Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » Game of Thrones » Season 3 » The Bear and the Maiden Fair
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.
62
/100
Viewer
71
/100

Game of Thrones

HBO

55
/100
Viewer
56
/100

Episode 7 - The Bear and the Maiden Fair

15 May 2013

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Jon and Ygritte continue to flirt while the Warg warns her about Jon's loyalty and he speaks of the previous failed invasions of Westeros by the Wildlings. Bran tells Osha that he plans on heading north of the Wall which she refuses to do. Talisa tells Robb she is pregnant. Jaime says goodbye to Brienne and heads south. He soon returns to Harrenhal to rescue her. Arya runs away from the Brotherhood when they head out to attack a Lannister raiding party. She is captured by the Hound. Tyrion frets about marrying Sansa as she confides in Margaery. Shae refuses to be Tyrion's mistress. Joffree raises concerns about Daenerys which Tywin dismisses. Daenerys camps her army outside Yunkai and demands that they free all of their slaves.

The Good: As usual there were a bunch of good individual scenes but I'm not sure what they add up to.

The Robb and Talisa scene felt like a case of good actors making more of what was on the page. You got a real sense of their personalities and affection for one another. The same felt true for Margaery once more schooling Sansa and Bronn doing the same for Tyrion. The latter remains our admirable main character as he struggles to keep Shae happy with an offer that he realises isn't a good one for her.

The first confrontation between Joffree and Tywin was excellent. Tywin wisely conceals his desire to smack his Grandson upside the head and instead politely answers his questions while looming menacingly over him. Naturally Joffree is more concerned by Dany than anything else as he insecurely shifts upon his throne. The real strength of this scene though is what it promises for the future. You can see that one day the Gold Cloaks may be surrounding both men being forced to choose who to obey.

I really laughed when we cut to a wide eyed Jon being given sex advice from Giantsbane.

The Bad: I have no problem with Jaime refusing to abandon Brienne but that whole sequence was just a replay of the incident which cost him his hand (303). I am glad neither of them was hurt and don't mind the logic of bear fighting or Lord Bolton's men letting them go. But as the climax of an episode it couldn't help but feel like a letdown.  

The Unknown: Daenerys and her court looked fantastic as they laid down their threats at Yunkai. Beyond the Westerosi distaste for slavery and perhaps her own experience as a pawn in her brothers game is there another reason for her new role as Spartacus? Does she genuinely want to rid the world of slavery or is this just a recruitment drive for the invasion?

Theon's torture was definitely disturbing and almost turned into pornography at one point. I can't deny that the whole thing gets an emotional response from me. But if this was Theon's castration then it's hard to know what the future holds for him. To spread his torture across the season like this does feel exploitative. Part of that is my sense that the torturer is not a character we are getting to know. This remains Theon's story and to watch him suffer for ten episodes doesn't make me sympathise with him as much as it makes me dislike the producers for putting me through this.

The flirting and exchange of information between Jon and Ygritte remains as entertaining as ever. But I remain emotionally neutral about their strange understanding of the others' position. Jon is as blatant as he can be that his loyalty remains with his people. Ygritte's response to that is to once more cling to the sense that they as a couple have a more significant bond. Yet she is clearly not planning to abandon Mance's invasion. Is she not worried that Jon is going to betray them? Is she ready to abandon this life and become his prisoner\wife should he prove correct and the invasion fails?

After Melissandre broke all Olympic records by racing from Dragonstone to the Riverlands she now mocks the very laws of time and space by taking Gendry down the King's Road (a journey which seemed to take weeks in Season One) to King's Landing for the return trip.

Arya seems to just run from one group of would-be captors to another as the Hound becomes her latest babysitter. Qyburn as a proto-scientist could be an interesting character. Osha's story explains her reluctance to return north of the Wall but we knew exactly where the story was going as soon as it began. Presumably Bran would have to go through the gate at Castle Black because there's no way he will be climbing.

What does the Warg know about Jon? Who are Yunkai's powerful friends?

Best Moment: Tywin tolerating Joffree.

Conclusion: Each season of Game of Thrones has had a couple of episodes in a row where I temporarily lose the sense of where the narrative is going. Usually though they have been a little earlier than this. I do understand that this is one book being spread across two seasons but this episode still felt oddly static.

Feedback

Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment

Comments

  • My first contribution ever to the TV Critic. Discovered you through your Walking Dead podcast, but I love your chemistry with Robert_o and hope you find a way to do more podcasts together.

