TV REVIEW: Game of Thrones - The Climb

Less naked bottoms this week as Game of Thrones continues the slower pace to spend some time with a wide variety of characters, once again all finding themselves in impossible situations.

The Climb wasn't the strongest of episodes, especially compared to the previous few episodes, but it did its job of setting the scene for the last few instalments of the season. In fact, it often felt like a chess game in that sense, positioning the pieces in their respective places ready for everything to kick off. The central theme of the episode, the climb of both literal and figurative representations, was perfect for an hour which saw many characters find themselves placed into a new set of circumstances, either by design or by another's machinations. Those in control were few and far between, though by far the most powerful; think Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) and his control over Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) or Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Cersei (Lena Headey) being forced into acknowledging that Tywin (Charles Dance) is in complete control. As a central theme, it was an excellent way of demonstrating the power shifts in Westeros, but sadly, some the individual scenes just didn't quite sparkle in the way that we're used too.

One such character who is currently at the behest of another is resident traitor Theon (Alfie Allen), a character I have continued to neglect in these reviews quite simply because he hasn't been getting up to a lot. And I've forgotten him. He still isn't getting up to very much, being tied to a cross, and the cathartic pleasure of watching someone so snivelly and spineless get tortured by people has waned somewhat since the series opener. Thankfully, Iwan Rheon's wide-eyed gleefully unhinged performance as the as-yet unnamed Boy (though people who have read this far into the books will have a clue) saved the scene from complete dullness. He was a saving grace in the middle of a scene that just seemed to be there to remind people like me that Theon exists.

Another victim of not-so-exciting-scenes recently has been Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) though of course last week, he did get to go all wet and wild for a bit with Ygritte (Rose Leslie). In contrast to Theon's linear progression, Jon's was directly vertical as he and the other wildlings prepared to make the ascent up the Wall, the literal climb of the episode's title. The quiet scene between Ygritte and Jon was nicely done by both actors, conveying the subtext of their relationship well without overplaying the moment. The climb itself was very well done, with Sarkharov employing some impressive, vertigo-inducing visuals to convey the danger and extremity of the situation. And we all know that MacKenzie Crook's Orell is probably going to find himself at the pointy end of Longclaw before the season is out.

There is one scene though that stood out amongst all of the others was that scene between Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) and Tywin Lannister, a battle of wits and one-liners that typified a lot of what we love about Game of Thrones. Usually in these scenes, honesty is not something that's demonstrated; we get a similar moment later in the episode when Varys (Conleth Hill) and Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) dance around each other, elegantly sidestepping each other. In contrast, watching Olenna go up against Tywin was like watching two battleaxes clashing violently, sparks flying, but neither one refusing to budge. With some cracking lines ("a sword swallower through and through") and some brilliant eyebrow acting from both parties, Olenna and Tywin was a match we'd been waiting for. Rigg has fast become the new fan favourite in her performance and quite right too; she's bloody good.

As noted in my little introductory sentence, there was a distinct lack of nudity in this week's episode, contrasting sharply with Kissed By Fire. There seems to have been a recurring pattern this season in which we get an episode absolutely full of naked bottoms, bare breasts and the occasional male appendage followed by one in which there is nary a piece of flesh in sight. The nudity is an aspect of the show I have never overtly criticised as it has never been something I took great issue with, despite the naked male to female ratio being vastly disproportionate. However, it seems to be an odd pattern this series, perhaps designed to appease both sides of the audience, those who desire naked bottoms and those who can do without. Either way, Game of Thrones doesn't need to rely on this nudity quota to get itself through; it's a fantastic drama with or without the odd bare breast.

The Climb was lacking a little something this week for me, despite being built on an excellent theme and individual scenes shining. Sadly, it never came together to form a cohesive whole but let's face it, even a bad day for Game of Thrones is far above a fair amount of things on the television.

- Becky

You can read Becky's review for the previous episode, Kissed By Fire here.

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