Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 7 recap: The Maiden and the Bear

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau continues his trek towards an Emmy with this week’s impeccable performance as Jaime Lannister. Bidding farewell to his jailer-cum-confidante Brienne, he delivers the episode’s most heartrending moment with a stoic nod, covering up the most minute of lip trembles. It’s his response to her heartfelt adieu – they must part ways. Jaime is to be spirited by Bolton’s men back to his father in King’s Landing while Brienne remains at Harrenhal, a captive of Bolton’s sadistic bannerman, Locke.

Locke has already demonstrated himself as a cold-hearted jailer – it was he who relieved Jaime of his right hand in one fell swoop, then tied the severed limb around the Kingslayer’s neck, to be worn like an amulet for all to see. Locke is most certainly not one to find the heart of mercy and free Brienne. Both she and Jaime know that their mission has come to an end, and therefore their allegiance.

But the Kingslayer and Brienne have become more than jailer and captive. They’ve become friends, of sorts. A respect has grown between them, an understanding of why they’ve done what they’ve done with their lives. Brienne, the outsider with a moral will as strong as iron, and Jaime, the cold-blooded killer who has always acted out of an innate need to protect – his family, the realm. He has never sought glory. Even in the heady days of Robert’s rule, when Jaime was as cocky as he could be (fathering children with his sister and throwing prepubescent boys out of tower windows), he shied away from the spotlight, always choosing a self-effacing humor rather than emulating his father’s seriousness. It’s clear that he’s always been uncomfortable with the lot that fate has handed him, and here he finds himself with one on the other side – Brienne wants all the Jaime’s been handed, and perhaps his better suited to it than he, except for the fact that she was born into a different family with a different gender.

They see eye to eye, these two, and that’s why Brienne’s three-word farewell hits him where he lives. When she says “Goodbye, Ser Jaime,” it’s a respectful address that he has not heard in years – not since he ended the life of the mad king, earning the epithet by which he’s been known since. It’s a show of respect, and he can barely contain the emotion as they part ways, likely for good.

Upon the road, Jaime cannot shake his concern for Brienne’s life – once he hears that her father’s offer of ransom (a sum greater than the Lord of Tarth can likely afford) has been rejected by Locke – rejected in part because of Jaime’s story that her father is Lord of the richest sapphire mines in Westeros – he cannot sit idly by. He forces his captors to return to Harrenhal, losing half a day’s travel time. They arrive not a moment too soon, as Locke has forced Brienne to face off against a grizzly bear, armed only with a wooden sword. She is there to provide entertainment for his weary men, she serves no use beyond that. Jaime leaps into the coliseum to protect her, his captors covering him from above (they want their reward for returning the Kingslayer alive to his father). Bleeding, Brienne is hoisted to the stands, and is able to walk away, in company again with Ser Jaime, her pride and life still intact.

This high road undertaken by Jaime is not one that any other characters in Westeros are afforded this episode. Indeed, Tyrion’s arranged marriage to Sansa causes him an undue amount of trouble in his real relationship. Shay, the funny whore, does not find the situation amusing in the least, and instead threatens to leave Tyrion if he doesn’t find a way out of his current predicament.

Meanwhile, Gendry is informed of his true parentage, returned to King’s Landing after many months on the road with Arya trying to escape to the north. Arya, left alone with the Brotherhood, is infuriated by their decision to sack Harrenhal rather than continue onto Riverrun, as promised. She runs blindly away, straight into the hands of the Hound, who most assuredly has been dogging the Brotherhood’s every step since releasing him.

As Arya’s brother Robb prepares to celebrate the marriage of his uncle to Lord Frey’s daughter, his own wife Talisa offers some good news of her own – she is pregnant. The King of the North is soon to become a father.

It’s a fate much happier than the continued torture that Theon faces. Still held captive by an unknown entity, his humiliation and pain reach a new low. Two whores are sent into his cell, they massage and strip him, speaking at length of the wide reputation his manhood has garnered over the yeas. Just as Theon gives in to their maneuvers, his captor appears. It seems the whole intrigue has been a ploy for the sadistic torturer to retrieve something precious of Theon’s. Last week it was his pinky, this week it’s something far more necessary. The shot cuts away before we if the intent was carried out, but let’s just say that it looks unlikely that there will be any little Theon Greyjoys running around in the future.

Across the Narrow Sea, Danaerys is riding high on her victory at Astapor. Her army comes upon the walled city of Yunkai, not unlike Astapor, the rich inhabitants make their money off the backs of their cowed slaves. She meets the leader in her tent, and he offers her gold and ships to leave the town to their own devices. Danaerys’ scorched earth policy has left only ashes in the place of Astapor and Qarth, a fate that the people of Yunkai are eager to avoid.

But Danaerys is not so easily swayed. She cannot be bought with gold and silver, not matter how deeply she desires a ship to carry her back to Westeros. She wants the loyalty of every slave in the Red Waste. She wants every resident of the Eastern Lands to look to her as their savior. She will stop at nothing to free them, allowing the Yunkai leaders to keep their lives if they free the slaves themselves.

Of course, her offers are denied and she prepares to take on the city with her army of Unsullied. A third sack for the Khaleesi. She grows more confident as her army is battle tested. It doesn’t bode well for the Westerosi.

** Disclaimer

These recaps are for the GoT TV Series only. I haven’t read the books, so please don’t spoil any forthcoming plot points in the comments. If you have read the books, please enjoy the dramatic irony and that feeling you get from being just a bit more knowledgable than the rest of us, but keep it to yourself. Thanks!

 

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  • Rob M.

    Well now I feel like I’m just being baited with typos.

    Kidding aside, there are actually several clues as to the identity of Theon’s torturer (although to be fair, had I not read the books I’m unsure as to whether I would have picked up on them either). I won’t spoil it other than to say you may want to pay attention to the imagery in the background of several non-dungeon scenes in this season.

    Dany and Jaime continue to shine as two of the few bright spots in what has been an incredibly slow-to-develop season. Only one more episode until it all hits the fan though, so at least we have that to look forward to.