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

Hi everyone and welcome to the fourth of the weekly episode recaps I’m doing for the new season of my favourite television series, „Game of Thrones“. These recaps contain MASSIVE SPOILERS, so please proceed with caution: DO NOT READ if you haven’t seen the episode yet and intend to do so later.

Highgarden

A very long line of Lannister soldiers is marching back from Highgarden to Kings Landing, bringing home the Tyrells‘ gold to pay the Lannister’s debts to the Iron Bank, as well as supplies they took as tribute from the local farmers. Jaime opens the carriage that is full of gold and hands a big bag of gold to Bronn who can’t help but notice that Jaime looks somewhat gloomy. Of course he doesn’t know that Jaime was just reminded of Joffrey’s death in the most unpleasant way possible, but inadvertently, he almost guesses right: „The Queen of Thorns gave you one last prick in the balls before saying goodbye?“ Besides, he thinks that all the gold doesn’t really pay for his service; he’s still after a castle. Jaime reminds him that „the more you own, the more it weighs you down“ (and as a son of Westeros’s richest family he should know what it feels like to own a lot).

Kings Landing

Tycho Nestorys is surprised how Cersei is actually managing to pay all the debts at once (which is in fact pretty easy when you just went full Rains of Castamere on Westeros’s second richest family). Tycho isn’t too pleased, though, because the full payback actually causes his institution to lose a lot of interest payments, and of course he offers a followup loan. Cersei could indeed use that since she asked Qyburn to make „overtures“ to the Golden Company, an elite mercenary company over in Essos.

The North

Littlefinger has a very interesting gift for Bran: the Valyrian Steel dagger that the assassin used when he tried to kill the unconscious Bran in Season 1, stopped by Catelyn and then by Bran’s now deceased direwolf, Summer. Baelish also claims that he will always be their to protect the Stark children since he wasn’t able to save their mother whom he used to be in love with. He tells Bran that the question whom the dagger belonged to started the War of the Five Kings, and bemoans all the „chaos in the world“. Bran loses no time and throws Petyr’s own words from the great monologue in the Season 3 finale back at him: „Chaos is a ladder.“ Littlefinger tries — a little too hard — not to twitch.
Next up, Meera Reed comes to say goodbye to Bran. She finds his rather emotionless „thank you“ a bit weak: „My brother died for you. Hodor and Summer died for you. I almost died for you.“ So he tells her his secret: „I’m not really [Bran] any more.“ Meera concludes: „You died in that cave“ and leaves in tears.
Then we see Winterfell from afar, in the Snow. Arya is on her horse, looking at her home. Next up, she’s at the gate, and the guards don’t believe a word of what she says (much like the guards of the Red Keep in Season 1), especially because she doesn’t have current information; she cannot know that both Rodrik Cassel and Maester Luwin are dead. They have a nice bit of back and forth until Arya has had enough: „I’m getting into this castle one way or another. If I’m not who I say I am, I won’t last long, but if I am and Sansa finds out you turned me away…“ She doesn’t have to finish the sentence; the guards let her into the courtyard. Of course, while they quarrel over who will stay and watch her and who will go tell Sansa, Arya is gone. So they both go to Sansa and promise her to find the „intruder“. She just smiles and replies that she knows where Arya is.
And so, after all those years, the two sisters meet in the crypts. „You shouldn’t have run from the guards“, Sansa says after their hug. „I didn’t run“, Arya replies, „you need better guards.“ She also complains about their father’s statue in the crypts: „It should have been carved by someone who knew his face.“ Besides, she says she was angry when she heard that someone else got the chance to kill Joffrey: „No matter how long my list grows, he was always first.“ Sansa is somewhat bewildered when she learns that her sister has that kill list, and at first she tries to shrug it off as a joke.
Even though Bran claims that he isn’t himself any more, he does hug Arya back, and he checked in on her as he seems to do with all family members: „I saw you at the crossroads.“ He suspected that she might go to Kings Landing (which was in fact what she had planned before she had learned that Winterfell was taken back by its rightful resident family) because „Cersei is on her list of names“. Now even Sansa has to admit that said list is in fact real. Arya and Sansa notice the dagger Littlefinger gave to Bran. „He’s not a generous man“, Sansa says, „he wouldn’t give you anything unless he thought he would get something back“. Which doesn’t matter, according to Bran, because it’s of no use to him, and so he gives it to Arya.

