The good, the bad and the ugly. That’s what this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” gave me. Teaser: when I mean ugly, its gender specific. The third season’s seventh episode started off surprisingly slow, and dare I say boring – the bad. Rob Stark, the Snore of the North, is a day away from handing his uncle over to Walder Fray, so Lord Fray’s daughter can marry. She was supposed to marry Rob, but he fell in love with another and was wed last season. Not even Rob’s wife, lying naked in bed could help me get interested in that story-line. Rob does learn his wife is pregnant which is significant, but I’m finding everything to do with Rob uninteresting and bland. From there, we head to King’s Landing, where Sansa (another bore) and Margarey Tyrell discuss the possibility of Tyrion being a fine lover. At the same time, Tyrion and Bronn talk of Sansa and the problems his wedding will bring between Tyrion and his true love, Shae.
“The Bear and the Maiden Fair” picks up steam with a fantastic exchange between two Lannisters: Tywin and Joffrey. Tywin approaches Joffrey’s throne, standing below him, at the bottom of the throne’s stairs. Joffrey, smug as always, wants reports on Tywin’s small council meetings and questions why Tywin has been holding those meetings in the Tower of the Hand. If he wanted to go to the meetings, Joffrey complains he’d have to walk up the stairs. Tywin, smooth as silk, slowly walks up the throne steps, towering over Joffrey. “We could arrange to have you carried,” says Tywin. It is such a humorous scene watching Joffrey’s grandfather cut him down without losing his own head. As they talk, Joffrey brings up rumors that have spread into Westeros about Dany and her dragons. Tywin dismisses them as only a curiosity, nothing to worry over now. But we know different.
And speaking of dragons (which are always good), the scene then shifts to Dany who has approached Yunkai, the YellowCity, with her army. She holds a meeting with a noble lord who speaks on Yunkai’s behalf. Dany is introduced to him as “breaker of chains, mother of dragons.” This slight addition gives us more insight into Dany’s motivations. She sees the value in releasing slaves from bondage, not only as a genuine crusade but it also stands to bring her a larger army. At the meeting, Dany shows her true power, not by force, but by striking fear into the slave owner. She wants all the slaves to released. She has found a power in their freedom. No one wants a master. By giving the slaves freedom, they consistently pledge allegiance back to her under their own accord, something far more powerful than that of a whip. We also get a good glimpse of her dragons, which are getting bigger and nastier. When the noble lord tries to take back the gold he offered as a peace offering, the dragons won’t allow it. Lesson learned: never threaten a dragon’s mother.
Now we come to the ugly part of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” Theon Greyjoy is taken off his torture rack by two young women. They begin to help him with his wounds suffered through his tortures. They pleasure him, but before anything goes all the way, we hear that dreaded horn. Greyjoy’s torturer is back. Theon is continued to be tortured, this time given a sexual fantasy, only to have it turned into a nightmare, as his man-hood is presumably removed. The scene started fulfilling every young man’s dream, and turned into a twist of emotions. I found myself caught between humor and horror all at the same time. Thankfully, the scene was cut short, and we didn’t have to witness the end of Theon’s ability to procreate.
Finally we get to the episode’s peak, which takes the form of Jaime Lannister. This season, I have found his character’s path to be the most intriguing. I’m a sucker for stories of redemption. Heck, what would you expect from a child of Star Wars mania. Jaime is sent off from Lord Bolton’s back toward King’s Landing but without Brienne. Brienne is left with a slew of unsavory men. When Jaime learns what they plan on doing to her, he returns to Bolton’s. Looking for Brienne, Jaime comes to find all the men standing high above a fighting pit. Inside, the bear and the maiden fair are having a battle to the death. Brienne, armed with only a wooden sword, backs away from a gigantic grizzly. Jaime, single handedly – pun intended, jumps into the bear pit and distracts the animal enough so Brienne can climb out. Jaime makes his way out, with the bear nipping at his heels. Another epic stand off ensues, this time between Jaime and the man who cut off his hand. Through a well placed threat, Jaime secures Brienne’s release with him. Jaime’s progression is great. The once pompous prince has learned what it takes to be a hero. And what do heroes do? They put the lives of others ahead of their own. That’s exactly what Jaime did for Brienne. He has changed and his transformation will lead to some interesting times for the Lannister clan should he ever return to King’s Landing.