Game of Thrones Memory Lane 306: The Climb

the climb

“Chaos is a ladder,” and sooner or later someone falls. In today’s #GoT50 countdown rewatch episode, Game of Thrones set the course for the rest of the season and said goodbye to Ros, an entirely original creation for the pilot who became a long-running character. Here to take us down Memory Lane for “The Climb” is Paige, aka GameOverRos!

On today’s walk down memory lane, it’s the turn of “The Climb.” Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and directed by Alik Sakharov, this episode is a slower pace after the rollercoaster that was “Kissed by Fire.” The pieces begin to move into place for two memorable weddings, Theon continues his evolution into Reek, and the wildlings ascend the Wall.

We open beyond the Wall, with Gilly, Sam, and Chekhov’s Dragonglass for the first of several short expositional scenes. Their discussion about how high and imposing the Wall is proves a nice tension builder for the later climb. Then it’s over to Bran, Jojen and friends for a stand-off at High Noon between the ladies, and a vision from Jojen. This scene emphasises just how weak Jojen is, especially in comparison to Bran. He suffers for his visions in a way that we have never seen Bran do. He never stood a chance.

Reeds

Meanwhile, the wildlings prepare for their climb. Ygritte admits that she knows Jon is still a crow, but it doesn’t matter as long as he’s loyal to her. You just know this can’t end well. As Ramsay says later, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” But you can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, these two will make it. Unfortunately, Westeros isn’t a fairy tale – something this episode reinforces.

It’s over to the Riverlands next, for a somewhat divisive scene. As Arya trains with Anguy, a familiar figure appears: Melisandre. As readers were quick to point out, Melisandre was nowhere near the Riverlands in the books. She had no reason to be there. Even now, there is the question of why she was there. The Lord of Light requires something the Brotherhood have, she says.

Yet we haven’t seen Gendry for almost three seasons. He’s off there, rowing the SS Abandoned Plotlines with the rest of the Brotherhood. Melisandre had zero reason to be there.

Abandoned

Image via Reddit

Or did she? Gendry may have been the excuse, but he certainly wasn’t alone in being someone who could provide a use for Melisandre. Who? Why, hello there Beric Dondarrion. In Beric, we have a man brought back to life by Thoros and the Lord of Light. We saw it happen. Melisandre sees his scars. She sees proof that the dead can rise again due to the power of R’hllor. But why would she need to know that? Why would we have to see that she knows that? I don’t know. If only she happened to be somewhere when someone needed resurrecting…

Back to the Wall, Jon Snow is starting his climb. He slips for a moment, but hangs on. Hey, isn’t it odd that we see Jon just after Melisandre finds out that R’hllor brings people back from the dead? Nah, HBO told us that he was dead after season 5– not mostly dead, but totally dead. Why would they lie to us?

It’s at this point that I look away from the screen. I completely support the decision to show the brutality of Ramsay Snow, and Theon’s slow, painful transformation into Reek. But I can’t watch it. Ramsay doesn’t just torture and flay, he plays mind games. Here, we have a villain who is smarter than Joffrey, and more brutal than any other we’ve seen. He’s evil on a whole different scale, which has me cowering behind a cushion until it’s over.

pink dressOver at the Twins, the Freys want major compensation for King Robb’s insult: an apology, Harrenhal- and a wedding. Does anyone else hear drums?

Just a little off-topic here, but the juxtaposition of scenes in this episode is fantastic. Cutting from Ramsay to the Freys, then over to Roose. It’s barely noticeable on first viewing. Yet now, it feels like a big red warning sign.

Speaking of Roose, he’s at Harrenhal with Jaime and Brienne. Jaime is told he can return to King’s Landing, but without Brienne. She aided treason, so she has to stay put. It’s a short scene that nicely shows how far Jaime has fallen without his hand, while setting up the next episode.

In King’s Landing, it’s time for the Clash of the Titans. In the green corner, we have Olenna “Queen of Thorns, Say No to Pricks’” Tyrell. In the red corner, Tywin “Rains of Castamere, My Children Are Screwed Up Because of Me” Lannister.

OlennaExcuse me a moment to fangirl about this scene. Here, we have two of the greatest minds in Westeros, two of the finest British actors, verbally sparring. It’s my favourite scene in the episode, possibly of the season. Tywin wants to marry Cersei to Loras. Olenna hates the idea. Neither wants to give a single inch. Insults and sparks fly. It’s funny, it’s clever, and I adore it. Even the scene end is perfect, displaying how much respect Olenna has for Tywin, even if she dislikes that he ‘won’ this fight. Anyone less elegant than the Queen of Thorns would have told him to shove his quill up his bottom. She simply breaks it. Pure class. If it were up to me, Olenna would be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Forget your dragons, forget your direwolves. She’s sharper than any Valyrian sword.

Returning to the Wall, to remind us what this episode is about. Terror. Tension. Jon and Ygritte almost falling. Miraculously, they hang on. Will they make it? Won’t they? Well, unless Olly is around, I think they’re safe.

Loras SansaBack to King’s Landing, and Sansa Stark is far, far too happy. This cannot stand. Wait. Did Loras just say “FRENCH” sleeves? There is no France in Westeros. Well, maybe you could say Highgarden is the France of Westeros, but not the point. Hashtag SleeveGate. Okay, he didn’t actually say “French,” but what is an episode of Thrones without at least three things to cause you to smash your keyboard?

In the scene, Sansa and Loras talk about their upcoming wedding. It’s quite awkward, not least when Sansa realises why Loras is talking so excitedly about clothes. But, hey, it could be worse. They find mutual understanding in their shared hate for King’s Landing. It’s almost story book. A beautiful lady and a handsome knight get married, have beautiful babies, and live happily ever after. Anywhere else, that would be how it works. Not in Westeros.

Tyrion and Cersei are watching this. For the first time, they seem almost normal as they commiserate and discuss who got the worse end of the deal. There isn’t any fight left in them. In their shared honesty, Tyrion asks if Cersei tried to have him killed. No, she didn’t. Let’s face it, if Cersei wanted him dead, she would have found a way. She isn’t exactly a woman who does things by halves. In an episode often described as filler, this is another underrated, brilliant scene. What could have been if the two had found mutual ground, and stopped the familial war.

VLLittlefinger is gazing at the Iron Throne when Varys enters. The rivalry between the two men is certainly amongst the best things invented for the show. They’re both so well matched, it’s often hard to decide who comes out as the winner in their encounters. Not so in this one. Littlefinger reveals that it was he who thwarted Varys’ plans to give Sansa to the Tyrells.

To add insult to injury, he also gave Varys’ “confidant” to a “friend” of his. Cue the Shakespearean villain’s speech: “Chaos is a ladder.”

As Littlefinger talks, we see King Joffrey looking at something: the corpse of Ros. Meanwhile, Sansa cries as she watches Baelish’s ship depart, leaving her to King’s Landing and an unwanted wedding to Tyrion Lannister.

At the Wall, Jon and Ygritte have finally reached the top. Their climb is over. An eagle flies across the sky, as the two kiss in a perfect cinematic ending.

JYWall


First appearances:

Lothar Frey, played by Tom Brooke, and Black Walder Rivers, played by Tim Plester, make their debuts. We shall see them again, playing key roles in a certain wedding.

Brienne’s pink dress. I’m convinced Gwendoline Christie could wear a paper bag and look elegant, and she is no exception in this dress.

Deaths:

RosThere is just one death in “The Climb.”  Ros, given as a gift to King Joffrey for “target practice,” was the most personal to me. Ros was a polarising, often controversial character. She was hated in as much measure as she was liked. Both often for the wrong reasons.

But I adore her. Granted, I’m biased. I’ve been “playing” Ros on Twitter for four years now. I often like to say that having her as my alter ego has made me brave. But she deserved so much better than she got. She didn’t need a Hollywood ending- just something better. Away from King’s Landing, somewhere where she would be treated with some respect, as opposed to a “series of profitable holes.” No such luck. Hers, like her fire, ran out far too quickly.


Notable Quotes:

Melisandre [to Arya]: I see darkness in you. In that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever. We will meet again.

Maisie Williams recently posted the above quote on Instagram. Melisandre saw her becoming No One. With the rumours of Arya returning to Westeros, there’s the question of when and where they shall meet again.

 

Littlefinger: Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.

Littlefinger does Shakespeare villain while providing the reason for the episode title. The Wall seems almost secondary in comparison.

 

Olenna: A sword swallower through and through.

Olenna: Old. I’m something of an expert on the subject.

Ladies and gentlemen, the one true Queen of Westeros – the Queen of Thorns.


