At the end of each episode this season, you can’t think you can muster the strength to scream any more and then George R. R. Martin says, “hold my mead and push back the release date of my next book.” This one, “The Spoils of War,” is a doozy.
Let’s begin with the good(ish). At Winterfell, Arya arrives home and reunites with Sansa for the first time since before their father was beheaded. It’s a bit awkward, but this is unsurprising as the two had never really had the best sibling relationship. Arya discusses that she is now in the murder business, but Sansa is quick to laugh until Bran confirms that he’s seen her run through her list. Hot take: don’t laugh at people who claim they’re into murdering.
Bran gives Arya the Valyrian steel dagger that was used in his attempted murder in season one, which Littlefinger has gifted him since. Littlefinger had hoped it would be a meaningful present aka he’s plotting something aggravating and stupid, but Bran responds only with the phrase, “chaos is a ladder,” something that Littlefinger said to Varys seasons earlier. Bran’s visions would be most useful in the actual takedown of this vile toad instead of just a warning, but whatever proper moment he’s waiting for is taking decades too long too arrive.
Things at Winterfell remain a tad up and down. With Arya’s arrival, we lose Meera Reed who is finally abandoning her post as Bran’s sidekick/servant/caregiver. When all Bran can do is offer her a solemn thank you, she exclaims that he died in that cave, to which we say thank God someone finally said it.
Moving on to more stressful things in the Red Keep, Dragonstone, everywhere. After last week’s showdown between Daenerys’ and Cersei’s forces, it seems Cersei has come out on top for the time being. With Jaime and Randall Tarly having a hold on Highgarden and everything in it, she’s able to assure the Iron Bank that the debts are covered and look towards new ventures that will allow Qyburn use of mercenaries from Essos.
Meanwhile, Daenerys remains at Dragonstone where Jon Snow is still “prisoner.” While mining the dragon glass, he finds cave drawings of the Children of the Forest and men working together to fight the white walkers, which he hopes will convince Daenerys to reassess her plan of attack or at least make out with him.
However, things are sidetracked when Tyrion reports news from Casterly Rock and Highgarden, and she must count her losses. Infuriated with the council she’s been given, she begins to question if she should burn King’s Landing to the ground – something we all think at least once an episode, but Jon suggests that vicious and compulsive actions will make her no better than her father or those who currently rule.
Having had enough of the opinions of witty men (and haven’t we all been there), Daenerys leaves, just missing the arrival of the remainder of the Iron Fleet, including Theon. Jon only restrains himself from any physical violence because of Theon’s sacrifice to save Sansa because remember- he’s a good person with values and a conscience.
We move to the Roseroad, just past Highgarden, where Jaime, Bronn, the Tarlys and the rest of the Lannister caravan are shipping off their spoils (get it) to the Iron Bank. They are kindly interrupted by a hoard of Dothraki soldiers, flying towards them on horseback with weapons waving and screams echoing. It’s truly a beautiful sight, only to be outdone by the incredible look on Jaime’s face when he sees Daenerys swoop in with a real, live fire-breathing dragon.
And beautiful it is as Drogon sets the entire caravan ablaze, leaving the Lannisters defenseless. Bronn tells Jaime to leave, but he refuses to abandon his men amidst the destruction. Bronn, seeing other opportunities, attempts to use Qyburn’s giant dragon crossbow. He misses the first shot, but lands the second in Drogon’s shoulder, a sad homage to his namesake. As Drogon lands and Daenerys works to relieve him of the painful burden, Jaime hopes to end this once and for all, grabbing a spear and charging at the Queen.
Tyrion looks on at his idiot brother, knowing full well as we all do, that one single spear in the shoulder will not kill a dragon. Just as Jaime approaches Daenerys, Drogon releases a breathe of fire, but fortunately for Jaime, Bronn knocks him off his horse and into the nearest body of water. Will Jaime sink under the weight of his army and his golden hand as a beautiful symbol of the heaviness of his actions? Will Bronn make it to the next episode without third degree burns? Will anyone address what the poor horses went through in this episode?
It’s all coming next week, on HBO’s hit series Game of I Don’t Care About My Audience’s Mental Health So Let’s Kill Everyone.