckle), Roose Trollton has found Brienne a bright pink dress to wear and gives Jaime a steak to cut with one hand. Brienne reaches over to hold Jaime’s steak down as he cuts and Roose is having a great time watching who was once the greatest swordsman in Westeros struggle with a knife. Brienne attempts to appeal to Roose, saying that she’s acting on Cat’s orders but Roose is having none of it, knowing that Cat is basically a traitor who luckily shares a bloodline with her king. Jaime reminds him that Tywin is the richest man in Westeros and would give a bucket ton of money over to Roose and Roose agrees pretty willingly if Jaime will assure Tywin that Roose had nothing to do with his hand. Jaime insists that Brienne go with him but Roose sticks to his Northern guns and says that she aided Cat’s treason and therefore he can’t let her go. Interestingly enough, like Tywin in his scenes with Tyrion, Roose does not partake in drinking and this is something from the books- guy likes to keep a clear head because he’s usually using people’s weaknesses against them.
For the thousandth time, I love Roose Bolton. He’s just so freakin’ smart and patient. He’s a terrible person, but I gotta hand it to him for his long-term scheming. It’s like as soon as he gets a hold of Jaime he knows exactly what he’s going to do. Now remember that letters that Tywin was writing in a previous episode? Those were most likely to the Boltons, reluctant bannermen to the Starks, and the Freys- both the second most powerful houses in their respective regions- bribing them with a “If you help me get rid of the Young Wolf, I’ll help you get rid of the Tullys and give each of you the noble seats.” Roose is most likely doing all of this with that in mind, but then ups the ante when he strategically marries Fat Walda to preserve the Riverlands and the North’s allyship. It’s this that leads me to believe he also came up with the idea to marry off another daughter to Edmure- setting the stage for a Frey takeover as well as the Red Wedding and demise of House Stark for the time being. I LOVE ME SOME ROOSE.
Down in King’s Landing, Olenna and Tywin are celebrating the further union of their houses with the engagement of Cersei and Loras and Olenna flat out calls her OLD. CERSEI’S EGGS ARE OLD. It’s a great scene- Charles Dance and Diana Rigg are pulling power moves left and right and there’s even a bit of sexual tension. She argues Loras might not be sexually interested but still needs to produce an heir, which Olenna doubts Cersei can carry. Tywin says marrying Cersei might dispel some of the rumors about Loras’ interest in men. Olenna, like Margaery in Season 2, is totally cool with the fact that Loras enjoys experimenting and is open to talking about it and the gossip, but Tywin- ever so stoic- refuses to talk about anything… including Olenna’s reference to Cersei and Jaime’s affair. Now that I am noticing Tywin’s wine habits, I find it hilarious that he tries to keep feeding Olenna more wine, which she refuses. Olenna’s real strength comes through in this scene and she matches Tywin move for move. At his wit’s end, Tywin eventually threatens to name Loras to the Kingsguard if he won’t marry Cersei, which would extinguish a direct Tyrell line and Highgarden and the Reach would go to one of Joff’s and Margaery’s children and essentially into the hands of the Lannisters. Man, they really don’t associate Joff with the Baratheons anymore, huh?
Back at the Wall, Jon is still climbing! Ygritte digs into some ice and part of the wall starts to collapse- Orell cuts Jon and Ygritte loose to save his own skin and Jon, the great problem solver he is, is able to swing over, hook in, and save Ygritte from falling to her death. Squee. He didn’t even think twice about saving her.
Back in King’s Landing, Loras is giving Sansa fashion trend advice and it’s funny because he’s gay. He’s still playing it straight and winning Sansa over because she would ultimately put his house in a very powerful position- but he can’t help it drop that he loves green and gold brocade with fringed sleeves. Ha. Nearby, Cersei and Tyrion are lamenting their future marriages and it becomes a conversation about each of their relationships with Tywin rather than their spouses. Tyrion begs Cersei to tell him who gave the order to have him killed at Blackwater and Tyrion realizes it wasn’t Cersei- it was Joffrey. It’s another lovely scene by Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage that ends on a rather bittersweet note for Cersei- as much as she delights in seeing Tyrion’s misery, she also feels bad for Sansa, knowing what it’s like to marry someone she’s not in love with.
Back in her room, Sansa tells Shae that Loras likes green and gold brocade and Shae basically eye rolls because she knows exactly what Loras is into. Tyrion arrives to gently break the news to Sansa- but has to do so in front of Shae.
Scene of the Episode: in the Throne Room, we get another Littlefinger/Varys encounter and Varys calls the Iron Throne the Lysa Arryn of chairs- powerful in name, ugly by sight. Oh, Varys. Anyway, Littlefinger slings some information back into Varys’ face as he’s been busy at work while off-screen. He’s tortured and killed Ros for her betrayal by way of Joffrey as well as finagled the marriage between Tyrion and Sansa as to prevent the Tyrells from gaining power and to keep her dependent on him as a means for escape. The fight for power between the houses has largely left the attention off of him- so he can make the right moves when the time comes.
Finally, Ygritte and Jon finally make it to the top of the wall and there’s a quiet, peaceful moment as they stare out at Westeros before them. After facing death, Jon doesn’t want anything but Ygritte- not the Night’s Watch or his family. At the end of everything, she is the only thing that matters.
Well. You know. If you think it has a happy ending, then you weren’t paying attention.
Up Next: 3.7 The Bear and the Maiden Fair