"Game Of Thrones" - "The Bear And The Maiden Fair": And As The World Comes To An End, I'll Be Here To Hold Your Hand
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"Game Of Thrones" - "The Bear And The Maiden Fair": And As The World Comes To An End, I'll Be Here To Hold Your Hand

By TK | TV Reviews | May 13, 2013 | Comments ()


"The Bear And The Maiden Fair," the seventh episode of Season Three of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" was not the best episode in the show's history. That's the bad news. The good news is that even the most uneven of episodes is still better than the vast majority of other stories out there, and there were still some terrific moments to be mined from this week's entry. This was a week when themes of love and loyalty ran strong through each story line, and we learned which bonds are growing stronger, just as we learned that some are fraying, if not outright breaking.

We began in the North, with Jon Snow and the Wildlings. The romance between Ygritte and Jon has not been the show's finest work, and while they both turn in decent enough performances this week -- Rose Leslie in particular, it's not until their final moments in the episode that there's any real resonance. The show made curious and somewhat frustrating use of Orell -- the warg who is bonded with an eagle has the potential for a far more interesting character than that of a jealous suitor. That said, Mackenzie Crook's performance was solid and his cynical wisdom -- despite being the result of his attempt to poison their relationship -- still has a sour, unnerving taste of truth. Ultimately, however, Ygritte's playful mocking felt out-of-place, which is surprising given that it actually works quite well in the novels. I haven't been able to quite pin down what it is, but it feels like the chemistry that was so exciting when we first met Ygritte has never quite been matched. That said, the scenes between Jon and Ygritte are salvaged at the end, when Jon desperately tells her of the six devastating failures of the prior kings-beyond-the-wall, leading to a predictable, yet still effective "you" versus "we" moment. Where this will take us -- whether Ygritte's love can overpower Jon's loyalty -- is where the real story is, and where it takes us remains to be seen.

That sense of anxiousness clouding over labors of love surrounded Robb Stark as well. There continues to be a quiet yet fierce feeling of desperation among Robb and his party -- it seems common knowledge to them that the marriage with the Freys may well be his only remaining play. In spite of that, the interactions between Robb and Talisa continue to have a strange air of mystery to them. Unlike that of Ygritte and Jon, theirs has had the luxury of time to create a genuine sense of love and trust, and it's working in their favor, despite how uncertain the future of Robb's forces seem. With the softly spoken announcement of Talisa's pregnancy, their story takes on an oddly tender -- though nerve-wracking -- new twist that will likely bring new complications to an already complex situation. I confess, I'm very much looking forward to Catelyn's reaction.

Meanwhile, in King's Landing, the twists are coming faster than we can keep up with. The only downside to the many scenes in King's Landing was that they felt rushed, as if too much was being shoehorned in, and as a result we had a series of not-quite-fully developed scenes. Sure, the little stroll with Sansa and Margaery Tyrell was saucily charming, yet it also felt a bit too glib. I can't help but feel that Sansa's reaction -- with all due respect to Tyrion -- would be one of abject revulsion and despair, not just because of his physicality, but because it represents her life yet again being manipulated by the Lannisters. And while it was moderately fun to witness the juxtaposition of the cleverness of Margaery with the naivete of Sansa, the entire moment seemed to lack any real emotional weight, which frankly felt like a disservice to Sansa's character.

There were an entirely different set of issues with the scenes between Tyrion and Shae. Shae's character has worked only sporadically throughout the show, and that's in no way due to Sibel Kekilli, who appears to be doing her best with her material. No, the larger issue is that the writers can't quite figure out what they want her to be -- devoted lover, shrewish whiner, streetwise schemer -- there's no real consistency to the character. What we end up with are clumsy and awkward scenes like the one this week, where she reverted to whining and flouncing, and removed any real sense of frustration or tragedy from the moment. In fact, the preceding scene with Tyrion and Bronn -- replete with Bronn's wicked shrewdness and blunt, real-world understanding -- did a far more capable job of demonstrating Tyrion's growing angst over the situation.

Of course, the finest moment in King's Landing took place before in the throne room, in yet another blistering scene featuring Charles Dance's Tywin Lannister. It wasn't really something that I'd bothered to notice before, but it is unusual that there has been next to no interaction between Tywin and the despicable Joffrey. That was gloriously resolved this week, as we witnessed Joffrey trying to exert himself over Tywin. It was a terrific interaction, featuring outstanding performances by both players -- say what you will about Jack Gleason's Joffrey, but any time you can get every single viewer to loathe a character so much, it's a sign that the actor is absolutely killing it. Joffrey's paltry attempt to bring his uncle to bear was amusing, but not nearly as much as the ease with which Tywin outmaneuvered him. With but a few words and a deliberate, ominous few steps upwards, there was no question as to where the true power lies in King's Landing. I'm actually hoping that we'll see more of this conflict, as it's one that has great potential for the already tangled politics of the city.

