Game of Thrones: 7.04 The Spoils of War
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The action is ramped up this week in Game of Thrones, with the moment that audiences have been waiting for since the finale of season one finally arriving… and it doesn’t disappoint.
Before we go any further, remember… this post is dark and full of spoilers.
Cersei barely gets a look in this episode, save for a quick conversation about debt and alliances with Mark Gatiss the representative from the Iron Bank, and Samwell isn’t even around to bring the show’s weekly quota of bodily fluids. But that’s okay, because the leading ladies of Houses Targaryen and Stark provide enough fire and ice for us to barely notice (and really, did we need another scene transition that would put us off lasagne for life?).
In the North we’re treated to another Stark reunion, one that’s a tad more fulfilling than the lacklustre (on Bran’s part) reunion between the Three Eyed Raven and the Lady of Winterfell. Arya turns up at the gates of Winterfell where a pair of clueless guards tell her repeatedly to ‘fuck off’, and not a single audience member is worried that this might stop her getting in. Arya doesn’t break a sweat in outwitting the guards to first let her in, and then disappearing on them as they squabble over who should tell Lady Sansa that her sister has supposedly come home.
Sansa and Arya reunite in the crypts before their father’s tomb, with a sarcastic nod to Sansa’s new status and a sisterly hug that would never have happened pre-dead Ned. They (and therefore we) reflect on everything that has happened and chanced since the two were both home at Winterfell – but it’s not story time just yet. Sansa reveals that Bran is also home, to which Arya’s face lights up, before falling to confusion at the solemn look on her sister’s face.
The three remaining Stark children reunite in the Godswood, where Bran promptly freaks out Arya by mentioning her kill list and her hesitation at the cross roads. We have to wonder at what point will Arya let on that she’s a face-changing stealth killer – and while we’re at it, when the Stark family will learn of Jon’s death and resurrection. At this point, poor Sansa is the only one left without a superpower (not that she’s needed one thus far).
Arya approaches Brienne in the yard, asks to be trained by the woman who pledged her life to protect Caitlyn Stark’s daughters. The small-but-swift Stark and the Lady of Tarth fight, strength against speed, displaying their two vastly different but equally matched skill with a sword. They finish up, blades to each other’s throats, grinning at each other as equals. Brienne asks who taught Arya to fight, to which Arya replies “no one”, and the audience lets up a resound cry of “wheyyy!”
Over on Dragonstone, Davos teases Jon about his noticing the Queen’s “good heart” (that was a boob joke, in case it was too subtle for some), and we all squirm a little because we’re pretty well convinced that she’s his aunt. But hey, Targaryen’s marry each other all the time, right? We’ll just wait to see where that one goes. Daenerys and Missandei share a rare light-hearted moment as the Queen’s advisor recounts the “many things” she and Greyworm did before he left for Highgarden, the two women sharing a knowing smile.
Jon makes another plea for Daenerys to join the North’s fight against the Night King and his White Walkers, and the Targaryen Queen agrees she will fight with him… when he bends the knee. Looks like we’re still getting nowhere on that front. Tyrion and Varys show up looking glum, to inform the Queen of the Lannister’s ambush at Highgarden. Frustrated, Daenerys blames Tyrion’s “clever plans” that have lost her the Dornish, the Ironborn and now the Tyrells. Once more she dangles the image of herself flying Drogon into battle, and over Tyrion’s protests asks the King in the North what he thinks.
Jon’s response is to tell Daenerys’ that she brought back the dragons, a previously thought impossible task, and this alone could be enough to convince Westeros that she is capable of more impossible things. But if she uses her children to melt castles and burn castles, then she will just be “more of the same”… and the Queen looks convinced.
Or so we’re lead to believe…
The Lannister army, lead by Jaime and accompanied by Bronn, are transporting the gold liberated from Highgarden back to King’s Landing, when a rumbling over the hills sends the soldiers scrabbling for their shields. The tension builds as the sound grows louder, and wild cries are heard across the fields; there’s only one army that makes that sound.
The Dothraki comes charging towards the Lannisters, and just as Jamie is shouting that they can hold them off, the sight that fans have waited for since the day Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal hatched in flames appears. Daenerys soars over the Dothraki riders astride Drogon, and effortlessly takes out the Lannister soldiers with a single word, “dracarys” (‘dragonfire’ in High Valyrian). The Dragon Queen has arrived.
As the Lannister army is reduced to flames and ash, Bronn runs frantic through the burning corpses, dodging Dothraki blades and taking a few out as he scrambles towards a still-intact cart. Inside is the epic crossbow that has been built to kill a dragon (or at least, pierce the skull of a centuries-old dragon skull). As Drogon sweeps in low for a final attack, Bronn fires.
The first shot goes wild, but doesn’t escape Daenery’s notice. She turns her steed towards Bronn, but he gets off another bolt which this time hits home. For a moment we hold our breath as Drogon twists and begins to fall from the sky, the Queen on his back – this is Game of Thrones after all, and no one is safe. But the dragon rears up, corrects his course, and torches the crossbow – so much for Cersei’s secret weapon.
But Drogon is still wounded, and Daenerys quickly dismounts and attempts to remove the bolt from his shoulder. At the same time, Jamie spots the grounded Queen and takes his chance; but as he charges, Drogon turns and fires a final blast of dragonfire towards the one-handed Lannister. At the last possible second (and would we have it any other way?), another body tackles Jamie from his horse and into the river. The episode fades to black on the sight of Jamie, presumed unconscious, floating lifeless towards the riverbed… and the credits play in silence.
The long-awaited face-off between Daenerys Stormborn and Queen Cersei’s armies is a pivotal point in the series – the rumours about the return of the Targaryen dragons will struggle to be denied after this fiery battle. However the question that remains to be answered is this; will Tyrion and Jon’s fears of Westeros viewing Daenerys as another ruthless, crazed monarch (like her father before her) come true, or will the kingdom rally to her cause?
Either way, we’re one crucial step closer to discovering who will ultimately win this Game of Thrones…