Warning. Everything in this post is a spoiler.
Well, Sunday’s episode pushed us over the halfway mark. In only three weeks Game of Thrones will conclude its seventh season and we will again enter The Long Night. If the remaining episodes can somehow build on The Spoils of War we’ll have have more than enough hype to carry us through.
The episode opens with A Song of Ice and Fire’s greatest character, Bran. He receives the loathsome Littlefinger, whom in his conniving, manipulative way thinks it prudent to gift a clearly damaged child the weapon that almost ended his life. I feel no shame in confessing that I hoped Bran would take said gift, flip it around, and shank the living tar out of Littlefinger. Instead, Bran decides to drag out the process of Littlefinger’s shame and downfall, turning his own words against him (“chaos is a ladder”), causing his mind to splinter into a million pieces.
We are, thankfully, at a point where Littlefinger’s demise is imminent. Just one week after instructing Sansa to “fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind” he comes face to face with a character that is one step shy of omniscient. So much for being one step ahead of everyone chap. With the caveat that this show is known for turning assured situations on their head, I look forward to watching Littlefinger’s plans unravel over the next three weeks.
Now more than ever we must take care to watch everything Bran does. As the three-eyed raven he has a plan. Losing his entire self north of the wall, means his sole purpose will be directed to defeating the White Walkers. Every move he makes from here on out, however subtle, will be carefully calculated, will subtly shifts pawns into place; like giving Arya the catspaw’s Valyrian steel dagger.
Back in episode 7.1, Dragonstone, this very same dagger is highlighted in the book Sam ‘borrows’ from the restricted section. Last week I said—referring to Davos almost revealing Jon’s death—that when things/events/questions are mentioned twice they move from coincidental to consequential.
In The Spoils of War, Bran asks Littlefinger if he knows who its owner was. The pertinent passage from Sam’s book refers to the Targaryens. It is not a stretch to think this dagger belonged to a Targaryen we know. But if so, who? In the show only three Targaryens other than Daenerys have had a reasonable amount of screentime or exposition: Aemon Targaryen, Maester at the Wall; Aegon Targaryen, the first Targaryen King of Westeros; and Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys’s brother and Jon Snow’s father. Of these few the likely answer, what with the lingering revelation of Jon Snow’s parentage, is Rhaegar. If this turns out to be true the greater question is, why does it matter and what bearing does it have on the story? Will Arya use it as effectively as she did in her sparring with Brienne?
On Dragonstone, Daenerys prevents Jon from leaving. She does, however, perform an about face when shown convenient, ancient cave carvings. For a woman that doesn’t believe Jon and Davos at their word about White Walkers (and rightly so) she seems far too willing to believe in evidence of their existence provided courtesy of another near-mythical species.
Finally, this week, the battle! Field of Fire 2.0, or should we call it Fields of Gold, is in immediate contention for the best Game of Thrones battle. Tell me that when Drogon appears over the grassy hills chills didn’t run up your spine. Lie to me and say you didn’t screech in giddy anticipation as Daenerys and the Dothraki bore down on the Lannisters. I mean, we got a dragon in full combat! We have never been so blessed.
Brief moments in other battles, such as Jon shattering a White Walker with Longclaw, or the charge during Battle of the Bastards, were brilliant but none have been able to sustain suspense and tension for long. Until this week. In the span of ten minutes I went from rooting for the Dothraki and Daenerys, to feeling the fear of the Lannister foot soldiers, to being absorbed in Bronn’s dash for his life, to cheering for Bronn’s cleverness, to cursing Bronn’s name for nearly killing Drogon, to sympathizing with Tyrion, to praying for Jaime. My emotions were set aflame like the cargo train.
We have dragons to thank for this never-ending sense of awe and unease. The destruction they bring is both exhilarating and terrifying. Now imagine what all three dragons could do if unleashed. The Night King better get to work on that Ice Dragon or he’s screwed.
The Spoils of War ends with Jaime sinking into a pond that has conveniently transformed into an ocean. I’m have no doubt he is alive; Bronn, who is not wearing armor, will save him. In the words of a friend “full plate armor sinks, but plot armor floats”.
Questions and Daydream Material for Episode 5:
- What will become of Jaime?
- Dany threatens to murder those who will not bend the knee. Is she stepping closer to the madness that plagued her father? Will Tyrion and Varys be able to convince her to instead take the path of prudence, justice, and mercy?
- Jon gets up close and personal with Drogon. Perhaps he tries to leave Dragonstone but is prevented by the return of Daenerys.
- Bran sends word to Jon about the White Walker’s progress south. Will the final two episodes build to an epic confrontation between the armies of the living and dead?