Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 Review: The Spoils of War

Game of Thrones makes good on ideas first raised in Season 1, and it is a glorious nightmare to behold.

This Game of Thrones review contains spoilers.

Much was said last week, including by a certain red witch, about the poetic quality that comes from ice meeting fire. Jon and Daenerys, the two that many of us speculate are the harmonizing voices in George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire,” were onscreen together. At last. But poetic allusions aside, tonight’s stunning and brief 50 minutes stepped past artful symbolism and turned that ice and fire into a scalding reality.

This season is all about entering the “endgame” phase of Game of Thrones, yet “The Spoils of War” is the jaw-dropping installment that actually made good on promises that go back to the very finale of season 1. What would happen if the Stark kids ever saw each other again? Not just Jon and Sansa, but all of Eddard and Catelyn’s living children meeting eye-to-eye, and broken soul to broken soul? And how would it feel if Daenerys finally lived up to the words “Fire and Blood” by raining holy hell upon the fields of Westeros?

All these hopes and fears were delivered in “Spoils,” and each answer intentionally did not come how many viewers—including this one—imagined. In fact, it is in these differences between hopeful longing and cold reality where Martin’s world (on page or screen) has always conjured its most striking shadows. And tonight, Game of Thrones was awash in their incredibly engulfing shade.

On the chilly side is the moment where Arya Stark finally came home to Winterfell. So many times in her life she has been denied the chance at a family reunion. She was mere feet away from Ned Stark when he lost his head, hopelessly running toward the doomed papa when a Night’s Watchman named Yoren saved her from inevitable capture; she also just as helplessly ran toward the Red Wedding in a vain dash to save her mother, who she always felt she disappointed, and her beloved older brother; failure came again though when the Hound likewise saved her from certain death by stopping her; and then there was that time where guards just turned her away from the Eyrie, revealing that Lysa Arryn was dead while also unhelpfully excluding the fact that Sansa Stark was a mere mountain’s trek away.

She couldn’t even find a boat that would take her to the Wall and Jon Snow, so she had to settle for Braavos and the Faceless Men as a consolation prize—one that plunged her life into further darkness.

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who also penned this episode, conjure all these ghostly mischances when Arya on a lone horse, and with her father’s haircut, crosses the snowy banks outside of Winterfell. Finally laying eyes on her childhood home as a very hardened adult, Arya fails to experience at all the exhilaration that comes from the end of an epic journey in a Disney movie. Nay, she is closer to Erich Maria Remarque’s protagonist in All Quiet on the Western Front, who upon returning to his family’s house realizes that he now lives “without feelings,” which makes him a stranger to the people he once loved.

Benioff and Weiss underscore this bitter pill by echoing her thwarted missed opportunities to see her family by having the two guardsmen at Winterfell’s modest gate—I guess they’re still rebuilding?—play like the comedic authority figures in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Honestly, the attempt at humor falls on its face here and is doubly misplaced when one recalls that they apparently ushered off-screen Bran Stark into Winterfell without hesitation, and he was presumed to be just as dead as Arya.

But for Arya, the scene works because it is just one more diminished return. Like the Knights of the Vale, this Abbot and Costello double act disbelieves who she is and will not let her in, and as with Robb and Cat, she just missed who she came to see since Jon Snow is a thousand miles away, making googly eyes at the Mother of Dragons. Yet now she is a person who won’t take no for an answer. She is able to talk her way into the courtyard, and while Tweedledee and Tweedledum prattle on, she makes her way to the crypt… and to Sansa.

As the reunion that’s probably been the most anticipated this side of Jon and Arya, the Arya and Sansa scene is intentionally muted and dispiriting. Meeting the the crypts of Winterfell, and before the vague visage of Ned Stark (or at least a meager interpretation of it), the moment recalls the most recent occasion Arya previously laid eyes on her sister: the day Ned lost his head. This time, Sansa sees her sister first and in spite of going in for a warm hug, the sequence has as much warmth as the gloomy shadows that await all Starks at the end of things. Down there, Sansa jokingly replies to Arya’s query: Do I have to call you Lady Stark? But Arya either ignores the humor of the response or can no longer understand it. Sansa hugs her sister, but at least at first, Arya is as despondent to her older sister as she was to Hot Pie.

Earlier in the episode, Arya looked around Winterfell and seemed to struggle recognizing her childhood memories or anything else in the location as belonging to her. She seemed as removed from this house as she was in the Twins. Aye, I’d even wager to say the only place she has looked comfortable in during recent seasons has been among the faces of the dead in the House of Black and White. While standing next to Sansa, neither sister can comment on more than the poor craftsmanship of Ned’s statue and skirt discussing how they both survived the many years that have separated them.

Intriguingly, each Stark reunion has been less heartfelt than the last. Whereas Jon and Sansa’s embrace in the snows of Castle Black aimed to elicit tears of relief for the characters and mayhaps a reviewer or two (sniff), Sansa’s joy at seeing Bran was met with awkwardness and creepy distance. Now, Arya and Sansa barely acknowledge each other as long lost siblings. For while all siblings grow apart to a degree with adulthood, there is a staggering distance here that’s only partially bridged by a mutual desire to have been the one to put Joffrey Baratheon in the ground.

On its face, it is a strong choice by Benioff and Weiss, and evocative of Martin too. When viewers finally get what they’ve wanted from almost the beginning—a Stark family reunion—it comes not as a party but as a funeral. Two acquaintances gathering in the dark to pay their respects to a shared loved one. Still, there is something missing in either the direction or writing of this scene. One of my only two critiques of this entirely impressive hour is that while even the Sisters Stark are likely quietly underwhelmed by their surprising distance, we do not actually feel their disappointment.

There is not enough surprise or disappointment by either, just a queer acceptance of their estrangement, and the fact that the other is alive. Personally, I’d have much preferred the sadness we felt was shared in a more cathartic way by the siblings—if even in private on both their counts.

And yet, the writers are really trying to build to something beyond simply a “big scene.”

Indeed, I think more than focusing on the bittersweet awkwardness of Stark children regrouped, it is actually the dawning realization of their unfamiliarity yet necessary kinship that the show really savors. The second hug in the crypt was the first acknowledgement by Arya that she is home, and Game of Thrones is ready to take full advantage of it when she meets Bran Stark by the Heart Tree.

Completing his journey toward faintly dick-ish superhero sage, Bran has had a wheelchair made for him by Winterfell’s new maester. How fitting it is that as both of his sisters go onto careers as X-Men heroines that Bran Stark takes one step closer to becoming Charles Xavier himself. At the tree, the reunion between Bran and Arya goes more smoothly for the simple fact that Bran is even more damaged—at least on an interpersonal level—than Arya. Their secrets and personal losses are so great that they instantly would appear to bond in their melancholy.

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How grim a show Game of Thrones is when Sansa, the one who has been repeatedly beaten, tortured, creeped on by her “uncle,” and much worse, has come out as the most well-adjusted of Cat’s living children. Compared to Bran and Arya, she’s even an optimist… and she just fed her last husband to his own starving dogs, and then suppressed a little laugh about it!

This ironic distance is highlighted by the fact that Bran proves to Arya his visions are not just insanities since he knew about her choice of Winterfell over Cersei, and likewise about her list. Earlier, Sansa believed Arya was just joking about having a kill list, but almost like a concerned parent who heard that her child has joined a “gang,” Sansa starts to show concern. What kind of gang? I suspect this unspoken unfamiliarity—as both sisters quizzically have little interest in hearing what the other has been doing these past several years—will be a source of great drama and angst.

It’s even heavily hinted about when the three Stark siblings reemerge in the Winterfell courtyard. This is where Benioff and Weiss’ interests truly lie. Not just in the pain between the siblings, but in how their contrasts will begin spinning new conflicts and wheels within wheels. Seeing all three grown kids standing in the snow, happy to be together (if Bran is even capable of such a feeling these days) but anxious about the unsatisfactory nature of lives lived apart, is quite a juxtaposition with the three fresh and eager faces that greeted Robert Baratheon, along with their departed brothers and parents.

But together they remain, and the potential is already being scratched as they cross that yard in a sight as breathtaking as any dragon. The last time Arya and Brienne of Tarth met, the “lady knight” took down the Hound, not that this won Arya over. Podrick tries to give Brienne the “W” of bringing Arya home, but Brienne is right to note that she really doesn’t deserve the credit on this one.

However, she does deserve credit of now being a possibly great role model for Arya. The first one she’ll have had since Yoren also met the Many-Faced God of Death in season 2. Their friendly duel is the perfect kind of fan service, as Arya has finally mastered Syrio’s Water Dance, and is able to vanquish the Hound’s bane, if even in play. And tantalizingly, both Sansa and Petyr Baelish watch on.

