Despite featuring a 700 foot climb, Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 6: "The Climb," didn't reach the lofty artistic (or entertainment) heights of the last few episodes. But this is Game of Thrones, where even a merely solid episode is packed full of delightful moments and heartbreaking twists.
Relive the episode with our in-depth recap below.
Beyond the Wall — And on Top of It
We open with Sam failing to start a fire and bashfully attempting to impress his Wildling lady friend, Gilly, with a dagger he found at the Fist of the First Men in Season 2. She doesn't care about the pretty stab-y thing, but she does like hearing about the Wall and Castle Black, which he tries to sell as a nice place. That's basically a lie, but it's definitely better than Craster's Keep, so whatever. We also learn Sam can't sing, but is pretty adorable with Gilly and her baby boy.
Elsewhere, Jon and his Wildling scouting group prepare to climb the Wall, which Sam has conveniently reminded us is 700 feet high and made of ice. Read: Not an easy climb. Ygritte makes fun of Jon and it's adorable. Oh, and no big deal or anything, but she's figured out he's a spy. Ruh-roh. She's not going to turn on him, though — and he better stay loyal to her, if he knows what's good for him. "Don't ever betray me," she warns him. "Because I'll cut your pretty cock off and wear it around my neck." At least she thinks it's pretty.
The show doesn't drag this climb out. It jumps right into it, with a set of soaring, heart-pumping scenes featuring a vast wall of ice (as promised), several near-death experiences, and some impressive — if predictable — heroics on Jon's part. It's all worth it when they make it to the top, where they're greeted with a breathtaking view — and a perfect make-out point for Jon and Ygritte.
On the Road in the North: Oh Hey, Magic Isn't Pleasant
In Bran's little expedition north, Meera and Osha jocky for position as number one self-sufficient badass. But this light little scene ends on a down note when Jojen starts convulsing because of his visions. So, we guess Bran has that to look forward to if he keeps developing his abilities.
The Brotherhood Without Banners: Not So Brotherly Now
Arya, still the Brotherhood's reluctant bargaining chip, gets an archery lesson that's interpreted by the unexpected appearance of Melisandre. Whoa there. Not really expecting that. Thoros — who we learn was supposed to convert Robert to the Lord of Light which, LOL, did not work — takes Mel to see Beric. She's blown away by his six-times-reborn status; clearly, she doesn't think Thoros should be able to pull that off. Thoros admits that he'd actually given up on the whole religion until Beric died the first time around and the Lord of Light worked his magic. "Our god is the one true god, and all men must suffer," he declares.
One such suffering man is Gendry, whose new-found “brothers” prove that blood is thinner than religion and gold when they let Melisandre take him away. She tries to comfort him with an assurance that he is better than a common soldier: he will make “kings rise and fall.” Um, what? When Arya tries to confront Mel about her total creepiness, the priestess just grabs her face and tells her she sees darkness in her. Darkness from which eyes stare out. Eyes Arya will “shut forever.”
And with that, Melisandre's off. She has that “drop some cryptic knowledge and peace out” act down solid.
Riverrun: Second Bargain, Same as the First
In Riverrun, Robb Stark meets with Frey's representatives to see if they can reach an arrangement. It turns out Frey is happy to help Robb out for the low, low price of Harrenhal and Edmure's hand in marriage to Roslin Frey, one of his daughters.
Edmure balks at this proposal, mostly because he wants to be able to pick his wife out, so he doesn't end up with an ugly chick. But between Robb, Cat, and the Blackfish, the Tully/Stark family manages to badger him into relenting. The best part of this scene is clearly the Blackfish snapping at Edmure, "The laws of my fist are about to compel your teeth.” They may as well be middle schoolers, and we love it.
Oh, and the wedding? Yeah, it's going to happen ASAP. Frey doesn't care that war isn't really the time for a celebration, perhaps because last time he had a marriage agreement with someone in Robb's family he got screwed over. This season is stacking up to feature a lot of weddings no one actually wants to be part of.
Harrenhal: A Deal Is Struck
After last week's triumphant bath scene it's a bit disappointing to only get one short scene with Jaime and Brienne in this episode, but such is the nature of the show. At least it's a good one.
Jaime struggles through dinner — Brienne has to help him cut his meat, because they are totally in love, at least in our heads — but manages to strike a bargain with Bolton. See, Bolton's a sensible man. He realizes that giving Jaime back to Robb risks bringing the wrath of Tywin down on his head, so he's willing to send Jaime back to King's Landing as a peace offering. One problem: He's not letting Brienne go. She he can punish for treason. Jaime tries to protest in favor of his new friend, but shuts up when he's reminded what happened last time he pushed his luck. Is this the end for Westeros' best odd couple?
Somewhere Terrible: Everything Is Still Terrible
Now it's time to talk about what was both the best and most impossible scene to watch this week: Theon's continued torture.
Iwan Rheon — who's character still isn't officially named, though we totally know who he is — plays gleefully sadistic to perfection, vacillating between intense stares and crazed smiles with ease as he piles cruelty upon cruelty on Theon. Sleep deprivation, humiliation, sick games, and mutilation are all in the offering.
Why? Theon guesses that his assailant is an angry Karstark. No, his captor explains, this is just a random act of evil: "This isn't happening to you for a reason. Well, one reason. I enjoy it."
Chills. Chills, and more than a bit of screaming and nausea on our parts.
King's Landing: Congratulations on Your Impending Nuptials, All You Miserable Pawns
OMG Lady Olenna and Tywin have a scene, and everything is beautiful. We're glad the writers realized this had to happen. Olenna doesn't want Cersei to marry Loras because Cersei going to be menopausal soon (is she really that old?). Tywin counters that Loras has his own problems. We learn Tywin never had gay sex; on the other hand, Tyrells don't practice incest, so there's that. This banter is the best of all the banter. But eventually Tywin puts his foot down: If Loras doesn't marry Cersei, he will appoint him to the Kingsguard, where he will have zero chance of siring legitimate children, because of the vow of chastity. Tywin wins, because Tywin is the best at politicking.
Meanwhile, Sansa, not knowing about her new fate, has a hilariously terrible date with Loras, who is just the gayest. He literally forgets to mention the bride when talking about his dream wedding. Cersei and Tyrion watch this awkward scene and contemplate their hellish fate. On the upside, their mutual misery seems to have brought these siblings together. They discuss Tywin, Jaime, and Joffrey with surprising openness. They're both cynical as all get-out, but at least they're being relativity honest with each other, for once.
Then, we get the awkwardest of all scenes. See, Tyrion decides to deliver the bad news to Sansa himself. Except that Shae is there, too. Telling your unwilling bride about your terrible new marriage arrangement in front of your actual lover is not the kind of social situation even the most proper upbringing prepares you for.
Finally, we have a scene between Littlefinger and Varys, which is always gold. It starts amusing (Littlefinger has counted all of the swords on the Iron Throne, because of course he has) but quickly takes a dark turn, when Littlefinger reveals that he gave Ros to Joffrey to kill. Whoa. Did not see that coming. Then Littlefinger breaks into a monologue about chaos as we see Ros's body and Sansa sobbing while looking at the ship out of town she could have taken.
- Interesting that Melisandre thinks there is an “other side” after death, but Beric, who has some experience with the matter, is sure there's just darkness. Maybe Mel doesn't know as much as she thinks.
- Jaime line of the week: "Instead you're sitting here, watching me fail at dinner."
- Olenna line of the week: (On if she denies the rumors about Loras): "Oh, not at all. A sword swallower through and through." (Honorable mention goes to, "As an authority on myself, I must disagree.")
- Tyrion line of the week: "It's hard to say which of the four of us is getting the worst of this arrangement."
- "Seven Kingdoms united in fear of Tywin Lannister." That line about sums up the situation.
- Sansa on Shae: "I trust her even if she tells me not to." Like father, like daughter. Don't trust people who tell you not to trust them!
- Varys, summing up the Westeros ethos: "Who doesn't like to see his friends fail now and again?"
What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments below!
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.