A Binge Guide for Season 7, Episode 4 – “The Spoils of War”
by Greg Enslen
Episode Number: S07E04
Original Air Date: August 6, 2017
Time: 50 minutes
Synopsis: Daenerys takes matters into her own hands. Arya reaches her destination. Jaime and Bronn collect the spoils from the war with the Tyrells.
The animated map during the credits shows several important locations: King’s Landing, Dragonstone, Pyke, Winterfell, the Wall, and far to the south, Oldtown.
A wagon train, loaded down with the spoils of war, returns from Highgarden. Jaime Lannister and Ser Bronn of the Blackwater are returning from the battle of Highgarden and escorting the gold and grain seized from the Highgarden vaults. Jaime mentions to Bronn that the gold is going to the Iron Bank to repay the Lannister and crown debts. Randyll and Dickon Tarly arrive and Jaime sends them, along with Bronn, to speed up the harvest of Reach wheat and have it sent to King’s Landing with all available speed.
In King’s Landing, Tycho Nestoris, is pleased to hear that Cersei has gathered the necessary funds to pay back the Iron Bank and the money will be arriving shortly. Her brother is overseeing the delivery. Tycho also offers to fund any future projects she might want to take on—once their current accounts are settled.
Inside Winterfell, Petyr Baelish sits with Bran Stark, who is seated in a new wheeled wooden chair built for him by Maester Wolkan. Petyr has a gift for him—the catspaw dagger, the one an assassin tried to use to kill Bran years ago. Bran surprises Petyr by having knowledge he should not when he repeats the words Petyr once said to Varys: “chaos is a ladder.” Meera Reed tells Bran she must leave him and return home and is angry when he seems to have little reaction at her news. He’s become something more than Brandon Stark.
Arya Stark on horseback approaches Winterfell. Guards at the gate don’t believe her—everyone thinks Arya is dead. She asks for people she knows, like Maester Luwin and Ser Rodrick, but they don’t know who she’s talking about as those people are now dead. She realizes Sansa is now in charge and asks for her, and the guards make her wait, but she disappears. Sansa Stark finds her in the crypts beneath Winterfell, and they hug. They talk a little about what has happened to them and Arya mentions her “list of people she’s going to kill,” making Sansa laugh nervously.
Notes: This is the first appearance of the catspaw dagger since it was seen on Ned Stark’s desk in King’s Landing. Petyr Baelish said “chaos is a ladder” while speaking to Varys in the throne room in King’s Landing in S03E06. No one else was around to hear it, which is why Petyr is so surprised to hear Bran quote it back to him. This is the first time Arya has been in Winterfell since she left for King’s Landing with her father and Sansa in S01E02. Arya doesn’t know that Maester Luwin and Ser Rodrick Cassel are dead as they were killed in Season 2. This is the first time Arya has seen Sansa since she saw her at Ned Stark’s execution in S01E09 and S01E10.
Quotes: Arya Stark: “They say you killed Joffrey. Did you?” Sansa Stark: “I wish I had.” Arya: “Me, too. I was angry when I heard someone else had done it. However long my list got, he was always first.” Sansa: “Your list?” Arya: “Of people I'm going to kill.”
Daenerys Targaryen and Missandei discuss the Unsullied, who have yet to return from their siege of Casterly Rock. Jon Snow, the King in the North, approaches and asks Daenerys to accompany him to a nearby cave, where he and his men are mining dragonglass. Inside, he shows her the massive outcroppings of dragonglass, all they’ll ever need to make weapons. There are also carvings that depict an ancient history of Westeros, where the First Men and the Children of the Forest worked together to fight the White Walkers. She again offers to fight for him in his war with the Night King—if he bends the knee.
Exiting the cave, she finds Tyrion Lannister and Varys waiting to speak to her. They inform her that her forces have taken Casterly Rock, but the Lannister forces have taken the Reach. Jon Snow and Davos Seaworth try to excuse themselves from the discussion, but she insists they stay. Tyrion suggests a blockade of King’s Landing, but Daenerys is tired of waiting on the island—she want to get into the fight. She asks Jon’s opinion, and he tells her she can’t just use the dragons to burn cities and cause more destruction.
Later, Jon and Davos discuss Daenerys with Missandei, who says that people follow Daenerys because they choose to. On the beach below, Theon Greyjoy arrives after surviving the destruction of the Greyjoy fleet. He’s surprised to see Jon Snow and they have words—Theon betrayed the Starks and sacked Winterfell. But Jon spares his life because of what he did to rescue Sansa from Ramsey Bolton. Theon wants Daenerys’ help to rescue his sister Yara, but Jon says that “the queen is gone.”
Notes: In the cave, we see the cave carvings are drawn in spirals and diamonds. The White Walkers have been shown to place the corpses of their victims in similar patterns in S01E01 and S03E03. And this isn’t the first time Jon went into a cave with an attractive woman (wink wink). This is the first time Jon and Theon have interacted since the show premiered, S01E01.
Quotes: Daenerys Targaryen: “I will fight for you. I will fight for the North. When you bend the knee.” Jon Snow: “My people... won't accept a southern ruler. Not after everything they've suffered.” Daenerys: “They will if their king does. They chose you to lead them. They chose you to protect them. Isn't their survival more important than your pride?”
In the Winterfell godswood, Arya and Sansa speak to Bran, who says he saw her at the Inn at the Crossroads. Arya is confused, and Sansa tells her that Bran has “visions” now. But Bran says that he thought she might go to King’s Landing—and Arya confirms it—to kill Cersei. He also confirms for Sansa that Arya has a “list of names,” something Arya had just mentioned, and Sansa assumed she was joking. Sansa asks who else is on her list, and Arya replies that most of them are “dead already.” Bran shows them the dagger Petyr Baelish gave him and explains it is the one the cutthroat used to try and kill Bran. He agrees and says he has no need for weapons anymore and hands it to Arya.
Back in the courtyard, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick see the three Stark children reunited. Podrick tells Brienne that Catelyn Stark would be proud—and that Brienne kept her vow to protect the Stark daughters. Later, Arya asks Brienne to spar—and Brienne admires her dagger and sword. Lady Sansa and Petyr Baelish watch from above as Brienne and Arya enjoy a rousing sparring session that quickly escalates into serious combat. Arya is clearly very talented and Brienne, taking it seriously, still cannot manage to knock her down. “Who taught you to fight like that?” Arya only smiles and answers with a single cryptic tone: “no one.”
Notes: This is the first time Arya is shown speaking to Bran Stark. The scene in the godswood marks the reunion of all the living Stark family members (Jon is not there, but he’s only half Stark). They appeared together in S01E01. Arya and Brienne haven’t interacted since S04E04, when Brienne fought the Hound and Arya slipped away and disappeared. At the time of the airing of this episode, there was some discussion that a furtive background character might be Lady Stoneheart, a character that has only appeared in the books so far. In the books she is a resurrected Catelyn Stark. Watch for a woman in a dark cloak passing by the open gate on the left side of the screen—she passes four times (29:02, 30:13, 30:39, and 30:59) and bears a resemblance to Catelyn Stark. Oddly, the figure always passes from right to left instead of back and forth and in different doorways, as if she is making laps around the courtyard. As of this writing, nothing related to Lady Stoneheart has been mentioned or confirmed.
The loot train, still traveling from Highgarden to King’s Landing, pauses beside a river. The gold train has gone ahead but the train of supplies and food is still on the road, accompanied by Jaime, Bronn and the Tarlys. Suddenly, they feel the ground shaking and a Dothraki horde crests the horizon, riding at full speed toward them. Jaime shouts at the men to take up defensive positions, but then the Lannister men see the most disheartening of shapes: Drogon, a full-grown dragon, descending upon them. It swoops over the line of men and sets them ablaze, followed by the Dothraki riders bursting through the burning lines to attack. It is a pitched battle and the Lannister forces are quickly overrun as Daenerys, atop the dragon, orders it to burn the wagons of grain and provisions.
Jaime and Bronn remember the weapon they have with them—Qyburn’s ballista, known as the Scorpion. Bronn runs to it and shoots at the dragon, nearly hitting it. He loads and fires again as Tyrion Lannister watches. The spear hits the dragon in the wing and he lands roughly, destroying the ballista. Daenerys climbs down and works to pull the spear out, and Jamie decides to win the war in one move. He grabs a spear of his own and rides at Daenerys. Just as he prepares to stab her, the dragon turns and breathes fire at him—and a figure pushes him from his horse and into the deep river water.
Notes: This is the first time Jaime and Daenerys appear in the same scene. Bronn is a great archer, explaining why he had any chance of hitting Drogon with the scorpion. He also fired the arrow in S02E09 that set afire the floating wildfire, destroying Stannis Baratheon’s fleet in Blackwater Bay.
Goofs: There is a scene of Drogon gliding low over the river and his right wing passes through a tree.
This huge episode does such a good job of paying off huge moments that we’ve been waiting for, it’s hard to know where to start. For me, the best scene of the episode was Arya sparring with Brienne, showing just how far Arya’s combat training has progressed. Brienne is a renowned fighter and the equivalent of a knight. The fact that Arya can spar against her, especially after Brienne beat the Hound in single combat, shows that Arya is now one of the best fighters in the Seven Kingdoms. Add to that her ability to change faces and impersonate other people could lead one to suggest that she is one of the most formidable people in Westeros. It’s strange to think that that little girl, hiding at the feet of a statue while she watched her father be executed, has grown into a powerful fighter and assassin.
I enjoyed the Sansa-Arya-Bran reunion, and especially the scenes with Arya and Sansa in the crypt. They didn’t get along well as sisters when they were younger, but they can both see the other has been through a lifetime of troubles and they have more respect for each other. Bran, of course, leaves everyone confused every time he opens his mouth. I loved the look on Arya’s face. “You saw me at the Crossroads?” “I thought you would go to King’s Landing.” And then Bran mentions Arya’s kill list, surprising Arya by knowing about it while confirming to Sansa that such a list, previously mentioned by Arya, in fact exists. Sansa looks at Arya in a new light and wonders what the list could mean—and after she sees Arya fight Brienne, she surely knows that Arya is a force to be reckoned with.
The loot train scenes at the end were interesting in many respects, and it was nice to see the Dothraki horde again. It’s been a while since we’ve seen them blot out the sun and fall upon some unsuspecting army. I felt bad enough for that Lannister army even before the dragon flew over the horizon and started roasting people alive. The battle was fun and bloody and shot as well as any Hollywood movie—you can see the producers really spent their time—and money—to get this pivotal scene right. It’s also among the first time we see named characters fighting each other like this, leading armies of their own into war. I know we’re supposed to be rooting for Daenerys and her horde, but I was genuinely worried that something might happen to Jaime. And I was literally yelling at Bronn to get out of there and hide in the river! Run, Bronn, run!
The title refers to the train of gold and grain seized from the Highgarden vaults. This episode, at 50 minutes, is the shortest of any Game of Thrones episodes so far.
Nudity and Violence:
Dracarys—the attack on the loot train by the Dothraki horde is both bloody and exhilarating (41:45).
Notes: All sites accessed November 26, 2017.
HBO Game of Thrones episode synopsis. https://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones/season-07/4-the-spoils-of-war/synopsis
Game of Thrones Wiki, several pages. http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Game_of_Thrones_Wiki
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