Home / podcast / “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”: an <em>LG&M Game of Thrones</em> podcast featuring SEK and Steven Attewell

“The Bear and the Maiden Fair”: an LG&M Game of Thrones podcast featuring SEK and Steven Attewell


This is all out of order, but because of technical difficulties, Steven Attewell and I weren’t able to discuss the seventh episode of Game of Thrones, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” in a timely fashion. So here it is now. Enjoy!

The audio version for thems that only have ears.

Our very civilized discussion of the premiere (S03E01).

Fancy-talking about “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (S03E02).

Here we are blathering on about “Walk of Punishment” (S03E03).

Don’t watch — because you can’t — us discuss “And Now His Watch Has Ended” (S03E04).

The rudely interrupted first half of our discussion of “Kissed by Fire” (S03E05).

The second half of our discussion of religion in “Kissed by Fire” (S03E05).

In which we discuss “The Climb” sans spoilers (S03E06).

“The Climb” with spoilers (S03E06).

“Second Sons.” We has them (S03E08).

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  • Is the relationship between Jamie and Brienne more like the middle of a comfortable marriage or the beginning of a chivalric romance? Good question.

    Kaufman (I only this evening twigged to the fact that your last name has only ONE “n” at the end, aack), I understand you to be saying that there is not enough sexual heat or physical attraction in their relationship for it to be any kind of “romance.” I disagree, as I’ll explain later.

    Attewell, on the other hand, is closer to the mark when he calls what’s happening a species of chivalric romance, because while there is an attraction (if not a huge “passion”), it is sexually unfulfilled and neither of the parties thinks that it should ever be consummated. Much like the courtly love ideal where the lovesick bachelor suitor writes poetry to his married “lady fair.” It was “romantic,” but it was not supposed to be pursued all the way to bed.

    That farewell scene was one of the most romantic scenes they’ve given us in this series, the Jon and Ygrette cuddling notwithstanding. It was what wasn’t said that built our tension and fascination. We knew they wanted to say MORE. The hesitations, the eye play, the repression, all of it simply screamed “I love you, but I need to act in accordance with the expectations of my station.”

    Jamie’s decision to go back to save Brienne from being the night’s “entertainment” was a very romantic act. And jumping into the bear pit? That wasn’t just the equivalent of a “veteran cop rescuing his rookie partner” action sequence. No siree, gents. That was thrilling derring-do on behalf of the MAIDEN FAIR. Jaime’s Maiden Fair. What the hell? That’s not romantic?

    Sure, they act all nonchalant and chill with each other on the outside, but it’s not because they’re like old married folk. They don’t know each other well enough for that. They’re still intrigued, they’re still a bit of a mystery to each other. Romance requires that sense of newness and the unknown. And they have a powerful emotional bond because of all they’ve been through together. There’s a sexual pull there*, but they’re both disciplined people who know who and what they are, so they’re resisting it — and there’s very little that’s more romantic, narrative-wise, than people who are in love yet cannot act on it.

    * Hetero male and female, isolated with each other + mutual danger + shared tragedies + physical beauty + philosophical similarities + similar senses of honor + experience of true partnership ++++…. under such circumstances SOME level of sexual attraction is inevitable.

    Hell, it doesn’t even take having that much in common. Reasonably attractive, relatively sane and resourceful couple dumped in the wilderness for a week will come out with “feeeeeelings” for each other, guaranteed. The first few of days will be horrible for most of them, though. The vast majority will hate each other for at least 2 days, probably 3, maybe even 4.

    What? You think hate turning to love lust only happens in movies?

    • I’d also add that both of them think they should be true to another – Brienne blames herself for fantazing about Jaime rather than Renly, and Jaime believes that he should be faithful to Cersei.

      • cpinva

        ” and Jaime believes that he should be faithful to Cersei.”

        which is, itself, sort of a perverse form of sexual fidelity, since Jaime & Cersei are involved in a relationship that transcends pretty much all races, creeds, colors, national origins, etc., in terms of tabooness. here again, brienne is actually the “normal” one of the two.

        • njc

          “a relationship that transcends pretty much all races, creeds, colors, national origins, etc., in terms of tabooness”

          There’s a significant exception to this taboo in Westeros however. The Targaryens practiced incestuous marriages.

          • Right, but the Targaryens were seen explicitly as an exception that proved the rule – and only then because they were so strong that no one could do anything about it. There was a massive bloody rebellion by the Faith of the Seven right after Aegon the Conqueror died because his son Aenys I (not kidding) was a product of incest. It lasted SEVEN years and that was back when the Targaryens had dragons.

            Jaime and Cersei bandy the Targaryens as defensive mechanisms, but the reality is that they would be torn limb from limb if they were truly exposed. Incest is a crime against the laws of man and the Seven in Westeros, even if it wasn’t compounded by the treason of royal adultery.

    • Hogan

      But being on the road together, with no one else around, for weeks, unwashed and in constant danger is not the conventional path of courtly romance, is it? Isn’t is usually the lady waiting back at the castle while the knight goes out adventuring and brings back trophies (like my cat killing a bird and dropping it at the front door for me)? And didn’t this start out with Brienne as the knight errant and Jaime as the damsel being rescued and brought home to his family?

      It’s not an either/or, is what I’m saying. The old married couple vibe is a real thing, even if they’re using it to conceal from themselves/each other an undertow of chivalric passion.