Ros’ Beautiful Death:

BD Ros

53 responses

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    1. I find these memory lane recaps a great way to count down a new season. I have tried to rewatch seasons in the past always starting with S1E1. I never get too far because of other life obligations but I have seen that premiere episode plenty… Still one of my favorites. I usually try to watch every episode when it airs with my unsullied wife who asks too many questions for me to catch every little nuance and again by myself so I’m not missing anything. These recaps are entertaining and good reminders of what the TV series/story has become.

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    2. For all the (enjoyable) jokes about Gendry, I don’t think there’s any plot imperative that he be seen again. He was basically a civilian in the larger story (thus far, anyway), and he got out okay in the end, we can assume (other than Davos’ weird season-ending advice that he should go back to King’s Landing, which is literally the last place he should go, since it’s the only place he might reasonably be recognized by someone). Not that I would mind seeing him again, of course (and if KL does get burned to the ground as many predict it will at some point, it would be nice for the show to indicate he wasn’t there). It is a little odd, though, that the show made him a regular for Season 3 only to drop the character completely afterward. I wonder if plans changed?

      I’ve said in the past that I think the show could have avoided the extended torture scenes, but having made the decision to show them, this one works okay. I do think having Theon frantically name off every major Stark banner house except the one that is famous for flaying people is borderline silly in terms of the show trying not to reveal who these guys are, though.

      The ending montage really stands out because it’s so different from the show’s by now well-established visual style. I quite liked it, and wouldn’t mind the show varying it up more. You can do interesting things with multi-location montages of that sort.

      The literal titular climb was pretty well-executed overall. It shows the caliber of what can be realized on TV with visual effects these days.

      It’s a tough call between this episode and 310 for the insulting nadir of Sansa’s portrayal this season.

      As far as the death of Ros is concerned, I don’t really have a problem with killing the character (and some of the complaints show the effect of the power of suggestion; she’s clearly clothed in the scene, but you often saw people imagining they saw nudity when arguing her death was too sexualized), but I thought the way it was handled was a bit abrupt. And not “abrupt in that it conveys the shock the characters are feeling”. For somebody the show had made some effort to build up as a character over the last few years to die in such an unheralded manner feels a bit anticlimactic.

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    3. Sean C.,

      Regarding Ros: Well it is and it isn’t anticlimactic. I think the scene matches perfectly with the LF’s machiavellian speech and Ros’ end is suitable to what she represented for the series. What makes it anticlimactic is perhaps a lack of further development of her character in previous episodes that would make her death even more shocking. For example I liked the idea of Ros and Shae sharing things about the ones they serve.

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    4. I do think having Theon frantically name off every major Stark banner house except the one that is famous for flaying people is borderline silly in terms of the show trying not to reveal who these guys are, though.

      I always thought they were driving home that he’s not thinking clearly, and that he’s desperate to tell this guy what he wants to hear without knowing what it is. We’ve all been in a situation like that, granted, not to that degree, where we’re under pressure, reaching for whatever information we have at hand, and unfortunately, it’s all wrong.

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    5. dothrakian raven,

      I was mainly referring to the absence of any sense that Ros was in danger beforehand. She really just shows up as a corpse. Having made some effort to develop this character, it just feels a little odd for so much to have happened offscreen.

      Weirdly, this is the sort of development that would have worked better in a book written more clearly from a single person’s POV (in this case, Varys).

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    6. This was kind of a slow “breather” episode, but after the massive developments of the previous 3 episodes, I feel it was a *necessary* breather episode.

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    7. Finished the episode right now. Littlefinger is the agent, the advocate of chaos, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s afterwards revealed to be the God of Death or the Night King. Great episode. A lot of foreshadows and witty dialogues, that go deep into the nihilist vision of like 90% of the whole realm

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    8. Sean C.,

      You might say that LF’s words to Ros after she had emotionally collapsed in the wake of killing of Robert’s bastards was a clear and straightforward warning which could work as a foreshadow after she allied with Varys. It all worked in a condensed form and I would really like to see a bit more of Ros in the meantime.

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    9. On this rewatch, I noticed something that I missed before.

      The scene where the Freys were laying down the conditions for a renewed alliance.
      They demanded Harrenhal. Robb just immediately agrees without giving proper consultation with Edmure. I feel the King in the North was not in position to give unless Lord Paramount in the Riverlands agrees. Edmure actually started to disagree but Rob had bullied him to agree. Same thing with the marriage proposal. Robb’s attitude on the whole thing, a mess he actually caused brought him down a few respectability pegs on me.

