It’s difficult to believe that six weeks have now come and gone since the premiere of Game of Thrones third season; before we know it the finale will be upon us and another year of agonizing waiting will follow.
Criticisms have been contrived from the ever so gradual build up season three has opted for that has only recently shown any signs of changing. Honestly I do find myself empathizing with the irritation of those who have yet to read the books and feel little of worth is happening. That doesn’t mean to say I disagree with Weiss & Benioff’s decision to keep the show at a brisk stroll for the time being. The Climb was no exception to the rule of gradual pacing, yet it made for another truly remarkable watch nonetheless.
Jon and Ygritte were presented with a rather literal climb of the 700ft wall of ice standing between the Wildling special forces team and the expanse of the Seven Kingdoms. In the moments of preparation before the climb Rose Leslie demonstrated that she wasn’t about to let the phenomenal standards of her performances as Ygritte slip now, amply expressing the Wildling women’s endearing affections for Jon with the assistance of impressive dialogue supplied by another superb screenplay.
When fate slowly edged them up the face of The Wall, it was impossible to avoid the feelings of fear and vertigo as the now infatuated couple came close to taking the dive on several occasions. In spite of the undeniably great acting, the air of finesse placed in the cinematography and editing efforts lent the scene almost the entirety of its dramatic effect. The sequencing from the shot of Jon glancing down, to the hauntingly slow pan in showcasing the potential fall he contended with instilled a nightmarish fear in me that couldn’t have been evoked solely off the back of high quality acting.
Sterling cinematography was a consistent element throughout this week’s episode. The continuation of Arya’s adventures alongside The Brotherhood Without Banners (TBWB) were introduced with a very striking shot* where-in a close up of Arya firing a bow shook gently, whilst remaining masterfully in sync with the reverberation of the bow string to seamlessly reflect the feeling of firing an arrow.
Prior to a controversial trade off – Thoros, Beric and Melisandre shared a rather interesting moment of conversation. Thoros admittance of seeking the help of The Red God whom he formerly abandoned in his time of desperation was an accurate, parallel, and perhaps cynical representation of the timeless tendency of people seeking guidance and/or other worldly power in their times of need even if – unlike in Thoros’s fantasy case – they are wholly aware their desires will go unreceived. Beric further bolstered the unromantic, harsh tone of the episode by informing Melisandre that her notion of there being an ‘other side’ was deluded drivel. ‘There is only Darkness’ rang true to very harsh realities that we all face; rarely does a TV show provoke such deep thought from an audience like Game of Thrones can in its prime.
Many book reader’s strong suspicions regarding the intentions behind Melisandre’s ventures away from Stannis’s seat at Dragonstone were all but confirmed when she struck up her exchange of gold for Gendry with TBWB. Clearly she has substantial expectations invested in the blacksmith’s apprentice, expressing her belief in his future role in taking down Stannis’s key opponents. Still a key question lingers: what exactly does the red priestess intend to do with Gendry?
Theon is trapped in a perpetual state of terrible luck that revealed zero indication of letting up on him as his cruel torture persisted. The monstrosity of the games his captor plays with him are on a sickening level that reflect the typical antics of the boy king Joffrey to the letter; thankfully momentary shots of Theon’s finger flaying were all that was necessary to extort a strong wincing and cringing from everyone, I couldn’t have handled much more. Alfie Allen effectively drove the anguish home with his blood curdling whimper-screams, and sniveling pleas to have the finger chopped off; I anticipate Allen’s adept acting in Game of Thrones will end up placing a major Hollywood blockbuster role or two at his feet in the coming years.
The King of the North’s military campaign proceeded down an increasingly slippery slope, however seemingly unbeknownst to Robb, who eagerly considered the successfully wagered terms with the Frey visitors – after a bit of good cop/bad cop interrogation against Edmure – to be a god send. It was difficult to miss the sinister tone that lined the voices of the Frey’s, and it definitely shouldn’t be disregarded yet. On top of this, Robb’s liege lord Roose Bolton exposed a disloyal tendency to his King in choosing to allow Jamie right of passage to King’s Landing instead of returning him as a captive to Robb as per-instruction. Brienne, draped in a suitably ridiculous pink dress, was not forgiven for her supposed treason’s quite so easily, it would appear that ‘befitting’ punishment will come into being for her next sunday.
Kings Landing was unsurprisingly the hotspot for the narrative’s political intrigue. Tyrion and Cersei collected their frustrations – not just with one another, but with their fathers indignant insistence on their marriages to be – temporarily repairing their relationship before it inevitably crumbles into mutual disdain once again. Both Headey and Dinklage came out with gratifying performances, but what pleased me most in the scene was the subtly clever matching of the shot color palette with the topic of conversation. Cersei and Tyrion both wore pieces of red clothing, green was evident in the appearance of Cersei’s chair and a golden yellow was prominent in both the Lannister’s hair colors, and in a large part of the set design. These colors are dominant features on the Lannister and Tyrell banner devices.
Aiden Gillen delivered a fittingly devious, and almost frightening monologue as Littlefinger that accentuated his characters fearsome thirst for power, position and chaos, particularly in the depicting of the metaphorical climb of the chaos ladder as being ‘all there is.’ This monologue further reinforced the pessimistic, cynical overtone of the episode through the ample use of sound bridging to a shot of a weeping Sansa, as Littlefinger mocked those who place their hopes in the illusions of love and gods.
I personally embrace this harsh line the show is taking against romanticism for the larger part, because it gives Game of Thrones a distinct style that defines it as something bolder than your typical piece of high fantasy, forsaking the corny ideas of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress, in exchange for a welcome sense of realism.
Final Rating: B+