Game Of Thrones season 3 episode 7 review: The Bear And The Maiden Fair

Review Ron Hogan 13 May 2013 - 07:00

George R.R. Martin's script makes a great show even stronger this week. Here's Ron's review of The Bear And The Maiden Fair...

This review contains spoilers.

3.7 The Bear and the Maiden Fair

The episodes written by George R. R. Martin have traditionally been some of the best of their particular season. Since he's the man who invented the characters that inhabit this world (and the world itself for that matter), it's only natural that he seems to have the deftest touch when it comes to creating episodes and writing for the characters. In his hands, the already sharp dialogue gets that much sharper, honed and clever without being forced. His scripts tend to feel very natural, which is pretty impressive when you have slaver kings being threatened by dragons. 

That is a very important skill to have when dealing with a dialogue-heavy episode, and this one certainly is. This was the romance edition of Game of Thrones, with most of the focus being put on the show's relationship pairings, from the romantic to the bromantic to the confusingly father/daughter. One of the least developed relationships, Robb Stark and Talisa (Oona Chaplin), actually gets a fair amount of screen time this week and surprisingly, in Martin's hands, the couple seems to actually have some chemistry. Not as much as Jon Snow and Ygritte, who continue to steam up the North no matter which side of the Wall they're on with some of their best and cutest banter to date. 

Balancing out the brilliant scripting is some great visual directing work from Michelle MacLaren. She proves to be a deft hand with the camera, and the CGI crew is more than up to the task of bringing her vision to the screen. The dragons hanging out in Dany's throne tent looked great, but the long and lingering trip of the slaver litter through camp - and its many rows of Unsullied lining the road and generally looking very intimidating - show just how much of a force to be reckoned with the Mother of Dragons is, even without her dragons. However, the show is satisfying not just with its flash, there's also a lot of substance. The weekly Tywin Lannister scene, in this case a confrontation/discussion with Joffrey, is sheer brilliance on the part of all parties. It's shot well, choreographed wonderfully, and the acting choices made by Charles Dance and Jack Gleeson said much more about the relationship between those characters than their exchanged words ever could.

The show has been doing something the past few weeks that I find pretty interesting. Rather than jump around without much purpose, they have been picking and choosing their jumps to keep certain story lines together. For example, Margaery and Sansa are having a discussion in the garden about how to make the best of Sansa's new betrothal to Tyrion Lannister. From Sansa and her confidant we jump immediately to Tyrion and his confidant, Bronn, talking about the very same issue. It's a clever bit of organization, and a good way to keep story lines properly connected. Jon Snow and Robb Stark serve as a matched set to open the episode. Gendry and Arya are backed into one another in the middle of the episode despite being separated by leagues of ocean travel. 

Much like the show's opening catch-up, it helps keep things organized and helps the audience to make the proper connections between characters and to keep everyone straight. Given Game of Thrones' massive assortment of characters (I had forgotten the name of Robb's wife, though I remembered the actress thanks to her Chaplin connection). Some big steps were taken this week to move the pieces the show has to play with, but there are still a great number of pieces to keep track of and any little bits of help it's willing to give us are greatly appreciated by those of us who stay up late nights to do things like this. I think we'd all want more Tyrion, but season three is doing a better job of keeping him involved/stretching out his storyline than they did with Daenerys last season, and Dany is very much paying off in this run. 

However, with only three episodes left in the third season, it might be time to stop shifting pieces around and start knocking them off the board. The ninth episode is traditionally the episode where the landscape really changes for Game of Thrones, and I have to wonder if that's going to hold true in the third season simply because they're splitting up the third book of the series into two seasons. Will we have a season of (satisfying) set-up with a follow-up season of spectacular knock-downs? They were able to do that with Daenerys and her rag-tag bunch this run after a second season of planning; will they have the guts to do that with an entire TV series, or do I need to prepare myself for something even more awesome than tonight's episode next week and beyond? Will they finally explain the torture of Theon besides just reminding us how he deserves it?

Knowing how the show seems to work, I should be prepared for some next-level craziness in two weeks. I'm not quite sure what form it is going to take, but I've got no doubt it will be impressive.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, The Climb, here. 

US Correspondent Ron Hogan was impressed to see such a great deal of pre-show warning letters on the parental advisory page. That's how you know it's going to be a good night in Westeros. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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Looking at the synopsis for next week's episode, it looks like the show's creators are choosing to show Joffrey's death at his wedding an episode or two prior to Robb and Catelyn's death's at the Red Wedding. I'm interested in seeing what order the next few episodes play out. It would be amazing if they show the death of both kings before the end of this seaons, though I have a feeling they may leave Joffrey's death out for the first episode in Season 4.

