S07E04 – THE SPOILS OF WAR
*Side note: All historical events mentioned in this review are part of »Histories and Lore« videos and are therefore canon to the show. The review also contains a bit of my personal speculation of the trailer (prior to this episode). Otherwise, it's strictly show-related.
Lord Parramandas before watching an episode: Oh, no... this episode is only 48 minutes long. This surely cannot be one of the better episodes and I guess I should get ready for more average one.
Lord Parramandas after watching the episode: But no! It was not the case at all! In fact, it was even a step up from previous episode. Beautiful and epic at the same time.
Hello again everyone and welcome to the 4th review of Lord Parramandas! Yes, we crossed into second half of S7 with this episode and I'm proud to announce S7 has been a climb so far. We're going even higher on my ranklist with this episode which surely deserves to be in at least my top 10. I will surely decided when I reach the end of my review.
Before starting the recap and analysis, I first need to mention that I'm so satisfied overall with S7. THIS is the tone I prefer overall. Less characters and a lot more focused story and that way, even those that I'm not a big fan of have a big chance of me liking them. Like it happened with almost every character in this episode. I would say this episode gave me »LOST vibe« when it comes to being so deeply invested into characters and getting so many special feelings in the process. But enough of my rambling, let's go to episode itself.
HIGHGARDEN: After a crushing defeat of Tyrell forces in last episode, Lannisters had the gold to repay the Iron Bank and a large amount of grain to survive through winter. But there was a teeny tiny little problem... there is a long way ahead to reach King's Landing and who knows what kind of trouble they can encounter on the road. Well, we heard in another scene that the gold safely made its way to the city, but I cannot say the same for the rest of the stuff...and men. But more of that later. In this episode, we also saw the return of Bronn, another one of my favorite character. And at this point, he was getting very displeased about the lack of reward Jaime has been promising him since S5. A castle and a suitable wife. I really enjoy all the scenes Bronn appears in and these were no exceptions. But I felt there was a darker tone in those scenes... Bronn seemed more of a killer this time and Jaime was clearly displeased with something. I would say the days of lighthearted funny moments are over.
KING'S LANDING: Our ruler of the Seven Kingdoms got another win... she repayed the debt to the Iron Bank, something I never imagined to happen before. I guess team Targaryen will have to earn the throne a hard way. Also, this was the first time Mark Gattis appeared in more than one episode inside a season.
WINTERFELL: The feelings again... we had Sansa/Jon reunion in previous season, we had Sansa/Bran reunion in previous episode and now we also have Sansa/Arya reunion and Arya/Bran reunion. I find it really interesting how Sansa, who is the least Stark-ish in many people's eyes, is the most heavily involved in all these reunions. And not couting Jon, all the Starks are together in this episode and there is such significant scene of them walking together in the courtyard with Littlefinger uneasily staring at them. Yes, lord Serpent among the wolves, your plans are surely threatened now. So if I touch Sansa/Arya reunion a bit... unlike Sansa who was freely allowed to enter Castle Black, Arya had a bit of trouble entering Winterfell and it was such a nice callback to the scene back in S1 when the gold cloaks didn't allow her to enter Red Keep. Any way, Arya managed to smuggle herself to the crypt and there she met Sansa, a sister with whom she never went along. This reunion was a bit more »official« but I could still sense the sisters were happy to see each other. I especially liked how they first cracked some jokes on their old rivalry... how Arya needs to call Sansa »lady Stark« but Sansa smiled afterwards and tenderly hugged Arya.
But of course, everything wasn't so sweet as Arya revealed to Sansa she's been killing people on her list, something that Sansa didn't believe at first, but it became quite clear to her when Arya and Brienne were practicing fighting in the courtyard, Brienne with typical medieval fighting and Arya with water-dancing and it ended in a draw. There was some sort of unease on Sansa's face after seeing it... there has been a lot of discussion on this subject and I think it was not jealousy, but concern and maybe a bit of fear. Her siblings are back, but it's not the same... Bran is different and Arya is a killer. I can imagine it must be hard for Sansa at this point, despite her going through some absoulte horrifying stuff. But what I'm more worried about is the look LF gave to Sansa and then Brienne... what is he planning?
Speaking of Bran, I found it interesting how Sansa sounded sad when she revealed to Arya that he's back as well. And there was also that scene with Meera, when she said goodbye to him and he was quite cold overall. Yes, being the »Three Eyed Raven« takes its toll as Bran was no longer Brandon Stark only, but a person with memories of all previous three-eyed-ravens (which I believe it's just a title for the most powerful greenseer). »You died in that cave« - quite a sad scene from Meera and I also wonder if this episode was the last time we saw her. Her character really grew on me in previous season and I will be sad if we never see her again. Another thing I need to mention is that LF gave the dagger to Bran, the same one he nearly got killed with. Rule with LF: don't trust a word he says and I'm really worried what he's planning to do next. Bran gave this dagger to Arya then and it really makes me wonder if there is more to this scene and if this dagger will come in handy later... just my speculation though.
DRAGONSTONE: Our dragon queen is losing all the allies. Yes, the »mighty« alliance between Targaryens, Tyrells, Martells and Greyjoys has come to an end, thanks to Lannisters, Tarlys and different Greyjoy. Olenna is dead, Ellaria is in the dungeons of the Red Keep, Yara is Euron's prisoner. All that remains is Theon who returned to Dragonstone in this episode. But before I deal with this alliance stuff, let me touch Jon first. After really tense scenes between him and Daenerys in previous episode, he »impressed the girl« in this episode. Yes, it really seemed to me that he was flirting with her. He took her to the cave, where he planned to mine the dragonstone for dragonglass weaponry and Dany was stunned by the beautiful sight. But this was not it... he took her further to an old cave where the Children left their marks... how them and the First Men united together against the common enemy, White Walkers. Dany was provided official proof of these demons' existence and she promised Jon to help him fight them... as long as he bends the knee to her. DON'T...BEND...THE...KNEEE...JON! Thakfully, he didn't, at least not yet. Well, I would be fine with him bending the knee if he was allowed to keep the »King in the North« title. Also, I was able to really warm to Dany in this episode. As I often said, the character is the best in her tender scenes and the scenes in the cave were a great example of it. Despite calling herself »queen of Seven Kingdoms«, there is so little she knows about themand I liked how stunned she seemed in this episode.
