Every Tuesday this season, a few of us here at The Comeback will gather to reflect on the previous episode of Game of Thrones and predict what might happen next week and beyond.
Last week, we looked back at episode three, “The Queen’s Justice,” and questioned if Tyrion was doing a terrible job. Now it’s time to discuss episode four, “The Spoils of War.” Also a warning, if you did not watch the trailer for episode five and don’t plan on it, avoid the last two questions of this discussion.
1. What a freaking episode! What grade do you give it?
David Lauterbach: I would say A+, but that means the episode was perfect, and this one wasn’t perfect. However, it was close so I’ll give it an A. There were a couple scenes I would’ve liked to be shorter in this episode (such as Arya fighting Brienne) in order to get more of Drogon.
Andrew Bucholtz: This was an A-plus for me. I think the climactic battle was one of the best-shot in GoT history, and it was awesome to see a dragon finally play a big role in open-field warfare. There were lots of great moments leading up to it too, including Theon and Jon’s awkward reunion, Jon and Dany exploring the Dragonstone caves, and Arya’s training with Brienne. And Davos’ “Fewer” line was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on Game of Thrones, and such a superb callback.
Alex Putterman: If that’s not an A episode, I don’t know what is. At this point, every scene feels so crucial, from the exposition with the Starks up in Winterfell to the Jon-Dany interactions to (obviously) the devastating battle at the end. My only complaint is that the episode was short.
Matt Clapp: 9.8/10.
Taylor Nigrelli: Gotta go with an A+. It was good from start to finish, vacillating between funny, heart-warming, and thrilling.
Jeff Snyder: Oh boy. A solid A. I can’t justify giving an A+ yet. It’s too early! I have a feeling an A+ is coming this season, so I need to save it for that.
2. Who was episode MVP?
DL: Drogon. Yes, the Dothraki could’ve won without Dany and Drogon’s help, but man, was Drogon good. Also, just below Drogon would be Arya because she showed multiple people how big of a badass she is.
AB: Bronn gets the MVP vote from me for his interesting conversation with Jaime about wanting a castle, his recognition of the Dothraki threat before anyone else, his work with the anti-dragon Scorpion, and his last-second save of Jaime. It was also great to see him again after far too long. But Davos is a strong second for the “Fewer” line.
AP: Drogon was quite literally the most valuable player in this episode. He took down a massive chunk of the Lannister army and swung the war in Dany’s favor almost single-handedly. Yes, he took a blow there at the end, but before that he showed his value in a big way.
TN: If you burn an entire army alive in, like, 10 minutes, you’re the MVP of whatever it is you’re doing.
JS: Will somebody give Bronn his damn castle yet? He was amazing this episode. He gave us some classic Bronn lines, actually hurt Drogon, and saved Jamie from certain death. I mean, come on, he’s earned whatever castle he wants.
3. Where does that battle rank among the great GoT battles?
DL: I would say it’s in the top five with these four in no particular order: Hardhome, Blackwater, Bastards, and Greyjoy ship battle. Meanwhile, I probably just left out a ton of battles that were great too.
AB: This might be my favorite one. The drastically-different armors of the Dothraki versus the Lannisters made it easier to identify the sides than we’ve often seen, and there were interesting tactics here (charging a shield wall, trying to protect the supply train, etc). The involvement of Dany and her dragon really took it over the top, and Bronn versus Drogon was a Bard The Bowman vs. Smaug level stare down. Who knew bringing anti-aircraft guns into Westeros would be so much fun?
AP: It’s right up there. I think I’m still partial to the Battle of Blackwater, but this one had it all: major characters on both sides, huge plot significance, some blood and gore (if you’re into that) and legitimate suspense. And unlike some previous GoT battles, it didn’t feel glorious (as Dickon Tarly would say), it felt haunting. I almost felt bad rooting for Dany and Drogon to roast the Lannister army. Almost.
MC: I’m guessing most Thrones fans would have it no higher than third, but I may actually like it more than any battle but Hardhome. I was left with my jaw dropped more during this battle than Blackwater even.
