TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Episode 4: ‘The Spoils of War’
WARNING!!!! BELOW THERE BE:
Synopsis: Arya returns to Winterfell while Bran grows more distant. Littlefinger returns a special dagger to Bran. Jon and Dany explore the dragonglass on Dragonstone. Jamie transports the Highgarden gold back to King’s Landing. Cersei meets with a representative from the Iron Bank again. Dany takes decisive action against her enemies.
Review: Wow Just wow.
For an episode that turned out to be the shortest in the history of Game of Thrones (50 minutes), the showrunners managed to pack a Hell of a lot into “The Spoils of War.”
It doesn’t take long to discover what the said spoils are, mainly Highgarden gold that Cersei will use to pay off the Crown’s debt to the Iron Bank. Funny how an Iron Bank representative can go from intractable businessman to lowly sycophant when the prospect of a strong investment comes into play. Based on the preview of last week’s episode and the title itself, I at first suspected Dany would somehow step-in and snatch the gold away, but according to Randyll Tarly, it made it safely through the gates of King’s Landing.
This last is due in no small part to Jamie and Bronn who helped overwhelm Highgarden. I tell ya I’ve been jonesing for some Bronn all season and it’s nice to see the former sell sword back in action. Game of Thrones constantly inundates us with characters who scheme, have hidden motivations, and whose words drip with subtext. It’s nice to have a character like Bronn who cuts through all the bullshit. He talks how he likes, to whomever he likes. Case in point would be making fun of Dickon Tarly’s name right to his face. He’s frank and upfront. All he wants is his gold and his castle. At the end of “The Spoils of War” it’s clear Bronn’s earned both of things. More on that later.
Much farther North at Winterfell, Bran contends with maybe the most infamous schemer on the show in Littlefinger. Lord Baelish makes quite the show of returning the Valyrian steel knife that was used in the attempt on Bran’s life back in season one. It’s important to note that though the books address who sent the assassin to kill Bran back when he was recovering from his fall (turns out it was Joffrey), the show never has. I suspect it’s Littlefinger and if Bran doesn’t know now, he’ll find out soon. Later in the episode Bran gives that same dagger to Arya as a gift. Could she use that same dagger to kill Littlefinger later this season? Frankly, I hope she does. Littlefinger has become nothing more than a piece of furniture this season, his power and influence stripped away. I won’t be sad to see him go.
It’s clear from his conversations with Littlefinger, Meera, and his sisters, that Bran is no longer Bran. He’s detached and emotionless, almost machine-like in his role as the Three-Eyed raven. Bran probably puts it best. He tells Meera, “I remember what it felt like to be Brandon Stark. But I remember so much else now.” To which Meera replies, “You died in that cave.” She’s right. Even so, damn Bran couldn’t you muster at least one damn hug for Meera?! Homegirl saved your life more than once.
Arya needs no saving and hasn’t for quite some time. It was quite the scene watching Sansa and Arya reunite in the Crypts of Winterfell in front of the statue of their father. It was slightly awkward but only because the two sisters are two completely different people than they were in season one. How petty and ridiculous their sibling fights must seem now. There’s a mutual respect there. The two are united in the fact that their “stories aren’t over yet.”
And how awesome was that fight scene between Arya and Brienne?! To watch Arya’s skills as a Water Dancer combine with her talents as a Faceless Man is a sight to see. Honestly, it was nice that Brienne got taken down a peg as well. I’m sure Pod enjoyed it. This is a relationship I hope the show explores more. The two are kindred spirits. After everything that’s gone wrong for Brienne, it’s gratifying that she’s now able to serve the two Stark girls. Things didn’t exactly turn out the way Brienne expected, but they rarely do on Game of Thrones.
Meanwhile, something we are all starting to expect is the inevitable hookup between Dany and Jon. That scene under Dragonstone where the two explore the dragonglass, was rife with tension and some of it was definitely sexual. I think Dany’s starting to believe Jon’s claims about the White Walkers. She even tells Jon she’ll fight for him…when Jon bends the knee. Jon of course stubbornly refuses, stating the North will never accept a Southern ruler. Dany calls into question Jon’s pride on the matter, which is interesting because Jon did the same thing to Tormund in season five when he asked him to go speak to the Wildlings. Is it pride? Partly, but he also feels a strong sense of duty to not betray his people. Yet his unwavering integrity already got him killed once and if he’s not careful it will happen again. A political marriage between the two makes sense. Dany gets the North and Jon gets the help he needs. Furthermore, there’s the prospect of a Northerner, a Northerner with STARK blood, sitting the Iron Throne should the two have children.
Unfortunately, Jon and Dany’s moment of bliss is interrupted when Varys and Tyrion come to tell Dany about Casterly Rock. Dany really loses her cool, at one point even calling Tyrion’s loyalty into question. The funny thing about dragons is that you can only poke them so long before they unleash Hellfire. And tired of “the clever plans,” that’s exactly what Dany does.
Before Dany drops the hammer though, we do get a scene between Theon and Jon. Not surprisingly, the meeting is less than cordial as Jon proclaims that the only reason he doesn’t kill Theon is because of what he did for Sansa. At this point I’m starting to wonder if Theon is beyond redemption. Even if he’s not, what can he do to redeem himself? He’s become a useless character much like Littlefinger. I think his days are numbered.
The last twenty minutes of “The Spoils of War” are some of the most amazing action sequences I’ve ever seen on television or film. Finally we see the full might of Dany’s dragons (well Drogon anyway) unleashed on the battlefield. Moreover, we see Dany’s Dothraki screamers unleashed on the Lannister army. Decimated doesn’t cover what both the Dothraki and Drogon do to the Lannister army. People are literally burned to ash by Drogon. It was glorious to see Dany riding Drogon, a full-blooded Targaryen embracing her heritage. I have to admit though the look on her face…I imagine that might have been the look Jamie saw on Dany’s father’s face just before he burnt people alive.
Which brings us back to Bronn.
This guy seriously gives zero fucks. Giant dragon in the air? No problem. I’ll just fight my way through the Dothraki hordes and unleash the Scorpion bolt on him. No big deal. And while Bronn only manages to wound Drogon (probably not mortally either) and the Scorpion is destroyed, that’s still nothing to scoff at. Look at what this man has done over the series: won a trial by combat that saved the life of Tyrion, fought on the Blackwater and started the fire that burned Stannis’ fleet, fought the Sandsnakes, rescued Princess Myrcella, and helped liberate Riverrun. These are the things songs are written about.
Oh and you can add one more to the list. Saving Jamie Lannister’s life.
In a fit of anger or madness, I’m not sure which, Jamie decides he’s going to kill Dany himself and foolishly decides to charge Drogon. Makes me wonder if Jamie has a death wish. No one in their right mind could think charging a fully grown dragon, wounded or not, is a good idea. Thankfully for the Kingslayer, Bronn is there at just the right moment to push Jamie from his horse, out-of-the-way of Drogon’s fire, and into the water, where he sinks out of sight. Don’t think for one second Jamie’s going to drown either. No way he goes out like that.
Now that Dany and her dragons are battle tested, it will be interesting to see what her next move is. A prolonged siege? A direct attack on the Red Keep? A trip to the North? Either way next week’s episode “Eastwatch” has a lot to live up to after this week’s show.
Season 7 Episode 3 “The Spoils of War” rates: 9/10 Severed Ned Heads
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