Game of Thrones Memory Lane 307: The Bear and the Maiden Fair

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Greetings, Watchers! Welcome to another trip down Memory Lane as your erstwhile host Geoffery takes the reins again, this time for season three, episode seven of Game of Thrones: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.”

“The Bear and the Maiden Fair” doesn’t just have the distinction of being written by George R.R. Martin; it also shares its name with the in-universe song so nattily covered by The Hold Steady for the end credits of “Walk of Punishment.”  Perhaps that’s why we open the episode with a conversation about rhythm from Jon and Ygritte. She seems a little confused over the necessity of drums, but then we all know Jon only joined the Night’s Watch because he’s such a fan of Swedish power metal.

Orell, who’s obviously more into Counting Crowsdoesn’t show much remorse for cutting Jon loose on the wall, but then he’s always been a little bird-brained…

In the Riverlands, Clive Russell reminds me why I loved his portrayal of Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully.

I’ve had wet shits I liked more than Walder Frey

Robb and Talisa are busy being passionate young things, bringing the nudey bum count for season three up nicely. I actually really like the way the show developed Robb’s character from the book, adapting his fairly nothingy relationship with Jeyne into a fiery one with Talisa. Shame we all know that a) nothing ever goes right for our Stark lads and b) Talisa was a Lannister spy all along. Possibly. Probably.

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Back at the Wall, Tormund gives great, if graphic sex advice. Orell, on the other hand, is clearly going for the Biggest Creep in Westeros Award in his attempts to seduce Ygritte. He’s not wrong about Jon being pretty though. He is pretty.

from coiaf.tumblr

from coiaf.tumblr

In King’s Landing, we have a lovely character scene between Margaery and Sansa. BRIEF MOMENT OF HAPPINESS FOR SANSA ALERT! Natalie Dormer does brilliantly as a knowledgeable, older sister figure for Sophie Turner.  Bronn and Tyrion have an equally engaging, if rather less subtle conversation, with a nice callback to Tyrion’s marriage to Tysha. It’s a throwaway line for the show, but it keeps the novels’ backstory and the show’s one nicely intertwined. We also have our first real scene between Joffrey and Tywin,

from arrestedwesteros.tumblr

from arrestedwesteros.tumblr

Joffrey is surprisingly knowledgable about what’s going on across the Narrow Sea, which is where the episode takes us next.  Ah, the good old days of season three, when Daenerys was all about freeing slaves, Barristan Selmy was all about being alive and Jorah was all about being sexy advisor man and not grey-scaled betrayer boy. Which I believe is his full title now.

The scene between Daenerys and Razdal mo Eraz is brilliantly brutal, as the khaleesi offers to spare the lives of Razdal and the Yunkai slave masters if the city is set free.  It’s also the source for one of my favourite Thrones memes, as Dany looks directly into the camera, almost like she’s on The Office.

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Back at King’s Landing, hands of gold are always cold but a woman’s hands are warm. Shae is understandably miffed about Tyrion’s upcoming marriage to Sansa. Another character whose story I’m glad developed a little more from the books, Shae delivers a couple of great lines in this scene.

I’m Shae the funny whore…I empty her chamberpot and lick your cock when you’re bored.

Next there’s time for a brief trip aboard the SS Abandoned Plotlines as we catch up with Gendry and the Brotherhood Without Banners.  I miss you guys.  Come back to me in season six!

To Harrenhal! Jaime is still dealing with the repercussions of losing his hand, but still remembers to send the Lannisters’ regards to Robb Stark.  Such a thoughtful chap! Meanwhile Locke, Qyburn and Roose are all trying to out-creep each other, but my money will always be on team Qyburn, ‘cos at least he could put you back together after a fight.  Literally.

Over at Theon Agony Towers (soon to be trademarked), Ramsay treats the woebegone Greyjoy to some sexy times before blowing ‘pon his mighty horn.  No pun intended.  And it’s the first appearance of Myranda, wahey! Shame it’s the last time Theon will get to enjoy her.

Bonus sausage gif:

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Back in the North, Ygritte has some difficulty telling castles and windmills apart, but is spot on in her assessment that girls see more blood than boys.  The scene where Jon tries to dissuade her from fighting with Mance is beautifully balanced and oh so poignant for those of us who knew what was going to happen.

You’re mine as I’m yours. If we die, we die. But first, we’ll live.