As enjoyable as that was, this week's best moment came in the faraway city of Yunkai. There has been remarkable growth in Danaerys's character over the course of these three seasons, and this week showed yet another high mark for both the writing and for Emilia Clarke's acting. The new Danaerys is so spectacularly and wondrously different from the innocent young girl of Season One that it's almost jarring. Dany's newfound campaign against the plague of slavery that runs through the cities of the aptly named Slaver's Bay has brought all-new determination and depth to her character, and if anything has given her the opportunity to expand her personality. It was helped by some truly excellent cinematography -- the sprawling, dusty expanse spattered with the determined and disciplined ranks of Unsullied provided a great backdrop. The ominous march of one of Yunkai's Wise Masters through the ranks of the Unsullied was a silently tense affair, and the subsequent meeting with Daenerys was deeply satisfying. Between the frenzied hunger of the dragons and the cool, direct manner with which she carried herself, the entire scene was wrought with tension and a regal fierceness. This was one of those moments where that girl from Season One was completely gone, and a true Queen took her place. Danaerys's attitude, ranging from insouciant to intimidating, was unblinking, unflinching, and absolutely enthralling.

Yet despite those solid moments, there were entirely too many others that felt crammed into the episode. Melisandre's revelation Gendry about his birthright was an unfortunate and poorly constructed scene. While the setting of the carnage of Blackwater Bay made for intriguing set design, the revelation itself seemed so... small. A momentous reveal like that feels like it deserved more. Similarly, Arya's escape from the Brotherhood Without Banners, while it seemed inevitable, was entirely too hasty an affair. While her brief exchange with Beric did a fine job of demonstrating her tragic, impotent anger, the rest of it seemed to happen without any real punch, especially considering who she ends up running into (although, I'm glad to see The Hound returning so soon). And as for Bran and his unusual little band of travelers -- Osha's story was compelling enough in theory, but it felt at odds with the whole scene, with the whole mission of that group. The conflict between her and the Reeds simply hasn't developed properly, and thus her undead husband speech felt like it just came out of nowhere.

If there was a scene that left me the most conflicted, however, it was Theon's. On the one hand, excuse me but holy shit. It was a disturbing and horrifying scene. You knew -- just knew -- from the moment the two women entered the room, that trouble was afoot, and so when the mystery torturer arrived, it was barely a shock. Yet what was a shock was where they went from there, into a whole new realm of pain for Theon. Yet on the other hand... the entire exercise felt almost too gratuitous. Between the nudity, the unpleasant sexually charged ministrations, and then the final darkening as the men close in on Theon, it finally felt like too much. The initial scenes with Theon and the stranger were compelling because they were unpredictable, and that unpredictability ratcheted up the terror. That feels absent now, and instead it seems like they're simply trying to find new ways to shock viewers, while the story itself actually stalls out.

Among all of these increasingly complicated and fascinating relationships, the one that continues to be the most compelling is that between Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, due in no small part to the fact that both actors -- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendolyn Christie, are just tearing into their roles. They've both been perfect in their depictions, and they continue to nail it each week. This week, in their meeting in Brienne's chambers prior to his departure, the tension and pain and sheer emotional discomfort between the two was almost tangible. Both of them are such strong personalities, and both of them conveyed a wealth of emotion and nuance through a heady combination of tone and looks. Brienne's almost surreal courage in the face of Jaime's news about her fate caused me to choke up a bit -- she never flinches, and never forgets her oath (and, notably, now calls him Jaime with such gripping meaningfulness). And Jaime, upon later realizing that he has damned her through his own cleverness, throws all caution to the wind, commandeering his escort and returning to the dreary ruins of Harrenhall. I will confess that I did not find the struggle in the bear pit to be particularly engrossing -- it played out much more dramatically in the novel, to be honest -- but the aftermath made the entire exercise worthwhile. After a harrowing and bloody escape, Jaime walks away with a final barb that he jabs into Locke that is just... perfect Jaime.

"The Bear And The Maiden Fair" was probably one of the weakest episodes of "Game Of Thrones," a classic example of trying to do too much. This week's episode was, surprisingly, written by George R. R. Martin himself, and so you have him to blame for trying to cram three hours of storytelling into a single hour of television. Yet it was hardly a total loss, as there was still so much to see and enjoy -- even if sometimes that joy was profoundly uncomfortable. We got to see the bonds between almost all of our favorite characters be tested this week. Some survived, some even grew stronger. What comes in the days ahead will test them even further, and hopefully provide some truly compelling stories.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • You should definitely check Irish Moutarde's celtic rock version of The Bear and the Maiden Fair!


  • mswas

    I get it that wildlings don't "swoon," but come on, do none of them ever "faint" from loss of blood or something?

  • Hazel Dean

    Maybe they just have a different word for that sort of thing? Whatever, Ygritte is delightful and I don't care if her vocabulary is lacking.

