Take a deep breath, we’re diving right in…
A Lannister Always Pays Their Debts… and Creates New Ones?
Marieke: Cersei talks to Tycho, and tells him the gold is on its way. He wants to sponsor more of her endeavours, or well, put her in more debt. She tells Qyburn talked to an army in Essos. She looks at the map, plans more evil shit probably. It is not a scene I really remember in this episode to be honest. Just some info given which will prove to be important in the future. She is still on for full revenge, and after this episode she no doubt will be even more furious.
Danielle: For me, this was a scene that became all the more revealing on a second watch. Tycho is eager to fund more of Cersei’s dastardly plots, so long as she pays her current, outstanding debts, which she’s well on the way to doing now that her brother is in the process of transporting the loot back from Highgarden. She’s incredibly distracted whilst he’s talking to her though, physically getting up to pour herself a drink, which only underscores what we’ve known for some time now: Tyrion isn’t the only Lannister sibling with an alcohol problem. Her behaviour was so markedly strange though that I genuinely wonder if something else is going on with her. It’s also very interesting indeed that we hear Qyburn is making overtures to the Golden Company, a group of sellswords based in Essos who are renowned in George R.R. Martin’s books for their association with the Blackfyre rebellions, as much as their hefty price tag and trustworthiness. It’s all very convenient that she’s looking into acquiring more men to fight for her, in light of what we know happens to a large portion of the Lannister troops at the end of the episode. I’d wager that there’s something to her menacingly regarding the Northern portion of her floor map as well. Let’s not forget that she’s not yet aware that Sansa had nothing to do with with Joffrey’s death, and that her Hand has a small army of Little Birds who’ve acted as assassins for him in the past. The Lady of Winterfell should probably watch her back.
The Weir(d)wood Welcome Home
Marieke: She is home! Arya made it back to Winterfell! After an annoying little intermezzo with the two (rather incompetent) guards, Sansa and her sister are reunited beside Ned’s statue in the crypt. An awkward hug for Arya from Sansa is followed by an awkward conversation. About being Lady Stark, about Jon being happier to see Arya than Sansa and about a list. But in the end Arya hugs Sansa for real. All their differences aside, they are the only sisters left and they both went through a lot. They are here for House Stark and for the North.
In the meantime, Bran receives the dagger which was meant to kill him in Season One from Littlefinger because, of course, that is a lovely memento. Heartwarming. Baelish also tries to convince Bran he is here for the Stark children, but since Bran is basically illegally streaming Game of Thrones, he knows better than that. He manages to freak Littlefinger out by returning his ‘Chaos is a ladder’ quote to him. I am totally here for a scared Littlefinger, who isn’t too happy about Arya’s return either. Then there is Meera tearfully stating goodbye to Bran when she notices he isn’t who he was anymore. Only a ‘thank you’ Bran??? The woman helped you escape from death, your friends and direwolf gave their lives for you, she dragged you all the way to the wall and all she gets is a lousy T-shirt, I mean ‘thank you’???? Meera is right, Bran died in the cave, and she deserved much more than this. It was an unsatisfying end for her character, most likely.
Later on, the sisters meet Bran near the heart tree, apparently he’s been given a wheelchair, making him the Professor X of GoT. Arya hugs him and he sort of tries to hug back, but it’s still cold and weird. He then gives Arya the dagger, which is made of Valyrian steel (so we all rejoice), because why would a cripple need it? I think Bran knows why Arya will need it, but cannot tell her cause it would probably freak everybody out. I wonder, if Bran would talk about the future, would it still happen or would the people knowing about it be able to alter it? How much is set in stone? I definitely hope Bran gave Arya the dagger to deal with Littlefinger. That would be sweet and ironic justice. Also Bran knows about her list, which makes Sansa realise it actually exists. How your family has changed, Sansa.
Danielle: I quite liked Arya unceremoniously being told to ‘f*ck off’ by those two guards. It was a really nice callback to a scene in Season 1 where she got pretty much the same reception from two other guards in King’s Landing. Rather succinctly it shows how things have moved on in Winterfell without her. With Cersei still apparently hell bent on punishing her sister for a crime she didn’t commit, I can’t help but think that there’s some foreshadowing there when she tells her big sister that she needs to get herself some better guards. Undoubtedly she does, and Arya’s return probably can’t come soon enough, even if things are still a little strained between them with Sansa outright acknowledging that her little sister is the one who for whom Jon’s heart will burst when he sees her. I enjoyed their little conversation about how Ned’s statue looked nothing like their father because the person who carved it didn’t know his face, as most of the people who did are now did. Them gleefully stating that they’re still alive felt as joyous as it did ominous.