Dirty Tonks gives some harrowing advice about what happens beyond the Wall, but Bran and co. won’t be turned from their wargy path.

Back on the road with Jaime as he and Qyburn discuss the relative ethical merits of killing.  It’s an excellent reminder of Jaime’s role in deposing Mad King Aerys.  After some warning words from the former maester, Jaime heads back to Harrenhal to find Brienne locked in combat with, you guessed it, a bear.

The fight scene is tense and thrilling as Brienne tries to defend herself with only a wooden sword.  I also have a lot of love for Steelshanks, on his one and only  appearance.  It’s quite sweet when a Thrones character is just there to do their duty, even if that does involve them shooting a mad bear.  And I always have time for Jaime and Brienne, who are probably my favourite un-couple, helping each other out when the situation calls for it.

While I do think this whole end scene is brilliantly executed, especially with Rains of Castamere coming in over the closing credits, I will always be mildly disappointed that Jaime doesn’t tell Brienne he dreamed of her, as he does in the novel.  But then, I still miss my Thapphireth! Even so, Locke does deliver my favourite line of the episode

Go buy yourself a golden hand, and fuck yourself with it!

And of course an honourable mention must go to Bart the Bear for being such a star.


 

Introductions: Myranda and her playmate Violet; the representative from Yunkai, Razdal mo Eraz, who will be returning in season 6; Steelshanks make his appearance in this episode.

This episode’s Beautiful Death (celebrating this week’s lack of death):

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53 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. Hahaha, didnt expect the HammerFall reference up here !

      Now I got it stuck in my head… been a while since I havent listened to them, but damn, good memories ! ^^

      EDIT : Btw, whatever one may think of this episode, it contains the best Jon / Ygritte scenes and dialogue of the whole series !
      And every line of Locke at the end is glorious :
      “The fuck ya doing to ma beaaar ?”

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    2. Geoffery,

      Oooh, havent heard that in a while ! Haha, thanks for bringing that up !

      Okay, not related to Jon, but there is (among many other Asoiaf related Metal songs) this awesome Blind Guardian song related to Bran’s dreams and visions !

      And so many others if we really wanna go down the Power Metal road ! =D

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    3. Sometimes I think Blackfish is Team Robb’s Tyrion.
      Charles Dance is the only one I know who can make “We could arrange to have you carried.” sound badass.
      TOP 10 EPISODES:
      1. Hardhome
      2. Baelor
      3. The Rains of Castamere
      4. The Lion and the Rose
      5. And Now His Watch Is Ended
      6. Kissed by Fire
      7. Walk of Punishment
      8. What Is Dead May Never Die
      9. Two Swords
      10. The Bear and the Maiden Fair

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    4. Natalie Dormer does brilliantly as a knowledgeable, older sister figure for Sophie Turner.

      Even though her advice is bad and full of false equivalence, not to mention the unacknowledged subtext that the Lannisters are going to kill Sansa’s whole family to facilitate this plan?

      From discussions among the writers, etc., it sounds like a lot of scenes got moved around amongst episodes 6-8 (the Theon scenes here, for instance, weren’t written by GRRM, and there’s apparently a decent amount of stuff in 308 that he wrote). Most notably, I believe the later Jaime stuff was from 308 originally. Consolidating it all into a single episode does give the whole thing more momentum, so that was probably a good decision overall, even if it means that there’s not really anything left for those characters for the last three episodes, other than their wordless cameo in 310. I think they did about as well with the bear scene as they could, given that they were using a real bear and couldn’t afford The Revenant-style CGI. Thus concludes, more or less, the best story arc of Season 3.

      The Jon/Ygritte moments here are some of their best, and probably the best of Season 3, at least. Also more evidence for the contention that filming in Northern Ireland was much more advantageous for the production than Iceland, given that they’re now south of the Wall.

      I don’t think this review mentions Arya, who begins her lengthy journey with the Hound this episode.

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    5. Was there ever a breakdown of which scenes GRRM did and didn’t write in 3×07?

      Is this the only episode where no one died? Not even the bear died.

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    6. The scene when Ygritte teases Jon and asks him if he would like to see her as a proper lady is one of my favorite ones on the whole show.
      Rose and Kit have amazing chemistry, and I can never tell if It’s Jon or Kit that’s trying very hard not to laugh.

