If you haven’t seen tonight’s new episode of Game of Thrones, “The Climb,” then hang on for dear life, because there are spoilers ahead.
We begin with Sam, who is on the run with Gilly and her baby after the slaughter at Craster’s Keep. Sam is not exactly the wilderness expert you want guiding you in such dire circumstances, but he’s kind and well-intentioned. With Gilly around to keep the fire going, Sam is able to sing Southern songs to the baby to help him sleep.
Elsewhere in the Northern woods (though South of the Wall), Osha and Meera Reed are not getting along. They are bickering over how to skin the rabbits Meera caught, and their sniping gets so bad that Bran has to intervene and essentially order Osha to behave. All of them are distracted when Jojen, who had been sleeping, begins to seize, a side-effect of the visions he has, Meera explains. She holds him still until he comes to himself, but Bran and Rickon are both disturbed by it. (Remember Rickon?)
We were North of the Wall, then South of it, now we arrive at the Wall itself, where Jon Snow and the wildling party are preparing to scale that icy behemoth. Jon is clearly nervous about the ascent, and Ygritte admits that even she is scared. She takes a moment, however, to tell Jon that she knows he was still a crow when he came to Mance, but that she belongs to him now, and he to her. She may be disposable to Mance, and he to the Night’s Watch, but now they matter to each other. As always, Ygritte knows how to be convincing. “Don’t ever betray me,” she says. “Because I’ll cut your pretty cock right off and wear it ’round me neck.”
Arya is practicing her archery with the Brotherhood, imagining her foes as she takes aim. One of the brothers comes over and gives her some pointers, explaining that the eye knows where the arrow should go…it’s not about taking aim, it’s about trusting your eye. Right as Arya has lined up another shot, she spots approaching travelers. It is Melisandre, with a small guard. She has come to see Thoros, a fellow disciple of the Lord of Light. They speak High Valyrian to each other at first, and you’re reminded that Thoros, though he doesn’t look it, is actually an educated man of the cloth. Melisandre is a bit scornful towards him at first. He failed in his effort to convert Robert Baratheon. Thoros takes Melisandre to see Beric, and as she examines him her eyes widen in confusion…or fear? Either way, it’s disconcerting. Thoros explains how the resurrections began the first time Beric died, and how the miraculous result reaffirmed his faith in the Lord of Light, and rededicated him to the task of converting the world. “You’ve been to the other side,” Melisandre says to Beric. “There is no other side,” Beric replies. “I’ve been to the darkness, my lady.” But Melisandre isn’t there for Thoros, or Beric. She is there for Gendry. And she takes him, as Arya tries to stop it. She even confronts Melisandre and calls her a witch. In an eerie bit of foreshadowing, Melisandre grabs Arya’s face and examines it, seeing darkness there, and eyes of many colors that Arya will shut forever. “We will meet again,” she says, before leaving with Gendry in tow.
At the Wall, the perilous climb up the ice is proceeding slowly. Jon and the wildlings use their pick-axes and their studded boots to move higher, bit by bit. The view when Jon looks down is dizzying, and there is constant wind and snow blowing around them as they go. When a chunk of ice breaks off and falls on top of Jon, he loses his grip for a second, but regains it. There are reasons that the wildlings have used rope to tie themselves together as a precautionary measure.
But Jon is not as screwed as Theon. Nobody is as screwed as Theon, because Theon is in the hands of the batshit crazy mystery boy. The guy clearly gets his jollies from the torture. He refuses to give Theon any water, and toys with him cruelly by offering to spare him some pain if Theon can guess where they are, who he is, and why he wants to hurt Theon. Theon guesses they are the Karhold, and that the boy is one of Karstark’s sons. The boy acts at first like he is disappointed because Theon has guessed correctly. But then he gleefully announces that Theon forgot to ask if he is a liar, and he begins to cut the skin off of Theon’s little finger. We leave Theon writhing and screaming in agony on the wrack.
