Game of Thrones S3E7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” Synopsis
Spoiler Warning: If you’ve yet to see S3E7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” be sure to turn away now! We’ll be discussing major plot points and revealing elements of the episode, and we’d hate to spoil it for you!
HBO’s fan favorite series continues onward with “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, an episode name that’s taken from the jingle known across the Seven Kingdoms–and hints at a rather cruel and grisly scene that’s later to come. If you’ve read George Martin’s book series, you’ll surely remember what the episode name implies, and the transformation that it provokes in one of the main characters.
Last week’s episode touched upon some tragic events, especially for our poor beleaguered Sansa Stark who was crestfallen when her plans to escape to the Eyrie with Petyr Baelish went awry–and even worse, Tyrion revealed that he is being forced to marry her. Loras Tyrell will be named to the Kingsguard by Tywin Lannister, the present Hand of the King, as Olenna refused to marry Loras to Cersei–now Loras will have a life of servitude and will never be able to marry or have children, thus putting pressure on Margaery as she’s the last hope for the Tyrell name to carry on.
Jon Snow and his wildling party scaled the wall using bone axes and makeshift metal bootspikes, and will continue their journey to scout for the true numbers of the Night’s Watch. In the forestlands near Riverrun, Arya remains a loose captive of the Brotherhood Without Banners, and has lost one of her best friends–Gendry, one of Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate sons–who was bartered to Melisandre (Stannis Baratheon’s “Red Witch” who worships the red god R’hllor) for two sacks of gold.
Meanwhile the War of the Five Kings has heated up, and Robb Stark is in danger of losing the war as the Tyrells and Lannisters team up. To have a standing chance he must needs find a way to appease Lord Walder Frey of the Crossing, the bridge-fort that provides astounding tactical advantage as its one of the only crossings across the Red Fork of the Trident that cuts through the Riverlands.
Walder accepts Robb’s plea in one condition–that Edmure Tully, the liege lord of Riverrun and Catelyn Stark’s brother, will marry one of his daughters, thus securing the Frey name to one day rule over the region. After much bickering, Edmure agrees, although something is fishy about this deal…
Now we venture across to Danaerys’ journey across Essos; she has already freed Astapor and carries her newfound army of Unsullied warriors onward across the blistering sands, venturing forth and starting her homeward trek to the reclaim the Iron Throne.
The most shocking scene in the entire episode, though, would be the bearfight–yes, the Boltons of Harrenhal are as cruel as you’d might think and put our “wench” against a bear for entertainment…
In the Heart of War
Robb Stark is still in the rainy Riverlands with his mother, Catelyn, and the Tully brothers Edmure and the Blackfish. The scene focuses on the strife that Robb is facing, yet it also shows how Robb copes with the stress: with a bout of steamy lovemaking with his dark, doe-eyed Volantene wife.
Robb’s political prowess isn’t as keen as his youthful vigor, however his war tactics have proven all too keen so far–that is until he’s faced with overwhelming numbers at the Lannister-Tyrell union.
After laying with his wife Talisa, Robb recounts the siege maps, trying to make sense of things…but is soon distracted by his wife–the same wife that cost him the first alliance with the Freys, as Robb broke the oath he made to marry one of Walder’s daughters and instead married the Volantene cleric–who reveals that she is indeed pregnant.
Robb is elated with the news, and instead of planning ahead and redoubling his efforts with his maps and charts, he opts to spend the time with the woman he loves and cherishes.
You can feel the presence and power of love surrounding the characters, as they kindle a strong burning love despite the horrors and chaos that surrounds them in the war–which in itself is quite beautiful.
Woes in the Southron Capital
Meanwhile back at King’s Landing, Sansa walks with Margaery Tyrell and talks about Sansa’s current predicament. Margaery tries to comfort Sansa, who is worrisome about the upcoming nuptials–in last week’s episode we learned that Tyrion is being forced to marry Sansa by his father, Tywin.
Sansa makes her worries open to Margaery, yet the Tyrell woman–who is plotting to be Queen and give birth to an heir to the Iron Throne using Joffrey as little more than a vessel–shows the Stark girl that some men are surprising when it comes to their…performances between the sheets.
Even still Sansa is disgusted with the idea, even though Tyrion has never shown her any ill will or harmed her. He’s certainly one of the more decent Lannisters in the whole kingdom despite his vices.
Meanwhile Tyrion is seeking advice from Bron regarding the same topic, and Bron, being the sellsword with a voracious appetite for power and gold, doesn’t see any problem with Tyrion bedding Sansa.
Tyrion’s main concern is how Shae will feel about it. He’s concerned that she will become jealous and perhaps even use some of her fatal skills against him–or even worse, some sort of political trickery. Tyrion’s woes are just beginning, it seems…
As Joffrey sits the Iron Throne, Tywin Lannister–the boy’s grandfather and present Hand of the King–stops by for a private evening.
Joffrey wants to know about the findings of the small council, and seems to want to be more in tune with the goings-on of his kingdom. This is interesting because usually Joffrey is distracted by his many cruel games, but now he is interested in what Tywin and the rest of the council members are scheming up in their meetings.
Joffrey asks about Danaerys and her dragons in the east, and Tywin basically tells him that there’s nothing to worry about by relating Dany’s dragons to the last living dragon–whose skull was only the size of an apple. The biggest, however, was the size of a carriage–the very dragon that Aegon the Conqueror flew upon to conqueror the Seven Kingdoms–which is an interesting point made by Joffrey.
