***Spoiler Warning – This recap article has spoilers from the episode.***
“The Spoils of War” opens as the Lannister army departs from Highgarden with their “loot train” of wagons in tow. The train comes to a halt as Jaime opens up one of the wagons filled with the Tyrell gold that will soon allow the Lannisters to repay their debt to the Iron Bank. As Jaime hands off a bag to Bronn, Bronn inquires as to why Jaime is so morose…but after the ordeal with Olenna, Jaime is reluctant to give him an answer (I mean, she did just reveal that she was the one who poisoned Joffrey, so I can see why Jaime wouldn’t be too thrilled to talk about it…especially since Tyrion took the fall for that and all). After some banter between Bronn and Jaime about Bronn being gifted a castle once the war has been won, the Tarlys approach, confirming that the Tyrell granaries have been emptied and are currently being loaded into wagons.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Cersei meets with Tycho Nestoris, who is impressed with her speed in returning the gold to the Iron Bank. Cersei confirms that the gold is on its way to the city from the Reach and reveals that her main now goal is to re-establish control of Westeros. Nestoris promises that the Bank will support her…but only once their gold has been safely received.
At Winterfell, Littlefinger gifts Bran with a Valyrian steel dagger – the same dagger that the assassin from season one used to try and kill him (of course, both Catelyn and Summer intervened, killing the cutthroat). Littlefinger goes on to lament Cat’s death, claiming that he wishes there was something he could have done to save her…but that at least he is here now to help protect her children (yeah…right).
Bran asks Littlefinger if he knows who the dagger belonged to, but Littlefinger claims he doesn’t (which I don’t believe for a second…and I’m thinking that Bran doesn’t, either). However, he does note that the dagger is, in a sense, the object that started the War of the Five Kings (note that Littlefinger was the one who told Catelyn the dagger belonged to Tyrion, prompting her to take Tyrion hostage back in season one – which was, essentially, the move that started the war.). As such, the dagger is also what prompted Bran’s journey.
“To go through all of that and make your way home again, only to find such chaos in the world,” Littlefinger begins, “I can only imagine…”
“Chaos is a ladder,” Bran interrupts, throwing Littlefinger’s own words from season three back at him (viewers may recall that he states this in a long speech to Varys at the end of episode 3.06: “The Climb”). Shock registers on Littlefinger’s face (and mine too, because that use of Bran’s Three-Eyed Raven skills was AWESOME).
Suddenly, Meera enters the room, and Littlefinger quickly departs. After commenting on Bran’s new wheelchair, she reveals that she is heading home now that Bran is safely back at Winterfell. Bran confirms that he doesn’t need her anymore, offering her a simple and underwhelming “thank you.” Clearly hurt by this, Meera reminds Bran that Hodor, Summer, and Jojen (her own brother) all died for Bran, and that she herself almost died for Bran. However, Bran claims that he’s not really himself anymore.
“I remember what it felt like to be Brandon Stark,” he says, “but I remember so much else now.”
“You died in that cave,” Meera replies, exiting tearfully (though to be honest, her words ring true to me, because I’ve been thinking the same thing ever since Bran’s interaction with Sansa in episode three last week).
Meanwhile, Arya arrives at Winterfell on horseback. As she approaches the gates, the guards put up resistance, laughing and telling her that Arya Stark is dead. She asks them to check her identity with Ser Rodrik or with Maester Luwin; however, they do not recognize either of those names (after all, Winterfell now has a new arms master and maester, since both Rodrik and Luwin died back in season two when Theon took the castle from the Starks). Discovering that that Sansa is the person in charge of Winterfell while Jon is away, Arya demands entry into the castle; after all, she argues that if she is in fact Arya Stark, Sansa won’t be happy that her own sister was turned away at the gates. At this, the guards allow her to enter, instructing her to sit off to the side for a moment; however, as they argue about what to do next, they turn around – and she’s gone.
Inside, the guards explain to Sansa that a girl claiming to be Arya was at the gates asking for Ser Rodrik and Maester Luwin. Realizing that this really is Arya, Sansa calls off any search because she knows where to find her: the crypts beneath Winterfell.
Sansa heads down to the crypts and finds Arya at Ned’s grave, where the two hug. Arya tells Sansa that leadership suits her, and Sansa replies by saying that she can’t wait for Jon to return because he’ll be even more excited to see Arya after all this time than he was to see her. Arya inquires as to whether or not Sansa actually killed Joffrey; Sansa confirms that she didn’t (though both sisters state that they wish they had been the one to do the deed). Revealing her kill list to Sansa, Arya states that Joffrey’s name was always first…but Sansa laughs, seeming to think her sister’s “list” is a joke. After the two commiserate over their experiences a bit, Sansa reveals to Arya that Bran is home, too…but it is written all over her face that something is not right, and Arya take notice of this.
At the Weirwood tree, all three surviving Stark siblings reunite, with Arya hugging Bran. Bran tells Arya that he saw her at the Crossroads Inn, which confuses Arya…but Sansa tells her about Bran’s visions. Bran states that he thought Arya would head for King’s Landing instead of Winterfell, since Cersei is on her kill list. Taking this in and realizing that it may be real, Sansa asks Arya who else is on her “list.”
