This recap is dark and full of spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, episode 4, titled “The Spoils of War.”
Are you still shaking? I’m still shaking.
Episode 4 finally brought Daenerys Targaryen to mainland Westeros a monumental power play that’s been six seasons in the making.
Dany’s grand entrance is huge for a number of reasons, not least of which is that our many-titled Khaleesi desperately needed a decisive victory over the Lannisters after losing Dorne, the Iron Islands and The Reach in the last two episodes.
The way Dany arrived was a showstopper, to be sure, but the fact that she arrived at all is pretty incredible as Robert Baratheon predicted way back in Season 1, Dany’s invasion marks the first time that the Dothraki have ever crossed the Narrow Sea, and even without her scaly children, that’s a big effing deal for Westeros, since its inhabitants have spent centuries resting safe in the knowledge that the Dothraki are no threat to them. We were only five episodes into Season 1 when Cersei outright dismissed Robert’s concerns about Dany with the arrogant assertion that “The Dothraki don’t sail… They don’t have discipline, they don’t have armor, they don’t have siege weapons.”
Unfortunately for Cersei, Daenerys Targaryen much like Jon Snow and that pesky Night King has a habit of making the impossible happen.
Know what else seemed impossible to the people of Westeros just a few short years ago? Dragons. Dany’s landing marks the first time that any of the regular plebes in the Seven Kingdoms have seen the mythical beasts and let’s be honest, most folks probably thought their existence was pure propaganda before witnessing them firsthand.
Jaime and Bronn are both generally pretty unflappable in a fight, but the horror on their faces was unmistakable when they first caught sight of Drogon swooping down from the clouds and even though they managed to injure him, that won’t be what the survivors remember after seeing their comrades turned to literal ash on the battlefield.
Cersei may have gold to offer (and now, sadly, she has even more, since Dany arrived too late to prevent the Lannisters from getting Highgarden’s stolen swag through the gates of King’s Landing), but you might’ve noticed that even Bronn didn’t dare leap after his spilled “spoils of war” while Drogon was blasting dragonfire across the plain. How many soldiers will willingly march into battle against a creature with that kind of firepower, knowing that their arrows and shields are no match for a dragon’s heat?
We were all busy mocking Ed Sheeran when Arya ran into some Lannister soldiers back in the season premiere, but the subtext of that scene made it clear that most regular folks don’t give a crap about who’s on the Iron Throne, just like they don’t get much say in their lives when they’re enlisted to “go off to fight in someone else’s wars.”
If enough Lannister soldiers deserted to avoid being roasted alive, Cersei would be hard pressed to punish them when she just admitted to Tycho Nestoris that she needs to expand her armies. More likely, though, Cersei will just continue sending young, naive soldiers to certain death without batting an eye over the body count (she’s already admitted that nobody matters to her except herself and Jaime), and they’ll keep obeying, because what other choice do they have?
Much like the Battle of the Bastards, Dany’s attack took the show to a whole new level it’s obvious why Thrones has been so stingy with the direwolves this season, considering what a budgetary and technical feat it must’ve been to render Drogon’s destructive power in such detail.
But as effective as Drogon was, “The Spoils of War” also allowed Jon to offer Daenerys a vital piece of wisdom about her weapons of mass destruction: “If you use them to melt castles and burn cities, you’re not different. You’re just more of the same.”
Dany’s allies have been quick to point out that they’ve chosen to follow her, not because she’s Aerys Targaryen’s daughter, but because they believe in her but this season, we’ve seen far less of the protective, nurturing Khaleesi who put justice above politics back in Slaver’s Bay, and far more of the Mad King who put his desire to rule above the well-being of his people.
Sure, it makes sense that Dany would want to keep her eyes on the prize now that she’s so close to the Iron Throne, but between her paranoia about Tyrion and Varys’ loyalties, and her insistence that Jon bend the knee, you wouldn’t be wrong to worry about her mental state since landing on Dragonstone.
That’s why her alliance with Jon is so important as Melisandre noted with all the subtlety of an anvil last week, the upcoming war with the White Walkers may rely on the meeting of “ice and fire,” and right now, Jon’s cool head is tempering Dany’s fiery instincts in a way that Tyrion apparently can’t. Both guys have given her pretty much the same advice this season the civilians don’t deserve to suffer for a war they have no choice about but this week, she only paid attention when the advice came from Jon.
Kit Harington has already confirmed that Jon is attracted to Dany (duh), and in episode 4, Davos called Jon out for staring at her “good heart” (snarky Davos is the best Davos), but the real proof came during their romantic trip into the dragonglass mine together, when the musical cues morphed from something vaguely ominous to a magical mash-up of the Jurassic Park theme and the touching moment that Beast reveals his library to Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
As first dates go, staring at ancient cave paintings is an unusual choice, but the heat was palpable and we’re not talking about Dany’s torch. Of course, then she had to go and ruin it by trying to get Jon on his knees again. (We know he’s just delaying the inevitable at this point.)
As for the other diminutive fella in Dany’s life… Is she wrong to worry about Tyrion’s loyalties? He seemed visibly shaken at seeing the Lannister soldiers burning on the battlefield (although that’s probably just because he’s an actual human with a conscience and doesn’t want to see anyone suffering an agonizing death, friend or foe) and he clearly still cares for Jaime, but unless Dany continues to fall down her rabbit hole of suspicion, I don’t see him switching sides.
More likely, if Jaime survives his weirdly deep dive into the Blackwater Rush, Tyrion might try and convince his big brother to play for the other team, especially since Cersei’s descent into madness is arguably progressing much faster than Dany’s.
No matter who reaches peak crazy first, with only three episodes left this season (which means only nine episodes left in the entire series), it’s a safe bet that everything from here on out will be BONKERS, just like that incredible Arya/Brienne fight, which in any other week would’ve been the highlight of the episode. We’re not ready.
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