      The show did not made it clear that aside from the North’s mission to rescue Eddard from captivity, they also were rescuing the Riverlands from the onslaught of the Lannister army.

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    10. ace:
      The show did not made it clear that aside from the North’s mission to rescue Eddard from captivity, they also were rescuing the Riverlands from the onslaught of the Lannister army.

      I found the handling of the Riverlands very irritating. Robb regularly talks, even in that very conversation, about how they’re fighting for “the North”, but if that’s the case in-show, what exactly is meant to happen to the Riverlands (in season 2, they basically acted like the Riverlands didn’t exist)? But I’m also pretty sure that Robb is referred to as “[Edmure’s] king” at some point, which would indicate that he is claiming to be king of the Trident too.

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    11. Loras is by no means one of my favorite characters on the books, but I agree with most of the criticism that’s aimed at his show counterpart: He’s a shallow gay stereotype. On the books, he’s respected by his peers as the knight he is, and we get to see how much Renly’s death has impacted him. On the show, we didn’t even get to see him mourning Renly (the scene was cut), he’s often the butt of the jokes around him and the majority of his screentime is spent showing him sleeping around with that random guy.
      I also did not like Sansa’s depiction in this episode. By this time, she should already have understood that her engagement to a Tyrell was purelly political (“Tyrell or Lannister, it makes no matter, it’s not me they want, only my claim”). I also found pretty unfunny how we’re supposed to laugh at her not realising Loras is gay.
      On a more positive note, I loved Varys and Littlefinger’s scene. I wish the show would have more intertwining scenes like that one.

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    12. Great analysis.
      – I think the Osha-Meera fight came out of nowhere.
      – Is Rose Leslie wearing more make-up than usual?
      – “We’re fighting for the North” Robb, dude, you’ve just told the commander of half your army you don’t care about his lands. (Also, I’m surprised about how little I knew about the Wot5K back when I was an Unsullied. Before reading the books, I didn’t even know what the Riverlands were.)
      – I think Walder Frey needs to be added to the SS Abandoned Plotlines.
      – Tyrion: “I don’t suppose there’s anything we can do about this.”
      Cersei: “We could have them both killed”
      So Cersei.
      – I might be the only one, but I really liked Theon storyline in Season 3. I still remember being caught up in the mystery: “Where’s Theon? Who’s that guy? Why’s he doing this? Is he good or bad?” And this episode summed up all my questions without answering any of them. Also “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
      – Am I the only one who thinks Melisandre’s “We will meet again” was a promise instead of a prophecy?

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    13. Honestly people that know me know that I prefer the books to the show, but I really liked Ros and never quite understood the controversy surrounding her existence (then again, I didn’t really get involved on the fandom or on here until after her death). She seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, and I really liked her and Shae’s conversation on the docks.

      If anything, I would have liked someone to acknowledge her death afterwards (which I can’t remember happening, correct me if I’m wrong), or her having a few more scenes beforehand.

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    14. This is definitely Littlefinger at his most Snidely Whiplash-ian, but it’s a great soliloquy, delivered with such gusto, that I can’t help but enjoy it.

      And one of the show’s best-ever little moments, the chat between Jon and Ygritte at the beginning about how he was “shaking like a leaf” at the beginning, and her knowing agreement that it was just “at the beginning.” A great moment, perfectly capturing the way people who have just started sleeping together talk to each other.

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    15. Loving these Memory Lane posts. What a great way to get through the days till S6. I can’t believe that we’re already near the end of S3! What an awesome idea this was.

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    16. Excellent job today Ros!!! (@LadyFionavar over there). Loved your take on the episode. Several thing stand out….I agree Gwendolyn would look wonderful in a flour sack. She is amazing.

      And also Ros. I was quite horrified how she died and really REALLY saw the level that Joff could go to, just for amusement – this made me even more afraid than I was for Sansa. I still think of her character and wonder where they could have taken her. With Littlefinger’s brothels in Kings Landing mostly run out of business by the “just doin’ our job, ma’am” Faith Militant and that sly shit off killing ladies with the moon door, I don’t have a clue….but I would love to have seen that.

      Thanks also for pointing out the obvious (not at the time) scene changes from Mel to Jon. I am always amazed how brilliant D & D have been through this whole thing leaving bread crumbs everywhere, we just didn’t know what to look for.

