“Got a Problem? Marry It!”- Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 6 Review- ‘The Climb’
This review is conducted by someone who has not read the books, so take your spoilery faces elsewhere.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Sorry this is so late. It’s finals week and in the space of time I normally write these reviews I was punching up 3,200 words about Iron Man 3. Next week should be right on time as usual.
For a show that is famous for accomplishing very little on an episode to episode basis, “The Climb” felt particularly ineffectual. A season of Game of Thrones typically unfolds like the novel that it is, rather than your typical serialized television drama, and this is just one of those chapters where things only advance a little.
These sorts of episodes are necessary on all drama series. They move the plot forward. They set up important things for later. They need to happen.
That just doesn’t make them interesting. They’re always overburdened with information and never go too deeply into things. If the first five episodes of the season felt like one cohesive half, it definitely feels like we’re starting a new season here. This episode was very reminiscent of the kinds of things that would happen in a premiere (or a chapter one) and should hopefully set up great things to happen in the back half of Season 3.
As usual, I’m going to take this episode character by character and at the end I’ll crown the episode’s winner.
Someone’s Got Himself a Love Interest (It’s Tarly)
This is one of those things very unique to Game of Thrones where a character will pop in, even open an episode, only to disappear into the ether and get sidelined. (Or, as I’m now going to refer to it, getting Bran’d).
Tarly sang us a nice song, even though his chops leave something to be desired. What I’m saying is he’s not the fat, accented Stevie Nicks we all wanted him to be.
But, yeah, song was nice.
Oh, Yeah, Bran’s Alive
Bran, the most frequent victim of getting Bran’d, is apparently still alive and very much all about leaning up against trees. The main message to be garnered from these scenes is, I believe, “Fuck rabbits.”
Besides the rabbit-skinning pissing contest, we were also privy to a seizure, which is Bran’s future, which means he will finally do one thing.
And that thing is seizures.
Theon, People That Beat You Up Aren’t Your Real Friends
In the classical tradition of people being mean to Theon, tonight someone messed up his finger in what has to be the most intense game of Twenty Questions one could possibly fathom, barring perhaps one taking place in Guantanamo Bay.
The young fellow torturing Theon is actually turning out to at least be an intriguing character, although he suffers from that psychopath thing where he’s very close to becoming dull and one note. He’s a one trick pony, and that one trick is making Theon sad. Psychopaths have no depth because they do these things because they want to, without needing much motivation otherwise. Motivation is key to interesting characters, and the drive of that motivation is equally important. This fellow is all drive and no motivation.
Brienne and Jamie, A Love Story for the Ages
Nooooooo! Roos! You can’t separate Jamie and Brienne! Then they’re star-crossed! And no one wants that!
It was an interesting choice to take Jamie’s one-handiness from “tragic” to “used for physical comedy” so quickly, but I can’t deny that I laughed at the poor lad failing at dinner.
If there’s an episode this season that doesn’t feature these two, I am going to become very disappointed.
Tywin and the Sassy Old Lady
House Tyrell is fast-becoming one of the most intensely watchable parts of this show. As I’ve mentioned before, we like Margaery because she does everything that the audience wants to see happen, and we like Olenna Redwyne because she’s sassy and drinks wine. She has that Maggie Smith appeal of being old, British, and burdened with a tongue so cutting that it could slice through a fat stableboy (reference).
I rather enjoyed her rapport with Tywin tonight, although her snapping of the feather quill felt like a bit much, as a simple “no” would have sufficed.
The intrigue in King’s Landing is still the show’s highlight. The politics are smart. They’re underhanded and conniving, and it’s just great television. In a world that could very much feature dumb swordfight after dumb swordfight, I appreciate that the main focus of the narrative is on the swordfights done by the sharpened tongues of tipsy old ladies.
There was also Tyrion’s proposal that never happened, which is really just an annoying cutaway, whether it actually happened or not (I have my doubts, as Tyrion usually has something clever up his sleeve).
And that Tyrion fellow is certainly shaping up to be really sympathetic, isn’t he? His own family tried to kill him, in the middle of a battle that he was performing well at. Admittedly, and it hasn’t been emphasized much on the show, Tyrion would have lost the battle without Tywin’s intervention, but no one expected him to be able to do anything at all. And his own family really just wants him dead. It’s heartbreaking, mostly because we actually like Tyrion, as opposed to a lot of other characters that we merely find intriguing but don’t have much actual affection for.
Arya and Melisandre, That Christmas Present You Didn’t Know You Wanted
I don’t know where this storyline was going, but I know that I like it. Not much was unveiled, besides that Melisandre, for once, doesn’t know what the hell that Lord of Light is doing, reviving Beric all of those times. There’s a crisis of faith brewing in her, the output of which I can only imagine will be very cool.
Unfortunately, this plot was bogged down with a lot of information about the religions of the land, stuff that normally would be explained in prose or by Cate Blanchett at the beginning, but without the presence of a sentient Cate Blanchett, it has to be delivered between characters, which is a hard thing to make intriguing, all things considered.
Still, though, these Brothers Without Banners are giving those Lannisters a run for their money in terms of doing cool stuff.
If You Love Your Problems So Much, Why Don’t You Marry Them Off?
In the new and grand tradition of solving your problems by marrying someone to them, Robb made some big decisions tonight and is still the only Stark even close to Arya in terms of being really neat. It’s a tough call, basically selling off one of your own relatives, one that would have meant more if we really had an attachment in particular to the character, one of the many sufferers of this show having too many characters.
The character over-saturation is great for increasing the depth of the world, and in a very impressive way, but we’ve finally crossed the line of there just being too many. It’s not too confusing, I’m able to keep all of them straight. But this overabundance of characters makes all of the characters suffer from lack of exposure or proper growth. This show is only possible on HBO, where they get an hour for each episode if they want it, and still that is not enough time to really give us the exposure we need to grow to love more than a handful of these characters.
That aside aside, Robb’s story is actually one of the more interesting ones. He wins every battle but is losing the war. That’s drama. And that’s interesting. And I hope that they keep it up. They could have gotten a bit of a better actor to play him, but it’s a little late to change that now. He might as well be Jon Snow…
Speaking of which…
Jon Snow, There’s Always Gonna Be Another Mountain, Always Gonna Wanna Make You Move
This is actually a really well put-together sequence that just suffers from a few narrative ticks that I don’t like, one of the minor ones being that Jon Snow is in it. The ice-climbing itself is tremendous, one of the biggest and most audacious sequences I’ve ever seen on television. I can’t imagine how you even begin to approach a sequence like this.
That being said, it does that thing that I hate where it’s supposed to be funny when a character jokingly tries to kill another character and fails and it’s supposed to be funny, even though if Jon Snow had in fact fallen off, more than one person would be very, very dead as a result of this Wildling ‘N’ Out hilarity.
The moment where the rope is cut is predictable, but none-the-less exciting. And Jon Snow really earned himself some more hot tub sex there saving his Lady Love, but this is by far the most that was accomplished this episode, and it can very simply be broken down to “Climbing a wall.”
But it does make a fellow nervous to see all of those dead Northmen, just as I was getting attached to them. And then there’s, you know, those droves of White Walkers that everyone keeps forgetting about.
TONIGHT’S WINNER: Baelish and Varys, Because the Writers Know Me So Well
What a speech!
Monologues can be a grueling ordeal, especially when done as frequently as this show attempts them, but they’re all so good and given by such strong performances, it’s hard to really get sick of them.
Baelish gave us a great piece about the lies we tell as a society, the things we build our culture upon, even things as simple as the number of blades making up the Iron Throne.
Turning it into a voiceover section may have been a little much, but it doesn’t matter because there was a lot of gold to be found here. Spilling forthwith out of Littlefinger’s mouth.
Are we ever going to follow up on the guy Varys keeps in his chest?
Chekhov’s Gunman is moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and television, and present writer of lots of things in composition notebooks like that guy from Se7en. Be sure to check back for weekly reviews of Game of Thrones and Community, our weekly Mexican Standoff, and the Good Stuff.
You can also find Kevin on Twitter.
May the Lord of Light be with you.