Game of Thrones has been taking a lot of time to focus this season on perspective and identity. Each character that is still in play has a right to be. They made the right moves and more often than not disregarded certain customs when it needed to be done. “The Spoils of War” brought together more storylines, this week, and showed us characters we love and how expectations of a long awaited reunion can differ from reality when the sister staring back at you is clearly not the sister you once knew. Oh, and there was a massacre at the end that maybe changed the scope of this show and television in general.
The episode starts with the follow up to Jaime’s siege of Highgarden. Jaime’s still not quite over Olenna’s final burn and Cersei ensuring the Iron Bank that their debts will be paid. Cersei has, in all honesty, impressed me so far this season. I still think she’s a pure monster and should kick the bucket sooner rather than later, but this war was not in her favor three episodes before and now she has Dorne, the Iron Islands, and Highgarden. People are afraid of the White Walkers, but I really think the Iron Bank is just as omnipotent a presence in Thrones and I’m curious what’s going to happen to Cersei if she doesn’t make good on this gold she’s promised.
A lot happened this week at Winterfell and it’s worth it to break down. Littlefinger is once again trying to sink his teeth into a Stark and this time it’s Bran. Too bad Bran is too busy remembering literally everything and couldn’t even give Littlefinger the time of day if he wanted to. I get that Bran is trying to piece everything together and is above being Brandon Stark yada yada yada. But every interaction with him is the same, it’s getting monotonous. We get it, he’s as disconnected as any liberal arts freshman. Probably one of the most heartbreaking things to watch on Thrones was Bran sending off Meera with no regard for her. It’s a sad send-off for her character and it’s sad that Bran feels the need to have to throw away everything in his life that had to do with Bran Stark.
Arya returned to Winterfell, as well, and is anyone shocked that the guards thought she was lying? Arya Stark is a name that died with Maester Luwin or Ser Rodrick – names Arya tries to use to her credibility. The Stark sisters’ reunion was touching when it boiled down to it. What do these two sisters say to each other? They’ve just assumed the other was dead for years and when they finally return and they are clearly changed, it’s an enriching moment for audiences. Thrones has been using perspective a lot this season to give us what we’ve been wanting to see for so long, but has excelled at showing us how different our expectations can be from reality. For example, Arya is so happy to see Bran, but when they finally meet face to face he does the Three Eyed Raven thing and spooks her. Just like Arya spooks Sansa by taking on Brienne in a sparring match. The sparring match is a little fan service-y, but it makes up for the last time Brienne and Arya met – these two were born to be friends. Littlefinger takes a liking to Arya, as well, and I still have no idea what the Hell he’s planning; but he’s running out of time if he’s going to make a move.
I’ll be honest, the Children of the Forest drawings was a great idea in theory; but incorporating the White Walkers into it with blatant drawings of them made it feel way too forced. A drawing of a stick figure White Walker should not convince the Mother of Dragons that an army of the undead is coming. I feel like Sam is going to read something important in those books he’s copying and then he will accompany Jorah to Dany where he’ll see Jon as well. The four of them will talk and Jon and Jorah will trust Sam, which will convince Dany. Then the Wall will come down.
Anyway, Jon and Dany are giving off more sexual tension than I’d like to see because I keep remembering she’s technically his aunt. However, Targaryens used to wed in the same bloodline to keep their blood pure. I don’t know, it’s Game of Thrones, just go with it. I’m personally more concerned with the will-they/won’t-they join together in the next three episodes vs. the will-they/won’t-they hook up. There’s more at stake here than a marriage. Dany then learns of the successful attack on Casterly Rock and the loss of Highgarden. She needs a win and she needs it fast. Tyrion has failed her twice, now, and as long as she sits on Dragonstone, she keeps losing her forces. We’re then surprised to see Theon’s return to Dragonstone and unexpected reunion with Jon Snow. It’s funny how Thrones can make you immediately remember why a character hates another, based on a reaction shot. Everyone on Thrones knows how to hold a grudge and after what Theon did to Winterfell back in Season 2, Jon wants his head on a pike. Theon asks to see Dany to ask her to help get Yara back from Euron but Jon explains she’s gone, and just where?
THE ROSE ROAD
If there’s one thing Game of Thrones has done for television is it has shown that there is no such thing as too grand a scope. Since ‘Blackwater’, Thrones has shown that it it can play ball with blockbusters and sometimes outdo the highest grossing films of the year. Dany wraps up the episode by taking her Dothraki army and Drogon to catch Jaime, Bronn, and the Lannister army with their pants down and rain literal fire on them. If we’re talking about perspective, it was such an incredible move to make Jaime the focal point of this event. No one could prepare an army for this. And the production value is just unprecedented. This looks better than any battle before in Thrones; it looks better than Lord of the Rings; it’s just remarkably filmed. There is a 13 minute documentary short that HBO released on the making of this battle, and it is certainly worth watching just to see all of the time and effort that went into this.
Anyway, narratively speaking, this was tip-toeing the line of being truly disturbing. Shots of Lannister soldiers shaking in their armor as 10,000 savage Dothraki are jumping off their horses full-speed-ahead with a dragon the size of a 747 flying overhead are horrifying to be quite honest. For a battle with a mythical creature involved, it was done at such a ground level. I honestly felt bad for the Lannister army. Fire is terrifying, there’s no way around it. And what is Jaime supposed to do but watch. Of course, Qyburn’s cross bolt worked for one shot that Bronn was able to get off in a great homage to Jaws (1975); but as far as I’m concerned, the juice was not worth the squeeze because Drogon still torched the thing. As Dany dismounts Drogon to take out the cross bolt, Jaime makes a last ditch attempt to run down Dany with horse and spear. Tyrion is looking down at all of this from atop a hill and like all of us he’s muttering, “You f*****g idiot.” Peter Dinklage performed this scene very well, as Dany’s hand and a Lannister. It can’t be easy watching your queen torch your family’s soldiers and then to see your own brother virtually helpless as they ride head on into certain doom. Just as Drogon is about to torch Jaime off his horse, Bronn Deus Ex Machinas the scene and dives into Jaime to send them both into a river/lake/body of water and Jaime to the bottom – bogged down by his armor’s weight. Fade to black. I exhale.
Do I think Jaime’s alive? Obviously. Am I happy Dany laid waste to the Lannisters and even the playing field? Yes and no. Dany needed a win and I don’t blame her for her actions. But as the entire series of events unfolded from Jaime’s viewpoint, you have to wonder if she is any different from Cersei right now. What did Cersei do when she felt the walls closing in on her and the odds were stacked against her? She blew her enemies away. Dany just did the same thing, only we’ve been rooting for her the past seven seasons. I’m not trying to deter people from rooting for Dany. I just find it fascinating that this entire massacre left me distraught, albeit entertained. I think Dany is showing a lot of signs that she is indeed her father’s daughter, and I think what she did was a bit reckless. She killed A LOT of people, Drogon suffered an injury, and she lost a decent amount of Dothraki as well. But who can blame her when Tyrion’s political approach was not working. Like Littlefinger, Tyrion is a relic of the past Westeros. This isn’t the Westeros it once was and the rules have changed.
Now some DOT DOTS…
Gotta love Bronn casually haggling for HIGHGARDEN… “I am merely an instrument of the institution I represent.” Again, I’d love to be part of the Iron Bank on this world… Still not over Cersei’s floor map… Meera’s probably like, “Oh, a wheelchair! Maybe if we had one of those, we could’ve done all this shit three seasons faster!”… “You died in that cave.” -Meera; wow, honestly… I’ll say it every episode but Arya is just a little Ned Stark and it’s fantastic… Loved that moment of Arya taking in all of Winterfell, Maisie Williams is seriously outdoing herself this season… “when [Jon] sees [Arya], his heart will probably stop.” -Sansa; funny you should say that… The entire Stark children reunion was as awkward as it could get and for good reason… Bran is the Three Eyed Raven, Arya is no one, and Sansa is Queen in the North… All incredibly different, yet all incredibly difficult… Jaime and Bran is a reunion I’m very curious to see happen… Gotta love Davos casually trying to hightail it out of Dragonstone… Littlefinger seems like a relic of the old Game of Thrones, his powers don’t work in this world anymore… Or do they… They definitely still do… Probably the first time we’ve seen Arya in a real fight where she wasn’t blind or bleeding out of her stomach… gotta love the romantic comedy aspect of Davos and Jon talking about Dany… I was half expecting Jon to punch Theon in the face… This was a reunion I had no idea would happen… This Dickon Tarly joke is an incredible recurring dick joke… This battle was better than anything Lord of the Rings ever did… This is on a completely different level of television… This is horrifying… This is better production value than Battle of the Bastards… This wasn’t even a battle, it was a slaughter… I feel like it wouldn’t have been out of Bronn’s character to flee… That long take of Bronn was pure fan service but I’ll take it… To be honest, this and Hardhome are two sides of the same coin… My favorite character is charging towards the show’s liberator… It REALLY sucks to be a horse in Thrones… He’s alive… HE’S. ALIVE.