Game of Thrones season 7, episode 4 recap: “The Spoils of War”


“The Spoils of War” easily ranks among the best episodes of Game of Thrones. Our hearts are still pounding.

While last week’s episode of Game of Thrones certainly had the plot twists, this week’s episode brought the pure action rush. The last ten plus minutes took a year off our collective lives, and we don’t know when our hearts will stop pounding. Before the action packed finale, “The Spoils of War” largely consisted a long series of scenes we suspect were written just to make us smile. Not that we’re complaining of course. Minor spoilers follow from this point. And by minor, we mean we’re about to discuss every minute detail. Including the length of Pod’s cape.

We open with a long wide shot of the Lannister forces leaving Highgarden, wagons and wagons of Tyrell gold in tow. Jaime stops a wagon to give Bronn a rather hefty bag of gold, which Jaime considers payment for Bronn’s services. Bronn, being Bronn, kindly reminds Jaime that he was promised a castle and a beautiful wife. And the proceeds to ask for Highgarden, since it’s no longer being used after wiping out the Tyrells. We love Bronn.

The rest of the gold is headed to repay the Iron Bank if the Lannisters can get it there. More on that later. We also get an extended conversation about harvesting the crops of the Reach that involves Randyll and Dickon Tarly. Randyll seems like he should be the one named Dickon. Anyways, the conversation seemed a bit out of place considering the pace we are moving at this season.

We jump up to King’s Landing, where Cersei has notified Tycho Nestoris of her recent acquisition of the Tyrell fortune. Nestoris, like any typical banker, does not seem to want Cersei to actually clear her debt. Interest payments and what not. So naturally, Nestoris suggests a new loan to help Cersei fight her current conflict. Never trust a banker. (Book readers will geek out at the mention of the Golden Company, a famed mercenary army).

Up to the North and Winterfell, we go, where Littlefinger is trying to win favor with Bran. Littlefinger’s gift is the Valyrian steel dagger used in the attempt on Bran’s life back in the second episode of the series. We know it’s Valyrian steel because we are told half a dozen more times during the episode. Anyways, Bran is in full on Spock mode, and couldn’t care less about the dagger. Or Meera Reed when she informs Bran of her intentions to go home. Which was really painful to watch. We’d have slapped Bran if we’d been Meera. We aren’t sure we like Bran’s transformation into the Three Eyed Raven, but we sure liked watching Bran kick Littlefinger in the brain by repeating Littlefinger’s line about “chaos is a ladder.”

Anyways, onto the tears. Happy tears though. After leaving Bran, we caught to Arya, who is cresting a hill overlooking Winterfell. And damn you Ramin Djawadi for playing the Stark family theme in that moment. Pulling at our heart strings. Like any competent movie or show though, we quickly leave the emotions behind as Arya attempts to convince a pair of Winterfell guards who she is. It’s a nice throwback to Arya attempting to enter King’s Landing back in season 1. The humor doesn’t last, however, as Djawadi throws the damn Stark theme back on as Arya surveys the courtyard of Winterfell. Stop playing with our emotions Djawadi! Sidenote, we did not cry. Yet.

We totally cried here. Their reunion wasn’t the most affectionate, but seeing the two sisters together, in front of the statue of their father was too much. Arya’s remarks about the two sister’s journeys, the statue not looking like Ned, and their stories not being over just hit us right in the heart. Gone is the sibling rivalry of old, the one we all have with our siblings as children. In its place is an adult love, an affection born out of the recognition that your family is all you have. Sorry, not sorry.

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After the two sisters reunite, it’s off to meet with Spock, err Bran, err we mean the Three Eyed Raven.  Bran is only slightly more affectionate to Arya than he was with Meera but is still rather distant. Bran does give Arya the Valyrian steel dagger, however, which we are guessing will come in handy later. We enjoyed watching the three siblings attempt to discern Littlefinger’s plan. Or even just talking about what’s for dinner. Stark hugs are the best hugs. Watching the three Stark siblings walk through Winterfell made us cry all over again. Even Brienne was polite to Podrick in this scene.

Elsewhere on Dragonstone, Dany and Missandei have a bit of girl talk. It was at this point that the episode felt oddly not Game of Thrones. There was simply too many good things going on for it to feel quite right. Still, we weren’t complaining. Dany and Missandei’s talk regarding Grey Worm put a smile on our face.