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    7. M,

      I don’t think there was ever a comprehensive breakdown. He didn’t do the scene where Theon loses his wienie (he was very clear on that point in the commentary) or the later Jaime scenes; I think some of the Dany stuff in 308, conversely, was written by him, but I could be wrong on that point.

      Nobody died in 103 or 302, I believe.

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    8. M:
      Was there ever a breakdown of which scenes GRRM did and didn’t write in 3×07?

      As Sean C said, there was some heavy-duty scene rejiggering in these mid-late Season 3 episodes. Not sure what ended where. Anyone knows who wrote the hilarious early scene in 3×08 where Mero, Prendahl, and Dario meet with Daenerys and her counselors? Although it’s a D&D episode, I kinda sensed a bit of GRRM’s sly sense of humor there so I wonder if it’s a 3×07 scene that ended in the following episode.

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    9. M,

      Lord Snow; The Night Lands; Valar Dohaeris; and Dark Wings, Dark Words feature no on-screen deaths as well.

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    10. Sean C.,

      Re Sansa and Margaery … was that the “infamous” scene that has led some to speculate as to how Margaery acquired her knowledge of how to please women?

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    11. yet another Tysha reference.

      Apparently the Violent actress left the show because she got pregnant? (they sort of alluded to that)

      I loved the Daenerys/Razdal scene. Good to have an opponent who isn’t an idiot.

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    12. M:
      Was there ever a breakdown of which scenes GRRM did and didn’t write in 3×07?

      Is this the only episode where no one died? Not even the bear died.

      He didn’t write the Jaime/Brienne/Bolton soldiers at Bear Pit scene, and he didn’t write the Theon/Ramsay/Boltons scene.

      For that matter the episode’s scenes were moved around a lot and it was renamed twice. First it was named “Autumn Storms”, then “Chains”, the finally when the bear scene was moved to it, it got renamed “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”.

      I don’t mind that the scenes get moved around though, that’s just a pacing thing.

      Also for those still pursuing honeypot theory, unfortunately Peterson provided a translation of Talisa’s letter (with photo) and it really is just a letter to her mother.

      Ah, the Tywin and Joffrey talking about Daenerys scene for the first time was great. I love it whenever they can weave together the distant storylines with a stray mention, either the Wall or Daenerys coming up in conversation in King’s Landing.

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    13. I’ve said it many times. But I’ll say it again.

      Charles Dance is a bloody GOD of acting. That scene wit him and Joffrey was amazing!!

      On a different topic. Like I said in the other threads, Sansa’s story is really growing on me, on this rewatch.

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    14. I think the Beautiful Death series missed an opportunity here. They should have illustrated the macabre and disturbing death of Theon’s genitals.

      Sausage, anyone?

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    15. Mihnea:
      I’ve said it many times. But I’ll say it again.

      Charles Dance is a bloody GOD of acting. That scene wit him and Joffrey was amazing!!

      On a different topic. Like I said in the other threads, Sansa’s story is really growing on me, on this rewatch.

      Oh I don’t know, I liked the whole Sansa storyline the first time through. I don’t know why everyone picks on TV-Margaery so much, I thought she was fine. But haters got to hate.

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    16. The weakest episode of the series for me. A number of okay scenes with very little connective tissue. Every scene edges the story along without really doing much with it that’s inspiring (save the Olenna/Cersei conversation, which is a nice unguarded moment from Cersei). And the bear scene, coming at the last moment, feels tacked-on, though it contains my favorite Locke line, as well:

      “Well, this is one shameful fucking performance.”

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    17. Mr Fixit,

      I believe the Gilly/Sam scenes of 308 were written by Martin as well (the original ending of 308 was the bear pit scene). And probably some of the early Dany scenes in 308 as well.

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    18. “I’ve seen wet shits I like better than Walder Frey.”

      Brynden Tully – perceptive man 🙂

      Been dying to use that quote in real life, never quite found the occasion.

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    19. “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” is an episode that I remember being quite high on after its initial airing. Over time, however, it’s slipped in my personal rankings. At this point, I’d say it’s one of the two bottom episodes of Season 3 (a stellar season overall, and my second favorite to date), and probably one of my five or ten ‘least favorite’ hours of the series.

      That sounds harsher than it is, because– old refrain here – I love every episode of Game of Thrones, including this one! But the show’s baseline quality is so high – and its peaks so transcendent – that if a few scenes don’t quite resonate with me or the episode doesn’t feel quite as smooth as a whole, that can be sufficient to send it plummeting down my entirely subjective list. The margins are just that thin.

      Now, part of the reason that “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” has fallen off for me is simply because new favorites from Season 4 and 5 have since arrived to push it down the list. However, I also think that time and distance have allowed me to cool off a bit. There were a few scenes in this episode (Jaime rescuing Brienne from the bear, and everything with Jon and Ygritte) that I absolutely adore and had been waiting a long time to see on screen. So when those scenes finally arrived, and were as good as they were, I was thrilled! Perhaps my enthusiasm for those moments overwhelmed other quibbles that I might have had about the episode – which, to be fair, have more to do with flow and pacing than content.

      As a general rule, I think that the show has improved its pacing and episodic cohesiveness as the series has progressed, finding more natural and efficient ways to tie its geographically disparate storylines together both practically and thematically. By Season 3, the show was well on its way in this regard (I think they mastered the trick in Season 4, and the trend continued in Season 5).

      However, this episode does feel a little rougher than most, particularly after the superlative run of the preceding four hours. Perhaps it’s because – as other commenters have already pointed out – several scenes were moved between episodes during this stretch of the season. Theoretically, “Second Sons”, should have a similar issue, but I don’t think it does. Then again, that episode is anchored around the large setpiece that is Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding. Perhaps that helps it feel more entrenched within the season as a whole.

      There are also a few scenes – like the Bran scene, for instance – that I quite like as individual scenes, but which feel like they wound up in this specific episode just because they had to go somewhere (“The Prince of Winterfell” is another episode that has this issue for me). Then again, Bran is always subject to this problem, because his book story was already running on fumes at this point, and splitting ASOS across two seasons didn’t help him.

      All this is to say that while I still love this episode for its component pieces (some of which I may address later), it doesn’t feel quite as seamlessly great as most GOT episodes do. Whatever choices were made in the outline and the editing room weren’t GRRM’s decision, obviously, but it’s easily my least favorite episode of the four episodes for which he’s the credited screenwriter. Then again, considering that two of his episodes are in my personal top 10 (“Blackwater” and “The Lion and the Rose”) and he has another strong entry in “The Pointy End”, that was liable to happen anyway.

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    20. Wonder why they left that scene where it looks like Dany looked into the camera althought I belive she looked above the camera. Great meme though!

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    21. Damon,

      Just saw that. Interesting that the sword was Lightbringer, and the host said that it belongs to who he worked for.

      [ spoiler ] correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that Azor Ahai’s sword? [ / spoiler]

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    22. Jared,

      Episode 308 is much more focused (except for the opening with Arya and the ending with Sam, all the episode revolves around Stannis-Davos-Mel-Gendry, Dany-and-the-Second-Sons and Tyrion-and-Sansa’s-wedding storylines). I believe they shifted many scenes between episode to make 308 more focused (similar to the way episode 309 is focused on a small number of storylines). As a result, 307 does contain a little bit of virtually every storyline.

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    23. Bear and the Maiden Fair is an hour of GoT with a very pronounced disconnect between the quality of individual scenes — which were mostly good to great — and the overall cohesiveness of the episode, where things begins to suffer a bit.

      I won’t delve into the nitty-gritty of the episode, but it definitely has its fair share of memorable moments. Jaime’s and Brienne’s farewell (I believe this is the first time she addresses him as ser Jaime) and his comeback in the nick of time are emotional high points and well deserving of praise.

      I am impressed with how MacLaren staged Dany’s reception of Yunkish ambassador. We don’t often get treated to extended wordless scenes or those that rely predominantly on staging and ceremony. The Yunkish approach is an example of this done right, suitably setting the tone for the remainder of the scene: Dany regal and in control; Razdal intimidated and on the defensive. Of course, it’s always good to see some CGI dragon action as well!

      Early scenes with Jon and Ygritte are phenomenal and exemplify the kind of character-based writing Martin excels at. I hope he publishes the Son of Kong soon and gets at least a little bit more involved with the show as it speeds towards the finish line. It would be fitting, after all.

