It pains me to say this, but I expected more from George R.R. Martin. The man behind the book series Game of Thrones is based upon had amazed audiences with his script for “Blackwater” in Season Two. Unfortunately, GRRM’s writing for this week’s episode fell way short of last season’s climactic battle. Episode Seven titled, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, seemed to be everything that “Blackwater” wasn’t: slow, monotonous, and utterly uninteresting. Worst of all, this comes at a time when Season Three was just starting to fire on all cylinders. Beginning with Episode Four, the show really picked up as we saw a nice bit of action and some quality plot building. The pieces on the game board were all set up and it was time to start knocking them down, or so I thought. While I last week’s episode was off the pace in my opinion, I was fine with it. I mean, they can’t all be zingers right? However, the thing that really gripes me is that the show took another turn in the wrong direction this week. “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” had me confused right from the start. The story seemed to jump around so much that I literally reached for my remote control to change the channel about 30 minutes in. It wasn’t all bad though, so let’s start breaking down the episode with the positives.
The transformation of Jaime Lannister came full circle this week and I really have to take my hat off to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for his amazing portrayal of The Kingslayer. Think about it: Jaimie started out as worst kind of piece of shit there is. You know, the kind of guy that pushes a child out of a window after being caught having sex with his sister. He’s not exactly someone you want to take home to meet mom and it’s easy to see why Jaime is one person that everybody loved to hate. After all, he does have the worst reputation in all the Seven Kingdoms after literally stabbing his king in the back. Fortunately for him, this season has showed a different side of the man. He’s not as cold and malicious as everyone makes him out to be. Jaime actually has a heart; and a rather big one at that.
This episode further cemented the fact Jaime has truly changed. Since being captured by Robb Stark in Season One, Jaime’s malevolent and diabolical nature has slowly been chipped away. If there’s one thing that a posh, rich-kid like Jaime Lannister could use, it was a lesson in humility. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth – good-looking, high-born, and heir to the richest House in all of Westeros – and Ser Jaime has never had to endure any hardships. Until now. These hardships have changed character into someone who is now actually likeable.
I mention all this because it takes a very strong actor to make it happen. I mean, just imagine you’re a relatively unknown actor and a producer hands you a script for a promising new role. Then imagine that same producer telling your character starts out as one of the most hated people in the entire series, but will end up being one of the most revered by Season Three. Would you believe him? Much more, would you even be able to pull it off? It seems like a monumental task for even the best actor, and Nikolaj has been nailed it every step along the way.
Even though there’s plenty I didn’t like about “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, the character dynamics between Jaime and Brienne has been a joy to watch all season. The episode obviously surrounds this particularly story and ended up being the only real high point. We’ve seen the tremendous bonds being forged between these two, which came to a climax when they say goodbye to each other. Due to his reputation, Jaime obviously isn’t the most trusted person in the Seven Kingdoms. But Brienne trusted him to return the Stark children to their mother and that trust carried a heavy weight with The Kingslayer. As we found out in the previous episode, the one act that Jaime is most hated for is also his most admirable moment. We all know that the snickering and cursing behind his back has affected him over the years and receiving trust from Brienne, a person whom he deeply respects, was the breaking point for Jaime. Brienne trusted him to honor his word, which is something I’m sure Jaime has wanted for a very long time, and I think he finally realized what type of man he has to be in order to keep that trust.
The other high point of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” was Dany’s scene in Yunkai. Daenerys’s stor has been carrying this season so far, but unfortunately we only get a short plotline with her this week. The Mother of Dragons is now on a mission to set free all slaves she comes across, and will destroy anyone who stands in her way. She’s knows she won’t win over people just by having a large army. Instead, Dany is set to conquer all of Slaver’s Bay, one city at a time, and freeing the men who will fight beside her. This was the first time that I thought Daenerys truly looked like the queen she is destined to become. She has a giant army, a tent with servants, two loyal advisors, and three ever-growing dragons. The pace of Dany’s plot is rapidly picking up and her scene was one of the few bright spots in this episode. It’s almost a certainty that Dany will end up sacking Yunkai in glorious fashion and I can’t wait to see that.
Now onto the bad…
First off, I thought the episode jumped around a lot and there was no real sense of where it was going. The first thirty minutes seemed wildly out of control as we jumped from one story to another to another, with each one getting more ridiculous than the last. Let’s start with Theon and his mysterious tormentor.
The whole torture scenario has gone a bit over-the-top and I feel as though this show is always trying to throw some shock factor into the equation. Last season it was the graphic brothel scenes, while this season it’s the endless torture of Theon Greyjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I am really enjoying watching Theon get what he deserves, but I feel as though the show is trying too hard to make it believable. At this point, I’m sure viewers realize that the mystery man intends to make Theon’s like a living hell. After all the things he’s done so far, we get it. This guy is one bad dude. We don’t need endless shots of whores prancing around the screen doing nothing more than appearing as eye candy for male viewers.
On that note, did we really need the drawn out sex scene between Robb and Talisa? Granted, it was a decent way to lead up to revelation that she’s pregnant with King in the North, Jr., but a lot of the dialogue was cheesy and poorly acted. Not to mention the endless ass shots filling up the screen. Is it just me, or have we seen way too much full-rear nudity this season? I don’t need cheeks on my screen every episode, okay? Especially when it’s merely used as filler. Seems to me that this scene could’ve been trimmed way down. The whole thing isn’t very believable. No one has sex like that, and the strategically positioned body parts makes it all too obvious that Ms. Chaplin is camera shy. Just say you’re pregnant and be done with it. We didn’t need all the lovey-dovey banter between the two. Especially when it’s delivered as poorly as Robb’s “Oh, I love you” line.
Jon and Ygritte’s story is another one that could’ve been trimmed down. For example, it took three scenes of exactly the same thing before we get the emotional make-out moment. Bad news is that this story really hasn’t developed from last week at all: Ygritte sees Jon for what he really is, Jon tries to save her from an inevitable defeat, and they end up kissing ferociously. It’s the same story that played out last week. I get that the writer’s want to fully develop the relationship between these two, but it’s starting to become overemphasized. Rose Leslie has killed it all season, but it’s as though we are running in circles here.
This was one of those plot building episodes that we see from time to time on this show. Unfortunately, I have to say it’s one of the worst ones yet. Probably within the Top 3 worst episodes yet in my opinion. Even though I liked the dynamics between Jaime and Brienne, I still felt like I need more, much like every other plot from this episode. The show was trying to do too much in such a short amount of time and there were too many small scenes that only served the purpose of conveying a small amount of information to the audience. One of my biggest complaints about the whole series is that too much time is spent on useless material that could be used on more interesting characters. Take Podrick Payne for example. Whatever happened between him and the whores? That was weeks ago and we still don’t know. In fact, we haven’t heard a breath about since Episode 3. I’m starting to think we will never know and it was simply a waste of precious airtime. The same thing goes for the character of Ros. Her presence in King’s Landing was never a part of Martin’s book series and served no real purpose within the show itself. All these little thing can add up to a big chunk of time. Time that should be used developing Martin’s immense story better. I could be wrong here, but that’s just my opinion. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
PREVIEW: Episode 8: Second Sons