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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 4 Recap: ‘The Spoils of War’

Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, and Maisie Williams. Helen Sloan – HBO. Acquired via HBO PR Rep.

‘Game of Thrones’ showed that war is rewarding in riches, but that such things come at a great price.

It was a strange week to be a Game of Thrones fan. First, we had the HBO hack that released this week’s episode’s script. That was bad enough as spoilers began cropping up everywhere. And then, as if from the Garden of Eden itself, the full episode was leaked online – completely unrelated to the initial hack, no less. The moral choice of what to do weighed on the fandom. No judgement to those who did watch and major kudos to those who managed to stick it out until the usual Sunday time-slot.

This was the shortest episode in the history of the series, and while that seemed ominous at first, it’s clear that Game of Thrones can get just as much done, with the same amount of excitement in what felt like a more condescend time frame.

Last week went lighter on the action in favor of maneuvers from all sides. Not that I’m complaining. I often prefer the quieter moments to the sweeping spectacle. There’s always a deeper meaning to those scenes that requires multiple frame-by-frame rewatches… No? Just me? Oh, okay that actually explains a lot. Where Game of Thrones has learned to be concise I’ve only found more to talk about. And as we head into the final half of the season (*crying emoji*) the theories are getting even more intense (but seriously, is Bran the Night’s King? hmmmmm). Of course, there’s always time for speculation! Unless Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) manipulates time so much that there isn’t. But assuming that everything isn’t happening at once for the majority of the GoT watching populace.

Here and now, “The Spoils of War” had a big action moment, the kind that everyone shouts about the next day because well…dragons.

The Spoils of War Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4

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This episode was totally aces in my book. It had Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). It had Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) albeit not together. But still, if they knew what each other was up to, they’d have been so proud! This is the part where I tell you that “Spoilers are coming.” So if that’s something you want to avoid you should probably stop reading now. To protect your potentially unsullied eyes I’ve included a fun video! My joke this week was to keep sending gifs of Kit Harington from his skit on Jimmy Kimmel because that’s exactly how it would have looked if I had read the leaked script. For everyone else happy second-viewing (don’t pretend you didn’t watch it! I see you!)

And so our watch begins.

I thought we’d try something a little different this week and instead of breaking down the episode by location I’d break it down by character. Not sure if this will hold up for this week, with everyone in pretty much the same places for once, it definitely makes sense.

Arya

I’ve chosen to start with everyone’s favorite assassin because Arya (Maisie Williams) finally returned home! It was a long overdue reunion. And when she sat inside the walls of the home she had left what feels like lifetimes ago, everything looked the same and yet everything could not be more different. The bittersweet feeling was almost calming. I know I sighed with relief while Arya waited for the nitwit guards to decide who would go tell Sansa (Sophie Turner).

Sansa for her part very much existed within Arya’s scenes in this episode not really having much of a moment to herself. The girls’ reunion went exactly as expected. It’s so nice seeing Sansa get to hug people so often. Don’t take that away from her!

She and Arya reunite in the crypts in front of Ned’s burial site and all I kept hearing was his quote from the first book:

“Let me tell you something about wolves, child. When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. Summer is the time for squabbles. In winter, were must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths. So if you hate, Arya, hate those who would truly do us harm […] Sansa is your sister. You may be as different as the sun and the moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts. You need her, as she needs you…”

Literally there are tears in my eyes as I type this. It’s even more interesting since we heard the first part of the quote is the same lines from the voiceover by Sansa in the trailers. The importance of this reunion cannot be overstated and it was beyond emotionally rewarding. There was even levity to the whole scene between the two sister who in the past did not get along so well. Arya asked if she had to call Sansa “Lady Stark” and Sansa responded with a rather deadpan, “Yes.” But the geniality behind it was so raw. They hug and it’s wonderful. And they share. Not quite their whole tale but that they both have been through a rather unhappy ordeal. Arya even asks if Sansa killed Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). And then mentions her kill list.

Then Sansa takes Arya to see Bran – there’s plenty to discuss about him – so I’ll keep it short and just saw that he gives her the Catspaw dagger. Arya seems less phased by Bran’s state. The fact that she was originally heading to kill Cersei (Lena Headey) comes up and Sansa looks legitimately concerned about the names on this list and exactly how many people Arya has killed.

This feeling is reiterated when Arya and Brienne spectacularly face-off in a training session. Pod (Daniel Portman) is basically the audience in this scene looking on with such glee! It was fascinating watching the two women’s fighting styles. They’re equally matched in some ways. Both looked like they were enjoying themselves. Brienne hasn’t seen much action with a worthy sparing partner and Arya was just in her element.

Sansa and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) looked on with very different expressions. The former – according to David Benioff in the GoT extras after the episode explained that she’s concerned for her sister’s penchant for violence and killing. Awww, Sansa cares about what the life Arya has been living has done to her humanity!

