The Ladders to Power are Perilous
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
There is little that certain men and women wouldn’t do for the sake of power. Everything to them is an absolute step on the ladder as they climb higher and higher and higher until there no further steps that remain. The obvious danger in that instance is retaining that position at the top. There is, after all, no shortage of those who hunger for power and are willing to do absolutely anything to have as much of it as possible. And their victims lie in plentiful abundance, unfortunately waiting to be plucked. In this Game of Thrones, there are few moments worth cherishing but one must grab as much of them as possible before they fall off of a giant wall made or are riddled with arrows, their dead body covered in gashes of blood.
Ygritte recognizes that reality more easily than most of the people that live in Westeros. She knows that her and Jon are amongst those victims Mance Rayder and the Night’s Watch are more than willing to pluck out and sacrifice for the sake of the greater good, whatever in Seven Hells that may be. They can only survive by living for each other. The Brotherhood Without Banners isn’t immune from this vindictive sort of reality, either, no matter how swashbuckling vigilante laws they may have. They need gold as much as anyone else does and they’re not above using religious excuses to fulfill their needs. Even if it means shipping Gendry off with Melisandre, a prospect that entices no one. When she says that Gendry will make kings rise and fall, it’s not anything worth being excited about. He’s another one to be plucked, that much is obvious.
The action set piece of the episode centers completely on the small vanguard of wildlings whose task it is climb the Wall. The visual effects here are simply stunning, every bit of the ice that composes the seven hundred foot tall wall looking astonishingly real. Alik Sakharov’s direction excels here, establishing the sheer terror of the Wall within one single shot downwards to the bottom ground that lies so, so far down. Jon and Ygritte nearly die, cut off to lessen the extra weight but they survive due to each other. Ygritte’s words are proven right less than a few hours after she has spoken them. And it is because of the two having each other’s support that they are able to embrace and kiss as the rest of Westeros lies sprawled before them in a breathtakingly beautiful shot from Sakharov. It’s one of those small moments that ought to be cherished, for they won’t arrive in abundance for most.
Yet in the midst of ambitious men and women climbing the ladder to further and further power there are those who hold the keys to unlocking key steps. Walder Frey, still smarting from Robb’s foolish decision to marry Talisa, demands that Edward Tully step in to fill the spot. Considering how important the crossing of the Twins is for the Starks to take any of Lannister land, Robb’s marriage is exceedingly stupid and in all fairness, it is unfair for Edmure to have to suffer the displeasure of marrying one of Walder Frey’s kin because his own nephew was too busy taking his pants off in front of a hot noble nurse from Volantis. Frey holds the keys and without those keys, there is no ladder step for Robb to climb.
Towards Littlefinger is a man who thrives in chaos. Throwing the entire realm into further war is a way for him to take advantage of various people who are higher than him. He comes from nothing but he doesn’t allow that to overshadow anything else. The entire realm is nothing but a ladder to be climbed and the more unstable it is, the better. Yet Varys sees it as something else entirely. Stability is the best thing by far for the realm because it allows spiders and whisperers like himself to climb up from nothing as well. It’s a complete dichotomy of worldviews on how to approach power. There is some truth to what Littlefinger says. Ros tried to climb the ladder, only to fall off and be tied naked to Joffrey’s bedpost, riddled with arrows from his new crossbow. Sansa refused Littlefinger and now she’s trapped in a Lannister marriage, the family responsible for the death of her father. But the climb is not all there is. The realm and love definitely aren’t illusions, they’re quite real and quite palpable. To underestimate their power is an unholy foolishness, a foolishness that may wipe out Littefinger’s own ascension on the ladder. There’s always a balance that leads to victory.
“Chaos isn’t a pit.
Chaos is a ladder.
Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again.
The fall breaks them.
And some are given a chance to climb, but refuse.
They cling to the realm, or love, or the gods…illusions.
Only the ladder is real.
The climb is all there is.
But they’ll never know this.
Not until it’s too late.”
Indeed, or indeed not. Perhaps a bit of both. You decide.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Sam and Gilly continue to be my favorite couple
+ “I see a darkness in you and in the darkness eyes staring back at me… Eyes you will shut forever. We will meet again.”
-The rabbit skinning feud was a little childish
-The Theon scenes are getting gratuitous even though they are quite well acted
-No Daenerys. Boo.
Title: The Climb
Written By: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
Director: Alik Sakharov
Image Courtesy: Ygritte_Snow @ Tumblr