The fourth episode of Game of Thrones's seventh season, titled “Spoils of War,” showcases the action and thrill missing from the previous episodes.
A Game of Guiles
Up in Winterfell, Littlefinger tries to stir disunity among the remaining Stark children. He goes to meet Bran Stark, Eddard Stark’s last living trueborn son and, therefore, the rightful heir to Winterfell. He gives Bran a gift—the Valyrian steel dagger used by the cutthroat who tried to kill him when he was in a coma from his fall. This dagger has exchanged hands a lot of times throughout the seasons, and it is quite difficult to trace its previous whereabouts. Indeed, even Bran, still with a rather uninvolved expression, asks to whom the dagger belongs to.
Littlefinger tells him that that question is somehow the question that started the War of the Five Kings. It should be noted that Catelyn Stark took the dagger to King’s Landing to figure out its owner and thus the mastermind behind the attempts on Bran’s life.
Littlefinger, visibly underestimating the wisdom Bran now has, tries to manipulate him by further remarking on the “chaos” he must have lived through to return to Winterfell.
In response, Bran meets Littlefinger’s gaze and says, “Chaos is a ladder.”
These exact words were uttered by Littlefinger himself years ago when he was talking to Varys before the Iron Throne, noting that chaos is his tool to improve his own status.
This unnerves Littlefinger; he quickly leaves the room when Meera enters.
Meera comes to say her goodbyes; she has promised to keep him safe, and now that he’s back in Winterfell surrounded by Stark loyalists, he’s as safe as he can be before the coming war. She would be with her family in the Neck to assist the Crannogmen.
Bran’s nonreaction to this news angers Meera. After all, she was with him through all the struggles since they parted ways with Osha and Rickon. She was with him, risking her life to protect him, as did Hodor, Summer, and her own brother, Jojen. But Bran tells her that he isn’t really Bran anymore, not really; he has Bran’s memories, but he also has memories that are not his own.
Meera, weary and teary-eyed, realizes that Bran Stark did die in the cave where they fought with the Night King’s army, and she leaves.
The She-wolf Arrives
Arya Stark finally gets back home to Winterfell after years spent all around the realm and beyond. She rides up to the gates and asks the guards to let her enter, but they don’t believe that she is in fact Arya Stark, for they are convinced that she died years ago.
Arya tells them to send word to Maester Luwin and Rodrik Cassel so that they may prove her identity, for she doesn’t know yet that both are dead. Then she asks for Jon, and the guards say that he had just left.
Arya asks them who is in charge of Winterfell then, and they answer that it’s “Lady Stark.” She dodges their efforts to push her aside, and she tells them that one way or another, she’s getting in. She vaguely tells them how troubling it would be for them if she’s indeed Arya Stark and Sansa found out they turned her away.
A bit concerned after that thinly veiled threat, they let her in and tell her to stay in the courtyard while they consult Lady Stark about her identity. She slips away as soon as they turn their backs though, and they hesitatingly inform Sansa about the incident, waving it aside as just some impostor.
In their haste to tell her the story, they casually mention how the girl asked for Luwin and Cassel. When Sansa hears it, she realizes who the girl must be and where she must have gone.
The two Stark sisters reunite at last in the crypts of Winterfell, before their lord father’s grave. They are happy to see each other, of course, but they both have been through too much in the past years that they are unsure how to handle this reunion. Sansa remarks that Jon would be very happy to see Arya; he was, after all, happy when he saw Sansa in the Wall, and they didn’t even get along as children. (This just further proves that Arya is Jon’s favorite sibling/cousin, if Needle isn’t enough of an evidence, that is.)
Arya remarks on how the statue of their father’s grave doesn’t look like him. Sansa agrees, saying that everyone who knew his face is dead, to which Arya points out, “We’re not.”
Arya asks her sister if she killed Joffrey. Sansa answers that she didn’t, though she wished she had. Arya says that he was always at the top of her list, which confuses Sansa, so she explains that it’s her list of people she was going to kill. They both laugh about it, however, for Sansa doesn’t know just how serious Arya is about it.
Sansa tells Arya that Bran is home too; this gladdens Arya, but her heart falls when she realizes that though one brother is alive and here, the youngest, Rickon, is dead.
A Lady, a Killer, and a Raven
Sansa leads Arya to Bran, who is staring at the heart tree in Winterfell’s godswood. Arya goes to hug him, and he tells her he saw her at the Crossroads. Seeing Arya confused, Sansa explains that Bran is having visions.
“I thought you might go to King’s Landing,” he notes.
“So did I,” Arya says.
“Why would you go back there?” Sansa asks, now confused.
It is Bran who answers. “Cersei is on her list of names.”
There is no possible way for Bran to know this without being the Three-Eyed Raven, and Sansa realizes this too. She asks Arya who else is on her list, to which Arya replies that most of them are already dead.
They note the Valyrian steel dagger on his lap, and he tells that Littlefinger gave it to him, thinking he’d want it. He remarks that someone very wealthy wanted him dead when Arya asked how a common cutthroat could have such a priceless weapon. Sansa remarks on how Littlefinger would never give anyone anything without expecting something in return, and she grows visibly frustrated when Bran says that it doesn’t matter. He then tells them he doesn’t want it and gives it to Arya instead, for it is “wasted on a cripple.”
Then the three remaining trueborn Starks of Winterfell go back to the castle’s courtyard together, Arya pushing Bran in his wheelchair and Sansa treading beside her. Some Stark loyalists are seen watching them in the background; it is a rather nostalgic scene after all—the last progeny of Ned and Catelyn, the last of the Wolves.
Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne catch sight of them. Pod says that Catelyn would be proud of Brienne, to which Brienne says that she did next to nothing. “You’re too hard on yourself, my lady,” he says. Brienne stops halfway to correcting him that she’s not a lady, but then she just thanks him.
Of Skills and Swords
Later, Brienne is training Podrick, knocking him down in sword practice. An impressed Arya Stark tells Brienne she’d like to train with her, the woman who beat down the Hound in single combat. Sansa and Littlefinger watch the interaction from a walkway above, the latter amused and the former vaguely concerned.
Brienne goes easy at first, but Arya shows high skill with her little sword, Needle, and outmaneuvers her, delivering hits that could have been fatal were she so inclined. So Brienne stops holding back, and she manages to land a kick right at Arya’s chest, causing her to fall down. Before Brienne could contemplate helping her up, however, Arya is already on her feet, and the sparring resumes in earnest. Arya uses her agility and speed against Brienne’s size and brute strength, and when Brienne knocks Needle out of her hand, she switches to the Valyrian steel dagger she has in her belt.
They end the match at a stalemate, Brienne’s sword at Arya’s throat and Arya’s dagger at Brienne’s. When Brienne asks Arya who taught her to fight like that, Arya simply answers with “no one”—a call to the Faceless Men.
Sansa looks baffled at the skill her sister displayed. Arya, noticing Littlefinger, sends him a glare before he takes his leave.
A Lannister and Debts to Be Paid
The Lannister army that sacked Highgarden got ahold of its gold, which would be transported ahead to King’s Landing. The army would be staying in the Reach to seize the granaries.
Back in the Red Keep, Cersei meets with Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank of Braavos to discuss the payment of the Crown’s debts. Now that the debts will be mostly settled, Cersei wants to take out new loans to improve her position in the war; the money would be used to hire foreign sellsword companies to augment the dwindling Lannister military ranks.
Tycho, assured of the Lannister’s current stability with their recent wins, assures the queen that the Iron Bank would be delighted to help once it receives the gold payment.
An Ancient Alliance
On Dragonstone, Jon Snow leads Daenerys on a tour of an abandoned Valyrian dragonglass mine, just as Samwell Tarly said there would be. This mine was used by the First Men long before Dany’s forebears came to Dragonstone.
There are paintings on the cave walls, left behind by the Children of the Forest. The paintings tell of an alliance between the Children of the Forest and the First Men, both on an alliance against the true enemy—the Night King.
Jon tells Daenerys that the only reason the Children and the First Men managed to drive off the White Walkers during the Long Night was because they chose to join together against the common enemy, as Jon and Dany should do now, thousands of years later.
They also end the discussion at a stalemate, both unwilling to lower their pride; the King in the North would not bend the knee, and the Dragon Queen won’t let the North go.
When they go to the beach of Dragonstone, Varys and Tyrion join them, both with grim expressions. They inform their queen of the Unsullied army’s success in capturing Casterly Rock, only to reveal the disaster in Highgarden.
Daenerys grows furious; all three of her ally great houses have fallen apart. Despite having still the largest single army in Westeros, it would be useless if the soldiers aren’t fed, which was the Reach’s main strategic value.
The queen, heedless of Jon Snow’s advice to not tread a path similar to those before her, decides to ride Drogon into the battlefield, along with her Dothraki screamers.
A Dragon’s Repayment
Jaime Lannister, along with his army, loads up the spoils of war for transport. The army advances east along the Roseroad. Bronn signals Jaime to listen, and they hear what sounds like distant thunder. They realize it is an approaching army, and Jaime and Randyll Tarly shout for their soldiers to form up.
The Lannister army manages to form a shield line before their enemy appears over the horizon, a massive one-hundred-thousand-strong horde of Dothraki screamers, armed and ready to fight, their war cries echoing over the vast fields.
Bronn tells Jaime to ride ahead to King’s Landing, but Jaime insists that he won’t abandon his army. He says they have a chance to hold, but then everything is drowned by a loud roar that hasn’t been heard in the Seven Kingdoms for more than a century: a dragon’s roar.
Above the Dothraki horde soars a massive black dragon, Drogon, upon whom Daenerys Targaryen herself rides.
“Dracarys,” she commands her son in Old Valyrian, and he unleashes hell through the Lannister ranks, destroying their formation and providing the Dothraki an opening to sweep through.
Drogon continues to rain fire over the Lannister army and their loot, everything crumbling to ashes.
Jaime bids Bronn to reach Qyburn’s scorpion, basically a huge bolt launcher the maester made for this very purpose, to try to put the dragon down. Bronn manages to shoot the scorpion twice; the first spear missed, but the second one found its mark.
It does not kill Drogon, however; it only makes him extremely angry. Hovering above a river, Drogon spots the device and sets it aflame with a single blast. He destroys anyone foolish enough to stagger near him as her mother tries to remove the bolt and tend to him.
Jaime sees his chance to kill Daenerys; he grabs a spear and charges his horse toward the Dragon Queen. This would be such a familiar sight: a Lannister knight stabbing a Targaryen from behind as Jaime did to Daenerys’s own father, Aerys.
Before he succeeds, however, Drogon notices him. He shields his mother behind his head and lets out a blast of fire. It would have killed Jaime were it not for Bronn, who tackles him out of the way. They both fall into the river, and Jaime sinks beneath the waters, weighed down by his metal armor.
Will the Dragon Queen continue down this path of fire? Will she become what her father once was?
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