Hey, so this episode is pretty wild. I mean, we’re going to see one of the craziest battle scenes ever. There’s also a lot of dagger talk, a long-awaited reunion, cave drawings, and the shocking (to me) revelation that “Bran” is short for “Brandon”. Did we know that? Because that blew my mind. It’s always weird when somebody on this show just has a regular person name, you know? Anyway, lets get to “Spoils of War”.
There’s a caravan leaving Highgarden, having cleaned out the Tyrell’s granaries and supply stores. The gold is already well on its way back, but there’s some work to do with clearing the fields. Jaime finally pays Bronn for his services, and Bronn reminds him he was promised a castle. He sulks and Jaime says he’ll definitely get a castle when the war is over. Man, Bronn has earned his payout by now. He has had to put up with a lot of extra nonsense that wasn’t in the original deal.
Tycho is pleased that Cersei repaid her entire doubt all at once, though he’ll miss her interest payments. She wonders if the Iron Bank will support her as she tries to expand her armies, and he promises they have her back as soon as they get paid.
Littlefinger gives Bran the dagger with which an assassin tried to kill him way back in Season One. He seems to think this would be a good gift. Also, we never did find out who hired the assassin – the Lannisters were the safe assumption, but if they’re bringing it up again, maybe we’re meant to rethink it. Heck, maybe it was Littlefinger in the first place. Anyway, he talks a lot about Bran’s mother because he has to be creepy to all of the Starks. None of this really seems to register with Bran, who only asks if Littlefinger knows who it belongs to.
And here’s the thing – Bran probably knows. He’s the Three-Eyed Raven. He knows. His question isn’t who, his question is whether Littlefinger knows. And, heck, he probably even knows whether or not Littlefinger knows and this might be a test of his honesty. Because the assumption that the Lannisters did it is kind of what kicked off the events that led to Ned’s death. Not completely of course, since Cersei was already working the long game to murder Robert, but it got the Starks involved in a way that maybe they wouldn’t have been.
Oh, also Bran is in a medieval wheelchair, which is kind of a neat touch. Anyway, Meereen comes in to see him and to tell him she’s leaving. She needs to be with her family when the White Walkers arrive. And after everything they’ve been through, he shows no emotion whatsoever. She’s genuinely hurt – her brother died for Bran, she almost died, and Bran can’t even act like it meant anything. She leaves in tears after telling him “you died in that cave”. I’m not sure there’s anything metaphorical there. There’s just no Bran there anymore. He might even be the previous Raven in a new body for all that it matters.
And then Arya arrives at Winterfell. A pair of dopey guards don’t believe she is who she says she is, and she convinces them that if she isn’t, she won’t last long. But if she’s telling the truth, Sansa will have them executed for turning her away. So they let her in and then start arguing over who should go tell Lady Stark. They bicker for long enough that Arya just disappears. So then they have to go tell Sansa that they lost her, but Sansa knows where to find her. Sure enough, Arya is in the crypt in front of the statue of their father. They share such a big hug that for a second you forget what they’ve been through. They catch up a little without really sharing any specifics, and Sansa isn’t sure how to react to finding out that Arya has a murder list. Then Sansa tells her that Bran is also back, but in a tone that says “don’t get too excited”.
Arya and Sansa find Bran out by the face tree and Arya gives him a hug. Bran doesn’t have any emotional reaction but tells Arya he’s been watching her. Sansa asks again about Arya’s list, but she remains vague. Bran shows them the dagger and Sansa’s confused why Littlefinger would just give away a Valyrian Steel dagger. Bran has no use for it, so he passes it on to Arya.
Over in Dragonstone, Missandei frets that they haven’t heard back from the Unsullied. Jon Snow flags down Daenerys so he can show her the dragonglass before they start mining. And then, he shows her some cave paintings created by the Children of the Forest. We see a lot of spiral configurations, which is a symbol that comes up a lot on this show. Further paintings make it clear that the Children and the First Men fought together against the White Walkers. This hits Daenerys pretty hard and she vows to fight for the North… when Jon Snow bends the knee. He says his people won’t accept a southern ruler and she argues that survival is more important than pride. And then we cut to them leaving the cave, so we don’t really know what happened.
Outside, Tryion reports that they took Casterly Rock but there’s also bad news…. Daenerys is furious and she almost accuses Tyrion of being a traitor when he advises caution. She decides she’s going to take some dragons to the Red Keep and end this. And then she asks Jon’s advice. He tells her that she made something impossible happen by bringing back dragons. But if she uses them to burn cities to the ground, she’s “just more of the same”.
At Winterfell, Brienne spars with Podrick, and then Arya stops by to ask for a rematch. It’s a pretty great swordfight with Arya doing a lot of dodging, like her mentor taught her. But as Brienne gets more frustrated, it seems like there’s a chance she could kill Arya. Sansa gets upset as she watches, as it just drives home how different Arya is now. They fight to a draw that would have ended with them both getting killed if they fought for keeps. It’s a really nicely done scene. Guess the combat team gets to take the rest of the episode off and just chill for a bit, right?
Back on Dragonstone, Jon and Davos talk about Daenerys and Davos indicates that there’s some chemistry there. Hey man, Jon is her… nephew? Is that right? Her brother was his father. Oh my gosh, she’s Auntie Dany!
They spot a Greyjoy ship and rush down to meet the landing party. It’s Theon and company, and that reunion is, well, fraught. Jon makes it clear that the only reason he’s not killing him is that he ultimately helped Sansa escape. Theon came to ask Daenerys to help get his sister back, but Daenerys is gone. She’s off ignoring good advice, you see.
And now, settle in because it is popping off. Straight heat, no skits. The Loot Train makes its way back to King’s Landing on the Roseroad, and it’s not moving as quickly as Jaime would like. Sam’s dad wants to flog people to get them to move faster, and Jaime would rather he threaten first. Then Jaime and Bronn make fun of Dickon Tarly’s name because, well, why wouldn’t you? And then Bronn hears far off rumble that gets louder and louder. The Lannister Army prepares for battle and yes, it is a massive army of Dothraki bearing down on them. Which is terrifying enough, but then a single dragon appears in the sky. It’s Drogon, and Daenerys is riding him into battle. She lights up the Lannister’s front line and then the Dothraki just lay into them. There’s a very funny shot of some riderless horses just running away because they know the score. We see the Dothraki take casualties, but they’re clearly winning this fight. And then Drogon comes in for another pass and starts torching the caravan. Jaime sends Bronn to use the Scorpion (the giant crossbow) and hundreds of people are getting massacred and I’m very worried about this dragon.
Dickon saves Jaime’s life. Bronn nearly dies about a dozen times. It’s all fire and chaos and it’s just absolutely nuts. Finally, Bronn makes it to the Scorpion, which is ludicrously big. We see Tyrion watching from a ridge with the rest of the Dothraki and we get the idea that it’s not easy for home him to watch his family’s army get slaughtered, even if they did cut him loose. He probably fought alongside some of these people at Blackwater. Drogon does another flyby and narrowly dodges a shot from Bronn. Finally, Bronn lands a shot in the dragon’s shoulder and it looks as if he’s going to fall out of the sky but he pulls up at the last second and torches the Scorpion. Injured, he lands and Daenerys tries to pull out the bolt. Jaime watches and Tyrion says from afar “Flee, you idiot”. Nope, Jaime picks up a spear and rides right at Daenerys. Drogon turns and we get just a second to see what it looks like inside a dragon’s mouth right before it breathes fire and at the last moment, Bronn tackles Jaime into the water as the flames blast over where they had just been. But Jaime’s in full armor and he sinks like a stone to the bottom, and that’s the end of our episode.
Holy smokes, right?
–I don’t have a huge amount to say because this was just such an awesome spectacle. Just amazing work all around. This episode set an industry record for most stuntmen set on fire (70!) and just looked amazing. The stunt crew and visual effects people just killed it.
Also, kudos on the Arya / Brienne fight. It can’t be easy to choreograph and perform a sword fight with such a huge height discrepancy, but it looked great. And I love that Arya actually fights like her mentor, Syrio Forel. So often on TV or in movies, somebody will recognize a fighting style and say something like “Oh, you learned that from (whoever)”, but actually everybody is fighting the same way. This really showed her fighting in a very specific way that we saw her learn.
And man, I am worried about Drogon. Sure, a shoulder wound isn’t necessarily fatal, but you know who died from one? Khal Drogo.
Yeah, chew on that for the weekend.