  • mswas

    I just thought it was forced.

  • Hazel Dean

    Yeah, I can see that. But the exchange that followed was so great that I didn't mind: "I have a dress made of the purest silk from Tra-la-la-la-lalliday!" Hee.

  • TheEmpress

    Anyone else tired of Arya's constant angry outbursts? Time to grow up, child, and figure out how to use all that anger.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I'm not tired of her anger, per se - it's what's keeping her going, as exemplified by her mantra of death. But I found last night's outburst to be a repeat of a conversation that was had last week, and that did stick out for me.

  • lowercase_see

    Initially, the Theon scene was great, then it just descended into awkward, gratuitous nudity. As they take him down and he's begging to be put back up because he knows how bad it will be if he's found anywhere but where he was—that was what that scene needed to be. I watched 'The Climb' and 'The Bear and the Maiden Fair' back to back because I missed the first one, so I have to say that last week's Theon was waaaaay better than last night's. The brief reprieve and the "You forgot to ask if I'm a liar" was exactly what it needed to be.

    Oh, and Tywin vs Joffrey was just perfection. That man is a fucking force of nature. Tywin: "You are being counseled right now." Translation: You are getting SCHOOLED.

  • Marc Greene

    (Note: I have not read the books) As much as I think Danerys' motivations for freeing the slaves of the region seem on the surface blatantly simple and altruistic, I get the feeling she is more clever than that. When she says "100,000 reasons", at least one of those reasons has to be to bring some if not all of those slaves into the fold to strengthen her military might with a nearly limitless devotion. Think of her compared to Robert Baratheon or Khal Drogo - she is one of the rare rulers (at this point) who is earning the right to rule through consensus of the ruled and not straight up military conquest. I don't know where things are currently in the book series, but should she gain the crown, I could see her putting duplicitous types like Little Finger into her dragons' food bowl.

  • Yossarian

    It also shows that she is an idealist, and possibly that she is young and naive. Choosing the "right" thing over the practical or strategic thing does not always pay off. If it is a strategic move, it is a wobbly and uncertain one.

  • Dragonchild

    Of course it won't pay off. If there's one lesson in this story that's pounded into everyone's heads like whoah, it's that altruism is a sucker's game.

  • But is Dany really a sucker? This Dany is, as we've pointed out, not the naive girl of the first book/season. She's buried a Khal, lost a child, gone across the Red Waste, laid waste to the Undying, and freed a goodly portion of Slaver's Bay, as well as gaining an army of Unsullied. She's doing something right, even if she's dealing with her own set of problems. She's the one person who doesn't seem to want to rush too quickly to the Iron Throne.

    Suffice to say, Dany is no Ned Stark. She's playing the long game, and although she is young, she's trying her best to be a good Queen/Khaleesi with what she has.

    (There is a really good point here, but I'm not sure if I remember if it's been covered yet in the show, so I will skip. Suffice to say Dany relates to the slaves in a way, and I think that motivates her decisions on a very basic level.)

  • Dragonchild

    She's not a sucker in terms of character per se; she's a "sucker" in that she's not winning by GRRM's rules as I know them. It's a point of frustration to me that his sadistic rules seem too stable and his honorable rules seem too unstable, but this is just a general perception so I won't defend it from counterexamples.

  • When did the rules ever apply to the Targaryens? I mean, from a purely historical standpoint, they did a lot that was out of the norm for the universe GRRM created. I think it's kind of interesting that this time, Dany is the one throwing off the curve but it's not necessarily in a negative way. Rather, not in a madness-inducing inbreeding sort of way.

  • Dragonchild

    Your question gives me this unfortunate feeling that IF Dany breaks the rules of the Game, the results will have less to do with her charisma and more to do with her lineage. That may prove me wrong but it would also enormously cheapen the painstakingly cultivated social landscape, if that happens. This is a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing that will depend largely on execution, but it should matter whether Dany chooses the people to serve her or the people choose her to lead them. The former is more "pragmatic" but would imply she's no more fit to lead than any other faction.

  • Yossarian

    What are these "rules of the game"? Are there hard/fast rules for winning and holding power in this Universe, other than "you win or you die"?

    It seems to me that the requirements to getting and holding power are Legitimacy, Efficacy, and Strength.

    Dany has legitimacy via her Targaryen lineage, but this is probably the least important attribute as the people (and rivals) don't care who the rightful ruler is if they are not effective and sufficiently strong to hold power.

    Dany is somewhat effective as a leader, but she is not perfect and she tends to over extend herself or put herself at a disadvantaged by taking a principled stand instead of an easy, pragmatic route. We have to see how this decision to liberate the slaves plays, so far she seems to be getting ahead by taking stands for what she believes in.

    And to this point she has proven remarkably strong, but she still lacks the capabilities of some of the established Kingdoms in Westeros. It remains to be seen if she can contend with the Lannisters, or Stannis, or the Starks.

