(Note: This post contains all the spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 7, Episode 4, “Spoils of War.”)
After three episodes in a row of bad beats for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) comes “Spoils of War,” the fourth episode in “Game of Thrones” Season 7.
It’s finally time for Dany to strike back in this episode, with a lot of foreshadowing of things that feel like they’re going to matter pretty soon — and might even result in some heads getting taken off.
Picking up immediately after the last episode ended, we find Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner) leaving Highgarden. Jaime’s still reeling from what Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) told him at the end of the last episode, and Bronn’s doing that Bronn thing where he picks on people because it’s hilarious, giving Jaime a hard time.
Jaime pays his debt to Bronn witha bag of gold — kind of, since Bronn says Jaime still owes him a castle — before Lord Lannister issues some additional orders. He sends Randyll, Bronn and Randyll’s son Dickon (Tom Hopper) to go gather up the grain from the Tyrell smallfolk. This is key strategic point: the Tyrells have been supplying King’s Landing with food since the start of the War of the Five Kings in Season 2, and the food the Lannisters are taking will be essential to surviving both the winter and the likely inevitable siege of King’s Landing by Daenerys’ forces. Of course, those farmers are probably all going to die, and the Tarlys don’t seem happy about shaking them down.
Back at King’s Landing, Cersei (Lena Headey) has made her deal with the Iron Bank, and when Jaime gets back with his wagonloads of gold, it’ll pay off the crown’s entire debt. That means the alliance with the Iron Bank is secure going forward, another major strategic victory. Cersei needs more money for her war effort, and there’s talk of her hiring the Golden Company of sellswords to bolster her forces.
Out to Winterfell next, where Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) is talking to Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), probably without realizing that Bran is magic now. Littlefinger gives Bran a certain Valyrian steel dagger, the blade an assassin used to try to kill Bran way back in Season 1. Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) stopped the assassination with help from Bran’s direwolf, Summer.
The owner of the dagger became a question that led to Catelyn capturing Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) in Season 1, and essentially the kicking off of hostilities between the Starks and Lannisters that led to the War of the Five Kings. Seems Littlefinger, who was the original owner but told Catelyn he’d lost the dagger to Tyrion, has been holding onto it ever since that meeting in Season 1 — and now he’s giving it to Bran.
What Littlefinger doesn’t know, though, is that Bran’s Three-Eyed Raven powers allow him to know a lot of things. When Littlefinger mentions the word “chaos,” Bran responds, “Chaos is a ladder,” referencing Littlefinger’s speech to Varys (Conleth Hill) in Season 2. Basically, Bran puts Littlefinger on notice that he knows all about his scheming. What Bran is going to do with that information, though, isn’t clear.
Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) shows up next to tell Bran she’s going home to be with her family when the Night King shows up. She’s appalled when Bran thanks her for her assistance in getting beyond the Wall and back again — her brother died on that trip, and so did Hodor and Summer, and she thinks their sacrifice should be worth more than an off-hand “thanks” from Bran.
But Bran explains a key piece of information about himself in response to Meera’s reaction: He’s not really Bran anymore. Being the Three-Eyed Raven means he remembers what it was like to be Bran, but he’s now much more detached because he’s seeing everything in the world at once. Godlike powers apparently make it hard to empathize with the little people.
At the gates to Winterfell, Arya (Maisie Williams) finally makes it home, but two guards stop her because they don’t believe she actually is Arya Stark — in a scene mirroring one in King’s Landing from Season 1, when Arya couldn’t get back into the Red Keep because the guards didn’t recognize her. After some convincing, Arya gets the two guards to realize that turning her away if she’s telling the truth will be very bad for them. As they all wait for the Lady of Winterfell, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), to come confirm Arya’s identity, she gives the two idiot guards the slip. Sansa finds Arya down in the crypts after talking to the guards, and the two sisters are finally reunited after five seasons apart.
As they discuss everything they’ve missed, and Arya tells Sansa about her kill list when she asks if Sansa killed Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). “He was always at the top of my list,” Arya says. When Sansa asks what list that might be, Arya responds, “The list of people I’m going to kill.” The disbelieving Sansa laughs at that.
Sansa also tells Arya about Bran, with a little more reservation, since Bran is extremely weird and lacks social skills now. They find him in the Godswood, where Bran tells them a little more about being magic, and about the dagger Littlefinger gave him. Sansa is worried about that move on Littlefinger’s part — “he’s not a generous man, he wouldn’t give you anything without getting something back,” she says. At the end of the exchange, Bran gives the Valyrian steel dagger to Arya.
At Dragonstone, things aren’t going well for Daenerys. Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) reports that there’s still no word from Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and the Unsullied who captured Casterly Rock, and subsequently got trapped there by the Iron Fleet. Then Jon Snow (Kit Harington) shows Daenerys the big deposit of Dragonglass beneath Dragonstone — the obsidian he’s going to use to make weapons that can kill White Walkers.
But Jon has something else to show Dany as well. Further into the cave are carvings made by the Children of the Forest. Jon gives her a bit of backstory about how the Children and the First Men fought the White Walkers thousands of years ago, and uses it as a chance to advocate for uniting against the White Walkers again.
“I will fight for you. I will fight for the North,” Daenerys says. “When you bend the knee.”
“My people won’t accept a southern ruler. Not after everything they’ve suffered,” Jon returns.
“They will if their king does,” she says. “Isn’t their survival more important than your pride?” Dany probably doesn’t realize the irony in this statement since she keeps harping on the “bend the knee” stuff.
Back outside the cave, Tyrion and Varys show up with another rough report. Highgarden has fallen, and now Daenerys is out of allies, except maybe for Jon.
Annoyed with how things are going, Daenerys says she’s tired of clever plans and decides she’s ready to take Drogon and go knock on King’s Landing’s door. She asks Jon what he thinks of attacking the city. Jon explains why killing everyone is bad, while also making a pretty good argument for why Dany needs to knock off that loyalty pledge nonsense:
“I never thought that dragons would exist again. No one did,” Jon tells her. “The people who follow you know you can make impossible things happen. Maybe that helps them believe that you can make other impossible things happen. Build a world that’s different from the shit one they’ve always know. But if you use them to melt castles and burn cities, you’re not different. You’re just more of the same.”
Back at Winterfell, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is still diligently training Podrick (Daniel Portman), who remains terrible at fighting, where Arya finds them. As Brienne’s giving lessons to Pod, Arya chimes in with one of her own: “Don’t fight someone like her in the first place.” She wants to train with Brienne as well, citing the fact Brienne beat the Hound (Rory McCann) in single combat.
Armed with Needle and her Water Dancing techniques, Arya is actually a pretty solid opponent for Brienne, able to use speed and size to get in under her guard. Brienne holds her own once she gets a sense of how Arya fights, but we get a demonstration of Arya’s skills that is very impressive. The pair basically come to a draw. Littlefinger watches the whole thing, and he seems a bit worried.
Back at Dragonstone, Davos and Jon walk the walls talking about what’s going on. Davos asks Jon about what he thinks of Daenerys. “I think she has a good heart,” Jon says.
“I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart,” Davos returns. And then Davos corrects Jon’s grammar, because Davos learned to read good with the help of Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram).
The pair happen across Missandei and trade a bit about their histories, explaining why Jon’s name is Snow, and why Missandei serves Daenerys despite formerly being a slave. “All of us who came with her from Essos, we believe in her. She’s not our queen because she’s the daughter of some king we never knew. She’s the queen we chose,” Missandei says.
“Would you forgive me if I switch sides?” Davos asks Jon. Davos has the jokes this episode.
Just then, a ship appears in the harbor. It’s Theon (Alfie Allen), returning from previously getting wrecked by Euron (Pilou Asbæk). Jon meets him on the beach — they haven’t seen each other since Season 1, and Theon killed a lot of Jon’s friends in the intervening years. It’s lucky for Theon that Sansa told Jon that Theon helped her escape Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon).
“What you did for her is the only reason I’m not killing you,” Jon tells Theon.
Theon explains that Yara (Gemma Whelan) has been captured, and he’s come to ask the queen for help in rescuing her. But Jon tells him the queen has gone. Gone where, exactly?
The answer to that question takes us back to Jaime and Bronn, who are delivering the wagons of food to King’s Landing (Randyll notes that they sent the Tyrell gold ahead and it had already arrived) but are having a hard time keeping the army’s pace up as they approach the city. Some of the wagons have made it inside the walls, but many are still stretched out across the fields nearby. Randyll Tarly wants to start flogging stragglers, but Jaime suggests maybe warning them first, much to Randyll’s dismay.
Bronn and Jaime also have a talk with Dickon Tarly — and when Dickon corrects the pair on the pronunciation of his name, Bronn can’t help but laugh. As they’re discussing about the less-than-glorious battle at Highgarden, Bronn hears a rumbling.
Bad news for the Lannisters: It’s the Dothraki, led by Daenerys riding Drogon. She roasts part of the Lannister line as the Dothraki ride in.
Daenerys doesn’t focus on killing the infantrymen, though. Instead, she flies over the line and blasts most of the remaining Lannister wagons, destroying the grain and gold they’re bringing back to King’s Landing.
Jaime sends Bronn to the giant “Scorpion” crossbow that Qyburn (Anton Lesser) made for taking down dragons, but he’s almost killed when a Dothraki fighter tries to ride him down. Bronn manages to escape, fighting his way to the Scorpion and then burying one of the bolts in the chest of the warrior chasing him.
Meanwhile, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) watches the battle from a nearby ridge, and definitely having some emotions about turning against his family, or at the very least, Jaime.
As Daenerys continues to blast away at the Lannister armies with dragonfire, Bronn scores a major blow, nailing Drogon in the shoulder with the Scorpion. Drogon nearly falls out of the sky before regaining his composure, managing to land and destroy the Scorpion. Daenerys leaps off to pull out the bolt, and Jaime spots her in the open from across the field. As Tyrion watches, Jaime grabs a spear and rides toward Daenerys to try to kill her and end the war right there — but Drogon wheels around to blast him with fire.
It looks like the end for Jaime — but he’s heroically saved by Bronn, it appears. Bronn’s definitely the MVP of this episode, the Lannister army, and any team he joins. The pair fall into the river, narrowly avoiding getting toasted, and the episode ends with Jaime’s fate unclear as he starts to sink.
Bronn seems okay though, don’t worry.
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