We open with Jon and the Wildlings – that sounds like the name of a band. Are there Game of Thrones rock bands, like wizard rock thanks to Harry Potter? If not, there should be.
Anywho, Jon and the Wildlings have now gotten down the other side of the Wall and into Westeros, hooray, have a biscuit. Ygritte and Jon get into an argument about the relative effectiveness of their respective armies, and Ygritte storms off in a huff and sounding a tad like a broken record – although, thank goodness, she hasn’t come out with “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” nearly as much as she did in the source material. The writers knew they probably couldn’t get away with having it more than once an episode, at the very most.
Jon gets into a spat with Orell who, it emerges, resents Jon not only because he doesn’t believe he’s being sincere about having joined the Wildlings, but also because Orell is in love with Ygritte. Or in lust, or something.
Cast your mind back to the Wall climbing of last episode, where Orell was perfectly willing to cut the rope tying them all together and let Jon and Ygritte fall to their deaths. The Wildling way of life is hard, but you can’t really tell me that this was the sort of attitude someone would have if they were in love/lust with one of the aforementioned people who was about to die because of them. Also, what are the odds that, out of all the women in the Wildling army, Orell just so happened to have fixated on Ygritte? This is just giving him another excuse to hate Jon and eventually try to kill him.
In the Riverlands, the Starks are delayed on the way to Edmure Tully’s wedding. Catelyn is worried about offending Walder Frey (smart woman) but the Blackfish is rather dismissive. Robb is all smug again now that he thinks everything’s going to work out perfectly without any sacrifice on his part (yeah, I’m still annoyed about his attitude towards his uncle, when I get around to recapping the episode before this one you will see the full extent of my rage) and proceeds to spend the evening romping with Talisa and sitting around with at least some clothes on while she’s pretty much naked for all of the scene.
Question; WHY IS HE BRINGING TALISA TO THE WEDDING IN THE FIRST PLACE??? He’s been trying to placate Walder Frey; now that he’s roped his uncle into it he thinks everything’s forgiven and he can do whatever he wants??? I don’t care if you have a sense of security; you do not jilt a man’s daughter and then parade the woman you chose instead around in front of him and expect him to be happy. Robb, you are an idiot.
You are also a fertile idiot, because guess what? Talisa’s pregnant. Or she says she is, anyway. Some of the audience, particularly those who think Talisa is a Lannister spy – which has a very compelling argument; see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsTVnZm9hFg – will take this with a pinch of salt. And now, if you even suspect she’s expecting, WHY ARE YOU STILL BRINGING YOUR PREGNANT WIFE ON CAMPAIGN????
Ah, the scene between Sansa and Margaery, oh boy. First of all, let me say that I’m glad that the Tyrells haven’t dropped Sansa like a hot potato, as they did in the books. Or at least Margaery hasn’t, who knows what Olenna’s thinking. She’s probably written Sansa off as a bad investment. Sansa is naturally none too pleased at having to marry Tyrion, since he’s both a Lannister and a dwarf, and Margaery’s trying to reassure her, which was sweet. Then it’s shown that Margaery has indepth knowledge of how to please a woman, broadly hinting that’s she’s experimented and Sansa asks if her mother told her this. To which Margaery replies, after a long pause, “Yes, Sansa, my mother told me,” although foregoing the eye roll.
All right. On the one hand, this is actually a valid question for Sansa to ask. Sansa is very close to her own mother, and we must presume that she expected Catelyn would advise her on how to best please her husband when she would get married, and think the same of Margaery and her mother. So it’s a fair assumption to make, and hardly the stupidest question we’ve had on the show, or even slightly stupid. And Sansa’s needs some comforting; this is rather a distressing situation that she’s in, after all.
On the other hand – what, exactly, was the point of this scene? Sansa doesn’t want to marry Tyrion, right, but is there any reason she had to be discussing this with Margaery? This would have been a great scene to have with Shae; Shae would be torn between her own indignation, her resentment at having to comfort Sansa, and genuine concern for Sansa – after all, she has come to care about her. Yes, Margaery show sympathy, but once again we have her duplicitous nature shoved in our faces. Yes, Maegaery is experienced in ways to get ahead, and is quite probably bisexual. We get it.
As it is, Shae’s only scene this episode, with Tyrion, was problematic. True, it did carry on a theme from the finale of last season – Shae asking Tyrion to run away with her – and her anger at being officially reduced to nothing more than Tyrion’s whore, was quite justified, screw what Bronn says. But, once again, it’s retreading the same old thing; Tyrion and Sansa don’t want to marry each other. Tyrion loves Shae, not Sansa. Fine, except that we’ve already had a scene between Tyrion and Bronn saying just that. And another scene between Sansa and Margaery saying just that. I understand the need to have these scenes between the characters – Shae’s displeasure with the whole business needs to be shown – but we keep rehashing the same idea over and over. The show takes what was very much a surprise for at least one of the characters and draws it out incessantly. Just get them wedded and bedded already, stop messing around!
Also, shock! Horror! The world must be ending, because Joffrey is actually being competent for once, worrying about Daenerys and the news of her dragons! He voices these concerns to Tywin, and demands what he’s going to do about it – concerns which Tywin scoffs at and dismisses. I can’t help feeling that this is a ‘boy that cried wolf’ situation; it did, after all, come right after Joffrey was moaning about not being kept up to date with small council meetings, Tywin pointing out that he is perfectly welcome to attend the meetings, and Joffrey whinging in reply that he had ‘important’ things to do.Yeah, things like getting carried around in a palanquin, hefting his crossbow around and trying to look tough, getting played like a fiddle by Margaery and turning Ros into a human pin cushion, and that’s just this season. All of which Granpa Tywin is no doubt perfectly aware of. Is it any wonder that he dismisses Joffrey’s opinions about this one perfectly valid thing, after all the cruel, idiotic and pointless things he’s done since becoming king?
(Let’s not even get into the stuff he might have gotten up to before crown met head and backside met throne.)
Over the Narrow Sea and far away, Daenerys is planning to liberate Yunkai, despite Jorah’s quiet protests about how this is wasting time, this isn’t going to get her any closer to Westeros, in fact they’re kind of going in the opposite direction from Westeros, you know. Dany doesn’t care. Growing a spine was her thing in the first season, “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS????” was her thing in the second, freeing slaves seems to be the running theme in this one. Never interfere with a Khaleesi’s running theme.
So she sends demands to Yunkai; they send an envoy to her with a whole lot of gold in order to buy her off and get her to leave the city alone – to be met by oh crap dragons!!! Really big dragons!!! What on earth have they been eating? Were they that big the last time we saw them??? The envoy is suitably horrified and Dany rejects his terms but keeps the gold and sends him packing. Incidentally, she has also become a Lady in White. Very goddess like, befitting her growing status. I approve.
Melisandre fills Gendry in on her back story – how she was a slave until she was freed into the service of the Lord of Light – and reveals his true parentage to him. Congratulations you’re the bastard child of the former king! Not that this is exactly a unique status, who knows how many bastards Robert had in the show? (Although probably quite a few less now, if he’d been sowing his wild oats in King’s Landing, thanks to Joffrey’s little purge last season.) Still, it’s better than the current king can claim to! I’ve got to say, I like the way this story line is going. It gives Gendry more to do, and it gives more depth to Melisandre’s character other than ‘Red witch who sucks the life out of men and gives birth to their shadows.’
Back in the Riverlands Arya sulks, calls Beric and his men oathbreakers, and sniffs at the mention of the Red God. When asked who her god is, she replies, “Death.” (I love the look on Dondarrion’s face at that; ‘Oh shit, we’ve got a psycho in the making.’) Eventually, when she learns the Brotherhood plans to attack a Lannister party – thus taking her further away from Riverrun and breaking their oaths again she has enough and runs off into the darkness. Where she is promptly captured by the Hound. Farewell, Brotherhood without Banners, I enjoyed you, even if you weren’t quite how I imagined. Surely you won’t show up in this season again…
Harrenhal: Jaime takes his leave of Brienne. Or more appropriately bids her farewell; they both know it’s not going to be much fun for her now that Lord Bolton is going off too, and leaving her in the care of Locke. They share another meaningful moment, as she actually calls him by his name, without any mockery. I wonder, when was the last time someone called Jaime by name, other than one of his family, and was sincere about it? It’s brilliant how you can physically see how this affects him, and how Brienne has come to respect him. If this had been the last scene between them I would have been satisfied – but of course, it isn’t the last, not by a long shot. Hee hee…
I will emerge from my Theon strike in order to at least mention what happens to him this week, since this is pretty hard to ignore. From seeing the promo, and remembering certain things I’d read, I wondered if they would be going…there. It emerges that yes, they are; the ‘Boy’ actually castrates Theon. (Incidentally, the history of castration and all its different aspects, including whether you include the penis in the removal or whether the severing of the different portions of the anatomy are two different processes, is a fascinating one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_removal )
I just don’t know what to say about this, other than that Game of Thrones appears to have stopped channeling porn and started channeling the ‘Hostel’ series. What else can they possibly do to Theon in the last three episodes? Although I notice his mouth’s still in good condition – but then again, there’s only so much they can do to an actor’s face, and Alfie Allen needs his teeth.
