Here we are in the second half of the third season of Game Of Thrones, and for those who haven’t read the books, I’d imagine things are getting frustrating when it comes to pacing. Granted not every episode could be the tour de force that was episode 3.04 “And Now His Watch Is Ended” aka “The Badass Episode With Dragons & Daenerys F***ing S*** UP” as most of my non book reading friends refer to it. Unfortunately with a series that has a cast of dozens, there has to be room made for the many storylines to all come together in lots of interesting ways. The most difficult thing for me, is trying to pinpoint what exactly is new to the story, adapted differently, or I’m just plain forgetting. That all being said, while “The Climb” wasn’t the most riveting episode in terms of plot advancement, it did well to establish important character beats that will pay off later. Or they should, unless they’re changed. Or done differently.
Regardless of the changes, the episode did a good job of having all the concurrent stories touched on and expanded in interesting ways. We started off with Samwell and Gilly escaping off into the Gods know where trying to save her baby who had the audacity to be born a boy, followed quickly by Meera Reed trading some barbs with Osha about skinning rabbits. (Women!) Ostensibly they’re all working together to follow the Three Eyed Crow’s dream, who’s guiding them along a vague and unknowable path of certain divine and/or fortuitous significance, that even I’m not sure of. I don’t even think they’ve really gotten around to what they’re really after just yet, even in the books. Then again I’m impossibly stupid sometimes.
Beyond The Wall we got to see Jon Snow and Ygritte finally put into words their bond with each other, as well as her admission of knowledge that she figured out he’s still doing the double agent thing for The Night’s Watch. Of course, love blinds all to duty, honor or loyalty, and she makes a pretty reasonable argument as to him staying loyal to her only, by threatening to cut off his Johnson and wear it around her neck if he betrays her. Generally when women tell me that, I run the hell away, or I’m super turned on and maybe that’s the reason why all of my relationships are horrific meltdowns of apocalyptic emotional proportion?
Anyhow! Afterward, there’s a tense scene between Lady Melisandre and Thoros who discuss in Valyrian their agendas to the Lord of Light. We see Melisandre shaken for the first time, as she meets 6-times resurrected Lord Beric, and she proclaims it’s not possible. Which was interesting, because I’m positive Melisandre didn’t have this interaction in the book. Her role is beefed up here, and she’s portrayed a bit more humanely, as opposed to the starkly conniving, mysterious and witchy woman she is in the novels. Then they sell poor Gendry for gold to her. Because she needs nubile boys to make armor for her or something. I mean, sure yeah he’s technically the son of Rob Baratheon, but nobody really cares about King Rob anymore, and the only guy who did had his head chopped off. What? Too soon?
Then back with Theon, which is the one part of the show that’s entirely, wholly new, and subsequently to me is the most interesting. We’re just as curious as he is as to why Simon from Misfits torturing him so horribly, (I mean I have an idea, but no spoilers), or even who he is and where they even are. Theon is then forced to play a horrible game of “Guess who I am, where we are, and what’s going on, or else I slowly rip the skin off your fingers!”, which is the worst f***ing game in the world, probably. Right after all team sports. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, I’M CALLING YOU OUT ALL SPORTS FANS! SUCK IT!
Source: Ha, Never Again
Well eventually Theon loses, and we’re back to seeing Jaime and Brienne making a deal with Lord Roose Bolton, a man who’ll become very important soon, in ways I won’t ruin for you. We learn that poor Brienne won’t be let go along with Jaime, and Jaime’s defense of her slowly clinches Jaime’s eventual face-turn as an anti-hero. Then we get to see Lord Tywin and Lady Olenna Tyrell exchange snarky quips, the way old people do. I don’t know if it was just me, but if they were both about 30 years younger I have a feeling they would have totally boned right on that table. Right? Nobody but me got that?
Okay then. Some more rumination on by the Lannisters, this time both Tyrion and Cercei, on their arranged marriage woes, then Tyrion’s awkward revelation to poor Sansa Stark that she now has to marry him. Which I guess is a downgrade from marrying a super hunky gayboy, but personally I think Tyrion is much better company. All Loras has going for him is his knighthood, his looks, and his skills with a “sword”, as Lady Olenna would put it. Then Sansa cries because truly there is no fate worse than marrying a midget. Or something about her whole life being controlled by others, never being able to hang onto any semblance of happiness, and having every bit of hope snatched away from her. Either or.
Back at the wall, Snow and Co. are climbing it slowly, on the way to make their attack against Castle Black. Eventually the ice cracks and makes a big avalanche, nearly taking out Snow and Ygritte, who manage to save themselves in the nick of time right before their untrustworthy compatriot cut them loose. Then they climb on top, hug and share the scenic view of the land beyond the wall. All romantic and s**t. The end.
Like I said earlier, as a fan of the books it’s difficult to reconcile what I’m thinking is new, and what I’m just not remembering. I read the book sometime last year, and while I know the broad strokes of the story, watching episodes like these is still interesting if only for the character building. Fans of the show only may find the pacing incongruent with the last two seasons, but that’s only because SO MANY THINGS happen in A Storm Of Swords we’re really only about 1/4 of the way through the book, and I have a firm idea in mind exactly what the season finale will be. So will any reader of the books, and waiting for that moment to happen is as anxious and as exciting as watching the show and seeing all the new developments, thematic changes, and straight up plot changes. It’s still the same story overall, but episodes like this highlight how the little scenes in a novel can translate into other things entirely, simply by the nature of the story becoming a visual medium. So yeah, it wasn’t the most important episode in relation to the plot of the others in the show, but character development, foreshadowing, and of course those awfully great added torturing scenes with Theon, keep the whole thing fresh and interesting for folks like me, who are silently waiting everyone else to have their damn socks blown off.
If you’re complaining about the story not moving fast enough right now, stick with it. Believe you me, when your socks are flying around the damned room in circles and your balls or ovaries are exploding or whatever, you’ll thank me. Oh how you’ll thank me.
Check out the promo for next the next episode, ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair‘ now!
[Editor’s Note – I thought this was one of the best episodes of the whole show. The scene between Littlefinger and the Spider at the end, as well as the one with Tywin and Lady Olenna were both about as good as you’ll see. I have no problem with the pacing. That is all.]