“Most of them are dead already,” Arya says.
Bran pulls out the Valyrian steel dagger, showing it to his sisters and telling them that it was Littlefinger who gave it to him. Sansa voices her concern, stating that Littlefinger would only make such a move if he had something to gain from it, but Bran doesn’t think it matters because he doesn’t want the dagger anyway…and he gives it to Arya.
Back in the courtyard of the castle, Arya wheels Bran in his new chair, with Sansa following along behind them. Brienne and Podrick look on, with Pod noting that Catelyn Stark would have been proud that Brienne kept her vow; after all, both Stark sisters are now safely back home. But on the walkways above, Littlefinger stares creepily down at the three Stark children (making me think that “safe” is a relative term here).
Elsewhere, on the stairs outside Dragonstone, Dany and Missandei walk together, with Dany confirming that there has been no word yet from the Unsullied re: Casterly Rock. After Missandei voices her concern, and Dany inquires about her relationship with Grey Worm – but before they can get too far into the conversation, Dany is called onto the beach by Jon.
Both women follow Jon to the entrance to the underground cave and he leads them in, allowing them to have a good look at the “mountain” of dragonglass before they mine it. However, there is something else that Jon wants Dany to see; she follows him further into the cave, where he reveals drawings that were made by the Children of the Forest. Showing them to Dany by torchlight, he describes how the drawings depict the Children fighting alongside the First Men to defeat a common enemy: the Night King and his army of White Walkers/wights.
From here, Jon implores that he and Dany do the same by putting aside their differences to defeat the Night King. Dany says that she will fight for Jon and the North…but only when he bends the knee to her. Jon claims that the Northerners won’t accept a southern ruler after all that has happened, but Dany argues that they will follow his lead as their king if he bends the knee to her.
“Isn’t their survival more important than your pride?” she asks.
Exiting the cave back onto the beach, Dany, Jon, Missandei and Davos are greeted by Tyrion and Varys, who come bearing the grim news about Casterly Rock. Angered, Dany states that all of her Westerosi allies are now gone. Tyrion argues that they should call the Unsullied back from Casterly Rock and have them set up the blockade against King’s Landing; after all, they will still have enough men to do so.
However, Dany wants to fly her dragons to the Red Keep and take King’s Landing on her own, despite Tyrion’s protests. Dany doesn’t think Tyrion’s strategies have been working thus far, voicing that maybe he doesn’t really want to harm his family after all. She then turns to Jon and asks for his opinion; Jon states that her followers turned to her because they have seen her make the impossible happen – i.e. bringing dragons into the world once again. He says that it’s possible that she’ll lead them all into a new, better world than the one they are currently living in.
“But if you use them to melt castles and burn cities,” he says, indicating the dragons, “you’re not different. You’re just more of the same.”
Back at Winterfell, Brienne and Podrick train in the courtyard. Arya interrupts their session, and Brienne comments on the high quality of Arya’s weapons (the newly obtained Valyrian steel dagger…and Needle, of course). From the walkways above, Sansa and Littlefinger approach, stopping to observe what is transpiring on the ground below them.
Arya asks Brienne to train with her; after all, Brienne beat the Hound in single combat…not to mention that she swore to serve both of Cat’s daughters. Brienne agrees and, with Arya insisting on using Needle, their first session begins. Arya easily dodges Brienne’s cuts, “winning” at their first round. And though the back and forth of their second round becomes heavier – with Arya knocked off her feet by Brienne at one point and Needle eventually being knocked to the ground – Arya still dodges Brienne’s cuts, winning in the end by “pulling” her dagger on Brienne.
“Who taught you how to do that?” Brienne asks, impressed.
“No one,” Arya says. Best. Response. EVER.
Taking this in from above, Sansa watches on uncomfortably, finally seeming to realize the full extent of her sister’s abilities. As she departs, Littlefinger remains behind, still looking on at the scene below. Arya stares back at him; it is written clearly on her face that she doesn’t trust this man.
At Dragonstone, Jon and Davos walk around outside the castle, discussing Dany. Jon claims that he thinks she has a “good heart,” to which Davos makes a joke about noticing Jon staring at her chest during previous interactions. Jon dodges this by stating that there’s no time for that kind of relationship with the threat of the Night King getting so close.
The two soon run into Missandei, who asks Jon about his last name; after all, there is no marriage on Naath (her native island), so the concept of a bastard doesn’t exist. She further discusses her past as a slave with Jon and Davos, telling them that she and everyone there from Essos are loyal to Dany because “she is the queen we chose.”
Just then, a Greyjoy ship arrives; it is Theon and Yara’s other remaining men. As they pull their rowboat to shore on the beach, they are greeted by Jon, Davos, Missandei, and several Dothraki. Jon stares Theon down, and Theon soon inquires as to how Sansa is doing.
“What you did for her is the only reason I’m not killing you,” Jon snarls, grabbing Theon by the shirt..