    But this discussion might not be safe to have in this post.

  • Dragonchild

    The "rules of the game" are rooted in Machiavelli, namely pragmatic morality. Lineage didn't really help Ned; strength hasn't gotten Brienne much more than the honor of still breathing. Nobility gives you a head start; beyond that it's all about political efficiency. OK if this is going to mirror the worst of feudal Europe, but then the story won't resolve if history gives us any clue. Fifteen books (or ten seasons) wouldn't be enough.

    As for spoilers, we're talking about an endgame to source material that's still being written, so there's nothing to spoil. We might have to be careful about talking about this player or that, depending on the timing, but I think I can still speak in generalities.

  • prestocaro

    I think Shae's character development is so confusing because, in the books, you think she's one thing (from Tyrion's POV) and then later discover, through her actions, she's something completely different. That kind of reveal only works in writing because of the flawed narrator's interpretation.

  • foolsage


  • TK

    Yup. Removed.

  • lowercase_ryan

    The scene with Theon was poorly done. The fact that it was the first time I can remember hearing about this magical cock of Theon's made the whole seem forced. It felt like GRRM jumped at the chance to interject a frivolous sex scene.

  • Bedewcrock

    I think what was most annoying about this scene is they took minor details that had been mentioned randomly throughout the seasons and made it this huge deal (and too porny). I think that's a problem with GRRM writing scenes, as the creator he's too aware of all the background and context of each character and is unable to translate that to the screen as effectively as a screenwriter is. He assumes we know as much as he.

  • lowercase_ryan

    very good point.

  • Yossarian

    I think Theon might have talked up his own attributes in previous episodes. I'd have to go back to be sure.

    The sex was perhaps gratuitous but the fear was very interesting. Theon is changing. Beautiful women come in to seduce him and all he can think about is fear, his captor, a trap, and he just wants them to go away. Then when biology finally overrides psychology, the horn blasts.

  • Dragonchild

    Incidentally it's apparent that how the women felt about it wasn't relevant.

  • Yossarian

    Very true. And so ryan may be missing the point, because it doesn't really matter if Theon measures up in the real world. He's a legend in his own mind, and the things being done to him now are very much about his own mind.

  • Bedewcrock

    I'm curious. Have you read the books as well or are you just a TV viewer?

  • Yossarian

    Book reader.

  • Bedewcrock

    I think that's why it seems so far fetched to me (and maybe lowercase_ryan). I'm a TV viewer only. The hints/quotes were there in past seasons, sure, but it seemed off kilter to the mental/physical torture of the previous scenes between Theon and his torturer. It was just a poorly done version of Bram Stoker's Dracula three vampiress seduction scene.

  • Yossarian

    Could be. I do think we have seen enough of Theon (with Ros, other girls at Winterfell, the girl on the boat, his own sister) to know he is the type of person to have ego and arrogance around his masculinity and sexual ability.

    So this scene (intentionally) plays out like a fantasy would, with girls in awe of his famous manhood. Obviously they are not being completely genuine, so we know this is being done for the benefit of further torturing the poor guy. I don't think it's completely out of left field that he thinks of himself as well endowed.

    *thought of himself... :(

  • Dragonchild

    Well, that too, I guess. But I meant the girls are obviously just vehicles for torture. Some commoners being blatantly exploited is hardly a shocker in GoT anymore and I'm aware they are of no significance whatsoever, but that's precisely what makes this observation disturbing to me. I'm not saying these girls deserve a story of their own, but if there's some point to be made about how horrible a place Westeros is, it seems self-defeating that the depravity is so ubiquitous that much of it goes unquestioned -- if only for brevity.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Whatever, I stand by my opinion that Theon's cock was not a thing until GRRM made it a thing last night.

  • BendinIntheWind

    I just assumed the girls had been coached by his captor. I don't think his cock is necessarily "a thing", it just seemed like a natural point of pride for most men that opens the door for the torturer to mess with his head and his ego.

  • Yossarian

    Please just accept that you are wrong. Don't make look up dick quotes to prove it. There is enough of that already on your facebook conversation.

  • lowercase_ryan

    tbf, craug is all about the purpley veiny talk over there.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Exactly. Theon has always talked the big man game, and his dick was just one more facet of it.

  • Judge_Snyder

    Theon regularly bunked up with whores in the first season. Tried it on with his sister in the second. It's nowhere near beyond the realms of possibility that stories about his lil' Kraken would have got about a bit amongst the houses of the North.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Paying a woman for sex doesn't imply you have a big dick. If they came back next year threatening to snip Pod's magic rod, that would make sense. There has been no indication that I can remember that there is anything special about Theon's junk or his prowess. It didn't make sense with the story, it was forced sex.

  • JJ

    To quote Ros from season one, "A serious boy with a serious cock." Not to mention he's one of the men who's gone full-frontal on the show. It's just that you don't remember.

