Title: Game of Thrones
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Watched: Episode 27 – May 12, 2013
Title: The Bear and the Maiden Fair
Summary: Not 1, not 2, but 3 dragons, a bear, and lots of queenly tush!
This week we have the annual George R. Martin episode, written by Georgi son of Gimli himself.
Jon – Evidently getting down the wall is a lot easier than getting up, because Jon, Ygritte and crew start off this episode on the green side. Also, one has to wonder, where did all the extra wildlings come from? Seemed last week like just four got to the top, and the rest of the red shirts tumbled to their doom, but now we have a whole party. Anyway, as they march along toward Castle Black, Jon and Ygritte get some welcome time together. Their chemistry is great — or more properly Ygritte is great as Jon acts a tad lumpish while she steals the show. We get to see her even more of her character: fierce and worldly in her own sphere, and a bit clueless about anything else.
Tormund is good fun too. Orel makes my skin crawl, but he’s supposed to.
Bran – Bran’s scenes here, like their literary counterparts, aren’t the most exciting. Osha continues to be anxious and take the anti-magic stance, but her rational for not wanting to go back north of the wall is touching enough. The scenery (Northern Ireland) is similar enough to Jon’s, so we assume they must be near.
Oh and Osha does a nice refrain on the wildling sentiment “he was mine and I was his” that Ygritte expresses in the previous scene.
Robb – and his court stall before heading out to Edmure’s wedding. Not much here but Cat’s wary stance. However, In the next scene we’re treated to some good King and Queen of the North action. His bride isn’t shy, and it’s relatively rare in this show, and even rarer in the books, to see genuine affection. She admits to being pregnant, which as always in royal matters, is of great dynastic significance.
On a technical note, I like the little writing tray she uses in bed. This was actually a typical thing even in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Melisandre and Gendry – sail past King’s Landing and the wreckage of Blackwater Bay. They might not be my favorite characters but this is a gorgeous overhead shot like a medieval Life of Pi. Meanwhile she reveals to him that he’s King Robert’s bastard.
Arya – We don’t get much Arya this week, but she’s still hanging out in that cave — for now. They show it in the above video clip, but I have to admit to getting goosebumps when she admits her god is “death.” For me (and Martin) this isn’t just a cynical and bleak admission, but the beginnings of a liberalized relationship with Jaqen H’ghar’s faceless god of death. When the men even fail in their mission to take her rapidly to Riverrun she takes off, only to meet someone in the woods she thought long gone.
Theon – We might almost feel sorry for Theon, as it just keeps getting worse for everyone’s favorite Greyjoy. A couple of hottie girls pull him off his cross and start to show him a good time, but before we can wonder why they don’t mind the stink, the crazy bastard (hehe) holding him busts right in and spoils the fun. Although the nasty action is off screen, we’ll have to assume Theon ends up losing his two closest friends. Poor guy — even if he did murder Rodrick.
Dany – Pulls up to Junkai (the slaver city next to Astapor). We are treated to a great CGI shot of it in the distance, but her meeting with its emissaries takes place in the barrens outside. Notice how much they resemble A New Hope’s Tatooine! Anyway, the show has a consistent difficulty making these big army shots feel properly grand and gritty. The try, they really do, but it’s just hard to simulate tens of thousands of men on any reasonable budget. We do however, get some really good dragon action shots in the tent, particularly involving feisty Drogon. Dany is growing further and further into her own, taking on not just the cause of reclaiming Westeros but her almost religious mission to free any slave she encounters.
Sansa and Marg – Unlike last week, this isn’t a Kings Landing heavy episode, but we do revisit those lovely Gardens below. The dueling attitudes of both girls are a study in opposites. Sansa bemoans her situation and Marg sure knows how to look on the bright side. Despite all the plot’s the lovely Highgarden girl is involved in, you can’t help but like her. Her flexibility seems genuine. And she doesn’t seem bothered by the idea of dwarf love!
Tyrion – chats with Bronn about his situation: i.e. what to do about Sansa and Shae. Too bad Bronn’s simple view on such matters isn’t helpful when he really gets down to talking with his working girl love. Show-Shae is far more complex and interesting than book-Shae. She has genuine feelings and motives here — and I can see where they are going. What happens with her at the end of A Storm of Swords always bothered me, but they seem to be laying better groundwork here.
Tywin and Joff – chat in the throne room. I’m not sure how I feel about this scene even though it feels true to both characters. They don’t exactly clash, but their perspectives are so far apart that there is almost no communication. I’m interested to see where this goes, because like Shae, Joff, and Tywin are both far more developed in the show than in the novels (not being POV characters).
Jaime and Brienne – Jaime comes to see Brienne off before heading out from Harrenhall. He’s feeling the shit, but she lets him off easy in her own way. She makes him swear again to uphold his part of her oath in rescuing Sansa and Arya (moot as it might be). This is a touching moment because being the Kingslayer, the oathbreaker, her very willingness to trust in his owner is complement enough, and Nikolaj Coster Waldau is deft in making you believe he means it.
Outside, Bolton bids him off, as does Locke, who’s clearly taken the consolidated place of the nasty Brave Companions and their creepy leader. Qyburn accompanies Jaime and works on his ugly-ass stump. Time is taken to build this sordid character, as he’s got his role to play, but it’s Jaime who does the serious soul searching here, deciding to force the group back to Harrenhall after Brienne.
The anticipated live action Bear and the Maiden Fair looked good, and sounded good (the refrain of the song is great), but felt somehow unrealistic. This was a phenomenal moment in the books and it just didn’t sit exactly right with me tonight. Maybe it wast he relative ease with which Locke gives up. This is a man that chopped off Jaime’s freaking hand to make a point! True, the other guys that have sworn to take Jaime to Kings Landing aren’t going to have any of it, but you don’t exactly feel the lines of power pulling taught.
I’ll have to see how I feel on my second watch, particularly since my note taking on the first viewing always reduces the immediacy.
In any case, despite this, still a great episode. In casting forward the arc for the season this isn’t exactly half of A Storm of Swords, but more like 80%. I’ll register my opinion that the season is likely to end with the two weddings — and unlikely to include the parts that follow until next season. George is a fine scriptwriter, but he needs to get back to his books or HBO will catch up to him!
Absent this week were Stannis, Davos, Cersei, and Olena.