Sansa is hard to read in this moment. She is clearly troubled by learning that her sister’s kill list is not one of pure fancy. Arya moves like a Braavosi warrior that can kill like the best of them. Is Sansa saddened to see that life has pushed her sister into the role of murderer? Maybe even a little jealous since Sansa has grown into a politician while Arya can fight her own battles? Or merely just shocked at seeing the chipper little girl only truly smile at the thrill of holding a dagger at a friend’s throat?

More than likely she’s deflated that she and Arya can’t connect while little sis is having a ball with Brienne and weapons of death below.

It’s a thread that will likely be pulled one way or the other by the man standing next to Sansa: Petyr Baelish. Petyr’s face isn’t hard to read. He sees something he hasn’t known before: A Stark girl who can kill and looks like she’d be thrilled to do so. What does that mean for his machinations? I doubt even he knows in that exact moment. Nevertheless, a new chess piece has been placed on his board, one that presents an opportunity for Baelish to make new power moves.

We still don’t know if Littlefinger recognizes Arya as the little girl he saw serving as Tywin Lannister’s cup-bearer many, many moons ago. Either way, she’s now a potential tool—just as she uses his Valyrian dagger to defeat Brienne. He nods to her out of faux-respect, but she already knows what kind of schemer a man who breaks bread with Tywin is. She even implicitly disapproved of Sansa keeping the Lord Protector of the Vale around when she heard he was in Winterfell.

Arya might have a point, as we likewise saw Littlefinger try to wine and dine Bran. He even gave the young lad a BS sob story about how much he wishes he could have given his life for Catelyn Stark, and how he’s now committed to protecting her children. Bran likely can see through all the smoke being blown up his immovable legs, nor does he care one way or the other. When he spits Littlefinger’s “chaos is a ladder” spiel back at him, it unsettles Baelish enough to cause him to take his leave, but Littlefinger gets what he wants in the scene nonetheless.

He departs by calling Bran “Lord Stark,” and Bran reveals he isn’t Lord Stark. That’s all Littlefinger wanted—confirmation that the cripple doesn’t know who owned the knife that nearly slayed him (which I forgot is still a mystery in the show, unlike the books). Nor does Brandon Stark consider himself a political player. Thus he’s one less Stark Littlefinger will now have to kill if his plans about marrying Sansa and becoming king are to ever come to fruition.

Bran then has as cold an exchange with Meera Reed as he does with Petyr. Meera expects a teary goodbye as she departs from her friend of several years, and he shows neither genuine gratitude nor concern about her fate. If shippers were hoping for a love story, think again. Bran doesn’t even appear capable of remembering the debts he owes Jojen Reed, Hodor, or even sweet Summer. If a boy can shrug off the death of his childhood dog, he really is dead inside, never mind Meera. He tells her as much though, saying Bran Stark is gone.

Can we all just agree now that Bran has become the worst Stark? Which is a shame since the boy Arya and Sansa wanted to see is sorely missed, and this entitled “Three-Eyed Raven” brat can “see everything,” except in the selfishness of the lord of the manor allowing his servant to die for him while holding a door. He also fails to see he needs to keep Meera around since only her father can confirm for the non-metaphysically inclined Northern lords that Jon Snow is also half-Targaryen.

Also in the context of grand character arcs, it’s amusing if one contrasts Bran’s increasing coldness with Jaime Lannister’s growing compassion. In season 1, every viewer was ready to see the Kingslayer fed to dogs after he pushed Bran out a window, but now he might be the closest Game of Thrones has to cable drama anti-hero.

The episode itself actually began noting just that. Jaime rides with a victorious Lannister army through the Reach, ready to use all of the now dearly departed Tyrell gold to pay off their debts to the Iron Bank. Jaime similarly appears fonder of his men than in past years where he viewed every male in the room as a rival to mock and deride (remember Jory and the story of almost losing an eye that Jaime then made a reality?). Now he flinches at the idea of Lord Tarly flogging their men if they start straggling. “Fair warning,” he cautions.

He also pays gold to the lovably whiny Bronn. As a disloyal bro who always needs more scenes, Bronn is a delight even at his pettiest, unhappy that instead of being married and with a castle, he keeps fighting the Lannisters’ wars. We doth think he protests too much. While Bronn will never be at risk of turning into a hero in search of adventure, he certainly enjoys a good killing and quip-off. He even is able to get in a few cracks at how ridiculous it is they’re fighting to keep Cersei Lannister on the throne.

“Yes, I’m sure Queen Cersei’s reign will be quiet and peaceful,” Bronn mocks. Jaime far too earnestly replies, “Stranger things have happened.” Like what? That Bronn articulates this demonstrates both a camaraderie and a knowing sense of cynicism on Team Lannister. Winter is here. In a matter of months, these fields may be covered in snow, and they spent the whole autumn years fighting. The likelihood of being prepared for winter seems remote, yet here they are still fighting. Jaime’s look of disgust in the season 6 finale has been replaced with delusion, and Bronn is breaking it.

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It’s inevitable that something is going to snap this season between Jaime and Cersei, and it’s about time. The Kingslayer has been almost in stasis since Tywin died, waiting for his journey to continue—and he knows on some level that for it to progress, it means leaving Cersei behind him.

Even so, he is still a Lannister. When Bronn asks for Highgarden, Jaime dismisses him with some nonsense about how he wouldn’t enjoy paying for the upkeep. Always a Lannister, and always the rich guy who moves the goalposts with promises of opportunity, Jaime and Cersei will ever have much in common.

And just as Jaime is giving Bronn the runaround about heavy lies the wealth, so too is Cersei enjoying a sequence that feels almost more appropriate to modern king-making. Cersei and Mark Gatiss’ banker from Braavos are having a lovefest, toasting to each’s good health. Never has a massive debt been paid off in one installment to the Iron Bank—the hostile takeover of another House’s assets tends to make things go smoother—and things are now absolutely glorious between the two.

The scene is about two people who hilariously have their cart way ahead of the horse, or like when the Koch Brothers spent their annual weekend retreat with fellow billionaires gushing over Jeb Bush in 2015. Methinks they’re getting ahead of themselves, albeit Gatiss is aware of this.

Drunk on Tyrell gold, Cersei asks for another loan with the Iron Bank in order to request the aid of the Golden Company. We’ve never seen this particular army of sellswords on the show, but they’re an intriguing new prospect for Game of Thrones. A company of mercenaries that are not unlike Daario Naharis’ Second Sons, the Golden Company is the rare group of cutthroats who (apparently) have never betrayed a contract—as long as they get paid. “Our word is golden,” be the motto of these dude-bros. They were also an army whom Davos was eager to hire for Stannis before they marched on Winterfell, but Stannis declined because of “honor” and some other hypocritical nonsense for a kinslayer. Jorah Mormont also was a member of the Golden Company on hiatus when he first met a young girl named Daenerys Targaryen.

This group of sellswords may become instrumental in the final season since Cersei is about to lose her army…

For while Cersei is spiking the football before halftime, things are taking an interesting turn on Dragonstone. Jon Snow and Davos still walk the ramparts, running into NPCs who’ll gush about just how swell the Breaker of Chains is. But they’re also actually doing something useful, like finding an entire mine’s worth of Dragonglass.

On their cute first date, Jon invites Daenerys to look at all the weaponry they can use on the White Walkers (the Onion Knight is correct about Jon studying her heart). The scene is crucial though since more than any speech, it gives Dany pause. Why would such a cavern of purportedly useless rocks be saved for centuries? And then Jon shows Daenerys a mural from the Children of the Forest that dates back about 10,000 years. We know because that is when the First Men faced the Night King, and the cave paintings confirm all of this. Paintings of men, paintings of snow, and paintings of demons with eyes that glow. For the first time, a shiver of realization that water levels are rising crosses Daenerys’ mind… and then quickly passes.

Conceding that Jon Snow might have a point about this Ice Zombie business, she promises to help him in his wars if he but bends the knee. It’s a lose-lose though for the King in the North. If he bends the knee, he’ll lose the faith in all the Northern Houses, but if he doesn’t have her dragons, how is he going to truly kill all the zombies faster than the Night King can make them? Remember, the Dragonglass is for the Night King and White Walkers, not the Wights they command.

Daenerys talks about Jon letting go of his pride, unaware that she is the one who is still yearning for the ultimate title, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, when the greatest of existential threats will wash away her political squabbles. Childish, indeed. And Dany is distracted once more when, lo and behold, the idea of bringing dragons to Westeros and not using them has backfired spectacularly.

Tyrion claiming that he has still concocted a masterful plan for victory is reminiscent of Gen. George McClellan explaining to Abraham Lincoln that letting Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia get away after Antietam was cunning strategy. For the record, McClellan was soon fired, and if Jorah Mormont ever gets to Dragonstone, I wonder about Tyrion keeping his title. Daenerys is obviously questioning it when she quickly turns on her Hand, even wondering about his allegiances. “Our enemies? Your family you mean,” she sneers. “Perhaps you don’t want to hurt them, after all.”

The thing about dragons is they might eat you. Tyrion is of course loyal and even would love to see Drogon feast on Fillet de Cersei. But he still is thinking too much about what he wants (Casterly Rock) and PR optics. As Jon Snow shortly points out, unwittingly saving Tyrion from a hot seat that could be ignited, Tyrion is partially right: burning an entire city to ash is bad. Duh. But Aegon the Conqueror didn’t take all Seven Kingdoms by cutting off his hands either.

There are plenty of military targets, be it Casterly Rock or soldiers in the field, that could be barbecued before the snow falls. Acting like it is a binary choice between letting the Lannisters roll over your allies and committing war crimes by blowing up King’s Landing is a false equivalency. And Daenerys finally understood that…

Aye, and here there is, at long, long last, fire and blood, and draongs. It’s the actualization of what every fan dared to dream or dread when Drogon gave out his little roar in the closing moments of season 1. Dany’s dragons are game changers. Let them fight!

Bearing witness to Drogon and an army of Dothraki laying waste to half the Lannister army in a matter of minutes was a glorious horror to behold. Admittedly, half of their forces conveniently got the gold inside King’s Landing, but that also makes this attack even more logical. Before using her forces to lay siege to the capital, Daenerys is able to shatter their sense of superiority by crushing a huge swath of their military with ease and only one of her flying WMDs. That also places the battle on the border of the Reach and the Crownlands, which is relatively a stone’s throw on the map from Dragonstone.

This is how Dany should have handled her first salvo from the beginning. Hearing the sounds of the Dothraki before even seeing Drogon is surreal enough. While the riders of the Dothraki Sea have been in the series since the jump, Essos is a very different land than Westeros. Having essentially a wave of American Plains Riders crash down on medieval knights in shining armor is disorienting and terrifying. Just ask the knights.

But then comes the dragon. We’ve seen Daenerys’ three children unleashed in contained quarters. Baby Drogon toasted the slave owners of Astapor, and all three dragons made an example out of just a handful of Yunkai and Volanti ships in the waters outside of Meereen. Yet they are only on real full display in Westeros, and the series finally has a battle as twisted as its earliest conflicts.

While there has been no other episode of Game of Thrones as visually dazzling as “The Battle of the Bastards,” it was a clean cut good versus evil fight. But this slaughter is closer to the Battle of Blackwater Bay and even the Battle for the Wall. While there is one side you’re clearly inclined to root for, there are people on each side of the war who are “good.” Folks you don’t want to see die.

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Thus the dragons take on a new level of monstrousness when they’re viewed from the perspective of Jaime Lannister and Bronn of the Blackwater. Suddenly, it’s not slavers getting turned into fireworks; it’s human beings who no more deserved to die than the men that Jaime and Dickon Tarly rather gracefully mourned over at Highgarden. And here they are being turned into actual ash within an instant.

The imagery of the dragon’s fury knowingly calls back the effects of a volcano or even a nuclear blast on human flesh. Ash heaps in the shape of men replace the actual bodies that once stood there. It’s slaughter on a level completely incomprehensible to medieval standards of warfare, and it makes Drogon slightly less cuddly. It also gives credence to Tyrion’s wariness of using dragons. Then again, Harry Truman explained his rationale for using the nuclear bomb as the American people would have wisely impeached him if he hadn’t and let tens of thousands of more Americans die in a war of attrition in the urban neighborhoods of Japan.

But even now, it’s a decision that Tyrion is uneasy about. One of his Dothraki stalwarts laughs, “Your people can’t fight,” and the small Lannister simply cringes in agreement. Then again, if he had unleashed this on his father’s army before they lost Highgarden, and half their target found the safety of a civilian population, this war might already be over.

Now he must simply watch the grisly nightmare, and perhaps think of his brother and disloyal war buddy down there. Bronn even gets his own “Saving Private Ryan” moment like Jon did in “Battle of the Bastards” when he has to survive a handheld tracking shot run through dragonfire to find the Scorpion. Apparently, Qyburn has only built one to date, and as expected it proves to be not nearly as effective as advertised. Operating a wooden weapon like it’s World War II era anti-aircraft technology, Bronn lands a shot into Drogon, which does damage the dragon… and viewers are put in an immediate conundrum.

