Game of Thrones Recap: “The Spoils of War”

And with that, we’re over the hump of this season of Game of Thrones. Judging by this episode, season seven really has no intent of slowing down. Also interesting to note, this was the shortest runtime of any episode in the series. And even with that, we still got some plot lines racing forward at breakneck speed. Just a quick note, usually I go through the episode location by location, but since Highgarden bookends this episode, I’ve saved that for the end. So, lets dive in, and as always, full spoilers ahead.

Winterfell

We begin with Littlefinger and Bran. Littlefinger is gifting Bran a dagger, the same dagger that was used way back at the beginning of the series to try and end his life. As this exchange was happening, I kept thinking to myself, “doesn’t he know that Littlefinger killed his dad? Doesn’t he see all the schem-y stuff Baelish has been up too?” And just then, Bran utters “chaos is a ladder,” calling back to a conversation between Littlefinger and Varys in season three. This, rightfully, terrifies Littlefinger, and he gets the hell outta there as soon as possible. Enter Meera Reed. She has to go be with her family when the white walkers come, and is saying goodbye to Bran. Except Bran died back in the cave of the Three-Eyed-Raven, this new emotionless husk doesn’t seem to care much for anyone or anything. Meera lists off a list of people who died for him, and Bran sorta just chills there. I don’t know what the hell they’re doing with his character, but I’d like something more than just him being weird and emotionless.

Cut to a wide shot of Winterfell in the distance, and a horse with a rider. Wait, could it be?!?! Arya! I can’t believe it. We’re getting back to back Stark children reunions! But wait! There are two guards blocking her way into the castle. I know Sansa really seemed to be kicking ass at leading last week, but the decision to put these guys at the main entrance was a little… questionable. Anyways, Arya easily avoids them and goes to pay her respects to her fallen Father. Sansa, after being told by dumb and dumber that she’s gone, knows where she went.

And then we have it, another Stark reunion. Arya and Sansa have finally made it back together. Back in season one, they weren’t the closest, but so much of that stemmed from them being children. In the long run, those childish fights have been replaced with some serious trials. They even comment on this, saying that they’ve both got long, very unpleasant stories, but that their stories aren’t over yet. This worries me. The fact that their unpleasant stories aren’t over yet freaks me out, plus, the fact that they were reunited in a crypt, while poetic, gave me just a tiny bit of worry. But all that went away when I saw how Arya’s face lit up when she learned Bran was alive too.

Back out at the Weirwood tree, bran is brooding and doing various TER things when his sisters approach. This is the second week in a row we’ve seen bran hug a long lost sibling with less than zero emotion. I hope this doesn’t become a running motif, but Jon has to come back at some point. Bran re-gifts the dagger to Arya saying she has actual use for is, since its currently being wasted on a cripple. The dagger is Valyrian steel, and I can already picture the long take we’re going to get of Arya cutting through a horde of white walkers with this thing next season.

This leads to Sansa being curious as to why Littlefinger would give something of such value to Bran. My long shot prediction? This is Littlefinger trying to manipulate Sansa into doing something, but Sansa is going to see through his crap and find out he was the one behind Brans assassination attempt.
Next is a delightful scene featuring Brienne of Tarth, Someone who’s been criminally underused this season. I love seeing her and Pod sparring, but I lost my mind when Arya stepped into the ring. Finally, we got back to seeing the waterdancer, and she clearly hasn’t missed a step. She may not be the biggest fighter, but this scene reminded me that anyone in her way doesn’t have much of a chance. The line at the end “Who taught you how to do that?” “No one.” Was fantastic. Showing that she pays homage to her training in Bravos, but that honestly, she’s had to fend for herself, any if she has anything, it’s because she fought for it.

King’s Landing

Cercei is an absolute Madwoman. Theres really not much more to say about this section. Mark Gatiss is awesome as the representative from the Iron Bank, but honestly, Lena Heady is giving the stand-out performance of this entire season. We really don’t get much from Cercei, but even this quick scene showed how she really has become just as, if not more so, cunning than her father. She’s beginning to resemble a hybrid of Tywin and the Mad King, Continually fueling my theory that she will be dead by the end of the season, by Jaime’s sword.

Dragonstone

Back in Dragonstone, we get Jon in yet another cave with yet another gorgeous, powerful woman. Say what you will about incest, but Jon’s got some serious swagger, and the chemistry between the two of them was on point. Seriously, an exposition dump has never been so sexy. Jon shows Dany all of the Dragons glass that they plan on mining, and Dany is really taken back by it. Deeper in the cave, Jon then shows her paintings done long ago, chronicling the last time the White Walkers came to Westeros, and ow enemies had to ban together to defeat them. Dany is again amazed by these paintings, which prompts her to say that she will join Jon and fight the coming army of the dead, but only if he bends the knee.

He doesn’t agree to it, and Dany calls him out, saying he’s putting his pride before his people, hopefully she doesn’t realize the massive dose of irony she just spat out, because that was some serious “pot calling the kettle black” shit. They cut now to Dany and Jon exiting the cave, but they left some wiggle room in there. Maybe Jon bent the knee in there, but we simply weren’t shown it? They exit the cave, and don’t have any time to debrief because Dany’s advisors come up and tell her that while they took Casterly Rock, they aren’t exactly in a position of power.

She runs through her advisors quick, and eventually turns to Jon for guidance. Dany wants to get her dragons, and conquer Westeros the old fashioned way. But Jon tells her not to, saying “If you use dragons to melt castles and burn cities, you’re not different; you’re just more of the same.” This is huge for two reasons. One, Dany admits that she’s losing the war, she may be incredibly prideful, but she’s not so consumed that she can’t acknowledge her present reality. Second, she asks Jon for his advice. She sees that he didn’t become the King in the North for nothing, he is a smart leader, and is worth hearing out.

A little while later, Davos and Jon are discussing Dany, which mostly boils down to Davos saying Jon needs a little fire to warm him up, and Jon throws a line about the Night King, for some reason, great diversion tactic buddy. They bump into Missandei and Davos is laying on the flirt talk real thick. Missandei explains that she, along with the Dothraki and the Unsullied were not conquered by Dany, but rather liberated by and in turn chose to fight for her. Davos pokes a hole in this theory, saying that if Missandei wanted to leave, it would be unlikely Dany grant that request.

Last in our time at Dragonstone, We get another Stark reunion. Well, only kind of. Sure, Jon and Theon are not related (Although, at this point who can really rule out anyone being related to anyone), but they were both raised by Ned Stark, and both consider winter fell their home on some level. Jon (rightfully) knocks Theon on his ass, and tells him if it weren’t for what he did for Sansa, Theon would be dead. This season has been chock full of callback to things that happened early on in the series, and this one it maybe the most reminding of how far the season has come. It really made Theon’s entire character arc flash in my mind, showing how far he has come. Theon wants to speak to the queen, but the queen isn’t at Dragonstone. No, she, and a few of her Dothraki friends, have gone to…

The Reach

This is where we started the episode, but only briefly. Bronn(!!!) asks Jamie what it is thats got him down. Instead of telling him that Olenna Tyrell (aka the Queen of Throwin’ Shade) used her dying breath to verbally bitch slap him, he deflects the question. Bronn says that he want’s more than money, that he wants a castle. They argue over the merits of having a castle, when the Tarleys approach, Randall informs Jamie that the gold is on its way to King’s Landing, and Dickon is laughed at by Bronn for being named Dickon.

Fastforward the entire length of the episode, and we rejoin the Lannister army. The lighting is that gorgeous golden sunset, and theres a calmness that seems a little too calm. Thats when Bronn hears it. Horses pounding, thousands of them. The shot of the Dothraki horde, starting as a blank landscape, then a thin, yet seemingly infinite line of horsemen, growing into a massive army spilling over the hill, it was gorgeous. Jamie whips everyone into shape, forming battle lines and getting ready to take on the invaders, but then Drogon flies into frame, letting Jaime, and the viewers, know, that some serious shit is about to go down.

What follows cannot be accurately described. What I will say, is that after seven seasons of being teased out, hearing how Aegon the Conqueror did it, how Dany toys with the idea of it, it was fantastic to finally see a full grown dragon in action. And this was just one, I can’t even imagine what it would look like (or how much it would cost HBO) to have two more dragons in the mix. Dany and Dragon do a few passes, and the Lannister’s may as well not even try, Drogon is that decimating.

My favorite part of the battle, it the long-take on Bronn. We’ve gotten some absolutely incredible long-takes from GoT, but this one might be my favorite. It reminded me of the “Fog-of-War” sequence from the Battle of the Bastards, but it was so much more beautiful. I’ve guffawed at the cinematography of this season for weeks now, but that shot of Brown racing to the scorpion was a thing of beauty.

Speaking of, after a comical Indiana Jones-esque death to his Dothraki pursuer, Bronn lets loose the scorpion on Drogon, and hits him clean in the wing. No, he doesn’t die (I really thought he would), but it’s enough to ground him. It also proves to Dany and the audience alike, dragons are not invincible, and if she’s not careful, she will loose one. Jaime see’s  Dany land, grabs a spear, and charges towards her. The show of Tyrion looking down, murmuring to himself, “turn around, you fucking idiot, turn around,” is probably what will stick with me most from Peter Dinklage’s performance this season. Right before Jaime can get to Dany, Drogon shoots fire his way, and Bronn tackles Jaime off his horse, leaving him to sink in a lake to the safety of next weeks episode.

I don’t think Jaime is dead, and thats probably the only complaint I have from this battle. No one really got hurt. Not even Dickon died, someone who doesn’t hold any viewer significance, but would be a big deal in the world of the show. There were just a few too many suspensions of disbelief for me in a series that has clearly demonstrated that actions have consequences. I’m glad all our main characters got out, I want a Tyrion reunion with both Bronn and Jaime, but I do think the plot armor showed a little too clearly here.

Conclusion

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first half of this episode. I thought it was a little too-been-there-done-that. But the battle at the end, combined with some really fun and refreshing character pairings, made this a great entry to this season. “The Queen’s Justice” is still my favorite, but this episode may have given us one of the series best battles yet. 

Quote of the Episode: 

“She’s has a good heart.”

“A good heart, I’ve seen you staring at her good heart.” — Ser Davos, to Jon, about Dany

Seriously, Davos is the best.

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