WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS from Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
Season 7, Episode 4, “The Spoils of War”, is easily one of the best episodes in Game of Thrones history—and that’s saying something. Despite “The Spoils of War” being the shortest episode of the series to date, it had so much was packed into it, and no one should mind it being a few minutes shorter. The ending loot train scene delivered non-stop heart-racing action and chills from start to finish.
“The Spoils of War” started with Jaime and Bronn arguing, sort of like brothers. The commander of the Lannister army handed his knighted sellsword a bag full of gold, but Bronn wanted to know where his big castle was (and if he could just have High Garden). Bronn probably just didn’t feel like fighting in the war, even though he’s good at it, and wanted to live and do as he pleases in a castle. While Jaime promised to give Bronn the choice of any castle he wants after the war is won, while reminding him a Lannister always pays his debts, Bronn wasn’t too thrilled about it—but he clearly showed later that he is 100% committed to the war effort.
Meanwhile, Cersei was waiting for the gold from High Garden to arrive at the Red Keep, promising Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank that it would be arriving soon. Tycho was very impressed with Cersei and told her he always considered Tywin an “effective and efficient man,” but Cersei is “redefining those terms entirely.” The ruthless Lannister told Tycho she has made overtures to the Golden Company, which if you aren’t aware, are 10,000 highly skilled soldiers from Essos—Davos suggested Stannis hire them in Season 4. They would be quite the ally for Cersei.
In the North, Arya finally returned home to Winterfell, the last of the alive Stark children to return (sadly, Robb never did get to return to his home). The shot capturing the young Stark looking at Winterfell stirs emotion because it encapsulated everything she’s been through—witnessing her father die, being so close to her mother and brother at the Red Wedding—on her way back. When she went to enter the castle, she wasn’t recognized as a Stark. As said on the “Inside the Episode”, they drew from the Oddyssey—the story of Odysseus, who had a 20-year journey away from home and was not recognized when he returned—for Arya’s return. Like Odysseus, Arya herself also didn’t recognize some things about her home—and likely had no idea about some of the things that went down there while she was away.
Then we got the second Stark reunion in two weeks, with Sansa going into the crypt because she knew her little sister would be there after she disappeared from the “guards.” The two never had the greatest relationship, and there was still some tension between them, but they both had to respect each other’s journey to get to where they are. After all, as Arya says, they’re not dead—unlike most people that knew their father’s face.
Arya’s reunion with Bran was less impassioned, as the Three Eyed Raven is emotionally unattached after all he’s seen. The earlier scene in the episode, with Meera and Bran, displays the ice-cold heart Bran now has—and it also explains why he’s that way. He has seen so much that else that it’s hard to be himself anymore. Meera probably summed it up fairly when she told him “you died in that cave.”
Bran did give Arya a gift: the dagger which he received from Littlefinger—it was the one back from Season 1 that was used to try and finish the job and kill Bran. The intentions of Littlefinger are unclear in giving Bran the dagger, but he probably just wants to get on the young Stark’s good side. Arya will happily put the dagger to good use, though, just as she did when sparring with Brienne—who she kind of beat. Arya is quite impressive, and if she can handle her own against Brienne, she can probably matchup with almost anyone in the Seven Kingdoms.
Jon Snow was happy to find the mountain of dragonglass in the millennials-old caves and wanted to show it—and the old cave paintings—to Daenerys. The dragonglass is important to fight the White Walkers, but the cave paintings by the Children of the Forest might be even more important. There were swirly symbols along the cave walls, but the major point was the area that showed the Children of the Forest and the First Men together, before Jon steered Daenerys towards the painting of the White Walkers.
The King in the North told Dany that like the Children of the Forest and the First Men came together thousands of years ago to fight the White Walkers, “we must do the same if we’re going to survive.” It was a convincing argument from King Jon (or King Snow?), as seeing the depiction of the White Walkers in the cave probably convinced Daenerys the enemy up north is real. Queen Daenerys told Jon, who when asked says he doesn’t think he can win without Dany’s army and her dragons, she would fight for the North and help against White Walkers…when he bends the knee.
Thinking of his people in the North, Jon told Dany they won’t accept a Southern ruler, to which Daenerys replied, “they will if their king does. They chose you to lead them. They chose you to protect them. Isn’t their survival more important than your pride?” Like last week, the connection between the two is there, and has grown—they are both clearly interested in one another. It’s a little strange, considering Daenerys is Jon’s aunt, but they don’t know that.
When they exit the cave, there’s some news presented as being good (the Unsullied took Casterly Rock) and some terrible news (the Lannisters took High Garden, making the taking of Casterly Rock almost trivial). Daenerys was incensed—perhaps the angriest she’s ever been—and rightfully lashed out at Tyrion, who’s war plan against Daenerys’ enemies (and his family, as Dany points out) has been a disaster.
The Mother of Dragons looked out at her children and decided she had enough: “Enough with the clever plans. I have three large dragons, I’m flying them to the Red Keep.” Tyrion strongly advised against this once again, but Dany basically demanded Jon give his thoughts on the matter. The King in the North agreed with Tyrion by telling Daenerys she can really change things and make life better for people, but if she uses her dragons to melt castles and burn cities, then “you’re just more of the same.”