Littlefinger

What a busy little worker bee Lord Baelish was this episode. Attempting to buzz into Bran’s ear. Except the Three-Eyed Raven, himself shooketh the Lord of the Vale. His weepy little facade of “I’m doing the work your mother would have wanted by protecting her children” was not lost of Bran – who for his part seems rather lost in his own thoughts, it’s hard being the last of the Time Lords. He threw back Littlefinger’s most iconic words, “Chaos is a ladder”, which incidentally has come up as a whole bunch along with the whole “King of ashes” line. Is Game of Thrones hinting at something? Or trying to make us watch one hand while the other kills us in our sleep…Oh whoa! That got dark.

Still, the Catspaw dagger does bring up some interesting feelings. The plot to kill Bran was a long and winding road. I remember watching Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) stop Bran’s would-be killer. She took that dagger with her bare hands. It was an amazing moment so early on and really established the kind of woman Catelyn was (I miss her can we have Lady Stoneheart pleaaasseeeee?).

What was more interesting was Littlefinger’s reaction to the Arya/Brienne parrying. He looked… Pleased? Concerned? Bit of both? The man displays his emotions pretty clearly but that rarely invites you into his thoughts. He definitely saw that Arya now has the dagger and he didn’t seem all theatsurprised.

Speaking of which, Sansa was pretty upset about the fact that Littlefinger gave it to Bran. She wisely concealed that he doesn’t give things away for just anything and was concerned about what he might want. Bran assured her that he didn’t ask for anything, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get it anyway.

It’s worth noting that the look didn’t go unnoticed by Brienne. She’s watching Petyr whether he knows it or not and I am confident she’s prepared to kill him if he lays one hand on Sansa. I’m not too worried since Jon definitely covered that before he headed off to Dragonstone.

Jon

Sadly, our King in the North was not home to welcome Arya, but oh how exciting it will be when he does (by the old gods and the new if Jon doesn’t get home for that reunion the HBO hack will be the literal least of Benioff and Weiss’ problems and that’s just from having 5 ft. me at their door).

The good news is the dragonglass caves were legit. They’ll have all they’ll ever need once they start mining it. But before that, Jon takes Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) into the caves. To show her something. NO! It. Is. Not. What. Dat. Mouth. Do. Yes, Jon has a history with caves. But I don’t care what the showrunners say, those two hate each other and before you turn around and go “Oh but, Julie, you ship Jaime and Brienne and they hated each other.” Those two were attracted to each other form the start. And while Jaime didn’t like it he admired Brine’s convictions and her sense of honor. They built a trust after Jaime SELFLESSLY prevented her rape losing his sword hand and practically his entire identity in the process. Jaime confided in Brienne, which reinforced her conflicted feelings. That will never happen with Jon and Dany.

He is a direct threat to her reign and she will not accept that he is a Targaryen. In any case, Jon takes her into the caves where it wasn’t at all intimate like when Lord Snow broke a couple of Night’s Watch vows and lost his virginity. He knew something that night. And you know what, he knows something now. And Dany is a hard-headed brat. She is a child and Jon was so done with her.

Jon shows her again, evidence of something that shouldn’t exist but does exist. And Dany gets all sultry like she cares and promises to fight with Jon. Except he has to bend the knee first. Listen, I don’t keep meaning to bring it up, but like if Infinity Stones existed in Westeros, Dany would wield the Tesseract with like zero remorse. The Mother of Dragons is savage af and I don’t mean that she offers up some serious burns (that’s Drogon’s job anyway). I mean she’s literally savage.

AND ANOTHER THING! As if the whole scene wasn’t enough to make you roll your eyes into next Sunday she accuses Jon of having pride (and yes it’s the same thing that Jon had said to Mance but Jon united people and didn’t ask to be their leader) that prevents him from kneeling. Says the person who is withholding help from a pretty damn scary threat. The same person who is demanding that she be named the rightful queen of literally everything before she prevents the end of the world. Dany, seriously, why are you like this?

I mean, in the interest of being unbiased it’s worth mentioning that moments later she does ask Jon’s opinion about what do. And then she does the complete opposite. Jon had some really sage wisdom and I wouldn’t be surprised if Varys (Conleth Hill) and/or Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) end up switching allegiances.

In other Westeros headline news, Theon (Alfie Allen) returns to Dragonstone to ask Dany for help rescuing Yara (Gemma Whelan). He instead meets Jon who tells Ned’s former steward that it’s because of what he did for Sansa that he’s alive. Now there’s someone who is definitely going to end up fighting with House Stark. Also, when Jon threatens people, it makes me really happy because it actually accomplishes things. When Dany threatens people there ends up being fire and blood.

Davos

Davos (Liam Cunningham) was my favorite part of the whole episode! As an ex-smuggler who once couldn’t read he’s now out and about correcting the grammar of kings. Stannis (Stephen Dillane) might live on in infamy but the best parts of him are being remembered in the best kind of way. Stannis, who once walked the very halls of Dragonstone.

