Villordsutch reviews Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 – “The Spoils of War”…
Written by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Directed Matt Shakman
Daenerys – “Dracarys!”
This week’s Game of Thrones “The Spoils of War” is coming in at just under fifty minutes. Though I’d like to moan about “being short-changed”, I generally don’t have a gripe when they hand out a few minutes more so I’ll keep my grumbles to myself, but Weiss and Benioff better pack something great into these forty-nine minutes or they’re in trouble!
The wheels are revolving at Winterfell. Bran has returned and Littlefinger has handed him the Valyrian Steel dagger which was originally sent out to slice the young Stark boy’s neck as he lay in bed. Here Meera interrupts the Lord Protector of the Vale as Bran catches him off-guard with a quote spoken long ago, which he [Bran] should have no knowledge of. Meera is now leaving Winterfell, to which the true Lord of Winterfell seems nonplussed about, and it’s here Bran’s saviour and companion through numerous months realises this young man is no longer truly Bran.
At the gates of Winterfell Arya finally arrives home, though she has a few problems – initially – convincing the guards that she is who she says she is. After a quiet threat, the not too bright gatekeepers bring the wandering Stark into the Castle grounds and as they argue on who shall inform Lady Sansa about this strange girl claiming to be her dead sister, Arya vanishes. She’s soon located by Lady Sansa herself – within the crypt of Winterfell – and the Stark Sisters are finally reunited. Each briefly pass over their travels, sparing each other the horrors they’ve endured, before Sansa reveals that Bran is also in Winterfell too. As the sisters sit with Bran, he hands over the dagger to Arya which was given to him earlier.
In the courtyard both Podrick and Brienne are in the middle of another sparring session, though Podrick is repeatedly being placed into the dirt for calling Brienne “M’lady” earlier. As Arya wanders past Brienne, she notices both sword and dagger and asks if she can look at them; after the pleasantries have been passed over Arya requests that Brienne spar with her, as she managed to defeat the Hound. After a moment’s pause and Brienne offering to get the ‘Master at Arms’, Arya insists that it be only Brienne, due to her mother’s oath. The battle between the two women is amazingly swift and professional, with Arya channelling Syrio Forel as she dances around Brienne. Eventually Brienne realises fancy footwork requires a swift boot and floors Arya, but not before the young Stark regains her footing – after losing her sword – deploying her dagger, just stopping before the mighty warrior’s neck. Brienne is defeated. Looking on from above is Sansa and Littlefinger, both seeing that Arya has returned very different from the young girl who left for King’s Landing years before.
Down at Dragonstone Jon is taking Daenerys deep within the caves to show her the Dragonglass before it’s mined out, however this isn’t the only reason. He’s discovered numerous cave drawings from the Children of the Forest made centuries back, which seem to show both the people of old and the Children coming together to help defeat the White Walkers. Jon puts it to Daenerys once again that she needs to join forces with him to tackle this unimaginable foe, to which the Queen of the Dragons just asks for one thing – for the King of the North to bend the knee.
Leaving the cave, news is delivered to both King and Queen that isn’t well received. Daenerys’ bad news arrives as she discovers that Casterly Rock was taken, however it was a trap. The Unsullied have taken the Lannister home, but they are without food and transport home and will have to get back to Dragonstone slowly with many wounded. Furious at the failings of Tyrion’s plans she wishes to take the Dragons direct to the Red Keep, however speaking with Jon Snow he reminds her that she’ll be no better than those she’s trying to overthrow; if she begins to destroy the city and burn both it and it’s people down in flames.
The second round of bad news comes to Jon when a Greyjoy ship arrives and onboard is Theon Greyjoy; only the freedom he helped Sansa achieve is the reason why the King of the North doesn’t strike him down. Theon is here to ask for help from Daenerys in rescuing his sister from Euron, however Jon informs him that she isn’t on Dragonstone anymore.
At King’s Landing Cersei is still entertaining Tycho Nestoris from the Iron Bank, who is now more than pleased with the news that the Lannisters debt will soon be paid off in full, though they will miss the interest payments. As they both wander into the courtyard containing the map of Westeros Tycho motions towards the Iron Bank funding the Lannisters war effort further, once the debt has been paid off of course.
Leaving Highgarden, the Lannister forces make their way towards King’s Landing with the spoils of the previous battle, minus Bronn’s payment – though he’s rather miffed that he still hasn’t received a promised castle from Jaime. Indicating that he wouldn’t mind the Tyrell’s previous dwelling, Jamie persuade’s him that it isn’t the best castle to take. The troops and commanders march on further until they are deep into the Reach, here during a conversation with Dickon Tarly, Bronn notices both a change in the air and then he hears war cries in the distance. With Jaime getting the Lannister army into rank and file, ready for what is coming of the hill, nothing can prepare them for the onslaught of both hundreds of Dothraki riders and Daenerys riding the back of Drogon, who engulfs the army loyal to King’s Landing and Cersei in flames.
The battle is brutal, violent and vicious. Bodies are turned to ash, slashed, torn and speared. The Battle of the Reach is carnage. With Jaime attempting to lead what’s left of his men, it’s up to Bronn to use the Scorpion against Daenerys and Drogon. After a missed shot, he manages to wing the beast and with that Jaime attempts to spear the Queen of the Dragons, but this is a futile attempt and before he gets near his target Drogon releases a column of flame towards him.
Fifty minutes. Fifty minutes of quite fantastic television. This entire show led perfectly to the final Battle of the Reach, and everything played from a growing seed; we watched it slowly unfold, budding and then unfurling into a truly fantastic bloom of flame. Even the sound seemed to follow the same path, exactly up to the point where Bronn noticed the change. This was an excellent Game of Thrones episode, delivered perfectly in a mere fifty minutes.
I cannot wait to see what’s around the corner in the upcoming episodes. Is Littlefinger on Arya’s list? Does Brienne recognise Littlefinger’s dagger and where is Littlefinger’s mind racing too now that Bran has repeated his “Chaos is a ladder” quote? Surely he now knows this Stark boy quite possibly knows a lot more of his shadowy dealings? And is Brienne on that list too, does Arya secretly blame her for failing to protect her Mother and Robb?
The Spoils of War is a true return to Game of Thrones, I know this for when it ended I quietly mouthed an expletive to myself.