A few days later, Arya sees Brienne training Podrick at swordplay in the courtyard. Arya wants a round of her own since the Master-at-Arms didn’t beat the Hound, unlike Brienne. Soon enough, a very fine swordplay sequence ensues, ending in a draw. „Who taught you how to do that?“ Brienne asks quite surprised. „No one“, Arya answers. The subsequent exchange of stares between Arya and Littlefinger, who has watched from the balustrade with Sansa, is quite interesting — Arya clearly looks threatening while he cannot fully hide a bit of fear.

Dragonstone

Daenerys and Missandei are walking down the long staircase from the castle to the beach. The Queen’s trusted advisor is worried about Grey Worm who hasn’t returned from Casterly Rock yet. Daenerys tries to soothe her and also asks about the relationship her and the eunuch officer: „What happened?“ Missandei just replies: „Many things.“
At the bottom of the stairs, they meet Jon Snow who has been waiting for them. He leads them into the cave where they’re mining for dragonglass. Walking on with the Queen alone, he shows her ancient carvings made by the Children of the Forest. The pictures tell the story of how they were in that very cave together with the First Men, overcoming their differences and bonding against their common enemy: the White Walkers. Interestingly we know from one of Bran’s visions that the Night King himself was created by the Children who pierced a mortal man’s heart with dragonglass in order to fight the First Men. It looks like they weren’t able to control him in a kind of „the spirits that I called“ fashion and had to ask their former enemies for help. „We need to do the same if we’re gonna survive“, Jon tells Dany. „I will fight for you“, she decides, but of course she keeps insisting that he bends the knee. It will be interesting to see who of them falters first, especially as it looks like they’re slowly warming up to each other.
Right when they come out of the cave, Tyrion and Varys are there and inform them that the Unsullied have conquered Casterly Rock. What sounds like good news is in fact just Jaime’s trap they ran into, and so Dany soon is furious: „All my allies are gone!“ Tyrion tries to convince her that besieging Kings Landing is still the right plan, but she’s had it. „Enough with the clever plans“, she declares, looking at her dragons who are circling over the sea. She wants to fly to the Red Keep and to confront Cersei herself, but first she asks Jon for his council. He says that by hatching dragons, she made something impossible happen, and that people may hope for her to make other impossible things happen, especially to build a better world „than the shit one they’ve known.“ By burning cities and castles, however, she would only prove that she is no better but just more of the same.

When Daenerys is gone, Davos asks Jon what he thinks of the Queen. „She has a good heart“, the King in the North replies, which makes his Hand joke: „I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart“. Missandei asks Jon whether his alleged father and he don’t share a last name. When learning why, she explains that they don’t have marriage in Naath, which makes the concept of bastards unknown to them. She also makes clear that everyone who followed Dany from Essos did so out of their own free will, choosing her as their Queen because they believe in her.
While they’re all standing at the shore, a Greyjoy ship arrives. It’s the one that saved Theon. The confrontation between the latter and Jon is not too friendly because the King cannot simply forgive what Theon did to his family. The only reason he doesn’t kill him right away is that he saved Sansa from Ramsay. Theon has come to tell the Queen that his sister Yara was taken prisoner by their uncle Euron. Jon replies that „the Queen is gone“.

The scene switches to the Lannister Army, most of whom have already crossed the Blackwater — we learn that especially the gold has made it through the gates of the Red Keep. Randyll Tarly suggests flogging stragglers to speed up the rest of the process, but Jaime proves once again to be the better man by suggesting to „give them fair warning first“. Bronn has his „Bronn moment“ when he laughs about Dickon Tarly’s first name (and the latter doesn’t even go full Draco Malfoy about it). The latter didn’t expect war to smell that bad, but of course Bronn tells him that „men shit themselves when they die“.