But after these heartwarming moments, the news finally reached Dany about Tyrells' defeat and she immediately went into rage mode to the point that even her advisors seem to feel uneasy. After all, she's still a Targaryen and there is history of particulary violent kings (Maegor, Aerys). Any way, she wanted to attack KL with her dragons despite the number of possible innocent casualities... but there was a slightly better plan that would only include the soldiers casualities and would indirectly damage KL without even needing to attack it. More of it in next chapter as I also need to focus on another reunion... Theon and Jon. Unlike all the Starks reunion, this one was not pleasant at all. Jon, being a typical Northman, angrily confronted Theon and revealed that the only reason he's still alive is because he helped Sansa escape. But now to the big stuff....
THE REACH: Good news... gold reached King's Landing. Bad news... it was the only thing to reach King's Landing, all thanks to horse-riding screamers and a giant winged fire-breathing reptile. Yes, I'm talking about the expected battle between the Lannister forces and Targaryen forces which ended with a firm defeat of House Lannister. Here follows some past speculation from the trailer: I remember seeing the Dothraki charging and Lannister army marching. And there were so many comment »Only a fool would meet the Dohtraki on the open field« and I was like »Please don't make Cersei THAT stupid that she would command Lannister forces to meet Targaryen army on the open field.« Everyone in Westeros knows the story about the infamous Field of Fire (also mentioned in S1 Histories and Lore) where three dragons defeated the combined army of the West and Reach (similar to Jaime's army in this episode), resulting in one king's death, submission of the second king and the surrender of the third king who wanted to spare his own people a similar fate.
No, Cersei wasn't that stupid because this new »Field of Fire« was more of an ambush. And the thing is that if the attack consisted only of Dohtraki, Lannisters might have won due to the pikemen wall they formed. Here I remembered the story of Khal Temmo (narrated by Jorah Mormont in S3 Histories and Lore) how a couple thousand Unsullied defended the city of Qohor from a massive khalasar as the Dohtraki kept repeatedly charging into their wall of spears instead of being tactical enough to surround them and attack them from sides. And first, it seemed it will be like that here as well... but the Dohtraki weren't alone in this case, as they had a dragon protecting their back. Drogon with Daenerys on his back did just enough damage with his fire to break the Lannisters' pike wall and the Dohtraki were able to break through. Without pikemen, the infantry is helpless against the cavalry attack and so it happened here. On top of that, Drogon occassionally helped the Dothraki with his fire and also burned all the carts with supplies. So King's Landing will be left without food and it would be only a matter of time before riots start.
But there was another not-so-pleasant revelation for Daenerys as she realized her dragon is not invincible and neither is she on his back. During all the chaos, Bronn unveiled the giant scorpion and started shooting at Drogon. Yes, there was an event from 300 years ago (also mentioned in Histories and Lore) how one of Aegon's orignal three dragons got killed when a scorpion bolt pierced his head. And Drogon was in the same danger here. The first bolt missed him, but the second one hit him in the shoulder, crippling his right wing and nearly causing him to crash. Not only Drogon, Daenerys was in danger here as well as she was on his back at this point. Sadly (or happily...depends on character's perspective), Bronn wasn't able to fire another bolt as Drogon spotted him and burned the scorpion to ashes with Bronn very narrowly escaping from being burned himself. I must say I considered both possibilites of Bronn and Drogon dying. I initially believed that Bronn will die in S5 (due to my mind still being influenced by books in that case) and here, I was a bit worried as well. But I can say it would be really epic if he died in this scene. On the other hand, I'm thinking what could be the worst possible thing that could happen to Dany. And that would be the death of one of her dragons so Drogon dying would add more bittersweet taste to Dany's victory.
Before I wrap this story, I must also say that I liked how »grey« the battle felt for me. I couldn't fully root for one side. Jaime and Bronn are among my favorite characters and on the other hand, I have Tyrion and also Jon and Daenerys tries to do more good to the realm in general and it's something I cannot overlook. And judging by Tyrion's look in this episode, he was conflicted as well... on one hand, he fought for »good of the realm«, on other hand, he watched »his own people« being burned. And on top of that, his brother and his friend Bronn were part of this battle as well.
So after Drogon got crippled, Jaime, overwhelmed with deaths of so many soldiers, made the final charge on Dany who was trying to remove the scorpion bolt and the only thing that saved her was that Drogon spotted Jaime and tried to burn him, only for Bronn to push him out of the way in right time. And then we see Jaime going deep into the water. Did he die? If he did, he went down like every knight should...if he didn't, I will be even more happy as that means more scenes of him. I also liked how selfless Bronn seemed in this episode, first leaving the gold on the floor while running towards the scorpion and then saving Jaime from death.
So this is it! I think I wrapped everything with this review. It was a really epic and beautiful episode at the same time and that's the best combination when it comes to my personal enjoyment of episodes. On my ranklist, I decided to put this episode on rank 4, behind »The Winds of Winter« and ahead of »The Door«. And of course, that's the area of my 10/10 rated episodes. This season is really epic so far and I hope some episode reaches new heights of my ranklist. It will be tough to beat my top 3, but everything is possible.
With best regards from Lord Parramandas.