Tywin makes it very clear that even though the boy-king sits the Iron Throne, he is just a figurehead, and the real power lies in Tywin’s expert scheming and layered politics. But with his silver-tongued skills, Tywin easily deflates Joffrey’s annoyed and perplexed nature, establishing control and opting to rectify the situation–then he strolls out, as he always does after a victory, with the hint of a smile upon his face.
The Yellow City
Meanwhile in Essos, Danaerys has reached one of the main cities of the east: Yunkai, the Yellow City. Her loyal Queensguard and confidants Barristan Selmy and Jorah Mormont advise her on Yunkai’s customs–and more importantly, their army, revealing that they could take the city with ease if the Yunkish met them in open battle.
Mormont also says that there’s no reason to take Yunkai–that it is a lost cause and Dany doesn’t need to chip away at her army with its conquest.
Dany then asks him how many slaves there are in the Yellow City, in which Mormont answers with earnest honesty, revealing that there are over 200,000 slaves chained in Yunkai. Dany replies that they now have 200,000 reasons to take the city, and opts for its conquest.
Danaerys Stormborn sends Grey Worm to the gates of Yunkai to deliver a disharmonious message: if the slavers of Yunkai do not surrender and meet her army out in the open, then the Yellow City will suffer the same fate as Astapor. As the Slaver’s Bay is a haven for slave trading, word travels fast, and Yunkai has no-doubt heard word of what happened at Astapor–and how Dany laid waste to the slavers and stripped the slaves of their bonds.
With an ultimatum like that, it doesn’t take long before a slaver emissary is sent forth, carried in a lavish carriage by slaves instead of horses. The emissary is led through many the Unsullied, who stand rank and file on either side of the path, proving to be quite an intimidating sight indeed.
When the noble one reaches Dany and her dragons and Queensguard, he is extremely wary. He offers terms, but not the ones that Dany is looking for: the slaver offers Dany as many ships as she wants to return to Westeros to win back the Iron Throne, but asks that she leave the Yunkai’i to their own devices and leave the slaves in bondage.
As Dany is ever a woman of her instinct and heart, lead by her own morals and views, she focuses on the slaved ones instead of the promise of gold and other treasures. She sees a culture that’s founded upon pain and blood, a bitter caste that forces those born into slavery to retain it for generations to come.
In her response, we see a Dany that’s matured and grown into her Queenly nature quite well. She offers the slaver a gift in return; his life, and the lives of the other slavemasters. In return, they must free every slave in Yunkai, and deliver upon to them enough food, water and shelter in order to pay back for their long years of service.
The Bear and the Wench
Back in Harrenhal, the principal fortress of House Bolton, Jaime says goodbye to Brienne of Tarth. In last week’s episode Lord Bolton revealed that Jaime would be sent to King’s Landing in order to make up for the atrocities committed by Locke, who cut of Jaime’s swordhand.
Brienne, however, would remain at Harrenhal. The two find it hard to say goodbye to one another, however; throughout their journey Jaime had grown accustomed to Brienne or the “wench” as he called her–even attracted to her in various ways despite the fact that she’s quite mannish and brutish in many ways.
When they were held captive by Bolton’s men, it was Jaime who prevented Brienne from getting raped, yet Brienne took care of him as well, inspiring him to survive another day. They helped one another, and through their struggles they became quite attached.
Now they must say goodbye and go their separate ways. Jaime nearly chokes up during his goodbye with Brienne, as those feelings start to come back.
Jaime embarks on his journey along with Qyburn, the fell maester of the Dreadfort who tends to his stump. On their way Jaime asks Qyburn if a raven was sent to Tarth to see if Brienne’s father would send ransom. Qyburn reveals that Lord Celwyn Tarth offered 300 gold dragons for his daughter, but then says that Locke won’t take it, as Jaime led the man to believe that Brienne’s father would offer a barrel full of sapphires for her release.
Qyburn goes on, saying that Locke is going to use her for his “entertainment”, which would turn out to be quite a twisted and cruel show indeed. Disturbed by this, Jaime feels his must do something to save her, and it leads him to trick his captors to return to Harrenhal.
Jaime arrives right in time for the show: the cruel men have adapted the age-old Bear and the Maiden Fair jingle into a twisted and macabre sideshow, as Brienne is in a pit armed only with a wooden sword against a ferocious wild bear. Locke’s men cheer and jape and laugh idly, watching the grotesque display of atrocity as if it were great sport.
Jaime is appalled, and appeals to Locke’s sense of greed by offering to buy Brienne’s ransom with gold or sapphires or whatever he wants. Locke easily dismisses Jaime’s offer, saying that gold doesn’t by everything, and that some things are much more important than gold.
The bear has reared up on its feet, standing even with Brienne, and strikes her bloody, knocking away the only defense she had. The beast is ready to deliver the killing blow, and there’s no time to think: Jaime jumps down into the pit to try to save her.
The Bolton man can’t afford to let Jaime get mauled, so he shoots a bolt into the bear, giving Brienne enough time to get pulled up out of the pit. She quickly leans back over to get Jaime out as well, and the two work together once again to save each other’s lives.
Locke’s show is ruined and Jaime barely escaped with his life. Locke isn’t too happy about this, but Jaime’s silver-tongue works its magic, convincing that Lord Bolton would much rather have Jaime return back to King’s Landing than give his “pet rat” a reward, and this provocation almost leads to open battle between Bolton’s guards and Locke’s men.
Finally Locke relents and Jaime strolls out with Brienne and his armed escort, on their way to King’s Landing…