Game of Thrones Review: “The Climb”


I’ve seen Game of Thrones episodes end with stabbings, beheadings, glorious battles or terrible defeats. Even a horrifying wedding proposal, as seen last week. But this time, on a very special Game of Thrones, we cut to black with Jon and Ygritte kissing over a sprawling Westeros on top of the wall. If there are any other more “happy endings” the show has used in 26 episodes so far, I can’t remember them.

But before we begin, as most of you know, I’ve recently embarked on a quest to read all the books. In my reviews since, I’ve sometimes mentioned the books in a non-spoilery way, talking about what is or isn’t different, and if it’s better or worse.

I’m getting the impression you guys don’t really like that for the most part, so going forward I’m probably going to shy away from mentioning the books altogether. I didn’t want to be one of those book know-it-alls, and I don’t really think I am. Rather, I just think it’s fun to compare the two, and more often than not, I think the show actually does a better job or storytelling, streamlining George RR Martin’s often cumbersome books into something more tightly packaged and easy to understand.

And a few great moments exist that weren’t even in the books at all. This week for example, we saw the absolute coldness of Littlefinger as he hands over his informer Ros to be butchered by Joffrey with his newfound crossbow, a continuation of episode two where Maergary wonders what it’s like to pull your trigger finger here, and watch something die over there. I know Joffrey has ordered the deaths of many, but isn’t this the first time he’s actually murdered someone himself?

In any case, that was a fantastic, chilling sequence not found in the books, off-ing a character who didn’t exist in the series at all. I just think it’s cool to point out where the story has actually been improved on, but I suppose I’ll stop if people are irritated with even a mere mention of the novels in any capacity. Let me know either way in the comments, I suppose.


I love that goofy little wolf head poking up.

Annnnyway, getting back to this week, even if this wasn’t the most action packed of episodes, there was still a lot going on. Jon Snow had a harrowing trip to the top of the wall, climbing up with medieval gear that cost other climbers their lives when a sheet of ice attached to the wall collapses. That asshole warg tried his best to let Jon and Ygritte die, but Jon saved the both of them and lives to hopefully take revenge on that douche.

Ygritte surprised me this week, telling Jon she knows his secret, that he’s still a double agent for the Crows in some capacity. But she doesn’t give a shit about either army, and says their loyalty to should be to each other. Or else, you know, she’ll cut his junk off and wear it like a necklace. I feel like I’ve had ex-girlfriends like that…

It was confirmed this week what has been suspected for a while now. Lady Melisandre and Thoros, Priest of Myr are indeed connected, sharing faith for the Lord of Light. I liked how Melisandre is taken aback that drunken Thoros is able to wield the power to bring a man back to life, while all her powers revolve around the ability to destroy. A possible split in the church of light? Something’s always been off about Melisandre, and I’m not sure she’s the all-powerful servant of light she either claims to be, or thinks she is.

She forcibly removed Gendry from Arya and the brotherhood, seeking out his Kingsblood for some sort of magic spell that is surely not going to bode well for him. Arya confronted her about it (neither she nor Gendry know who his father is) and Melisandre says she sees a great darkness in Arya. Really? Our favorite spritely little badass? I don’t see it, but I suppose everyone grows up into someone eventually. Who will she become?


“It’s just a flesh wound!”

Robb Stark is winning every battle, yet losing the war as he says. He’s too much like his father, choosing honor over strategy by executing Lord Karstark and subsequently losing half his men. Now his plan is to get Walder Frey back on board, but the price is that Catelyn’s brother, Edmure Tully, must wed one of his daughters whom he doesn’t get to see. A small price for an army, but Tully doesn’t see it that way. Eventually he relents, and now the big question emerges. Will his future wife be hot? One of the many mysteries of Game of Thrones.

Perhaps one of the best brief scenes of the night involved Tyrion (of course) who was forced to explain to both Shae and Sansa at the same time that he was forcibly engaged to marry the young Stark. “Awkward” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how uncomfortable that would be.

The battle for Cersei’s hand is a bit more complicated with Lady Olenna sparring verbally with Lord Tywin about the match. I’ve never seen anyone go toe to toe with Tywin before, and she did a hell of a job. In the end however, Tywin had the upper hand, presenting her a tough choice between Loras marring Cersei or conscripting him into the Kingsguard where he couldn’t marry anyone. I have a hunch I know what Loras would pick, given the opportunity, but does Olenna have it in her to resign her son to father no heirs in order to spite the Lannisters? I’m not so sure, and nothing was resolved by the end of the night.

Sam sang a song and played with his obsidian dagger. Bran watched Jojen have a seizure and continued to have a sadly uninteresting plotline. Jaime and Brienne dined with Lord Bolton who decrees that Jaime can go to King’s Landing, but Brienne has to stay and do…what exactly? Look pretty in new dresses? Somehow I doubt it.

And oh yes, Theon is still being tortured by the mystery man who is turning out to be the Joker of Westeros more or less, who just wants to watch the world burn. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason as to why Theon is being tortured, though you would think the fact that he’s strapped to a giant wood X and having the skin flayed from his bones would give him a clue as to who might be holding them. It’s like being locked in a room with a pack of Direwolves and having no idea which house is holding you. Come on man! It’s right in front of you!


“Why so┬áserious?”

Anyway, season three is turning out to be much better than two in my estimation, and I can’t wait to see how it ends. I mean, I do know (book snob!), but it’s going to be incredible to watch unfold onscreen.

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  1. Nice to see (read) you getting your groove back, man! This was a great review. Concentrate on the show, and give us a separate article about the book.

    Great work!

  2. I personally loved it when you mention how the books differed from the show and which you preferred. It provides better insight instead of pretending we dont know what happens next. Like how they adjusted Melisandre and Gendry this episode. I thought you did a good job of that without being spoilerifc at all. But oh well. If others dont like it i guess ill go along with the herd.

  3. Perhaps you could use your book knowledge write about the cultures, customs and religions of Westeros. That would be very interesting for those of us not familiar with the book.
    I didn’t know Snow was the standard bastard name in the north until i read it online. After that it made so much more sense every time somebody said “John Snow” with that weird emphasis on his name.

  4. I liked your non-spoilery comparisons with the books. But to each his own; if some like it separate, then discuss the books separately.

    For non-book readers, there is a big fat visual clue in the Jamie-Brienne-Bolton scenes as to who is holding Theon. The non-readers I was watching with pointed that out.

  5. I personally liked the mix of book and show. I’ve already seen/read them and the most interesting part of your blog for me is hearing your comparison between the two, which have been well-thought-out and given me a lot of insight.

  6. People, is it so hard to pick up the books? Do you really think you’ll go unspoiled for 3 or 4 more years?

    Oh, I felt deeply sorrow by the dead of Ros. She was a non-book character, so it surprised me to see her demise. Thank you filmakers.

  7. Tywin took the Queen of Thorns to school, so Loras returned to Highgarden on the ship as Sansa cried because she was being forced to wed Tyrion. Loras will presumably marry Cersei and produce heirs.

  8. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the ship leaving King’s Landing at the end of the episode was Littlefinger’s ship. Wasn’t that his mocking bird logo painted on the sail?

  9. BobaFett I disagree.

    Tywin did take Queen of Thorns to school, but I think the resolution was that Loras still has to marry Cersei. It’s either that or the Kingsguard, which means no heirs to Highgarden, so Thorns chooses heirs.

    Also, the boat Sansa was looking at while crying is owned by Littlefinger (notice the bird on the sail, I believe a mockingbird, same as Littlefinger on the “broach/pin” he wears. Sansa she is now reassessing the option of fleeing King’s Landing with Littlefinger, as he offered to her an episode or two ago (which she turned down because she wanted to marry Loras.) Surely fleeing with Littlefinger is better than marrying the Imp of Lannister.

  10. I’m pretty sure Littlefinger’s boat is just chilling out there, not leaving. He showed it to Sansa last episode and it was in the same place.

  11. Of course I could be wrong and Sansa is crying because she has to marry Tyrion AND her ship has literally sailed for her option of escaping with LittleFinger

  12. For non-book readers, there is a big fat visual clue in the Jamie-Brienne-Bolton scenes as to who is holding Theon. The non-readers I was watching with pointed that out.

    Biased because of the books, but you’d have to be blind not to see it by now. It has only been paraded (literally) in front of you how many times.

  13. Hey Paul, I enjoyed your reviews with the comparisons of the books (I’m a big fan of the show and the books, and love the differences). But I can understand why some people didn’t enjoy the change.

    I know it’d be more writing for you, but maybe a separate post could be made for those of us who enjoy both mediums of the series could talk about those differences.

    This episode in particular had a few things that made me go ‘Wow, this is actually way more interesting than how it was handled in the books’, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on these differences as well.

  14. It has been obvious that the Boltons have Theon for a while now. What I really like about that story line is Iwan Rheon(of Misfits fame), the mysterious torture dude. He’s just wicked at doing psychopaths.

    Also, is it me, or was Sam’s song about Santa?

  15. @JB

    Agreed, it makes it something worth talking about. Watching Paul pretend he is naive when it comes to the series is just silly, I would say it makes these recaps even more pointless, as before he was openly speculating about what happens next, now that he has had people complain that he brings in insights from the books, he now needs to pretend he is back to speculating on further developments, it comes across as silly.

    To all of you people afraid of reading the books: Get over it! Words aren’t hard, pick it up and read it.
    I’d be far more open to discussions about why people haven’t read the books, but generally speaking a lot of these people never read ANY books. Period.
    So really it seems like the only reason they really have for not reading it is because ‘reading is hard!’

    If people claim to be as passionate about what happens from week to week they would get significantly more out of the series if they read the books. I have yet to meet someone who has read the books and feels like it has somehow ruined the series for them.

