Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Game of Thrones "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"

Non Spoiler Review:
The Bear and the Maiden Fair sees the Starks en route to the Twins for Edmure's wedding, but Robb gets some surprising news. Arya has had enough of the morally grey Brotherhood Without Banners. Ramsay has even darker surprises for Theon. Melisandre sails to King's Landing with Gendry. Sansa, Shae and Tyrion all receive advice on how to handle their relationship problems. Jon and Ygritte continue south while Bran announces a change in plans to Osha. Across the sea, Daenerys makes the leadership of Yunkai an offer they can't refuse.

Season three has really given us some amazing scene pairings, and here we finally get a one on one with Tywin and his grandson. Good and evil has never been black and white for Game of Thrones. Whether viewing the ethically ambiguous Brotherhood, Jaime's compelling evolution, or Daenerys' strategic goals in the east, it's interesting how the series can succeed in shifting audience loyalties over the course of the season.

In stark (pun!) contrast to pretty much every episode, Game of Thrones brought (dare I say) a somewhat happy ending. It was an episode where a lot of things seemed to go right for several characters. That means, of course, plenty is about to go horribly wrong.

Spoilers Now!
Tormund leads his men towards Castle Black, but Jon isn't sure how far away they are from it. He confronts Orell about cutting them loose on the Wall. Orell explains Ygritte understands the way things are—people are loyal when it suits them and kill each other when it suits them. She understands that, but Jon doesn't, which is why he'll never hold onto her.

On the march, Orell continues to question Ygritte about her feelings for Jon. She should be with one of her own, he says, and professes his love for her. She loves Jon, she admits. But pretty won't make her happy, Orell says, and warns her she won't love him after she finds out what he is.

Weather is delaying the Stark's journey to Lord Frey. Catelyn warns he will take that delay as a slight and it was Robb he wanted, not Edmure. Robb dismisses it, suggesting Edmure is the best match he has. When they're alone, Robb contemplates his battle plans while Talisa writes her mother. She isn't aware her daughter is a queen, but just one of many surprises, she teases. She asks him to come with her to Volantis one day when it's all over, so he promises. Her mother would love to meet him and her grandchild, she adds. Robb is shocked but elated. 

Sansa seeks Margaery's shoulder to cry on. She realized she was a stupid little girl with stupid dreams. Margaery wants her to be happy but they all must make the best of their circumstances. Tyrion has not mistreated her and he's been kind—far from the worst Lannister. Margaery plans to teach her son a great deal, and Sansa's son might be the lord of the north and Casterly Rock someday. Sansa is horrified at the thought of having sex with a dwarf. Margaery suggests she's heard Tyrion is quite experienced and she might be pleasantly surprised. Sansa asks how she knows so much, and Margaery coyly answers her mother taught her. 

Tyrion commiserates with Bronn about his new betrothed. Bronn tells him all he has to do is get a son in Sansa and continue to bed Shae. Tyrion wastes too much time trying to get people to love him, and he'll just end up being the most popular dead man in town. 

Tywin visits his grandson in the throne room after being summoned. Joffrey wants a report on the meetings of his small council. Tywin advises him he's welcome to attend, but Joffrey protests he's busy. Joffrey also wants to know why he's not using the small council chamber. If Joffrey wanted to attend he would now have to climb all the stairs in the Tower of the Hand. Tywin walks up the steps to the Iron Throne and tells him they could arrange to have him carried if he wished.

Joffrey then inquires about Daenerys and her dragons. Tywin confirms it's apparently true but points out when he was Hand of the King under Aerys, all the skulls of the Targaryen dragons were in the throne room, and the most recent was the size of an apple. Curiosities on the far side of the world are not their problem, he dismisses. The experts told them they need not be concerned. Joffrey protests, but Tywin informs him he's being counselled. He assures him he will be kept abreast of all important matters from now on, then excuses himself.

