Game of Thrones “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

Game of Thrones S3E7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

This episode gets its name from the song “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, which has been sung a couple of times, once before this episode and once during it. In the song, a fair maiden waits for a knight to save her but instead a hairy bear is the one to save her. What the song comes down to is that expectations aren’t always what you end up getting. This is a theme that gets explored extensively and by numerous characters in the episode “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”. Among the things explored in the episode are Jon and Ygritte’s relationship, Robb getting some unexpected news from his wife, Queen Talisa, Tyrion and Sansa contemplating their marriage to each other by talking to different people about it, and a detour in Jaime’s trip back to King’s Landing. This and more to talk about, so let us begin.

We may as well start with Jon and Ygritte since the show devotes quite a bit of time to them, checking in three or four times with them which is quite impressive for a show that usually is one and done with check ins. We pick things up after they have descended the southern side of the wall and Jon tells Tormund and the rest of the group that they are roughly a week’s march to Castle Black. As they march, Ygritte spots a windmill and is so impressed with the architecture of it that she asks Jon if it’s a castle. Jon can hardly believe that she thinks that’s a castle and tells her that Winterfell has structures that are easily more impressive and that the windmill was just the work of some common folk. You really start to see the difference in culture between Northerners and the free folk here. Jon tells Ygritte the uncomfortable (from the wildling perspective) truth that every northern boy learns growing up, the wildlings can never beat them. Six kings beyond the wall have tried to attack the north and all six failed. Jon tells them that “you’ll fail too”. Ygritte then reminds him that it’s “we’ll” because they’re together now as they embrace each other again. Jon and Ygritte have real chemistry so it’s going to be tragic when Jon likely decides to stay loyal to the night’s watch. It won’t be much longer now.

Further south in the north (that’s some weird wording), Bran and friends continue their journey north. Just how far north is now up for debate as Jojen reveals to Osha that Bran has to go to the three eyed raven, who is beyond the wall. Osha is adamantly against going that far and rightly so. She recounts the story of why she came south in the first place, a horrifying story in which her husband became a wight and tried to kill her, in order to save herself, Osha set her husband and their hut ablaze. I can’t blame Osha for not wanting to go back beyond the wall after that. She sternly says her promise was to get Bran to Jon at Castle Black and no further. In any case, both Castle Black and beyond the wall are north so for now, this disagreement in final destination isn’t an immediate problem.

Elsewhere in the north, Theon’s torture hits new lows with his torturers newest action. Two women come in and try to seduce Theon but at this point, Theon thinks it’s all part of some torture trick. He can only hold back so long though and eventually gives in to his sexual cravings. Then comes the boy with that horn of things to interrupt. In news that surprises no one, the girls were a psychological torture for what happens next. The boy decides to cut off Theon’s genitals while Theon pleads for mercy to no avail. Theon the tortured eunuch, quite the fall from Theon the Prince of Winterfell.

The Riverlands just sounds like a rainy place so I wasn’t particularly surprised to find out that there is heavy rain at Riverrun in the episode. So heavy in fact, that it will delay Robb and his crew’s journey to The Twins for Edmure’s wedding. Cat and the Blackfish share their disdain for Walder Frey while noting he will take offense to their tardiness and after having their fun, everyone departs Robb and Talisa’s tent.

After the couple finishes making love, Robb turns his attention to his war map but quickly gets distracted by the sight of his wife and wonders how he’s supposed to plan a war when he’s got a wife like that. It’s actually a super important question because he’s slowly started to lose this war from the moment he broke his oath and decided to marry Talisa. While it’s turning into a losing cause, Robb is given something new to fight for when Talisa reveals she is pregnant. With his heir on its way, Robb has to keep fighting for the sake of Talisa and their child. Considering their travel delays and the fact that the season is winding down, Robb might not get to battle this season but he certainly doesn’t lack a fighting cause anymore.

At the Brotherhood hideout, Arya has just about had it with the Brotherhood. She berates them for selling Gendry and is ready to go to Rivverun as soon as possible. Like many others in this episode find out, Arya learns that expectations can be misleading. The plans to go to Rivverun are delayed when a brotherhood scout finds a group of Lannisters about a day’s march away. Arya is irate when she finds out they plan to attack the Lannisters first, and then go to Rivverun. Having had enough, she flees from the cave and several brothers head off to find her. It isn’t any of them that find her though, it is Sandor “The Hound” Clegane who finds Arya first. That’s certainly an interesting development. I greatly enjoyed the “relationship” between Sandor and Arya’s sister, Sansa. Here’s hoping Sandor and Arya have a relationship that’s just as fun to watch.