The later conversation at Dragonstone between Jon and Ser Davos was a funny one. It was obvious Jon likes Daenerys when Davos asked him what he thinks of her, and Jon tried to play it cool by asking “who?” as if it wasn’t the Mother of Dragons his advisor was asking about. But the best part was when Davos, under his breath, corrected Jon on his grammar (fewer vs. less)—it was the same exact way Stannis corrected Davos all the way back in Season 2.
It’s also funny that Davos tried to hit on Missandei again, but it was important what Missandei said when explaining what an amazing leader her Queen is. Davos joked to Jon, “will you forgive me if I switch sides?” because Daenerys’ leadership is undeniable. But Jon’s is too. The simple solution to the problem of bending the knee is marriage. If Jon and Daenerys—two fair-minded people and beloved leaders—come together as King and Queen, it could unite the Seven Kingdoms if they are able to defeat Cersei and the White Walkers. Of course, the North would need convincing, but it’s hard not to be impressed by Dany when you see all she’s done (and she has three large dragons).
The Greyjoy ship, with Theon, arrived back at Dragonstone, where they were met by Jon, Davos, Missandei, and some Dothraki. The King in the North, who was clearly in command of the island, told the surprised Theon “what you did for [Sansa] is the only reason I’m not killing you.” Despite Theon turning on the Starks, it’s hard not to feel a little bit bad for him—given all he’s been throughand the fact that he literally has no friends. Theon asked where Queen Daenerys is because he needs help getting Yara back, but as Jon said, “the Queen is gone.”
And then started exhilarating and heart-pounding final scene of “The Spoils of War.” Daenerys took Jon’s advice and decided not to go to the Red Keep to melt castles and burn cities, but no one said anything about not wiping out enemy armies. The inspiring queen deserves a lot of credit for putting her life on the line and personally leading—along with Drogon—the Dothraki army into battle.
When Bronn first hears the horses in the distance and tells Jaime and Dickon to listen, before they all scatter and prepare to fight the Dothraki, it instantly sends chills to the viewer—those chills last and escalate until the final moments of the episode.
It’s hard to imagine the scene could have been any more well done. The Dothraki yelling and approaching was one thing—and Jaime also deserves a lot of credit for staying to fight with his army, despite Bronn telling him and giving him the opportunity to get back to King’s Landing safely. But right when Jaime says “we can hold them off,” Daenerys comes flying in on Drogon, inspiring fright and awe in Jaime, Bronn, and the entire army. Seeing Jaime’s head snap around when he hears Drogon screech was pitch-perfect.
That. Entire. Scene. Was. Crazy. Seeing Daenerys yelling “Dracarys” and laying waste to dozens of soldiers at once by burning them alive was simply wild, as was the entire battle from start to finish. It was one of those scenes, like with “The Rains of Castamere” and with “Hardhome”, where you are left speechless after the episode.
This was the first battle scene where two of the main characters of the series are fighting on opposite sides. Early in the series, Jaime and Robb fought in battle, but it wasn’t shown on screen; and now we’re in the penultimate season of Game of Thrones, with Daenerys and Jaime still alive for a reason.
Towards the end of the battle, Bronn again showed he was a great and underrated ally to the Lannisters when he navigated through the destruction to get to the scorpion—the giant crossbow used to shoot at dragons. Bronn shooting at Daenerys and Drogon somehow upped the intensity of the end of the episode. At first, I thought Drogon was going to get shot and die, then I thought maybe Bronn would be killed, and I even thought the cross-bow might hit and kill Daenerys. When Drogon was drilled in the shoulder, it showed the scorpion can be extremely effective against dragons—and a shot to the head or a more direct body shot with it would probably kill them.
I didn’t think it was possible, but the intensity got even higher when Dany got off Drogon to pull the bow out of his shoulder and Jaime was within site with a seemingly open attack on the Targaryen. Tyrion was overlooking the battle with some Dothraki soldiers (one of which told Tyrion, “your people can’t fight”) and saw both Jaime and Daenerys (helping Drogon) standing there. Tyrion was obviously conflicted about the entire battle, and was, to himself, saying “flee, you idiot”—despite Jaime being on the opposite side, he didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. This obviously isn’t good long-term for Daenerys if her Hand doesn’t want anything bad to happen to the top commander of her enemies.
The Kingslayer, on horseback, saw a spear and decided to try and end the Targaryen queen right then and there. Daenerys had her back turned, and it was eerily similar to when Jaime stabbed the Mad King, her father, in the back to kill him. At this point, when Jaime said “c’mon boy” to his horse, most people probably thought either Jaime or Daenerys were about to die—I certainly did, and I wasn’t sure which one it would be.
When Jaime got closer, we saw the near-helpless face on Dany’s face; that is, until Drogon curled around and opened his giant mouth to blast fire at the shocked and helpless Jaime. But at the last moment, Bronn might have saved the day for the Lannisters by tackling Jaime away from the fire shooting out of Drogon’s mouth.
We are now left with a cliffhanger, as Jaime was descending in the water (without his hand), and it’s unclear if he’s dead or alive. His charge at Daenerys and the subsequent protection by Drogon was a stunning several seconds to end one of the greatest scenes in television history and one of the best episodes of Game of Thrones. The screen perfectly cutting to black for the initially-silent credits lets you sit there and try to fathom what just occurred.