If you’re keeping track of the score it’s Lannisters-3 Targaryens-1 (A useless castle should be a -1, but we’ll cut them some slack and give them a win). Last week, the internet was a buzz over whether Jon and Daenerys would hook up because someone somewhere on the interwebz thought he/she saw a glance between the two. Very few people mentioned Cersei going down on her own brother. At this point in the series, we should all be use to the game of incest going on in the series. “The Queen’s Justice,” put Daenerys in quite a precarious position- Will she or won’t she use the dragons? “The Spoils of War” answered the question, but left us asking more questions.
First thing first, “The Spoils of War” should, and in my opinion does, rank up in the top five best Game of Thrones episodes (“Hardhome” being the best episode).First, the boring things up North. Arya returned to Winterfell quicker than Varys sailed to Dorne. This isn’t as much of a complaint as it sounds. We’re now half way through season seven, things need to be moving along quicker than in the first six seasons. Arya arriving at Winterfell at warp speed shows showrunners can cut a lot of things out to move the series along. Viewers are smart enough to fill in the blanks between scenes.
The rest of the time at Winterfell was pretty much filler. Arya reunited with Bran. Bran was doing his Three Eyed Raven creepy thing. Except, Bran is no longer Bran. Meera explained in one line what the internet has been buzzing about for weeks. The last thing she says before leaving Winterfell is,”Bran died in that cave.” The Bran we knew is gone for good. Expect the Three Eyed Raven side of Bran to become more dominate as the series progresses. By the final episode all aspects of Bran will be gone. Only the Three Eyed Raven will remain when the final credits roll.
Brienne of Tarth admitted what many of us have been saying for awhile- she hasn’t done anything. Brienne has been a wasted character from the moment she was introduced to the series. Her one shining moment was when she killed the Hound in combat. Except, the Hound isn’t dead. She did kill Stannis Baratheon, but he was on death’s doorstep long before Brienne found him.
Brienne really hasn’t had too much of role in the series since she returned Jamie to King’s Landing. Any character could easily be slid into Brienne’s place and the result would be the same. It’s a shame because Gwendoline Christie is a good actress.
To add insult to injury, Arya schools her in combat. Fine, it was just “training,” but by the end you really get the feeling Brienne was trying to land a blow. Even worse, Brienne asks her who taught her and Arya answers, “No one.” Let’s just pretend the statement is true. We’d have to ignore her training with Syrio Forel, her time with the Brotherhood without Banners, her time with the Hound, and her time with the Faceless Men. Fine. For the sake of argument Arya did not pick up or learn anything from anyone. This would mean Brienne’s years of training were undone by a girl with no training whatsoever.
The reunion between Arya and Sansa wasn’t as tense as the leaked scripts and plots claimed it was going to play out screen. Arya tells Sansa she has a hit list and Cersei is at the top of it. In a typical big sister way Sansa gives her a “that’s cute in a weird way” smile. It’s cute until Bran confirms to her the fact the hit list is a real thing.
Maybe it’s unfair to say what happened in the North was boring and filler. Some events should have repercussions in future episodes. Bran gave Arya a dagger, the dagger that was going to be used to kill him, made of dragon glass. Does this mean Arya is going to kill the Night King? She’s in the North. The hordes of the dead are quickly (Quick being a relative term in Game of Thrones) approaching. She’s got the dagger, now who is she going to kill with it? Let’s be honest though, the real story was happening way down south.
There’s no slowing down Daenerys’s power trip. Even after Jon shows here the conveniently located and professionally laid out cave paintings depicting the horrors of the White Walkers she still asks him to bow to her. Tyrion pleads to her not use the dragons. His argument that they could blockade Blackwater Bay (see last week’s post on why a blockade wouldn’t work) fell on deaf ears. Even Jon Snow tells her she wouldn’t be any different from her father if she used the dragons. Somewhere between the shore and the attack a compromise to only use one dragon was agreed upon (I’m totally making that up, but why not use all three?)
One of things, for me at least, that makes Game of Thrones enjoyable to watch is when military tactics and strategies are realistically used in the series. We catch up to Jamie in “The Spoils of War” as the Lannister force are marching from Highgarden with Tyrell gold, the spoils of war, in tow. Lord Tarly mentions to Jamie the army and baggage train is spread to thin. Historically, even up to more modern times, an army on the march did not want to become spread to thin or be to far from its supplies. Gaps in the columns and any real distance from supplies were areas an enemy could attack. The loss of supplies could be disastrous for an army on the march.
Ultimately, gaps in the Lannister line were the least of Jamie’s problems. Problem one- the horde of Dothraki attacking his flank. Problem two- the fire breathing dragon. Jamie learned the hard way there are really no military strategies for when an army is confronted with a fire breathing dragon.
There have been some amazingly shot and choreographed fights in Game of Thrones. The Dothraki attack in “The Spoils of War” could possibly be the best shot fight we’ve seen in the series. Adding to Dothraki shooting bows from horseback, moving troops into formation, and horses having their legs cut off there was a lot of fire. A lot. And explosions.
There’s going to be a lot of questions asked about events in “Spoils of War.” The biggest question will be, “Is Jamie dead?” Just when he’s about to be charred to death someone tackles him into the river. That someone will turn out to be Bronn. Jamie’s fake hand, made for a rich man with expensive materials, weighs enough to drag him down to the bottom of the river. But Jamie Lannister, the King Slayer, will not drown to death. A fake hand is easily lost, armor is easily taken off, and whoever (Maybe Dickon?) tackled him easily drags him to the shore on the other side of the river. None of these things are really easy. In reality, Jamie is dead man. But this isn’t reality, this is Game of Thrones.
At the beginning of “The Spoils of War,” the Lannisters had the upper hand. As the credits roll, the tide has turned in Daenerys favor. But at what cost? Word of the dragon attack will spread. Now it remains to bee seen if she will have any allies in Westeros.