Today’s episode in the #GoT50 countdown to season 6 ended with a bang- or a chop, rather, and the playing of one of Westeros’ most famous songs, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” Here to walk us down Memory Lane, through the episode’s big moments and shocking conclusion, is Hannah of Game of Owns! -Sue the Fury
“Walk of Punishment” is the third episode of Season 3, written and directed by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, their series directorial debut. Airing April 14th, 2013, “Walk of Punishment” set a new viewership record for Game of Thrones, with 4.7 million viewers. We get into the swing of the third season with an episode filled with more comic relief than we’re used to from Game of Thrones, and a life-altering moment for Jaime Lannister.
We open up in Riverrun, and are introduced to Catelyn’s homeland for the first time, in town for the funeral of Hoster Tully. He’s placed in his funeral boat and pushed off into the river as the crowd solemnly looks on. Edmure raises his bow to set fire to the boat with a flaming arrow, and he misses! Not once, not twice, but three times. Cat, straight faced and serious as ever, is not pleased. And Robb Stark, who is always intense and brooding, can’t help but laugh. It’s a light moment of comic relief in a story that continues to grow darker and more complicated. Brynden the Blackfish puts Edmure aside, shoots the arrow as the boat is about to turn the riverbend and turns away before even seeing if it lands, knowing full well that it will. And it does, just in the nick of time. Cat is relieved.
Back inside the castle, Robb goes off on Edmure, in what is arguably the best acting by Richard Madden in the series thus far. Upset that his battle plans have been ruined, Robb laments that he could have had the head of the Mountain on a spike by now. “Tywin has my sisters. Have I sued for peace? Do you think he’ll sue for peace because we have his father’s brother’s great-grandsons?” Edmure explains that way more Lannister men died than Stark men, but Robb does not care. “We need our men more than Tywin needs his.” He can’t trade his sisters for some Lannister randos.
We move to a Small Council meeting in King’s Landing, AKA the weirdest game of musical chairs ever played. Littlefinger, Varys and Pycelle shuffle a bit before they sit down in three of the five chairs set up to Tywin’s left. Cersei moves to sit next to her father, and Tyrion moves to sit opposite of Tywin, dragging and scooting his chair loudly along the way. It’s almost two minutes without dialogue, and you’re not sure if the room will suddenly erupt in laughter or argument.
The meeting finally gets underway, and there are a few things of note that we learn. First, Littlefinger is headed to the Eyrie to marry Lysa Arryn, “bringing her into the fold” as Tywin suggests. Second, Tyrion is named Master of Coin, which is hilarious to Cersei and confusing to Tyrion. He observes, “I’m quite good at spending it, but a lifetime of outrageous wealth hasn’t taught me much about managing it.”
In the Riverlands, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” a Westerosi club banger is being sung by Locke and his men, as they march along to Harrenhal with Brienne and Jaime in tow. We get some great Jaime/Brienne banter, and these Jaime and Brienne scenes as they wander and make their way through Westeros are some of my favorites in the series. Their dynamic is incredibly fun to watch play out, and I feel like we get to see a brand-new side Jaime while in Brienne’s company. The two argue about their sword fight on the bridge, and what Jaime doesn’t yet know is that in his last fight with his good sword hand, he lost to a woman.
Arya and co., guests of Thoros, are eating lunch in a tavern when the Hound is brought in. “Do you remember what happened the last time you were here?” Arya demands, trying to get him to remember the fact that he killed the butcher’s boy, but he’s like sorry, this looks like a million other places I’ve been.
I love that about Arya. She yells at the Hound, she has no fear, she demands and expects to be treated as an equal, even when she hasn’t necessarily proved herself to be.
We also say goodbye to Hot Pie, who will stay behind at the tavern, as Arya and Gendry head back out on the road. As a parting gift, Hot Pie bakes Arya a loaf of bread in the shape of a warped direwolf, with a tail the size of its body. “Hey, Hot Pie!” Arya yells from her horse as she travels away from the tavern, taking a huge bite of the loaf. “It’s really good!”
And then we’re back to Catelyn in Riverrun, who looks so sad and defeated. “Even in war’s darkest days, in most places in the world, absolutely nothing is happening,” the Blackfish says, attempting to comfort her.
Cat tells a story about her as a little girl, sitting at that very same window waiting for her father to come home from fighting in the capitol. Day in and day out, waiting. Did Bran and Rickon wait too? She wonders out loud, heartbroken. She doesn’t think she’ll ever see them again, despite Robb’s belief that they’re still alive. Cat needs to stay strong for Robb, but can she do it for much longer when she’s lost everything? It feels like not long ago they were all under one roof in Winterfell, and now only one of her children is alive and free, her husband is dead and she just had to lay her father to rest.
There’s a cute moment when Talisa is tending to some young Lannister children who ask if Robb turns into a wolf at night, or if he eats the flesh of his enemies. “You have nothing to fear,” she teases them, “My husband doesn’t eat children. Unless it’s a full moon!”
Beyond the Wall, Jon is traveling with his Mance Rayder and his new wildling crew. Up on the Fist of the First Men, halved horses are arranged in a symmetrical shape. Men of the Night’s Watch have been killed, yet their bodies are not there. The dead are raising an army. Mance orders Tormund Giantsbane to take 20 men, climb the Wall, and attack Castle Black. If Jon doesn’t prove useful, he’ll be thrown off the Wall.
The surviving Night’s Watch men are back at Craster’s Keep, and are reluctantly given shelter. It’s pretty tense under Craster’s roof, the men sitting by the fire with these women looking down on them, hearing screams in the background. Craster (after calling himself a godly man) teases Sam for being a fat “walking feast,” telling the men they should eat them, and Sam leaves, wandering the yard looking for the source of the noise. He finds Gilly, who is giving birth to a baby boy. It is such a sad moment when she asks what the gender of the baby is, knowing she’s going to lose him.
Stannis sees Melisandre off on the shores of Dragonstone, and in a moment that seems almost out of character for book readers, Stannis basically begs her not to leave, believing he’s about to be abandoned. He wants another magical demon baby to kill Joffrey and to kill Robb. But really, what Stannis desperately wants more than anything in that moment, is Melisandre. And she knows it. Before she heads off, she assures Stannis that he’ll sit on the Iron Throne, but first there must be sacrifices. The Lord of Light demands it.
Far across the Narrow Sea, we continue to learn about the customs and people of Astapor, finding Dany walking down a street lined with slaves hanging on crosses- the Walk of Punishment.
Dany, who continues to be bothered by the institution of slavery, attempts to give a dying prisoner a drink of water, but he refuses it. She wants the blood of her enemies, not the blood of innocent people, but Ser Barristan Selmy tells Dany what war is really like, “a beast in every man.” The Unsullied? They wouldn’t rape, pillage and plunder, Jorah argues, they will only kill those Dany commands. Selmy thinks there’s no honor in leading an army of paid slaves and instead thinks she needs to fight alongside men and women who want to die for her and her cause.
Unfortunately Daenerys doesn’t have an army filled with true passion, and she’s not going to bet on it waiting for her in Westeros. She negotiates with the slave master Kraznys, promising one dragon for 8,000 Unsullied: all Kraznys has in Astapor. Jorah and Selmy immediately jump in- she’ll never win the Iron Throne without all of her dragons! But Dany’s mind is set, and she parts with her Unsullied army and the translator Missandei as a gift.
I can’t wait for this power duo to start running things. Are you prepared to go to war? To possibly go hungry? Daenerys asks.
“Valar Morghulis,” Missandei replies.
“Yes,” Dany says. “All men must die. But we are not men.” Who run the world? GIRLS. Missandei smiles, because she can hang.
Meanwhile, back in King’s Landing, Tyrion is collecting The Secret History of the Seven Kingdoms from Littlefinger, and Podrick can’t keep his eyes off any of the women in the brothel.
After schmoozing with Littlefinger, Tyrion finally realizes how he’s going to pay back Podrick for saving his life. “Tell me, Pod, have you ever been with a woman?” “No, milord.” “Wonderful.” Podrick Payne, Tyrion’s ever-faithful squire, looks terrified. And thrilled. But sort of terrified, as three women are presented to him. “Pace yourself, lad!” Bronn yells on their way out.
After Tyrion pores over the financial ledgers Littlefinger loaned him, realizing how much the Crown owes the Lannisters and, even more troubling, the Iron Bank of Braavos, our boy Podrick returns with a skip in his step. “You were gone a long time,” Tyrion says. “I trust you got your money’s worth… or should I say my money’s worth?” Pod puts the bag of coins down on the table. “They wouldn’t take it, milord.” Bronn and Tyrion cannot believe it. Whores who turn down gold? What did you do?! Did they love you so much they gave you the time for free!?! Pod just stands there, the One True King of Westeros in that exact moment.
Tyrion commands him to sit down, scrambles to grab wine for the three of them, and begs for details, which we never learn. But I guess that’s what fanfiction is for.
In the North, Theon is riding in circles looking for his sister Yara, after Ramsay (at this point, just an anonymous “Boy”) sets him free. Suddenly, men on horseback appear and chase after him, riding through the woods until Theon is knocked to the ground, head spinning and ears ringing. And just as these men threaten to rape him, Ramsay shoots each one with an arrow, finishing the last guy off point blank.
He picks Theon up: “Come my lord, you’re a long way from home and winter is coming.” This is our first crazy, confusing glimpse at Ramsay Bolton. And while it’s all too easy to hate Theon after everything he’s done, betraying the Starks and sacking Winterfell, I still feel uneasy about what’s in store for him.
It’s dark in the Riverlands, and Locke’s men finally come to rape Brienne, as Jaime warned they would. She fights them off the best she can, but only makes it worse. As Jaime watches on, helpless, do we sense a glimmer of sadness from the Kingslayer? Apparently so, as he starts to talk Locke down, telling him how rich he’ll be if Brienne is spared. He continues to push his luck, asking to lay down, taking the offering of a meal, as Brienne is brought back to the tree, safely.
Suddenly, Jaime is thrown over a stump and a knife is held to his face. “You think you’re the smartest man there is,” Locke hisses. “You’re nothing without your daddy and your daddy ain’t here.” For a moment it seems as if Jaime will talk his way out of this one too, as he always does.
Instead, Jaime’s hand gets chopped off, and thus begins Jaime’s Redemption Arc.
The episode ends with a cover of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” by The Hold Steady, and the juxtaposition between this incredibly painful moment for Jaime, both physically and mentally, versus this upbeat version of a classic Westerosi jam, is perfect. There’s some disagreement in regards to this choice, some people believing the music takes away from what just happened to Jaime, but I feel like it disorients you in such a jarring, what-just-happened, awesome way. We’re left unsure about what will happen next to a character who so far, even in captivity, has seemed to be in control.
Introductions: Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully and Edmure Tully debut; Martyn and Willem Lannister are taken hostage, with Martyn played by Dean-Charles Chapman, who will eventually take over the role of Tommen; the fookin’ legend of Gin Alley, Karl Tanner, is seen with the Watch; Gilly’s baby is born; we first spot the contortionist sex worker Kayla.
Cameo Alert: Gary Lightbody of the Northern Irish band Snow Patrol turns up in this episode as a member of Locke’s crew, singing “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.”
The week’s Beautiful Death, depicting the White Walkers’ morbid artwork: