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

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Game of Thrones’ season 3 conjures its seventh episode of the season “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” as Tyrion attempts to placate Shae for his betrothal to Sansa, while Jon and Ygritte bond south of the wall, Daenerys arrives at Yunkai and Jaime takes action to protect Brienne from her captors.

Last week’s ‘Game of Thrones’ episode “The Climb” saw Jon Snow and the Wildlings begin their dangerous ascent of the wall, Melisandre visit the Brotherhood Without Banners, and Tyrion breaking bad news to Sansa, so what will the newest episode bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3, episode 7, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair!”

Jon snow and the Wildlings continue their march to Castle Black, as Jon explains the northern way of fighting to a curious Ygritte. Orell pulls John aside to remind him that Wildings only live and work together until it suits them, specifically that he’ll never keep Ygritte. A short while later Orell reminds Ygritte that Snow isn’t one of them, and that he himself would treat her far better, though Ygritte insists she loves Jon. Meanwhile back at Robb’s camp, Robb breaks from a meeting with his council to spend time with Tulisa, in the process learning she believes herself pregnant.

Back in Kings’ Landing, Margaery counsels Sansa that her pairing with Tyrion won’t be as miserable as she believes, given Tyrion’s compassion and skill with women. Tyrion similarly vents to Bronn about his discomfort with the arrangement, but Bronn believes Tyrion worries too much about whether or not people like him, and should put a son in her to be done with it. Elsewhere, Tywin enters the throne room to address Joffreys’ complaints about exclusion from the small council meetings, Tywin tersely assuring Joffrey he’ll be counseled when necessary.

On the outskirts of Yunkai, Jorah advises Daenerys that her army would be of little use in besieging the walled city, and they’d do better to avoid Yunkai altogether, but Daenerys insists on freeing the slaves within. Daenerys meets with one of the city’s leaders, who offers her gold, and compliance in providing Daenerys’ army with ships, but Daenerys insists his city free all slaves within regardless. When the man balks, Daenerys throws him out, keeping the gold, and tasking Jorah with learning of Yunkai’s “powerful friends.”

Back in Kings’ Landing, Tyrion does his best to placate Shae about his marriage to Sansa, assuring her he’ll provide for her, though Shae refuses the thought of being his mistress or bringing his children into the world. Nearby, Melisandre and Gendry sail through the remains at Blackwater Bay, wherein Melisandre reveals his noble blood by way of his father, Robert Baratheon. Elsewhere, Arya learns the Brotherhood without Banners intends to stage another raid before delivering her to Riverrun, and flees into the woods, where a waiting Hound catches her and drags her off.

Jaime enters Brienne’s chambers at Harrenhal to say his goodbyes, promising to make good on his word to deliver the Stark girls back to Catelyn. As he prepares to leave and return to Kings’ Landing without her, Jaime expresses his unease with Locke’s ominous threat to take care of Brienne. Elsewhere, two beautiful woman free Theon Greyjoy from his restraints, offering themselves up to the nervous prisoner, though Theon’s torturer soon breaks up the tryst. Bringing his men into the room, the torturer threatens Theon with castration, though we don’t see for sure if he makes good on the threat.

Back with the Wildlings Ygritte snares a deer for the camp, stopping to marvel at the construction of an abandoned windmill. Jon Snow assures her such things are common where he’s lived, playfully flirting that he’d like to see her garbed in the silk dresses of Northerners. Breaking the mood, Jon warns Ygritte that Wildlings have failed to invade six times before, and likely will again, but Ygritte swears her love for Jon and suggest they get busy living before they die.

Elsewhere, Osha vents her frustration and Jojen and Meera Reed filling Bran’s head with the idea of visions, magic and divine purpose, balking when Bran reveals they no longer intend to find Bran’s family at Castle Black. Osha insists that the gods have no interest in Bran, or his desire to find the three-eyed raven, revealing that her own husband north of the wall mysteriously disappeared one night. The man eventually returned, with dead skin and blue eyes and attempting to kill her, only stopping once Osha managed to free herself and burn down their hut. Rather than see a sign from the gods, Osha only took the event to mean lands beyond the wall weren’t fit for living.

Stopping on the way to Kings’ Landing, Jaime converses with the maester treating his hand, learning of his exile for performing medical experiments, and Locke’s likely intent to use Brienne as entertainment. Unwilling to bear the thought, Jaime threatens the convoy leader into returning to Harrenhal, lest he suffer Tywin Lannister’s wrath.

Jaime returns to Harrenhal to find Brienne forced into battling a bear in a pit, and hurls himself down to save her. The convoy leader fires on the bear to protect Jaime, as Jaime helps hoist Brienne out of the pit, barely escaping the behemoth himself. Jaime confronts Locke that Brienne will return to Kings’ Landing with him, and Roose Bolton will agree, to which Locke finally backs down. Jaime sarcastically apologizes for the sapphires he’d promised, before heading off with Brienne.

Quite the shippers' delight, no? Tonight's episode comes to us via George R.R. Martin himself, suggesting an innate knowledge of character not normally present within other episodes, advancing the quality of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" beyond an otherwise piece-moving episode. The hour corrals some standout set pieces to be certain, Brienne's battle with the bear not likely to be soon forgotten, but few real mile-markers permeate the actual narrative.

Instead, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" offers up some wonderful character flourish to the established relationships, not only between Jaime and Brienne, but especially Tyrion and Sansa's respective discomfort over their impending nuptials, and the genuine love brewing between Jon Snow and Ygritte. The season story still suffers from a bit of meandering, this week's short shrift given to Arya, Bran, Gendry and Sansa, but each are afforded a few nice character moments within.

With only three episodes remaining in the season (man, that was fast!), we expect some major movement within the next few weeks, but remain happy to have the creator himself be the one to move pieces as required.

Did you get your fill of sword-swinging ‘Game of Thrones’ action?  What did you think about tonight’s episode “The Bear and the Maiden Fair?” Check out all our other ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3 coverage, and join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3′s latest episode “Second Sons” on HBO!

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