Daenerys arrives at the Yellow City, Yunkai.  Jorah and Selmy advise they will hide behind their walls rather than meet them on the field. She knows there are 200,000 slaves in the city...200,000 reasons to take it. She advises Grey Worm to take her terms of surrender to the slavers of the city. 

A leader of Yunkai goes out to her camp to meet with her and offer terms of peace. Daenerys greets him with her dragons. He explains their empire was old before any dragon stirred. If blood is her desire, blood shall flow. But he offers her a gift of gold and more on the deck of her ship, should she wish it. She will have as many ships as she requires, and all they ask is that she makes use of them to sail to Westeros where she belongs and leave them in peace. She will give him the gift of his life and those of his masters, but she wants every slave released in Yunkai, and they will be given food and property for their years in servitude. If he rejects her offer, she will show them no mercy.

He reveals they have powerful friends who will make a slave of her, as well. He instructs his men to take the gold but the dragons fly down to chase the slaves away. It's her gold now. She tells him to consider her gift to him and sends him away. Selmy warns her the Yunkai won't bend. She asks who his powerful friends are, but Jorah doesn't know, so he's tasked to find out. 

Tyrion offers a gift of golden chains to Shae, but she's obstinate about his forthcoming nuptials. She suggests they still go across the Narrow Sea, but he has a duty to his family and his feelings have not changed for her. He promises to buy her a good home and any children they might have will be well-provided for, but she doesn't want children who can never see her father or will be killed in their sleep by Tywin if he found out. He assures her she will always be his lady, but she counters she's her whore and she will be nothing when he's tired of her. 

On a ship in Blackwater Bay, Melisandre shows Gendry the site of the battle as they look up at King's Landing. She asks him if he ever wondered where his strength came from. She admits her mother was a slave and so was she until the lord of light raised her up. He was born in Fleabottom, he explains, but she reveals his blood is noble. His father was Robert Baratheon. That's why the gold cloaks wanted him. And as he considers the revelation, she tells him there's power in a king's blood. 

Beric attempts to make amends with Arya, but she thinks they're traitors. He obeys the command of his god. Her god is death, she says. They're interrupted by the arrival of Anguy who has spotted a Lannister raiding party. They're eager to ambush them, but Arya wants to get to Rivverun. Beric assures her they'll take her there, but they need to do this first. She calls him a liar and hopes the Lannisters kill them all. She runs off and flees into the woods, only to be grabbed by the Hound.

In her quarters, Brienne is visited by Jaime, who isn't leaving until the following day. Bolton is going to the Twins for Edmure Tully's wedding while she is to remain at Harrenhal with Locke. He owes her a debt. She tells him he gave his word to Catelyn. If he keeps it, consider the debt paid. He swears to return the Stark girls to their mother. She says her good-bye.

The maester, Qyburn, is riding with him, hoping the citadel will give him back his chain upon Tywin's recommendation. Roose sees him off and Locke tells him safe journey and mocks him as he rides off. He promises to take care of his friend. 

Theon is untied and laid out to have his wounds tended by three women. He asks where his captor is, but they assure him no one is there but them. He begs them to help him but they proceed to disrobe each other and succeed in seducing him. Ramsay interrupts and hits him, and as Theon tries to crawl away his men enter, with the intent to remove the one thing Theon values.

Ygritte is stunned to find something as simple as a windmill. He assures her Winterfell is much more impressive. Jon admits to her that they won't win. Six times the wildlings have attacked the kingdoms and they've all failed in thousands of years. They lack discipline and training. She assures him Mance is different. If they attack the Wall they'll die, Jon persists. If they die they die, she says. But first they'll live.

Meanwhile, at Bran's camp, Osha resents that Jojen does none of the work. She thinks he's filling Bran's head with black magic. Jojen explains he's helping Bran understand what's happening to him, then informs her they're not going to Castle Black as Jon isn't there. Bran needs to find the raven beyond the Wall. That's all he has now, and he believes he fell from the tower for a reason. Osha rants to them about life beyond the Wall. She had a man once but one night he disappeared. He came back as a pale dead man with blue eyes and tried to kill her. She managed to stab him in the heart but he never noticed. She had to burn the hut down with him inside. She didn't ask the gods what that meant. She knew. The north is no place for men to be. She promised Luwin she'd get them to Castle Black and no further.

On the road, the maester tends to Jaime's wound. He asks why the citadel took his chain. Qyburn confesses he was too curious. The only way to understand disease was to understand the inflicted. He performed experiments on dying men. Seeing he's being judged, Qyburn inquires how many men Jaime killed, versus how many lives he saved. Jaime considers he saved the entire population of King's Landing.

Jaime asks if he got a raven to Brienne's father in Tarth. Qyburn explains Selwin Tarth offered 300 gold dragons for his daughter's return. Locke wouldn't take it given he thinks Tarth has all the sapphires in Westeros. Brienne will be their entertainment for the night. Beyond that they don't care very much. Jaime tells his guards they must return to Harrenhal as he's left something behind. When he's refused, Jaime suggests they think they'll get a reward, but explains that when Tywin sees him he'll tell him they're the ones who chopped his hand off. Or he can say they saved his life. They return to Harrenhal.

They arrive at the keep to find it quiet, and he rushes to an assembly where the men are watching Brienne fight against a bear with a wooden sword. He confronts Locke and tells him he'll pay her ransom. Locke says gold doesn't matter. Watching the fight makes him happier than all their sapphires. The bear strikes and disarms her, so Jaime jumps in, ordering her to get behind him. Jaime's escort starts firing arrows into the bear, reminding Locke that Bolton told him to bring Jaime alive. Jaime gets them to pull Brienne up. She reaches down for him, and Jaime tries to climb as the bear attempts to get at them. She pulls him to safety. Locke insists the bitch stays. Jaime says he's taking her to King's Landing unless he kills him, standing his ground and asking which is more important to Lord Bolton. Locke's men stand down. Jaime announces they'll be on their way. And sorry about the sapphires, he adds. He and Brienne make their way through the crowd.

The Verdict:
This was a positively upbeat episode, and one of the very few I can remember that had a somewhat happy conclusion for several characters. It was a nice little respite before the usual catastrophic season endings.

This week lulled me into a likely false sense of security with Melisandre, as she was quite amenable with Gendry as they looked upon the Red Keep. I was thinking she might be prepared to sacrifice him in some dark ritual, but now I'm wondering if her intent since the failure of Blackwater Bay is to dump Stannis and attempt to place Gendry on the throne in order to further their goal of converting the realm to the one true god? That's a bit less ominous if that's the case.

Though I've mentioned it before, I'm thoroughly enjoying Daenerys' storyline. While I initially chafed at the slow burn of her arc so far removed from Westeros, the growth of her army and allies has proven a compelling story in itself. Who are the mysterious allies of the Yunkai, and will they pose a threat to her?

It's ironic that Joffrey seems to be the only one concerned about her dragons. Daenerys knows the value of establishing herself as a conqueror (and liberator) prior to her crossing of the Narrow Sea. Does Tywin truly think she's not a threat?

It's about time House Stark had a new heir, as they're running short on viable candidates. As for Sansa, she continues to evolve into more of a mature character rather than the foolish girl she admits to being. I believe Arya's association with the Hound will prove interesting, and perhaps a friendship over time, once she begins to hear what's happened with Sansa. The Brotherhood has proven they lack any moral authority at all, and if Melisandre and Thoros are any indication, their one true god sucks, as well.

I had an interesting thought at the conclusion (as my initial impression was that Brienne and Jaime might both die in the bear pit). Will Jaime make it back to King's Landing and be the one who ultimately plants a sword in his father's back? Given Tywin's exchange with his grandson, I feel the momentum for the death of the Lannister patriarch is continuing to build. Jaime has become positively saintly in his behaviour of late. I love how Game of Thrones can completely turn a hated character around. But that doesn't bode well for his longevity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...