Game of Thrones Power Rankings
Episode 3:06 – The Climb
As Cersei famously said back in the first season, “In the game of thrones, you win or you die.” With that spirit in mind, here’s your weekly look at who’s winning and who got served.
Joffrey is such a sadistic little turd that, by comparison, it’s almost difficult to recognize villainy anywhere else. Sure, characters like Cersei, Jaime, Stannis, and Theon have all done some pretty repugnant things thus far, but they’ve also all taken turns as sympathetic leads for decent stretches of screen time. Littlefinger, on the other hand, hasn’t really been portrayed with any sympathy, but he also hasn’t drawn much attention to how awful he is. (Yes, he did betray Ned in Season One, but that doesn’t linger in the mind quite as much as Joffrey screaming “Bring me his head!”)
But just like Varys suddenly revealing himself as the kind of guy who keeps a pet sorcerer in a wooden box, now Littlefinger stands revealed as someone who lusts for power perhaps more than anyone else on the show. His climactic speech should have ended with a loud “Mwa-ha-ha-ha!”
Littlefinger’s betrayal of Ros not only led to her death, it also killed our best source of sexposition (how dare he!). But while Ros’s former colleagues in the best little whorehouse this side of the Wall aren’t likely to rally for vengeance, there very well may be penalties to pissing off Varys. As a great lover of slow, calculated revenge, sending his girl Friday off to her death isn’t something he’s likely to forgive.
2. Tywin Lannister
Apparently the pen is mightier than the sword-swallower.
3. Sweeping Romance
The final shot of this episode, of Jon Snow and Ygritte embracing atop the wall with the sunrise shining down on them, might have been the first unabashedly romantic moment of the series. It only took 26 episodes!
Sadly, it reminded me of the final image from the first half of Gone With the Wind. It’s a gorgeous moment that promises strength and perseverance. But it’s also the last uplifting moment of the movie before everything goes to shit for the next two hours. Given how little happened in this episode, it feels like the show-runners purposely created this moment as an intermission of sorts for the season, and as an attention-grabbing, look-how-happy-and-beautiful-everything-is ending before we spend the final four episodes watching everyone’s bad karma explode like wildfire.
4. King Joffrey’s Crossbow
Since we saw Joffrey fondling it in the season premiere, it was damned inevitable that thing would be used on someone. Optimists among you might have hoped for the tables getting turned and someone else using it on Joffrey, but seriously, there’s no place for optimism in Westeros. I expect better out of you.
5. Ygritte Bringing the Crazy
Remember the end of this scene in Wedding Crashers when the red-head (a stage-five clinger!) looks at Vince Vaughn with those incredible crazy eyes and says “Don’t ever leave me, because I’d find you”? Yeah, that’s what I was thinking about when Ygritte informed Jon Snow of her, ummm, plans should he decide to leave.
And competitive little vixen that Ygritte is, her human appendage necklace would surely dethrone Jamie Lannister’s severed hand as the most envious in all the Seven Kingdoms.
Honorable Mention: Arya Stark- When the woman who birthed a skeletal smoke monster looks distraught at the darkness within you, I’m ready to start taking your oaths of vengeance seriously. Ramsay Snow- If only because he actually said the words “I win.” It’s like he’s trolling the Power Rankings.
Dying (Literally or Figuratively)
Poor Ros. Just two weeks after she made the Winning Honorable Mentions list for so skillfully leaving her former profession behind her, that exact scene I was praising her for ended up getting her killed.
But what’s really fascinating here is that Ros isn’t a character in the books. She was purely created for the show, which means her death was purely created by the show’s writers. Given that her death wasn’t preordained by the text, it’s worth a bit of analysis to look at why she had to die.
We can rule out a few things right away: We already knew Joffrey was evil, and the show clearly didn't need more shock value. It’s possible given how light on tangible events this episode was that the writers just felt they needed a moment viewers could look back on and say “Ah-ha, something did happen that episode!”
But it’s far more likely that the writers thought they needed a way of showing how evil Littlefinger was in a way that the novels didn’t quite achieve. And again, this begs a question: Did the novels simply fail at portraying Littlefinger as being totally evil, or is the show consciously making him more devious than he was in the books? If it’s the latter (and I’m assuming it is), it will be interesting to see how this manifests in the season’s remaining episodes. Five or six episodes ago, when Varys told Ros that Littlefinger saw her “as nothing more than a collection of profitable holes,” it sounded like the worst way one person could regard another. But now we know there’s an even worse way of looking at someone: as target practice.
In case anyone forgot why being Melisandre’s prisoner might, you know, kind of suck, please allow Davos to remind you.
3. The Viewers During Any Theon Scene
As Andy Greenwald has been profusely pointing out for weeks, these scenes are terrible. I don’t doubt that Theon’s torture will end up holding some relevance to future events, I just don’t understand why we need to see it. The show has too many great characters lacking screen time, and so many scenes it elects not to show (such as Tyrion telling Sansa that they must marry), that it really is baffling why we’re spending so much time watching someone beg and scream.
When Ramsay Snow told Theon this week “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention,” he might as well have been talking to us. Does that mean if I already know it won’t have a happy ending, I get to stop paying attention?
4. The Game of Thrones CGI Budget
Let’s just agree that the avalanche scene might have looked just as good thirty years ago with the late, great Ray Harryhausen creating it via stop motion.
I’m no expert in this subject, but being in the room while your boyfriend effectively proposes to another girl probably really sucks.
Honorable Mentions: Rabbits- When two characters nearly break out into a pissing contest regarding the best way to skin you, it just isn’t your week. Samwell Tarley- Hasn’t yet earned his Boy Scout Merit Badge for fire building. Lady Olenna and Ser Loras Tyrell- Going to bed with Lannisters never ends well, even when you don’t do it by choice. Plus, as Tyrion put it, Cersei is missing some of Loras’s favorite bits.
Littlefingering of the Week: Let this be a lesson to any hopeful entrepreneurs considering graduation from Lord Baelish’s best brothel: He’s figured out a foolproof way to turn your collection of profitable holes into an even larger collection of not so profitable holes.
Daniel Joyaux is a film and entertainment critic living in Ann Arbor. You can see more of his writing at http://thirdmanmovies.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @thirdmanmovies