      So, while the episode does really well in its bigger moments and set pieces, it suffers somewhat in the “motley” of individual scenes: Theon, Bran, Arya, King’s Landing. Not that they are necessarily weak — though Theon’s post-coital penectomy (TPCP) has certainly proven to be divisive among fans — but they are for the most part just there because (a) plot needs to move forward and (b) there’s run time to be filled. Even so, I am a fan of two scenes in particular: Tywin’s majestic handling of Joffrey and Robb’s and Talisa’s sweet moment in the tent. Oona and Richard have glorious asses, if I may say so myself. Simply glorious.

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    24. oier,

      Totally agree. That’s what I was trying to get at. Both “Second Sons” and “The Rains of Castamere” benefit from being tightly focused episodes, each servicing only three primary storylines (King’s Landing, Dragonstone, and Yunkai for the former; The North, Yunkai, and The Twins, for the latter). “Second Sons” brackets its three storylines with the opening scene featuring Arya and the Hound, and the closing scene where Sam kills the White Walker to protect Gilly, but that’s it. “The Rains of Castamere”, meanwhile, is one of the only five episodes in the series that doesn’t feature King’s Landing at all (“The Kingsroad”, “The Watchers on the Wall”, “Kill the Boy”, and “The Dance of Dragons” being the others). Both hours are stronger for it.

      The other approach that’s paid big dividends is to jump around the world a bit in the first half-hour, and then devote the second half entirely to one storyline. “The Lion and the Rose”, “The Laws of Gods and Men”, and “Hardhome” are three episodes that have used that strategy to spectacular effect.

      The episodes that jump around the world and try to service almost every storyline – like “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” – are the ones that tend to feel a bit less cohesive, and consequently tend to rank lower on my sliding scale (a high-class problem to have). It didn’t bother in Season 1, both because the characters were less spread out and because it just seemed like the way a show like Game of Thrones had to do business. It was only one we got a taste of more centralized episodes (including single-location episodes like “Blackwater”) that I started to realize: “Wait. This way is much better.”

      Luckily, starting near the end of Season 3, the writers have grown increasingly confident and willing to devote an entire hour to only a handful of plotlines, even if it means that certain starring cast members have to take several episodes off. With storylines starting to coalesce and more characters crossing paths, we can expect more of this in Season 6 as we approach the endgame. That’s good news for all of us, I think. 🙂

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    25. On to some more positive thoughts!

      Jaime rescuing Brienne from the bear still holds up. It’s great that they actually used a live bear, even if – as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie love to remind us – Bart was a total diva who needed enormous rounds of applause and loud country music before he would deign to do his job. 😉

      Locke’s commentary is also a great addition to the proceedings, bellowing such lines as “This is one shameful fucking performance. Stop running and fight!” with vicious relish. And his enduring disgust with highborns and their belief that their gold and privilege can get them out of any tough situation continues to be a fascinating character. I do not miss Vargo Hoat and his thapphireth at all.

      And while the bear gets robbed of his dinner and Steelshanks shoots him with a quarrel for his trouble, I don’t feel too bad for him. In this telling of the story, he gets to live!

      I also love the earlier beat where Brienne charges Jaime to keep his promise, and then says “Goodbye, Ser Jaime.” Look at his expression there. Such a powerful moment, and so well-acted by Coster-Waldau and Christie.

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    26. The Jon and Ygritte scenes in this episode are some of my favorites. There’s a small moment earlier when Orell angrily confronts Ygritte about her relationship with Jon, and bitterly asks “You love him?” Ygritte takes half a second, as if she’s never considered the question before, but then she nods – just nods. You can see that she means it later with how easily they banter back and forth about windmills, fainting, and silk dresses. And for all the jokes we make about how Jon Snow never smiles, he’s smiling here.

      Later, when Jon starts to waver, she tries to reason with him, but ultimately gives up and just fiercely kisses him, as if she’s desperately trying to will him to her side. She knows he’s still a crow, and deep down (perhaps not so deep for Jon) they both know this is doomed. But neither one of them want to let go. Not yet.

      It all leads up to one of my favorite lines from both the book and the show: “You’re mine, as I’m yours. And if we die, we die. But first we’ll live.”/“Yes. First we’ll live.”

      Continuing in the vein of doomed and attractive couples (and they are very attractive) – Robb and Talisa. They’re expecting! Congratulations, you crazy kids! Any chance you two might want to take that trip to Volantis now? As in, right now? Forget the Twins. That castle sucks, and so does everyone who lives there. I hear that the Rhoyne is lovely this time of year, and walks along the Long Bridge are just to … nope. Poor choice of words. Damn it.

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    27. As I re watch this episode I can’t help but think how I ever could have been such an Unsullied fool. When Roose Bolton sent Jaime Lannister to King’s Landing instead of dragging him back to the Twins. Duh.. (cue Rains of Castamere in the background..) How did I never question that?

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    28. Tywin “counseling” Joffrey in the Throne Room is such a great scene. Charles Dance is in full command of every frame, from the moment he enters the Throne Room. I love the beat where he briefly stops to let the two Kingsguard flanking him know they’d better not take another step after him. I also love the way the exchange is shot so that Tywin towers over his grandson, leaving absolutely no doubt who the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms is.

      While Joffrey gets owned here, this is one of the few scenes where he exhibits interest in his kingly responsibilities and a sense of perceptive about the larger world. The fact that he, unlike Tywin, is concerned with the threat that Dany and her dragons represent is worthy of acknowledgment (despite the fact that we know that Dany will remain in Slaver’s Bay for several more seasons, and both Joffrey and Tywin will be dead long before she finally heads west).

      That being said, perhaps Tywin knows more than he was willing to share with Joffrey. Once Season 4 arrives, Tywin does start taking Dany more seriously as a threat. He tells Oberyn in “Breaker of Chains” that she will soon turn her eyes to Westeros, and in “The Laws of Gods and Men” he sends the pardon that will ultimately lead to Jorah being banished from Dany’s service.

      Speaking of Dany and her dragons, many people have noted/complained that Drogon’s name wasn’t mentioned on the show until Season 4, and Rhaegal and Viserion weren’t named until Season 5. I’ve always thought that the scene where she meets Razdal outside Yunkai would have been an excellent opportunity to work in those names earlier.

      Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable scene (and I’m glad that Razdal’s coming back in Season 6). Dany’s approaching peak confidence here, and loving it. She’s definitely got a cheeky edge to her steel in this scene that’s fun to watch, especially when it comes at the expense of such a loathsome individual. “My gold. You gave it to me, remember.?” 🙂

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    29. I thought this episode was the weakest of the season. Lot of filler (slow but good) scenes filled in around the Dany and Brienne / Jaime scenes which were the best.

      And without divulging any spoilers from season 6, who were the powerful friends of the Yunkish that the representative from Yunkai referred to and who Jorah was tasked to find out? Couldn’t have been the Second Sons. Was this just a plot thread that they never followed up on? Could it have been the warlocks?

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    30. Jared:
      LatrineDiggerBrian,

      Yunkai’s “powerful friends” were indeed supposed to be the Second Sons. Turns out they weren’t as powerful – or as loyal – as the Wise Masters believed.

      How do you know this? I can’t imagine a nobleman of glorious Yunkhai would be proud to refer to a company of 2000 sell swords as “powerful allies”. They seem more just like a rag tag army to me.

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    31. Tywin to Joffrey“We could arrange to have you carried.”

      Joffrey complains to Twyin why are meetings now being held in the Tower of the Hand and not in the Small Council Chamber…

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    32. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      A couple reasons. First, the show sets up the question of who Yunkai’s powerful friends are in 3×07, and Dany asks Jorah to find out. The very next time we see Dany and Jorah, in 3×08, the Second Sons are arriving at Yunkai. It’s not a coincidence. The Yunkish sent out a call to their “friends”, and the Second Sons answered.

      You suggested that the show may have left a plot thread dangling. That’s not what happened. Dany doesn’t follow up with Jorah, asking who else might be coming. This is it. For something like this, the show doesn’t need to set up mysteries it doesn’t intend to answer for several seasons, if ever. The question was asked, and in the next episode, it was answered.

      Is it weird that the Yunkish would refer to a rag tag-looking sellsword company as powerful friends? Maybe, but they are. When Dany sees the Second Sons arriving, she asks Barristan “[Are they] enough to make a difference?” Barristan nods, quite seriously. At that point, Dany comes up with the plan to try and treat with the captains to win them over rather than trying to fight them. She knows that 2000 highly experienced fighters are indeed dangerous, especially because most of them are mounted cavalry, of which Dany has none (her Dothraki are negligible at this point – she only has her Unsullied infantryman). Daario in facts points this out to her: “You have no ships, no siege weapons, no heavy cavalry.” Dany brushes this off, but not confidently. Unlike the brash Mero, Daario is actually making sensible points.

      Could Dany defeat the Second Sons in the open field? Yes. She says as much. But they would make her bleed, and she would lose a number of her Unsullied for little reason. For all their bluster, the Yunkish don’t need to kill Dany – they just need her to leave. The Second Sons could make her reconsider her attempt to take the city – if they weren’t just able to assassinate her first, as they indeed try to do.

      So the idea behind Yunkai’s “powerful allies” is sound. What the Wise Masters didn’t count on was that one of the Second Sons’ lieutenants, Daario Naharis, would become smitten with Dany, betray and kill his captains, and bring the Second Sons over to Dany. Dany offered the sellswords more money, and they refused – they didn’t want to break their contract. But Daario, as he says, fights for beauty. The Yunkish didn’t count on that.

      Finally, when Dany gets Daario and the Second Sons to defect and infiltrate the city, the Yunkish quickly surrender and send out their slaves. They don’t hold out for their other, powerful friends to arrive, because they know they’ve lost. They wouldn’t have done that if there were an army from Qarth or Volantis on the way, or they had the warlocks on standby (who already tried to kill Dany, and failed). That would have played that card, rather than letting 200,000 slaves walk out their gates.

      It’s also worth noting that the sellsword companies are Yunkai’s powerful allies are in ASOS as well (well, it’s two sellsword companies in the book – Mero’s Second Sons and the Stormcrows under Prendahl and Daario – but the show merged them all into the Second Sons, and used the Stormcrows as part of the sellswords that Stannis hires later). It’s only after Dany takes the city, frees all of the slaves, and moves on from Yunkai that the Wise Masters start looking for new powerful allies – which turn out to be Qarth, Volantis, and several more sellsword companies,. Those new allies may come into play in Season 6 … but you asked that I refrain from spoilers on that front, so I will.

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    33. It’s either one of three things:

      1) a poorly written line of dialogue – it simply makes no sense that the Yunkish would refer to a company of 2000 sell swords as powerful allies, especially when facing an army of 8000 and a Queen with three adolescent dragons.
      2) a plot thread that was never followed up on
      3) a plot thread that still has yet to be followed up on

      So I guess you think its number 1 Jared? I go more with number 2, possibly number 3.

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    34. Flayed Potatoes,

      She knows what *fainting* is. What she doesn’t know is the term “swooning”; a somewhat pretentious and courtly expression.

      And going with other posters, shouldn’t the “death” in this episode be Theon’s Favourite Toy?

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    35. Mr Fixit:
      LatrineDiggerBrian,

      Or it’s:

      4) a simple line of dialogue some people are intent on analyzing way too thoroughly hoping to find what isn’t there. Like with Stannis’s last scene.

      Hah! Maybe so. D & D are very good though and don’t make many mistakes like that. It lends credence to those who think Daario is a faceless man or a turn coat. Maybe that was the initial plan by D & D since George had told them that, but they changed course after Ed Skrein was let go. It makes sense because show Daario is much less of a douche than book Daario.

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    36. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      I know about the faceless Daario theory, but I could never wrap my head around it, to be honest. Though it’s certainly better than Daario is Euron is Benjen is Howland Reed is High Sparrow theory.

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    37. Arkash: My personal Big Four is Nightwish, Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Sabaton !

      Nightwish is my favourite!

      I never realized Hammerfall named an entire album after asoiaf… Metal and fantasy go together like longswords and orcs \m/

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    38. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      I think it’s number 4, as Mr Fixit suggested. We can disagree, but I really don’t think there’s much to analyze here. I do not believe that the Yunkish had other “powerful friends” that the show didn’t follow up on. And I don’t believe that this was any kind of dropped plot thread – again, without getting into potential Season 6 spoilers.

      Perhaps the writers (it would be George R.R. Martin in this case – he wrote that scene) shouldn’t have used the phrase “powerful friends”, because it seems to have led to unnecessary confusion … though, as I outlined in my ridiculously long post, I think there are plenty of reasons to believe why the Yunkish would consider the Second Sons to be strong allies. Like not showing Stannis’s death, it seems to have led to more trouble than it was worth. Unlike Stannis’s death, however, I must say that I haven’t encountered anyone else who shares your specific concern about this scene.

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