Last week in ‘The Queen’s Justice’, Cersei delivered a crushing blow to the Targaryen forces. It seems that this was enough to push Daenerys into full on war mode, as she is no longer listening to the “clever men” in her council. With a few reunions and Dany’s new path to the throne, this is a truly rejuvenating episode in a season that has so far been looking grim for the anti-Cersei league.
This week in Winterfell we find Bran meeting with Littlefinger, who has come with a gift—the Catspaw dagger that almost took Bran’s life several years ago. Unfortunately for Littlefinger, any attempts to warm up to Bran are in vain. Everything about Littlefinger’s hidden motives are clear to him now, and he even goes so far as to echo Littlefinger’s own private words from Season 3.
“Chaos is a ladder.”
Bran stares down the barrel of the camera, directly into our souls. It is confronting for us, and even more so for Littlefinger who is starting to realise that Bran’s omniscience may be a hindrance to any future plans.
Meera interrupts the meeting to say goodbye. She wants to be with her family when the White Walkers come, but Bran is less than courteous. When you have seen all of human history, how could you consider your personal experiences to be anything more than a tiny blip? Why bother with social niceties at all? An emotional Meera leaves Winterfell, mourning the loss of her friend.
“You died in that cave.”
Up on a snowy hill just outside of Winterfell, Arya gazes upon her childhood home. She has changed drastically since the last time she was here, and while her journey is not yet finished she is ready to face the past she left behind.
Hearing that her sister is hiding somewhere in the castle, Sansa makes an educated guess as to where she might be. And so in the Crypt of Winterfell, next to the tomb of their father, the Stark sisters’ reunion takes place. It is a poignant but overridingly joyous moment. Their journeys have been long and arduous, but right now this is not important. They are simply grateful that they are both alive, reunited, and with futures not yet written in stone.
On a side note, Sansa does throw this line of dialogue in there.
I hope [Jon] comes back soon. I remember how happy he was to see me. When he sees you his heart will probably stop.
Here’s to hoping that isn’t foreshadowing anything.
In a constant wave of non-stop emotion, we immediately get our third Stark reunion of the season straight afterwards. Arya is a little more accepting of Bran’s weirdness than Sansa was; I suppose being an assassin with the ability to wear the faces of dead people makes you pretty open-minded. He gifts Arya the Catspaw dagger, reasoning that a cripple would have little use for the weapon. It is important to note that this dagger is made of Valyrian steel, so it might not be very long before we see Arya straight up dropping some White Walkers.
With her fresh new weapon, Arya approaches Brienne seeking training. The last time they met, Brienne had seemingly slaughtered the Hound in a duel over Arya’s welfare. Arya has learnt a lot since then, and Brienne is suitably impressed with her immense talent. However, after Brienne asks Arya who taught her how to fight, Arya’s response offers a callback to her training over the past few seasons.
The story unfolding in Dragonstone opens on a surprisingly low-key note, as Missandei divulges the gossip on her relationship with Grey Worm to Daenerys. We don’t get too much of this (thank the gods) because Jon butts in to show Dany the Dragonglass beneath the castle. He also reveals some ancient carvings by the Children of the Forest, which depict their alliance with the First Men to fight a common enemy—the White Walkers.
The parallels are a little heavy-handed, but Jon uses it to push his case that in order to survive there will need to be some sort of agreement between the two of them. The sexual tension is palpable and Dany is almost there, but until Jon bends the knee there will be little progress.
Tyrion arrives bearing the news of Highgarden’s fall to the Lannister’s. Dany is officially nearing the end of her patience. She is sick of being cooped up in a castle while her allies are killed, and so she finally takes Olenna Tyrell’s words to heart. No more listening to clever men. She must be a dragon.
Contemplating Dany’s deal, Jon is still reluctant to cooperate fully with a queen he knows next to nothing about. Missandei remedies this a little, explaining that those who are loyal to Dany are loyal out of choice, not slavery. She asserts the Daenerys’ regime does not operate on fear as Cersei’s does. With any luck, this might build Jon’s trust in Dany a little more.
And now we get yet another reunion in an episode already full to the brim with them—although this time it is a little less positive. The last surviving Greyjoy ship sails back into Dragonstone, and Theon finds himself unexpectedly eye to eye with his childhood friend, Jon Snow. The air is tense, and the silence is deafening. Theon’s betrayal of the Starks weighed heavily on the family, but fortunately his saving of Sansa from the Bolton’s is enough to keep Jon from killing him outright.
It is great to see Mark Gatiss back for the second episode in a row as Tycho Nestoris, the banker from Braavos waiting for the Crown’s debt to be paid. He is a minor character, and yet he holds significant power in the outcome of this war.
Here we have him continuing to linger around Cersei, waiting for the Crown’s debt to be paid. The news that Highgarden was captured successfully is a good sign that it will be paid back quickly, and yet he is unwilling to invest in her before the gold actually arrives. Probably a wise move on his part, given the circumstances soon to unfold down south…
The episode title ‘The Spoils of War’ refers exactly to the prize sought out in Highgarden by the Lannister’s. Bronn makes his first appearance of Season 7 helping Jaime load tonnes of stolen gold onto Lannister wagons. Bronn isn’t one to hold strong loyalties, but the promise of a castle once the war is over is enough convincing he needs to fight for the side that will benefit him most.
Quietly, over the hills, a rumble grows in volume… followed by the shrieking of a Dothraki war tribe. The Lannister army dons their armour and fall into formation, readying for the oncoming attack. But no civilised Westerosian present has ever seen a Dothraki warrior in action, so nothing could prepare them for the oncoming slaughter.
The cinematography and choreography integrate beautifully in the following scene, marking one of the most significant battles in Game of Thrones history. Against the backdrop of raging barbarians who are trained to fight from birth, the Lannister’s pale in comparison. Their near total massacre is wonderfully pathetic.
From the skies comes Daenerys riding atop of Drogon, roasting the soldiers alive. They scramble desperately to pull off their metallic armour that has suddenly heated to scalding temperatures.
Bronn gets a hold of the Scorpion (that massive dragon-killing crossbow revealed in episode 2) and effectively wounds Drogon, sending both the dragon and Dany plummeting to the Earth.
The Lannister’s have been decimated, but with Dany stranded on the ground Jaime recognises that this is his chance to end everything right now. Watching him charge towards her from a distance, Tyrion quietly mutters.
“You fucking idiot.”
It is obvious that despite their differing allegiances, Tyrion still cares deeply for his brother, but there is no time to ponder this right now.
Seeing Jaime almost right on top of Dany, Drogon prepares to roast him alive. And right in the nick of time, Bronn dives in and shoves Jaime out of the way into a conveniently located lake. Weighed down by his armour and barely conscious, Jaime slowly sinks to the bottom.
Phew. What a massive episode. We had fewer locations to focus on this week, but this allowed us to really dig deeper into our main storylines.
Each reunion was just as satisfying as expected, and the final battle sequence is right up there with the Battle of the Bastards. It represents everything that Daenerys has been waiting so long for. It displays the full, unbridled force of her dragons by pitting them again Cersei’s own pathetically fragile soldiers. To be honest, it is probably the best moment of Season 7 thus far.
Dany is back in the game. Her ferocious, conquering side is advantageous for now, but if she wants to be a fair ruler then it will certainly need to be kept in check.
What did you think of the episode? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!