Critics and notable bloggers suggested Game of Thrones adopt the structure of LOST. LOST used its ensemble terrifically during the first season. As the story spread to more locations, characters were split apart. The logistics of the storytelling made it impossible to feature every character in every episode. Though a fan's favorite characters might disappear for a couple of weeks, the show runners always made their episodes count when it was, say, Claire's turn, or the Kwons, or Hurley. I'm inclined to compare "The Climb" to a camp episode of LOST. During season 3, characters split between New Otherton, the camp, and a hike to New Otherton. Stories would intercut, but camp episodes were usually focused on the camp. Game of Thrones doesn't have a camp location. The show has more locations, more characters, etc. "The Climb" just caught the viewers up with Sam, Bran, Theon, and gave three or four scenes to Jon's adventures with the wildlings.
Bran's story continues to be vague, and I wonder what non-book fans make of Bran's adventures in the wilderness with the Reeds, Osha, Hodor, and Rickon. Jojen has a vision of Jon Snow after Bran breaks up a squabble between Meera and Osha. I know exactly where Bran's story's going, so I won't express false confoundment about it in order to relate to my readers. I felt surprised by Rickon getting two lines, albeit of the startled nature. Hopefully Benioff and Weiss gave this crew 3-4 scenes in one of the final four episodes of the season to help the viewer feel engaged with their story.
Visions aren't Jojen's alone, though. Down south, but not too south, Arya's learning to use a bow-and-arrow with the instruction of Anguy. Melisandre arrives to the camp of the Brotherhood Without Banners where Thoros mentions R'hllor's name for the first time on the show. More importantly, though, Melisandre came to bring someone back to Dragonstone with her. Arya seemingly just accepted Gendry's decision to remain with the Brotherhood. Anguy assigned him a task in which he'd make little daggers (were they?). Melisandre ruins all the fun. The priestess and the priest share a conversation about the Lord of Light because she wants to know the source of Thoros' power to raise the dead. Their scene is quite well-done. Thoros tells a relatable story about lost faith and how tragedy can reignite the flame that had gone out. Thoros watched The Mountain kill Beric. Thoros uttered lines from memory because he had nothing else to say for he was too sad about his friend's death, but then Beric came back to life. Their scene showed mystery and mysticism. Melisandre came for Gendry, telling him he's leaving soliders to help kings rise and fall. She saw him in her visions.
Melisandre saw something when she looked upon Arya's face. Her examination of Arya's face seemed intentional and deliberate. Melisandre told Arya she'd close three sets of eyes forever and that she detects a darkness in the young girl. Finally, Arya's story is going places. Benioff and Weiss left Arya this week on that bit of intrigue.
Theon and his torturer were absent last week. The nameless torturer played more games with Theon. Theon endured the agony of his skin being peeled away from bone after each wrong guess about who his torturer is and where he comes from and where he's torturing Theon. An expression of sadistic pleasure is fixed on the nameless dude's face. Theon thinks he's being tortured for betraying the North--this guy has to be a Stark bannerman. The scariest part of the torture is Theon's lack of answers. The yet-to-be-named torturer tells Theon that his biggest mistake is thinking there's a reason for why he's being tortured. Theon's past actions aren't why he's being punished since he's not being punished. No, he's being pushed for information. The nameless torturer thanks Theon for letting him know the Stark boys aren't dead. He's not the type of character who should know two important high-born lads are actually alive. Theon's powerless and reduced to begging for his finger to be cut off. Dark stuff.
The man Theon betrayed, Robb Stark, tries to broker a deal with the Freys in his bid to take Casterly Rock. Walder Frey asks for Edmure Tully to marry his daughter, for the rights to Harrenhal, and for the King of the North to attend Edmure's wedding at The Twins. Edmure resists doing his part until Robb brings up the Miller mishap. Robb's line about winning every battle and yet losing the war is among the most important lines spoken in the show. It says so much about the story--how the honorable die horrible deaths while the dishonorable run lands and ruin lives. Robb's like his father: honorable, strong, proud. He's done everything right, mostly. The Freys seem willing to let bygones be bygones. Robb's the most deserving king of a break. Joffrey didn't deserve the Tyrell army break during the Blackwater, though Tyrion did, and Stannis is prepared to do whatever it takes to claim the throne.
The episode ends after Littlefinger delivers a monologue about The Realm, which he describes using a ladder metaphor. Game Of Thrones isn't heavy-handed ever. One should forgive the heavy-handedness of the end, but that was extremely heavy-handed for the show. "The Climb" ends on a shot of Jon and Ygritte overlooking the Seven Kingdoms from atop The Wall. In the game of thrones, though, those who reach the top don't stay there.
-Tyrion delivered to Sansa news of their impending marriage. Tyrion was bummed in his scene with Cersei. Tyrion did learn Joffrey had Mandon Moore attempt to kill him during the battle. Cersei thinks Joffrey will not attempt a hit on Tyrion's life with Tywin in the capital. Also, Joffrey seemingly killed Ros. He is bastard.
-Sam's scene with Gilly to open the episode was wonderful. He showed off his dragonglass dagger to Gilly. She wondered about its use. Sam had no clue.
-Loras dreamed of a big wedding but did not dream of a wife. Poor Sansa never sees the Tyrion news coming. Sansa, of course, weeps bitterly.
The episode takes its name from the climb of the wildlings, but not much happens besides Orell trying to kill Jon Snow. They make it to the top. Ygritte tells Jon she knows his secret. The climb story does lead to the prettiest shot in the entire series, which is Jon and Ygritte standing face-to-face with the sky behind them.
-Jaime struggled to eat dinner. Roose Bolton made him a deal to let him go to King's Landing. Brienne will remain in Harrenhal with Bolton.
-I can't forget the dynamite scene between Tywin and Olenna. Charles Dance and Diana Rigg are great together. Olenna brings to the scene the tolerance and openness of Highgarden and Tywin brings to the scene the rigidity and no-nonsense nature of House Lannister. I'm not sure who's more dangerous.
-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Alik Sakharov directed the episode.