Last week, we left Game of Thrones feeling the episode was “effective and satisfying.” Well, HBO heard our applause and answered the call for an encore, delivering us The Spoils of War, which at 50 minutes in running time was short and that didn’t matter at all. There were overtures of and to things that I’ve harked on already from season 7; players continue to jump about the Westerosi map like they’re using Roddenbury-like technology, and Danny feels inclined to ask Missandei about her sexual adventures with Greyworm and his worm–let’s be honest–let’s hope he’s not named for that. But otherwise, the episode delivers many satisfying reunions, moments that define what we’ve been waiting for throughout the GoT run, and plenty of just desserts.
After sacking Highgarden and sending Lady Olena to her timely end, Jaime Lannister and friends have departed for the open road with their spoils (read: looted treasure and supplies), and [probably] Highgarden’s legendary collection of bootlegged DVDs. Oh hey, Bron’s there too, still being Bron, making inappropriate jokes to inappropriate people and demanding more payment than he’s already received. It’s good to see that some characters are steadfastly themselves throughout the series’ run; no evolution there [or is there?–more on this later].
There is some throwaway material of Cersei with the representative [not a lord] from the Iron Bank, which had predominantly been covered. There are brief allusions to The Golden Company which enjoys an expanded and fun role in the novels and also to further help should they successfully pay off their debts. Thankfully, these are short moments, and not a lot of the 50 minutes is spent here.
And now, welcome to the Game of Thrones 10-year High School Reunion where everybody’s catching up with everybody! Oh snap, you’re a lady now? Do tell, girlfriend. And what now? You’re a ninja? When the shit did that happen? The scenes that unfold at Winterfell, with Arya’s long-awaited return home, as well as at Dragonstone when Theon unwittingly comes ashore to a none-too-thrilled Jon, and even on the road between High Garden and King’s Landing, where a pseudo-reunion between Tyrion and Jaime occurs, are amazing and immensely satisfying. It’s easy to forget just how long some of these characters have been separated onscreen. Arya, is separated from the rest of the Starks all the way back in season 1. It has been an incredibly long journey for her, and, as we see, she’s come a long way.
Much of the post-episode talk will no doubt center around the culminating battle between Daenerys and her Dothraki ‘hoard’ and Jaime and his Lannister forces. It’s epic, and it’s the first time we’ve really seen any of the dragons, at full-size, take on large-scale forces. It’s as epic as you’d expect, and probably satisfied anyone who was complaining about slow-pacing, erroneous sex scenes, or confusing timelines [read: me]. However, for me, the other moments, seeing Jon take Theon by the throat and let him know the only reason he’s alive is because he helped Sansa, or seeing Arya reunite with Brienne of Tarth for some good old-fashioned sword-play, are incredible moments. They emphasize just how big George R.R. Martin’s world his, how diverse the cast, and how intricately their sprawling plot lines became. Simultaneously, we’re reminded that the end is drawing near, and those many, many loose threads, cast in the wind as the newborn brood of a spider, are all being pulled taught to return back to the core.
There’s hardly enough to say of the Arya-Brienne scene, as it’s loaded with call-backs to earlier moments, including, if I’m not mistaken, that Arya is displaying a little bit of Sirio Forel’s water dancing? She’s really stealing the season, thus far–and Littlefinger seems to take heavy notice. Too much notice? I wasn’t really sure if he was considering abandoning his redhead fetish for something Stark with a little more zest? Whatever was happening, it was appreciation, or perhaps further apprehension, as we saw develop when he interacts with Bran.
On that front, what’s up with Littlefinger giving Bran the assassin’s dagger? PLEASE LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS IN THE COMMENTS. It’s clear that Bran knows much more about who tried to have him killed, Littlefinger’s involvement, or Littlefinger’s betrayals of the Stark family in general. This is further solidified when Bran regifts the dagger to Arya–someone with the skills to use it.
- This dialogue between Sansa and Arya was amazing:
Arya: It doesn’t look like him. It should have been carved by someone who knew his face.
Sansa: Everyone who knew his face is dead.
Arya: We’re not.
- I was wrong about Ser Jorah–apparently no one shared how to apparate with him. He must still be underage. When do you think he’ll reappear with Danny?
- Bran’s continued hinting at preternatural powers is awesome–he’s just making himself so weird, including blowing off Meera Reed, who, this time, at least gets to speak. Why can’t he just speak to someone normally instead of cryptically referencing things he clearly shouldn’t know about?
- On that front–it’s cool that he admits that while he’s no longer “Brandon Stark,” he still remembers what it feels like to be him. And thus, he sets whatever he’s set in motion between Arya, the dagger, and Littlefinger. That Stark part he remembers clearly wants in on the revenge game.
- Why the hell did Danny only bring 1 of 3 dragons? I know you’re going to tell me it’s because there was no one else to ride them, but we’ve seen them get in on the action before, haven’t we? And if that’s the case, what good is it having three? For spares? And why isn’t she trying to find other riders?
- OK, so Danny can’t ride all three dragons at once, I get it. Why the hell was she blowing up wagons instead of annihilating archers and other soldiers? That one needs more explaining. And, if Bron gives her what equates to a warning shot, why would she possibly just fly the dragon right at the scorpion again? I don’t understand the strategy.
- Tyron calling Jaime a fucking idiot is hilarious–also, interesting to see he still cares enough about his brother that he wants him to live; unclear how he expects that could possibly occur while he’s at odds with Daenerys.
- Daenerys puts Tyrion in his place–it’s odd she only doubts him now after his failures–wouldn’t the level of trust have begun that low and possibly improved with time? Not the other way around?
- Hoping The Golden Company makes an appearance, if for no other reason than to see their gold standard of the skulls of their former commanders.
- HOLD YOUR HORSES (and dragons): yes, the supply chain was burned, but Sam’s dad, Randyll Tarly told Jaime most of the gold was inside the city. So Cerise’s good standing with the Iron Bank is still in tact. Who will her new allies include?
- Jaime is totally under Cersei’s finger, again. Even as we opened the season, he was disillusioned with where they stood in the world and subsequently what that world was. She gives him one little bit of sister-brother swordplay and he’s ready to sacrifice himself by charging a full-grown dragon on horseback. GOOD THING BRON EVOLVED just enough to save the man holding his money purse!
- Or did he? It’s unclear if Jaime will survive or not. After all, he’s in full armor and wearing a golden hand. Not exactly easy to float in that. My gut says we’ve not seen the last of Jaime, though.
WHO WAS THERE:
Jon, Danny, Missandei, Varys, Tryion, Davos, Jaime, Cersei, Sansa, Littlefinger, Davos, Bran, Meera Reed, Theon, Arya, Brienne, Pod, THE DOTHRAKI HOARD, Randyll Tarly, some other Tarly, ONE DRAGON
WHO’S CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT:
Sam (I’ve come to rely on his humorous interludes), THE OTHER DRAGONS, The Hound (where has he wandered off to?), GENDRY (this is the hinted bastard of Robert Baratheon, down to his legendary talent with a warhammer–when the hell will he reappear and crush some people with his blacksmith-born musculature? Dying for this! Will he crush Cersei’s head? Let’s hope so. Lot’s of people vying for that honor though.