Season Seven, Episode Four — “The Spoils of War”
By Jarrod Jones. Dany must have been feeling what we’ve been about for the last three episodes: let’s get a move-on already. It’s not like pesky things like geography or time mean anything to Game of Thrones in this penultimate season anyway. Why can’t The Unburnt take her Winged Shadow for a fly over to King’s Landing and scorch the flea-bitten castle to the ground?
You’d be no better than anything that’s come before, was one good reason put to Daenerys Stormborn this week by Jon Snow, arbiter of true change. Scorched earth, shock and awe — in Westeros? Been there, done that. For centuries. And King Jon is right. Since the day Aegon the Conqueror came over and put the Seven Kingdoms to heel atop his Black Dread — even though dragons are a bit of a novelty again these days — the people aren’t necessarily gonna swoon over the prospect of serving underneath yet another fire-breathing monarch. (Then again, the citizens of King’s Landing are a fickle lot.)
But Dany’s been taking counsel from dudes ever since she set foot in Dragonstone, and so far it’s reaped her the precise sum of jack shit. Tyrion, Varys, even Theon “I’ma split” Greyjoy have all returned with ill tidings concerning her campaign against Cersei Lannister, and if she’s gonna help Jon fight a larger battle in the north at some point, it’s time to hit the gas on this whole “Seven Kingdoms” quagmire.
And so it was that Daenerys Targaryen took flight atop Drogon and sent Jaime Lannister’s ill-gotten Highgarden gains straight to hell, not to mention the battalions of men that would have otherwise been a formidable host had Dany not just sucker-punched them with a horde of Dothraki and a pants-shittingly terrifying dragon.
The sequence was of the show-stopping quality we’ve come to expect from Game of Thrones, though our hearts were a bit more confused as to who it was we should be rooting for than they were at, say, the Battle of the Bastards. Was it Daenerys, who’s come to take what’s hers by rights? Yes, obviously. But what awful things did Bronn ever do that either 1) wasn’t to somebody who already had it coming, or 2) he was paid a laughably tremendous sum to do? We surveyed the fracas with the same conflicted look on our faces as Tyrion Lannister, who watched his beloved brother damn near meet his end in a burst of dragonflame.
Instead our favorite sellsword rescued Jaime from an ignominious end, which sent the episode spiraling into a maddening cliffhanger that will likely amount to little more than a hostage situation. Will Jaime bend the knee to a Targaryen next week, as Jon seems so loathe to do?
Meanwhile, back at Winterfell, Arya’s return to her family’s ancestral home means the Starks are beginning to look like a proper pack once again — and steel rings in the yards of the keep once more!
There is still the small matter of Littlefinger lurking about, looking for exploits where they lay. And there’s so much for him to choose from: Sansa and Arya are about as chummy as they’ve ever been (which is to say, only kinda), and Sansa’s frightened reaction to Arya’s Water Dance with Brienne revealed to him the widening fissure between the Stark sisters. If Arya gets one whiff of Littlefinger’s involvement with Ned Stark’s death, she could become a serious problem. You could practically hear the wheels turning in his clockwork mind.
However, Petyr might do well to keep his distance from Bran, who, in his own detached, quizzical way, informed Baelish that he may know what Littlefinger’s been up to from the very beginning. (Or not! I can’t get a reading on this kid.) Baelish brought the Valyrian dagger meant to kill Bran back in Season One to the newly-minted Three-Eyed Raven, who took one look at it and used the opportunity to make Littlefinger flinch.
“Chaos is a ladder,” Bran said, before handing the dagger over to Arya, specialist in poetic retribution, for safe keeping. Call it Chekov’s Valyrian Dagger.
“I’ve noticed you staring at her ‘good heart’.” – Ser Davos, to Jon, about Dany.
BEST MOMENT: Bronn took aim at Drogon, and the world stopped for just a moment.
EPISODE’S MVP: Petyr Baelish has had next to bupkis to do this season, so it was wonderful to finally see him begin to snake around the Starks. Aiden Gillen’s trademark sneer was all but stolen from him in a powerful scene with Bran, only to return once he saw where that irksome dagger ended up.
– This needs to be said: Meera Reed deserved better. Until we meet again.
– Dragons have a tendency to overshadow things, so let’s give a round of applause to the Dothraki, who thundered towards the Lannister army with enough rumbling foreboding that it probably loosened a few bowels. “Never take on a Dothraki horde in an open field,” Robert Baratheon once said, and the dude was not joking.
– Looks like Jaime got Olenna Tyrell’s gold to King’s Landing before Dany popped in for a visit. Cersei’s got all the dough she needs to continue her disastrous war.
– Speaking of which, Cersei lets Tycho of the Iron Bank know she’s digging deep to attain the services of the Golden Company in her war against the Dragon Queen. That ought to elicit either a squeak of glee from ardent book readers, or a passive shrug. If it involves a certain Valyrian sword called Blackfire, this little wrinkle just might end up meaning something more personal is in store for Dany.
– Anyone else feel as though Jon was about to make Theon eat his fist? And what say you — did Theon get off light? Does he still have more suffering due?
– Jon took Dany on an excursion into the caverns underneath Dragonstone and showed her some cave sketches left behind by the Children of the Forest, somehow. (Don’t those kids need to be around weirwood trees — or regular-ass trees?)
– I wonder if Randyll Tarly is ever gonna get around to inquiring about his lost Valyrian sword, Heartsbane? I think Samwell has already forgotten that he stole it.
8.5 out of 10
Next: “Eastwatch,” in one week.
Before: “The Queen’s Justice,” here.