The Great Echo Chamber That Is Game Of Thrones
It's time for our latest weekly episode recap, beware of spoilers.
Welcome to this week’s Game Of Thrones column, discussing episode 6 (“The Climb”) of season 3. If you care about spoilers, be gone! But, you know, come back once you’ve seen it, ’cause the following article’s quite interesting.
This was the first episode in a while that was full of surprises; at least half the scenes this week were total inventions of Messrs Benioff and Weiss. As I pointed out a few weeks back, these inventions must be compatible with the master plot, but as the show-runners have the ear of Master Martin, this is pretty much ensured. I’ve covered the adaptation-changes question before, but it was especially interesting this week to speculate on how they will tie in to the show’s long game.
This was also an episode of echoes, as much as anything else. GoT‘s habit of doling out plot in erratically grouped chunks doesn’t always highlight such subtle common threads, especially as we’re busy thinking about how the dozens of plot threads could possibly draw together later.
Think about Bran’s first scene of the season: his dream of an archery lesson, with Robb and Jon teasing and goading him, to make him want to be better. It’s the ghost of our introduction to the Stark kids in the first episode of season one: as Bran learned his way around a bow-and-arrow in the yard at Winterfell with his brothers looking on, Arya abandoned her sewing to sneak in and outshoot Bran, already better than him despite not being trained at all. Now here she is, learning archery (and getting begrudging compliments) from outlaws in the forest, and living the adventurous life she always dreamed of – a situation made possible because half her family, as far as she knows, is dead.
Then think of Margaery a few episodes ago, simultaneously caressing both Joffrey’s ego and his crossbow, cooing about the power rush of taking a life, as her intended aimed at something off-screen to the right. Then this week, the reveal of Ros’s body, sporting half-a-dozen crossbow bolts, comes as a pan to the right, across from a bored Joffrey with weapon in hand.
At first, with the initial shock, I thought she was framed quite romantically, like a martyr; Saint Sebastian, stuck full of arrows, glowing in the gold light of the bedroom. When I went back to the image, I had a gruesome realisation: along with the bolts in her arms and legs, Ros had been shot in her head, chest and crotch, mirroring Arya’s targets on the practice dummy. The bolts are buried deep; as the Brotherhood member points out to Gendry, the tips they use can pierce armour. One can only assume the king can obtain weaponry at least as effective as that of the outlaws.
Jon Snow’s return to The Wall is similarly lousy with meaning and mirroring, 700 feet of ice dividing his old life from his new one (just like his divided loyalties, ooooh!). Compare the lift he rode up in in the third episode of the series to the rope held by enemies who are happy to cut him loose in a crisis: when he ascends the south side of The Wall, he is secure and innocent, but on the north side, he is sure of nothing except Ygritte.
When he made it to the top the first time, his uncle Benjen made a point of being there, standing beside Jon for his first glimpse of the land Beyond The Wall. Now Jon has brought back someone he cares about from Beyond The Wall, and he stands next to her as she discovers that the view is worth the climb (provided you don’t die horribly in an ice landslide on the way up). Boy/man, bastard/crow, virgin/god of wildling vaginas; the North is green, but the Beyond is white, and winter is coming.
I could go on like this for hours. Shae and Sansa watching the sea, wondering what might have been on this boat or that, as they did in the season premiere. Or Catelyn watching Robb turn into his father, trying to fix everything with honour and losing ground to the craven and weak, faster than he can gain it. Last week’s episode started it none too subtly, with the lopping off of a head – GoT’s favourite motif for honour, duty, and wrong choices made for the right reasons.
As it does every year, the cart’s beginning to pick up speed, done with the hard-to-follow, cryptic place-setting of the first-half and hurtling towards the cliff of those last two episodes, the ones where everything inevitably goes to shit. Or, to torture another analogy, we’re beginning to see where the seeds have been sown, because little tendrils of thickening plot are poking up from the soil.
Caitlin Welsh is a freelance writer. She has written for The BRAG, Mess + Noise, FasterLouder, Cosmopolitan, TheVine, Beat, dB, X-Press, and Moshcam.
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