"People work together when it suits 'em. They're loyal when it suits 'em. Love each other when it suits 'em. And they kill each other when it suits 'em."
Game of Thrones is really on a roll. The last three episodes of HBO's fantasy series have been on par with or better than any that have come before (not to mention making a mockery of most of their competition) and the third season as a whole is shaping up to be the most entertaining one yet. "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" was another thematically interesting as well as enjoyable installment, undoubtedly leaving audiences both incredibly satisfied but still salivating for more. Like immediately. As for last night, it probably didn't hurt to have Breaking Bad alum Michelle McLaren directing a script written by George R.R. Martin himself. You know, the guy who wrote the "Ice and Fire" series of novels. No big deal. Maybe that's why on top of being a stellar installment, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" also contained its fair share of easter eggs for the readers. Nothing major. Just sly nods. I'll say no more. Well, about that. I have plenty more to say about the rest.
"You rip my pretty silk dress, I'll blacken your eye."
The title of last week's Game of Thrones referred to many different threads or characters in the episode (say, Littlefinger) but, first and foremost, "The Climb" conjures up images of Jon, Ygritte and the rest of the wildling group making their way up the Wall. "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" opens with them on the other side of the mystical structure, engaged in a conversation about the differences in how the people on either side of the Wall wage war. While Jon tries to explain the honor that comes with carrying your House's banner into battle, Ygritte once again informs him how he knows nothing, making a pretty solid point about just how absurd that really is in reality. Carry a stick and flag into war. Much like a slave, eh Dany? Tormund is proving to be a big joker, still a threatening physical presence but also larger than life. As for Orell, well, the wildling warg is getting increasingly jealous of Jon and Ygritte's relationship and isn't afraid to tell either of them. But Jon is Ygritte's man. She is his and he is hers. Now bugger off into your eagle while the couple continues to banter for our enjoyment. Even when things get a little heated, that passion translates nicely into romance.
Doesn't change the fact that the last six times the free folk have attacked the Crows, they've lost. But what are the wildlings supposed to do? As Osha points out, the North is quickly becoming no place for for the living and it's not like the Night's Watch (and the rest of the South) are going to welcome the 'savages' across the border with open arms. Despite Osha's tragic tale about how her husband left one day only to return a wight (who she then had to burn with their home), I just don't see Bran or Jojen giving up on their quest to locate the three eyed raven. Whether the magic if black or not, it is growing a lot stronger since the dragons have been resurrected across the sea. Or, as Bran sees it, since he fell from the tower and lost the use of his legs. Besides, Jon isn't waiting for them at Castle Black with a cup of warm cocoa. They are quickly becoming a group without many options.
"Where is he?"
Elsewhere in the North, things are not much better for Theon. In fact, things couldn't be much worse. The Prince of the Iron Islands is still being held prisoner in the mysterious dungeon by the sadistic 'Boy' and the torture is only getting more extreme. Once again, his captor decides to bring a little ray of sunshine, a little glimmer of hope into Theon's world before blanketing it all with an even new level of darkness. Theon wakes to find that he's being taken off the St. Andrew's cross again but this time by two beautiful women. While one tends to his wounds, the other tends to his other parts with little success. It seems the Prince is still a little weary of his surroundings (I wonder why), however, they are eventually able to lull him into a false sense of security and, like George Costanza once said, it moved! Then comes the horn and the most horrible act that we've probably ever witnessed on the show. Well, it was implied more than witnessed but still... Yikes. And he was so proud of little Theon.
"He's getting a wedding. It was a king he wanted."
The King of the North, however, is enjoying the use of little Robb as he and his lovely wife continue to march towards the Freys for Edmure's wedding. But before the royal couple jump into bed together and his foreign bride reveals that she is pregnant with a baby Stark (whoa!), Cat is not nearly as fond of the situation. She tries to remind her son, who seems a little too wrapped up in his wife drying his hair, that Walder Frey is a piece of garbage and won't be happy to hear about any delays, especially since the whole thing is a consolation prize to begin with. Edmure isn't a king. He's barely a Lord. It might have helped Cat's cause if the Blackfish had not been so wasted when he back up her opinion of Lord Frey but it was great fun to hear him describe his fondness for the man with a fecal comparison. Back to the bedroom, where the very good looking King and Queen have a quick romp before Robb tries to get some war work done and she writes a letter to her mother in Valyrian. Très mystérieux. Robb's definitely right about one thing though, it's hard to think about anything when Oona Chaplin is lying there naked. Oof.
"Kick all you like, Wolf Girl. It won't do you no good."
