HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4: “The Spoils of War”

Hot DAMN. Emphasis on the “hot.”

That was one of the shortest episodes in Game of Thrones history, but I’m glad because my heart couldn’t take any more.

Let’s all take a moment to cool down and then unpack what’s going on in Westeros.

Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

Dracarys, bitches.

Now that was some serious firestarter action. As much as I loved Dany burning down the Dothraki patriarchy (or is it patriraki?) last season, I screamed “OH DAY-UM!” about ten times more during this scene than I have since Dany purchased her Unsullied back in season three. Pretty sure I screamed more than I did during the Battle of the Bastards, but that’s mostly because Jon’s fight against Ramsay was also, in part, about the emotional turmoil of battle and Jon’s reclaiming of his own self and his family’s home.

This? This was mostly about Dany strategically roasting some Lannister redshirts redcloaks. So, a bit more one-sided.

“Everything is fine.”

Thanks to Bronn, I think I can imagine what that battlefield smells like. Well, to call it a battlefield seems a bit dramatic because the Lannisters were so outclassed it was basically a barrel full of fish getting shot at. But let’s just say, I imagine men also shit themselves when they see tens of thousands of screaming Dothraki charging at them with a giant freaking dragon circling overhead. That mix of terrible wonder and depthless fright was played up extremely well in this sequence.

I mean look at these Dothraki berserkers:

Pyrotechnics aside, there were some important things to consider here. First, Dany’s frustration with Tyrion’s plan to get Casterly Rock having failed because, the way she sees it, Tyrion underestimated his family. As suspected, now she has no allies and must partner with Jon Snow.

Remember what happened the last time Jon Snow went into a cave with a girl?

Yeah, none of that here. But we did see some little sparks between King Ice and Queen Fire. I kind of rolled my eyes at how goofy it was that cave drawings (in Jon’s expert archaeological opinion from “a very long time ago,”) offered Dany evidence that compromise between different people in the name of self-preservation is good. But while Dany’s all “Burn them all,” it’s Jon’s military experience that offers a solution without murdering thousands of innocent people. And yet… she still wants Jon to set aside his “pride” and bend the knee.

Jon does a little asking around, i.e. just Missandei, who speaks for everyone because (a) she literally does as a translator and trusted advisor and (b) there isn’t time for Jon and Davos to conduct door-to-door polls on Dragonstone in a shortened GoT season. Yeah, Dany’s not an insane dictator (yet). She doesn’t want to offer more of the same. But I still think Jon allying himself with a Southern Queen won’t make the Northerners happy with him. But perhaps their tune will change when some dragons light up the White Walkers like Christmas trees.

I’m getting ahead of myself here.

In the immediate moment, Dany has executed a successful blockade on King’s Landing and, to my understanding, has cut off Cersei’s army’s food stores. But Cersei has her gold to repay the Iron Bank. All she’s lost is a small portion of her army. She has money to invest in more, it seems. The Lannisters didn’t lose enough this round to feel like this fireworks display was terribly meaningful.

We didn’t even lose Bronn and I thought for sure, multiple times, this would be his chance to go out in a literal blaze of glory. Or cowardice—when he looked longingly at his dropped bag of gold, I thought for sure his greed would be his downfall. A bit cartoonish, but that seemed foreshadowed in his earlier whinging about being paid in castles. And then Bronn used a giant ballista with a ton of Dothraki behind him, no one covering him, and no one tried to stop him? Ludicrous! It made the Dothraki look dumb as horseshit.

And if you think Jaime is dead, I have a bridge in The Twins to sell you.

So, we can speculate a few things based on Tyrion’s look of horror and guilt as he watched Lannister bannermen baked alive in their armor (and, oh, isn’t that a nice echo to what Jaime saw Dany’s father, the Mad King, do all those decades ago?) Will Tyrion see his brother taken prisoner and release him, as Jaime did for Tyrion? Will this brotherly love be what betrays Dany? It’s uncertain, but I can see Tyrion being a little less loyal to his Queen when his brother’s life is involved. But where could Tyrion go if he headed back to King’s Landing? If Jaime tells Cersei about Olenna’s “last prick in the balls,” will it be enough to clear Tyrion’s name?

And what will become of Drogon? Was “the scorpion” sting indeed poisoned? I never trust pointy ends being simple pointy ends anymore. What if Drogon is felled by an infected wound, just like his namesake? Maybe a wiser Dany can use some dragon antibiotics this time around, instead of blood magic. And get some armor built for her aerial fleet.

Final Thoughts:

  • “My list. Of people I’m going to kill. *uncomfortable laugh* j/k. But, no, really. I’m gonna kill more people.” I loved that Arya’s first stop in Winterfell was her father’s tomb. Another tear-jerking reunion. But, yeah, when Jon sees Arya, his heart will probably stop. Again. I love the leveled-up Lady Stark and Arya recognizing and respecting each other’s different survival skills.
  • The wolf cubs are coming together again, even if one is deep in an emo Three-Eyed Raven phase. Bran’s “Chaos is a ladder” certainly gave Littlefinger the heebies for a moment. If Bran sees what a mustache-twirling prick Littlefinger is, why not get him the hell away from his sisters ASAP?! Will Arya tell Sansa she saw Littlefinger in Harrenhal? Is Bran Stark as we knew him truly dead? It seems so, with his cold-hearted “Bye, Felicia Meera.” I don’t like this development. Surely the real Bran is in there somewhere.
  • Arya vs. Brienne. YES. Brienne is Arya’s next mentor and it’s such a perfect fit. Brienne is one possible future for the noblewoman who doesn’t feel like herself as a lady. I’m interested in watching this friendship grow. Oh, also Arya has Valyrian steel now, too. Interesting.
  • Theon. *wet fart noises*
  • Thank you, everyone, for not discussing this leaked episode early and spoiling the rest of us here. That dragon attack was too damn pretty to watch without HD. HBO GO subscribers should definitely watch the “Anatomy of a Scene” bonus feature for tonight’s battle sequence. So much work went into this episode. Imagine being the one guy to mess up a train of timed one-time explosions.

Next week: Fancy lad Dickon Tarly is having a tough first week on the job. Bran sees the Night’s Watch in imminent danger.

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing, Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast and Den of Geek. Reach her via raven or on Twitter.

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