Review: GAME OF THRONES S3E07, THE BEAR AND THE MAIDEN FAIR (Or, Stumpy Grows A Conscience And Does Something Entertainingly Stupid)

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Review: GAME OF THRONES S3E07, THE BEAR AND THE MAIDEN FAIR (Or, Stumpy Grows A Conscience And Does Something Entertainingly Stupid)
A note to whoever wrote Sansa's dialogue in this week's episode of Game Of Thrones: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Listening to Sansa describe herself as a stupid little girl - arguably the biggest moment of insight she has had throughout the duration of the series - was a lovely little payoff to all the time spent watching her behave like a stupid little girl. A hearty "YES," may have been shouted at the screen at that point. "YES YOU ARE!"

And as much as that particular moment was more or less a throw-away it does provide a handy entry point into the sexual politics - particularly the politics around breeding, by which I mean making children and not learning your manners - that drive most of this particular episode, the line coming as part of a larger conversation with Margaery Tyrell regarding their upcoming marriages. Sure, you may not have wanted to marry Tyrion - goes the argument presented by Margaery to Sansa - but as the mother of his children you will ultimately have far more control over how they turn out than will the Lannisters. The same applies to Margaery herself with Joffrey. Yes, he's a total bastard but he'll be inconsequential in the long run. Clearly Margaery understands how to play the long game and what she's describing sounds an awful lot like a long term takeover of the House Lannister from within - much like what Cersei and Jaime pulled off within House Baratheon, only minus the incest.

There's breeding going on in Robb Stark's camp as well, the lot of them camped out for the night en route to Edmure's forced wedding when Talisa tells him that she's pregnant. Other than a LOT of gratuitous ass shots that seems to be the entire point of this sequence, though I must say that the look Catelyn shoots Robb and Talisa after stating that Edmure is not the wedding the Frey's desired makes me wonder if Talisa should be watching her back.

Tyrion will be breeding soon, though likely not with the woman he wants to. This is largely a bit of character housekeeping as Tyrion tries desperately to placate the supremely pissed off Shae - who is more than smart enough to know that something like Tyrion's marriage to Sansa had to be coming at some point but is angry and hurt nonetheless - but it's a good bit of housekeeping nonetheless.

It briefly appears that Theon may be doing some breeding - gratuitous frontal nudity abounds - as he's set to by a pair of fetching young beauties, but who are we kidding? He's in a torture chamber. He gets his penis - which is apparently quite famous - cut off instead.

Also not breeding - and really the only storylines where the sexual politics don't really kick in, unless you count some latent mother instincts from Osha towards Bran - are the younger Stark children. Arya more or less throws a tantrum - a deserved one, and pretty well spoken, but a tantrum nonetheless - and runs away from the Brotherhood Without Banners only to promptly be captured by The Hound. Which is rather a large wildcard in the whole mix ... will Arya be his ticket back into favor with the Lannisters? Or will his goodwill towards Sansa also extend towards her sister? Bran and that other Stark kid who never does anything and is completely useless outside of his genetics get caught up in the midst of hurt feelings as Osha continues to feel her leadership over their little band slip away and lashes out in frustration. Again, just a bit of character housekeeping here.

Jon Snow doesn't do any actual breeding this time out but he has been and it's leading to some hurt feelings amongst the Wildlings. Or, really, just in one Wildling. The warg amongst them - who is also the guy who cut Snow loose while climbing the wall, incidentally, so no love lost there - has been harboring a flame for Ygritte and is not at all happy she's hooked up with an outsider. One of these guys is going to end up dead. And the warg doesn't appear in the credit roll, so it's unlikely to be Jon Snow.

Danaerys ... ah, Danaerys. She's out to stop the slave trade and she's got another entire city in her sights. Said city would like very much to just give her an awful lot of gold and as many ships as she needs to get to Westeros but the anti-slavery thing has clearly become a personal mission at this point, and she's having none of it. Want to live? Release your slaves. Or else she's going to kill you all and free them for you. And when you're known as the Mother Of Dragons - and said dragons are getting noticeably larger - that's a threat you probably want to take seriously. Because, you know ... she may not have siege equipment but she does have dragons.

And then there's Melisandre and Gendry, a relationship which has NOT shaped up AT ALL like I expected it to. If Melisandre's intention is to sacrifice Gendry then she's spending an awful lot of time getting chummy with him first. And there's really no need for her to explain his true parentage pretty much no matter what she intends to do with him unless - and it's a very, very large unless - she intends to abandon her support of Stannis and instead try to place Gendry on the throne as the Robert's heir. Which he actually is. So there are all sorts of twisted threads here. Gendry represents a direct threat to Stannis' claim to the throne, so Stannis' response to all of this is very much up in the air. And Melisandre, frankly, seems more likely to fuck Gendry than kill him so I really have no idea where this is going.

Tywin Lannister may very soon come to wish that his children had not bred, I fear, his 'counseling' of Joffrey laced with such barely laced contempt that it seems unlikely that the petulant one could possibly fail to notice and / or accept his grandfather's attitude for long. And Joffrey's attempt on Tyrion's life has already made it abundantly clear that family ties mean nothing here. Tywin, I think, is exceedingly unlikely to die a peaceful death in his sleep and becomes progressively less likely to do so the more time he spends in Joffrey's presence. It's just a matter of time before one of the king's tantrums leaves a few more bodies in its wake, after all.

And then there's Stumpy Lannister, Jaime free and clear of the Bolton forces and on his way to King's Landing when - what ho?!? - he is stricken by a fit of conscience. Has Jaime's relationship with Brienne gone beyond mutual respect? Has his capture humbled him to the point where - his pride and family arrogance stripped away - he's left with nothing but an underlying nobility? Whatever's going on with him it has to be something major to get a recently freed man to turn around, ride back to his most recent captor's camp and jump into a pit to fight a bear - one handed - to protect the woman who was his guardian / jailer for some time. Where do Briene's loyalties fall after this? Not in the bear's stomach, that's for sure ...

It seems pretty clear now what at least part of the end game for Season Three will be. Expect Jaime's return to King's Landing to coincide with at least one Lannister wedding - you have your pick of Joffrey, Tyrion or Cersei - and whatever wedding / alliance plays out between Robb's forces and the Freys while Mance Rayder simultaneously assaults the Wall. I'm also willing to bet that the undead horde of the White Walkers turns up again before the end of the season - they've been gone far too long - while I'd expect Danaerys' assault on Yunkai - which is a port city with easy access to Westeros, remember - to serve notice to all the squabbling factions back home that she is a force to be reckoned with and that she is on her way. With three episodes left we won't have to wait long to see how close I am ...

[Twitch has been tracking Game Of Thrones from Season One, Episode One from the perspective of someone who has not and will not read the books at all until the series has come to an end so that it can all be experienced for the first time on the big screen. Discussion of the current episode and what has come before is welcome and encouraged but PLEASE avoid spoiling anything that lies ahead in the novels so that those of us who haven't read can experience everything fresh.]
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Simon de BruynMay 13, 2013 2:43 PM

Stumpy Sam?

The CloneMay 13, 2013 2:44 PM

Nice and thorough review

Todd BrownMay 13, 2013 2:55 PM


harumphMay 13, 2013 9:36 PM

Am I the only one who dislikes Ygritte? Her sarcasm shtick is overdone, and I just find her generally unlikable overall.

And yes, the Gendry/Melisandre plotline is interesting and unpredictable. It's probably the biggest departure from the book so far.

Todd BrownMay 14, 2013 10:17 AM

Ygritte has been pretty one note, yeah, but given that she's more or less snapped Snow out of his doe eyed moping about I'm willing to forgive that ... god, he was insufferable for a while there ...