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Game of Thrones – The Climb

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Game of Thrones, The ClimbThis week, Game of Thrones gets dark. Oh, you thought it was dark already? That’s adorable.

It probably seems redundant to say that a given episode of Game of Thrones is filled with betrayal. It’s sort of Game of Thrones’ thing. But this week, everyone got betrayed. There was seriously a lot of betrayal.

Jon Snow and the wildlings are preparing to scale the Wall. Ygritte gets a little clingy, telling Jon after one night in a hot tub that she’s his woman and that she’ll cut his cock off if he ever betrays her. She also keenly observes that loyalty to their various causes is bullshit, since they’re just expendable soldiers in someone else’s war. The only loyalty they need is to each other. Tormund Giantsbane comes by to offer some tips on ice climbing, since they have a 700-foot wall of ice to climb. It’s an epic climb, complete with a Cliffhangeresque action scene (because Rattleshirt betrayed them). When they get to the top of the wall, they get a view of how beautiful Westeros is.

Samwell sucks at building fires, but is good at singing babies to sleep.

There’s a mostly pointless scene with Bran and company that exists mostly to remind us that they still exist. We do get a “Hodor,” out of it though.

Roose Bolton deals with Jaime and Brienne (in a hideous pink dress almost certainly chosen specifically to humiliate her), offering to send Jaime to King’s Landing in return for Jaime telling Tywin that it wasn’t Roose’s fault that Jaime’s been unhanded. Why is Roose so concerned with what Tywin Lannister thinks, when Roose is warring against the Lannisters? Jaime agrees but insists Brienne accompany him. Bolton turns him down.

Olenna Tyrell tries to dissuade Tywin from marrying Cersei to Loras Tyrell, and we desperately need to see more scenes with these two characters fencing. The combination of actor Charles Dance and the character Tywin Lannister seems to provide a perfect flint for other characters to strike themselves against. There are always sparks.

There’s a lengthy scene of Ramsay Snow torturing Theon. This isn’t really a divergence from the novels (these things happen, just “off-camera”). I honestly don’t know what we gain from seeing this firsthand. It really chewed up a big chunk of time this week that could have been better spent elsewhere. Would it not be more effective to show these things in brief flashbacks later?

Something does diverge from the novel this week, and in a major, major way. To be clear, I’m not obsessed over the show matching every detail of the novels, but I like to compare them as a way of discussing story structure. Storytelling in different media requires different methods, so obviously things must change to tell an effective story.

In this case, Melisandre’s journey away from Dragonstone has lead her to the Brotherhood Without Banners, where she seeks someone of royal blood, because such blood is required by her god, the Lord of Light. In the novels, she seeks out one of Stannis’ cousins, a bastard sired by Robert Baratheon (but acknowledged by Robert, since the boy’s mother was a noble).

Here, however, an old storyline is woven into Melisandre’s story. Gendry the blacksmith is also one of Robert Baratheon’s bastards, one of many brown-haired children once running around King’s Landing. This is how John Arryn and later Ned Stark confirmed that Joffrey is, in fact, the product of incest (not a single one of Robert’s children has blonde hair).

Melisandre, who we assume knows of Gendry’s parentage through her fire visions, pays the Brotherhood for him over the protests of Gendry and Arya. This eliminates a character entirely (the random cousin), and gives us a bit more in-depth theology. But Hot Pie seems to have taken Gendry’s place in the story, which could have small but subtle effects down the line. It’s a lot like peering into an alternate universe. “What if, instead of Gendry working at the inn as a smith, Hot Pie stayed there to work as a cook?”

In a confrontation with Arya, Melisandre describes another vision: darkness, with eyes looking back at her. Eyes of different colors, and Arya takes them. Consider Arya for a moment. She hasn’t been ill-treated herself at any point (not that life’s been easy). However, literally everything she cares about has been taken away from her.

Robb Stark tries to make a deal with the Freys. They’re still pissed because he went back on his agreement to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters, but the Frey’s seem easily appeased. They want Harrenhal and its lands (the same joint Littlefinger wants, incidentally). Robb has no long-term interest in Harrenhal, so he agrees. The Freys want one more thing. A wedding. Edmure Tully (he of the unheroic victory at the Stone Mill and capturer of the now-dead Lannister cousins) balks but finally agrees. It’s settled. But Frey is “wary of long engagements,” so the wedding must occur within a fortnight. Robb, Edmure, and his troops must all head to the Twins for the festivities, even though they’re in the middle of a war.

There’s betrayal aplenty in King’s Landing. Tyrion and Cersei debate who’s getting the worst deal in the arranged marriage department, and Cersei reveals that it was Joffrey who ordered Tyrion’s death during the Battle of Blackwater. Tyrion goes to Sansa to awkwardly reveal that he’s her husband to be, and all her visions of escaping to Highgarden sail off into the distance.

Then we have Littlefinger, who’s sitting near the Iron Throne counting the swords. He gives what is honestly a pretty terrible, overwrought speech about ladders and chaos and metaphors and ambition. But whatever. Because he found out that Ros gave Varys information, Littlefinger gave Ros to Joffrey, who wanted to use a human as crossbow target practice. So Ros is dead and Joffrey and Littlefinger are forever cemented as the truest, blackest, vilest villains in a story with all too many shades of gray.

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Posted by on Sunday, May 5th, 2013. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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