      The beautiful death poster is awesome and certainly shows that Ros is most certainly dead, not just mostly dead. 🙂

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    17. I remember opinions towards “The Climb” were polarized after the initial airing. To be certain, the episode faced a massive challenge in following “Walk of Punishment”, “And Now His Watch Is Ended”, and “Kissed by Fire” – all series highlights (especially the latter two). That’s a hard task for any hour, so perhaps it’s not surprising that, in the moment, reactions were somewhat muted.

      Yet I found it very strong from the beginning, and it remains one of my favorite ‘quieter’ episodes of the series. Removed from the adrenaline-charged anticipation of the weekly airing schedule, I think the years have looked favorably on “The Climb”, and over time, appreciation for this remarkable hour seems to have settled into a more strongly positive consensus.

      The shot of Jon and Ygritte staring out in awe over the view from the top of the Wall and then sharing a kiss is easily the happiest final shot for any Game of Thrones episode. It’s too happy, some might say – almost as though it were lifted out of another, more conventional story where the power of love conquers all and our heroes get to live happily ever after. However, I don’t consider the moment to be too upbeat, or a glaring tonal departure – for those of us who know what’s coming, it’s more bittersweet than anything. And Jon and Ygritte deserve it. They just climbed a 700-foot ice wall, for god’s sake.

      (The climb itself was dramatized for the show, and impressively so. The visual effects are quite good, especially at this point in the series. Given that the Wall being such an imposing obstacle is a critical plot point for the show, it makes sense that the writers would want to reinforce just how daunting a task it is to scale it. That’s easier to do if the main characters are the ones doing the climbing, rather than idling about at the bottom waiting for a bunch of redshirts to get to the top and then throw down some ladders).

      And God, it’s a beautiful shot. All credit to Alik Sakharov – the former cinematographer who became one of the show’s most artistically proficient directors – and the episode’s credited DP, David Katznelson. I love the ethereal quality that the light brings when the sun finally breaks through the clouds – it feels like a different world.

      Of course, that’s highly appropriate because it is a different world for Ygritte – she’s never witnessed the view from atop the Wall, nor has she ever laid eyes on the vast lands that lie south of it. Jon has, but when he looks at Ygritte’s genuinely awestruck face, the wonder returns for him as well. There’s nothing cynical about his desire to kiss her there – no need to deepen his cover (indeed, Ygritte admitted earlier that she knows Jon is still a crow, but doesn’t care – as long as he remains loyal to her). Jon just wants to share the moment with this woman he’s falling in love with – and she with him – despite the best intentions and interests of everyone involved.

      So I enjoy it, soaking in every frame as the camera pans out and Ramin Djawdi’s beautiful score (“You Know Nothing” – Jon and Ygritte’s semi-official love theme) rises to a heartwarming crescendo and the screen cuts to black. I almost don’t want it to end, but it’s not my moment intrude upon. Let the conflicted crow and the girl who’s kissed by fire stay there, on top of the world, locked in each others’ embrace, for as long as they want to. As many people have joked, for those two lovebirds, it’s literally all downhill from here.

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    18. I’ve never been a fan or cared for LF’s speech. Epitome of trying to hard.

      The ending is perfection. Great scene for both Jon and Ygritte (and a significant milestone for both that helped them grow as characters).

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    19. This is one of my least favourite episodes. Not because it was bad, but because I do not have the stomach forTheon’s or Ros’ scenes.
      I loved it when Joffrey bit the dust, and I really hope Ramsay will soon follow.

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    20. One of my favorite recaps from this episode noted the end with Ros, and said, “Joffrey appears in the episode for five seconds and he’s still the worst person in it.”

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    21. The most memorable moment of the episode is the conversation between Varys and Littlefinger, when Littlefinger delivers his famous “Chaos is a ladder” speech (or, if you’re really hung up on the phonetic pronunciation, “Chaos is a laddah.”) I love this scene – it’s such a great piece of writing, and a perfect juxtaposition of Varys and Littlefinger’s dueling philosophies.

      The show earned the payoff this scene offers by presaging it with several confrontations between the Mockingbird and the Spider, as well as numerous underhanded attempts to undermine one another. It also calls back to the conversation from “The Night Lands”, where Littlefinger told Ros the story about the sad girl from Lys. That story proves to be a tragic precursor for Ros’s own fate. Factor in the unusual stylistic choice to employ a montage and voice-over – a rarity for the show – and it’s no wonder the scene sticks out so vividly in the collective memory.

