It's said that every man wants to be a hero. Jon Snow got his chance last night.
With Ygritte, Tormund, Orell and other wildlings, Snow takes on a seemingly impossible feat: Scaling the 700-foot wall that separates the so-called free people from their warmer foes in the south. They're fleeing from The Others (Whitewalkers) and they're likely to war against the men of the Night's Watch. But first, they've got to get up that huge, icy monstrosity.
As expected, this is no easy task. Dozens of wildlings are falling to their deaths as The Wall cracks in places and sends huge sheets of ice rushing downward.
At one precarious moment, Jon and Ygritte end up dangling from their climbing ropes above a certain death-fall. They're connected by rope to Tormund and Orell. But, fearful the couple will drag him down with them, Orell starts to cut them loose.
This is when Snow shows the hero (and future king??) lying within. He snap into action, swings his body and thrusts his climbing pick into The Wall just as the rope snaps, saving himself and Ygritte.
Hours later, the exhausted couple make it to the top, and enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the fantasy world of Westeros. And then, fittingly, they make out.
On "Thrones," we've seen, recently, heroic moments from Tyrion and Daenerys (who was disappointingly absent from last night's episode). But "The Climb" was all about Jon Snow.
On the road from Winterfell
Meera Reed and Osha are arguing incessantly, when Jojen Reed has a vision that's accompanied by a violent seizure.
"He was on the wrong side of the wall, and surrounded by enemies," Jojen says.
The camp of the Lightning Lord
Arya is practicing her archery, when Melisandre pays a surprise visit to the Brotherhood Without Banners.
In a somewhat tense meeting with Thoros and Beric Dondarrion (with whom she shares a religion), Melisandre appears shocked that Thoros has been able to resurrect Dondarrion six times.
"Our God is the one true God. All men must serve him," Thoros says.
Then Melisandre reveals her true (evil) reason for her trip. She wants Gendry Baratheon. (I assume this is so she can drain him of his royal blood for her dark magic.)
"Forgive me lad," Dondarrion says. "We serve the Lord of Light, and the Lord of Light needs this boy."
But Arya is having none of this. She confronts Melisandre and Dondarrion. "You’re not doing this for God. You’re doing this for gold," she says.
Melisandre looks Arya in the eye and tells her she sees several sets of eyes looking back, including one that will go dark forever.
"I see a darkness in you," she says.
Mysterious torture chamber
Meanwhile, Theon is still being tortured in a pretty gruesome manner. Is it by a Karstark? Is it by someone else? Who knows? His torturer won't reveal his identity.
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention," Theon is told.
(That's what you get for sacking Winterfell, Theon!)
Robb Stark’s camp
Robb Stark is sitting down with members of House Frey to try to get them to agree to send more men to support his cause.
Lord Walder Frey is still angry that Robb refused to marry his daughter, and the Freys now want Lord Edmure Tully, Catelyn Stark's brother, to marry one of the Frey girls.
Edmure reluctantly agrees.
"You’re paying for my sins," Robb tells him. "It’s not fair or right. I’ll remember it."
(This can only end well.)
At King's Landing, Tywin Lannister and the Queen of Thorns are negotiating the marriage of their heirs in a (ahem) polite fashion, while Sansa and Loras -- who think they still have a chance to get married -- are making small talk together quite awkwardly
Cersei and Tyrion discuss the events of the Battle of Blackwater, and Tyrion learns that his pathetic nephew, Joffrey, ordered him assassinated.
"Joffrey wants me dead," Tyrion says.
As the episode ends, it's revealed that Joffrey also wanted someone else dead. To feed the boy-king's lust for torture, and to pay back Ros for giving information to Varys, Littlefinger allows Joffrey to kill his whorehouse-partner.
Since Ros didn't exist in the books, I'm not too upset about this killing. Still, it was a sick ending to an episode, and it perfectly sums up the prevailing ethos of Westeros: All men (and women) must die.