Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.07: "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"

“You waste time trying to get people to love you, you’ll end up the most popular dead man in town.”

“The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” while it didn’t exclusively focus on any one thing (big surprise), was really anchored by the show’s romantic couples. Significant time was given to Robb and Talisa, Jon and Ygritte, and the big impending marriage mess in King’s Landing. This episode also showed how brutal the world of the show can be, with Theon, Jaime, and Brienne all finding themselves in especially perilous situations. Of course, we have to check in with a plethora of other characters too, like Daenarys and Bran. We’re really just are all over the place in this episode, as per usual for both “Game of Thrones” and the Song of Ice and Fire book series on which the show is based. This episode was written by George R.R. Martin himself, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the structure mirrors what he does in the books, although since he wrote the wonderful, focused “Blackwater” last season, I was a little surprised.

Let’s get some of the romance plots out of the way right out of the gate. There was more Robb and Talisa substance in this episode than there have been in most. There’s a scene where they’re post-coital, and Robb gets up to go sit at his table to plan some war strategy. Talisa laments that he has to work, of course. There’s some discussion among other folks at Riverrun regarding the upcoming Tully/Frey wedding, and Cat astutely remarks that while this is a wedding Walder Frey wants, it’s not the wedding he really wanted. The general consensus, though, is that they shouldn’t worry, because even though the Freys aren’t getting to make one of the daughters a Queen, it’s still the best marriage the house has ever achieved. Oh and Talisa also has some extremely important news. She’s pregnant. She wants to know if Robb is okay with that, and I think Robb pretty much shared the viewers’ reaction. Um, he’s a king, whose job (when not fighting battles and stuff) is pretty much to produce an heir to keep the line going, and he freaking married you, so why wouldn’t he be happy?

We also spend a little time with Jon and Ygritte and some other especially surly Wildlings. Ygritte makes fun of how the Night’s Watch march so properly, which is kind of a silly thing to mock, I think. Jon then confronts Orell, the Wildling who cut the rope during last week’s Wall climb, about, you know, almost killing him and his girlfriend. Orell doesn’t seem to think this was a big deal. Orell later talks to Ygritte and warns her that she won’t love Jon anymore once she finds out who she really is. And he thinks Jon doesn’t already know that Ygritte is a loyal Wildling? Somebody’s jealous, I think.

Let’s get the Theon plot over with next, because it’s time for a break from the romance, and this one was just so grisly that I’d rather be done with talking about it. I heard about this particular incident before I watched the episode, and it made me kind of wary of watching it while eating my dinner yesterday, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. The camera cut away enough to avoid the worst of it. Anyway, Theon’s torture continues in this episode. Two young women free him from his bonds and then seem to be sort of competing in a flirting contest. Theon’s wary at first, but just as he’s starting to enjoy the ladies’ attention, his torturer enters the room. Apparently the whole thing was yet another bit of psychological manipulation. The torturer has the women pleasure Theon until he comes, and then it appears (until the camera cuts away), that the torturer is about to castrate Theon. I wish we could get some hint at the true reason the torturer dude wants to hurt Theon so badly.

Back in the romance department, Sansa and Margaery have a heart to heart about how Sansa’s life has kind of gone to hell just when she thought things were getting better. She really doesn’t want to marry Tyrion at all, and she still has no gaydar whatsoever when it comes to Loras. Margaery points out that maybe marrying Tyrion wouldn’t be the worst thing ever, as he’s always treated Sansa kindly, he’s not bad looking, and he’s very sexually experienced, but Sansa’s all like “but he’s a DWARF!” As a very short person (not quite to official dwarf standards, but short all the same), I kind of object to this line of reasoning! Meanwhile, Bronn is similarly trying to convince Tyrion that marrying Sansa wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Bronn thinks that Tyrion should just keep Shae around as his mistress. Shae really hates this idea, though, even if Tyrion put her up in a really nice house. I kind of don’t blame her.

In non-romance news, Dany and her crew are still across the Shivering Sea. They are approaching an ancient city called Yunkai, and apparently the people who live there are very proud. Dany hears they have slaves, so she automatically wants to do some big raid to free them like she freed the Unsullied. There’s a very impressive scene where she meets with Razdal, leader of the Yunkai. He approaches with an entourage, and Dany pretty much schools him. He’s a little jumpy around the dragons, which is amusing. Radzal offers Dany gold and ships to travel to Westeros if she’ll just keep moving and pass Yunkai by. Dany’s dead set on doing some liberating though, so she has a counteroffer. She offers the Yunkai their lives if they free the slaves and pay the slaves for their services. Razdal makes some idle threats and leaves, but Dany keeps the gold. As you do.

We also spend a little bit of time with Genry and Arya in this episode, although they’re separated by this point. Genry is on a boat with Melisandre that is approaching King’s Landing. Melisandre tells Gendry that he’s the late King Robert’s son, and a King’s blood has power. Gendry is extremely surprised by this news, which is itself surprising, considering he must have thought that there was a reason the Goldcloaks had been trying to kill him. Arya, for her part, is still stuck with the Brotherhood, upset that they sold Gendry. Dondarrian asks Arya who her god is, and in a rather badass moment, she answers “death.” The Brotherhood gets word of a nearby Lannister raiding party, and they want to go deal with that before dropping Arya off at Riverrun. Arya gets fed up with waiting and decides to escape. Just as she seems to have evaded her Brotherhood captors, the Hound appears and captures her all over again. In other Stark news, there’s also a brief scene of Bran, Osha, and the Reeds, where the Reeds say they want to go beyond the wall where Jojen’s dreams have said Jon is located. Osha wants no part of going back North, and she tries to impart the dangers of the White Walkers to the kids. I’m thinking her efforts will be futile.

Finally we get to Jaime and Brienne and the scene that gave the episode its name. Jaime and some of Roose Bolton’s men are on the road to King’s Landing when Jaime finds out that Brienne is supposed to be Locke’s “entertainment” for the night. Jaime demands to be taken back to rescue Brienne, and when they arrive, Jaime finds Brienne in a ring trying to fight a bear with a wooden sword. Jaime leaps into the ring, and somehow both of them manage to escape. Jaime demands that Brienne be allowed to join him in King’s Landing. He uses the fact that the men have been ordered to deliver him alive to make this happen. What do you know – Tyrion didn’t get all the smarts among the Lannister siblings afterall. It’s definitely interesting to see Jaime trying (and succeeding) to function without his sword hand. He’s slowly building a new identity for himself.

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