  • lowercase_ryan

    fair enough. I remember Ros saying that but I thought she was playing him at the time. Blowing smoke up his ass and what not.

  • Judge_Snyder

    Can't believe that we're discussing the dick sizes of fictional characters, but what the hell!

    It's not that Theon is a "bit of a Podrick"., but he'd have been known as the kind of guy who likes to put himself about a bit with the ladies. That kind of stuff would undoubtedly have been gossiped about amongst other noble families in the North, especially since he's not even a true Northener.

  • lowercase_ryan

    you're shocked that we're discussion fictional junk? Are you new?

    I kid, I kid.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Yeah, Bart the Bear. I found that fight sequence to be totally gripping. I did expect someone to just shoot Brienne, or stab her, or for Jaime to toss Locke over the side towards the end, but everyone survived.

    My thought is that Robb's wife is totally doooooomed now that she's pregnant. I just looked at her naked & happy & pregnant laying there and thought: you are going to die.

    The problem with Ygritte & Jon - and they were better this week, more entertaining, more of a relationship - is that I have no idea why she loves him. Nor do I even believe that she loves him, despite what she says. If there was some creeping moment of admiration for the knowledge he has, or him as a warrior, or something - but I don't see anything in her performance that gives me a reason to believe her words when she says she loves him. I understand why he would love her - she's so different from the women he's known, so strong and candid. But I don't get fondness from her teasing of him - just that she enjoys letting him know how little he knows.

    Yes, Shae scene was bad. I just kept thinking: what does she expect?

    Also: will Joffrey be so badass as to kill Tywin since he can't overpower him?

    As for Sansa: here's the thing. She has not developed an adult sexuality yet. I don't say this as a criticism - it's who she is. It's why she didn't sense how bad a marriage to Loras would be. Everything is dreamy, hypothetical, romantic rather than heated. She can't really imagine anything beyond courtly gestures of love - maybe a passionate kiss. So it doesn't surprise me that she's not completely repulsed by Tyrion. If she could visualize more - she would be doing more than wrinkling her nose.

  • Alan

    Joff could never kill Tywin, his power is the only thing propping up his weak claim to the throne. Without the might of his grandfather he has no way of maintaining the throne, and being labeled a kin-killer would only prove to hasten his fall. Not to say that Joffrey isn't stupid enough to do it anyway.

  • koko temur

    Yeah, i didnt find ygritte motivations much better explained in the book either. I think she is a little jelous of his life " in the south", deep down. She is both repulsed and intrigued by him being diffrent. But thats just my theory.

  • Yossarian

    The Shae scenes are not the best, but I think we can try to sympathize with her at least a little more. Tyrion tells her he loves her and asks a lot from her emotionally and physically. He wants her to be his "lady" and yet expects her to accept that she's a whore when it's more convenient. It really is an impossible situation for her.

    It's easy for us to want her to shut up and stop fucking things up for Tyrion, who we like, but what is it like for her? She's stuck between being treated like an equal and treated like an object. It can't be an easy dichotomy to inhabit, especially for a smart and self-determined person like Shae. She's being pushed into this 'other woman' role (waiting around until he has time to stop by for a quickie) and has no ability to control her own life. She gets a comfortable lifestyle but is essentially forbidden to see anyone else (meanwhile, he's engaged to a teenager).

    Not that the show really earns that charitable interpretation, because the acting and the writing are pretty weak in the Shae scenes. But she is an interesting character to think about, and to compare/contrast with Sansa, another female character who is defined by romantic relationships but denied any ability to have one on her own terms.

  • For me, this is where the deviation from Book Shae makes the story less "believable" - granted we're talking about a fantasy series, and I certainly won't go into detail, but I bought the way Book Shae handled things because of the way her character was written. TV Shae is so uneven, I can't put a finger on what I would expect, or how they're going to reconcile this to get where they need to go.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I'm stretching my mind back, but doesn't Shae insist on following Tyrion, even when he tries to send her away? That's what makes her frustrating - she has knowingly put and kept herself in a situation where she can't get what she wants. And that's fine - I don't question characters doing it. But she doesn't acknowledge at all that she is continuing along a path she set in motion. She was so savvy in the beginning, clearly full of cunning and now she's all emotion and petulance. She's using none of the intuition she previously displayed.

  • Yossarian

    In the beginning? Yes. And following him was definitely an opportunist thing to do, and she knew what she was getting into (a Pretty Woman situation).

    But if we accept that Tyrion has developed honest feelings and if we honestly believe she has feelings for him I think we need to excuse some of her behavior here. Tyrion deserves at least half the blame for putting her in this position, professing his love but denying her any control, validation, or even fidelity because it is not convenient. (not that he has a choice, really, but to put it all on her with a "what does she expect?" is a little unfair given what Tyrion is doing.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Shae has more freedom in her choices, by society, than Tyrion does. She has already demonstrated that she is more free-spirited, more adventurous, more keen to make her own way. Tyrion is not. Tyrion wants to work within the system. She can find that frustrating, but she can't deny that's who he is, and he has said so over and over. I do still maintain that a whore - or a kept woman, or a lowborn woman - should not expect much in this situation. She might hope for more, but she's foolish and naive if she expects more. And I didn't think Shae was either of those things.