TN: I’m not sure it was as epic as Hardhome, Blackwater, or Bastards, but Drogon added an element that we hadn’t fully seen yet. Watching the Lannister army get hopelessly destroyed was also fun.
JS: At the very least at the level of the major Jon battles or the Battle of the Blackwater. Any of those five could be number one. In this battle, we see just how grotesquely destructive a grown dragon is. There’s also the panning shot that we’ve seen in other major battles (notably the Battle of the Bastards), where it follows Bronn through the chaos of the battle. Beautifully shot. Can’t say enough about it.
4. The show rarely leaves cliffhangers, but there were some big ones here. Will Jaime make it out alive (and who saved him? Bronn? Dickon)? How do you expect Dany and Drogon to escape?
DL: I think Bronn saved Jamie because it would make too much sense due to their relationship. As for how Jamie, Dany, and Drogon all escape. Drogon is injured, but he/she and Dany will be fine and make it back to Dragonstone okay, seeing as they won the battle. Jamie, I think, is alive. He is too important of a character to simply die by drowning. I wouldn’t, however, be surprised if we don’t see Jamie for an episode or two to keep the suspense hanging over the show.
AB: I think Jaime does make it out alive. Having Bronn (and a close look at the armor involved does suggest it was Bronn) save him from the flames only for him to drown wouldn’t feel like a wise decision from a storytelling perspective. But you never know with this show. I think Dany and Drogon will be just fine; after all, there are far more troops of theirs still standing. It seems quite likely to me that they wind up with Jaime as a prisoner, and possibly Bronn too. And that could make for some interesting moments going forward.
AP: I’m pretty sure that was Bronn saving Jaime, but it’s hard to be certain. I think he makes it out, but it’s a little hard to see how, with Drogon right there. As for Drogon, I guess he’ll have to limp-fly his way to safety, then get on a physical therapy regiment quickly.
MC: I don’t think they’d let Jaime die like this. I’ll go with Bronn saving him since Dickon already did once in this battle. I’m guessing Drogon is healthy enough to fly away with Dany eventually. I mean, how else is he getting away? It’s not like they can just throw him on the back of a horse or call an Uber.
TN: I would guess Bronn saved him, but I’m not sure he makes it out of this situation alive. It looks like there’s a good chance he drowns and, if not, where else is he going to go? As for Dany and Drogon, seems as though they could just fly away. I don’t think Drogon was mortally wounded.
JS: It’s definitely Bronn who saved him, and if Jamie died, they wouldn’t have just killed him via Drogon-fire. There’s no point in leaving it a cliff hanger if he dies there. Also, Dany and Drogon win the battle, so I don’t expect them to need to escape.
5. How will this battle affect the larger strategy of the war? How does Cersei come back from this?
DL: It definitely levels the playing field a little bit and will make things interesting for the Iron Bank. Yes, the Lannisters paid their debts by the gold making it back to King’s Landing, but Cersei did just lose a lot of grain and a huge chunk of her army. I think with all the talk of the Iron Bank supporting Cersei this episode, due to her losses, the Iron Bank may reconsider its stance.
AB: Losing these troops and the majority of the supplies they had could be a big blow for Cersei, and losing top general Jaime (if he is captured) might be even worse. At least she got the gold inside, and at least she still has a pretty good fortress to defend in King’s Landing. And at least they managed to wound Drogon.
But this puts the lie to the idea that the Dothraki can’t fight in Westeros, and it shows that Dany’s dragons are just as frightening on the battlefield as you’d think. That might have a further knock-on effect of loosening support for Cersei. Of course, if she got in that gold in time, she may still be able to go ahead and hire the Golden Company as planned. But a blow like this might also convince Tycho and the Iron Bank that Cersei’s cause is no longer such a profitable venture.
AP: This is a massive defeat for Cersei, not only because she lost much of her army but also because support from the notoriously front-running Iron Bank could be in jeopardy. Her only choice now might be to develop her dragon-killing technology and strap in. Dany is coming for King’s Landing sooner or later.
MC: Well, Cersei obviously lost many soldiers here, and her giant crossbow is now gone (unless they have more of them), so finding a way to stop the dragons is going to be quite difficult. And if they do build another one(s), it guarantees nothing as we saw with Bronn’s efforts. If you miss, the dragons will quickly eliminate the weapon (and soldiers).
TN: This definitely hurts Cersei quite a bit. If Jaime and Bronn are gone, there’s no one to lead her army. She’ll likely have to turn to Qyburn for their next move.
JS: Cersei got the gold to pay back their debts to the Iron Bank, so she’ll be able to get sell swords to make up for these losses. That said, we saw how powerful the dragons are and it took out a major ally of Cersei’s. This leveled the playing field a bit.
6. Jon and Dany are this close to an official alliance. How do you see that playing out?
DL: Simple terms: Jon agrees to support Dany in return for her supporting him up North. After a couple battles and a possible win over the Night King, the two end up falling in love.
AB: I think Jon eventually decides that he (and more importantly, those who follow him) will be fine bending the knee to Dany, and that staying alive against the White Walkers is more important than remaining independent. And maybe Dany decides to loosen up a bit too to make that easier for him.
My wife also made the great point that we could get a marriage alliance between them, which presumably wouldn’t require him to bend the knee and might be more palatable to his followers. Is marrying your long-lost aunt odd? Sure, but neither of them knows that, and it’s a lot less odd than the Lannister family tradition (and not exactly unheard of when it comes to medieval history).
AP: I think Jon will head back north, Dany will seize King’s Landing by the end of the season, and then the two will revisit their conversation about bending the knee. The Northerners might be more open to a Southern ruler after a run-in with some White Walkers.
MC: I think they will indeed help each other out and we’ll see plenty more of them together. The dragons will be there to fight the army of the dead.
TN: One of the next two episodes will have to feature an event (probably White Walker battle) that shows Dany it’s vital to help Jon now and makes Jon decide it’s time to bend the knee.
JS: Dany was asking for Jon’s opinion on strategy and ultimately respected his opinion – from a non-ally. This shows she trusts or respects him, maybe even more than her official advisors.
Also, they’ll get to know each other. Like in a Biblical sense. Did you see how they were interacting in that cave or how Davos noted Jon’s staring at Dany’s “good heart?” Or how Dany and Missandei were talking about her night with Grey Worm and then cut to Jon Snow. Yeah, it’s happening. Marriage alliance later, maybe?
7. The dagger from Season 1 is back in play in a big way, making us realize we still don’t know who ordered the hit on Bran. Whose dagger was it, and what was Littlefinger seeking to accomplish by giving it to Bran?
DL: I think the chain of events was it was Littlefinger’s, he gave it to Tyrion allegedly, and then somehow Jamie and Cersei got ahold of it, leading them to give it to the man they ordered to kill Bran. I think Littlefinger hoped to use it as a peace offering to Bran, but I think it’ll end up doing the opposite. I could see that dagger cutting Littlefinger’s throat this season.
AB: It seems most likely to me that Littlefinger ordered that hit himself and then tried to pin it on Tyrion to escalate the Stark-Lannister feud, but his motives for giving it to Bran at this point are very curious. I wonder if that dagger is what Littlefinger’s worried about in Maester Luwin’s scrolls and records, too. Maybe there’s some further evidence that will tie the hit to him. So maybe the gift is him trying to keep the Starks from looking at it too closely, or maybe he’s trying to ingratiate himself with Bran, but bringing it up again feels like a risky move.
AP: At this point, we definitely have reason to believe the dagger was Littlefinger’s. He wanted to sow chaos so he killed Jon Arryn, arranged for Bran to be murdered and blamed both incidents on the Lannisters. I can’t really figure out why he would give the dagger to Bran, other than to win his affection as part of his anti-Jon posturing. I don’t think it worked.
MC: I’ll say Cersei was the “owner” who had ordered the assassin to kill Bran. And I’ll guess that Littlefinger was trying to get in Bran’s good graces in hopes of Bran not revealing what he’s “seen” regarding Littlefinger in the visions.