      The conversation unfolds before the Iron Throne, which has become an iconic image for the show. Yet as George R.R. Martin has mentioned many times, the throne was significantly scaled down from his conception of it in the novels, where it’s a towering, twisted, massive and unwieldy thing that actually contains at least a thousand swords. Obviously, this was done for production reasons – there was no way that the show could replicate the scale of the novels’ Iron Throne, especially in the first season when the budget was far more limiting than it is now. Even if they could have, such an overtly fantastical image might have beggared belief for a show that was trying to sell itself to a mainstream audience.

      Yet bearing in mind the production realities, I’ve always adored the show’s in-universe explanation for the diminished size of the Iron Throne. It’s the power of legend and lies agreed upon, and the weight those legends can attain as they’re told again and again.

      Aegon and his kin were mythologized and aggrandized to the point that they became legendary titans of history, and their deeds were embellished and distorted by each successive storyteller until the truth was lost to history. Except in this case, the truth is plainly visible to all, and the legend only remains circulation as “a story that we agree to tell each other over and over until we forget that it’s a lie.”

      Ironically enough, it was Varys who said that “Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall.” Yet while Varys believes that trick is essential to maintaining order, Littlefinger is disgusted by the fiction. Listen to the scornful way he says “There aren’t a thousand blades. There aren’t even two hundred. I’ve counted”. You can tell he’s disappointed by the true nature of this seat of power. But that disappointment doesn’t stop him from coveting it. In fact, it only deepens his lust, because the Throne’s unimpressive scale only makes it seem more attainable.

      For all his cleverness and ambition, a poor boy from the Fingers could never hope to sit upon the towering seat of demigods. But this Iron Throne is so obviously the work of men – men who once had nothing, just as he did. Even still, people remain willing to invest both the Throne and the one who holds it with incredible power and reverence. And all that’s required to sustain it are lies … albeit lies that can survive long enough to become indistinguishable from the truth.

      If people are so willing to invest in a lie, and you’re as skilled at both lying and surviving as Littlefinger is, it’s easy to take those lies and bend them to your desires. As Cersei once told Joffrey, “Someday you will sit on the throne, and the truth will be what you make it.” Imagine what a man like Petyr Baelish could do with such power! He certainly has.

      It’s a long way to go for a metaphor, admittedly, especially one that was born out of practical necessity. But worth it! 🙂

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    22. Sean C.: The ending montage really stands out because it’s so different from the show’s by now well-established visual style. I quite liked it, and wouldn’t mind the show varying it up more.

      For all my rather well-documented — on these boards at least — love of GoT, I agree with you on this point. I do think that the show can be somewhat conservative in its approach to visual storytelling and would like to see it break out a bit of its established directorial and editing style. The closing montage in this episode is a particularly memorable example of this, and so is the brilliant editing of Tyrion’s triple offer to marry off Myrcella from What Is Dead May Never Die. Speaking of that outstanding Season 2 episode, there is also the visually stunning scene of Theon burning the letter in utter darkness. (Note that both are Sakharov’s episodes.)

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    23. Rewatching this episode, I wonder how any unsullied viewers didn’t foresee the Red Wedding, or at least anticipate a Roose Bolton heel turn. At this point in the episode, Roose is still supposed to be loyal to Rob, yet he just lets Jamie go free, because of his men’s cruelty and the fact that he doesn’t want to upset Tywin. Those actions really make no sense as a Stark banner man.

      Is it really that obvious or am I missing something here?

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    24. I’ve always had a soft spot for this episode (not because of your demise Ros!). I think it is a lot to do with the climax (isn’t it always). Littlefinger’s wonderful Machiavellian speech with the intercuts ending in Jon and Ygritte’s beautiful moment upon the wall. In fact for all the horror that precedes it, I do think that ending is the most romantic moment on Thrones so far.

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    25. Enjoyed!!! Thank you for the write-up!

      Would it be wrong to have Esme sign her Beautiful Death poster?

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    26. Joe:
      Rewatching this episode, I wonder how any unsullied viewers didn’t foresee the Red Wedding, or at least anticipate a Roose Bolton heel turn. At this point in the episode, Roose is still supposed to be loyal to Rob, yet he just lets Jamie go free, because of his men’s cruelty and the fact that he doesn’t want to upset Tywin.Those actions really make no sense as a Stark banner man.

      Is it really that obvious or am I missing something here?

      I know that I didn’t….I had a bad feeling about it, Frey was being much too smug about the whole thing and it seemed fishy, but I sure didn’t expect that to happen. I was totally in shock. I am talking eyes googling and mouth agape sort of shock. It took me days to begin to process it all. That is when I decided to buy all the books and power read them in the off season.

      What I love is that NOT ONE sullied person spoiled it beforehand. At least as I recall. I do remember people saying something like “there is an episode coming that will blow your mind”. They were right. Mind officially blown.

      I might be in the minority of people who didn’t see coming what happened or that will admit it anyway.

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    27. Joe:
      Rewatching this episode, I wonder how any unsullied viewers didn’t foresee the Red Wedding, or at least anticipate a Roose Bolton heel turn.

      I didn’t. I actually believed Bolton was a Stark loyalist until I saw his chain mail and he said “The Lannisters send their regards”.
      I just thought he didn’t want to anger Tywin, but I didn’t expect him to go that far.

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    28. Littlefinger’s speech and entire ending is my absolute top moment of GoT. It’s the essence. Only I believe that by the end it will be revealed that neither love, nor honor, realm or gods are illusions and the climb is.

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    29. Sean C.:
      dothrakian raven,

      I was mainly referring to the absence of any sense that Ros was in danger beforehand.She really just shows up as a corpse.Having made some effort to develop this character, it just feels a little odd for so much to have happened offscreen.

      But she was seen working for Varys in an earlier episode. Littlefinger crushed Vary’s and the Tyrell’s plans regarding Sansa, and so all the elements of their coalition suffered during this episode. Ros was expendable for both LF and Varys, and she was dealt with swiftly.

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    30. One thing bothered me in that scene between Tywin and Olenna. Olenna relents and agrees to the marriage between Cersei and Loras after Tywin threatens to name Loras to the Kingsguard. Can he actually do that? Can he actually force somebody to join the Kingsguard against their will? Would he not be putting the life of the king at risk by doing that?
      In the books atleast, it does not seem so. In fact LF had planted the seeds in the Tyrells’ mind to have Loras included in the Kingsguard, so he joined the KG out of choice. Of course, with the show cutting out the two elder brothers, this was not an option.

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    31. Sean C.,

      “For somebody the show had made some effort to build up as a character over the last few years to die in such an unheralded manner feels a bit anticlimactic.”

      …thus if some things in the future don’t happen the way we think they will/should we can’t be too surprised really. Remember the trope is being broken here, isn’t that one of the things people love about the series? I thought Ros was beautiful, and I warmed to her character when she cried over the loss of those poor babies.

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    32. Sean C.:
      For all the (enjoyable) jokes about Gendry, I don’t think there’s any plot imperative that he be seen again.He was basically a civilian in the larger story (thus far, anyway), and he got out okay in the end, we can assume (other than Davos’ weird season-ending advice that he should go back to King’s Landing, which is literally the last place he should go, since it’s the only place he might reasonably be recognized by someone).Not that I would mind seeing him again, of course (and if KL does get burned to the ground as many predict it will at some point, it would be nice for the show to indicate he wasn’t there).It is a little odd, though, that the show made him a regular for Season 3 only to drop the character completely afterward.I wonder if plans changed?

      I’ve said in the past that I think the show could have avoided the extended torture scenes, but having made the decision to show them, this one works okay.I do think having Theon frantically name off every major Stark banner house except the one that is famous for flaying people is borderline silly in terms of the show trying not to reveal who these guys are, though.

      The ending montage really stands out because it’s so different from the show’s by now well-established visual style.I quite liked it, and wouldn’t mind the show varying it up more.You can do interesting things with multi-location montages of that sort.

      The literal titular climb was pretty well-executed overall.It shows the caliber of what can be realized on TV with visual effects these days.

      It’s a tough call between this episode and 310 for the insulting nadir of Sansa’s portrayal this season.

      As far as the death of Ros is concerned, I don’t really have a problem with killing the character (and some of the complaints show the effect of the power of suggestion; she’s clearly clothed in the scene, but you often saw people imagining they saw nudity when arguing her death was too sexualized), but I thought the way it was handled was a bit abrupt.And not “abrupt in that it conveys the shock the characters are feeling”.For somebody the show had made some effort to build up as a character over the last few years to die in such an unheralded manner feels a bit anticlimactic.