    She could also be frustrated if she thought she had him more thoroughly wrapped around her fingers, and she doesn't. If we're being cynical.

  • Three_nineteen

    I don't believe Shae has feelings for Tyrion. And Tyrion has been honest with her from the beginning - he has always said he can't see her openly, and there was never a discussion of marrying her. A house with servants should be the most Shae expects from him given the circumstances, and if that's not enough for her she should leave. Tyrion's not doing anything to her. He's told her several times that he can't do more for her, and has tried to send her away both for her safety and because he can't legitimately see her.

  • Yossarian

    Maybe her feelings are not completely pure & true but I think she has earned the right to be attached and to be upset at the way he treats her, the right to feel slighted and jealous. I think we minimize her feelings when we say she should just shut up and be happy she is getting a house and some bastards (w/ child support) because she is just a whore after all.

    Tyrion is not blameless and he is being shitty in how he treats her. He's pulling her close with one hand and pushing her away with the other, it's not so simple as to make it her fault for not leaving, or not accepting his bullshit with a smile.

  • I'd so much rather have seen that Jaime and Brienne scene done up right (no fault of Coster-Waldau nor Christie, who handled what they got beautifully) than the gratuitous Theon porn or the increasingly ineffective Jon and Ygritte crapsap show.

    Cramming way too many things into this episode almost made it look like one of those recap clip things where we just ran through as fast as we could, trying to touch on the *highlights*. (Which is kind of funny if you're a reader--because GRRM certainly knows how to stay on one thing...)

  • Littlejon2001

    So I've heard a few ppl say this now. Since it's past us....what do they do in the book differently with The Bear Pit scene? I know when I watched it I was like...hmm, this seems like there should be a lot more tension than there actually is. Like I never felt either of them were in any actual danger. Just wondering how the book did this better...

  • Bedewcrock

    I completely agree especially about the Theon scene. GoT can be so absurd (and thus why I love it) but Theon's torture scene was such a badly plotted/dialogued bow-chicka-bow-wow porn interaction. I was weirdly offended by how poorly the scene was written.

  • We now know how GRRM prefers his sex. Unrealistic, badly scripted, ending in tears.

  • HA. Through a lot of those scenes I just kept cringing and thinking 'welp, pretty obvious who wrote this one...' GRRM, I love you, but you suuuuck at romance.

  • MissAmynae

    Woulda played better as a dream scene, interrupted by the torturer waking him a cold bucket of water or somewhat.

  • Hazel Dean

    But that was intentional, that was part of his torture. The girls were sent there by _______ (the guy torturing him) to get him all aroused so he would feel the loss of his...member even more excruciatingly. If it was simply a dream sequence, that element would be lost. Theon's torture is meant to be just as horrible emotionally/mentally as it is physically.

  • MissAmynae

    Completely agree with your point. The scene was just poorly written imho.

  • Bedewcrock

    Right? I thought it would turn out to be a dream because it was so incredulously over the top.

  • MissAmynae

    like the bodice-ripper romance novels that you stole from your grandmother, because it had the "good" sex scenes. "oh, Theon, your cock is amazing, let me worship it with the devotion it deserves by being so amazing" **fireworks orgasm**

  • Bert_McGurt

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Jamie Lannister, the Merle Dixon of Westeros!

    I kid, I kid. But seriously, if he can scramble up the pit wall that fast with only one hand, imagine what he'll be able to do with a hook!

  • prestocaro

    Hmm if no one has made a mashup tumbler yet (like Arrested Westros, but with Walking Dead... Walking Westros? Thrones of Dead?), they need to! I feel like so many of these characters have awesome similarities. Hulking, glowering Michonne/Brienne. Glen and Jon Snow. Laurie and Cersei. Laurie and Ned Stark. Carl and Joffrey.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Speaking of Arrested Westeros, It's also a bit of a funny juxtaposition to watch a one-handed Kingslayer scrambling around to finish GoT, then have HBO immediately segue into "Veep", with Tony Hale bumbling around as her right-hand man.

  • Oh god... Buster as Tywin Lannister's actual first born child, thought long ago lost at sea? Please put some odd port on Essos where he could be raised by Liza Minnelli as Lucille II, Queen of All She Surveys, and when finally told his true heritage, returns to Casterly Rock to claim his birthright.

    He and Jamie could be the One-Handed (No, not like that) Lannister brothers.

  • lowercase_see

    Oh man, last year io9 put together a funny list of 'Game of Thrones' spinoff series. The best BY FAR was 'The Walking Ned'.