Bran playing Littlefinger at his own game is simply brilliant. I’m starting to come round to the theory that, as the Three Eyed Raven, his future self will be able to influence everything from the Great War to his own fall from that tower. I do expect him to become much greyer, however, underlining poor Meera’s absolutely correct assertion that Bran died in that cave before she peaced out. There’s just too much information slopping around in his head for his humanity to seep through. (Regardless, I’d like to think that we will see his once friend and saviour at least once more before the end of the show.) One thread that I think Not-Bran has a handle on is what Arya will do with Catspaw after he gave the dagger to her. I suspect Marieke is on the right track regarding Littlefinger, and if he can see the scheming lord’s past, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he’s already seen his future and Arya’s part in it. To my mind, that explains why his younger sister got a slightly more friendly welcome than Sansa did. Knowing that her list is real, and no doubt having seen what she’s capable of, I can almost reluctantly believe that his far deadlier sibling has a part to play in the future he’s trying to shape, whilst the current de facto Queen in the North has not.
Davida and Goliatha
Marieke: What a scene! Arya sees Brienne kick Pod’s arse again and again and steps in. She wants to be trained by the best, and to her, Brienne is the best. She defeated the Hound. Cue a future scene where both of the run into the Hound, please. Anyway, she takes out Needle and tall Brienne is not impressed, the resulting fight is a beautiful clash of styles: Brienne the fierce knight with an impressive sword and Arya, waterdancing around, being all agile and fast. Arya manages to win, also with the help of her new dagger. Respect between the two very different women grows. Sansa looks at them from the balcony, seeing how much her little sis has changed into a fighting machine. Littlefinger watches, realising she will be an extra hurdle when he is trying to get to Sansa. Brienne acts on orders, but Arya will have no problem making a deadly move on Baelish if he goes full creep on Sansa. His fake smile said it all. He is getting less and less happy to be there. What will his lowering tolerance do to him? Arya knows too. Her eyes said it all. Maybe she was adding another name to her list!
Danielle: This really was a joy to watch. Poor Pod was once more getting a pasting from the lady he squires for, and then Arya steps up, insisting that Brienne be the one to train her. Major props to both Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams who absolutely sold the whole thing, as the dynamic shifted from one woman to the other, eventually resulting in a draw (it was definitely a draw, my Fezzy friend). Rather than being out and out fan service, I think it serves a similar narrative purpose to that little scene where Pod gets Brienne to acknowledge that she’s fulfilled her oath to Catelyn Stark now that both her daughter’s are safely back home: Sansa’s sworn sword is becoming surplus to requirements now that her ninja assassin sister is back. I’m curious about Brienne finally stopping herself from correcting her squire when he calls her ‘my lady’ as well. Now that she’s found herself in the role of protector, is she now becoming more accepting of both her maternal side and her femininity?
Jon and Dany Play Come into My Cave
Marieke: They found the dragonglass. Yay! But there is more… Jon lures Dany into the cave and shows her some of the drawings depicting both the Children of the Forest and the First Men. Aww, they had an art club together! And look, a drawing of the Night King and the White Walkers! If only he could take a slab of that everywhere as a type of photographic evidence. It’s weird by the way that Dany knows of the Children and the First Men, but the Walkers are a bit too far-fetched…? Anyway, she wants to help, but only if Jon bends the knee. It came to my attention that the knee bending conversation mimicked the one Jon and Mance had about Stannis. Just like wildlings, Northeners are stubborn. Maybe Tyrion should’ve talked about characteristics of the Westerosi Houses and people a little bit more. Perhaps then Dany would have been less stubborn about the whole knee bending malarkey. Jon in a cave means smouldering scenes and it seemed there was something going on between the unwitting relatives. Even Davos noticed it and teased Jon by saying he had a good look at her ‘good heart’. There wasn’t a pond for them to ‘swim’ in, but I guess the drawings were sexy enough. Wondering how this will turn out when Jon gets to hear about his knee bend demanding aunt.
When they leave the cave, Varys and Tyrion have some more bad news: the Lannisters tricked them into sending their men to Casterly Rock, when the bulk of their forces were actually taking Highgarden. Dany suspects that Tyrion perhaps does not really want to battle his siblings, and asks Jon what to do. He stresses that if she wants to be a new sort of ruler, she cannot just burn King’s Landing down. Maybe Olenna’s words echo in her head too. ‘Be a dragon’.