    Rather than go scene-by-scene, I would rather just hit a couple of points.

    With this episode, Jamie's moral redemption is complete. His rescue of Brianne was perhaps the most selfless act we have seen in the entire series thusfar. He had nothing to gain personally by his rescue and everything to lose. Behavior rarely seen on this show. I was expecting him to sacrifice the rest of his arm to save Brianne from the bear and although he didn't have to - I bet he would have. Ah...the things he'll do for love!

    Margaery's talk with Sansa hammered home something I thought of after last episode. Sansa hardly has a bad deal in marrying Tyrion. The only people who truly care about her interests are either dead or far away....and they're all family members. Tyrion might be the only person around who doesn't view her merely as a pawn. Sansa has a better deal than she realizes right now, although she didn't seem quite as upset about it as I expected she would when speaking to Margaery about it.

    Finally - Arya & the Hound - should make for an interesting pairing. Perhaps an unexpected allegiance a la Jamie & Brienne is awaiting us? We know something about the Hound that Arya doesn't know....that he does have a heart and has an affection for the weak. He saved Loras from the Mountain and his affection for Sansa was clear. Was their meeting via the Brotherhood merely coincidence?

    Viewer score: 63 / 100

    Posted by Jeff, 14/05/2013 4:45pm (5 years ago)

  • Static is a good word I was thinking stagnate but i guess there was some progression to the storylines they showed.At least there was dragons. So sick of Theon crap I went and asked my brother in law (who's read the book) what's the deal already just to get it over with. Bring on the home stretch!

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by Dave Lopez, 14/05/2013 5:24am (5 years ago)

  • More on Jaime & Brienne scene, I didn't find it just a reply of the episode 3. It makes Jaime more responsible because it's his lies about the sapphires eliminates Brienne's chances to going home. Remember that the main reason why Jaime stopped Brienne from getting raped was because the "Lannisters always pays their debts" and Jaime owe Brienne when she killed those three Northmen they bumped into last season. Jaime going back to Brienne when he has no other debts to pay to her, really shows further change in Jaime. The discussion about you and Roberto (I think it was you guys) on how the bath scene in episode 5 is like Jaime being reborn something like a baptism, well, his actions in the bear pit is the beginning of that.

    Posted by Dave, 14/05/2013 4:29am (5 years ago)

  • It's a better episode than last week's but it's easily the weakest episode written by GRRM. I suppose he doesn't get a choice in what episodes he writes and the show runners gets the final say in what goes into the episode. Still, it's a disappointment considering how great his previous episodes, "The Pointy End" and "Blackwater" have been. My friends who haven't read the books really liked those episodes, so it's not just book fanatics like me. LOL.

    I wonder we are getting more setup episodes like this one and last week's because the show got 20 episodes to do the one book instead of the usual 10. I know people wanted more episodes and maybe it's too premature to say "be careful what you wish for", but if the next episodes coming up are like this and "The Climb", it's looking to be that way.

    The Good:

    Jaime and Brienne's scene at the end. Tywin and Joffery's scene. Jon and Ygritte's banter has been better this time. But it made me wish more time have been spent with them before the cave scene than say oh, I don't know... the whole Podrick the Sex God. Liked Dany's scene. Her scenes this season are an improvement compared to her yelling "where's my dragons?!?" from last season.

    The Bad:

    The way Arya's escape the Brotherhood, maybe it was too dark to see, but seems like the BWB didn't try at all to stop her leaving the cave.

    Bran's scene didn't add anything new. At least we got an Osha monologue than doing the dreams again. Bran's storyline has really suffered the most this season.

    The actress who plays Shae still hasn't convinced me that she's not the weakest performer in the show.

    Theon going through torture yet again. At least they put in a sex scene to be different from the others this time. Though it should surprise no one as this show has an uncanny ability to put sex in whatever scenario. I really hope this is the last Theon's scene for a while. It's not because the acting is bad, Alfie Allen and the guy who is torturing him are both good, it's more because of the writing and how pretty much nothing new and/or significant is happening almost every Theon's scenes. He's going through some pretty brutal torture... we get it already.

    The Best Moment:

    I have to disagree with you Robin, the bear pit scene is the best of the lot, especially when you look at other scenes for this episode, conversations that added nothing new like Shae/Tyrion & Sansa/Margery and more torture porn, or should I say porn then torture. Though I wish it went for a bit longer than giving time to torturing Theon some more. Still, it made friends who hated Jaime like him a bit, which is saying something because they really hate him from the very first episode.

    Regarding last week, first about Walder Frey, the information I mentioned can be gathered from the show and don't have to rely on the books. I forgot to mention that he's a sort that likes to spread his seed as you can tell from the many children we saw on episode 109. He even impregnated a commoner like a milkmaid. I don't think he's married to a high born ladies or his children married to one in the show, so having one of his daughter married to Edmure is definitely a step up.

    Riverrun is a capital of that region, so it's pretty much the Winterfell of the Riverlands. It's definitely a catch prize for WF having their own there, especially since they have repeatedly been snubbed by Catelyn's father, Hoster Tully.

    I don't remember in the books that grayscale changes ones hair color, if it does it seems kind of pointless and confuse the audience so more. Luckily, only I seem to noticed Shireen's hair. LOL. I wouldn't put it past them that they have made an error, I believe the show writers got the religion of one of the northern man mixed up, I think it was Karstark. But that error seems so minor compared to this latest error. I'm surprise they didn't give the actress who plays Shireen a black wig, since their wigs have improved greatly from season 1, just look at the Cersei's hair from S1 compared S2 & S3. No more pretzel hair style!

    Lastly, I'm pretty sure Ned would have mentioned about how true born Baratheons have black hair in the letter he sent to Stannis, because Stannis would have wanted proof before starting a costly war.

    Viewer score: 58 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 14/05/2013 2:36am (5 years ago)

  • Please check my math (as I barely pass the spam question each week) but two filler episodes in a row in a ten episode runs is a fifth of the season. Unacceptable.Shocked to hear who wrote this episode. Ill timed reveals, rapid fire scenes and little momentum. This is suppose to be everyone's favorite book.

    Viewer score: 38 / 100

    Posted by dbates, 13/05/2013 7:53pm (5 years ago)

  • (Book reader, sorry) A tad better than last week... but not by much. Last week, a commentor said he felt we were getting "necessary set-up", I completely disagree: we're getting filler.
    I enjoy a GoT season when it's like a boulder rolling down the hill, with the narrative gaining speed as it goes along. (Season 1)

    For reasons I don't understand, both last season and this season, the producers are slowing down in episodes 6,7 & 8?!?!
    Last year, Dany's dragons are stolen in Episode 6, in Episode 7 she learns they're in the House of the Undying, in Episode 8 she ... discusses with Jorah whether or not she should go to the House of the Undying?!?! The scene was pointless: the audience knew Jorah loved Dany, Dany was going to go get her dragons. There was nothing "new" in it. It was just a "stall" tactic to push Dany's storyline apex to the "big" season finale.
    Book Reader Nerd Note: In the book A Clash of Kings, Dany's visit to the House of the Undying actually happens about 70% of the way into the story. I bring this up not as "book lover rage" (the show does not have to be faithful to the books) but because even GRRM knew the reader needed to start getting "payoffs" for all the set-up.

    It feels like they're doing the same thing this season, slowing things down for the last 2 episodes... and it's made the last few episodes much weaker.

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by Bubba, 13/05/2013 5:11pm (5 years ago)

  • There were a few strong scenes to enjoy here but overall this episode felt a bit redundant and slow. The strong scenes included the Jaimie/Brienne part with a very convincing looking bear fight at the end, Tywins confrontation with Joffrey and surprisingly the Jon Snow part. Finally they gave his storyline a bit more time to develop. One thing that just doesn’t made any sense for me was Orells love confession to Ygritte. I don’t know but didn’t he try to kill her just hours ago?

    Theons scene may be controversial but I actually "enjoyed" it. As should be clear by now his torture IS his whole storyline this season. And Game of Thrones depicts it without compromise, very disturbing stuff indeed. I only read the final book "Dance with Dragons" and in the book it wasn't very clear if Theon actually lost his favorite part which was only implied. But it is safe to say that Theon will have a dramatic shift in character like Jamie did before and all the torture scenes will ultimately pay off (at least in my opinion).

    Really disappointing this time around was the Tyrion storyline especially his interaction with Shae. As a German myself it is kind of sad to say that Sybil Kekilli who plays Shae is probably the least competent actor in the series.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by Robert, 13/05/2013 4:08pm (5 years ago)

  • I agree that every season there are a few episodes that make you wonder where things are going, or make you pause and think to yourself, "all of that buildup to this one direction and not it seems its going in some other direction...maybe even nowhere."

    It is simultaneously the thing that is most frustrating and rewarding about both the series of books and this TV show. Having read the books, it doesn't bother me in TV form so much, but I understand the sentiment completely.

    George RR Martin is one of the most exciting story tellers out there because he has no problem bringing real consequence into his world. Main characters die, actions held long ago have repercussions throughout the story, situations change and often times for the worse. My wife stopped watching the show with me after loving the first season and a half, because, "it's just too depressing. Nothing ever goes right, or if it does it's not for long."

    At the same time, though, this means Martin is a wild card in narrative form. In storytelling, we're used to every plot or every character being important. We're used to every scene leading to the next, anticipated, follow up or conclusion. Martin has the knack for taking a character on what seems a very clear trajectory and then just changing it almost on a whim and certainly on a dime.

    I'm usually pretty good at speculating where shows or books are generally headed. This series is not one of them. I think I've got it...and then things are flipped on their head - either in a way that makes it more boring or in a way that makes it more exciting. I'm constantly lulled to disinterest and sparked to full on engagement when going through them. I view that as a good and bad thing...but most of all it keeps me interested to see it through, because it's an unpredictable thing.

    Posted by Brando, 13/05/2013 2:57pm (5 years ago)

  • I thought that this was a very focused and solid episode, to me the entire episode had a running theme of how the women of the show deal with their relationships with men. Of course there was some scenes that didn't fit into that but I do feel this was the overarching theme.

    Talisa and Robb was the weakest relationship scene to me because Talisa was playing the scene as very sinister to me. The reveal that she was pregnant did not seem to fit with her very coy responses. Now that's fine to me if it turns out that Talisa is playing Robb in some way but given that I believe we were meant to see them as the example of a happy normal couple the presentation of this scene was off.

    Ygritte and Jon have suffered from being sped up this season so I don't know what each character really means to the other. I got a handle on Jon this week and I thought I'd got a handle on Ygritte last week but this week called that into question. It seems like both of them appear to be on different pages. They both care for each other and want to stay loyal to one another but also won't betray their own side, at least I think that is what is happening here. I feel like we aren't learning enough about Ygritte until there is an inevitable moment where Jon has to choose between his duty and her.

    The other relationship moments were typically strong stuff. Not to say that those two moments were bad just unknown. In Shae, Margaery and Dany we had three examples of how women deal with men.

    In Shae we had a character who was unwilling to lower herself to become Tyrion's whore again. Shae has developed legitimate feelings for Tyrion and while she is still a secret now it makes sense that she would feel insulted by his offer now. The scene was pretty powerful to me as an example of how far she has come as a character and how far this relationship has come.

    While it was Sansa's scene, the real look at someone's character we were getting was at Margaery. Obviously the information that we get from Margaery we could decipher from her behavior before but it more just fit with the overarching theme of the episode.

    Dany to me is still the leader of a tribe of conquering barbarians. It makes her an increasing interesting character to watch and certainly one of the strongest female characters on the show who is not defined in any way by her relationship to men. This scene though just went to prove how far I believe Dany is from actually taking the throne. There seems to be very little strategic importance in sacking Yunkaii and more if it's here so let's burn it. It is interesting to me that neither Barristan or Jorah spoke up but this seems much more like the orders of what a Khalessi than a Queen of Westeros.

    So scenes that don't fit with that theme (mostly):

    The Tywin and Joffrey scene feels like the set up to something bigger. While I certainly felt that Joffrey in that moment would be cowed by his grandfather. He was almost beat down too easily and if that is the last time we see them interact it's going to be disappointing. Joffrey is obviously going to strike back in some obvious and violent way.

    Theon's torture scenes are normally unbearable for me but this one almost made sense. I think there would have been much more power in us seeing Theon captured and getting a hint of torture and then seeing him after alive or dead. Now it is just repetitive because there is nothing that changes for Theon. In the beginning of the scene he is just as wretched as the end. This week though we did see a glimpse of that old Theon and it seems clear that the torturer's goal is eradicate all that exists of Theon's former self. Also in an episode that was all about women it made a kind of sense that Theon who did treat women as nothing but objects got castrated. It's not totally necessary but it fits.

    Viewer score: 71 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 13/05/2013 2:29pm (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments