Game of Thrones Season 7 Ep 4 Recap – The Spoils of War
“The Spoils of War” premiered on Aug 6, 2017 and is the fourth episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. Overall it is the sixty-fourth episode of the series. It was written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Matt Shakman.
FIRST IMPRESSION(S): The wait is finally over…Game of Thrones fans and viewers worldwide are treated to the spectacle of Daenerys and her dragons…ahem, dragon in battle.
The Spoils of War is a pleasing blend of intense battles between dynasties and touching reunions between loved ones. As the remaining Starks are finally reunited onscreen, Daenerys has finally lost her patience and taken matters upon herself. Tyrion, her Hand, has done all he can to advocate for strategic maneuvering on the path to the Iron Throne. Daenerys realizes that she is losing the war, so she decides to stop sitting back on her cozy ancestral island home, and take to the battlefield with her obviously superior forces and ferocious flying monsters. Meanwhile Cersei is counting on her bother Jaime to return the “spoils of war” back to Kings Landing in order to pay the Lannister debts to the Iron Bank. Since this is GoT, things don’t go as planned.
Season 7 | Episode 4
SCENE 1: In the Reach
After seizing all of House Tyrell’s gold stores and grains, Jaime Lannister oversees the loading and transportation of the spoils of war at Highgarden. Highgarden is the seat of House Tyrell and the regional capital of the Reach. Located on the banks of the river Mander, Highgarden sits astride the Roseroad, a major thoroughfare linking Oldtown and King’s Landing.
The gold is to be sent ahead to King’s Landing first to pay the Lannister’s debt to the Iron Bank. Jaime gives Bronn a bag of gold coins as payment for his services. Bronn complains that he has yet to receive his full reward – a wife from the nobility and a castle. Bronn asks Jaime for Highgarden castle due to its recent vacancy. Jaime reveals that they have no intention in holding Highgarden for the long-term. Jaime points out that should Bronn move into the castle, being in the middle of hostile territory, it would be attacked immediately and insists that Bronn should be more pleased with receiving such a large sack of gold. Jaime states not only would Daenerys likely take the castle from Bronn but the upkeep alone would be too much of a burden. Bronn is not pleased with Jaime’s assessment.
As the Lannister army advances east along the Roseroad. Randyll Tarly rides up with his son to report that the granaries are being emptied and loaded into wagons. Jaime asks about the harvest in which Dickon explains they have teams of men collecting wheat harvest from the local farmers. Jaime requests that Bronn assist in the advancement of this process, in which Bronn reluctantly agrees.
SCENE 2: At Kings Landing with Cersei and Tycho
Queen Cersei Lannister is pleased to learn of the gold plundered in the Fall of Highgarden. As Cersei meets with her guest for a fortnight, Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank of Braavos, she informs him that Jaime is supervising the transport of the gold back to King’s Landing to pay off the Lannister’s historically massive debt to the Iron Bank. Tycho compliments Cersei on her adeptness at military strategy and compares her to her father Tywin, even suggesting she may have exceeded Tywin with this recent conquest. As they walk out into her atrium containing the large painted floor map of Westeros, Cersei informs Tycho that her goal is to reclaim the lands of Westeros.
Cersei explains she will need to take out new loans to expand her armies and strengthen her positions across the map to secure the entire continent. Cersei’s plan is to use the borrowed money to hire foreign Sellsword companies to reinforce her depleted Lannister forces and meanwhile Qyburn has arranged to hire the best private mercenary army, the Golden Company. Tycho assures Cersei the Iron Bank will support her future endeavors – as soon as the gold arrives
SCENE 3: At Winterfell with Bran and Little Finger
Little Finger sits with Bran Stark and as they talk he offers Bran a unique gift. The Valyrian steel dagger with a dragon-bone hilt that was used in an attempt to kill Bran while he was in a coma from his fall from a Winterfell tower. Bran as the new three-eyed raven is cold, emotionless, and seemingly disinterested. The three-eyed raven was the last Greenseer, who under the guise of a three-eyed raven guided Bran to the cave to there his physical human body resided. There, he trained Bran in the magic of Greensight – the ability to perceive past, present, or future events through visions. Little Finger speaks in a manner to befriend Bran in an manipulative attempt to create dissension among the Starks.
