See, it does exist. The Wall—the 700-feet-high ice blockade that separates Westeros from the dregs of the north—finally gets an up-close-and-personal view in the sixth episode of Game of Thrones' third season.
The episode's title is, appropriately, "The Climb," since that's what Jon Snow, his cut-buddy Ygritte, and the rest of their Night's Watch companions must do to scale The Wall and step foot into the North of The Wall. First, though, there's some playful, though faintly sinister, tit for tat between the Jon and his red-haired lover. She cracks wise about his oral sex skills, while he tells her that, yes, he's loyal to the Night's Watch, but more importantly her specifically. A good thing, too, because is Jon betrays Ygritte, she vows to cut his you-know-what off.
And with that, "The Climb" delivers on its title's promise, illustrating just how difficult it is to scale The Wall in the midst of a blizzard and having to continually crack the ice in order to move upward. A large crack, unintentionally caused by Ygritte, sends her and Jon hurtling downward, heading toward a certain death if not for Jon's ability to save both of their asses. It's a well-staged and thrilling action set-piece that ranks up there with the best Game of Thrones adrenaline rushes—granted, it's no Battle of Blackwater, but it's still impressive.
The rest of the episode finds the show's primary characters wallowing in agony, humiliation, begrudging compliance, and sheer helplessness. Arya watches her best bud Gendry—one of the late King Robert Baratheon's bastard children—get taken away by sorceress Melisandre, presumably so she ride him like Seabiscuit and conceive another shadow demon. Theon Greyjoy, still a prisoner in an unknown castle, has his fingernail slowly ripped off by his unnamed torturer, whose best quote perfectly encapsulates Game of Thrones as a whole: "If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."
Before misery greets everyone in George R.R. Martin's universe, let's see who emerges from the emotionally taxing "The Climb" deserving of a crown and who sees their hopes of capturing the throne get further compromised.
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Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)