      • Barry Freed

        In some ways it’s an echo (and maybe an inverse) of the Jaime/Cersei incestuous relationship since much of what Jaime sees as admirable and attractive in Brienne are her knightly virtues, prowess, and code of honor, all of which are completely lacking in Cersei despite their being twins in every other respect save their genitalia.

        • Good point. He’s never met a woman like her before.

      • It’s not conventional, but then again, conventional chivalric romance doesn’t take place between two knights.

        • Hogan

          I agree: this relationship is a bunch of relationship tropes in a sack fighting it out; I wouldn’t set too much store by which head is poking out at any given moment.

        • wjts

          It’s been a long time since I read it, but what about Britomart and Artegall in The Faerie Queene?

  • P.S.

    I agree the Nakey Rob scene (although I appreciated the view) went on WAY too long and was just this side of pointless. Loved your remark that her actions were more of a male fantasy than what a woman would really do under the circumstances.

    If her intention really was to get him back with her, she’d have GOTTEN OUT OF THE BED and put her hands on him. Men are visual creatures, yes, but that only goes so far, and once the view has produced no result, more direct measures are required.

    She sure as hell shouldn’t pull over a writing desk and try to get some work done while still naked. Not tempting, y’know? And uncomfortable, too. That’s what I kept thinking about. He’s got a fur on and she’s nude…isn’t she cold?

    Also, I was another one who didn’t pick up on Margaery’s “bi” approach to Sansa. Whooshed right over my head. I myself have never been approached in real life. Now I think I know why….HA!

    • He’s wearing a robe, and she’s lying on top of a fur.

      The whole scene had a 70s porno/Harlequin romance vibe.

      • Zackly.

        They never do it right in the movies. Never. Whether “tasteful” or raunchy, it’s never naturalistic enough for me to “buy it,” and it therefore interrupts my Fictional Dream (thank you, John Gardner).

        You can smear all the vaseline you want on the lens and pour all kinds of golden light over various stretches of flawless skin, and I’ll smile wryly, but if she comes in 15 seconds or less I’m going to be laughing outright (and trying to keep it in with my hand over my mouth — I hate to be rude). It really takes me out of the narrative, like that nagging question in my mind all through the scene about why she chose to sit around and write letters in her altogether while Rob felt cold enough to put on a bathrobe. It BUGGED me. I didn’t even hear what they were saying, I was so annoyed by that…wardrobe choice, let’s say.

        My imagination is so much better than what they show me on a screen, and there are so many opportunities to screw it up. Perhaps we should just return to the days of the fade-out?

        Except in porn, of course. I understand that its very purpose is to SHOW sex acts. Which means that it contains the most howlingly funny portrayals thereof, the bathos of mainstream movies notwithstanding (and I’m including Sharon Stone and Sylvester Stallone posing in the shower when I say that). I’ve never seen porn that is sexy to me (and I’ve seen a lot of varieties over the years), it’s always been roll-on-the-floor COMEDY (even when any intended comedy barely activates my polite smile reflex).

        It’s been hard to stifle myself, sometimes, especially when the gals get to SQUALLING mindlessly the second the Magic Instrument makes contact. And, oh, before I saw porn I never realized that doggy style is SOOOOO stimulating to the female apparatus. Doggy is the instant orgasm maker. Who knew? Ten seconds from behind and she’s finished!

        What? It doesn’t work that way for YOU? Whatsa matter, wimp?

        (I’m giggling even as I write this. Not sure I’m going to post it, but it’s been fun.)

        By the way, the original Harlequins didn’t have sex, but they later created a special line that had LOTS.

    • cpinva

      “Also, I was another one who didn’t pick up on Margaery’s “bi” approach to Sansa.”

      me either. it was either so subtle, that only a highly trained interpreter could pick up on it, or I think someone is suffering from advanced, juvenile male, sex fantasy syndrome.

      you make the call!

      • Well, I don’t know. Perhaps those with better gaydar got it. Just about everyone in North America has better gaydar than me, apparently. I have managed to get crushes on four –count ’em, FOUR — gay men in my day. Sheesh.

        And maybe Attewell knows something we don’t know (given his expertise in the entire oeuvre), and that makes him extra-sensitive to such vibes.

        And if there is something that’s going to happen later to confirm whatever Attewell saw, I DON’T WANT TO KNOW YET. Thank you.


        Bog-Standard Story Consumer

      • Some women like tall men. Some like short men. Some like hairy men, some like bald men. Gentle men, rough men, ugly men, pretty men, pretty girls. Most women don’t know what they like until they’ve tried it. And sadly, so many of us get to try so little before we’re old and grey.”

        It’s right there in the text in a speech Margaery gives right after handing Sansa a rose. As subtext goes, it’s as little sub as you can get before becoming text.

        • Barry Freed

          Yeah, I thought it was pretty obvious at the time. I don’t remember picking that bit up from the books though, if it’s even there.

          • To be fair, we get MUCH less about Margaery full-stop from the books. The character of Margaery in the show is certainly inspired from the rough outlines of a personality we get from the books, but Margaery isn’t a Point of View character and we only see her really through the rather star-struck eyes of Sansa and the incredibly biased perspective of Cersei.

            I don’t want to spoil Julia Grey, but all I’ll say is that this is approached in the books as a matter of innuendo, rumor, and hearsay.

        • Ahhh…..NOW I remember. That was more than winky, wasn’t it, that mention of “girls.”

          In my defense, I don’t have the text before me, and it WAS weeks ago.

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