Game Of Thrones season 3 episode 6 review – sullen air hangs over the Seven Kingdoms

Posted on 9 May 2013
By Debs Marsden
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A sombre and contemplative tone has descended over The Seven Kingdoms; a sense of taking stock prevails in all the camps we visit.

There are decisions to be made, lives in the balance and love in the air. Often, all three at once.

We open on Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) & Gilly (Hannah Murray), fleeing after last week’s chaos.

They huddle by the fireside while he regales her with tales of Castle Black and The Wall; a scene which prepares the viewer brilliantly for Snow’s imminent climb of the beast in question; a 700ft cliff of solid ice.

When we join him and the Wildlings, the fear in the air is palpable, though disguised somewhat by a bantering between the rabble.

The interplay between Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) is sweet without being nauseating. A touching portrayal of blossoming love, it is flirtatious, antagonistic, always touching, and contains a ring of truth at its core; making it a great deal more engaging than some screen couplings.

Diana Rigg is at her best again as Lady Olenna, in a quite stunning piece of dialogue with Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), who more than holds his own.

An extremely straightforward conversation, which became drenched in politics; the two characters playing their relative hands, countering one another. It is a game of chess between two grandmasters and a masterful effort by both actors.

In a scene where Robb Stark (Richard Madden) meets with envoys sent to give the demands of the Freys (a formal apology and yet another marriage in the offing), the true star is the lighting. Although always beautifully handled, here it is without parallel.

Shafts of dappled sunlight pick up details in the room and throw an assortment of worried faces into sharp relief, to breathtaking effect. There is a sense that, if paused, any frame would make a perfectly acceptable painting.

Writing is of such a generally high standard on Game of Thrones, that it’s easy to take for granted at times. A quite incredible speech by Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish (Aidan Gillen) is one of the occasions when it leaps out as markedly worthy of more respect.

In a discussion with Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), when talking of the myths surrounding the Iron Throne & the acceptability of living with a comfortable lie, the words are hammered home relentlessly, with a speed and cadence which makes the hairs on the back of one’s neck stand to attention, riveted.

When it reaches its conclusion, making neat reference to the climb of the title, the action behind the dialogue switches, and we see the reveal of the view from the wall.

It is hard to not feel the same jaw-dropping sense of possibilities that Ygrittte must feel, when faced with such a panorama.

A mid-series lull in terms of action is to be expected; an inevitable slump to stop and catch one’s breath. What Game of Thrones does so well is to pepper such a quiet episode with subtle nuance and feeling, so that lull isn’t so stark.

The world drips with intentions; plans made, alliances formed & broken, hopes dashed and conjured anew. A song of man’s desire, sung in every breast, awaiting fate’s decree.