Regaining his composure, Theon reveals that Euron has taken Yara and that he and the other Greyjoy men have come back to ask Dany to help them set her free. However, Jon tells Theon that Dany is gone. Well, that doesn’t bode well.
Meanwhile, the Lannister “loot train” has stopped on the road to rest. Randyll Tarly approaches Jaime and Bronn, confirming that the wagons containing the gold have made it safely to King’s Landing. However, he advises that they get the remainder of the wagons over the Blackwater by nightfall in case of an attack (though he also advises flogging stragglers, to which Jaime is like…”no.”).
After this, Jaime and Bronn approach Dickon Tarly, Randyll’s son, as Jaime heard that he fought bravely at Highgarden. After some banter, Bronn suddenly hears something off in the distance, telling Jaime to listen; hearing it too, Jaime, Bronn, and Randyll Tarly yell to the army to prepare for battle, the army falling quickly into line.
As they look into the distance, it becomes clear that a horde of Dothraki men are charging toward them on horseback. With the Lannister army holding their spears and shields to create a tightly formed line, Bronn advises that Jaime leave for King’s Landing…but Jaime refuses to abandon his men, thinking that the Dothraki can be held off. Suddenly, they see an image in the sky; it is Drogon, flying with Dany on his back.
“Dracarys,” Dany commands.
Drogon breathes fire onto the Lannister army below, a section of their line being burnt alive. The Dothraki charge through the fire and the charred bodies…and as the fighting commences, they quickly get the better of the Lannister army. Meanwhile, Drogon continues his “scorching” spree by burning the train of wagons to the side.
Attempting to stop the fire from spreading further, Jaime has the Lannister archers shoot arrows at Drogon on his command – though, of course, this does nothing but piss off the dragon, who burns more people alive.
Taking in the severity of the scene at hand, Jaime sends a reluctant Bronn to the dragon-sized scorpion. As Jaime sword fights through the horde of Dothraki with one hand (and with the aid of Dickon Tarly!), Bronn makes his way towards the scorpion. However, a Dothraki man charges in his direction, cutting off his horse’s leg…and sending Bronn tumbling to the ground. In the process, Bronn’s gold falls to the ground – but with the Dothraki man hot on his heels, he leaves it, heading straight for the scorpion (which had to be a painful move for a sellsword). He makes his way through the carnage and manages to get to the scorpion just in time, killing the Dothraki man tailing him with a dragon-sized arrow and re-prepping it to aim for Drogon.
From the sidelines, Tyrion watches on with a few Dothraki, with one of them noting that the Westerosi people (or “Tyrion’s” people) don’t know how to fight. Tyrion takes these words in heavily, observing the horror at hand…and seeing Jaime on the field in the distance.
Similarly, Jaime views the horrifying scene, clearly just as shocked and distraught as his brother; people are on fire, horses are running and screaming, etc. Suddenly, Drogon swoops down, breathing another stream of fire; Jaime yells to his surrounding men to take cover, and the stream misses him (though all the other men are not so lucky).
Nearby, Bronn aims and shoots one arrow from the scorpion, narrowly missing Drogon…but as he resets the scorpion and shoots again, the second hits Drogon’s right wing, just as he is given another “dracarys” command from Dany.
Screaming in agony, Drogon begins to fall from the sky, Dany on his back; Tyrion watches from the sides, grim. However, Drogon is able to pull up before hitting the ground, burning the scorpion (as Bronn jumps out of the way just in time). He lands cleanly, knocking down any remaining wood from the device with his tail.
Climbing down from Drogon’s back, Dany begins to attempt to remove the arrow from his wing…and, observing this from the field, Jaime realizes that he has an opportunity to end things once and for all (cue: my own severe panic).
Tyrion sees Jaime from afar and knows what he is about to do. “Flee, you idiot,” Tyrion says out loud.
But true to Tyrion’s expectations, Jaime charges forward towards Dany on his horse, grabbing a nearby spear from the ground. As he reaches Dany, she turns, shock registering on her face…and Drogon leans his head in front of her, protecting his mother (and in other news, that sound you hear is me screaming). Fear spreading across Jaime’s face, Drogon exhales…but just before the stream of fire can enter Jaime’s path, Bronn knocks him off of his horse into the water below (ahh, I knew I always loved you, Bronn!). Armor-clad and one-handed, Jaime sinks in the water, his fate unclear as the screen fades to black (well…crap).
Personally, I thought that this episode was the epitome of Game of Thrones at its cinematic finest. The visuals in the attack on the “loot train” were stunningly breathtaking and realistic; they left me on the edge of my seat. Moreover, despite the fact that I never enjoy when the story places Jaime in direct danger (he’s my favorite character, so I am obviously agonizing over that cliffhanger), I thought that the interaction between the characters was fascinating within the episode – i.e. Bran and Littlefinger, Sansa and Arya, Brienne and Arya, Jon and Dany, Jon and Theon, Jaime and Bronn, etc. Whether these relationships are new or old, all look like they will have some sort of significance on the story going forward, and I can’t wait to see how that all plays out in season seven’s remaining three episodes.
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