Down in Riverrun, Robb and his mother, along with Catelyn’s brother and her uncle, meet with envoys from Lord Walder Frey. They come with terms that must be met before Frey will align with Robb and the Northmen again. Their offer: a full apology from Robb for breaking his sacred oath, Harrenhal to come to the Freys when the fighting is done, and a new wedding to replace the one they lost. They want Edmure Tully to marry one of the Frey girls. Robb asks for some time to consider the terms, but they aren’t given much. They only have until the following day to decide. Edmure is not thrilled with the prospect, quoting the laws about not compelling a man to marry. “The laws of my fist are about to compel your teeth,” says his uncle angrily. Edmure has messed up in the past. This would be his chance to rectify that, which Robb acknowledges, so Edmure finally agrees.
At Harrenhal, Jaime is trying to cut his meat with his left hand with some difficulty, while Roose Bolton outlines his plans for Jaime and Brienne. Brienne, poor thing, has been denied her armor and is now wearing a ridiculous pink dress. Out of frustration she plunges her knife onto Jaime’s plate to help him with his meal. Jaime and Lord Bolton haggle over what Jaime is worth, and what the consequences might be if Bolton sent Jaime back to Robb, and NOT to his father. But Bolton agrees to send Jaime home, on the condition that Jaime assert that Bolton had nothing to do with what happened to his hand. Brienne, however, is not so lucky…
In one of those enjoyable face-offs that this show does so well, the next scene takes us to King’s Landing, where Tywin and Lady Olenna are having a discussion about the marriage of Cersei and Loras. If there was ever anybody capable of handling Lord Tywin, it’s Lady Olenna. The two speak frankly about the vagaries of their children: Loras’ “discreet buggery” and the incest rumors that swirl around Cersei. (In a wickedly funny bit of medieval slang, Olenna refers to her grandson as a “sword-swallower.”) Both are careful though, mainly keeping their cool and circling. Lady Olenna believes Cersei is too old to give Loras children, and would turn down the offer, but Tywin has one piece of leverage still–he can appoint Loras to serve on the King’s Guard, and the vows he would take would ensure no continuation of the Tyrell line. In the end, Lady Olenna takes Tywin’s pen and snaps it (how’s that for symbolism) and in so doing, tacitly agrees to the marriage between Cersei and Loras.
Back at the Wall, the climbers are still moving, but suddenly a dangerous looking crack appears in the ice, and spreads…and spreads. Jon, Ygritte, Thormund and Orell all watch horrified as a great sheet of ice sheers away and crumbles down, taking several climbers with it. Orell, Jon and Ygritte are all left hanging. Orell is the highest, and determined to save himself by cutting the rope and letting Jon and Ygritte fall to their deaths. Jon, hanging at the bottom, begins to swing himself with all his might, reaching for a ridge where he can find new purchase. He does so just in the nick of time, keeping Ygritte from falling, and pulling her to safety. The two of them cling to each other, breathless in their relief, while Orell looks down on them.
Back in King’s Landing, we begin the “awkward conversations” portion of the episode. Sansa and Loras are talking about their wedding plans, and while Loras can hardly be described as enthusiastic, he is at least trying to be kind, and the two have a shared hatred of King’s Landing, so that’s something. Cersei and Tyrion watch them from afar. “We can have them both killed,” says Cersei mildly. She and Tyrion finally talk openly about the attempt on his life at the Blackwater, and she confirms that it was Joffrey who ordered it, not her. In the closest thing these two will ever have to sibling bonding, they acknowledge that their father will never be thwarted in this plans for them, and both wonder what has happened to Jaime. Then Tyrion must go and tell his betrothed about what the realm actually has planned for her, and to compound the awkwardness, Shae is there and will hear the news as well.
In the throne room, our two biggest schemers and hustlers, Varys and Littlefinger, talk about the Iron Throne and the future of the realm. Littlefinger’s look of greedy ambition as he admires the throne is disturbing, and Varys says he’s not surprised that Littlefinger knows the exact number of swords in the throne. Littlefinger tells Varys that his informant (who we know is Ros) has gotten what she deserved. As Littlefinger discusses the climb for power, we see Ros dead, shot through with arrows from a crossbow while strung up like an animal, and Joffrey walking away. We also see shots of Sansa weeping as she realizes what her life will be if no one rescues her. Finally there is Jon and Ygritte, emerging at the top of the wall, standing in each other’s arms and surveying all that they’ve left in the North, and all that lies to the South.
Quote of the Night:
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.” – Littlefinger