We long-time A Song of Ice and Fire fans can get a little smug sometimes about knowing the major plot points before the rest of the viewing audience. However, the brutal death of Ros in Sunday night’s episode “The Climb” shocked even the most jaded Game of Thrones fans. And so we unexpectedly find ourselves saying goodbye to her portrayer, Esmé Bianco.
Originally cast for the pilot as a nameless “redheaded whore” to introduce Tyrion Lannister, the actress was invited back and her character given a name because the producers enjoyed her performance so much. Until then, she was primarily known for her modeling and burlesque cabaret shows. Her newly created character of Ros was an amalgamation of several prostitutes encountered in the book series, providing a familiar face for the viewers to connect to among the smallfolk brothel workers.
With her ascension to Littlefinger’s right hand woman in season two, her fortunes seemed to be on the rise. She took on the role of training new workers and found power of her own. Ros’s desire for more in life rose to the surface and she accepted Varys’s offer to become a player in the game, and to become an informant for him.
But also with Ros, we saw the terrible slaughter of the bastards begin, and understood how the women of the brothels had to simply keep on working after seeing terrible things happen, every day. With her, we saw Joffrey’s monstrosity grow, as he realized there was truly nothing and no one who would stop him from abusing the smallfolk the king was supposed to be leading and protecting.
Ros was a controversial character for some, but Bianco was invariably gracious to fans. The subject of nudity and sexuality has been unavoidable when talking about her character but she handles the discussion in interviews with intelligence, insight, and humor.
It’s disappointing to see Ros’s story cut off, when her character was developing into something deeper with her expanding role in Littlefinger and Varys’s spy games. But in the game of thrones, it’s usually the smallfolk who bear the brunt of the damage and this time is no exception.
Farewell to Esmé and to Ros – going from nameless redhead to potential power player in less than three years is quite the climb, indeed.