“The Climb” – Season 3, Episode 6
Having now swiftly passed the half-way mark of season 3, plotlines are now in motion, moving in various directions across the map, all except for Theon that is. Theon isn’t moving anywhere in fact – tied up in a dungeon, in an unknown place and by an unknown captor with unknown motives.
Another torture plotline is fleetingly featured in this episode – one that both shocks and reveals, and resulting draws attention to the dwindling Theon situation. That, of course, is Joffrey’s torture of Ros, where she is shot multiple times by his crossbow, and finally killed by an arrow through the heart.
The torture juxtaposition is interesting when we consider how much screen time Theon has had in comparison to Ros. Where we have been following Theon’s relatively non-moving dungeon storyline since episode 1, with numerous scenes and comparably copious amounts of screen time, Ros’ torture was given less than a twenty-second flash on the screen and some rather concise narration from Littlefinger.
Having watched Theon suffer in this same dark space since episode 1 means dungeon scenes, though still unpleasant, are no longer shocking. The viewer has become desensitised to the threats of torture, and seeing the bedraggled Theon still dehydrated and chained to the wooden cross isn’t doing much for the energy of an already slow-moving series. In contrast to the blank space occupied by Theon, Ros’ torture space looks very much like a classic painting; her pale hanging body stark against the deep reds and golds of the King’s bedroom. Though both Theon and Ros’ bodies are hanging in the same way, the change of spatial configuration is jarring in the small glimpse we are given of Ros’ pin-cushioned dead body.
Equally, despite the usually engaging plot device of withholding information from the viewer, we are aware of everything leading up to Ros’ death – harking right back to the scene on the docks where she warned Shae to be careful of Littlefinger’s intentions, to Ros acting as a spy for Varys, right up to the end where Littlefinger narrates her death. With Theon and Rheon’s character, we know practically nothing. This episode led us to believe that we’d finally reached a reveal when Rheon’s character promises to confess his identity and their location should Theon guess correctly – or otherwise cut off Theon’s little finger – but it turns out he’s just pulling Theon’s chain. And again, we’re left at the end of another dungeon scene still knowing nothing!
The more effective torture scene certainly belongs to Ros despite ridiculously little screen-time and none at all of the actual torture taking place – only the final, scarring image of the events that took place off-screen.