In the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ recap, Daenerys fires back, Arya goes home again and Jon tells a story…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
In terms of minutes and seconds, the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ titled ‘The Spoils of War’ is the shortest in the history of the series.
That being said, the episode felt anything but short after a 15-minute battle scene that concluded with Daenerys Targaryen living up to her family’s words — fire and blood.
Following a start to the season that saw Daenerys lose her allies in Dorne, Highgarden and the Iron Islands, it was finally time for her to strike back while also unleashing her dragons and the Dothraki horde all at once. The result was men being turned to ash and bone on the battlefield as Jamie Lannister saw for the first time ever an enemy he can’t kill with a sword and his wit.
This week also marked a momentous occasion as Arya Stark finally returned home to Winterfell for the first time in six seasons after she left with her father to move to King’s Landing and never came back until now. Of course, Arya is no longer the little girl scurrying around Winterfell while trying to learn how to fight. This version of Arya is a trained and masterful killer and that’s a sight that will take some getting used to, especially from her sister Sansa.
Bran also unveiled even more of his all-seeing powers in conversations with Arya and more importantly with Littlefinger, who paid him a visit this week while offering a gift.
And finally, Jon discovered something rather interesting in the depths of the caves beneath Dragonstone — a story he used to convince Daenerys to join his cause if only for one condition he’s still not willing to meet.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ titled ‘The Spoils of War’….
A Lannister Always Pays His Debts
After conquering the Tyrell army and sacking Highgarden, Jamie Lannister and his right hand man (no pun intended) Ser Bronn of the Blackwater are headed back to King’s Landing with the spoils of war. In this case the spoils is a wagon filled to the brim with gold taken from the Tyrell family that will be used to pay back the Iron Bank of Braavos after the crown racked up a considerable debt.
Back home, Cersei is entertaining the banker from Braavos while explaining that he will receive a payment in full in a matter of days. Cersei has already started plotting new ways to team up with the Iron Bank to fund her army beyond this current conflict. Cersei hopes to hire the Golden Company — a notoriously well armed band of sellswords who will win a war for the highest bidder. Consisting of approximately 10,000 men, the Golden Company are formidable warriors and very experienced on the battlefield.
Meanwhile, Jamie is dealing with discontent from Bronn, who is walking away from this latest battle with a satchel full of gold but still no castle to call his own. Remember, both Cersei and Jamie promised Bronn a lordship after he helped them, but he’s still fighting for the Lannister family and has no castle much less a lord in front of his name.
For now, Bronn will just have to be happy with money because the armies are mobilizing to return to King’s Landing for the next fight against Daenerys Targaryen. As it turns out, they didn’t have to go back to King’s Landing at all for that fight to start…
Chaos is a Ladder
At Winterfell, Lord Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger is presenting Bran Stark with a gift — the same Valyrian steel dagger that was used in an attempt on his life after he fell from the tower after witnessing Jamie and Cersei Lannister having sex back in the series debut. Catelyn with some assistance from Bran’s direwolf Summer helped fight off the attacker and that’s when she learned that the dagger once belonged to Littlefinger before he lost it in a bet to Tyrion Lannister.
Catelyn then set out to get revenge on Tyrion for attempting to kill her son, which led to his kidnapping and trial at the Vale. In reality, no one knows who ordered that thug to kill Bran but we are starting to get some clues based on this episode.
During the conversation, Littlefinger references his devotion to Catelyn and how he wishes he could have taken that dagger in his heart to save her life at the Red Wedding. It’s a lot of words from Littlefinger, but he certainly doesn’t expect to hear what Bran had to say to him in return.
Baelish: “That very question is what started the War of the Five Kings. In a way, that dagger made you what you are today. Forced from your home, driven out to the wilds beyond the Wall. I imagine you’ve seen things most men wouldn’t believe. To go through all of that and to make your way home again only to find such chaos in the world…”
Bran: “Chaos is a ladder.”
For those who don’t remember — chaos is a ladder is something that Littlefinger said to Lord Varys back in season 3.
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”
Littlefinger is essentially pointing to his own climb to power after creating nothing but chaos in the realm. Remember, Baelish is the one who convinced Lysa Arryn to kill her husband Jon Arryn and then send a letter to her sister Catelyn claiming that the Lannisters were responsible. Not long after, Robert Baratheon arrived at Winterfell where he named Ned Stark as his new Hand of the King and that set into motion the chain of events that led to the War of the Five Kings as well as thousands upon thousands of deaths in Westeros.
Littlefinger has been a master at creating chaos and then finding a way to end up on top. Whether that meant teaming up with Joffrey Baratheon or then plotting to have him killed, stealing Sansa Stark away from King’s Landing or marrying her off to Ramsay Bolton, everything Lord Baelish does is supposed to put him one step closer to the Iron Throne.
The only problem is Bran Stark knows far more than he’s supposed to know, especially after repeating back to Baelish a line he spoke several years ago.
Following that haunting encounter to give him the dagger, Baelish slinks away as Meera Reed shows up to say her goodbyes. She’s returning to reunite with her father Howland Reed to prepare for the war to come when the Night King finally launches an offensive against Westeros.
Bran is particularly cold to her, which forces Meera to remember all the things she’s done for him, how her brother, Hodor and Summer all gave their lives to protect him. That’s when Meera realizes that the Brandon Stark she once knew died in that cave north of the Wall. All that remains now is the Three-Eyed Raven.
After many years away from home, Arya Stark finally arrives back at Winterfell.
It’s been a long and arduous journey to get back here, but Arya is back and after she deals with some brutish guards unwilling to let her enter the castle, she finds herself in the crypts beneath Winterfell, staring at a statue of her father Ned Stark.
It’s there when Arya is reunited with her sister Sansa for the first time since season one when they were split apart after Ned was declared a traitor and later beheaded by Joffrey. Both sister have endured a lot to get to this moment and while they are still somewhat the same people deep down inside, they’ve also changed quite a lot over these past few years.
Most notably, Sansa is taken back to hear Arya talk about her kill list when she mentions Joffrey’s name.
Arya: “However long my list got, his name was always first”
Sansa: “Your list?”
Arya: “Of people I’m going to kill”
Sansa and Arya both smile but at least one of them knows this is no laughing matter. Sansa then tells Arya that Bran has also returned home, but he’s not quite the same person he once was.
Bran shares a hug with his sister, but he’s still rather cold and distant before revealing that he saw her traveling towards King’s Landing before reaching the crossroad to return to Winterfell. He also reveals the dagger given to him by Littlefinger and eventually hands it over as a present to his sister Arya. She can do far more with this weapon than he ever could.
Of course, Sansa and Arya are both wary about Littlefinger’s generosity considering he rarely does anything without a greater good coming his way. One interesting note — Bran doesn’t reveal who hired that thug to kill him back in season one but he does drop an interesting hint.
“Someone very wealthy wanted me dead”
At the time of Bran’s accident and near assassination, no one would have wanted him dead more than the Lannister family. Jamie tossed Bran from that tower when he saw more than he should have seen — perhaps it was Cersei who attempted to finish the job. She’s very wealthy and would have had access to Tyrion’s personal belongings to get that dagger. Cersei is also cunning enough to know that the finger being pointed would go towards her brother, who she’s wanted dead for years. Food for thought.
As for Arya, she makes herself feel right at home by returning to her training after asking Brienne to work with her. Brienne swore to protect both Stark daughters so she’s as indebted to Arya as she is Sansa these days.
What starts as a training session quickly turns into a sparring match between two outstanding warriors with Arya showing off all the skills she learned while training under the Faceless Men in Braavos. She gets the better of Brienne during several exchanges before the two of them stalemate in the end with a smile plastered across Arya’s face the entire time.
While Arya was fighting Brienne and showing off all her new tricks, Sansa and Littlefinger kept watch from an overhanging deck. Sansa was shocked to see what her sister was capable of doing before she turned and walked away.
Sansa is happy to have her sister back but she clearly doesn’t know this version of Arya at all.
Fight Together or Die Alone
In Dragonstone, Daenerys meets with Jon Snow as he begins to prepare to mine the caves full of dragon glass to build weaponry that will be used in the fight against the army of the dead. Before wrecking the caves filled with obsidian, Jon wants to show Daenerys something very special he found inside.
Deep in the bowels of the cave, Jon discovered paintings on the wall that told a very special story. There were drawings of the Children of the Forest, who once inhabited the lands now known as Dragonstone. There they built a home while telling a story on the walls of the cave where they lived — including the famous spiral patterns that we’ve seen from the Children of the Forest before that is now being used by the White Walkers. A subtle reminder — the Children of the Forest made the White Walkers all those thousands of years ago.
In addition to the cave paintings from the Children of the Forest, he points out that there are also drawings of the First Men, who settled Westeros before they all joined forces against a common enemy — the army of the dead.
The pictures paint a rather vivid story about the fight that happened during “The Long Night” — a period of darkness in Westeros that is said to have lasted for more than a generation when the White Walkers descended into the land of the living and attempted to snuff it out. They were eventually driven back by the Children of the Forest and the First Men and this is the tale of how that partnership happened.
This is also a perfect way for Jon to tell Daenerys that despite their difference of opinion or how much she might or might not believe in him, they need to fight together or they will all die alone.
“They fought together against their common enemy. Despite their differences, despite their suspicions. Together. We need to do the same if we’re going to survive. Cause the enemy is real. It’s always been real.”
~ Jon Snow
It seems Jon’s story along with the pictures in the cave are enough to convince Daenerys to fight alongside the North whenever this army of the dead actually attacks. Of course, Daenerys will only fight for Jon under one condition.
“I will fight for you. I will fight for the North…when you bend the knee.”
Of course, Jon argues that the people in the North will no longer serve a southern king or queen after what happened to Ned Stark and then the last King in the North was butchered at the Red Wedding. Daenerys promises that if Jon leads, his people will follow.
As the king and queen leave the cave, Daenerys is greeted by some rather unsettling news.
While the Unsullied have taken Casterly Rock, the real fight took place to the east where the Lannister armies sacked Highgarden and defeated the last remnants of the Tyrell family. Tyrion does his best to remind Daenerys that his plan could still work if she calls back the Unsullied and she takes the Dothraki army to King’s Landing and lays siege around the city.
Needless to say, Daenerys is not impressed by Tyrion’s clever plans, especially after she’s lost all of her Westerosi allies in Dorne, the Iron Islands and now in Highgarden. It’s time for Daenerys to breathe fire but she needs to make sure the dragons are pointed in the right direction.
As much as Daenerys wants to fly Drogon to the Red Keep and burn Cersei Lannister to the ground, she turns to Jon Snow for advice on how she should wage this war.
“I never thought that dragons would exist again. No one did. The people who follow you know you made something impossible happen. Maybe that helps them believe you can make other impossible things happen. Build a different world from the shit one they’ve always known. But if you use them to melt castles and burn cities, you’re not different. You’re just more of the same.”
~ Jon Snow
See, Jon already knows that Daenerys is a different kind of queen than Cersei and she’s certainly a better breed of monarch than Joffrey or even Robert Baratheon. He’s convinced even more after having a conversation with Missandei, where she explains that the people who follow Daenerys Targaryen aren’t doing so because of her famous last name or because she forces them to serve her by threatening to burn them down with dragon fire.
Daenerys is the queen because all of these people believe in her and want to follow.
“She’s not our queen because she’s the daughter of some king we never knew. She’s the queen we chose.”
It’s a powerful statement — perhaps what Jon needed to hear to finally bend the knee and pledge his loyalty to Daenerys. It doesn’t hurt that Jon is starting to look at Daenerys with the same fire he had in his eyes for a certain red headed Wildling he met north of the Wall.
Jon’s conversation with Missandei is cut short when he spots a Greyjoy ship about to arrive at the short at Dragonstone.
Jon goes to meet with the ship full of men as they arrive and that’s when he comes face-to-face with Theon Greyjoy for the first time in years. Theon betrayed Robb Stark during the war, he sacked and burned Winterfell and then claimed to have killed both Bran and Rickon Stark. If not for Theon’s betrayal, perhaps Robb’s war effort would have succeeded or at the very least Winterfell may not have fallen into the hands of the Boltons.
Still, as much as Jon wants to kill Theon he will let him live because he still helped Sansa escape Ramsay and for that he’ll always be grateful.
As for Theon, he returned to Dragonstone to ask Daenerys to help him retrieve his sister from his uncle Euron. There’s only one problem — Daenerys isn’t at Dragonstone.
“The queen is gone”
~ Jon Snow
Back on the road to King’s Landing, Jamie and Bronn are trotting along while talking to Randyll Tarly and his son Dickon about the battle that just passed and the many more yet to come in this war. Randyll notes that the gold stolen from the Tyrell’s is already through the gates at King’s Landing so that’s at least one piece of good news cause that’s all the Lannister forces will have today.
At that moment is when Bronn hears a strange rumbling coming from a nearby hillside.
As the sound gets louder and louder, the ground begins to shake as Jamie and Randyll get their armies into formation to prepare for an oncoming attack.
In the distance, Jamie and Bronn spot the enemy — a horde of Dothraki warriors, all born and bred to be the greatest killers the known world has ever witnessed. Bronn knows what the Dothraki can do because surely in his many travels across the world, he’s seen them in action. Jamie isn’t so scared and he’s confident that the army can stand their ground against this foreign invader.
That’s until Jamie hears a great screech from across the sky before laying his eyes on a dragon for the first time in his life. For Jamie Lannister and really everybody else in this show, dragons were the stuff of legends and stories about the past but these great beasts had been extinct for hundreds of years.
With Daenerys riding his back, Drogon unleashes hell fire across the Lannister army, laying waste to dozens of men at a time as they burn and turn to ash. As the Dothraki horde arrives, they plow through the men standing up with shields and swords, cutting them down from horseback and then on the ground.
The fight is going to be rather short and bloody if the dragon can continue to rain down fire on everybody so Jamie commands Bronne to man the scorpion — the giant crossbow built by Qyburn to bring down Daenerys’ greatest weapon.
Up on a hillside just away from the battle, Tyrion Lannister appears as he watches the Dothraki tear through his family’s army. One of the Dothraki bloodriders notes to Tyrion that his people can’t fight.
Tyrion then notices the weapon that’s about to be unleashed as Bronn makes it to the enormous crossbow before aiming it directly at Drogon. The first shot misses as Drogon swoops through the sky and continues to decimate the Lannister army with each deadly breath. Finally, Bronn gets one more chance to fire — and this time it’s a direct hit.
Drogon flails and falls out of the sky, much to Tyrion’s dismay as he watches from far away. Just as the dragon hits the ground, it’s clear he’s wounded but far from dead, and he soon unleashes his volcanic fireball that destroys the scorpion and sends Bronn running away. Still, Drogon is injured, which then requires Daenerys to climb off his back to remove the gigantic spear stuck in his shoulder.
Jamie spots Daenerys standing all alone with a wounded animal. He then sees a spear just a few feet away and he knows this is his chance to put an end to this war once and for all. As Tyrion sees his brother charging towards the queen with a spear in his hand, he mutters to himself while trying to warn Jamie that this is all a futile effort. Quietly, Tyrion is begging Jamie to turn and run away but it’s already too late.
Just as Jamie gets close to Daenerys, Drogon turns and places his head in front of her before letting out a great bellow as the crackle of the flames come swelling from inside his belly. Jamie knows this is the end — the final battle he won’t walk away from.
But just as Drogon’s fire comes tearing through his horse, Bronn is able to knock Jamie out of the way as they both fall into a lake surrounded by flames. Jamie sinks to the bottom of the lake — he is wearing armor after all — and he falls silently into the deep black abyss.
While it’s impossible to know for certain what comes next, it’s tough to imagine that Jamie Lannister is dead but he’s absolutely been defeated. Daenerys promised to take what is hers by fire and blood and now she’s shown her resolve to use both.
The Lannister army has been burned to the ground. The soil on the road from Highgarden back to King’s Landing as been fertilized by blood. And there stands a conquering queen named Daenerys Targaryen responsible for all of it.
‘Game of Thrones’ returns for a brand new episode next Sunday night at 10pm ET on HBO.