Jon interrupts the fun, though as the King in the North takes Dany down in a cave below Dragonstone. There the two take in a series of cave paintings made by the Children of the Forest. The paintings depict the Children and the First Men fighting the White Walkers. Of course, Jon could have drawn those White Walkers right before Dany came in, but we are going to believe they were there already. The flirtation level between the two monarchs was at a 9 though, especially when you consider Jon loves taking women into caves.

Dany promises that she will fight the White Walkers with Jon if he would only bend the knee. Jon painfully refuses, and it seemed to be less out of pride and more out of pragmatism. Jon believes the lords of the North would disown him if he swears fealty to Daenerys. He’s probably not wrong. Anyways, they table the discussion for now. Bad news has arrived.

Word reaches Dany of the disaster at Casterly Rock and the elimination of House Tyrell. Dany is fuming in this moment, and aims a bit of her fury in Tyrion’s direction, implying that Tyrion’s plans might be designed to spare House Lannister. It’s hurtful, but perhaps true to a degree. Even more stunning though, is Dany’s request for advice from Jon. It appears their relationship is growing deeper by the day. Dany is in favor of unleashing her dragons, something everyone advises against. Guess we’ll see.

Next up, Davos and Jon take a long leisurely walk and discuss matters among themselves. Davos is curious about Jon’s feelings towards Dany, and his remark about Jon always staring at her “heart” was quite clever. Their walk is interrupted, however, as Theon has returned to Dragonstone. Jon nearly throttles Theon but stops for Sansa’s sake. Poor Theon can’t catch a break.

Before we hit the main event, we have one last stop to make. Back in Winterfell, Arya wanders into the courtyard as Brienne is beating the tar out of poor Podrick. Wanting to test herself, or perhaps to put everyone on notice, Arya challenges Brienne to a fight. It might seem like a mismatch on paper, but Arya is a pint sized little ninja at this point, and manages a draw against the brute force that is Brienne. It’s a wonderful fight scene, that ends with Arya declaring that “no one” trained her.

But now it’s time for your hair to be blown back. Or in this case, set on fire. As we warp back to Jaime and the Lannister forces, things are going well enough for about ten seconds. After Randyll rides off to whip some peasants, Jaime, Bronn and Dickon have a rather pleasant conversation. The peaceful mood does not last though, as the group starts to notice something that sounds like thunder. Our words will be insufficient to describe what comes next, but we will try.

Jaime quickly realizes the danger they are about to face and orders the Lannister forces into formation. When the Dothraki crest over the hill, the Lannister forces begin to literally shake in their boots. When Drogon comes swooping down out of the clouds, we’re pretty more than a few of them wet their britches. We know we did.

For there, the battle descends into pure chaos. Drogon and Dany sweep around the battle burning Lannister soldiers to ash at will. It’s at once both awe inspiring and horrifying. Jaime attempts to counter with archers, which have no effect on Drogon. Jaime and Bronn quickly realize they are in deep trouble, but thankfully brought one of Qyburn’s giant ballista with them.

Bronn manages to unfurl the weapon and takes a pot shot at Drogon that misses, but also get’s Dany’s attention. As the world burns around him, Bronn reloads the weapon and readies for the kill shot. Drogon complies by flying right at Bronn, who nails Drogon right in the shoulder with the spear. Drogon’s cries and his painful plummet towards the ground were hard to watch, but luckily the dragon levels out and lands on the edge of a nearby lake. Drogon proceeds to smash the ballista to pieces in an angry fury.

As Tyrion watches from afar, Jaime attempts to end the whole war single handily (get it?). Noticing Dany is vulnerable as she attempts to pull the spear from Drogon’s shoulder, Jaime snatches up a spear of his own and charges towards Dany. For a half second, it looks as if it’s going to work. Sadly for Jaime, Drogon does not take kindly to anyone attempting to murder his mother. Drogon quickly unleashes g a fireball, and Jaime appears doomed. Someone that looked an awful lot like Bronn knocks Jaime into the lake, and the episode closes to black as Jaime sinks to the bottom, weighed down by his armor.

Next: Will Jon Snow ever trust Theon Greyjoy again?

Top to bottom, one of the best episodes of the series. From its quiet moments that left us smiling, to the epic battle scene to close it out, “The Spoils of War” is a showcase episode for the series. If the final three episodes of season 7 are half as good, we are in for quite a ride.