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'Game of Thrones' Recap: "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"

If you missed this week’s new episode of Game of Thrones, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” you might want to try running away like Arya, because there are spoilers ahead.

The episode begins just South of the wall. After their perilous climb in the previous episode, Jon Snow, Ygritte and the rest of the wildlings are continuing to make their way towards Castle Black. Ygritte is intrigued by the way men fight in the South, marching, banging drums and waving banners. When Mance gives the order to attack, she says, “We won’t be banging on drums to let them know we’re coming.” Jon also confronts Orell, who cut them loose during the climb. It becomes clear when they exchange words that Ygritte is the real reason Orell despises Jon.

Much further South, the King in the North is slowly making his way through the rain to the Twins for the wedding between Edmure and a Frey daughter. Caitlin frets about their delayed arrival causing further offense to Lord Frey, but Robb assures her that he will wait. He and Talisa then share an intimate moment, and as they bask in the afterglow, Talisa begins to write a letter to her mother in Volantis. She makes Robb promise they will go and see her, after the war is over. “I know she’d love to meet you, and her grandchild.” As this remark sinks in, Robb turns to Talisa, stunned but joyful.

Back with the wildlings, Jon Snow listens to some bawdy talk from Thormund. As they move through the woods, Orell keeps pace with Ygritte, trying to understand her feelings for Jon. When she playfully asks if he’s jealous, he suddenly stops her and reveals his feelings–that he would treat her better, if she were his. Ygritte looks rather shocked. But when Orell asks her if she loves Jon, there is no doubt in here face as she nods in assent. “You won’t love him so much when you find out what he really is,” Orell replies bitterly.

In King’s Landing, Sansa is processing the shock of her marriage to Tyrion Lannister while sitting with Margaery. Margaery recalls the first time she saw Sansa. “I’d never seen anyone who looked so unhappy.” She tells Sansa that “women in our position” must make the best of what they’re dealt, and use what resources they have. In their respective cases, it will be the power they are marrying into. Margaery may be marrying a monster, but her sons will be raised by her, and will be kings. Sansa’s sons will be lords in the North and at Casterly Rock. The talk of sons leads to a different conversation, as Sansa anticipates with dread the marriage bed. Here, too, Margaery tries to offer valuable advice, phrased as delicately as possible. Tyrion is not unkind, and even attractive in his own way. Plus, she tells Sansa, he’s experienced, something that most women are glad of, since they have so little chance to get experience of their own.

Her intended, meanwhile, is discussing the marriage with Bronn. Tyrion is still dismayed about the situation. Bronn, however, puts a much more vulgar spin on it. Sansa is beautiful, and Tyrion simply doesn’t want to admit that he wants her. Tyrion, even as he protests, seems to be struggling with his feelings. And to complicate matters, there is Shae to consider. “Shae is a whore,” Bronn says cheerfully. Why not marry the one, give her a son, and continue to bed the other? “I don’t pay to you to put evil notions in my head,” Tyrion says. “The ones already there don’t need company.”

In the throne room, Joffrey meets with his grandfather. Joffrey may be the king, but as he questions Tywin about the goings-on in the Small Council, and why the meetings have been moved to the Tower of the Hand, there is a distinct impression that Tywin is merely tolerating his grandson’s sudden interest in state affairs. When Tywin approaches the throne, still on his feet, Joffrey looks uncomfortable and intimidated. It’s clear that although he is king, in the Red Keep it is Tywin who rules. Joffrey asks about the Targaryen girl and her dragons. Tywin assures Joffrey that the dragons, if they do exist, could not possibly be of the size to pose any significant threat to the realm.

However Daenerys and her army, approaching the slave city of Yunkai, seem extremely threatening. In open battle, Yunkai would be defeated easily, but they are well fortified behind their walls. Ser Jorah suggests that they bypass Yunkai all together–they don’t need it, and it would delay them in their journey West. But Daenerys asks how many slaves there are. “Two hundred thousand, if not more.” “Then we have two hundred thousand reasons to take the city,” she says coolly. She orders an emissary from Yunkai to be summoned to negotiate terms, displaying her own power by lining his route with Unsullied, who he glances at nervously as his litter carries him to Daenerys. He is offered a seat and a drink, but their negotiations quickly turn sour. Although the Yunkish emissary offers bribes like gold and ships for Daenerys to leave Yunkai alone, Daenerys counters by offering to spare his life if he and the other slave owners of Yunkai release all in bondage with food and property as payment for their service. All the while she intimidates him by feeding her dragons. He is outraged at the offer, and leaves quickly (after being forced to abandon two chests of gold to Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal).

In King’s Landing, Tyrion is trying to convince Shae that things need not change between them just because he is marrying Sansa. Shae is having none of it. Tyrion will not run away to the free cities with her, and she rejects the offer of being a kept woman. She pushes him away from her and finally storms out when she realizes he won’t stand up to his father.

On a ship sailing into Blackwater Bay, Gendry stands on deck with Melisandre, noting all he did to escape King’s Landing, only to return now. Melisandre tells him that his father was Robert Baratheon, a king, and that humble beginnings mean little when destiny has bigger plans for you. She reveals that she herself was born a slave, and it was the Lord of Light that raised her up and gave her power.

Arya is missing her friend. In the cave of the Brotherhood, she sits away from the fire, refusing to speak to Thoros or Beric, except to call them traitors. When Beric admits that while he did not want to give up the boy, the sacrifice was necessary for the Red God.  Their conversation is interrupted when some of the Brothers come in an announce there is a Lannister raiding party less than a day’s ride South. As the Brothers prepare to mount up and pursue them, Arya protests. South is not the direction of Riverrun, where they are supposed to be going to return her to her family. When Beric insists that they will take her back, they just can’t do it yet, she calls him a liar and makes a break for it, darting out of the cave and into the woods. She ends up running straight into the arms of the Hound, who was lurking outside.

At Harrenhal, Jaime comes to bid Brienne goodbye. It is a sad farewell. He says he owes her a debt, and she only insists that he follows through on her pledge to Lady Stark. If he will return her daughters to her, Brienne will consider the debt repaid. He promises to do so. He seems to want to want to say more, but leaves quietly. As he prepares to mount up, he assisted by Maester Qyburn, the one who dressed his wounds. Bolton comes over and tells Jaime that Qyburn is hoping his father will make the Citadel restore his chains. He then pointedly reminds Jaime to give HIS regards to Lord Tywin.

In the mysterious torture chamber, Theon is pulled down from his rack, and two attractive young ladies give him water, try to dress his wounds…and do other things to him as well. Just as his situation is heating up, his tormentor arrives to cut things short. (So to speak…) Theon’s reputation as a ladies’ man is well known, and what better way to hurt him then to remove the body part that he must value most. We exit the scene to Theon’s screams as his captors pin him down…

Back near the wall, Jon and Ygritte share a nice moment as they talk about the wonders that Ygritte will see in the South. But in the midst of that, Jon is reminded that all their talk means little. The wildlings will ultimately lose, as they have always done. He tells Ygritte this and she grows angry when he says “you” and not “we.” She kisses him fiercely and reminds him that they belong to each other.

In Bran’s party, Osha is growing increasingly frustrated with Jojen. She dislikes that he spends so much time talking to Bran about their mysterious dreams and the three-eyed crow. She is even more outraged when Jojen says there is no way that they can go to the wall to find Jon, because he’s not there. They must go North to find the crow. She won’t go back, she says. She tells them how the man she loved was turned to wight and tried to kill her, and how as she burned him to death she knew she could never belong to the North again.

In the final and best scene of the episode, Jaime is on the road, getting his stump examined by Qyburn. He finds out that Qyburn was stripped of his chains for experimenting on the dying. He also learns that Brienne’s father made an offer for her that was rejected because her captors believed him to be holding out on them. When Jaime hears that Brienne will be the “entertainment” at Harrenhal, he goes to Bolton’s man and demands they return. When they enter the keep, they hear the sounds of cheering men and Jaime runs to follow the noise. They have Brienne in the bear pit. Already bleeding from one vicious scratch, she is trying to battle the beast with a blunt wooden sword. Jaime watches in horror as the bear gets in another powerful swipe. In a flash he jumps into the pit. Although there is little he can do against the bear, he knows he is valuable enough to get them both rescued, although it is a close shave, as he tries to clamber up the edge of the pit one-handed while the bear charges at him. In the end, he and Brienne both emerge safely, and there is no longer any question of her remaining at Harrenhal.

Quote of the Night:

“The Red God is the one true god. You’ve seen his power. When he commands, we obey.” – Beric

“He’s not my one true god.” – Arya

“No? Who’s yours?” – Beric

“Death.” – Arya

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