Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4: “The Spoils of War”


By Zane Bixby
Overall Grade: A

As we reach the midpoint of this season, and the ever-looming end of the series as a whole, anytime something big happens it’s hard to look at it as “just advancing the plot” any longer. In season 1, when Ned was executed, it was hard to see that as anything other than the plot getting pushed along and providing reason for the story to become ever more complex. But with the show coming to an end, any time a character dies it’s hard to see it as the plot being moved forward instead of the character’s long arc finally coming to an end. That much was clear last week when Olenna Tyrell died and closed the book on her contributions to the show, well, minus the announcement to Cersei that it was her who killed Joffrey. In that regard, watching this episode left me unsettled on if this was the end of several character’s stories, and stories are really the message of this episode. I can’t really say I found any of the scenes this week to be bad, so instead I’m going to split this into three sections and talk about it that way.

Dragonstone

With as short as this episode was (probably the shortest of the series in actuality) it’s hard to believe how much information they managed to cram into this episode. It started off incredibly strong, with Jon showcasing the Dragonglass hidden beneath Dragonstone. But that wasn’t the only thing hidden away down there, as Jon shows off the etchings from the Children of the Forest. Last week I mentioned how little chemistry Clarke and Harrington had, and that seems to have pulled a complete change of pace this week with the two actors seeming to work really well off of each other. It really does seem like Jon is going to have her convinced, until Dany once again demands he bends the knee.
                
All of this seems so miniscule though in light of what is waiting for them as they exit the Dragonglass Cavern. With the announcement that the Reach has been taken, it actually does make sense for Dany to question Tyrion’s loyalties. After all, all the attacks so far have been his plans, and so far, they have all costed them terribly. So, when she turns to Jon, asking for his advice, I wonder just how much of his advice she will actually take. He does give a good speech about the Kings who have come before them and how she should want to be seen, but with Dany’s track record of listening to people’s advice I think no one actually anticipated her sitting around and doing nothing.
                
When we do get back to Dragonstone it’s for a reunion that I hadn’t actively considered seeing, Jon and Theon. Let’s face it, Jon has every reason imaginable to want to kill Theon, and I was at least half expecting a good punch to the face. But Jon, in his ever honorable attitude, tells him that the only reason he has left him alive is for what he did to help Sansa. It’s a strained relationship that will likely never get fixed, but I think this is the route that Theon’s redemption arc is taking him. He betrayed the Starks, leading to so many bad things happening to him and them, and there is still a war to come. Though he has proven a coward so far this season, saving Jon’s life in the midst of a battle by sacrificing himself seems like an obvious redemption move the story can take.
                
This all of course gets put on the backburner as it’s revealed that, surprise surprise, Dany didn’t listen to anyone’s advice and took off for the mainland.


Winterfell
               
While this wasn’t the reunion I was waiting for, it was a damn satisfying one. As we see Arya looking out at Winterfell, the only thing that passed through my mind was, “she’s home.” We do get just a bit of humor from this set of scenes, the first being the guards preventing Arya from entering the castle. I see this as a bit of a call back to season one, with Arya stuck outside King’s Landing and the guards at the gate preventing her from getting into the city. The way she handles the situations are vastly different and shows just how much growth her character has had over the last 6 seasons. Of course, she eventually gets into the castle and while the guards are continuing their bumbling routine, she slips off.
                
Once Sansa hears about her, she of course knows immediately where to find her sister. Unlike with Sansa’s previous reunions of Jon and Bran, this one actually holds an odd sense of weight. It’s probably due to the fact that unlike the previous two, Sansa and Arya actually had a good number of scenes and history together in the early season. Their journeys dragged them apart and sent them on wildly different paths that brought them right back together. We see another instance of someone not taking Arya and her threats of death seriously, something I’m sure will be a reoccurring scene as she tries to finish her list.
                
Then you have Bran. He has a bit of a farewell with Meera this week and proves a point I was constantly trying to make to people last week, he’s not really Bran any more. This is something Meera basically rubs the viewer’s faces in with the phrase “Bran Stark died in that cave.” It’s the truth though, when the Three-Eyed Raven died, Bran died with him and became the new Raven. This gave him access to so many different memories and visions that have just obscured who he is as a person himself. It’s these same memories and visions that directs his short conversation with Little Finger. I can’t really say why Little Finger gave him the Valyrian Steel Dagger, his motives never being the easiest to piece together ahead of time. But it seems like just a bit of convenience to eventually get that dagger into Arya’s hands.
                
The reunion between Arya and Bran is interesting, albeit a bit less emotional than her reunion with the castle and Sansa. The main point that comes from that is Sansa discovering that Arya’s list is very much real. This in turn creates a sort of self-realization for Sansa as she sees the journeys her younger siblings have been on and just how much it has changed them as people. While some might see her watching Arya training with Brienne (an amazing little scene with its own bit of humor involved) and assume she is feeling jealous of her sister, I saw it more as her seeing the growth that her sister has been through and the fact that she wondered if she has also changed on this long journey they have been on. But even if she hasn’t changed just yet, Arya made the point the best. They were still alive, so their stories are still being told.

Jaime and Dany’s attack on the Lannister Forces

Before we get into that amazing end scene, which we will get too, I think it’s prudent to at least talk about Jaime’s departure from Highgarden. His interactions with Bronn are an interesting set up for the end scene of the episode. Bronn once again affirmed that he was in fact a sell-sword, and his price still needed to be paid. I feel like this scene was included solely to bring that fact back into play and to leave us wondering for the scene that would be coming.
                
That scene of course, is the attack on his forces. As the Dothraki screamers can be heard coming over the hills and Jaime begins to martial his forces, Bronn tries to get Jaime to flee to King’s Landing, to safety. Of course, for all the Jaime is and isn’t, he definitely isn’t a coward who deserts his troops. But as this giant battle plays out, with an absolutely amazing scene from Drogon coming in to burn a path through their shield wall, I began wondering if the price Bronn was being paid was going to be enough to keep him from fleeing. After all, it seemed like such a trivial thing to include if we weren’t supposed to be left to wonder if Bronn was going to make a run for it. But surprisingly he doesn’t.
               
I loved everything about this scene, from some of the early shots of the Dothraki streaming over the hill, to Drogon’s fiery destruction of the caravan (holding the grains King’s Landing might need to survive the Winter or perhaps a long siege.) It also led to a scene that had me at the edge of my seat in anticipation and wonder. Was Bronn about to get the title “Dragon-Slayer”? Of course, this didn’t happen and instead led to him getting a shot on Drogon without actually killing any of the characters that still had stories to tell. Even with Jaime making a foolhardy charge at Drogon, I never thought that would be how his character would die. There’s still a few theories I have for the end of the series that need him to survive in order for them to come to fruition, but with the cliffhanger we got, where Jaime is plunging into an oddly deep lake that happened to be right next to them, only time will tell where his story goes. 

Side-Notes

-The Iron Bank really does love their money, so much that I’m wondering just how much they actually support Cersei. Sure, they seem to be supporting her and their small scene together was interesting enough, but I am left to assume that after they get their gold (which did make it into the city in case you missed that little tidbit) they might just bail on them since a huge portion of the Lannister forces were just…. Well…. Melted.  

-I can’t tell if Davos is sort of in love with Missandei or just likes when people other than him give big speeches about why they support the people they support.

-Also on the note of Davos, is he trying to be a wingman for Jon? That was sort of an out of place line, but if they are trying to set us up for an eventual Jon/Dany marriage (something I thought they were trying to avoid last week) then it at least seems to provide a bit of foreshadowing.  

-Bronn laughing at Dickon’s name was classic Bronn and I refuse to believe that there is anyone out there who doesn’t like him.

-A buddy of mine noted how amazing Jaime’s golden hand looks week after week and I’m inclined to believe him. It leaves you to wonder just what kind of effects they use to get it like that? I doubt it’s just makeup because that would require him to keep his hand constantly steady for shots.

-Knowing that the Army of the Dead is coming south, I really really hope we get to see Arya travel North with Brienne now that they are both armed with Valyrian Steel. Their practice bout was immensely satisfying to watch and Arya’s quip that “no one” trained her was damn funny.   

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @ZaneBixby where I tweet inane things about comics and other nerdy stuff about my current writing projects.
Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4: “The Spoils of War” Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4: “The Spoils of War” Reviewed by Blerds Online on Monday, August 07, 2017 Rating: 5

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