The Battle for the Throne – The Bear and the Maiden Fair (S03E07)

A Lannister always pays his debts According to writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss they can’t afford to specifically write a theme for every episode as is convention on television. In a podcast at Winteriscoming.net Bryan Cogman also commented on his episode (Kissed by Fire S03E05) that they don’t specifically set out to write an episode about certain characters. But he said that it can happen that some scenes in an episode correspond to each other in a way so that it seems as if there was a deliberate theme.

This seemed to be the case with The Bear and the Maiden Fair – the seventh episode of this season – written by no one else than George R.R. Martin himself.

A note on the delay
Because of the temporal prime directive higher forces ordered to spend the money I had scraped on an internet course about Starfleet regulations… they took my money and all I got was a Klingon version of Hamlet. So to understand it I had to pay for an online Klingon course… long story short because of all that the Game of Thrones reviews are a bit delayed. But then again it is still a weekly pause until Episode 9 so that gives me some space to breathe.

A note on the spoiler policy
These articles will discuss the episodes in-depth so everything that has already been aired will be talked about. There won’t be spoilers for future events and book information will only be discussed if it has already happened or happened differently in the books. Things that are omitted from the books won’t be mentioned because those events might come to play in a different way.

The Bear and the Maiden Fair dealt with two major issues: suppression and relationships. We had Robb Stark and Lady Talisa sharing an intimate moment, Tyrion pondering about his entire marriage situation, Osha finally told us why she can’t stand the Reeds, Jaime and Brienne (as usual), Arya and Gendry who went separate ways, Jon and his loyalties and  on the other side of the world Dany and her dragons keep shaking things up.

S03E07 Banner

 The story of two kids with way too much power

S03E07 Tywined 2
I found it interesting that Joffrey and Daenerys had scenes back to back. The former playing against the mighty Tywin Lannister was a scene that matched the duel between Lady Olenna from last week. Charles Dance is one of the best actors on the show. His gravitas is unmatched but there should also be praise for Jack Gleeson. The way he shrunk down when Tywin appeared was brilliantly played.

On the other side of the Narrow Sea Dany continues her quest to free the slaves. While her cause is noble and good to me it seems a lot like the “we go to Iraq to end a dictatorship and bring democracy” speeches we heard some years ago.

S03E07 There are her dragons

As pointed out by the leaders of Yunkai, Daenerys doesn’t understand this world. The changes she wants to bring are good and noble on paper but the question is if she can change this world without first understanding how it works. I think her heart is at the right place but she should start considering the cultures and how she can best abolish slavery. Because I am not sure how the parentless children in Astapor are doing right now and how Dany will feed her entire army and not come across as a conqueror who just burns cities.

We know nothing about Jon Snow!
What I find is one of the biggest strengths about Game of Thrones is that many times you get a hint at a storyline and then you will start pick together how it will play over several episodes – only to be completely overwhelmed by the speed at which the story actually plays out. At the end of Season 2 I was fully prepared for Jon Snow moping around in Mance’s camp for god knows how long to stall some time while winter was slowly coming. I could already see how they would stretch out his entire loyalty question in Dexter-esque moments where he would ponder forever if he was doing the right thing. Instead Jon’s storyline moves at breakneck speed.

S03E07 Orell

We are back in Belfast (I assume) meaning the other side of the wall and the Wildlings are planning to attack castle black. Jon Snow is super torn about his loyalties but that doesn’t mean that the plot stops for one second. We are left to wonder what he is thinking even though the storytelling is never hitting us over the head with it – I love that!
Jon Snow started as a very bland character and I dreaded that his inner turmoil would be stretched beyond the bearable! Instead we have an interesting tension between him and Ygritte – which felt less clingy than last episode.

And Orell hinted about some secret about Jon Snow… did he talk about the double-agent thing or did his warg-sight show Orell something else about Jon?

Sidenote: way to make Tormund even more sympathetic within a few seconds. Next to the Blackfish I enjoy Tormund the most out of all the new characters.

Where are Bran’s dragons? Hodor!
Well this week’s mandatory Bran moment was actually quite enjoyable. Not only did we get probably the most legendary “Hodor” in all of Game of Thrones – a moment that even topped “Hodor, Hodor” in Season 2 – we finally got two important things:

Firstly the characters finally admitted that their story was not headed towards Castle Black. This was very important for me because contrary to Arya it never felt as if heading towards Caste Black served any purpose and the characters didn’t seem to be so sure of the purpose either. So we finally acknowledge that Bran is going somewhere else where he – hopefully – will do more interesting stuff.
As long as he is not going into the heart of the icy north to convince the frosty ice king to stop sending the White Walkers (i.e. Neo in Matrix Revolutions) I am looking forward to it.

