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Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell steal the show with their exquisite negotiation as "The Climb" builds towards the Wildlings' death-defying scaling of The Wall.
This episode is heavy on the interpersonal exchanges, scheming and plotting that "Game of Thrones" does so well, this time tinged with even more of an air of desperation and terror, not to mention a heavy dose of psychotic sadism.
From the good versus evil magic to Theon and Edmure paying heavy debts for past crimes to the final scene (clouds parting, sun shining, Littlefinger's heavy-handed sermon), it all just felt a bit plodding.
Last night's installment offered a rare chance for viewers to catch their breath. Having summited the treacherous surface of the season's first half, we can now make like Jon and Ygritte and look back at where we came from.
Two minutes of an ominous speech played over a montage of semi-related images does not make up for the slog of the previous hour.
Way to go, show: you've got this huge, multifaceted symbol to work with, but in the end it still all comes down to "wow, we are really, really high up, and we're both really attractive; let's make out and pretend we're on the cover of a romance novel."
Similar to last week's installment, this episode is heavy on the interpersonal exchanges, scheming and plotting that "Game of Thrones" does so well, this time tinged with even more of an air of desperation and terror.
[It] was perhaps not the show's most exciting hour, yet it was one of the more emotionally affecting and powerful ones.
If anyone had any doubt, Littlefinger and Joffrey are utter monsters.
More setup and machinations this week on Game of Thrones, with a few really great little scenes slipped in between the big reveals that should start paying dividends immediately.
Overall I thought this episode, while good, wasn't quite so great as the two that came before it. But there were some highlights. And one really, really glaring lowlight.
It may have been relatively tamer, but the episode-ending kiss had substance to it, giving Jon Snow the love scene millions of Kit Harrington fangirls deserve.
After starting off as little more than a source of boobs and a character wholly created for the show, Ros became a much more powerful player and important part of the whispers. It's a shame she didn't get that respect she deserved.