Over in King’s Landing, both bride and groom are not taking too kindly to the news of having to marry each other. Sansa discusses it with Margaery who tries to brighten the situation by bringing up some good points, among them that Tyrion has never hurt her and that his sexual experience will be a positive. Meanwhile Tyrion talks to Bronn and much like Margaery does for Sansa, Bronn tries to get him to look on the bright side. Bronn points out that Sansa is attractive, that she is likely the soon to be lady of Winterfell, so his child with her will be lord of Winterfell and Tyrion can rule Winterfell in his name, and that Tyrion can still have sex with Shae if he still wants to. Tyrion isn’t so sure and says he’ll just end up with a wife, a lover, and a kingdom that can’t stand him. Part of Tyrion’s fears come true when Shae tells Tyrion later on that she will no longer sleep with him when he marries Sansa. This marriage hasn’t even begun and it’s already off to a bad start for Tyrion.

Over in Essos, Dany, her knights, and her army of Unsullied arrive outside the slave city of Yunkai. Jorah tells Dany that they are going the wrong way and that Yunkai gives them no strategic advantage for their conquering of Westeros. Dany won’t listen though because she hasn’t come for strategic advantages, she’s come to free the slaves, much like she did in Astapor. She sends Grey Worm to the city gates to demand Yunkai surrenders and Grey Worm returns with a slave master by the name of Razdal mo Eraz. He goes the appeasement route and gives Dany chests full of solid gold and all the ships she desires, asking that Dany take these gifts and leave Yunkai alone as his one condition. Dany has a counter offer that he doesn’t find to his liking. Dany keeps the gold and tells Razdal to free every slave and give each slave all the supplies they can carry with them, or else she will show no mercy in attacking Yunkai. Razdal is outraged at this counteroffer and warns Dany that Yunkai has powerful friends that will enjoy disposing of her. After he leaves, Dany asks Jorah who the powerful friends that Razdal was referring to but he doesn’t know. Dany asks Jorah to find out, it seems like good information to know because this is trending towards a battle.

Lastly, we check in with the story lines at Harrenhal. On the eve of his departure, Jaime comes to Brienne one last time and tells her that he owes her a debt for everything she’s done for him. Brienne tells him that all she asks is he upholds her oath to bring the Stark daughters to their mother, as he’ll be in the best position to do so. Jaime swears to do this and they share a goodbye, in which Brienne calls Jaime by his name for what may be the first time. Roose sees Jaime off as he’s going to The Twins for Edmure’s wedding. Jaime tells Roose to tell Robb that he’s sorry for his absence from the wedding and that the Lannisters send their regards. Jaime, along with Qyburn and group leader Steelshanks, depart for King’s Landing.

Later on, Jaime asks Qyburn what will happen with Brienne. Qyburn tells him that Brienne’s father offered to pay a ransom for her, but Locke refused it because he thought he would be offered all the sapphires Lord Tarth had. Knowing that it will never happen because Lord Tarth has no sapphires, and Locke only believes that he does because of Jaime himself, Jaime realizes that he has to go back to save her. He manipulates Steelshanks into sending the group back and Jaime finds the Harrenhall rather empty. He follows the noise to an arena, where all the castle is packed in to watch something.

Jaime is horrified to see that the event is Brienne armed only with a wooden sword, trapped in a fighting pit against a bear. Jaime finds Locke and tells him he will pay for Brienne’s ransom himself but Locke says his money isn’t worth more than the amusement he gets from this. Running out of options, Jaime decides to jump into the pit to save Brienne. Lest we forget that Jaime is down his sword hand so his usefulness here isn’t very high. Steelshanks fires his crossbow at the bear and this bides enough time for Brienne and Jaime to be pulled up to safety. Realizing that there’s nothing he can do now, Locke relents and lets Jaime and Brienne go on their way. Hopefully that’s the last we see of the repulsive Locke.

Other Thoughts

Part of the reason Tywin arranged for Tyrion to marry Sansa is that Sansa will likely become Lady of Winterfell and Tywin’s grandchild can then become Lord of Winterfell someday. Talisa becoming pregnant kind of throws a wrench in that plan. Any kid Robb has will be first in the line of succession, ahead of Robb’s siblings.

Joffrey had a rare moment of political intelligence when he asks Tywin why they aren’t doing anything about Dany and her dragons in the east. That one point is not enough to best his grandfather though as Tywin owns the scene and makes his grandson look like an idiot. Great choice to have Joffrey sitting on the throne. It makes Tywin towering over Joffrey that much more clear.

Melisandre and Gendry are heading back to Dragonstone and come pretty damn close to King’s Landing. I get that the Red Keep being there makes the reveal to Gendry that his father was King Robert more visually impressive but isn’t it dangerous for a Baratheon ship to be sailing that close to King’s Landing?

Back in season one I told you I’d keep track of episodes that feature zero deaths in them. You may have forgot because it happens so infrequently. Well this marks the second such episode in the series.

Quote of the day comes from the Blackfish, voicing his dislike of Walder Frey. “I’ve known wet shits that I like better than Walder Frey”. In case you couldn’t tell, the Blackfish really doesn’t like Walder Frey.

“The Bear and the Maiden Fair” takes some time to examine character relations as we head towards the conclusion of season three. 

Grade B+

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