As the Lannister children deal with their upcoming nuptials, Gendry falls into the hands of Melisandre, Theon continues to suffer, and Lady Olenna meets Tywin Lannister.
While there are several marriages under the spotlight in this episode (two threatened for Cersei and Tyrion; that between Joffrey and Maergery; and Edmure’s to help out Robb Stark; even Ygritte’s commitment to Jon Snow could be seen as a wedding of a sort), it is the meeting between two veteran thespians that steals the limelight. Putting Diana Rigg and Charles Dance together in a scene must’ve been a no-brainer for the production team, as soon as she was cast as Lady Olenna. Thankfully, neither disappointed, although as in all her confrontations, it is the Queen of Thorns who wins the day.
Elsewhere there is much politicking—not all of it involving weddings. Varys and Baelish go toe-to-toe close to the end of the episode (and their every confrontation is a delight), but this ends with a horrible reveal concerning Joffrey’s extracurricular activities. The handing over of Gendry by the Brotherhood is another political act, partly driven by their need for finance and by religion. Equally, Lord Bolton’s handling of the situation with Jamie Lannister sees him jockeying for position once the battles in Westeros are over, whatever the outcome.
Throughout there’s also the thrilling spectacle of the wildlings climbing the wall, culminating in a breathtaking series of shots of the landscapes north and south of the towering edifice. These are the lands the various Kings and would-be Kings are fighting over, and for Ygritte especially the sight gives her a new vantage point on the land she inhabits.
Verdict: Another epic, full of personal drama, great writing and fine acting.
Episode 6 ‘The Climb’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb