Shelf to Screen

Game of Thrones Episode Four: “The Spoils of War”

Welcome to our weekly recap of Game of Thrones, the show that makes you scream obscenities at your television. We’re well beyond the books and no one knows what’s going to happen, although as you might imagine, there are as many theories as there are characters in the series—and that’s not a small number. This season promises to be epic—winter has come, the dragon queen has returned home, and the stage seems set for one last, monumental war…

So, who needs a breather after that episode?  Finally, we get some Dothraki and Drogon action as Dany decides to stop pussyfooting around.  But first, let’s check in on some of the other characters.

This week we had the distinct pleasure of watching the Stark kids make Littlefinger squirm.  Our slimy Lord Baelish is first seen talking to Bran and giving him, of all things, his dagger Catspaw.  He thinks that Bran would want it, given that he almost got his throat slit with it.  The usual “you can count on me” speech is coming out of his mouth when Bran says “Chaos is a ladder”, something that Littlefinger said to Varys in season 3 (yes, I had to look it up) and that Bran couldn’t have known about.  Except that Bran sees everything now and isn’t above using it to creep people out.  Baelish uses Meera’s arrival to beat a hasty retreat.

Meera is leaving Winterfell to go back to her family and is there to say goodbye to Bran.  She’s not real thrilled with his deadpan courtesies and chews him out.  Bran gets her to understand that, in many ways, he’s not Bran anymore–he’s the Three Eyed Raven and the sum of all who came before him.  Meera says “You died in that cave”, and we’re afraid that she’s right.

But even better things are in store as Arya finally comes home!  At the gate, a pair of guards on loan from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise try to stop her from entering, but she gives them the slip as they argue about which of them gets to go tell Sansa about the weird girl at the gate.  On hearing this, Sansa knows where Arya has gone, and she’s right–Arya is in the crypt at their father’s grave.  The two embrace, although there’s still tension between them, and Arya tells Sansa that she has a list of people she’s going to kill.  Not creepy in the slightest.  The pair meet up with Bran in the godswood, where Bran gives Catspaw to Arya.  Viewers across the country fantasize about her planting it between Littlefinger’s shoulders.

A bit later, Arya approaches Brienne, who is training Podrick, and asks to be trained also.  Brienne is hesitant until Arya points out that she swore to serve the Stark daughters.  Faced with this immutable logic, Brienne spars with Arya and finds that this tiny waif is no pushover.  She and Arya score several hits on each other, and Arya loses her grip on Needle, before the bout ends in a draw.  Sansa and Littlefinger are watching, and Sansa now realizes what Arya has become.   Littlefinger does too, as he visibly blanches when Arya stares directly at him.  Again, he slithers away.

Our time on Dragonstone starts with Missandai and Dany talking about, of all things, what Missandai and Greyworm did before he left for Casterly Rock.  Dany is giving Missandai the kinds of looks that say “Girl, you had better be ready to dish later!” when Jon approaches them.  He leads Dany to a cave and shows her the dragonglass deposit–and it’s massive.  But he also shows her, deeper in the mountain, a room of cave paintings done by the Children of the Forest.  They depict humans and the Children fighting together against the White Walkers.  Jon uses this fortuitous discovery to again push for them to work together.  Dany promises to do just that… as soon as he bends the knee.  (At which I yelled “Dammit, Dany!” at the screen.)

Outside the cave, Dany gets the bad news about Casterly Rock and Highgarden from the nervous duo of Tyrion and Varys.  Dany finally seems fed up with waiting and with Tyrion’s “clever plans” and again agitates to ride her dragons into battle.  But first, she asks Jon’s advice, and after he gets the “Who, me???” look off of his face, he warns her against attacking King’s Landing, because that will make her just as bad as all the others.

Later, Davos is teasing Jon about how much he notices Dany’s good “heart” when they come upon Missandai, who tells the men that Dany is their queen by their own choice and that they serve her because they love her.  The conversation is interrupted by the approach of a Greyjoy ship, and none other than Theon beaches on the shore.  Jon is understandably not happy to see him, but he holds off on killing Theon because Sansa told him about Theon’s help in her getting away from Ramsey.  Theon brings the news that Yara is in Euron’s hands and he’s there to beg Dany for help.  But Dany isn’t there, and thus begins one hell of an action sequence.

Jaime and Bronn are riding back to King’s Landing, escorting the wagonloads of gold from Highgarden that will be used to pay off the Lannister’s debts to the Iron Bank.  The pair are talking to Dickon Tarly when Bronn hears something ominous.  The Lannister army forms ranks just as the Dothraki horde crests the rise and thunders towards them.  Jaime thinks they can hold the line, even against the whole khalasar, but that notion gets chucked when Drogon flies overhead, Dany on his back.  The battle degenerates into the Dothraki slaughtering the Lannister soldiers–at least, the ones that haven’t been reduced to man-shaped piles of ash by Drogon’s fire.  (Who else shrieked with happiness when Dany said “Dracaeris”?)  But Jaime has an ace up his sleeve.  On the way, he swung by Laketown to get Bard’s weapon… oh wait, wrong story.  Jaime apparently had a prescient moment and brought Qyburn’s scorpion with him.  Bronn gets to it and begins firing at Drogon.  Jaime watches in horror as his army is hacked to bits and burned to a crisp.  Tyrion is seen watching the battle from a ridge nearby, and the conflict between his loyalty to Dany and his love for his brother is plain on his face.

Then Bronn gets off a lucky shot that nails Drogon in the shoulder.  The great dragon falls from the sky for several agonizing seconds before righting himself and hovering directly in front of the scorpion (and a rather startled Bronn).  The mercenary just manages to jump away and avoid Drogon’s gout of flame.  The dragon lands, contemptuously destroys the scorpion, and then commences a series of draconic complaints that probably translate to “Mom, I’ve got an owie, fix it!”  Seeing Dany on the ground attempting to yank the spear out of the dragon’s shoulder, Jaime has an “Oh, fuck it” moment, grabs a spear, and charges the Dragon Queen.  Tyrion tries to mentally signal Jaime that this is an exceptionally terrible idea, but it doesn’t work.  And soon Jaime is getting an all-too-detailed look at Drogon’s teeth as the pair turn to face him and Drogon starts to flame…

… and Bronn flings himself at Jaime, knocking them both out of the fire’s path and into the water.  The last thing we see is Jaime sinking rapidly, pulled down by his own armor.

And that’s the end of one heck of an episode.  God knows what’s going to happen next week, as we’re more than halfway through this much-too-short season.  Will Jaime survive his dunking?  Will Arya do interesting things with Catspaw?  Will Tyrion ever outbrood Jon?  Tune in next week and find out!

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