The Spoils of War is one of those Game of Thrones episodes that is a slow burn where it seems like there’s not much going on and then WHAM! Horrific, glorious violence! Dragons! Dothraki! Drogon! Daenerys! Dickon! Dracarys! It’s all here, saving what was quickly becoming one of the slowest, most useless episodes of the season. Don’t get me wrong, slow isn’t necessarily a bad thing, hell, the season opener Stormborn is one of the best episodes of the series. It’s just that this episode was quickly becoming tiresome where literally almost nothing happens. Until the end, but we’re not there yet.
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way.
Jaime Lannister and Bronn are in the process of moving the titular spoils of war towards King’s Landing, pilfered gold and grain from the now defeated kingdom of Highgarden. The most important of which being the wagons full of gold as this is all being used to pay off the decades long debt owed to the Iron Bank of Bravos. Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss), the Iron Bank’s representative promises to support the Lannisters in all of their future endeavors and even hints at reaching out to the Golden Company in Essos to help bolster the Lannister army. All table setting I suppose, but not a lot going on in King’s Landing this week.
“Chaos is a Ladder.” – Bran
Slightly more going on in Winterfell. Littlefinger gives Bran the same Valyrian steel dagger that was used in the ill-fated assassination attempt on Bran’s life way back in season one as a way to endear himself to, I guess, what he thinks is the true Lord of Winterfell. Bran however, who insists that he’s not Brandon Stark anymore and is full Three-Eyed Raven, sees through Littlefinger’s shit. Even unsettling him a little bit when he repeats one of Littlefinger’s catch phrases “Chaos is a ladder”. I’m really not sure what Bran’s powers are as the Three Eyed Raven or even what it will mean in the grand scheme of things. He states that he can see the past and the future…or not. I don’t know. Whatever it means, it has mostly turned him into a moody teenager with a serious lack of social skills. Most evident when he coldly says goodbye to Meera Reed who is leaving the show to “be with her family” when the shit goes down next season. Alright, thanks for stopping by useless character. To be honest, if I’m a little touchy it’s because I feel Bran’s plot as the all knowing all seeing seer, both here and in the books, is really the weakest bit of this series. I get that he’s really just walking (heh) exposition for the whole backstory of the White Walkers and for some of the characters, but his murky “powers” and his journey to “fly” are things about which I just can’t muster the strength to care. I will say that while I figured at least one Stark will die this season before the big finale the Vegas odds are that it will be Bran. Meera tells Bran that as he’s now more or less a shell of a person that he really died back in the cave and since his potential, erm, “seeriness” (not a word) is unsettling Littlefinger, he’s not going to be around much longer. At least in this form. I get the feeling that this is one of those characters that will become more powerful than anyone can possibly imagine when struck down.
Or maybe I’m just hoping his death will spare another Stark that has just returned home, Arya, who has returned to Winterfell acting an altogether different kind of spooky. Less cryptic sayings and enigmatic phrases and more stab you in your face with my sweet new dual wielding skills kind. Pretty much the only thing of significance here is Arya, like Bran, has returned changed and it’s starting to upset Lady Stark (Sansa). The only place that I see all of this leading is into feeding Sansa’s budding nihilism, or so Littlefinger hopes at least for whatever plans that he has.
However I will say that the Arya vs. Brienne scene was kick ass.
Jon Snow has found a huge cache of Dragonglass and some nifty cave drawings of White Walkers (that he totally didn’t just draw), which he uses to try to convince Daenerys into joining forces to fight the evil in the north. Dany, for her part, says sure…all he has to do is bend the knee. Which he almost does…until she’s interrupted with the news about how Tyrion’s kind of, sort of, cocked up this entire war by getting all of their allies killed with his apparently not so good war strategy.
I have to say, this is the second time that Tyrion has fucked up in a major way, the first being his disastrous ruling in Mereen last season. At this point, maybe Tyrion is not as smart as he thinks he is. Which is a fitting trait for a Lannister sibling, all of whom want to be their father, but fall short in one way or another. As much of a fan I am of Tyrion, I feel his character has been pretty useless for the last few seasons. Peter Dinklage still brings the wit and charm (it’s impossible for this man to not be charming), but Tyrion as a character seems somewhat sidelined. He hasn’t had much impact in the story, and hasn’t had much agency since arriving in Meereen. I suppose it’s fitting really; this isn’t really his story, and as we approach the end of it we have to focus on the “main” characters, Jon and Daenerys. Tyrion is an elevated fan character (not unlike a Darth Vader or a Steve Urkel), important to the audience because WE like him and we want him to figure more into the plot. So much so, we have ridiculous fan theories of him being a secret Targaryen, but that’s another rant for another article.
King’s Landing (Again)
Tyrion’s poor strategy has created a problem of a well financed, and well fed, army, and of course it’s up to Daenerys to once again clean up the mess that he has created the only way that she knows how.
As slow as this episode was, this final scene of the Dothraki and Drogon ambushing the Lannister forces was amazing. Yes, Game of Thrones is amazing when it’s doing the whole “Game of Thrones-y” thing with the backstabbing, and the scheming and the Machiavellian plotting, but Game of Thrones is also amazing when a large mythical (and very well CGI’d) beast is melting fucking faces of an enemy we hate.
But, wait a second. DO we hate this particular enemy? Sure Cersei is evil and I suppose Jaime and Bronn are pretty evil too if we really want to be honest about it, but having both Jaime and Bronn in this battle, after all we’ve been through with these two characters since season one, played amazingly well with the audiences’ emotions. The battle changes from the viewpoint of Daenerys (Yay Dany!) massacring Lannister troops with Drogon, to Bron (Yay Bronn!) using Qyburn’s Scorpion in an attempt to get a killing shot on Drogon (Yay Drogon!) to Jaime making a last ditch attempt to end the war in one stroke by charging at Dany with a lance (Yay…Jaime?).
It’s not often that you cheer for both sides of the battle on this show, usually the enemy is pretty cut and dried, but this is a situation that we all knew we would eventually be faced with. It’s not just crazy Cersei and the “evil” Lannisters that we have to contend with, there are some (well, two) characters that we don’t really want to see die that are also on her side, and when they come into conflict with our hero characters…that’s going to be a big mess. All of that being said, this battle was just excellent. We’ve seen dragons, excuse me, dragon (she only uses one fucking dragon to take out the entire Lannister forces!) in combat before, but Drogon plus a wild Dothraki horde…we now have a full understanding of the damage that Dany’s army can do. Add in some of the sick Spear-Fu that the Unsullied are capable of and we’re talking about a great final battle when (if?) they take King’s Landing at the end of all of this season.
As stated above, all of this ends with Jaime foolishing attempting to end the war by rushing Daenerys while she’s tending to Drogon’s wounds. This ends about as well as you’d expect, with Jaime almost being incinerated before being tackled into the river by Bronn(?) and sinking to the depths.
Eh he’s alive, he has to live long enough to kill Cersei (and possibly Euron), and they’re not going to kill a major character like Jaime off screen, especially with such an ignominious death by drowning.
The Spoils of War pays off in the end with the fantastic spectacle of battle, saving what was otherwise a somewhat dull episode of place setting.