Bran asks Little Finger who the dagger belonged to in which Little Finger replies, in a way that question started the entire War of the Five Kings. Little Finger explains that the dagger made Bran who he is today as Bran’s mother Catelyn Stark took the dagger south into King’s Landing to find the cutthroat it belonged to. Little Finger manipulatively sympathizes with Bran remarking on how much chaos he must have lived through on his return to Winterfell in which Bran replies, “Chaos is a ladder”. These were the same words Little Finger spoke to Varys in King’s Landing many years prior in which Bran wasn’t physically present to hear.
Meera’s Conversation with the Three-eyed Raven
As Meera Reed enters Bran’s chamber Little Finger, now unnerved, takes his leave addressing Bran as “Lord Stark”, as Bran insists again he is not Lord Stark. Meera asks about Bran’s new wheelchair, he tells her Maester Wolkan built it for him to get around. Meera tells Bran she’s leaving to go back to her family for when the White Walkers come, assuring him he’s as safe as he can be now back at Winterfell with the Starks. Meera wil be headed back to the Neck to assist the Crannogmen. Bran simply tells her, “Thank you”. Meera is angered by his lack of emotion after all they have experienced together. Hodor and Summer, and even her brother Jojen died to protect Bran. Bran says that he isn’t really, (Bran) anymore – but he remembers the events of Bran’s life and other accumulated memories over the past centuries. Meera, now crying, tells Bran that he died in that cave before she leaves his chamber.
Arya Stark is shown on her horse on a snowy hilltop with Winterfell now in sight. As she returns she is rejected at the gate by two guards who believe Arya to be dead. To confirm her identity, Arya asks for them to send word to Maester Luwin and Rodrik Cassel, not knowing they are currently dead. Convinced that she is impersonating Arya the guards grow short on patience with Arya. Arya asks for Jon Snow as well in which they reply he is a thousand miles from there. She asks who is in charge in his abscence, in which they reply “The Lady of Winterfell. Lady Stark”. Arya gets them to reveal that it is Sansa Stark. A guard lunges at her, but she skillfully dodges the guard and insists she is getting in one way or another. She explains that if she is Arya they will be in trouble when Sansa finds that they turned her away. The guards then proceed to walk her inside the courtyard ordering her to sit still while they confer with Sansa. She immediately slips off once they turn their attention away from her.
As the guards explain the situation to Sansa, she realizes that it must be the real Arya, and knows where she has gone to. Sansa finds Arya in the crypts staring at the statue of Ned Stark. After a brief period of pensive, awkward moments the sisters both express how much they miss one another with an embrace. Arya asks Sansa if she must call her “Lady Stark”, as Sansa humorously insists she must. Sansa remarks on how she hopes Jon will be back soon as he will be so happy to see Arya. The sisters look sadly upon Ned’s grave statue in which Arya says it doesn’t look like him and that it should’ve been cut by someone who knew his face. Sansa replies that everyone who knew his face is dead in which Arya replies, “We’re not.” Arya tells Sansa that everyone says it was Sansa who killed Joffrey. Sansa explains that although it wasn’t her, she wishes she had. Arya confesses to the fact that Joffrey was first on her hit list. Sansa is a bit confused, replying “Your list?” Arya explains that she’s been keeping a list of everyone she is going to kill. Still somewhat confused, Sansa laughs the moment off with Arya. Sansa asks Arya how she got back. Arya could only summarize the story by saying her road back wasn’t a pleasant one. Sansa confirms neither was hers. Arya says, “But our stories aren’t over yet.” Sansa agrees and tells Arya that Bran is home also.
Reunion in the Godswood
Sansa leads Arya to Bran by the Weirwood heart tree. Although Arya is obviously upset to see him crippled, she is happy to be reunited with him and hugs her brother. Bran tells Arya that he saw her at the Crossroards. Arya is confused as Sansa explains that Bran has visions now. Bran says he thought Arya would head to King’s Landing causing Sansa to wonder why she would head there. Bran once again startles them with his knowledge of Arya’s intentions to kill Cersei who is on Arya’s list of names. Sansa, now taking Arya’s list more seriously, asks who else is on her list in which Arya replies most of them are already dead. Sansa notices the dagger of Valyrian steel on Bran’s lap as he tells her Little Finger gave it to him, thinking he’d want it. Arya cannot comprehend why a cuthroat would have such a high quality blade. Bran knows this signifies that someone wealthy wanted him dead. Sansa is a concerned tone insists that Little Finger would not have given anyone anything unless he thought he was getting something in return.
