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'Game Of Thrones' Season 7, Episode 4 Review: 'The Spoils Of War'

August 07,2017 10:23

Sunday night's episode of Game Of Thrones very nearly ended in blood and fire. Instead, it ended in the murky deep, as Jaime and Bronn plummeted into the water to escape dragon flame. The credits roll as Jaime sinks, his plate armor dragging him below.


Spoilers through Season 7 of 'Game Of Thrones' follow.

Credit: HBO

Daenerys goes to war.

Sunday night's episode of Game Of Thrones very  nearly ended in blood and fire. Instead, it ended in the murky deep, as Jaime and Bronn plummeted into the water to escape dragon flame. The credits roll as Jaime sinks, his plate armor dragging him below.
But this isn't how Jaime will die. It's one hell of a cliff-hanger, but I can't believe the Kingslayer goes down because of some idiotic attempt on Dany's life. Next week we'll see Bronn drag him from his (premature) watery grave. Maybe.
Hopefully.
This would not be a satisfying death.
This was a very, very good episode. The only thing I really want to complain about is how short it was (50 minutes!) and the usual "how the hell did they get there so fast?" critique. I won't bore you yet again with a discussion of the screwy timelines and fast travel. You can read about that in either of these two posts in which I go into great length about Season 7's problems.
And since we're here already, on the road between Highgarden and King's Landing, in a part of Westeros that looks a bit like Utah, we'll start with tonight's big battle before sailing off to other shores.
The Battle Of The Loot Train
Daenerys only half listens to Tyrion and Jon when they tell her not to become just another conqueror, burning the world down in her quest for power and domination. She doesn't fly her dragons to King's Landing, at least.
However, she does take one of them and a horde of Dothraki to ambush Jaime and his army as they transport the spoils of Highgarden to King's Landing.
I'm going to assume that it took quite a while for Jaime and the Tarly's to gather up all those crops and gold and such, because otherwise I simply cannot reconcile Daenerys and her Dothraki reaching the Lannister army in time to spring the ambush. Her and some dragons, sure, but all those Dothraki and their horses?
Well nevermind all that. I did say I won't talk timelines. Let's talk about the battle instead.
We did learn before the fighting began that Jaime had successfully transported the wagon of gold to King's Landing. This means Cersei will be able to repay the Iron Bank and the Lannisters will get to keep using their unofficial slogan. After tonight's episode, I'm not sure how to feel about that. I could never bring myself to root for Cersei, but I'm having a very hard time rooting for the young Targaryen contender.
Let's face it: This wasn't a battle at all. It was a slaughter. Daenerys is over-powered and there's simply nothing fair about a horde of Dothraki and a fire-breathing dragon taking out one small sliver of the Lannister army.

Credit: HBO

You almost feel bad for the Lannisters.

As Tyrion looks down at the carnage---barbarians hungry for blood, smoke bruising the sky black---we can very nearly read his grim thoughts. Has he made a mistake backing a Targaryen? Daenerys is sick of 'clever plans' and will bathe the world in blood and fire until she sits on the Iron Throne. But being sick of 'clever plans' is just a sugar-coated way of saying that she's sick of taking a humane path toward victory. She may not have brought her dragons to King's Landing, but Tyrion has now witnessed the devastation they can bring to the world firsthand, and it's not a pretty picture.
It's a terrifying one.
I admit, I may be biased. I've written about how I think Daenerys is a villain before, and tonight's episode only stoked my fears. Daenerys has never lived in Westeros, yet she has no problem killing Westerosi with her foreign barbarians and monstrous dragons. It doesn't seem to sit well for Tyrion---and in the preview for next week's episode, we see Varys urging the Imp to steer her away from this path---and it doesn't sit well with me either.
The battle itself was beautifully shot. The Lannisters all in their deep scarlet, lined up for the slaughter. Dragon flame spouting like a fiery geyser, parting the red sea.
There were even funny moments. Bronn running from the Dothraki warrior, then killing him with the ballista, was a welcome moment of comic relief.
Of course, quickly we had to watch as two characters we actually care about (I love Bronn and still root for Good Guy Daenerys to win out over Mad Queen Daenerys) face off against one another. I really, really didn't want Bronn to die by dragon fire, and thank god he has good jumping legs. He used them to get out of the way more than once. I suppose his tactic of not wearing armor has saved him yet again.
I'm also glad he didn't spear Daenerys, though I won't lie: I was hoping he'd kill the dragon. That would have been truly surprising.
All told, a pretty great battle scene, even if it wasn't a fair fight. The CGI was spectacular, and we've finally truly witnessed what a dragon can do in a battle. It's humbling, to say the least. If Daenerys decides to actually do the right thing and fight the White Walkers, the dragons will be incredibly formidable foes.
Of course, right now she's only willing to do the right thing if Jon bends the knee. It's all about people bending the knee when it comes to Daenerys these days, and frankly it's really irritating. So let's rewind, fly backwards, put reverse wind in our sails, turn back time, and plop ourselves down in....
Dragonstone

Credit: HBO

Jon Snow shows Dany dragon glass and some artwork.

Here Jon Snow shows Daenerys the mountain of dragon glass and some cave paintings made by the Children of the Forest. He urges her again to work together to fight this ancient evil. Of course, both Dany and Jon are incredibly stubborn, and it may be an entirely different kind of knee-bending that ultimately brings them together.
Davos even makes a joke about Jon 'staring at her good heart' so it seems pretty clear that the show is pointing toward an eventual hook-up. "There's no time for that," Jon tells Davos, but he doesn't deny using his powers of the male gaze on her.
That wasn't the only sex talk of the night, as Dany and Missandei share a moment of girl gossip in what was one of the more humanizing scenes we've had for Dany in a very long time.
When Tyrion and Varys tell Daenerys of the loss of Highgarden, she asks Jon for his advice after implying that Tyrion may have sympathies for his family after all. I guess him traveling half a world and being a good and moral adviser isn't enough for Dany---failure is just not acceptable.

Credit: HBO

Jon Snow isn't happy to see Theon.

Jon tells her that the people will follow her, but not if she becomes just another horrible ruler who does the same thing every other horrible ruler has done. As I noted above, she only half listens.
Later, Theon arrives and we learn that Dany has left. I guess it takes Theon an incredibly long time to return the short distance from where his fleet was ambushed, but nevermind all that. Time and distance do not matter. Everything makes sense if you just don't question it!
In any case, Jon is not happy to see the young Greyjoy. He tells him that the only reason he hasn't killed him already is what he did for Sansa. Theon looks Reekish in response.
Speaking of Sansa, let's go see what the Lady of Winterfell is up to, shall we? Let's go to...
Winterfell

Credit: HBO

Brienne learns that a girl can fight.

A girl is at the castle gates. A girl tells the guards that she is Arya Stark, but the guards laugh in her face. A girl is unperturbed. She threatens them and they buckle, taking her into the castle, where she promptly vanishes.
And for a moment I was really worried that she'd made it all that way and then decided against it. That we'd have yet another almost-reunion quashed. Thankfully, Arya merely goes to the crypts beneath the castle to see her father. That's where Sansa finds her, and we get an actual reunion between the two sisters (who never much liked one another) unlike the really weird meeting between Bran and Sansa last week.
This is where we all jump up and down with glee, because there are now three Starks in Winterfell. In fact, all the remaining Starks are back home, except for Jon and he's not really a Stark. Rickon and Robb are dead, as are Eddard and Catelyn, but three Stark children remain, and that's quite a bit better than many other noble families of Westeros (Tyrells, RIP.)
Arya tells Sansa of her death list, and Sansa laughs it off like it's a joke---until Bran mentions the list later. Later, Sansa watches Arya train with Brienne, and there's almost a look of jealousy on her face. It's odd. I can't tell with Sansa sometimes. Littlefinger watches the fight as well, and his expression shifts from disbelief to open admiration. Of course, he notices her Valyrian steel dagger.

Credit: HBO

The Valyrian steel dagger.

He'd only just given that to Bran, in an absolutely riveting scene between the two. Littlefinger lies and schemes with everyone, but he has no idea that Bran knows. Bran knows so many things. When he asks Littlefinger if he knows who owned the knife, rather than pin it on Tyrion, Baelish says that he doesn't know. But Bran knows. Of that, I'm quite certain. He knows exactly what Littlefinger is and what he's done.
The best moment is when Littlefinger tries to play the empathy card, telling Bran that it must be difficult to come back to a world in such chaos.
"Chaos is a ladder," Bran replies. Littlefinger pales visibly. That's because these are his own words thrown back in his face. Words he spoke in private to Varys way back in Season 1. Here's the full quotation:

"Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is."

Littlefinger will now almost certainly view Bran as a threat, though he's likely completely baffled by Bran's words. What will he do?
All of these moments in Winterfell were wonderful. Even Arya's reunion with Bran, during which time he gives her the Valyrian steel dagger (yay!) was better than Sansa and Bran's scene last week. Bran talks a bit more, and while he's still very strange, at least he tries. His parting with Meera was bittersweet. She feels betrayed when he has so little to say to her after she and her brother gave so much. But he tells her that he's not really Bran anymore. He still remembers being Bran but now he remembers so much more also.
It's sad but also exciting. I want to know everything Bran knows. I want people to ask him more questions! Why aren't they asking him more questions?
Closing Thoughts

Credit: HBO

Jaime and Bronn

This was a great episode with a truly epic battle, a huge reunion between the Stark children, and lots of great moments from start to finish.
There were a number of genuinely funny moments, too, which was nice. Bronn laughing at Dickon's name made me laugh outloud. Dickon doesn't seem like a bad guy, but I'm still on Team Sam.
Speaking of Sam, we didn't see anything from him this week. That's been our weekly comic relief, but we got it elsewhere tonight. We also didn't see the show's funniest bad guy, Euron, and that's a bit of a shame. He's really grown on me lately.
We did get a brief scene with Cersei and the Iron Banker, but there's not much to talk about there other than the fact that gold wins wars and it looks like Cersei won't have a problem with creditors. A Lannister always pays their debts, after all.

GalleryGame Of Thrones Season 7 First Images
Launch Gallery
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I also really enjoyed Brienne and Arya dueling, though I have to say, no matter how skilled Arya may be there's just no way she's blocking Brienne's swings without getting knocked down. Dodging, fine, but that tiny rapier---as good as it may be for sticking people with the pointy end---would have trouble taking hard hits from a broad sword, even a practice blade. Still, awesome to see two of our favorite characters spar, and it was all very well choreographed.
Update: Two more quick thoughts (I always forget something when I publish these reviews!)
I loved when Brienne asked who taught her to fight like that and Arya said "No one." A girl is no one.
I loved how there was no clear "good guy" or "bad guy" in this battle. Such stark contrast from the Battle of the Bastards. Who to root for when Bronn and Dany are trying to kill one another? It's much harder to know than when it's a fight between Jon and Ramsay.
Update 2: A commenter made an observation I want to talk about a bit more in-depth. He wrote:

"Outside of the fact time and space have actually lost all meaning in Westeros at this point and it actually is getting starting to bother me, the one thing that really ground my gears last night was that Dothraki guy with Tyrion. He said something like your people can’t fight in a situation where his horde gigantically outnumbered a small contingent of infantry and had a fucking dragon and he thinks that is a measure of them as warriors. It’s like, I get you think you’re a badass but I now consider you a moron because you’ve said something so ridiculous and I wonder if that scorn is also partly on the writers or if I’m meant to think this of the Dothraki because the writing these days, it is not GRRM backed."

This bugged me, too. Here's an army that was ambushed by a much larger army that included a fire-breathing dragon whose name is Drogon. The dragon---Drogon---could have overwhelmed the Lannister force all on his own. That they also had to deal with a charging horde of barbarians makes it all that much more lopsided. The Dothraki always struck me as the kind of people who, while certainly boastful, would respect their enemies. The Lannisters stood and fought bravely. They stood in the face of overwhelming odds and did battle and lost. It was the kind of thing you should honor---not mock disdainfully to the queen's adviser.
/End updates.
In closing, I just want to say that HBO is truly evil for giving us such a stunted episode. I wanted ten more minutes of great television. I have to dock like 400 points from my score because of this. Sorry, it's just not acceptable. Shame. Shame. Shame.
What did you think of 'The Spoils Of War' dear readers? Let's talk about it in the comments and on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for reading!
You can read my review of last week's episode here. Also, here's a link to all my previous Game Of Thrones reviews.
You can also check in on my Season 7 predictions here. I'm doing pretty good, but I've had some big misses, too.

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