Speaking of kings, Gendry learns about his noble blood as he sails around King's Landing with Melisandre but something tells me her plans for the boy are not as promising as their appear. She's not the most trustworthy type now is she? Maybe it's because I saw her give birth to a shadow baby. Either way, it's a nice moment for the bastard boy from Fleabottom to not only learn about his powerful blood line but also get a little pep talk about coming from nothing from the Red Priestess. His expression looks earnest but her words sounds a little too much like Littlefinger's. With an extra side of ominous. Meanwhile, Arya has still not forgiven the Brotherhood Without Banners for trading Gendry to Melisandre for the word of the Lord of Light and some gold. She's growing even more cold and distant, all of her family and now friends stripped away. To make matters worse, the BWB learns of a nearby group of Lannister men and decides to take a detour from taking Arya to Riverrrun, so she splits. Right into the Hound's waiting arms. How nice? Remember, he had quite the interesting relationship with Sansa in previous seasons.
"How did marrying a whore work out for you the first time?"
Poor Sansa. Yep. I'm still on that kick from last week cause things just don't seem to get any better for the oldest Stark daughter. To be fair, she doesn't know that Tyrion is actually a pretty great guy. Not that it would make marrying a man that much older any better. Or a Lannister. Or, as she said, a dwarf. I can't defend the last part but Margaery does her best to make Sansa see the bright side. If there is one. Somehow, she might have it better than Tyrion though, who's getting it from all sides. First, in a amusingly frank (and disgusting) discussion with his friend Bronn before turning to Shae for the, uh, not so amusingly frank discussion. A lot of talk about sons, both legitimate - therefore securing a large part of Westeros for the Lannister Lord - and illegitimate -only securing the wrath of his father. What will Tyrion do? His duty? Poor Sansa. Okay I'll stop. Elsewhere in King's Landing, Tywin also decided to start making good on his promise to tame Joffrey, having an hilarious conversation that quickly illuminated just who is running the show. This Hand doesn't wipe.
”We don’t need Yunkai, Khalessi. Taking this city will not bring you any closer to Westeros or the Iron Throne.”
Daenerys also spent a large part of the episode stretching her wings to show just who’s boss but her reach only extends across the Free Cities. For the time being. We first glimpse the Khalessi as she makes her way to Yunkai, another of the great slave cities that exist in that part of the world and we all know what Dany thinks of slavery. After a brief talk with her advisors, Barristan informing her that her Unsullied will easily win in battle while Jorah insists on continuing on to Westeros, the silver haired queen decides that freeing people is currently more important than conquering her homeland. She sends Grey Worm ahead to call a meeting with the Yunkish Lords and the guy who shows up couldn’t have planned a worse arrival. Not the way to make an entrance in front of the mother of dragons, freer of slaves. And Dany lets him know it almost instantly. She’s easily the most badass character on the show now but is her power going to her head? There’s a glimmer of madness in those eyes. Obviously freeing slaves is a good thing but when is one a liberator or a conqueror? Who cares, dragons! Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal were at their most badass as well. They look amazing. As for Yunkai’s powerful friends, did Jorah actually know? Is he covering his own ass still?
♫"... In a coat of gold or a coat of red, a lion still has claws. And mine are long and sharp, my lord, as long and sharp as yours. And so he spoke, and so he spoke, that lord of Castamere."♫
And finally, our titular "Bear and the Maiden Fair." Jaime and Brienne's story continues to be the most satisfying thread of the season. It's funny, full of surprises and action as well as it's fair share of emotion. Their relationship has blossomed into something very special and those who only watch the TV series are starting to see why Jaime is so many readers' favourite character. He's fascinatingly complex and his actions may never make up for his incestuous relationship with Cersei or throwing Bran from the window but there's a lot more to the man than Ned Stark would have you believe. And Brienne knows it now. She is like honor personified and their goodbye pact was heartbreaking. I believed that Jaime would make good on his word. An oath he would have kept. Instead, he decided to do one better and return for his companion after a quick check-up with Qyburn. That stump is something. Props to the make-up department. Jaimie returns to find Locke and his men watching Brienne, still in that ridiculous gown, 'battle' a bear for their entertainment and he decides to jump in to save her. Did you think he'd make it out alive? A close call. I'm glad he had some words for the rat this time out the door. The "Rains of Castamere" musical cue gave me chills. Anyone can be... redeemed?
Game of Thrones Season 3 returns with Episode 8, "Second Sons," on Sunday, May 19 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. The series stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
♫"... then she sighed and squealed and kicked the air. She sang, 'My bear so fair,' and off they went. The bear! The bear! And the maiden fair!"♫