Game of Thrones S3E26: The Climb, or It’s a Long Way Up and a Long Way Down

Quick note: The wife pointed out to me a thing I’d never noticed about the opening credits. All the cast members have appropriate sigils appended to their names. Family sigils for all the Lannisters and such, and more creative ones for the unaffiliated, like Conleth Hill (Varys). The production staff get them too. It’s little things like this that make the show such fun. I’m jealous and want a sigil now.

Tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones opens with Sam, Gilly and the wee baby whatsisname. Sam’s building a toasty fire to help the ice zombies find them, and showing off his dragonglass dagger. And dredging up a lullaby about the Seven. It’s a sweet moment, and we pull back slowly to reveal just how deep in the frozen, lonely dark they are.

On the other side of the wall, Bran is watching Tonks and Meera skin rabbits at each other. He tries to break the tension with You’re both pretty, which doesn’t help. Then he tries Haven’t we all held knives to each other’s throats at one time or another? That helps a bit, and we’re saved by Jojen having a petit mal seizure. Vision, whatever. And it’s never good news, is it? He’s seen Agent SnowCrow, on the wrong side of the wall, surrounded by enemies.

Meanwhile, on the wrong side of the wall, surrounded by enemies, Agent SnowCrow is still taking shit from Ginger. Who, it turns out, knows he’s an agent and couldn’t care less. Lesson for you, boys: Eat that pussy like you mean it.

The first time we saw Arya, she was showing off with a bow. Old habits. Anguy the Smiley Archer is giving her a few pointers on the zen and art of killing real people when she notices there’s company. (Don’t you outlaws have sentries?) This turns out to be Red Mel, here to check up on Thoros, who apparently had a mission at one point that didn’t involve rum.

Brought to meet Lord Beric, Mel strides right up and paws his scars in frank disbelief. You should not have this power, she tells Thoros, who clearly agrees. Thoros lost his faith, dropped his mission, abandoned all but the trappings of his vocation. It’s all just stories we tell to make the children behave. And though he did not believe in his god, it turned out the god believed in him.

Mel digests all this with some difficulty, and asks Beric about the other side. There is no other side, he says, only darkness. He leaves the full of terrors part unsaid.

It turns out that Mel is here for someone else, though. She needs king’s blood, and it seems Gendry is the only one who doesn’t know whose bastard he is. Arya points out the two bags of gold being handed over, and gets a quick lesson in the pragmatism of guerilla warfare. Mel pauses briefly to freak Gendry the fuck out, and drop a bit of prophesy on Arya. Actually, I think those are New Order lyrics, but she makes it very, very spooky.

A 700 foot wall of ice is not a beginner climb, by the fucking by. And no one seems to have told Agent SC that rule #1 is Do Not Look Down.

And Barry Bastard is exactly the sort of dude who has a vuvuzela and uses it. What does he have against Our Theon of Sorrows? What does he want? Why is he doing this? The answer, as everyone but the astoundingly egotistical Theon could guess, is Orwell’s answer. The object of torture is torture.

Because it’s not an episode of GoT without a god-damned meeting, the Stark Brain Trust is sitting down with a couple of Freys in funny hats. The vile and petulant Walder Frey wants a few little things. An apology, which is reasonable. Harrenhal, which is baffling. And Edmure married to one of his splay-toed daughters, which is just hilarious. Edmure trifles and bitches about this, as if he has a choice, which is even funnier.

Meanwhile at Harrenhal, which Lord Flaymate is currently stuck with as a ruined, stinking booby prize, someone has found Brienne a pink gown to wear for dinner. The subtext here is that a previous tenant was a drag queen. Flaymate is placidly watching Jaime struggle with his meat and veg, feeding like a hummingbird on his humiliation. There’s a bit of feinting back and forth, and Flaymate reveals his plan for the two: Jaime goes back to the capital and tells his dad that Flaymate didn’t cut his hand off (which no one will believe without Jaime swearing to it). Brienne gets to stay behind, charged with treason. This will end well.

And joy of joys, Lady O finally gets a sparring partner in her weight class: Tywin. Lady O starts with a slam on Cersei’s age, Tywin counters with Loras’ Olympic skater-level gay. Lady O allows that Lolo is gay as the circus, probes Tywin on the follies of his youth, and bounces him off the ropes with the incest scandal that gave us a war across the seven kingdoms. That gets Tywin up out of the daddy chair to recharge his glass.

Tywin’s knockout move? Naming Lolo to the Kingsguard, where he can join Jaime in the total loss of his birthright, which would sink House Tyrell forever. Lady O concedes, with a smile of genuine admiration. And a broken quill that should serve as a terrible message.

Back at the wall, not even halfway up, Agent SC manages a diamond cutter’s strike at the ice, causing an avalanche that drops the other two teams into the abyss. And, in a strength move that would be unrealistic in a fucking Spider Man movie, he saves his woman from the same fate. This pisses off Gareth the Warg, who clearly saw the deaths of eight of his friends as a small price to pay for getting rid of SnowCrow.

In the soft sunshine of King’s Landing, we catch up with Sansa and Lolo, who are trading visions of their dream weddings. Problematically, they both intended to be the bride, but it’s something they can bond over. Sansa is grooving on Lolo’s wedding dress design, certainly. And they both hate the capital and can’t wait to leave.

Observing the tragic scene are Tyrion and Cersei, both grimfaced and cornered. Tyrion, with little left to lose, goes for broke and asks Cersei point blank if she ordered his murder. He takes her silence to mean Joff is the culprit, which is plausible enough, considering what a shitty plan it was. This is probably as close as these two will ever come to real compassion for each other, which is as remarkable as it is sad.

And I’d rather watch Theon get his finger hacked off on a loop for two hours than watch Tyrion explain to Sansa that she’s his wife now. In front of Fucking Shae. I’ve never been so grateful for a cutaway.

Even to this, the confrontation between Varys and the unspeakable pimp Baelish. Both of whom are self-made men, and seemingly pragmatic to the point of amorality. They both know how many swords make up the Iron Throne. The difference between them, as Baelish points out with great relish, is that while Varys serves the idea of order, artificial as it may be, Baelish is served by chaos. And for him, to return to Orwell, the object of power is power.

And let us take a moment to mourn poor Ros, hung from a bedpost and martyred like St. Sebastian.

Atop the wall, having somehow survived the climb, Jon & Ginger are treated to sun through the clouds, and a panoramic vista of what must be the first green grass Ginger has ever laid eyes on. And we pull back to see them alone together in the thin air and empty space.

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