TN: The dagger belonged to Littlefinger, but I don’t think he was the one who attacked Bran. My guess would be he either gave it to Cersei or she took it. As far as giving it to Bran, maybe he’s trying to make an ally, not fully realizing the depth of Bran’s knowledge.
JS: [Book Spoilers: It was Joffrey, who overheard Robert drunkenly say somebody should put Bran out of his misery. He wanted to gain his father’s respect.]
In the show, I can see it being Littlefinger who set the hit in order to blame it on Tyrion and start the War of the 5 Kings.
8. Arya and Podrick are definitely gonna be a thing, right?
DL: No way. Back in Season 1, Arya told her father marrying a Lord wasn’t her thing and I think she meant any man really. I think Arya will always be on her own and I think she’s more than okay with that.
AB: Podrick is fine, but he’s no Hot Pie. He probably doesn’t even brown the butter first. All kidding aside, though, I think the real relationship Arya wants is just the death of everyone left on her list.
AP: Yes. Definitely.
MC: That sure seems likely.
TN: Hey, maybe. Arya could use a little love in her life and Pod could sure as hell use a protector.
JS: No! If we’re talking who’s gonna be a thing with Arya, it’s Gendry, who’s totally going to be back this season for reasons. That way, the Baratheon and Stark houses will be joined, just like Robert and Ned wanted in the 1st episode. Or, Arya may just not care about anyone like that anymore. That’s very possible.
SEMI-SPOILER WARNING: The final two questions discuss the trailer for episode 5. Do not read them if you don’t want to be “spoiled.”
9. We see Varys pleading with Tyrion to “make her listen.” What do you suspect that’s about?
DL: I think Varys and Tyrion are beginning to see Mad King traits in Dany and this quote comes from a conversation the two are having about how she needs to be pushed away from her Targaryen impulses.
AB: We know that Varys is most concerned with the welfare of the common people, so I wonder if this is about Dany pushing for a bolder attack on King’s Landing with her dragons and Varys wanting her to hold back. Or perhaps it’s about Dany needing to do more to get Jon on her side.
AP: Dany sometimes gets a little too excited about burning people, and given her family history, it’s easy to see why Varys would be uneasy about that. Maybe if she gets a little vengeful with the Lannister soldiers, he and Tyrion will begin to worry.
MC: Probably about how ruthless and aggressive Dany now is with her efforts to attack the Lannisters.
TN: Has to be about Dany. Both Varys and Tyrion hate violence. Specifically they could be talking about Jaime or Bronn, who could have potentially been taken as prisoners.
JS: Dany’s going to kill some people with Drogon. This’ll give everyone Mad King flashbacks, which is what Varys and Tyrion are talking about there.
10. It looks like we’ll be heading north soon. With three episodes left this season, do you expect the show to focus more on King’s Landing or on the White Walkers?
DL: I think White Walkers by a slight edge. King’s Landing will still play a role, but it looks like we are going to be getting a major battle up North next week. The White Walker threat (and scenes) have taken a major back seat so far this season to King’s Landing and I think that’s about to change completely.
AB: I think we’ll see both. I imagine we’ll get the battle the Hound foresaw soon, likely at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, and I don’t think that will go well for the living. I think we’ll also get an actual clash over King’s Landing. I see this season ending with the King’s Landing fight, and then the focus turning north more permanently for the final season. But you never know where this show is going to go. As Littlefinger said, “Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind.”
AP: It looks like we’ve got a major White Walker-involved battle coming, but I still think we’ve got a lot of King’s Landing posturing to go. I would not be the least bit surprised if Dany and Cersei’s big clash comes before the end of this season. Dany can’t focus her attention north until she has taken care of business south.
MC: The White Walkers.
TN: I expect episode five to focus on the White Walkers, but also for the focus to shift back to King’s landing for the final two episodes.
JS: Going off the season trailers, we know there’s going to be a huge battle in the North. So, with 3 episodes left, there’s got to be some focus to set that up and everything. But it’s hard to see them shifting complete focus away from King’s Landing. The War of the Queens is in full swing. How do you stop that?
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