Title: Game of Thrones: “The Spoils of War”
Air Date: August 6, 2017
Before we begin – Yes, there are Game of Thrones spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Read our reviews for earlier episodes this season:
Now that’s what a dragon can do. “The Spoils of War” continued the upward trend for Game of Thrones episodes this season, easily surpassing the first three episodes of this season and culminating in one of the most exciting set pieces the show has ever put forth. Like the meeting between Daenerys and Jon last week, we’ve been waiting for decades to see a dragon take to the sky on the battlefields of Westeros. The tension the show managed to elicit from Dany’s dragon-riding made for a heart-pounding finale. And the emphasis on danger coming from unexpected places continues to remain the focus of this season.
Before we get to the fiery finale, let’s start at the beginning. Hot off of last week’s surprise tactics, Jaime, Bronn, and their troops are headed back to King’s Landing with the gold and food of House Tyrell in tow. It was good to see Bronn, one of the best talkers on Game of Thrones, finally get some lines again. His relationship with Jaime is becoming more and more strained, which will definitely come in to play with the ambiguous ending we got this week. When Bronn finds out Tyrion is still kicking (and working with the Dragon Queen), he may decide the grass is greener on Dragonstone.
Other than the fields with the Lannister army, we probably spent the most time this episode in Winterfell. Arya came home (drat, my fantasy of her being the Iron Bank guy was dashed) and got a somewhat more heartfelt reunion than the one between Sansa and Bran. It is interesting seeing just how wildly the lives of the last remaining Starks have deviated, and yet they have all returned to their ancestral home just when they need each other the most.
Speaking of needing one another, everyone’s creepy uncle Petyr Baelish is starting to realize that he may be in over his head. After gifting the Valyrian dagger to Bran, only to have Bran throw his words back in his face (plus quote Littlefinger’s “Chaos is a ladder” line), it became obvious that the lord of the mockingbird was a bit shaken. Then, watching Arya handily best Brienne of Tarth, one of the best fighters in Westeros… I still think his time is close to up, but never count out Baelish. He is clearly looking for ways to weaponize the Starks to his advantage. He may have overplayed his hand, especially because Bran probably knows his past crimes against the family.
Jon was really the odd man out this week; he is still as mopey as ever. The showrunners are trying to develop a bit of chemistry between Dany and Jon, but so far it just isn’t working. Moving on.
For one more awkward family reunion, Jon and Thron Greyjoy got reunited on Dragonstone. “Sorry about pretending to kill your brothers, then abetting the man who raped your sister and defiled your childhood home. Good to see you!” Their scene had some serious tension, but the main tense moment came from the final line of the scene: “The queen is gone.”
Which brings us to a new contender for “Best Game of Thrones Battle Scene.” The entire scene at the Lannister camp was perfection: the initial confidence (Bronn laughing at a character named “Dickon” was a nice touch) slowly eroding as they realize something is amiss, the increasing volume of the Dothraki horses and war cry, and the absolute terror when the winged beast Drogon enters the fray – “The Spoils of War” is how you shoot a battle sequence. Even the subtle ways the different characters responded to the battle were perfect:
- Bronn – Knows the battle is lost immediately, but cannot flee because he will lose everything. Wounds the dragon, saves Jaime, but loses his money and may well be screwed when the chips fall.
- Jaime – Overconfident and determined to sacrifice himself on the battlefield. Barely lives to tell the tale, and will most likely wind up a prisoner of Daenerys (and Tyrion).
- Tyrion – Conflicted and questioning everything. Did he back the wrong person? And how much does he care for his family?
- Daenerys – Scariest of all, she seems to gradually be slipping into the role of the “Mad Queen.” She seemed ruthless and determined to torch her enemies after suffering just a few defeats. It took one of her “children” being wounded to snap her back into reality.
The ambiguous ending to the battle also raises a lot of questions for next week. Will Jaime and Bronn be taken prisoner? If so, which side will they choose? Jaime now knows that Tyrion did not kill Joffrey, after all, and Bronn has to decide if Tyrion’s side might be more lucrative (plus Tyrion was actually a friend to Bronn, as opposed to just an employer). If they are taken prisoner, will they try to leverage them for the release of Yara and/or Ellaria? If so, how will Cersei respond? How much of the gold and food did Dany’s attack manage to destroy or take for themselves? And just how did Jaime sink so far after being pushed off his horse into a pond?
Verdict: Was the fight better than “Battle of the Bastards?” To me, it felt like the best battle sequence the show had ever put forth, and the fact that it was pitting Dany against Jaime made it even more nail-biting. “The Spoils of War” was Game of Thrones at its finest, with a crazy action finale that a $150 million film would be happy to have. Easily the best episode of the season, and stands up there with the most exhilarating action scenes we’ve ever had on Game of Thrones.
- Arya is a little badass.
- Littlefinger may not have a way out.
- Bronn finally got to talk again!
- The final battle sequence was intense, conflicting, and beautifully shot.
- Too short. The earlier episodes this season have spoiled me!