Oliver Davis reviews the seventh episode of Game of Thrones Season Three….
The Bear and the Maiden Fair.
Directed by Michelle MacLaren.
Written by George R.R. Martin.
I didn’t have the chance to review last week’s episode of Game of Thrones. I was out of the realm, across the Shivering Sea, where they have terrible WiFi. It meant a double bill for me, and although Episode 7 was very enjoyable, last week’s, The Climb, was superb and up there with the best of the show’s. The quasi-montage of Littlefinger’s monologue, Tyrion struggling to tell Sansa about their upcoming marriage and the view from the top of The Wall…at this rate, Season Three will easily surpass last year’s.
But now to The Bear and the Maiden Fair, written by Big Daddy, George R.R. Martin, himself. And I think I speak for most fans of A Song of Ice and Fire when I write…HURRY UP AND FINISH THE BLOODY BOOKS BEFORE YOU START WRITING TV EPISODES.
…women can’t get enough of those Stark boys. Ygritte (Rose Leslie) is all over Jon Snow (Kit Harington) North of The Wall, and Robb Stark (Richard Madden) is getting on rather well with his wife, Talisa (Oona Chaplin).
She’s part of Robb’s inner-circle, now, comprised of his mother, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), his uncle, Edmure (Tobias Menzies) and his great-uncle, Brynden (Cliver Russell). A word must be said about the latter. His portrayal in the books is of a wise, cheeky and tough man, like Barristan Selmy with a sense of humour. In the series, however, he comes across mean and intolerant. At first his treatment of Edmure, his nephew, was kind of badass (especially his debut scene, firing a perfect flaming arrow into a floating coffin). But now he appears as a bully, threatening to knock out Edmure’s teeth every other scene. The appearance of the character is tremendously accurate, but his essence is callous.
Especially seeing that Edmure’s to wed one of Walder Frey’s daughters. The show is slowly gearing towards dual ceremonies – Joffrey to Margery in the South, and Edmure to the Freys in the North – presumably to end the season. Shakespearean comedies always concluded with a marriage…but it ain’t exactly been a barrel of laughs so far.
But, like Episode Six and the view from atop The Wall, The Bear and the Maiden Fair contained a brief moment of happiness. After a few shots of trademark nudity (mainly bottoms, but there’s definitely a side-boob in there if you search hard enough), Talisa tells Robb she’s pregnant.
A baby! A Royal baby! And, finally, not one of incest.
Talking of which…
…the throne room of the Red Keep never looked like this in King Robert’s day. It was almost blue in colour, icy and neglected. Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has gone for a makeover consisting mainly of ‘fire everywhere’. The grand hall is flanked by huge torches, basking all in an amber glow. The crimson carpet is emboldened. The red and gold of King Joff’s robes appear ever deeper. If the Devil had a throne room, he might opt for a similar decor.
Joffrey seems to enjoy his Prince of Darkness image. Only last week he was seen killing a whore bound in his bedroom. Now he faces the Grandfather of Darkness, Lord Tywin (Charles Dance), the Hand of the King.
The scene is short, but its staging is masterfully constructed. Tywin enters at a disadvantage, a whole flight of steps shorter than his regal grandchild, perched on his iron throne. Initially, Joffrey is confident, confrontational, asking his grandfather why he hasn’t been consulted on matters of the crown. He might be a stupid, arrogant kid, but even Joffrey can sense Tywin is the true ruler of the realm.
In reply, Tywin climbs the steps to stand before Joffrey, taller. The shot is sheer and over Tywin’s shoulder, looking down at a Joff dwarfed by his chair. Immediately Joffrey’s body language and voice change. He can barely look Tywin in the eye. Gleeson really has a tremendous hold on his character.
Tywin wins the evil-off. And, in the half-light of the hall’s burning fires, as he turns, is that…is that a smile?
…Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is finally on his way to King’s Landing, although minus one hand, and one Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). His farewell to Brienne at Harrenhal is one of the more touching, understated moments of the series. Brienne entrusts her task to him, of returning the Stark girls to their mother. Jaime seems taken aback. When was the last time someone trusted him? This oath-breaker, this coward who slew his King? Just before he leaves, Brienne calls him “Jaime”. Not Kingslayer, for once.
Jaime redeems himself further by turning back to Harrenhal, to save Brienne from the bloodthirsty Locke (Noah Taylor) keeping her there. In a restaging of the final scenes of Anchorman, Jaime saves Brienne from a bear. The Bear and the Maiden Fair. Ah, see what you did there, George.
Also, as an aside, Lord Bolton (Michael McElhatton), the man responsible for sending Jaime on his way, leaves Harrenhal to attend the Wedding in the North. A bannerman for the Starks, yet he does the Lannisters a favour.
And you know what they say about those Lannisters? They always repay their debts.
Oliver Davis (@OliDavis)