With the world of Westeros shrinking, it was a night of reunions both bitter and sweet on “Game of Thrones” Season 7, episode 4. With the battle for the Iron Throne in full swing, some decisive moves needed to be made, and the end result was one of the most thrilling, albeit short, episodes of the series with "The Spoils of War."
[Spoiler Alert: The remainder of this article will disucss Season 7, episode 4]
The episode opens with Jaime and Bronn dividing the spoils of their victory at Highgarden. Jaime is visibly upset after Lady Olenna revealed that she was responsible for Joffrey’s death, not his brother Tyrion. Bronn, being more than just your ordinary sellsword, realizes something is up, but can’t get his friend to talk. No matter, he’s much more interested in the castle he was promised, despite just getting handed a fat sack of gold. Still, with the Lannister’s victory only comes stabilization, not wealth thanks to their debts.
In King’s Landing, Jaime’s sister Cersei is being praised by the envoy from the Iron Bank, who never expected the Lannister’s house words to be so poignant. With the full support of the Iron Bank and two out of three of her enemy’s allies crippled, Cersei is feeling pretty good about her chances of winning this war. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on where your loyalties lie at this point) that feeling won’t last long.
Meanwhile, it was time for a Stark reunion in Winterfell that wasn't completely awkward. Fans will remember Brandon returned home last week, only to be morbid and more than a little creepy to Sansa. There was speculation that his time studying under the Three Eyed Raven had changed his perspective, and that was confirmed this episode. However, it was revealed that all that might not be the worst - sister creeping notwithstanding.
Littlefinger, who orchestrated the demise of the Stark family behind the scenes throughout the early seasons, is trying to win over the Stark heir by presenting him the Valyrian steel dagger that was once used by a cutthroat to try to kill him. In the talk, Bran reveals that his sight seeing adventures have revealed all of Littlefinger’s misdeeds, and he uses his phrase “Chaos is a ladder,” to prove it. One has to wonder what Bran knows that we don’t, because if you show your hand to a man like Littlefinger, he’s going to try to outplay you.
Sansa tells him as much when they speak, but there’s bigger fish to fry than Baelish in that moment. After years, more trials and tribulations than one can count and a whole lot of close calls, Arya Stark finally slipped back through the gates of Winterfell for the first time since leaving with her father in Season 1. After some expert word chess with the guards, she takes a moment to take in the sights of her home, complete with Stark banners flying high. It’s at this point we have to acknowledge that this is just a TV show, these are fictional characters and this release of good feelings and relief being experienced at seeing Arya home is nothing but a testament to the journey George R.R. Martin and the creators of the series have taken fans on.
When she approaches Bran, he gifts her the dagger. This allows Arya to join the ranks of Jon, Brienne, Jaime and Sam in the club of people who wield a weapon that can kill White Walkers. This dagger came in handy in the next scene, which was by far one of the coolest throwaways in the series’ history. Seeing Brienne and Podrick sparring, Arya asks if she can join. Brienne initially offers to get her another sparring partner, but Arya reminds her that she saw her defeat The Hound and doesn’t want to be trained by some silver medalist. This girl goes for gold. In a scene that’s too visually stunning for words, the duo fight to a draw. It’s at this point the show confirms what most fans already knew - Arya Stark is a force to be reckoned with, as much of a hero as Jon, Jaime and others.
Speaking of Jon Snow, he’s apparently gained a heck of a skill for negotiation since last week. Upon discovering the deposit of dragon glass. He takes Daenerys to it and shows her something he discovered in a cave. The Children, the earliest life known to the kingdom, had sketched on the walls of the cave the history of them cooperating with mankind to defeat the White Walkers. Impassioned, but still aware of her mission, Daenerys pledges to help Jon and fight beside the North… on the condition he bends the knee. It’s a real sticking point for her. The problem is, Jon still can’t do that without losing the support of the North.
They put a pin in that discussion when Tyrion arrives with news of Casterly Rock. Upon hearing the news of her army’s grand defeat, Daenerys is not only ready to take bold action, she’s ready to let Jon and Ser Davos in on the planning. Her first thought is to fly her dragons to King’s Landing and fry her enemies in the Red Keep. However, Jon becomes the third person to remind her that she’d be no different than the people she’s been trying to remove from power if she just leaves a path of charred bodies in her wake. Still, that doesn’t mean she’s going to sit completely idle. She has the fantasy equivilant of three nukes, and after 2 tough defeats, it's time to use them.
Later, Jon and Davos are having a nice chat with Missandei when Theon Greyjoy drags himself back to Dragonstone. He claims to be there to ask the queen to help him launch a rescue for his sister, but Jon doesn’t buy it. Frankly, after what he did, the King in the North tells Theon that he’s only alive for his role in helping Sansa escape Ramsey. It seems, no matter what he does, Theon has a knack for getting off scot free… except for the years with Ramsey that is - he’s a tough character to love.
In any case, nothing has really changed back in Dragonstone. Jon is mining the glass to bring back north, and Daenerys is still getting her rear end kicked up and down Westeros. However, that all changes when she lands her first victory. Sure, flying to a city populated with civilians isn’t the right way to win the hearts of the people, but Lannister soldiers, in open field… it’s kind of a no-brainer.
As Jaime is commenting on how thin his soldiers are spread as they caravan back to King’s Landing, Bronn, everyone’s favorite cutthroat, hears something in the distance. Before long, the Lannisters find themselves staring at an oncoming Dothraki horde. No one in Westeros had ever seen anything like this, and it wouldn’t be the first once-in-a-lifetime sight that day. Daenerys personally flies one of her dragons over the horizon and starts roasting the army. The situation is out of control in a big hurry, but Jaime isn’t just any commander. He tells a reluctant Bronn to man the ballista that Cersei had developed for this exact situation.
Bronn, who reminded us at the beginning of the episode that he’s come a long way from the man who volunteered to fight for Tyrion on a lark and would go on to become the hero of Blackwater Bay. Bronn is everyone, he’s low born dealing with high born stakes and that makes him a bit of a fan favorite. As a result, it was tense to see him battle his way to the weapon and square off with an honest to goodness dragon - something no one has done in a literal lifetime. Fortunately for fans of Bronn, he can now add “shooting a dragon out of the sky” to his resume. Give this man a castle!
With Daenerys on the ropes, Jaime sees an opportunity to take out the queen. He charges headlong at her, but is quickly reminded that a wounded dragon is by no means a dead dragon.
Just when he’s about to get killed, with his loving brother Tyrion watching from the top of a hill, Bronn makes another heroic move and saves him. The episode ends with the two sinking to the bottom of a pond. They seem to be alive, but when their heads come up, they’ll be face-to-face with the Dothraki, a dragon and one righteously upset queen Targaryen.