Secondly I really enjoyed Osha’s story. Next to Hodor she is the only relatable character in this zombie-group of destined kids. She has a temper, she has a backstory and she understands the world. The tale she spun is also a rather sad one and she was probably not the first wildling woman to suffer through something like this.

Almost done Theon!
So after a superlong nude scene we got the final torture of Theon – at least I am assuming that because it feels like it can’t get any worse. Theon had to endure a lot this season:

  • “regular” torture
  • He thought he was freed and was hunted down
  • Someone saved him only to bring him back and torture him again
  • He was dehydrated
  • His finger was cut off

And now similarly to Jaime he got the body part cut off that he thinks defined him. It was one of the most horrible torture scenes in Game of Thrones and I sincerely hope that Theon escapes at the end of the Season.

Sidenote: in a podcast from “Game of Owns” over at winteriscoming.net there was a pretty interesting connection found: at the end of Season 2 Bolton’s men laid siege to Winterfell and if you remember there was a guy who kept blowing his horn. It got to a point where Theon swore that he would kill that man. Interestingly enough Theon’s mystery captor keeps blowing a smaller horn as well… so maybe he really is a Bolton man.

You have the power to… ruin a wedding?
I am still wondering about the shot of Gendry and Melisandre cruising through Blackwater Bay and looking at the Red Keep. Visually it was a nice moment to hammer his destiny into him (pun intended) but was that the reason why they were traveling past the Red Keep? Or is Melisandre placing a “Gendry-bomb” beneath the Red Keep similarly to how she birthed the shadowbaby beneath Renly’s camp in Season 2?

S03E07 Red Keep

Will she set the timer on Gendry for 2 episodes to ruin a wedding? Or will Gendry come to Stannis so that Stannis looks him in the eyes and 1) proves that he still is a horrible person or 2) shows mercy?

Many questions in a storyline that keep intriguing me… and keep me hoping that Gendry will make it.

On the other end of the “couple storyline” we got Arya running away and getting captured by the Hound.
Is it awkward if I say that I feel safer with the Hound guarding Arya than the Brotherhood?

After Arya’s religious confession last week the Hound seems perfectly suited as the next teacher to educate her in the ways of the Red God – death.

S03E07 Arya Hound

So many wedding bells!

Much like the Battle of Blackwater Bay the wedding of Margaery and Joffrey gets more and more important. We had a nice funny scene with Margaery and Sansa which reminded us that Sansa is still a child with a very sugar-coated view on some aspects of life. Still I think Sansa’s lecture is now starting. Whereas Arya is educated by disciples of Death Sansa seems to have teachers in the arts of “The Game” – will her way cross paths with Varys?

S03E07 Sansa

It’s hard to say who is more uncomfortable with the Sansa-Tyrion deal but I guess Bronn’s advice doesn’t help much. And well Shae is an entirely different story. I loved the transition from Daenerys’s slave storyline to Shae looking at golden chains. And I found her reaction to be very relatable as she basically asked what Tyrion wants to do with his life and if he actively wants to change something about it.

And let’s not forget the other wedding!
Holy hell, Robb is really heading towards the twins for the wedding!
And Lady Talisa just got pregnant!
I can’t take this anymore!
Everything points towards destruction and death. Why else would Walder Frey be so “nice”?

S03E07 Robb

The only loser in this marriage is Edmure and therefore Robb gets backing by Frey?
I don’t believe this for a second.
Worst case prediction: The Frey’s kill Lady Talisa in front of Robb and say “Now you can marry the a girl from our family as was promised!”

How many people did you save?
Jaime Lannister has come a long way and at this point his story is the standout story of Season 3. In the fifth episode we learned that he wasn’t quite the man without honor that the Westeros gossip made him out to be. And in this episode we saw some firsthand proof that it wasn’t just talk. In a very neat way the lie that saved Brienne from the Bolton bannermen rebounded and caused Brienne to be in a pit facing a bear.

And in true hero fashion Jaime couldn’t be responsible for Brienne’s death and rode back to Harrenhal. It is very interesting that this time Jaime used the same argument that cost him his hand earlier. By insisting on his father’s power he freed Brienne and the two can now go their ways.

A heroic instrumental version of The Rains of Castamere was heard over the ending giving Jaime a moment that probably few suspected when we first met the Kingslayer in Season 1.

 S03E07 Tywined

Only 3 more episodes to go and a lot of stuff that will probably happen the next few episodes!

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Wolfgang Verfasst von:

Der Host des Flipthetruck Podcasts. Mit einem Fokus auf Science Fiction und Roboter sucht er ständig jene Mainstream Filme, die sich nicht als reine Unterhaltungsfilme zufrieden geben.

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