  • Strand


    Actually thought it was a decent episode. It was a weak episode because for whatever reason, the producers decided to load it with the weakest subplots. I'm tired of Shae's jealousy, the Theon snuff film and Robb/Talisa.

    The best interactions were as good as we expected them to be. We always knew the first true Tywin/Joffrey confrontation would be great, as would be Jaime and Brienne's 'goodbye.'

    I'm absolutely loving Noah Taylor's Locke. I've seen him in so many bit pieces that it's glorious seeing him chewing the scenery being a slimy scumbag.

  • Professor Sara

    I'm glad the bear made it out OK, actually. That scene from the book really stuck with me. Poor bear!

  • Ben

    Oh god can someone just slap Shae, like bitch, have you not been paying attention? You're not going to get your perfect wedding and happy ending. That doesn't mean Tyrion doesn't love you it just means YOU'RE IN KINGS FUCKING LANDING! Get a fucking grip woman.

  • Welldressed

    I actually loved Osha's scene, and (I know I'm in the minority here) this was the FIRST episode where I could stand Ygritte. This ep was a winner, even if others think it was weak.

  • koko temur

    The torture of theon in the books is so much more horrible, i iust count my blessings with what they do in the show.

  • Dragonchild

    The real question is whether or not this makes the story better. Because while people keep insisting this is a thinking person's story, I question how many thresholds a torture scene must cross before GRRM is satisfied that he got his point across. Compare Theon's extended torture to Giles' death in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible". You aren't given much detail and don't need it; Thomas Putnam had financial incentives to get Giles to answer to his indictment, so Giles' agony is implicitly obvious. This isn't an issue of squeamishness; the words "more weight" give me chills almost twenty years after I first read them precisely because of the masterful way they call upon the imagination to do the work. With GRRM's scenes I'm primarily disturbed by the vision of a fat old man writing with one hand shoved down his pants.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I'll give you a few reasons why I don't buy this comparison, aside from the fact that we're talking what you can present on a stage vs what you present on a miniseries with a gigantic budget (and therefore what is expected). I'm not a torture fan or a horror fan, but I get why it's being presented this way.

    Theon is being tortured over a significant period of time. It's not one day, like a pressing. The torture consists of not knowing why it's happening, or when it's going to escalate, or how it's going to escalate. So that's what the torture scenes are showing. And the torture is terrible in its physical nature, but the twists and turns of the what comes next - and every way he's been tortured is different - deprivation and the pain of an comfortable position, teased with freedom, straight up physical torture, and then sexual torture - it's making clear to me that someone really, really wants Theon to suffer. And to live. Castration is only a true punishment if he lives and rejoins the world outside at some point.

  • Dragonchild

    I think we can do better than this, though. Yes, both situations are situational, so I'm not calling upon "Game of Thrones" to MIRROR "The Crucible". Let's not take this too literally lest I get the feeling the counterpoint is disingenuous. And I have no idea why budget is relevant at all. Torture is cheap to film; that's why torture flicks are so profitable.

    OK, we realize someone wants Theon to suffer. So? Sadism and unnecessary cruelty are pretty well established by this point; how does one more piece of meat improve the story? Beyond that, it's just a reminder that he's still a relevant character (somehow. . . I guess) at best. I don't necessarily think castration implies he will be freed someday, but whatever. My point is that there are ways to meet the goals of the narrative without going in circles, especially if the motives are emotionally empty. If the variations of torture are what's driving the scenes, that's pretty weak sauce for a thinker's story. I gave "The Crucible" as an example, but of course the example will meet the purposes of its own narrative. Theon's scenes would have to be done differently, but was that the BEST way to do it? I doubt I can be convinced of that. "The Crucible" was beautifully horrible not because it's a play or because it was a pressing, but because the emotions driving Giles' torture are so humanly clear yet uncompromising whether the story takes place in a day or over years. What crushes Giles' ribs might as well be Putnam's greed because the stones are practically a metaphor. THAT'S the point. Theon's being tortured because the Boltons are assholes? Got it already. If Theon's ever released he'll obviously be completely changed by then, so there's no reason to not just re-establish his character when he finally becomes relevant again.

  • lowercase_ryan

    serious spoiler, delete this now

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I actually don't know who's torturing Theon, because I haven't read the books, but you know, thanks for telling me.

  • TK

    My apologies for not catching that sooner. And Dragonchild, don't be an asshole. Jesus, do I have to spell the rules out again?

  • Dragonchild

    That was an honest mistake, for what it's worth, and I didn't see any way to edit. I do apologize for the inconvenienced, though I'm a bit miffed at the assumption it was premeditated.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't think you did it on purpose. And I don't know the ramifications of what you know. But the very fact that you KNOW who the torturers are is probably part of the reason you think it's dragging. That to you, the payoff isn't worth all the lead up. But I don't know who the torturers are - I don't know the payoff - but the torture of Alfie is extremely suspenseful, even though I'm not invested in the character. It's actually causing me to be invested in him, to swing me back to pity for him rather than hate.

  • koko temur

    it is a valid point, one which i cant adress properly without spoiling at least something. let me just say, like lovely sarah said - the torture is done over long time. Its point is complete personality modification.
    Right now the show plays the long game with theon, just like dannys scenes in all of season 2.

  • calliope1975

    Theon's scenes are just hurting me. Maybe since I haven't read the books, or because I can find sympathies with ALL the characters on the show (minus Joffrey), but is Theon deserving of all this torture and whatever more is to come?
    I loved the Sansa and Margaery scene. Even if Margaery started being friendly with Sansa as a way to control her, I think she's developed genuine feelings for her.
    Only 3 eps left? These seasons fly by.

  • foolsage

    Is Theon deserving of the torture? From the point of view of the people in the North, arguably he is. Theon's actions led to the fall of Winterfell and to the apparent death of Bran and Rickon Stark. He was raised (and treated very well) by the Starks, and he betrayed them. A *LOT* of people really, really hate Theon.

  • I can't even stand Theon when he's in a plot that's going places, so to keep making us watch more torture without moving his story along is just annoying. Maybe GOT's 13-year-old consultant was complaining there weren't enough boobs this season.

  • Palaeologos

    A great episode; I'm in the minority in preferring it to Ep. 6. We have the Hound, the buildup, and the pillow talk that is not pillow talk between Ygritte and Snow. Theon and his ordeal is a sideshow; forget about him until next season, or the one after.

    "This *is* the Daenaerys you are looking for..."

  • asherlev1

    I just want the Brienne and Jaime show, all day, errday.

  • The chemistry between them is insaaaaane. And not at all in a sexual way. Just two amazing actors playing off of each other and doing it so damn well.

  • ohwhitneykay

    Not a reader, obviously, but DANGIT if I didn't want Jaime to push Locke into that bear pit. This episode was so fraught with buildup and tension, I just needed someone to get mauled.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    They couldn't just go all out -- they only have one bear!

  • alannaofdoom

    I wanted him to push Locke into the pit, after turning to Brienne and saying, "The things I do for love." You know Jaime loves a good callback.

  • ohwhitneykay

    EXACTLY! I was chewing my nails to the cuticle hoping for that moment.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    I AGREE!! Waste of a good Bear Pit!

  • lowercase_ryan

    SUCH a Canadian thing to say.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    Yup. Should anyone visit, the first stop is the Bear Pit. Coincidentally, it is also the last stop for a lot of people.

  • PDamian

    For some reason, I found Dany's scenes to be far less compelling than in previous episodes. The acting is still good, but I'm getting a little bored with her march through slaver cities. Jaime and Brienne, on the other hand -- I could watch all day long. Arya's storyline is also compelling.

    But really, this was the weakest episode so far this season. Too many competing storylines -- and proof that GRRM needs an editor sitting on him at all times, despite the thrilling work he does. Despite Natalie Tena's excellent speech and Sibel Kekilli's game try, the Osha and Shae scenes could have been cut and nothing missed. Oh, well. As you say, TK, still better than anything else on TV.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    ...I must be one of the few that is just gobbling UP Theon's scenes. The absolute psychological torture he's going through, never mind the physical - is giving me a lot of food for thought.

    Brienne and Jaime are BY FAR a stunning pair with such on screen chemistry. The show ALWAYS leaved me wanting more with them.

  • opiejuankenopie

    "Between the nudity, the unpleasant sexually charged ministrations, and then the final darkening as the men close in on Theon, it finally felt like too much." Which is entirely the point. The point is the pointlessness. The torture has never been about punishment. The torture has never been about politics. The torture has been about the torture. Theon's captor's character is defined by his acts. Brienne and Jaimie's relationship is conveyed "through a heady combination of tone and looks", the relationship Theon now finds himself in is conveyed through a much baser combination of mental torture and knives.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    Even if you're right, and the intended message is that "the point is pointlessness," that doesn't make it good television. If we the viewers aren't learning anything from the scene, it's a waste of screen time that could be spent on more interesting parts of the story. Unlike with the books, there is not infinite time available in each episode to explore every nook and cranny of the story. Scenes must be prioritized. It's hard to see why yet another torture scene rose to the top of the list, especially if it was intentionally pointless.

  • Littlejon2001

    Completely agree with this. I think we've understood that they are torturing Theon for no other reason than to torture him. He's a weak man, with weak character, in a world that is clearly survival of the fittest. He has no brawn, no wit, no loyalty, no swiftness, no determination, or any other defining characteristic that makes him of any value to anyone.

    So why are we still watching this? We understood this ages ago.

  • Andy Brent

    The point of Theon's situation is not for him to figure out his tormentor's identity, or to move his story along to another point... right now, THIS is the story. The breaking of this man.

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