      There’s plenty of plot imperative to bring Gendry back. Gendry is the last remaining person alive with Baratheon blood and his legitimization by whatever king of queen will be the only way House Baratheon can survive. Besides, he’s a smith, which can come in handy in making Valyrian steel swords to fight the White Walkers. I know the secrets to Valyrian steel have been forgotten, but there’s always the possibility of melting down the Iron Throne to forge swords. The Iron Throne was forged from dragonfire, which could have made it Valyrian steel. If he’s a particularly talented smith, he might even rediscover how to make Valyrian steel. I think Gendry has a bigger part to play in the grand scheme of things than most people think.

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    33. Jack Bauer 24,

      Oh Alfie. He lives on but not physically? Well what good is it then?! His physicality was the best part about him. Um, in a visual medium what good is a soul without the body to animate it right?

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    34. r-hard,

      Wow, you’ve actually managed to pull out a theory that I don’t believe has yet been put forth in this fandom, and that’s a major accomplishment lol. I like it. I really like it. Makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

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    35. The wolves will come again: There’s plenty of plot imperative to bring Gendry back. Gendry is the last remaining person alive with Baratheon blood and his legitimization by whatever king of queen will be the only way House Baratheon can survive. Besides, he’s a smith, which can come in handy in making Valyrian steel swords to fight the White Walkers. I know the secrets to Valyrian steel have been forgotten, but there’s always the possibility of melting down the Iron Throne to forge swords. The Iron Throne was forged from dragonfire, which could have made it Valyrian steel. If he’s a particularly talented smith, he might even rediscover how to make Valyrian steel. I think Gendry has a bigger part to play in the grand scheme of things than most people think.

      Those are good reasons to bring Gendry back, but not an “imperative”.

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    36. ygritte:
      Remember the trope is being broken here, isn’t that one of the things people love about the series?

      “Trope-breaking” is not inherently good storytelling.

      The wolves will come again: There’s plenty of plot imperative to bring Gendry back. Gendry is the last remaining person alive with Baratheon blood and his legitimization by whatever king of queen will be the only way House Baratheon can survive.

      That presumes that anybody will be concerned with the survival of House Baratheon.

      The stuff about Valyrian steel is more speculative, though dragonfire alone does not make Valyrian steel. It’s described as having been a complex process. If it was that simple, Aegon the Conqueror and the other Targaryen kings through to Aegon III could have produced as much Valyrian steel as they desired.

      I’m not say that you couldn’t fit Gendry back into the story, only that if we don’t see him, there is no great unresolved thread there. He got away, and can be presumed to hopefully live an uninteresting life going forward.

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    37. Sean C.:
      “Trope-breaking” is not inherently good storytelling.

      No, it’s not. I was just being a little snarky 🙂 Not towards you directly of course, just the part of the fandom that likes it so much. But not having read anything by GRRM yet, and not being privy to how the story will end, I really don’t know if I would think his story telling IS good. Granted by the huge fan base ASOIAF has it is certain he’s at the least an accomplished writer with a great imagination.

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    38. The fact that Martin likes to break tropes (killing off Ned & the RW, just to name two) is the very thing that makes me hesitate to guess what is going to happen in the future. What’s the honest truth guys? WE DON’T KNOW! How fucking thrilling is that? We have educated guesses, backed by evidence from previous seasons (likewise with TWOW and the first 5 novels). We don’t know, in terms of the overall arc of the whole series, if “good” will triumph over “evil” – and we don’t even really know who is good and who is evil, if you ask some people. I’m just basking in the anticipation, even though it’s killing me slowly.

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    39. Sean C.,

      In the books he is explicitly named “King of the Trident” not so much in the show but honestly probably three people who aren’t book readers even realise that the riverlands isn’t part of the north and the Tully’s were a great house in their own right and not bannermen to the Starks

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    40. Lyanna_Targaryen,
      I’m just basking in the anticipation, even though it’s killing me slowly.

      Haha, don’t die yet, we’re almost there! Breaking some trope is part of what makes it fresh and keeps us intrigued. But if it takes us overboard without throwing a life jacket (say, killing off everyone but Little-fucking-finger and finding out he was really the God of death as he sits smirking on the throne) will we be able to look back and say yeah the high was worth the bad trip at the end.

      PS I know that will not happen….there’s no “sweet” there only bitter 🙂

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