Game Of Thrones season 3 episode 6 review: The Climb

The writers, location scouts, and directors continue to excel themselves in Game Of Thrones' great-looking third season...

This review contains spoilers.

3.6 The Climb

One of the best things about Game of Thrones is the way it looks. From a visual perspective, this week’s episode contains some of the most stand-out images of the entire show. In this case, the thing that’s the most impressive is probably the Wall. We’ve seen the Wall a lot from the Westeros side, but seeing it from the true north side gives it an entirely different look. It’s a stunning shot, and the final moments of the episode when you see from atop the wall to both sides of the realm is staggeringly impressive. The creators have picked some of the most wonderful places to film this show, and it’s a full credit to the crew that they’ve managed to out-awesome The Lord of the Rings location scouts. 

There’s something to be said for many of Alik Sakharov’s choices as the director. As a pretty accomplished cinematographer, he’s got a good sense of visuals, and that shows through in some of the framing choices he makes this week. The Riverrun negotiation scene between the representatives of the Freys and Robb Stark’s inner council makes great use of natural light and windows, and there are also some very clever transitions (for instance, the focus shift from the garden to the balcony overlooking the garden). The climbing sequences as the wildlings scaled the Wall were simply brilliant, and it shows that something as tedious as climbing up the side of a mountain can be milked for a surprising amount of tension and a great sense of adventure in what could have easily gone wrong. Very strong visuals this week, and some very clever scene transitions from Sakharov and the show’s usual writers Benioff and Weiss, who seem to be on their game this season like no other. 

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Having so many great characters – Olenna is particularly good this week, as she always is, meeting her match in the form of Tywin Lannister – is a luxury that most writers would love to have, but they’ve done such a great job at balancing episodes between fan favourites, new favourites, and the various Westeros story lines. Seeing Olenna square off against old favourites is great, but the fact that the show can keep longtime frenemies like Varys and Littlefinger interesting when we’ve seen them do this song and dance before is a credit to how well-written the scenes are and just how much is invested in their moments together in the throne room. There’s nothing boring going on; even Sam and Gilly huddling around a fire has a tint of the adorable around it. There were multiple monologues this week, all of which ended up being really good (see also Paul Kaye’s monologue about Thoros’ weak faith).

One could make the argument that watching Theon Greyjoy get tortured is losing its appeal, but the absolutely wonderful, bug-eyed insanity on display from Iwan Rheon and the sheer glee his character brings to torturing Theon turns what would otherwise be a disheartening display of special effects prowess into something much more interesting, and much darker. The more I see of Iwan Rheon’s character – whom I believe is the bastard Bolton son sent to rescue Winterfell last season – the more I want to know what his end game is. Can it be as simple as his love of torture, or is there something else going on there? 

That’s the big question on Game of Thrones. Everyone has different motivations, and their actions usually don’t reflect where they’re truly going. Sansa may play the dumb girl, but perhaps she is more clever than you might think given that she’s outlived a whole lot of people who were specialists at playing political games. There’s always something else going on, some layer other than the surface, but it’s the truly gifted players of the game who are able to adapt to their circumstances and pile on the layers of deception. It is, however, the dangerous folks who have singular objectives.

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Kissed By Fire, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan really wants to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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