Um, WUT, this episode RULED. High fives, all around my people. It has everything: Khaleesi being awesome with dragons, lots of sweet, sweet ass, zingers galore, and a muthafuckin' BEAR FIGHT y'all. Directed by frequent "Breaking Bad" helmer Michelle McLaren, it was everything "Game of Thrones" wants to be and more -- sexy, bloody, and damn exciting. They were probably giving us all of this lovey dovey stuff to tide us over for the inevitable last-third-of-the-season-carnage we are about to experience. But for the moment, Episode 7 feels like makin' love, feels like makin' love to youuuuuu.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is down from the Wall with his Wildling crew, led by the luxuriously gingerbearded Tormund Gianstbane (Kristopher Hivju), who seems to derive his increasing ferocity and possible magical powers from the fiery lusciousness of his beard. Jon and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) are sassy and banter-y as always, which is rubbing Orell the Warg (Mackenzie Crook) the wrong way more than usual. Snow confronts him about cutting them free on the Wall, and Orell basically indicates that Snow ain't man enough for the red-headed wild woman. Jealous much?
In their camp, Gingerbeard charmingly humps a pack while demonstrating proper fornication techniques, and tosses off some useful lines for talkin' dirty. Meanwhile, Orell makes his intentions known to Ygritte, telling her Snow's pretty face won't make her happy when she finds out what he is (does he have some weird bird knowledge we don't know about? Does this have to do with Snow's mother?). At any rate, Ygritte stays loyal to Jon, even admitting that she loves him.
Later, Jon and Ygritte go hunting, and after she bags a deer, and some sexy flirting, they get into a tiff about the past failed Wildling attacks on the Wall that Jon grew up hearing about. He insists they will all die and she reminds him that it's more of a "we" situation. Jon's stuck with them, failed attempts on Castle Black or not, so they might as well make the most of life before they die, which for these two, means fucking on a boulder. Wee!
We also get our weekly update with Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and pals, who always appear to be camping in the same spot. Have they made any progress? Osha (Natalie Tena) is getting frustrated with the influence of Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) on Bran, and loses it when Jojen says they aren't headed to Castle Black, but to beyond the wall, or wherever Jon Snow or the three-eyed raven is. She refuses to go beyond the wall, recounting the tale of how her man Bruni disappeared and came back as a white walker, attacking her at home until she escaped and burned down the hut. She'll keep her word and get Bran to Castle Black, but no further.
Ok, is Theon (Alfie Allen) in the North? I have no idea. Is that Creep Face torturer a Bolton? A Karstark? Can they just tell us already? I think he's a Bolton. In this week's installment of Theon's Torture Club, the poor guy gets taken down from the crucifix by two comely lasses who promptly undress (anachronistic pube styling alert!) and dry hump him to near completion before Torture Creep blows his blasted horn. What is this, torture by blue balls? Nope, horror of horrors, it is much, much worse. The happy torturer pulls out a mean looking knife, summons a few helpers and attempts to take Theon's cock. Blessedly, it goes out of focus before we can see the actual deed, but let's just assume Theon's several inches less of a man now.
Castle Frey/The Crossing
Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his crew are in their tent camped out at Casa Frey, waiting for uncle Edmure's (Tobias Menzies) strategic wedding to Rosalind Frey. Mama Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) is still testy about Robb's secret marriage to hot nurse Talisa (Oona Chaplin), tossing barbs and throwing shade in the way only she can ("he's getting a wedding, he wanted a king"). Robb doesn't pay her any mind, because he's got some baby-making to do on this bearskin rug! After a steamy roll in the fur, we get to see Robb's disturbingly pale buns, and Talisa informs him that at least Robb's "army" has been efficient in storming her uterine walls -- yup, she's with child. This makes Robb happy, and horny.
Poor trusting Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) realizes what a fool she's been, getting played left, right and center all over King's Landing, nothing but a pawn for others. Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), her confidant, tries to make the best of things, talking about how powerful their sons will be be and saying that she hears Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has got some skills in the sack. Sansa is visibly repulsed by the idea, and Margaery basically pats the little naive girl the head. Sansa's got some learning to do...
In the meantime, Tyrion is getting similar advisement from Bronn (Jerome Flynn), who is finally back in action after a multi-episode absence. Tyrion's more concerned with the Shae (Sebil Kekilli) situation, as he's in love with the former whore/handmaiden to Sansa, and a jealous girlfriend at that. Bronn fires off a good line when he says, "You pay me to kill people who bother you, evil notions come free." Tyrion's fears are founded in reality though, as Shae's not buying his lines.
This week's Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) power duel is against his grandson, King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). In a beautifully shot and choreographed scene, Tywin meets Joffrey in the throne room to discuss the small council meetings. As Tywin draws closer to his grandson, seated on the Iron Throne, the shift of power towards him is telegraphed beautifully through the cinematography and blocking, with Joffrey ending up looking like the small scared boy that he is. Joffrey has a concern about the "Targaryen girl, in the East, and her dragons," but Tywin neutralizes him, saying "curiosities on the far side of the world are no threat to us." He's half right... the real threats are are definitely internal, but boy oh boy, I cannot WAIT to see these teenage towheads clash for the first time.
Creepy Priestess Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) brings Gendry (Joe Dempsie) back to Baratheon territory on a ship and tells him he has noble blood... not just noble but king Robert Baratheon's blood. She even lets on that she was as low born as they come, a mere slave before the Lord of Light bestowed power upon her. Arya (Maisie Williams) is being a petulant tween with her adopted guardians Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye). She's basically acting like a teenage brat, saying death is her one true god and running off when the Brotherhood Without Banners decide to detour on their way to Rivverrun (and brother Robb, presumably) in order to go after a Lannister raiding party. She runs into the forest and smack into the arms of her sworn nemesis, The Hound (Rory McCann).
In the Land Across the Narrow Sea
Khaleesi (Emilia Clarke) is considering the fate of the city of Yunkai. If her goal is the Iron Throne, Yunkai is inconsequential, but since Danaerys now fancies herself a bit of an abolitionist, she insists on freeing the 200,000 slaves there. At a war meeting with a Yunkish lord, she manages to wrangle not only ships and gold for herself, but to get them to free those slaves in return for her gift of not charbroiling their city to a crisp. She's also extended her title by a mouthful, and it's now (deep breath): Danaerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. WHEW. But, damn, can this diva negotiate or what? "What happens to things that don't bend," indeed.
Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) bid their goodbyes as Jaime heads to King's Landing, with poor Brienne to be stuck with that bunch of Bolton animals and noted amputation enthusiast Locke (Noah Taylor), while Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) heads to Edmure's wedding (summer wedding season, am I right?). Jaime owes Brienne a debt (a Lannister always pays his debts), but she says, as long as he keeps Lady Stark's agreement (send Sansa and Arya back home -- LOLOLOL if only she knew), they will be settled up. Jaime sets off with his disgraced Maester (who's "stymied the corruption," in his stump-- yes, there are more gratuitous stump shots), and a guide in tow. When he finds out that Brienne's father, Lord Selwyn of Tarth's ransom offer didn't meet Locke's sapphire wishes and caviar dreams, he demands to go back to Harrenhal, using the only negotiating power he has -- his missing-hand self.
When he gets back to Harrenhal, the Boltons are taking their song "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" WAY too literally, having stuck poor Bri in a gladiator-esque pit with a giant grizzly and a wooden sword. The fierce lady is holding her own, but the bear's about to maul her to pieces when Jaime tosses himself into the ring. His guide fires off a few shots at the bear with his cross bow, not about to bring a bear-chewed Jaime corpse back to Tywin. They scramble out just at the tips of the angry bear's snapping jaws, and Jaime once again uses himself as his own trump card and takes his woman out of there with him. Methinks Cersei (Lena Headey) isn't going to be too happy about the new maiden fair in town.
Not seen: Unlikely betrothed couple Cersei and Loras (Finn Jones) are discussed but not seen in this episode, and neither is Tyrell grand-dame Olenna (Dianna Rigg), as she's probably off scheming marriage plots somewhere. No sign of the puppet master Lord Baelish (Aiden Gillen), who set sail sans Sansa last week. And we can only presume Stannis (Stephen Dillane) is still stewing on that there Dragonstone Island. No updates on the Crows either, who recently re-enacted the movie "Alive" at Craster's house.
"The Bear and the Maiden Fair" is probably the best episode of the season so far, and with only three episodes left, it feels as though it's building to a real climax (not just the sexy kind either). With so many of the storylines dispersed all over Westeros, the season has felt a bit disjointed with so many of the main characters not actually connecting with each other. But this episode ramps up the emotional bonds and the stakes between characters, particularly Brienne and Jaime, Robb and Talisa, Jon and Ygritte, and even pairs like Sansa and Margaery and Bran and Osha. With the stakes that much higher and more risks taken, more necks put on the line (and more amputations!) it all works to create one of the most dynamic and suspenseful season 3 episodes yet.
What were your thoughts on this episode? Glad there was more ass? Who had the best zinger? I vote Danaerys' "What happens to things that don't bend?" line.