Who do you root for? Drogon or Bronn? Jaime or Daenerys? I’ve loved Bronn and will always say he needed to be in more episodes, but in this moment I was ready for Daenerys’ favorite child to turn him into marshmallow goo. This is the kind of choice viewers might not have thought too hard about being a consequence of Dany crossing the Narrow Sea, and it’s one that if the showrunners were honest, they’d have taken to its most realistic conclusion.

Game of Thrones made its bones by letting characters endure realistic repercussions for their mistakes. Trust Littlefinger and make no strong political ties in the capital? Off with your head, Lord Stark. Insult a contentious ally whose support is pivotal? Prepare to never see your child born, Robb.

Fire an ineffective weapon at a dragon? Time to fry in the sky, Bronn. Especially since Jaime also is saved moments later from a bad choice that should’ve meant certain death, the episode would have been stronger if Bronn paid for the Lannisters’ mistake.

As it is, Drogon is wounded bad enough to suggest if Qyburn and Cersei can build more Scorpions, the Red Keep will at least have a viable defense against getting Harrenhaal’d. In the meantime, it just means Dany must pluck out a flesh wound on Drogon. And seizing the opportunity of the Targaryen girl stepping foot on a battlefield, Jaime unwisely charges Dany on gallant horseback. It’s a bravely asinine move that Tyrion helps the audience understand by adding the colorful commentary of “you fucking idiot.”

Even if Jaime had managed to kill Dany, Drogon would have inevitably done what he did: turn that noble steed into a grass stain. But like Bronn, Jaime wore heavy plot armor tonight and miraculously did not pay for his foolishness (really one of them should have…), and is thrown into the Blackwater Rush. In that river he can lick his wounds, assuming of course he swims far enough away to go unseen by the dragon that turned Game of Thrones shortest episode into also one of its most visually awe-inspiring.

So the episode ends with the Lannisters enduring a devastating defeat at the hands of simply Daenerys and Drogon. If she unsheathed her other two dragons, she could finish the job in an afternoon. However, she cannot since the rest of the Lannister forces are going to huddle inside King’s Landing for dear life. This too, though, is to her advantage.

The Lannister forces are shattered as the weather grows gray. If they leave King’s Landing, they will surely die in dragon fire. Until then, Daenerys and her army of Dothraki can begin a siege on the outskirts of King’s Landing. This in turn gives the Unsullied Army time enough to march from Casterly Rock to the parameter of King’s Landing and join in the siege… cutting off the capital from the bread lines it just won in the Battle of Highgarden. And their edible spoils were also spoiled in flames.

If Euron Greyjoy or even those magical Golden Company sellswords try to relieve Cersei by sea, Dany’s dragons should be able to boil them before they get within a mile of the Red Keep. In essence, Daenerys has Cersei in checkmate, and can just wait until the people of King’s Landing starve enough to turn on Cersei, even if it takes a year.

… But that won’t happen. The main reason is because Benioff and Weiss want to make sure Lena Headey makes it to season 8. And the other practical one is we’ve already seen Jon Snow start to soften Dany’s negative opinion of him and his White Walkers ravings. Assuming he proves his point to her, she’ll eventually have to cut any siege short in order to join the North in its fight against the Night King. Granted, this is also a fight Cersei should want to win too, but she is even less likely to sign onto this Paris Climate Agreement than Daenerys.

While Jon and Dany are off fighting zombies and batting will-they-or-won’t-they eyes at each other, Cersei will be able to consolidate her forces, get the agriculture from the Reach back into the capital, and perhaps use sellswords to replenish the charred remains of her the fighting force Tywin bequeathed his children.

Slowly but surely, the lines of the endgame are taking firmer shape. And it now is becoming clear that Mad Queen Cersei will figure just as prominently in the final battles as the Night King. Seven Hells, maybe they’ll team up?

As we approach that end, it’s clear that “The Spoils of War” is one of the finest hours in Game of Thrones history. I can attest to that since this review is close to tying my longest in its number of words, and this episode is 20 minutes shorter than the one that spawned that ponderous ramble!

Still, I am going to have to take half a star off. I again think that while underlining the chilliness between the Stark sisters, the showrunners forgot to let them both understand it in their hurry for new political machinations to begin in the North. And honestly, Bronn and/or Jaime should be dust in the wind if the show had kept the merciless streak of George R.R. Martin running through its fire and blood. Don’t let that discourage you, however. “The Spoils of War” was surely a feast. The first of the endgame. It won’t be the last.

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