Danielle: Ah! As one of the guests on British show, Thronecast, termed it, it’s ‘The Cave of Convenience’. In my head, I’ve also dubbed it ‘The Cave of Forced, Incestuous Chemistry’. I know we’re supposed to buy into this fascination that Jon and Dany instantly had with each other. Hell, a relationship between the two of them is generally one of the things that most people expect to happen, but God, does it have to be so damn predictable with those long, knowing glances and deliberate touches. It doesn’t help that those drawings just so happened to be in that cave on Dragonstone. It’s all just a bit, well, silly. That said, I am curious about what those spirals actually symbolise. We’ve seen them crop up again and again, and they have to mean something.
After her Hand tells her that they’ve taken Casterly Rock, but lost Highgarden, it becomes clear that Tyrion is losing her ear. Even more irritating is the fact that she’s now apparently turning to the man she’s only known for two minutes, her future fancy piece, Jon. Sure enough, he gave good advice about how to remain the type of Queen that her subjects can believe in, but let’s not forget that Jon has a whole back catalogue of mistakes that he hasn’t necessarily learned from.
Marieke: A Greyjoy ship manages to get to Dragonstone and Theon is on it. Jon is in the welcoming home party, but rather than a hearty reunion he makes it clear that if it weren’t for rescuing Sansa, he would have killed him. Now Jon can’t even hit him in the balls. Anyway, Theon still displays part of his Reek persona when people confront him. He does want to get Yara back, but Jon tells her the Queen isn’t around. Hmm…
Danielle: I thought Alfie Allen was great in this scene. Yes, Reek is still there scuttling around in his psyche, yet there were flashes of the Theon we’ve slowly seen emerge since he left Ramsay’s side too. I really like the fact that he automatically asked after Sansa when Jon confronted him, and I’m curious about that look that Davos gave him during the altercation. It certainly wasn’t condemnation. I get the feeling that they might get on rather well if they found themselves in each other’s orbits for a prolonged length of time. If he’s serious about going after Yara, then who better to help him retrieve his sister from Euron than smuggler extraordinaire, Davos?
Between a Dragon and the Deep Blue Sea
Marieke: This is what everyone has waited for since Dany hatched those eggs and the little dragons climbed onto her. Pure dragon, in this case Drogon, fury, alongside a horde of storming Dothraki. Even good ol’ dead Robert Baratheon knew better than to engage with a Dothraki horde on the open field. Accompanied by a dragon… Well upper hand, anyone? Jaime’s and Bronn’s faces when they see the dragon for the first time ever, are priceless. They just before talked to Rickon, I mean Dickon, cue Bronn’s laughter. He basically just fought his first battle against people he knew. He figuratively shat himself when the dying knights literally shat themselves. His honesty was refreshing, but the bully Tarly father probably wouldn’t have had any of it. I reckon Jaime and Bronn felt a little like Dickon when the Targaryen army arrived.
Drogon was absolutely glorious. I have never seen so many men on fire. Although admittedly I think it sucks being a horse more in battle. They are not spared on this show, are they? Normal arrows don’t hurt Drogon, so the ballista it is. Jaime cannot operate it so Bronn has to do the job. He finds himself in the chaos that is war, just like Jon did in The Battle of the Bastards. GoT shows the ruthlessness of war, the destruction by fire and the confusion of it all. Strength, skill and luck make Bronn reach the scorpion (the Romans beat them to it, really) and spears a Dothraki warrior following him. The viewer now has a problem. Who to root for? Maybe we don’t want anyone to die? Certainly not Drogon! But Bronn also deserves better. I screamed when he hit Drogon and he fell to the ground. I am glad he still lives, but I am also grateful for Bronn’s jumping power. He will need it again, a few minutes later. Unknowingly being watched by his little brother, who’s calling him an idiot, it is another Targaryen back tempting Jaime. Dany tries to remove the spear from Drogon when Jaime picks up another and charges towards Dany. Who is shocked, but also a dragon mother. And her ‘son’ will protect her. Before getting orated to death Bronn shows he should’ve won the long jump medal once again and saves Jaime, who falls into water which is very deep. Tricky Westerosi ponds, they look so shallow when you charge with a horse, but when you fall… Anyway, fully armoured and with that golden hand we cut to black. Will Jaime survive?