Strong Belwas - you sure know how to issue spoilers

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Someone should probably delete this comment.
Idiot.

Deleted it - Simon

No mention of Jaime and Brienne? They're the most interesting and enjoyable pairing both on screen and on page.

Great episode as usual. Game of Thrones is just getting better and better and more popular than it ever was. Can't wait to see how they adapt coming events onto the screen. If TV only fans think it's good *now*, well... you know nothing (Jon Snow).

In response to the comments at the end of the review, I can only say one thing. You know nothing Ron Hogan.

No, Theon doesn't deserve torture. Nobody "deserves" torture. If the show is telling you that, there is something wrong somewhere. Theon is a criminal and deserves justice. So is (and does) his torturer.

Wait... you don't know what will happen in the ninth episode?!?!

Man you're in for a big surprise. Don't worry, it'll be world shifting in its scope. ;)

Cheers

I think Theon is being tortured as a way to make him stronger. So far all he has done is beg and plead and whimper (not that I am saying I would be any different, in fact I'm pretty sure I would outwhimper him by a country mile) and the heir of the Iron Isles needs to be made of stronger stuff. His father and his sister are trying to turn him into the kind of sociopath that they want him to be, and it will happen when he starts standing up to his torturer, and be completed when he manages to get free and makes him suffer twice as much as he had. If it is his father, then I don't think he has actually been castrated, perhaps just circumcised, perhaps not even touched, given that he needs to be able to sire the next generation.

You just gotta love how the show evolves and the characters with it. Take Jaime and how he's changed. Also, Jon Snow and Ygritte.. doesn't get better than that.

Great job with the reviews, I used to read them from a bunch of places, these days only Den of Geek! Keep it up!

GRRM says: Hello bobsuncorp! I heard you have hopes and dreams?

Can I just say I love that Ron hasn't read the books - I assume this was a deliberate choice by DoG to avoid the trap of constantly comparing the series to the book, but it's great to read his figuring out of things as we go along, even if we book-readers occasionally have to bite our tongues to not give stuff away.

Wish want you want for 2 weeks time. You won't get it. The show is taking a one week break between episodes 8 and 9

Er - no - that was a catsration knife, as used on cattle

Oh well. Sorry Theon, I tried my best. Let me introduce you to this fellow called Vayris....

A good ep, especially liked the Kingslayer's rescue of Brienne the Beauty. BUT, what is this about Lady Talisa getting up the duff???!
In the books *Potential Spoiler Alert* didn't Tywin tell the Westerlings to give Jeyne Moon Tea to purposefully STOP the King in the North having any potential heirs? the whole idea was that there'd be no northern phoenix to rise after Robb

i think he's being tortured as a way to make him dissatisfied with his lot in life.

They've been linking storylines together through adjacent scenes since season one. It's called editing. ;)

I thought there were now 13 episodes this series...?

Another great episode but kept thinking of anchorman during that bear pit scene... Jaime could've dropped in and said 'I immediately regret this decision.'

I think what the torture scenes serve is to humble Theon in the audience's mind and turn them around following his betrayal last series. By the end of this we'll be rooting for Theon again and willing to forgive his mistakes.

If GoT teaches us anything it's that when things look good for you, there's trouble round the corner and if things are going bad for you, they're only going to get worse.

As Talisa has replaced Jeyne in the show, it's there to keep us guessing.

There's no point comparing the storylines for the merged/adapted characters where the show and the book differ. Just hop on for the ride, Martin wrote this episode so I think he knows where it's going.

Theon's current predicament is almost a metaphor for the series as a whole with the torturer being GRRM and Theon being the characters.

If Tormund was actually the one doing the torturing then the visuals would almost match too!

Agreed. I am very much enjoying, as someone who has read the books, the fact that there are even surprises in store for me (such as Ros, which was genuinely a shock and brilliantly so).

I am enjoying this jump for exactly that reason - it's going to be another surprise for loyal book fans.

Varys, you mean?
Sorry to be a pedant, having read the books that's how it's spelt.

It's not you, it's me.

YES. Brilliant. I just want to see Hodor riding a bear for no reason whatsoever.
"Even the guy that can't think said something!"
"Hodor"

Well played! All end of battle scenes could end with someone saying, 'Well, that escalated quickly...'

Haha yes! I really want a GoT/Anchorman crossover parody episode now...
"Hodor, where did you get a hand grenade?"
"Hodor"

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