To Bran this does not matter as he remarks that it is wasted on a cripple, handing it off to Arya. Bran’s acceptance of his crippled state obviously upsets Sansa deeply.
Back to the Courtyard
Bran, Sansa, and Arya return to the castle courtyard with Arya pushing Bran in his wheelchair. As Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne see the reunited Stark children, Podrick tells Brienne that Catelyn would be proud she kept her vow. Brienne says she did next to nothing as Podrick disagrees and flatteringly addresses her by saying, “You’re too hard on yourself my lady.” Brienne’s first instinct forces her to say, “I’m not a…” but after some thought and feelings of gratitude she accepts his compliment, “Thank you.”
SCENE 4: The Mines at Dragonstone
Daenerys and her Hand, Missandei make their way down the outer castle steps down to the beach to meet with Jon Snow who has been exploring the dragonglass mines. Missandei is concerned that there is no word back from Grey Worm at Casterly Rock. Dany insists that he will return soon. Dany asks what happened between her and Grey Worm, in which Missandei smiles back saying “many things”.
Jon brings Daenerys alone through the Valyrian dragonglass mine using a lit torch so that he can show her how ancient and historic the mine actually is. Carvings and cave paintings by the First Men, long before the Valyrians came to Dragonstone, show proof that they fought alongside the Children of the Forest, against a common enemy – the White Walkers. One carving is of the Night King as Jon infers that the First Men and the Children must have worked together to fend off the White Walkers for the very first time during the Long Night, ignoring their differences to unite against a common enemy.
Daenerys still wants Jon to bend the knee as Jon insists his people won’t accept a southern ruler. Dany attempts to persuade Jon by saying they will if their king does. She still insists the North should submit to her rule putting their pride aside for their survival. In a moment of silence between the two there seems to be a mutual attraction between Jon and Dany. The two exit the cave and are met by Tyrion and Varys with discouraged looks on their faces. As they inform her the Unsullied has captured Casterly Rock, they must also regret to inform her of the Fall of Highgarden – admitting to the failure of Tyrion’s strategy. Furious, Daenerys realizes all three of her allies have fallen and she has only captured an empty castle. She angrily blames Tyrion for being too cautious and unaggressive because the Lannisters are his people.
Tyrion pleads his case stating they still have a sufficient fleet of ships to transport the Dothraki to the mainland and the combined Dothraki and Unsullied forces are still the largest army in Westeros. Daenerys is not encouraged by the sheer number of warriors she cannot feed since the Lannisters have captured all of the grain and food supplies from the Reach. Daenerys has had enough of Tyrion’s “clever plans” and is insistent she must now use her dragons and the Dothraki to make a direct assault on the Lannisters. She even insinuates that perhaps Tyrion did not want his own people, the Lannisters, to be hurt in the entire process to begin with.
Dany asks Jon what would he do and Jon wisely advocates against such a course of action. Jon states that by Dany bringing dragons back to life and freeing slaves, she has made impossible things happen and that the people who follow her may also believe she is capable of making other impossible things happen. However, if she uses her dragons to “melt castles and burn cities”, she is no different and just more of the same as her Targaryen ancestors. Daenerys looks off to her dragons hovering over the ocean.
SCENE 5: Arya Shows Off Her Skills
Back at Winterfell, we find Brienne in a sword fighting practice session with Podrick, easily knocking him to the ground as he executes his strikes rather clumsily. Arya approaches, observing Brienne’s level of skill and requests to train with the woman who beat the Hound in combat. Little Finger and Sansa watch this all happening from a walkway above. As Brienne underestimates Arya, Arya easily outmaneuvers her using the Water Dance training she learned from Syrio Forel, back in Season 1, combined with her training with the Faceless Men.
Arya promises Brienne she will not strike her with her sword as she manages to feign many strikes at the openings Brienne leaves for Arya. Realizing that Arya is of sufficient skill to not hold back, Brienne steps up her intensity and knocks Arya’s sword, Needle, out of Arya’s hand. Arya switches to the Valyrian steel dagger she was given by Bran and proceeds to demonstrate her speed and quick defensive maneuvering, countering Brienne’s brute strength and size advantage – until Brienne lands a kick to Arya’s chest knocking her to the ground. Arya springs back up and moves in for a master stroke which leaves each of them holding their blade to the other’s throat in stalemate.
Brienne asks Arya who taught her how to fight like that to which Arya replies, “no one”. Both have gained each other’s respect. Arya begins to takes her leave.Witnessing this has left Sansa baffled as to how her younger sister acquired such skill in battle. Arya glares at a surprised Little Finger as he smiles and bows his head.
SCENE 6: At Dragonstone with Jon, Davos, and Missandei
As Jon and Davos walk the outer stairway of the castle at Dragonstone, Davos comments that he noticed Jon’s attraction to Daenerys, but Jon shrugs this off as simply saying Dany has a good heart. Jon tells Davos he doesn’t have time “for that” with the imminent threat of the Night King and his army of the undead approaching. Jon emphasizes the importance of having Dany has an ally as the North’s army is heavily depleted. He indicates that they may only have 10,000 soldiers or even less to which Davos mentions “fewer”.
Davos exclaims speaking of good hearts, as they come upon Missandei at a landing on the outer stairs. Missandei asks as politely as possible why Jon’s surname is “Snow” when House Stark was the ruling house of the North. Both Ned and Robb have the surname “Stark” yet Jon does not. Jon and Davos explain the system of assigning surnames to bastard children of nobility. This confuses Missandei to which they simply tell her Jon’s parents weren’t married. Missandei explains that where she comes from, Naath, the concept of marriage does not exist and that the idea of a “bastard” is a foreign concept to her. Davos finds that to be quite a liberating concept. He inquires as to why Missandei left her birthplace. She explains that she was stolen by slavers and freed by Daenerys. Davos suggests that she simply traded one slave master for another to which she replies that she serves her Queen because she chooses to. Davos asks what would happen if Missandei decided to return home. She responds that Daenerys would give her a ship and wish her good fortune. Davos shows a look of doubt as Missandei firmly says she is sure.
Jon notices a Greyjoy ship approaching in the distance by sea. At the beach, Theon Greyjoy and some Ironborn men carrying a rowboat are greeted by Jon, Davos, Missandei and some Dothraki guards. Theon, to much surprise, tells Jon he didn’t know he was there. Theon had previously betrayed House Stark in which his actions led to the death of Catelyn, Robb,and Rickon. As Theon approaches, he asks Jon if Sansa is all right. Jon furiously grabs Theon by his clothes telling him the only reason he does not kill him is because he saved Sansa. Jon asks of Yara, Theon tells Jon that Yara has been taken by Euron Greyjoy in an attack and that he has come to ask for Danerys’ help in saving her. Jon tells Theon Daenerys is gone. Theon asks, “Where did she go?”
SCENE 7: The Burning at Roseroad
As the Lannister army advances east along the Roseroad, now in the northeast of the Reach, Lord Randyll Tarly reports to Jaime that they need to hurry to get their grain wagons on their way to King’s Landing on the northern side. Lord Tarly understands that their formation will be vulnerable if they are attacked on both sides of the Blackwater Rush (also referred to as the Blackwater or Blackwater river). Randyll suggests flogging stragglers to motivate them. Jaime insists their men should have fair warning first as they fought well at Highgarden. Randyll rides off.
Jaime and Bronn encounter Dickon Tarly. Dickon greets, “Sir Jaime” as Jaime once again calls him “Rickon” to which he correct “Dickon”. Bronn laughs hysterically. Jaime asks how he felt after his first taste of battle. Dickon replies nervously that it was glorious but later admits he was conflicted, being pledged to House Tyrell for so many generations. Dickon knew many of the men he killed and even hunted with them. Jaime insists that the fault lies with Lady Olenna Tyrell who chose to side with Daenerys against Cersei.