    Spoilers arguably mean nothing to your enjoyment, in fact you could argue that knowing whats happening going in will allow you to enjoy it even more– and it’s not like things won’t be a surprise when you read them. — that’s not to say people should throw around spoilers, I’m just pointing out that knowing what happens arguably does not cheapen the experience

    Paul (if you see this message of course,) just out of curiosity, do you have any intention of reading the Tales of Dunk and Egg?
    They are great little short stories that happen a while before the events in the main series, I’d recommend checking them out, if you haven’t already.

    I was certainly more interested in the recaps after I learned you were starting to read the books, as that certainly opens things up for more discussion and meaningful speculation — not that I expected them to cater exclusively to the crowd who have both read the book and watch the series, but now that you’re just going to pretend you haven’t read the books I’m (obviously) disappointed as before where your questions were clearly indicative of where you didn’t know where things were going, it seems like now they are being thrown in for the handful of people who refuse to read the books, lest they get more out of the show.

    And Yeah, Ros getting killed sucked, she was a great addition for the show,

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure what to do. And I will say it is a little goofy pretending I don’t know what’s going to happen. Book people like the discussion, non-book people would rather it didn’t happen. I don’t know…maybe I should just stop them all together.

  16. Paul just do what you’re told. We don’t come here for your opinion. ; )

    Also Ros’ tits will me missed most of all. It was nice of them to show us one last time before she was gone.

  17. @Draugr

    I wouldnt attack people who havent read the books too harshly. They are rather lengthy and some people dont have the investment in time to make. It took me a while to read through and im amazed at how fast Paul seems to be flying through them. Also some people just arent readers and just prefer the show. To each their own. But they shouldnt be spoiled if they dont want to on what happens next.

    Paul I hope you continue to do the reviews though in any format. Like I said, you were never really spoilierific so I dont understand why people were complaining. I just thought it was interesting to point out the differences in both mediums. Again like Gendry in this episode or how Loras is the one everyone is trying to marry. Its neat how they change certain aspects but keep the core story where it needs to go and its fun to talk about. Why discussing those differences bothers non book people doesnt make sense to me since nothing is spoiled.

    At the end of the day Paul, this is your blog. You should review the show in the way that you want to and if people choose not to read, then thats their choice.

  18. As one of the “book people” I enjoyed the comparison, but I also don’t share this disdain for those that don’t want to read the novels and prefer the reviews without mention to them.

    Frankly, I would say do what feels more natural to you. It’s up to us the audience if we then want to read it or not. If it makes no difference to you, then it’s probably nicer to just stick to talking about the tv show.

    Could an alternative be not a whole separate post, but just an add on to the bottom of the review where you list your show/book comparisons? The non-book folk could just stop reading at that point.

    Either way, I enjoy both type of reviews and hope you keep at it.

  19. @JB

    Certainly not, and let me clarify what I was trying to say, as I can see where some there is some confusion.

    I wasn’t suggesting that Paul start making spoiler laden recaps, I was (albeit poorly) addressing those who feel concerned about how if they read the book the series will somehow be cheapened because they know what happens – I’ve seen this reason as to why some say they don’t read the books, so that’s why I was addressing it.

    Furthermore, people are welcome to not read the books, that’s fine of course, but why complain if there is some reference to how it compares? I don’t see how it cheapens it for them. Seems to me like they’d be getting more informed on something they claim to be interested in, how is that bad thing? If it’s because people MIGHT want to read the books later, then why is that not stopping them from watching the show as well? The book can be informed by the show but the show can’t be informed by the book?

    If people claim to be as passionate about the series as they say, I wonder why they haven’t taken that plunge themselves. And there is quite a difference between someone who is taking their time with the books (perfectly understandable.) And those who *avoid* the books, as there seems to be very few people with sound reasoning as to why.


    That seems like a great solution. You’d be able to have the episode recap and then a ‘jump’ to other things. I couldn’t say how that’d work out when it came to the comments section, and how things play out there, but it sounds like a fine Idea to me.

  20. I really enjoy your reviews. I’ve only read the first book and find your comments on the later books really interesting. They provide people without the time or desire to read the huge books with extra information they would otherwise not get. Why would someone not want some extra insight?

  21. No offense, but if you want book to show comparisons, nobody is doing it better than Pajiba. Check it out on Wednesdays.
    And I agree that the having the book comparison section at the end of the column is the best idea. Although if it contains spoilers, I’m sure you’ll still get shit for not hiding it well enough!

  22. @Draugr: As far as television goes, Game of Thrones is top-notch and I’m happy to devote an hour a week to watch this story unfold. Now, as far as books go, there are more appealing ones to read, old and new, in the three languages I speak. I’m much more selective with books, because they take longer and there are endless choices. I have many books already in my queue, all of which interest me more than a lenghty, overly detailed fantasy saga, which is not really my cup of tea. I’m sure they’re good books, but I don’t want to read them, I only care about this story enough to watch the excellent TV show. That’s my reason.

  23. Sounds good, I didn’t say people didn’t have reasons, as far as I can tell you also don’t seem to be concerned if the books are brought up in any fashion so my comments weren’t really aimed towards people like yourself. ­čÖé

  24. I actually appreciate when you write book/tv comparisons as long as they are spoiler free. It is interesting to see the differences.

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