This scene surely raised my adrenaline and was everything GoT stands for. This is why the season is cut shorter, and right now I think the effects are worth the money (talk to me again when the shorter season is over) to have a dragon in full on battle mode, along with the Dothraki on horseback. One telling Tyrion that his people can’t fight was particularly poignant. All the scene needed was Jaime seeing a dwarf-like shadow in the distance. I would have liked for him to notice his brother too, but a reunion might follow quickly. Now, I am going to watch that pulse raising scene again. DRACARYS!
Danielle: The set up for all of the drama at the end of the episode was particularly good. Again we have Jaime in a crappy mood and refusing to talk about it, and once more we have Bronn asking for a wife and a castle, and still neither is forthcoming. I love that the excuse Jaime gives is basically that ‘the more you have, the more it weighs you down’. He’s not wrong in very literal terms when that armour weighs him down in that last shot of ‘The Spoils of War’, but I’m not sure his ‘right hand man’ will ever buy that. If Lord Lannister does indeed live, which I’m fairly certain he will, that line alone foreshadows a very interesting future for him.
There’s also that seemingly small moment where Randyll asks his commander to allow him to flog the stragglers, who are slowing down the convoy, re-affirming what we already know about him from the scenes last season where he behaves like an absolute shit to Sam. In stark contrast, not only is Dickon hot, he’s also rather sweet and is obviously struggling to come to terms with killing some of the men he used to hunt with whilst they were still allied to the Tyrells. Furthermore, he saves Jaime’s behind during the battle when he’s facing down one of Dany’s dothraki soldiers. If they weren’t burnt alive during the battle, I’m not sure things bode well for either of them if Dany has captured them. She’s not a fan of traitors. That potentially sets all kinds of wheels in motion in relation to Sam if he eventually finds out that the girl his BFF is hooking up with executed his Dad and his brother. Would it end the bromance if Jon is obsessed with Dany’s ‘good heart’?
Moving onto the actual battle itself, oh boy! I didn’t see how they could top ‘Battle of the Bastards’, but they absolutely did, creating a feast of visual effects and human drama, which not only planted us right there amongst the action, but also left us entirely in two minds about who we wanted to ‘win’ the battle. I’m not going to lie, the decision to show the horrors of this kind of warfare from the viewpoint of the Lannisters left me practically cheering Jaime on when he picked up that spear and attempted to end the war in one fell swoop by killing the Queen. You could see in those moments prior to making the assassination attempt that he was re-living Aerys burning his enemies at court, as he watched his soldiers cook inside their armour. Those dragons are like nuclear weapons, and as much as we’ve always wanted to see them properly in action, it feels like great pains were taken to recognise the devastation they’re capable of inflicting on human being at the end of the day, regardless of their allegiances. The same goes for the Dothraki horde that cut through their opposing forces like butter. At the moment, Dany’s ‘babies’ seem unbeatable, but the fact Bronn managed to bring Drogon down might prove important in the near future. Perhaps the Dothraki won’t fare so well in a colder climate either.
I loved how Tyrion became the surrogate for the audience in these scenes too, quietly willing his brother to not be a ‘f*cking idiot’ and instead flee back to King’s Landing. Much like Jon, Jaime is stupidly brave, and refusing to leave his men on the battlefield casts this very grey character in a much, much better light. Hell, perhaps if he manages to fight his way to the surface of the water, then this might act as something of a rebirth for him. As numerous people have picked up on, there were obvious parallels to be noted between him sinking into the water and Bran falling from the tower after he pushed. Restarting his redemption arc is more than overdue.
MVP of the Week
Death of the Week
There were lots of Lannister men on fire, but I guess maybe Meera got it right by declaring Bran’s death in the cave. Also, RIP Bronn’s bag of gold. May you still get that castle someday, you badass, but hopefully one that’s easier to run than Highgarden.
Quote of the Week
Davos: What do you think of her?
Davos: I believe you know of whom I speak.
Jon: I think she has a good heart.
Davos: A good heart? I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart.
Marieke: We got what we always wanted in that fiery battle! Hell yeah!
Danielle: You know you’re onto a winner when an episode ends, and immediately you want to watch it again, don’t you? With it’s spectacular visual effects and compelling handling of various reunions and almost reunions, ‘The Spoils of War’ easily fought it’s way to the top to rightfully sit beside the best episodes of the series, comfortably nestling amongst ‘Hardhome’, ‘The Rains of Castamere’ and ‘Battle of the Bastards’. I’m now gasping for more as desperately as Jaime and Bronn will be gasping for air by the next instalment of this so far stellar season.
Our Fezzy Score:
So what did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments…