Monday, May 13, 2013

The Idiot Box: Game Of Thrones 3x07 “The Bear And The Maiden Fair” Review

I think “The Evil Notions Come Free” might have been a better title for this, especially considering the whole Bear Fight thing seemed a little tacked on. Seems odd that they'd go to so much trouble filming in a whole new continent just to get that three minutes or so, when they could have used CGI or just gone with something else. Then again, perhaps my capacity to embrace the inherent awesomeness of a Bear Fight might be diminished in relation to the fact that I'm still so fresh from watching Manborg.

So the latest episode of Game of Thrones, written by the novel series' author George R.R. Martin, is as much of a marked improvement upon the last effort as I expected, if not quite as much of a spectacle as his last direct contribution to the show, which featured a battle so big they needed a budget upgrade just to film the thing. Events are clearly moving along a bit quicker now, or at least it feels more like they are, even if it suddenly occurs to me that with the exception of Aria's story line, we're still left at pretty much the same status quo from last week.

MarySue, Mother of Dragons has found a new slave town to screw with, apparently now going out of her way to emancipate the locals presumably just to spite whoever named the place Slaver's Bay. From what I understand, this effort is about to get a bit more complicated and messy than the last one, though I'm not clear on all of the details, except that these Yunkai are not the push overs that the Astapor were. I'm excited by the prospect of her story finally becoming something other than righteous victorious pandering, even if we still haven't gotten any actual indication of this on the show proper.

(A quick production note, I use Open Office to compose my blogs before posting them, and it auto-completes based on my most commonly used words. When I tried to write Mother of Dragons, it thought I wanted to say Motherfucker and Dragonheart respectively, and every time I write were, it thinks I want to talk about werewolves. I love my blog.)

When we first learned about Tyrion and Sansa's forced wedding, I brieflylamented the fact that Tyrion's objection referencing Sansa's innocence and tarnished honor seemed a bit uncharacteristically chivalrous, not that he wouldn't feel that way, so much as he wouldn't express himself that starkly. Since then, we had his explanation of this to Sansa as an off screen joke, and now in this episode we get a heartfelt scene between he and Shae, but still no scene between he and Sansa that actually plays out. This strikes me as odd, as I think at some point he'd want to give her some piece of mind that he's not going to be as much of a dick to her as Geoffry was, since he was so concerned about this the first time all of this came up.

Also, I have to admit that as much of a joy as it always is to get naked Oona Chaplan in an episode, I thought the weirdly typical sex of this show was a bit gratuitous in this week's installment. There's establishing a sense of realism in a world where sexuality is viewed differently than in our own, and then there's just titillation for its own sake (no pun intended). Mostly of course I'm talking about Theon's little bit (again, no pun intended), which didn't seem to add enough to justify its inclusion at the expense of another perhaps more important scene, even if I did celebrate the implied final result for this character I still very much dislike.

Speaking of characters I dislike, Orell the duplicitous Wildling Warg is quickly becoming one of those characters I want to see justifiably murdered in some spectacular fashion, and if they don't shape up, the Brotherhood Without Banners might be getting to that point pretty soon here as well. I would have said the same for Bran's Wildling bodyguard before this episode, where they finally gave her a moment to establish why I should care that she's still around. Well, that and her dying would have made Hodor sad, and who wants to see that?

The episode ends with another moment designed to hammer home the idea that for all his flaws, Jaime Lannister really is a good man at heart. Excuse me while I roll my eyes once again. Without spoiling too much, this is where the aforementioned Bear Fight becomes relevant to the story, and not only is that a bit underwhelming considering the potential implied in the term Bear Fight, but it only serves to highlight a character thread I find kind of insulting. Or maybe I was underwhelmed because I was insulted.

Still, over all The Bear and the Maiden Fair was in keeping with the quality this show has displayed throughout this season, which as I pointed out in my very first review for this season hasn't really markedly dipped since the show began, despite my own cynicism about various incidental elements. Oh, and that rat faced dude that cut off Jaime's hand. I want him to die too. As much as I think the “Nobel Jaime” thing is bullshit, that guy just has a face that screams “push me in the Bear pit on your way out.” But then, perhaps that's why they don't let me write for this show.
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