Okay, we'll admit it: Despite containing a castration, a surprise pregnancy, and a bear fight, Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 7: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” somehow managed to be a little slow. We blame the Starks. But it's all good, because Jaime and Brienne more than made up for any of the episode's other flaws.
Let's recap the good, the bad, and the brain-burningly horrifying.
In the North: Can Love Conquer All?
Now that Jon and Ygritte have had sex, everybody has an opinion about their relationship. While Tormund sticks to some fairly decent sex advice, Orell is a little less friendly. Apparently he has the hots for Ygritte, and he has chosen now to make his move, because what this plot really needed was a weird love triangle.
However, if something's going to come between Jon and Ygritte, it'll be their backgrounds, not Orell's advances. They spend most of the episode being adorable — this romance is light-years more believable, not to mention enjoyable, than Robb and Talisa's — but their underlying differences keep peeking out. Jon doesn't know how to hunt deer properly, Ygritte is impressed by a simple windmill, etc, etc.
It's not just cute cross-cultural misunderstandings. Things come to a head when Jon finally tells Ygritte that her cause is a lost one. Wildlings have tried to attack below the Wall before, and they always lose, because they are untrained, not unified, and unprepared for real war. "All of you," are going to die he warns. "All of us," she counters."You're mine, and I'm yours. And if we die, we die. But first we'll live." Yeah, he agrees. First they'll live. And by live, they mean bang.
Robb's Camp: Congrats?
Robb and Co. are attempting to get their butts back to the Twins so Edmure can marry Roslin Frey ASAP, as per last week's agreement, but they've been delayed by rain. What's a wannabe king to do with his unexpected free time? Have sex with his wife, of course.
We're treated to some very nice butts, and then Robb sits down to try to plan his next move. He keeps getting distracted by Talisa and her naked bod because let's be real: He's pretty terrible at being king. On the other hand, he's clearly not terrible at being a husband, because Talisa's pregnant. Whoa. All those people in King's Landing banking on Sansa being the heir to the North are not going to be pleased if they find out about this.
King's Landing: Such a Joyous Time
Speaking of, Sansa is still very, very upset about her new marriage arrangement. Margaery tries to comfort her, pointing out that, all things considered, Tyrion isn't actually the worst match in the world. For real. This time last year Sansa was still married to Joffrey. Sansa, however, is horrified by the concept of having sex with Tyrion, even though, as Margaery points out, he's actually pretty hot and has more than a little experience in the bedroom. Heck, if you don't want him, Sansa, we'll take him.
Tyrion isn't jumping for joy at the match either, despite Bronn's best attempts to boost his spirits. Yes, Sansa is a hottie with the entire North to her name, but she's also a child who hates Tyrion, and he's not into that. Plus, he guesses Shae is not going to like this new arrangement, which proves to be very true.
Indeed, she's deeply jealous, and once again tries to convince Tyrion to run away to the Free Cities, a plan he still doesn't like because being a Lannister in Westeros is, despite its drawbacks, a more appealing prospect than being a no-name dwarf elsewhere. He insists that he'll put Shae up somewhere nice, but she doesn't want to be a hidden mistress. "You'll always be my lady," he promises. "I'm your whore," she counters before whisking away. Whelp, that could have gone better.
Elsewhere, in the best non-Jaime-and-Brienne scene of the episode, Joffrey and Tywin finally face off, and it is beautiful.
Joffrey, who is just lounging around on the throne like a weirdo, is technically the one who summoned his granddad, but Tywin clearly has all the power in this scene, blithely dismissing Joffrey's concerns about everything from the Small Council's meeting location to Dany and her dragons. Though we have to admit that Joffrey may have a point on that latter issue: Tywin is convinced Dany is not threat because her dragons are small and useless. Apparently he hasn't heard about the army of 8,000 super-soldiers.
Yunkai: Dany the Civil Rights Activist?
Though after checking back in with Dany, we're thinking Tywin might be more on point than it would first appear. Sure, her dragons are getting larger by the minute, but she seems to have lost focus.
She and her army have come to Yunkai, another slave city, and she's apparently decided that it's her duty to free all of the slaves there. Which ... Yeah, slavery is bad and we're totally on board with getting rid of it, but it's not exactly relevant to her ultimate goal of retaking Westeros.
In fact, Dany meets with a bigwig slave trader from Yunkai, who literally offers her all the gold and ships she wants if she'll just go the hell away. He also name drops "powerful friends," which makes taking him up on that offer seem doubly smart, but Dany's response is to threaten him with dragons and warn that she'll attack the city if they don't free all the slaves ASAP. So, that's a thing.
Blackwater: Blood of a King
On a ship outside of King's Landing, Gendry gets the shock of a lifetime: Melisandre (who we also learn was once a slave herself) reveals that he's Robert's son. "There is power in a king's blood," she tells him. Given the way Mel has tapped into "power" before, we're worried for Gendry.
Brotherhood Without Banners: Out of the Frying Pan...
Back at the Brotherhood's hideout, Arya is still pissed at everyone for handing Gendry over. Beric tries to explain that when the Lord of Light asks for something you do it, but Arya doesn't care. Even with everything she's seen, the Lord of Light is not her one true god: Death is. Nope, she's not emotionally disturbed at all.
The last straw comes when the Brotherhood decides to take a detour from returning Arya to her family to go attack some random Lannister troops. Ehf this, she says, and runs off ... right into the Hound. Uh oh.
The Place Where Everything Is Terrible
In his unbearable hell hole, Theon is released from his restraints and sexed up by some nice ladies...
... So that his dick can be cut off. Alfie Allen and Iwan Rheon do an excellent job, in that this scene is painfully realistic and almost impossible to watch. Can someone pass the brain bleach?
Heading North: A Lesson About the Wilds
On the road North, Osha continues to resent the Reeds. Their most recent offence is insisting that Bran needs to travel beyond the Wall so that, according to Jojen, he can find "the raven." Osha hates this plan. Backstory time! See, she once had a lover who was turned into an Other, so now she's jaded and hates the North and distrusts all magic. Conclusion: she'll take Bran to Castle Black, but no further. At the rate they're going, it'll take them another three seasons to get there, anyway.
Harrenhal: The Bear, the Maiden Fair, and the Kingslayer
In Harrenhal, Brienne and Jaime are given a chance to say goodbye before Jaime returns to King's Landing. Jaime tells Brienne he owes her a debt; she makes him swear he'll make sure the Stark girls get returned to Cat. There are a lot of meaningful looks going on, and we're loving every second of it. "Goodbye, Ser Jaime," Brienne says. She used his name! He's so overcome with emotion he can't respond. Not going to lie: we may have choked up a little.
Jaime is sent off with a group of men tasked with getting him home alive, but Locke makes the mistake of dropping one last sketchy line: "Don't you worry about your friend, we'll take good care of her." Lord Bolton sure knows how to pick 'em.
On the road, Jaime's horrifying stump is tended to by ex-Maester Qyburn. They discuss the ethics of performing medical experiments on humans and then Qyburn lets slip that Jaime's lie about Tarth being full of sapphires has backfired: Because Locke believes the island is rich, he thinks Brienne's father didn't offer enough to get her back, and now he's going to do something bad to her. Jaime immediately declares they have to go back to Harrenhal because he's left something behind. Brienne. That something is Brienne.
They return just in time to see that Brienne has been thrown into a bear pit with nothing but a wooden sword to defend herself ("I've only got one bear," Locke explains, horribly). She's a bloody mess, but she's standing strong. Jaime desperately tries to offer Locke more money to save her, but, being a sadist, Locke replies that the spectacle is worth more to him than any gold.
So Jaime uses the only other leverage he has: His own life. He jumps into the pit, correctly banking on Bolton's less insane men saving him, since he's supposed to be returned to Tywin alive. After a harrowing scramble out of the pit, Brienne and Jaime are both saved, leaving Locke and his bear incredibly disgruntled.
Jaime declares that Brienne is coming with him to King's Landing and Locke, realizing he's been outmaneuvered, lets them go. Thus, Game of Thrones's best pair was kept intact, and lo, there was celebration throughout the fandom.
- A lot is made of Talisa writing a letter (which she claims is to her mother) in Robb's tent. More fuel for the Talisa is a spy theory?
- We love this exchange between Jon and Ygritte: "What's swooning?" "Fainting." "What's fainting?"
- Also good was Ygritte pointing out that girls, even Westeros ladies, see more blood than men. Preach.
- Tyrion line of the week: "I don't pay you to put evil notions in my head. The ones already in there don't need company."
- Tywin to Joffrey: "You are being counseled at this very moment." He is the king of passive-aggressive snark.
- Jaime on how many men he's killed: "Countless has a nice ring to it."
- To be honest, any episode that doesn't feature Lady Olenna is a disappointment. We know, we know, there are a lot of other more important characters, but her humor was missed.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.
Catch the next episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, May 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO,