Tales From Westeros – The Bear & The Maiden Fair
And we’re back! What did you think of this round? My very first impression during this week’s episode was that the wildlings, bundled up in furs and what-have-you, look very strange against such a fertile green backdrop rather than the usual blinding white. As they move South, the cultural differences between wildlings and the “normals” are juxtaposed even further.
In a dim, damp tent, Robb Stark’s group passes the time fretting about their delay in getting to the Twins for Edmure’s wedding. The overall mood is dark, and Catelyn is buggin’ because “Lord Frey will take this delay as a slight.” Welp. Robb reminds all of them that even though they wanted a king in their midst, the Freys should be satisfied with Edmure as it will be the best match in the history of their house. Robb then moves on to other, more (re)productive activities in a (hopefully) different tent with his Volantene wife Talisa. It’s steamy yet sweet, and after the actual act Robb goes back to his giant war chessboard. Sexy. Well, that’s not fair, he does try to learn some of Talisa’s native language. As they indulge in pillow talk, Talisa drops the bomb: she’s preggers! Will there be a YOUNG Young Wolf in the near future?
Speaking of doing it, this episode is full of it…as well as the emotions that accompany the act. Turns out while Jon and Ygritte get to know each other better, the scrappy wildling warg Orell was harboring strong feelings for her. Wildling feelings that spill out in the wildling way—through threats and fear. It’s a no go though; she wants Jon. While everyone up North is either getting it on, freaking out about their crushes sleeping around, or mimicking the actual act (ahem, Tormund Giantsbane) —Sansa and Margaery, the innocent girls of King’s Landing, are merely talking about it. Specifically, they’re talking about Sansa’s impending marriage to Tyrion and the fact that she’ll eventually have to sleep with him. Margy is trying to console her by implying that it won’t be so bad, and “most women don’t know what they want until they try it.” She is being a bit racy and even implies that she’s—GASP—not a maiden. Anyway, it’s a moot point because it doesn’t seem like Sansa’s buying it. At the same time, Tyrion’s sellsword friend Bron is giving him the same sell. Tyrion is fretting about the fact that Sansa is so young and miserable, but Bron, always getting to the dirty point, notes that Tyrion most likely wants to sleep with the beautiful Sansa—he just can’t admit it. Bron suggests wedding Sansa and keeping Shae as a mistress. His response is GREAT, “two women to despise me and a whole kingdom to join them.” Truth.
The Iron Throne is made of the melted down swords of Aegon the Firsts’s enemies; the first king of the Seven Kingdoms believed that a king should never sit easy, and therefore made the throne extremely uncomfortable, with jagged edges and spikes. So it’s funny to see small, mean Joffrey sit the formidable seat. He is simultaneously slouching and scowling (his specialty) as his grandfather Tywin slowly approaches him. It doesn’t even bear saying that Joffrey is about to be a huge brat. Let me ask you a question—if Tywin Lannister was approaching you, would you bitch about how no one tells you anything about what happens during the Small Council meetings? Or would you just nod and smile? Yeah…let’s just say that after their exchange, it was very clear who wears the pants on the Iron Throne. The Hand of the King might as well just be the…king.
Meawhile, Danaerys has moved beyond Astapor to Yunkai, the Yellow City. Despite Ser Jorah’s advice to just get the hell to Westeros already, Dany has gotten a taste of violent martyrdom and her ass is on fire to set some more slaves free. We haven’t seen much of her in recent episodes, but she is still kicking butt and taking names—the latest being a Yunkish lord that has agreed to meet with her to discuss terms. The Yunkish lord is obviously frightened as he rides in on a shaky palanquin flanked by Dany’s Unsullied, but he still manages to declare that “Ancient and glorious is Yunkai.” He claims Dany will find it no easy conquest. Not only that, but he is willing to offer her huge bricks of gold and as many ships as she needs to go back to Westeros. The cities of Slaver’s Bay are uncommonly rich (well, at least the leaders are—not so much the millions of slaves), but Dany doesn’t care. She responds with a silky “I have a gift for you as well—your life.” She wants ALL the slaves released. The Yunkish Lord is kinda pissed and reminds her that Yunkai has friends in high places. Who are these powerful allies? Is Dany getting too big for her britches? The Slaver’s Bay situation is a moral conundrum. Obviously slavery is evil but can she afford to waste time and resources on freeing every single one of the millions of slaves that reside there? Not only that, she is causing mass destruction in her wake. What about Westeros? In this pre-Internet and text messaging time, she surely doesn’t know anything about all the crazy shit that’s happening over there. We saw how Tywin assured Joffrey that she is but a mere fly annoying them all and not a true threat. If it were me, I’d be having an lack of information freak-out akin to accidentally leaving my phone at home for the day. The other issue is she may or may not be becoming a megalomaniac. What do you think? Should she continue saving slaves or return to her original goal?
Speaking of tasks I don’t envy, Tyrion is finally having a heart-to-heart with his paramour Shae. He is in the process of gifting her what seems likes some priceless jewelry, but she’s a spitfire and is understandably giving him a lot of trouble. The Tyrion/Shae relationship has fizzled a bit as the show focuses on new territory, and Tyrion’s heartfelt proclamations that she is his true love seem a bit forced. He reiterates that he doesn’t have a choice, but Shae is NOT having it. Tyrion is completely afraid of disobeying Tywin on like a cellular level. He knows not doing his bidding would likely make his life even more miserable. He offers to set Shae up for life—a house, a modest living—but she knows better. She knows Tywin would find out and destroy everything for what he perceives to be a huge tarnish on the Lannister name. Which, when you think about it, seems to be the only thing Tywin truly cares about.
Obviously the only thing Melisandre cares about is serving the Lord of Light and, by default, ensuring Stannis sits the Iron Throne. She’s on a ship with the sold/kidnapped Gendry, who looks rather calm despite the circumstances. Dragonstone looms in the distance. She’s trying to tell him that he’s Robert Baratheon’s bastard (lest we forget, the seed is strong in that one) and helloooo, contrary to Joffrey, he has black hair and blue eyes so obviously he’s his son. She tells him “there is power in a king’s blood,” but doesn’t mention a possible future use for that blood, maybe sacrifice? On super-scary Dragonstone, no less.
If you’re wondering how Gendry’s possible future “lady” is faring, well: not too great, friends. Arya is currently not talking to traitors while being surrounded by them…and proclaiming rather melodramatically that DEATH is her god. Eff the Lord of Light. Some randos from the Brotherhood return to the cave to say they’ve spotted a Lannister raiding party and everyone gets all hepped up at the chance to raid them right back. This infuriates poor Arya, as all she wants to do is get the hell to Riverrun and find her family. She’s so pissed that she uses the commotion to escape from the cave into the surrounding woods—only to be captured by her old buddy, the Hound. Ouch.
Brienne, still looking like a miserable drag queen, waits in her cell. Jaime stops by to say a quick farewell—he’s made the decision to go back to King’s Landing. Welp. Brienne doesn’t seem too pissed; after all, what good is it if both of them are dead, but she does want to know what will become of her. How about “not good things,” Brienne. Even now, with the promise of rape and mutilation and all sorts of goodies, she only really cares about her promise to Catelyn Stark. She makes Jaime swear to complete the task of returning Arya and Sansa to their mother and, racked with guilt, he promises to do just that.
Okay, the next scene is labeled in my notes as “Blue Ball Attack.” I think that’s rather fitting. Apparently, Theon’s tormentor was bored with the standard physical and psychological pain he was inflicting, and decided to send in a couple of run-of-the-mill wenches to make sure Theon is even more confused and scared, as well as painfully sexually frustrated. So…that was that.
The wildlings are meanwhile making way on their journey South. Ygritte spots a windmill and charmingly asks if it’s a castle. Oh, those crazy wildlings. Don’t they know they’ve all got a castle each? Even more charming is her confusion over the fact that Westerosi women do things like “swoon” and “faint” at the sight of gross things like blood—in fact, she doesn’t even know what those words mean! Badass Ygritte, keep on keeping on. All this has charmed Jon too, to the point where he feels so guilty he blurts out a warning: the wildlings just aren’t going to win. He’s afraid Ygritte will get killed, or worse. It’s sweet and worrisome, and really cute.
In another part of the Northern wilds, Bran’s group is experiencing some difficulties: namely, Osha is freaking out. One of Jojen’s prophetic greendreams has told him that Jon Snow is on “the wrong side of the wall,” AKA not at Castle Black where they have been heading this whole time. Not only that, but Bran has been having his own visions as well featuring our old buddy the three-eyed crow. He doesn’t think they should go to Castle Black either. The wildling Osha is HELLBENT on not going back North. Her violent outbursts are not working to convince them, so she tells a tale about her old lover Bruni. Bruni died—well, sort of. He died and came back as an awesome White Walker. So, that sucked for Osha. Would you want to go back North after that?!
So Jaime actually did leave Brienne to her fate in the ruins of Harrenhal. As Qyburn tends to his stump, we learn exactly why he was divested of his maester’s chains: for performing grotesque experiments on living people. A nice little exchange follows where Jaime is grossed out and judgy, and Qyburn is all like, how many people have you killed, bro? This was probably meant to make him feel a bit guilty, but the reminder of his former warrior self seemed to bolster Jaime’s confidence and he trash-talks his way back to Harrenhal to save Brienne! YES! It was previously mentioned that Brienne would be used for the soldiers’ “entertainment,” and as awful as it sounded, I bet most people thought that entertainment would be of a forced sexual nature. Kind of a shock to see she is in a pit fighting a BEAR, right?! With a wooden sword?!! (Of course “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” is bellowing from the mouths of the spectators.) In a moment of pure epicness, Jaime jumps in the pit and they both narrowly avoid getting mauled as they scramble up the steep wooden walls. For a hot minute there, it seemed like swords would be drawn between the Harrenhall group and Jaime, but thankfully Jaime tamed his smartass mouth for once and just got the hell out of there.
Now we’re left with several more pieces of the puzzle and a couple of easy avenues for crazy things to happen. What was your favorite part of the episode? Do you think Dany should stay in Slaver’s Bay? Has Jaime redeemed himself yet? Check back soon for next week’s installment! Valar Morghulis, everyone…
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