Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 review: The real winners of 'The Spoils of War'
First things first — everyone who watched the leaked version of Game of Thrones season 7 episode 4, fie for shame (accompanied by many disapproving looks, much head-nodding, and some Septa Unella-style bell-ringing).
Now that we have that out of our way, let's get on with the real business of the day: which is discussing the very, very exciting happenings of The Spoils of War!
Game of Thrones season 7 episode 3 gave fans what they'd been waiting for — a Jon-Dany meeting. Apart from that significant development though, it was bad news all around for the Mother of Dragons. Her conquest of Casterly Rock turned out to be an empty triumph, the Unsullied were stranded there with some more of Dany's ships burnt, she'd lost yet another ally (Olenna Tyrell), and Cersei was having an all-around good time, thanks to having annexed Highgarden and taken over all its gold and (very nearly) the grain.
Well, episode 4 changed the stakes. Dany, suitably angry, is now on the warpath. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Here's a quick review of every major happening on The Spoils of War:
a. Arya (finally) reached Winterfell, which meant a sweet moment with Sansa was in store. Having given the Winterfell guards the slip, Arya heads down to the crypt to stand before the tomb of her father, which is where Sansa finds her. Arya voices what we've all been thinking — that statue of Ned Stark looks nothing like him! (anybody else here thinks it looks rather like Theon?) — and the sisters hug. Sansa fills her in, and finally takes her to meet Bran. Arya, like Sansa, begins to get a sense of Bran's powers.
b. Arya also meets Brienne, and the two have a fun practice session that lets Maisie Williams show off her moves (and bring in a reference to Brienne's duel with the Hound). Sansa looks on (disapprovingly?) while Littlefinger wonders what to make of this development.
c. Bran and the Valyrian steel dagger that nearly killed him: Not quite the reunion everyone was waiting for with bated breath, but one plot point was neatly sewed away when Littlefinger presented Bran with the Valyrian dagger which was used in the attempt on his life. (Rewind: Bran is lying in bed after having been thrown off the Winterfell tower by Jaime. An assassin is sent to finish the job, but is stopped by Catelyn Stark — who is keeping vigil next to her son — and Summer.) Bran quips the 'chaos is a ladder' line to Littlefinger, throwing him off course. Bran also, later, hands the dagger over to Arya, pointing out she may have more use for it than him.
d. Theon, back at Dragonstone with the Ironborn who pulled him out of the water, comes face to face with Jon. It's a charged moment, where Jon tells him that if it weren't for what Theon did for Sansa, he'd kill him. The brickbats just keep coming for our man Theon.
e. The Northerners aren't the only ones having their moment in the sun. The two Lannister men (or one Targaryen, one Lannister depending on whether or not A+J=T turns out to be true) nearly meet on the battlefield. Tyrion — watching over Dany's campaign against the returning-from-Highgarden Lannister army — sees Jaime in the distance. And when Jaime, in a reckless act, nearly meets his end, Tyrion is aghast, hoping against hope that his older brother will make it through. And Jaime does — living to fight another day.
f. The Iron Bank and the gold they're owed: Before the Lannister and Tarly armies are decimated on the battlefield, they do manage to get the gold looted from Highgarden safely into King's Landing. Which means Cersei gets to square off her debts to the Iron Bank (or at least hand it over to Tycho Nestoris) and get more funding for her campaign to secure the Iron Throne.
a. Meera Reed, after ferrying Bran through mortal peril, is on her way home. She says goodbye to Bran, hoping that he'll have some words of comfort to offer. He doesn't, and Meera realises that Brandon Stark never left the cave — he died in there as well, with Summer and Hodor, to emerge as the Three-Eyed Raven.
b. Not quite a parting, but it's nearly here, just like winter. With this fourth episode done, there are only three more to go for Game of Thrones season 7 to come to an end. And we're already feeling the withdrawal pangs. Will we ever wake up on Monday mornings with the same sense of anticipation? Unlikely. Until 2019, that is.
a. The Lannister army has lost pretty much all of the grain they commandeered from the Reach. Which is going to leave the King's Landing folks very, very hungry come the Long Night. The army has also lost a whole lot of its soldiers, to the combined decimating power of Dothraki+dragon.
b. Bron complains to Jaime at just the start of The Spoils of War that he still hasn't been given the castle he was promised. By the end of episode 4, he loses even the gold he was given for the successful conquest of Highgarden and his continuing services to The Cause of Cersei.
c. Jaime, Jaime — this is the Lannister brothers' time to shine, clearly. While Tyrion got back his wit in episode 3, Jaime got back his glory in episode 4. On the battlefield, with Dany having laid waste to nearly all of his army, Jaime refuses to heed Bron and run to King's Landing. He stays on to fight with his men, making a mad dash at Dany (who's descended onto the battlefield with Drogon) and is very nearly killed — until Bron saves him in the nick of time.
d. Poor Drogon, who is laid low by a spear/arrow from Maester Qyburn's
antiaircraft gun dragon-killing contraption. One moment, he's flying gloriously high in the air, dracarys-ing everything in his path, and the next, he's brought down by a painful shot to the breast — all thanks to Bron. On the plus side, he's still standing and at least Dany now knows of the weapon's existence.
4. Pairings (not the wine and cheese kind).
a. Bron and Jaime, for giving us bromance goals: There once was a time when Bron and Tyrion were inseparable. Since he's switched his loyalties to the other Lannister brother, Bron has shown himself to be the perfect sidekick. He accompanied Jaime on that ill-fated Dorne trip, and has followed him into battle at Highgarden. No matter how much he may grumble at Jaime about his castle-less state, he still risks his own neck to get to the Qyburn Crossbow (we need to call it something) and gets in several good shots at Drogon. He then saves Jaime's life as well. All in a day's work, for Ser Bron of Blackwater.
b. Dany and Jon! Scorching looks were exchanged. And we hung on to each one of them. Anyone who thought there was a lack of chemistry between Dany and
her nephew Jon — episode 4 was just for you. He leads her down to the caves from where the dragonglass is being mined and shows her the drawings made by the Children of the Forest (the cave paintings show the CotF fought with the First Men against the White Walkers). He makes a plea, again, for her help. She offers it, if he'll bend the knee. (Just a thought: do his trips into underground structures signify Jon traversing his subconscious desires? We can't help but recall how another underground cave was the site for his romance with Ygritte.) Anyway, once they're back up from their subterranean adventure, Dany turns to Jon for counsel on what her next step should be — a sign if ever there was one, that he's truly captured her heart. (Okay, maybe we're engaging in a little projection here.)
c. Dothraki and killing: The sound of thundering hooves and war whoops. The Lannister and Tarly soldiers' looks of disbelief. The graceful way in which they wield their scythes. The even more graceful way in which they shoot from their horses. The Dothraki finally got to let loose on the battlefield, and they killed it! Staying cooped up on ships and rocky islands are clearly not their thing; warfare is, and they make good use of the opportunity. Give us more!
d. Ser Davos and dry wit: We knew Tyrion had a glib tongue on him, but Ser Davos got the cutest line in The Spoils of War. "What do you think of her?" he asks Jon about Dany, on one of their jaunts through Dragonstone. "She has a good heart," Jon replies, to which Ser Davos says, "Oh yes, I saw you staring at her good heart." Mic drop.
On that note, we bid adieu. There's some rewatching we've got to do. And staring at good hearts may or may not be involved.