Back up North, Ygritte is bowled over by a windmill, Jon teases her with how tall the towers of Winterfell are – poor guy, you have no idea – they get into a light discussion about fainting and how girls see much more blood than boys, and then a rather more serious one about how the Wildlings have no chance of winning. It was nice to see Jon get the upper hand for once, and Ygritte have nothing to say other than, if they do die, they’ll have lived together first, and been together.
A tad further South, Osha gets annoyed with the Reeds always sitting around and talking to Bran, not doing any work – although Meera is at least hunting, there is that – and she gets shirty and challenges Jojen about filling Bran’s head with magic. She’s even more annoyed when she learns Bran no longer wants to go to Castle Black but beyond the Wall, to get hold of the Three Eyed Raven. When hearing that this is the will of the gods, she retorts with a frankly heart breaking sotry about how her lover became a wight, how said wight tried to kill her and how she had to burn down their home to kill it. Yet another person who believes in the gods, but hates their guts, although in this case it’s the old gods, not the Seven. I really liked this insight into Osha’s character – three seasons in and we haven’t learned that much about her now – as well as how they laid the seeds of the party splitting
And now, finally, the part of the episode I have been waiting for, for at least a year. Jaime, after some snarking at Qyburn and being snarked at in return – it’s great that he’s able to retort with “Half a million” when derogatorily asked how many people he’s saved, getting Qyburn to shut up for a little while – learns that Locke has rejected the ransom offer of Brienne’s father, thanks to his own lie about the sapphires. You can truly see the horror growing in him, and his recognition of what Brienne has done for him as he looks around at the wide open space, with a bird singing. So, back to Harrenhal (after a little blackmail to get the rest of them to come with him) it is!
And once there, he rushes about the place in a tizzy until he finds what they’ve done with Brienne – they put her into the bear pit. What follows had me clapping my hands and giggling in delight the whole way through. Jaime leaps into the bear pit to save Brienne with hardly a second thought, pulls a gambit that pays off, helps her to get out first and then manages to clamber out himself – with only one hand, need I remind you! – and scores one over on Locke. Yes, he uses his father to once again get out of a situation, but this time he most definitely proved he had the will, courage and balls to back up his threat. In your face, Locke.
And then, as they shove off, Ser Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer, master of ‘getting a dig in’ lives up to his unofficial title – “By the way, sorry about the sapphires.” In your face, Locke, squared.
So: What did I think of ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’?
Once again, an episode with good bits: Melisandre and Gendry; Arya, Bran and Osha et all; Tywin making Joffrey squirm, hee hee. Problematic bits – the whole Tyrion/Sansa marriage, ugh, get on with it already; Robb ‘attacking’ Talisa and just generally bringing her with him everywhere when it makes no sense.
Great bits: The Jon/Ygritte relationship, Dany putting the fear of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons into Yunkai.
Ugly bits: Theon losing his ‘twig and berries’. Again, we’re really just into torture porn territory by now. Please don’t show any more of these scenes until the last episode; we are unlikely to forget Theon’s presence in this season after that last cut. (See what I did there?)
Wonderful bits: Jaime and Brienne and the BEAR BEAR BEAR BEAR BEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAR.
In short, a fairly good but average episode that’s raised to high art because of that last scene. Wheeeeeeeeeeee, thank you G.R.R. Martin!