Game of Thrones Review: The Bear and the Maiden Fair

bear1

Well, now that we’re heading into the tail end of the season, I’ve finally figure out how I’m going to format my Game of Thrones reviews from here on out now that I’ve finished the books. Taking a suggestion from a reader, I’m going to talk about the show book-free for most of the review, but I’m going to have an additional section at the end to address comparisons with the book for anyone who wants to read them.

The impression I’m getting is that people who don’t read the books hate hearing about them in reviews for the most part, but those that have read them quite like discussing the differences with the show. Hopefully this will appease both sides, and I’m giving it a shot this week.

This has been a good season so far, but it’s hard to classify this week’s episode as being as pulse-pounding as some of the past installments. That said, major characters don’t need to be offed every week for the show to be good, and it can still shine with a lot of talking. And sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Sex was something of a central focus this week, with Robb getting turbo laid by his queen who then proceeded to grace us with her royal ass for a solid ten minutes. Something’s a bit…off about her to me, and has been since the beginning. She’s from some far away land, and this week claims to be writing her mother in Valayrian, a language Robb can’t read. I’m not sure the significance of that scene unless we’re supposed to question who she was actually writing, and what she was saying.

And is she telling the truth about Robb having a kid? Even if I don’t trust her, I’m not quite sure why she would lie about that. It’s good news for the Starks who seem to be having shit luck for a long while now, and there are finally going to be more of them, not less.

robb

I can’t show the butt, but I can show the guy looking at the butt.

Keeping with the sex theme, we turn to Sansa and Maergary discussing what it might be like to have Tyrion the dwarf between their legs. Sansa is a little confused as to why Maergary is so knowledgeable about all this, because surely, she’s just a chase little maid, but she’s reassured it’s just that Lady Tyrell gave her the birds and bees talk. Uh huh. Sure. She didn’t try to have a three way with Renly and her brother or anything.

Tyrion meanwhile is having to explain to his whore that he has to unfortunately have sex with his wife after they’re married. Shae isn’t taking it too terribly well as you might expect, and reached peak irritating levels not seen since season two. What the hell does she expect from him? Every day she’s alive is a goddamn blessing at this point. What’s Tyrion supposed to do? Just up and run away with her? Shae the funny whore isn’t worth it, I’m sorry, and I’ve never liked their relationship. He can do so much better! Like Sansa, even if that is going to be horribly uncomfortable for everyone involved.

And finally, Game of Thrones turned into a show that might air on Cinemax at 1AM instead of HBO at 9PM when we moved to Theon and his new “admirers.” Right from moment one, I could see through the bad porno intro and knew this was going to end terribly. Of course this had to be one of Theon’s torturer’s sadistic games, and surprise, it was. No more finger flaying though, we’ve moved on to full-on castration with Theon losing his most prized bodypart. This was an incredibly twisted scene, and did wonders in establishing an entirely new level of brutality in his captor. Have you figured out who he is yet? Or at least what house he’s from?

How adorable was Ygritte asking Jon Snow if that windmill was a castle tower? I don’t think I’ve ever awwwed in Game of Thrones before, but there’s a first time for everything. Less cute is the wildling warg’s sudden interest in Ygritte, which seems odd considering he tried to kill her last episode. Neither Snow nor her are having any of it, and trouble is clearly on the horizon if he persists.

We briefly flew across the sea to check in with Dany and her dragons, which presumably just used up their CGI allotment for the season this episode. They are looking quite badass these days I have to say. She’s about to go all Spartacus and free some new city of slaves, but from the sound of it, she’s got quite the fight ahead of her. Perhaps if she can just Abraham Lincoln them from a distance, they can rise up and take the city themselves? Would save her a lot of hassle.

dragons1

Rawr!

Man, we really did cover a lot of ground this week. Arya runs away from Dondarrion and right into the clutches of the Hound. Whoops! Gendry learns from Melisandre that he’s Robert’s bastard because apparently the Lord of Light gives you DNA-sniffing abilities. Osha is getting sick of the Reeds and relays a rather sad story about how she lost her husband, who became a White Walker zombie.