All of a sudden, a horde of Dothraki on horseback can be heard, and soon also be seen all over the horizon. The remaining Lannister force hastily forms a line of defence. But they have no chance against the mightiest weapon that also approaches: Daenerys on Drogon’s back. The large dragon has been compared to a fighter jet attacking a medieval army by many commenters — he quickly burns an opening into the line of defence so that the Dothraki can easily overrun their opponents. One must admit that the Lannister army fights bravely, but they don’t really stand a chance against the superior numbers.
Meanwhile, Dany makes Drogon burn down the long trek of supplies — this will probably make the siege on Kings Landing much quicker.
Finally, Jaime decides to use the scorpion device Qyburn has built to shoot the Targaryen Air Force out of the sky. With his one hand, he cannot use it himself, and so Bronn gets his chance at being Bard the Bowman. Before he even gets there, he loses both his horse and his bag of gold.
Tyrion is standing on a hill with several Dothraki. One of them says in his mother tongue: „Your people don’t know how to fight“. We don’t know whether Tyrion understands it; his sullen look may well be due to the horror of the battle he has to witness.
Bronn’s second shooting attempt succeeds. Drogon doesn’t die, but he’s forced to perform an emergency landing and destroys the scorpion once he has done so. When Dany tries to pull the scorpion bolt out of her child’s hide, Jaime gets desperate and charges at her with a spear. He must truly be afraid that she will burn the city to the ground, just like her father whom he once killed to prevent just that. „Flee, you idiot“, Tyrion mutters under his breath, watching his brother on that suicide mission. Drogon turns around and breathes fire, but in the very last moment, someone (probably Bronn) arrives on another horse, shoves Jaime off his, and they both fall into the water. The episode ends with Jaime slowly sinking to the ground due to the weight of his armour and his golden hand.

Takeaways

  • So Cersei wants to hire the Golden Company. In the books, they were founded by Blackfyre (a bastard branch of House Targaryen) loyalists who had fled to Essos after a failed coup d’état. They have never broken a contract before we meet them, but now they do because they support a young boy called Aegon. That boy, who posed as the son of exiled knight Jon Connington, is believed by some to be the elder son of Rhaegar Targaryen (who was switched with a peasant boy before the Mountain killed Aegon’s sister and said boy). Many readers, myself included, believe that he isn’t really Aegon VI Targaryen, but a Blackfyre because that would be the only reason for the Golden Company to break a contract for him. (He might be the son of Illyrio Mopatis and his deceased wife, Serra, whose description fits with the features of a Targaryen or Blackfyre.) Now, I don’t think that they will introduce Aegon, fake or not, at the eleventh hour of the show. In the show, the Golden Company might willingly fight for Cersei out of their contempt towards Targaryens in general and the current one, Dany, in particular. I have a crazy idea who might have ended up among their ranks: Gendry! He could have rowed from Dragonstone to Essos, joined them as a blacksmith and kept a low profile for a few years. Maybe they even support his claim for the throne as Robert’s last living heir (and stick the finger to Cersei), but in any case I think we’re going to meet him among them.
  • Jaime will probably survive, or at least I hope so. The Internet is speculating about the person who saved him. I’m pretty sure it was Bronn, but some think it was Dickon Tarly or even Tyrion (which is ridiculous because the person was way too tall).
  • Did the Tarlys survive the battle? And is that of any consequence anyway?
  • And of course: is Littlefinger finally out of tricks, or will he pull something new and unexpected out of his sleeve?

Conclusion

At just 47 minutes, this was thee shortest episode not only of the current season, but of the series as such. And it was quite intense, especially the dragon action battle at its end. Once again, I have to give it the full five out of five seven-pointed stars. Besides, I may have to find a new unit. As Jaime and Bronn correctly pointed out at the beginning of the episode, there is no more High Septon – and even the window of the throne room in the Red Keep now sports a Lannister Lion instead of the ancient symbol of the faith.

Über Sascha Kersken

Ich habe seit 1983 Computer-Erfahrung und hatte das Glück, mein Hobby nach dem Abitur und einigen Umwegen zum Beruf zu machen. Ich arbeite bei der dimensional GmbH in Köln als Senior Developer, unter anderem mit PHP und Java. Seit 1996 bin ich zusätzlich als freiberuflicher Dozent in den Bereichen Administration, Programmierung und Webentwicklung mit Schwerpunkt LAMP tätig, außerdem als Fachbuchautor und -übersetzer. Eine andere meiner großen Leidenschaften ist die Belletristik; 2016 erschien im Self-Publishing mein erster Roman "Göttersommer", der Teil 1 einer Trilogie ist.
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