This review may contain spoilers.
If Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish has his way, Westeros will be razed to the ground by the time the series concludes.
Hoping to mold a new world from the ashes of collapsing kingdoms, Baelish (Aidan Gillen) is becoming far more than a simple Master of Coin and brothel owner. He is one of the show’s deadliest schemers, and he is poised for stunning moves in the intriguing game of thrones plaguing King’s Landing.
In contrast, Varys "the Spider" (Conleth Hill) seeks to maintain order and preserve Westeros. But that will be no small task after Baelish brazenly details to him an ambitious vision for the future. Chaos isn’t a hole to be swallowed by; it’s a ladder to better things, according to Baelish.
One of those better things seems to involve Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). After learning she is to be married to Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Sansa may now need to accept Baelish’s offer of smuggling her to the Vale of Arryn. Poor Sansa, she looked so close to joining the seemingly safe fold of House Tyrell. Now Baelish may claim (kidnap) her.
Marriage woes also haunt Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), who -- thanks to Tywin Lannister’s (Charles Dance) insistence -- will marry Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones). Tywin arranges the union following a colorful negotiation with Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg).
Meanwhile, in the Riverlands, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) shows up to purchase Gendry Waters (Joe Dempsie) from the Brotherhood Without Banners. She needs him to help Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) through some unknown means; although, it seems sacrificing Gendry to the Lord of Light will be the likely outcome. Before leaving, Melisandre marvels at Thoros of Myr’s (Paul Kaye) resurrections of Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Arya Stark’s (Maisie Williams) link to some mysterious future.
Not far away, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) consents to have Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) marry a Frey girl to seal an alliance; House Frey, consequently, promises to fully support Robb's war effort. Unfortunately, this act will require time -- the Freys want it done immediately -- that Robb does not have.
And finally, with so many potential dangers brewing in the south, nobody is looking to the coming storm from the north. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is forced into a mission to scale The Wall with a force of wildlings. They seek to attack Castle Black and the Night’s Watch from the rear as Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) strikes it from the north side. Ygritte (Rose Leslie) just hopes to keep Jon’s loyalty tied to her.
POINTS OF INTEREST
1. As Osha (Natalia Tena) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) have an amusing squabble over who can best skin a rabbit, Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) experiences an accurate vision of Jon Snow’s predicament north of The Wall. Like Thoros’ and Melisandre’s recent displays of power, magic is really beginning to take off in the series. This has lead to some fascinating story developments. It should be interesting to see how Bran’s abilities grow.
2. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) continues to be tortured by an unknown jailor. Stark bannerman seem to be involved, but why has Robb not received word on this yet? This is getting really shady!
3. Speaking of shady, Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) appears to allow Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to continue his journey to King’s Landing. This of course goes against Robb’s orders. If true, this is another blow to Robb and his war against the Lannisters. Robb needed Jamie in custody for leverage. Not to mention he needs his lords to start following orders!
4. Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) set off for The Wall, where they hope to find safety. But with Gilly dealing with a potentially noisy baby, their use of a campfire at night and nobody keeping guard, these three seem destined for disaster! Sam, didn’t you study any books on tactics?
A dense, compelling and coherent narrative continues to propel this outstanding series to new heights.
Destined to be one of the season’s highlights, the meeting between Tywin and Lady Olenna sizzled. These two shined together as they exchanged salvoes of delicious dialogue. From the beginning, Rigg has been outstanding in the role of Olenna; she is enchanting to watch and seems positioned well for an Emmy win.
Jon and the wildlings scale The Wall and it did not disappoint. That is one climb I’d pass on! Director Alik Sakharov (“Dexter,” “Rome”) did a nice job of milking the tension.
Melisandre’s reaction to Thoros and Arya was fascinating. Even Melisandre seems surprised by the newfound intensity of magic’s grip on the world. And with Bran already displaying a link to the supernatural, Arya can’t be far behind.
Tyrion and Cersei finally share a serene moment together, contemplating their future marriages. They play well off each other here. These two need to learn to work together before House Lannister suffers anymore setbacks.
Ser Loras’ gentle hand to Sansa’s captivation of their looming marriage is applaud worthy. She is probably lucky this marriage didn’t move forward -- no romance there -- but a marriage to Tyrion isn’t an appealing solution neither. It’s time for Sansa to jump a wall.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK
Theon should have easier time identifying his captors. Of all the Stark bannermen who could be responsible for his capture and torture, scary House Bolton should be on the top of Theon’s guesses. These guys mean business, and they always have. Their X-shaped sigil is a major clue; after all, he is strapped to an X-shaped rack. His finger's skin was pealed. And the Boltons love to flay their prisoners.
Come on Theon, we know you aren’t too bright, but get it together!
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
"Game of Thrones" stars Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, Harry Lloyd. "The Climb" was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and it was directed by Alik Sakharov.
Season 3 is based on the first half of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novel "A Storm of Swords."
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.
See our Season 2 episode reviews of "The North Remembers," "The Night Lands," "What Is Dead May Never Die," "Garden of Bones," "The Ghost Of Harrenhal," "The Old Gods and the New," "Blackwater" and "Valar Morghulis."
See our Season 1 episode reviews of "Winter is Coming," "The Kingsroad," "Lord Snow," "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things," "The Wolf and the Lion," "A Golden Crown," "You Win or You Die," "The Pointy End," "Baelor" and "Fire and Blood."
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