“The Game of Thrones is a ladder”.
I can’t be alone in thinking that Season 7 of Game of Thrones has been a bit rough on Daenerys. She closed out Season 6 looking like an unstoppable storm about to crash into Kings Landing – but has spent the first three episodes of this season getting her ass handed to her via proxy. She lost the Tyrell’s, the Dourne army and took hold of a castle the Lannister’s weren’t all that keen on keeping hold of. So, of course, she had to have a better week. The question is, did the Spoils of War deliver the fun?
Things started out slower during The Spoils of War – as the show slowed down to embrace the spoils of last weeks highlights. Cersai’s delight at being able to repay the Iron Bank helped set the tone for the episode – as her recent successes had consequences elsewhere. Certainly, in the little time we spent down in Kings Landing, both party’s seemed to be forging one hell of a convenience pack. I guess the show desperately needs the Iron Banks presence at this stage – without the Braavos scenes to pad them out – this is the best way of keeping them in audiences minds.
Nowhere was the effects of Cersai’s success felt more than over on Dragonstone, where Daenerys is fast learning that having the biggest fleet means nothing if you listen to the worst advice. No sooner had Jon Snow taken a poke around her lower caverns (Sadly, not what you’re thinking) that she learned of the Tyrell’s demise. Tyrion’s awful advice finally got called out for what it was – as Daenerys pondered riding into battle on her dragons. Even Jon Snow seemed reluctant to get on board with this idea – telling her to be different. You could hear the screams of audiences begging Dany to mount her dragon and take off – something she did without telling anyone at the end of the episode.
The real star of this weeks episode came in the final 15 minutes. After seven seasons of waiting patiently, audiences were finally granted the visual of Daenerys riding her dragons across Westeros and…. it was glorious. I won’t even lie at this stage – the visual of the Dothraki horde marching over the hill and charging down the Lannister position was just beautifully put together – finally giving audiences the showdown they’d been craving to see for the longest time. It was glorious – filled with memorable moments and genuine tension as the Lannister’s desperately tried to fight back. The ending with Jaimie sinking into the lake wants audiences to ponder if he’s dead – but I don’t see it playing out that way.
I approve of this whole arc for the most part, if only because it finally breaks the cycle of bad advice people have been offering up to Daenerys this season. Telling her to sit on the sidelines when she’s got three full grown dragons was wasteful – and while the show didn’t do a great job in finding reasons for her not to do that – she’s now doing the sensible thing. With the season finale looming – hopefully, this is a sign that the teasing can end – and audiences can prepare for something a bit more entertaining.
Littlefinger also remains as elusive as ever up at Winterfell, casting an ominous shadow over proceedings. I enjoyed his and Bran’s back-and-forth; as Littlefinger recoiled upon hearing Bran repeat his Season One line. I am curious to know where this eventually leads, as one assumes that Bran will figure out Littlefinger’s role in the larger scheme of murdering his father sooner or later. I’d like to think the shows writers will explore this moving forward – but it’s hard to judge what they deem as “essential” at this stage.
There was also another major Stark reunion up in the North, as Arya made her way back to Winterfell. I loved the initial hesitation on the Winterfell guards part to believe it was her – only for Sansa to instantly know where her long-lost sister would go. The scene with them under Winterfell was heartfelt, with neither wanting to divulge the tortuous path they’d taken to get back to their home. I also appreciated how Sansa initially didn’t believe Arya when she mentioned she had a list – only for it to slowly dawn on her that Arya had, in fact, become a cold-blooded assassin.
The show didn’t take long in getting Arya back among the major characters – as she took on Brien in a heated battle. Suffice to say, this helped to establish Arya’s combat readiness. It also provided ample window space for Arya to size up Littlefinger – who watched over proceedings with keen interest. It’ll be fun to see how her return adds to the growing sense of “too many cooks” hanging around Winterfell. The Spoils of War certainly threw the cat among the pigeons.
Overall there was a lot to like in The Spoils of War. Nothing says exciting like watching a dragon burn away an entire army – with the promise of two more dragons on the sideline. The growing relationship between Daenerys and Jon feels slightly rushed, but given how glancing most of this season has been thus far – it doesn’t surprise me. The big question is how will Cersai respond to this huge setback? And how long can Winterfell contain all those egos?
As a long time fan of the show, this was one of those episodes I’ve been waiting to see for so long. That final scene alone steals the show – the rest is solid all around.