Stannis who for a while there was the realms best chance (see I know what it feels like to have to find new leadership in this world after said leader disappoints you and crosses that boundary from morally ambiguous with good intentions into straight up bad guy with no redeeming qualities and it’s why I am concerned for Dany fans when she inevitably does the same). His love of grammar lives on and I love that Davos quoted him to correct Jon and then brushed it off when Jon says, “What?” In a long list of things I didn’t ask for but Game of Thrones gave us anyone this one might just take tops.

And that doesn’t even count the fact that he started the whole conversation with a very pointed “I believe you know of whom I speak.” I would absolutely watch an entire episode Davos Seaworth giving a grammar lesson.

And aside from all the proper syntax that made the scene so sexy (yes I said it!) the conversation is incredibly revealing too. Davos asks Jon his opinion of Dany. Jon says that he believes that Dany has a good heart and Davos tries to insinuate that that’s not what Jon has been staring at. Jon for his part is like “There’s no time for that” and he’s right. Jorah (Iain Glen) is on his way back to Khaleesi and he would not be pleased to find Jon and Dany doing the do (I have the maturity of a nine-year old about sex). I wouldn’t either, because ewww.

They happen upon Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is staring out into the Blackwater, worrying. Davos corrects her when she calls Jon Lord Snow but both names sound weird after the King title. Jon dgaf. It does provide an interesting conversation. Bastards don’t exist in Naath because marriage doesn’t exist.

Jon takes the opportunity to find out why she left her home. And Davos asks how a slave girl came to advise Dany. Davos asks the important questions about Missandei’s freedom in serving Dany. She serves Dany because she believes in her but she also knows that if she wanted to sail home Dany wouldn’t fight it (they have a rather genuine friendship but I am as skeptical as Jon).

Missandei gives an impassioned speech about why she and others believe in Dany. It’s interesting because she says, “She’s the Queen we chose,” which is quite similar to Jon’s story. Davos breaks up the moment with a hilarious quip of switching sides.

Daenerys

She takes Drogon to Highgarden to start winning the war. She foolishly burns grain, which was more valuable than the gold Cersei needed to pay off the Iron Bank. It was childish and showed a considerable lack of thinking just to win a battle.

Worse, she looked positively thrilled with all the destruction. It was terrifying. Tyrion certainly looked concerned. And on that note we got a glimpse of that brotherly love he and Jaime have always shared.

It was a pretty epic spectacle, but I don’t think Dany helped her cause much. And it was pretty stupid to try to remove the arrow amid the battle.

Jaime

This is a Jaime section featuring Bronn (Jerome Flynn). After merely a glimpse of everyone’s favorite crooning sellsword last week, we were given much more. He may have started the episode whining about his lack of a castle amid a considerable amount of riches. But when push came to shove Bronn pulled through. He may not have what he wants, but he can probably, at the very least, start calling himself a Dragonslayer!

Bronn makes a point of trying to convince Jaime to leave but Jaime refuses to abandon his men. These men with their perceived lack of honor showed it in spades tonight. Dickon (Tom Hopper) also earned some cred this episode for rescuing Jaime.

It’s a really dirty fight with lots of horses getting hurt (which hurt my heart) and all the fire and sword fighting. The intensity was only matched by the fact that Jaime was in the thick of it all. I know I learned a valuable lesson tonight. It’s that when Jaime does eventually die (of old age in the arms of the woman he loves) I will not take it well. While I understood why he tried to take the opening and go after Dany, it wasn’t the brightest move. Thankfully Bronn came to the rescue.

Three-Eyed Raven Observations:

  • Cersei was hanging out with Tycho Nesters (Mark Gatiss). The Iron Bank won’t be too happy when she doesn’t deliver on her debts.
  • Meere (Ellie Kendrick) left Bran. I hope this isn’t the last we see of her. Her father Howland does know the truth about Jon. But I seriously wanted her to be friends with Sansa!
  • I’m not so sure Dany will be interested in rescuing Yara. It’s not Jon’s fight and the Greyjoys don’t have much to offer but I could see Jon agreeing to help more. Theon owes Robb. He should have fought alongside him. I expect him to sacrifice himself for a Stark.
  • Clegane Bowl: It’s been so long since we’ve seen anyone from the BWB. They were headed to The Wall last we saw but it should be interesting if they should find themselves at Winterfell since Beric (Richard Dormer) and Thoros (Paul Kaye) are both on Arya’s list.
  • Death ScorecardThis episode broke a record for people on fire. And so yeah like tons of soldiers. Maybe Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner). It was hard to tell but he certainly appeared to be on fire. Possibly Bronn and/or Dickon depending on who rescued Jaime. Definitely not Jaime though. Hopefully things will be a bit clearer next week.
  • Ice Dragon: It’s feeling more probable. Not that we’ll ever know since Bran doesn’t explain anything.
  • Gendry Watch: WHERE IS HE? We have so few episodes left but he has to be coming right? RIGHT?
  • Jorah/Dany Reunion: That feels like it’s happening right? Maybe sooner than we think?
  • Jon/Arya Reunion: Oh my heart! I am most looking forward to this!

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Be sure to tune in!

And be sure to check out all the great GoT content we’ll be rolling out weekly! What did you think of the of the episode? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments!