Last week, a couple characters found love in a hopeless place (that happens to be on top of a thousand foot high mountain). Now that we got to watch the latest Game of Thrones episode, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, let’s talk about it.
WINNER: Rhythmic marching
Jon Snow and Ygritte barely have a minute of joy after their super romantic climb — that they almost died on but whatever, such is love — before they’re thrust back into a life of Wildling business. Despite his heroics on the climb, the Warg Wildling dude still hates him and says he won’t be able to keep Ygritte. Optimism does not reign supreme North of the wall.
But it turns out that the Warg dude was just into Ygritte and wants her all for himself. “You only like him because he’s pretty,” he says, because that definitely will get her you out of the friend zone when you’re a weird looking dude who goes into temporary comas to control birds.
Meanwhile, the big red beard Wildling dude gives some helpful sex advice to Jon Snow. Sex with the red bearded guy is probably like riding a cheap roller coaster at a shoddy amusement park: Just strap yourself in and hope you don’t fall to your death.
WINNER: Robb Stark and Jeyne Westerling’s spectacular asses
Much like the hot tub scene with Jaime Lannister and Brienne, we’re treated to the surprisingly taut booties of both Jeyne Westerling and Robb Stark. Anyone who has complained about the lack of nudity this season — looking firmly your way, Bill Simmons — can find joy in the minutes on end of Jeyne’s glory. She’s not the ass the North deserves, she’s the ass the viewers need.
And she’s packing a kid (or two, if Robb gets his wishes).
PS Here’s a NSFW screencap. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
LOSER: Sansa’s loins
Sansa is worried about her future life now that she’s betrothed to Tyrion. Ever the optimist, Margaery Tyrell attempts to tell her the upside. Tyrion is hotter with his scar and he’s got experience which, as Sansa learns, is a good thing in pleasing a complex woman. Meanwhile, Sansa is approximately as in touch with the premise of sexuality as a clitoral circumcision.
Tyrion, however, is concerned about how Shae will respond. And while Bronn tries to sell him on his desires of conquering the beautiful red flower of the Stark family, Tyrion isn’t feeling it. For a guy whose spent more hours in the whorehouses than out, he’s a true man of class.
WINNER: Joffrey overstepping his bounds
Joffrey is the King. But his grandfather Tywin is about as close as Westeros has to a God. He demands a briefing on all of the small council manners, including why the small council was moved to Tywin’s chambers. Joffrey starts to bitch and Tywin immediately puts him in his place.
But Joffrey is sweating the rumors of Daenerys storming the far away lands with her dragons. Tywin attempts to assure him that the dragons can be handled as they were once before. But Joffrey has heard the tales of dragons that once put the world under their owners’ thumbs. Tywin is having none of it. For once, Joffrey is the prescient one. What a world.
LOSER: The city of Yunkai
When Daenerys Targaryen opens a discussion of your city saying that you’ll do as she demands or you’ll end up like Astapor, — the city whom she burned to the ground and had slaves murder their masters — you’d be wise to listen. And Yunkai is listening. They offer her chests full of gold bars and a ship that she can take to Westeros.
But Daenerys isn’t hearing that. She wants all of the slaves freed. The spokesman for Yunkai won’t bend over backwards for her and says that they’re not Astapor and they’ll bring war to her if she pleases. Yunkai has powerful friends, he says. Daenerys is looking a little too cocky here. Not in love with the whole slavery thing, but good for you, people of Yunkai.
LOSER: Shae’s ego
Tyrion breaks the news to Shae about the forced marriage to Sansa. She isn’t in love with the idea of being his side piece in any way, no matter how nice of a package he tries to put it in. He wants to give her a house and take care of her, have kids with her, regardless of the Sansa circumstance. But she tells him, “I’m your whore. And when you’re tired of fucking me, I’ll be nothing.” Daggers. Straight daggers by Shae.
WINNER: Gendry’s ego
Gendry’s been a poor loser for all of his life. And now it takes Melisandre telling Gendry that he’s the rightful heir to the throne as a result of being the Baratheon bastard to show him that his life has actual meaning. Aww, Gendry, you don’t need a throne to be important. All you need is a little bit of can-do attitude and a smile on your face!
Meanwhile, Melisandre is definitely just after his blood for some fire witch magic. Enjoy the moment while it lasts, Gendry.
LOSER: Arya Stark’s whole world
The Brotherhood Without Banners’ leader Beric Dondarrion was supposed to help Arya Stark go west to find her family. But it turns out to be a lie when they decide to make a slight diversion for a couple of days to help out their true god, the Lord of Light. Arya counters by saying that her one true god is not the Lord of Light, but Death. She then runs out after calling Dondarrion out for his lies to both her and Gendry whom he gave away to Melisandre just last week. But Arya’s hissy fit leads her out into the woods and the none-too-loving arms of the Hound.
LOSER: Theon. Forever Theon.
Theon is taken off his rack by two hot unidentified women. Theon thinks they’re a ploy by his mysterious captor but he buys into it when they strip down and start grinding upon him. But just when things are getting good for Theon, the captor comes back by blowing a horn and then generously bashing Theon in the face with it.
The point of this exercise? Theon’s “famous” penis. Yeah, it won’t be famous any more. Or, if it will, it’ll reach fame while not attached to him. Granted, that could be his penis’s big star turn. More likely, his penis will be more like David Caruso leaving NYPD Blue
WINNER: Ygritte’s patronizing game
When Ygritte flirts with Jon Snow, she does so by being overly difficult and obnoxious in a way reminiscent of Angelica from Rugrats. In this case, she does so by mocking Jon Snow’s attachment to Winterfell and his usage of the word swoon.
But Jon Snow breaks up the tension by telling her that the Wildling army is going to die if they go to war with the people of Westeros. The army is untrained, tough though they may be. But Ygritte says it’s not “them” dying, it’s “us” dying which would be romantic if she didn’t agree that they were going to die so easily. But for now, they’re going to live and, naturally, that means a quick boning. This is a very disciplined and professional military the Wildlings have here.
WINNER: Bran’s positive outlook
Osha is creeped out by all the time Bran is spending with Jojen Reed while they’re doing work. So she goes over to figure out what Jojen’s pumping in his head. Bran says that maybe his paralysis happened for a reason and that’s whatever this Warg life is that Jojen is telling him about.
Osha counters with a story about how she once had a man whom she loved. And he left. And then came back and was a White Walker zombie who wouldn’t die when she stabbed him in the heart. She never asked the Gods what it’s all about. Somehow, this relates to the fact that she’s going to get Bran to Castle Black and that’ll be the end of her piece in this journey. Cool story, though, Osha. Thanks for sharing.
WINNER, sort of: Jaime Lannister’s journey back to King’s Landing
Jaime is on his way back to King’s Landing courtesy of the deal that Lord Bolton brokered last week in which Jaime’s safe return will lead to more money for war. But he has to leave Brienne behind as part of the exercise, something that clearly pains him, particularly when he sees the guy who cut his hand off saying they’ll take good care of her.
The good news for Jaime is that the spot where his hand once was is healing as it should. But the medic who treated him reveals that the men are going to have their fun with Brienne tonight and then off her. So Jaime insists on the men returning to Harrenhal so that he can attempt to rescue her from whatever fate she has coming.
The fate in question? BATTLING A BEAR IN A GLADIATOR PIT WITH A WOODEN SWORD. That is probably not what Jaime expected. Jaime offers the guy who cut his hand off whatever reward he wants to put an end to this. Jaime drops into the pit to put himself in front of her. One of the guards who was tasked with bringing him to King’s Landing bails Jaime out with a arrow to the bear and Brienne and Jaime narrowly escape from the pit. Jaime then lays the law down and tells the guy who cut his hand off that Brienne comes with him or he can just kill Jaime now and tell Lord Bolton about what happened.
The hand cutter lets him go while an instrumental of that Rains of Castamere song plays over Jaime’s triumph.
It’s easy to get distracted by the onslaught of nudity in a Game of Thrones episode when there’s a weak installment. But this one held its own without the boobs and butts the show occasionally revels in. I really loved the pacing of “The Bear and The Maiden Fair”. Each character featured in the episode got due time and a poignant moment. Even Osha got a moment of compelling backstory in the neverending pit that is the Bran/Jojen storyline. And the little moments, ranging from Tywin physically turning Joffrey from king to his little bitch grandson to Arya’s face when saying she worships death to Jaime’s snarky remark to the guy who cut his hand off when they leave Harrenhal…all the things of beauty.
In particular, Joffrey’s concern over the potential impending onslaught of dragons was an interesting turn for the show. Daenerys’ conquests east of Westeros seem to be detached from the rest of the show so far. But the fear, even in the somewhat quizzical way Jack Gleeson played the scene, that Joffrey expressed adds a lot to the overall tension of the show. We don’t know when Daenerys will arrive on Westeros’ shores but it’s nice that the characters feel like it could be at any moment. The show is at its best when it knows what it’s building to (see: Blackwater, Battle of) and some inkling of an end game or advancement will do a lot to tie the various threads of the show together.
I’ll give the episode four Jeyne Westerling butts out of five. Long live King Robb!