Game of Thrones Season 3 Review “The Climb”

Despite the amount of time Game of Thrones spends with characters on the fringe like Jon Snow, Ygritte, Sam, Arya, etc., tonight’s episode hammered home the series’ most crucial point: All people are merely pawns for those in power to play with as they like. More so than any other episode this season, this hour affirmed that point.

The embodiment of this idea is the scene between Olenna Tyrell and Tywin Lannister. Though neither of them hold the top titles, they’re arguably the two most powerful people in the realm at the moment. The way they casually discussed the lives of their children and angled for the upper hand proved that real power is thrown around in sequestered rooms, not battlefields. Robb Stark can have all the Casterly Rocks he wants, but if he’s not sitting in that room, what does it mean? You can be the most beautiful incesterer in all the seven kingdoms, or the most valiant sword swallower. It doesn’t matter if you don’t sit at that table.

While Tywin and Olenna attempt to consolidate their power, Robb Stark sat a table of his own to try to consolidate his. Granted, he’s no match for the laws of the Blackfish’s fists (which compel only teeth apparently), but his use of Edmure Tully to get what he wants out of Walder Frey shows he doesn’t distaste being a power broker of someone else’s life. He’s definitely apologetic about it, but it’s good to see Robb show a determined mettle. He’s got his mission back on point. Since we’re off the fairly painful storyline surrounding his last encounter with Walder Frey, Robb Stark has really started to pop on screen. Perhaps he will be King of the North yet.

While the large hands moved the chess pieces around the board, the smaller pawns in the game continue to do what they can to survive. Tyrion learns it was Joffrey, not Cersei, who ordered his death at Blackwater. Apparently, the sadist didn’t appreciate being called out for being a sadist. Go figure. Sam and Gilly had a nice first date two days short of the wall, and Bran Stark’s vision quest continued, though sadly Hodor didn’t get any lines this week.

The pawns continued to toil, but Jon Snow and Ygritte may have found the one thing powerful people do not control of the lesser people: Their loyalty. Perhaps better than any person on the show, Ygritte realizes that her fate is ultimately tied to the decisions of a man who does not care in the slightest about her. Realizing her loyalty is meaningless to those in power, she gives to the one person who will truly cherish it: Jon Snow. In the end, people of a lower class than those in power will always be susceptible to their whims, but finding someone to put their trust in remains a hallmark of their admittedly drab existence.

Some quick thoughts:

*This episode was perhaps the funniest edition of Game of Thrones I have watched in some time. In addition, to Olenna discussing her son’s proclivities, the show featured various amusing one-liners. In a show about serious people doing serious stuff, it’s good that the show can take a minute to have a laugh or two.

*The Theon Greyjoy thing is by far the weakest element of the season. Who storyboarded this idea? “Okay, we’re going to watch Alfie Allen scream and have horrible things done to him, but no one, including the audience is going to know why.” I’m just not sure that’s sound television.

*We’ve seen the depths of Melisandre’s powers (drinking the poison wine last year was cool), but it was fascinating to see her overmatched by the drunken warrior priest Thoros.

*Watching Baelish and Varys spar is never uninteresting, but Baelish has proven himself one of the more sinister people on the show. I don’t know what his plan is, but his speech would seem to indicate it won’t be friendly when he returns to Kings Landing.

*What do you think some real estate on top of The Wall would sell for? Sure, there are unstoppable zombies and dangerous interlopers, but look at that view!

What did everyone else think of tonight’s episode?