Game of Thrones: 307 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
The tides seem to be turning in the world of Game of Thrones, and characters are rising and falling all over the place. So how’s everyone getting on this week?
No longer beyond the Wall, the wildling party is continuing south even though Orell clearly still has reservations about Jon Snow. As they stop and Tormund gives Jon some overly graphic sexual advice, Orell reveals the cause of his dislike for Jon: he is in love with Ygritte and is basically just jealous of him. After Ygritte mistakes a windmill for a palace (isn’t she just precious?), Jon reveals that he has no faith in the wildlings’ plan, stating that soldiers from beyond the Wall have attempted to invade the North six times before and failed each time due to a lack of organisation: Ygritte claims Mance Rayder is different, and continues in her quest undaunted by the knowledge-bomb Jon Snow just dropped.
Elsewhere, Theon’s torture continues with some gratuitous lady-buttock and heavily-implied castration by young Captain Creepy. I’m beginning to find these sequences slightly repetitive, and they don’t really seem to be leading anywhere interesting: if Creepy’s identity was revealed and we could get some idea of why he’s doing what he’s doing other than just ‘because he likes it’, I could see the point, but at the moment they seem to exist only to create slightly uncomfortable viewing and to keep Alfie Allen billed as a main cast member.
Finally in the North, Osha explains her reticence at Bran and Jojen’s assertion that they need to travel beyond the Wall, telling them about how her husband died and was resurrected as a White Walker. It’s nice to get a bit of depth on a character who has so far been fairly marginal, even if it didn’t advance the plot in any significant way.
Robb Stark and his army are facing weather-based problems in the Riverlands: the rain is stopping them from getting to the Twins in good time, which is likely to be seen as a slight by the curmudgeonly Walder Frey. After a bit more gratuitous buttock, Talisa informs Robb that she is pregnant, because this is Game of Thrones and all important conversations must happen while the characters involved are naked.
Meanwhile, Arya expresses her distaste for the Brotherhood selling Gendry to Melisandre. Beric and Thoros tell her that one day she will understand, but honestly I’m on Arya’s side with this one: I feel like the Brotherhood pulled a real dick-move on poor old Gendry by flogging him to a witch. Anyway, Anguy shows up and informs them of a Lannister raiding party, and they decide to go after them: Arya gets even more angry due to the fact that Beric will be breaking his promise to take her to Riverrun, and then escapes straight into the grizzled arms of the worst person Arya could have possibly run into: the Hound. Considering her standpoint during the Hound’s trial, I can’t help but think that this won’t end too well for Arya, but only time will tell.
In this week’s edition of Westerosian Sex Talk, Margaery gives Sansa some advice on working out her own sexual preference before dismissing Tyrion as a husband and lover, while Bronn gives Tyrion some far less sensitive advice about how to juggle his relationships with both Sansa and Shae. Later, Tyrion meets with Shae who informs him that she is entirely (and understandably) unwilling to continue their relationship once Tyrion and Sansa are married.
Elsewhere, Joffrey gets a lesson in real power from his uncle-grandfather (a relation I desperately want to call ‘grandfuncle’) Tywin: after throwing a minor strop about having to walk up some stairs if he wanted to attend a meeting of the Small Council, he questions Tywin about Daenerys and her dragons. Tywin calmly tells Joffrey that he should not be concerned about ‘curiosities on the far side of the world’, and that the dragons are undoubtedly tiny and ineffectual. Speaking of which…
Across The Narrow Sea
Having successfully marched her slave army from Astapor to Yunkai, another slave city in Essos, Daenerys seems to have embarked on some kind of slave-liberating world tour. She meets with an ambassador from Yunkai and proceeds to threaten him with her dragons when he refuses to free the slaves, and for the first time it appears as though Daenerys is becoming lost in her obsessive quest through Essos, and I feel like this may be the beginning of a downfall of sorts.
Finally, we visit Harrenhal as Jaime prepares to depart for King’s Landing without Brienne. Before he leaves, Brienne makes him promise to get Sansa and Arya back to Catelyn, which he does. On the road, Qyburn treats Jaime’s arm-stump and tells him that the reason he lost his Maester’s chain was that he experimented on dying people. For some reason, this doesn’t do anything to comfort Jaime, nor does Qyburn’s assertion that Locke will not ransom Brienne back to her father. Jaime manages to convince the leader of the party to return to Harrenhal, where he finds Brienne forced to fight a bear in a pit with only a wooden sword.
After attempting and failing to convince Locke to release Brienne, Jaime jumps into the pit and rescues her himself. He then manipulates Roose Bolton’s men into a bit of infighting in order to secure their departure, and they leave for King’s Landing. The ‘bear and the maiden fair’ scene is impressive and exciting, with the kind of action and tension that hasn’t been seen all that much since the Battle of Blackwater last season, and it’s a strong conclusion to a slightly patchy episode.
The score for this episode would be higher if it weren’t for the repetitious and overly horrible nature of Theon’s storyline. But as previously mentioned, the episode felt slightly patchy, as though it is setting things up for the future without doing anything particularly ground-breaking within the episode itself.