We concluded with Jaime Lannister attempting to rescue his fair maiden Brienne from a rather one sided gladiator fight between her and a bear. Jaime puts himself in between them and Bolton’s men are forced to protect him to ensure they don’t lose their own heads later by allowing the Kingslayer to die. I think the Brienne/Jaime relationship is probably one of the best this show has, even if there isn’t a trace of romance in it. Or is there? Stranger things have happened in Westeros, I suppose.

And was that the Rains of Castemere I heard playing at the end there? Am I mistaken, or are they inserting that into a bunch of episodes this season? Spooky .

Book Discussion! (spoilers)

Turn back now, show-only people!

Alright, so do I have this wrong, or are they completely changing the story with Robb’s queen? In the books, they all know that she’s from some old house that serves the Lannisters, but they surrendered so it’s not a big deal. But all this stuff about her being from Volantis and communicating in Valayrian is new to me. Also, in the books has it been confirmed she’s actually pregnant with his child? I didn’t think that was a fact as of yet.

I don’t  understand where they’re going with the Melisandre/Gendry plot at all. This wasn’t even offscreen in the books. It just straight up didn’t happen, yet it involves some pretty major plot points. In A Feast for Crows we see Gendry taking care of some orphans after the Brotherhood disbands, and as far as we know, he never learns Robert is his father. Melisandre never gets within a thousand miles of him, even when she is searching for kingsblood. This seems like a pretty major development to not be in the books at all, but as this episode is written by Martin himself, I suppose he knows what he’s doing.

I think they handled Shae’s reaction in the show more believably than in the book. In Storm of Swords she’s just like “Oh well you can still fuck me on the side, so it’s cool,” which didn’t seem like a very appropriate response given their history. I may hate Shae, but this reaction in the show makes more sense with the way her character’s been developed.

In the book, Osha splits from Jojen, Hodor and Meera, taking Rickon with her from the beginning. Is her unease with the North and the group building to that? I know that Rickon’s location (separate from Bran) is important later on the in the story, so that seems like it needs to happen at some point.

ramsay

That knife was f***ing terrifying.

I really like how they’re building up Theon’s interaction with Ramsay this season, when he simply disappeared for two books before. We hear that he loses fingers and toes and his manhood later, but we don’t see the harrowing process in action. I think invented scenes like fake escape or the sadistic sex scenario this week are good additions to the story.

Shouldn’t they be featuring Tommen a little more, or like, at all? He’s a somewhat significant character later, but I wager that nearly no one watching the show even knows he exists.

That’s all for now. If you’re going to respond to anything book-related, please mark your comments clearly as such. And in discussion, even if we are talking about future events, try to stay away from HUGE plot points like major character deaths, just in case people have a wandering eye.


  • Chooch

    You sure Gendry isn’t the one they are bleeding in Dragonstone?

  • alex

    Book Discussion Spoilers!

    I’m pretty sure that Gendry is taking the spot of Edric Storm, replacing Melisandre shadowbabying an assassin to take out the holder of Storm’s End with having her go and buy Gendry off of the Brotherhood. Makes sense in terms of streamlining the story and keeping viewers invested.

  • Krista

    BOOK SPOILER!

    That bitch is all about burning Robert’s bastard and I have a feeling Gendry’s gonna get it. I hope that doesn’t happen because Gendry is so damn handsome as well as a great character and one of Arya’s only friends. So will she burn Gendry? Would Martin kill him off like that? He does have a boner for killing off his characters.

  • Robb’s queen in the books was Jeyne Westerling – very much a Westerosi. About the only thing she shares with HBO’s Talisa is her nursing ability. There are theories that the Westerlings arranged the marriage to force Robb to break his oath to the Freys, forcing the Freys over to the side of the Lannisters, whom Westerling is sworn to. I didn’t care for the series treatment of Robb’s marriage – it seemed very forced, like they added a foreign beauty/mystery to show the audience how forbidden it was. The book’s reasoning (betrayal, house devotion) is more believable and conniving, in my opinion.

  • lol

    No spoiler, safe to read
    I haven’t read the books or any of the spoilers, but I would guess Robs queen is a priestess for “the one true god”. It’s probably her mission to convert him.

  • the_truant

    BOOK SPOILERS

    Edric Storm didn’t die in the books, and i’m pretty sure Gendry is just the stand-in for Edric so a) they don’t have to cast another bastard, and b) they can keep Joe Dempsie on screen a bit longer. maybe Davos will save him after the whole leech-burning ceremony. they haven’t had much for Liam Cunningham to do this season. the Onion Knight’s had, what? 3 minutes of screen time across all 7 epidodes?

    speaking of which, does anyone remember if they’ve ever explained on screen that he’s the Hand for Stannis or the whole story of the Onion Knight? most non-readers I know don’t really have much of an idea who he is except the dude whose boat blew up on the Blackwater.

  • Emilio

    Book Discussion Spoilers!
    I think it was implied in A Feast that Talissa was pregnant and was forced to abort Robb’s baby by her mother.
    I like a lot the changes they are doing, keeps things interesting and quite new. As the seasons progresses, they are allowing the scripts to have more changes from the book (compared to season 1, this season had changed much more the source material).
    Also, in the Gendry/Melissandre scene: By some strange association I had the second I saw the boat, I thought the show was going to start the Greyjoy’s plot from A Feast and I got really scared. I hated this plot line from the books (it’s all over two books and it hasn’t delivered yet) and I want it to be reduced in the show (this plotline is like the senate scenes in Star Wars). Stanis and Melissandre will use Gendry’s blood to cast a conjure to Robb, Joffrey and Balon Greyjoy, but we haven’t seen anything from Balon Greyjoy this season, so his dead will feel flat and without reason. Unless they’re planning to forget this storyline all over and Melissandre will focus on Robb and Joffrey only. I guess the Greyjoys will still be featured in the book six and seven and Martin will somehow make them meaningful and necessary to the story, but they are so dull I want it to be better handled in the show.
    Also, predictions: Will the season end in the Red Wedding only or in both weddings at the same time? I think we’ll also see the battle for The Black Castle (they’re building this conflict, so it has to pay off or Jon’s storyline will feel anticlimactic) but not the battle for The Wall, that will remain as a cliffhanger for the next season (considering they are dividing the book in two, as they announced last year).

  • theDylanthropist

    No mention of Grandpappy Tywin absolutely schooling Joffrey? Great scene that wasn’t in the books and absolutely spot on for the character. That petulant face killed me!
    Really enjoyed the interactions between Jon and Ygritte this episode as well.

  • Billy Baloney

    The missus and I watch GoT every Sunday and she has become more and more vocal and uncomfortable with any Theon scene and I can’t say I blame her. I’ll be glad when his story line moves along.

  • Billy Baloney

    P.S. – Shout out to Bart the Bear. He’s got his own IMDB page!

  • alex

    Book Discussion Spoilers!

    @the_truant – I don’t think Stannis has named Davos his Hand yet (might have happened in the series, but not in the books timeline wise). I know in the books Stannis names him Hand after his imprisonment at Dragonstone. He does it after he asks Davos’ opinion on a plan to crush some of Stannis’ bannermen who yielded to the Lannisters and Davos tells him the truth rather than be a yesman that all of his other advisors are. They do give Davos his backstory in the second season right before the Battle of Blackwater Bay though they downplay the whole cutting off his fingers.

    @Emilio – I have a feeling that they will have only the Red Wedding in the penultimate episode and maybe a fleeting mention of Balon Greyjoy’s death(probably in the form of Ramsay Bolton telling Theon for somemore psychological torture). I would imagine they would move Joffrey’s wedding to the third or fourth episode next season so that it will have the game changing feel that the Sack of Astapor had this season with Danaerys. Just speculation though.

  • Draugr

    -spoilers

    @Alex

    I’m fairly certain the episode titled “Rains of castamere” will be the red wedding, I believe it is the second to last episode.

    @ Truant.

    I’m inclined to agree, I think they are just having Gendry fill Edrics shoes at this point, it does kind of make me wonder, if and when we see Gendry in the books again, I’m guessing he won’t be with the remnants of the brotherhood

    Davos is an awesome character, and well cast. hopefully the series starts giving Davos some more screentime.

  • Lord Tywin

    BOOK SPOILER

    Am I the only one that thinks the show is absolute telegraphing the RW? My wife, who has no clue about the books, even called it last night that RS was definitely not going to be around for long. I felt like I was pretty blindsided by the RW in the book, at least right up until the last few pages before it happened. I think anyone paying attention to the show can see it developing from a mile away.

  • alex

    Book Discussion Spoilers!

    @Draugr – I agree 100% about The Rains of Castamere being the Red Wedding episode, especially considering that that is the song that triggers the slaughter in the books.

  • ‘Bowski

    As a non-book reader I liked you comparing the episodes to the books without spoiling anything. Shame that now I’ll have to avoid the comments plus the book section again. Guess you can’t please anyone, though.
    On another note:
    It was my least favorite ep this season. Dany was great – nice, slow build up to the scene there, Tywin (you forgot Tywin!!!) was in 100% boss-mode and Margaery continues to be awesome.
    I thought Arya’s bit was a little too short. I figured the Hound is actually a fairly ok guy and the (speculative) reveal that he’s not going to harm her could’ve happened in the same ep. Robb’s and Theon’s parts could’ve been shorter. I get that HBO loves to smack you in the face with nudity, but when it feels like nudity for it’s own sake, it’s just not working for me.
    Shae is incredibly annoying IMO. And not the “ohh I hate Skyler so much that bitch blablaba”-kind (tbh I don’t get what that’s all about, it’s all within my perception of reasonable behaviour, same goes for Lori in TWD), but more like the what-a-selfish-a-hole-kind of way. She thinks Tyrion owes her something, when in fact they’d both be better off without each other

  • Wermine

    I really like how commentators put spoiler warnings in their posts, very disciplined. Keep it going folks.

    @’Bowski
    Least favorite? Bear scene was fantastic. Also, I usually dislike any scenes with Melisandre, but now she was able to make me care just a little bit about her. Giving motives and sad backstories to “evil” characters seems to do the trick. She also delivered a nice piece of information to Gendry, which moves the plot forward.

    I also liked Danny’s scene more than the usual amount. Well, except when she bought the Unsullied and burned the city, that was very enjoyable.

    Robb’s scene was a bore, I admit that. Robb can’t manage to raise my interest at all, he’s just too plain guy. Also, Theon’s scenes are starting to be little bit too repetitive. Yeah, he’s getting tortured, we get it. At least the previous escape scene was exiting compared to “just more torture”, even if it has some occasional T&A in it.

    Arya’s scene was short, but it changed things enough so the enjoyment value was enough for me. I don’t think anyone likes Shae anymore. Maybe she’s going to do something drastic and bitching about her situation now gives her a good motive for it. So if she doesn’t do anything: The scene was pointless and now we hate Shae even more. If she does something: I understand the characters pain and motives. Wild guess: She’s going to murder Sansa, problem solved.. and maybe some created.

    Tywin versus Joffrey. At first Joffrey was dominating the scene and I was wondering what can he actually do to Tywin, if push comes to shove. Is there a possibility that Tywin might be in danger? But the way how Tywin quickly got the upper hand in the conversation was compelling. It’s also interesting how we root for Tyrion when he’s chatting with Tywin. But all it takes is one Joffrey to change our allegiance to Tywin.

  • wevs

    What is this fucking shit? I don’t want to NOT read any of the comments… quit this spoiler shit, this was the last place I dared read or discuss anything about the show because of the strict anti-spoil rules, now there is no point to that.
    No me gusta.

  • vision2

    I did not read the books and I still can assume who Theon´s captor is.

    SPOILER (though everything was said in the series)

    Lord Bolten said to Robb Stark that his bastard is going to take Winterfell back.

    In Winterfell Theon´s men said that it is the Horn of Boltons Bastard that is sounding all night long.

    And then Theon is tortured by a boy/man who is referred to as
    “bloody bastard” by the guys who wanted to ass-rape Theon in the woods.

    I guess you have to be American to not know who he is?

  • ‘Bowski

    @Wermine
    By least favorite I meant it was still an excellent episode, the others this season just were even better. Agree with all your points except about Dany – my khaleesi has been and always will be my favorite.

  • Book Spoilers (Maybe)

    I really like how this season has been condensing characters and plot lines. Especially in the case of Gendry, it’s a good change to merge him with the other boy they have in the books with kings blood in his veins. I was sort of weirded out by how Gendry just kind of vanishes from the books.

    One thing that I think they are doing well in the series that is better then how they handled things in the book is showing Robb’s eventual downfall. The increased emphasis they are showing to how much trouble is relationship is causing him politically is really interesting and I like that it is more front and center in the show as opposed to just being whispered about in the books how huge his decision to marry was. I think the scenes with Robb and his wife dove tailed nicely with the Tywnn and Joffrey scene. Since they are showing two kings, who are in the process of learning the lesson, that being king carries more responsibility and often does not mean that because you are the king you get to do whatever you want. I will say though…seeing Robb’s wife…might be worth it.

  • Lou

    to theButterfly…

    very insightful on the comparisons of the two kings…

    for me, i like the reviews and the comments…regardless. its nice to get info and insight….and for some reason I’m naming my next dog Clegane…

  • Monchofos

    I am a bit let down at this point, the only thing keeping me on is that I have read the books and know its very damn hard to translate SoS into telly, but its also possibly due to the fact that I just didnt care about SoS until the very end. I am just hanging on until ep 9 because thats the deal maker. Most of my friends who have only watched the show are also complaining on the pace, at the begining of the season I kept telling them to hang on, its going to be a good season, now its like, well, wait until ep 9.
    Anyway, I just hate that volantis whore, they are making it very suspicious now, the whole Jeyne thing was very suspicious too and I began to hate Robb because he was just so damn stupid. Everytime we discuss Talissa I just call her that whore.
    Shae, ugh, I did not care about that whole Tyrion bit, I didnt like that Tyrion got way too attached to her in the show, Tyrion is a goddamn lord, the member of one of the great houses of Westeros, the richest house at that, the moment that little whore began to give him lip, he would have gotten weary, I know tyrion would not think of just dispossing her, but at least show that Tyrion would have thoutgh, well, this little whore thinks a bit too higly of herself. Also as I think it was pointed out on other reviews, what the balls does Shae expect, she is a whore, a foreign one, not that pretty, not that hot, fiery yes, but a whore, dammit she was a camp dweller when Tyrion got her, and now she is jealous of Tyrion? I cant wait for you know what happens.
    Jon and Ygritte, meh, just speed this Jon, its still a long way until you finally become likeable to me. And also, man is Kit Harrington the worst actor in the show? its painful to watch him just droll out each episode. Rose Leslie and the dude from the Office are the only interesting thing during this north expedition.
    Daenarys, well, there wasnt much there was it. Maybe next episode.
    Now, about Mellisandre knowing Gendry is Robert’s bastard, its actually reasonable to know why, remember it was Stannis who discovered the whole bastard thing, he only got Jon Aryn involved because he knew Robert would not listen to him, but he would have listened to Jon Aryn. Stannis probably knew where each and every bastard was in Kings landing, and probably knew of Gendry as he was the most prominent one being grown, strong and physically all baratheon. He also had a benefactor, but I think it was Varys not Stannis.
    I am still pissed off we are not getting a Willas or Garlan Tyrell. Godamn Loras cant be heir to highgarden,
    I swear to god, if we dont get Oberyn Martell, i am going to stop watching.

  • Monchofos

    Oh forgot to add, Tywin owning the shit out of Joffrey just by calmly climbing the stairs was just AWESOME, man gotts love Charles Dance, hell of a casting, even though I still think of the last part of Ali G in da house whenever I see him. Some things cannot be unseen.

  • So, reviews do work like this, but the comments become a total mine-field for non book readers, since the final section invites a lot of book discussion. Why not make it two separate articles altogether? That way both readers and non readers can comment on cool scenes, acting and whatnot, in the show recap; and book stuff can be commented on in the book vs show review without bothering to warn about spoilers.

  • monstrinho

    deliberately haven’t read the books (lalalala! finger in ears) but does the guy who cut off Jaime’s hand not understand that he is already a dead man. a painfully messy death dead man. He can’t kill Jaime and Lord Bolton is right. The first thing Tywin is going to do is try to shake’s Jaime’s hand and clutch empty air. The second thing he’s going to do is ask who’s responsible and the third thing is demand the head of the one responsible from Lord Bolton.