Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Idiot Box: Game Of Thrones 3x06 - “The Climb” Review

I've only ever read the first book in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, and when I say I read it, what I really mean to say is that I listened to the audio book, because I'm a lazy piece of shit. Watching this latest episode, I was reminded of a moment in the first chapter that probably would have made me give up on it if I had actually been reading it, specifically a long and drawn out description of a character's boots, about twenty minutes before he is killed and never mentioned in the book again. The Climb is a lot like this scene, a long boring slog that you just have to grit your teeth and get through to get to what you just know will be a satisfying conclusion.

The Climb features a lot of scenes that appear necessary to set up future events, but nothing that I can cling to as self contained and interesting in its own right. As a rag tag group of Wildlings with Jon Snow in tow struggle up the Wall (because I guess the former Nightwatch guy with them doesn't know about the secret entrances they must have somewhere), I can't help but see it as a metaphor for this entire experience. Many of the scenes seem superfluous, establishing plot points that could have easily just been assumed or mentioned in a brief aside in some other scene advancing a much more important piece of the storyline, or highlighted by an interesting set piece at least. While it would be unfair to judge this episode by the standards of And Now His Watch Has Ended, there is no moment like the climactic scene of that installment that I will be remembering fondly for days to come.

More than that, this episode seems like the show's opportunity to unload some scenes to advance all the storylines I am the least entertained by, which at the very least suggests that the producers are aware of the storylines I find boring, but aren't so concerned as to actually make them entertaining. Robb Stark has a meeting with The Frey's messengers to negotiate an infusion of troops, Sansa learns of her impending nuptials being changed and has a painfully uninteresting conversation with the man she once thought she would marry, and we even get more Theon, which may or may not have been important depending on whether or not Invisible Kid from Misfits was lying about himself, but ultimately had a character I hate tortured some more, so I guess I can't complain.

I guess the story moves forward, but again it seems to do so imperceptibly slowly, and in such a way as to eschew the kind of high drama this series is known for. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that this show has always been as fast paced as I would like or as I'm criticizing this episode for not being, but at least when things did go a bit too slow, they always felt like something was being accomplished and presented in an interesting way. This one seemed plodding, like for the first time we've established what it means to go through the motions in a Game of Thrones episode, a sense I have gotten before this season but simply chocked up to my own bias and growing fatigue with the show's style.

There are a few highlights of course, most notably a short but always fun scene between Little Finger and the Spider leading up to a somewhat notable death I wish were in a more exciting episode. Also, I'm finally becoming interested in the Aria storyline after quite some time of my only investment being wanting Hotpie to die (still hate that fat kid), now that I know she's the subject of creepy Fire Lady prophecy. And then there are other stories I want to find interesting but simply can't bring myself to care about, like Bran's adventures with the weird psychic twins that should by all accounts be good, but just seems to be going nowhere. The next episode is the annual George R.R. Martin penned installment, which have historically been the better ones, and I hear it has some sort of bear fight in it, so I'm not going to give up on this series just yet. I understand the aim of episodes like The Climb, but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy them. 
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