Bronn hears something faintly in the distance. It is the thundering of the Dothraki army on horses approaching. Jaime and Randyll command their soldiers to take defensive battle formations. A horde of thousands of Dothraki screaming war cries attacks the Lannister army. Bronn urges Jaime to ride ahead to King’s Landing but Jaime refuses to abandon his men. Bronn tells him flatly that the Dothraki will easily overwhelm the Lannister army and Jaime is too valuable to die there. Jaime insists that if he stays, they have a chance.
At that moment, the roar of a dragon drowns out all that is beneath it on the battlefield. Daenerys Targaryen rides Drogon into battle. As Daenerys gives Drogon the command “Dracarys”, he unleashes dragon fire through the Lannister formation in a straight line from front to back. This allows the fearless, barbaric Dothraki calvary to penetrate the Lannister formation to attack the Lannister lines now exposed from the rear. Jaime and Randyll do their best to hold their army’s line but the Dothraki easily overpower the Lannister soldiers paralyzed with fear while others burn in dragon fire screaming as they cook in their own armor. Some men are even flash-burned to crumbling ash. Burning Lannister soldiers can be seen struggling to remove their armor as it peels back their skin, attempting to douse the flames in the nearby river.
Jaime does not give up. He rallies his remaining forces by taking command of the Tarly archers and surviving Lannister soldiers. Jaime directs the archers to fire their arrows at the approaching dragon in attempt to strike Daenerys. As Daenerys takes notice of this she commands Drogon to pull belly-up so that the arrow volley bounces off his armored underbelly. Drogon then blasts the archers with dragon fire. Jaime meanwhile does his best to avoid the flames and fights off what Dothraki he can with his Valyrian steel sword Widow’s Wail. As he is engaged by a Dothraki attempting to end his command and his life, Dickon Tarly saves Jaime and kills the Dothraki.
Jaime commands Bronn to reach the anti-dragon scorpion bolt ballista as he cannot operate it with one hand. Bron fights his way to the ballista, but as he rides his horse a Dothraki cuts off his horse’s leg which sends Bronn to the ground, losing his large bag of gold. Bronn decides the gold is not as important as surviving and fights his way to the ballista on foot, now chased by that same Dothraki warrior. Bronn heads into a covered wagon and as the Dothraki enters, Bronn fires a scorpion bolt into him pinning the Dothraki to another wagon. Bronn reloads the scorpion ballista and now scans the sky for Daenerys and Drogon.
Meanwhile on a nearby hill overlooking the battle, Tyrion and Dothraki guard survey the savage slaughtering of the Lannister army. Tyrion’s face is one that expresses regret and remorse as the Dothraki commander Qhono tells him, “Your people can’t fight.” in Dothraki tongue. Drogon continues to flash-burn Lannister soliders to ash. Jaime is stunned as this horror unfolds before him.
Bronn spots Drogon in the distance. He fires and misses. Daenerys is startled as the bolt barely misses her head and they take another pass at Bronn diving straight onto him. Tyrion is seen watching on. Daenerys gives Drogon the command “Dracarys” again but before dragon fire can be unleashed, Bronn lines up the scorpion ballista with Drogon and takes his best shot, striking the dragon in the right shoulder. As the dragon screeches in pain, it begins its painful descent downward into a dangerous free-fall. Daenerys manages to help Drogon pull up from his fall and Drogon incinerates the scorpion ballista. Bronn jumps to safety.
Daenerys dismounts from Drogon in an attempt to remove the bolt from Drogon’s shoulder. As Jaime considers this may be his only chance to take down Daenerys, Tyrion is shown saying, “Flee you idiot.” Jaime however has other ideas. Jaime commands his horse to charge, picking up a spear along the way as they hit full stride. Daenerys, unable to remove the bolt from Drogon’s shoulder, turns to Jaime and is frozen in place, not being trained in evasive maneuvers. Drogon becomes aware of this and shields Daenerys with his head, while unleashing a blast of dragon fire at Jaime. Someone dives at Jaime knocking him off his horse out of harm’s way into the river, presumably Bronn, where Jaime is shown weighed down by his armor sinking deeper into the water.