Game Of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4 Recap: We Need To Talk About Arya

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
"The Spoils of War," ironically got spoiled for many this week when a banal mistake by an HBO distribution partner led to its leaking online. (In a double twist of irony, this was not, in fact, related to the hacking of HBO's servers earlier in the week.) But although Reddit has been discussing the events that took place in this episode for days now, I'm operating under the assumption that we all watched this together on Sunday, August 6. For that reason, I won't be including any theories developed beforehand. So, with that, let's dive in.
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Why So Glum, Chum?
This episode picks up almost right where the last one left off, with the Lannisters marching away from Highgarden after Lady Olenna's mic drop. I've really missed this Bronn/Jaime dynamic. The latter is really down in the mouth, having just heard the real reason for his son's death. But Bron is all smiles: they've just taken a lot of gold! He can get paid now! Jaime shuts him up with a token bag of riches, and tells him he'll have his castle when the war is over. All of this gold is for the Iron Bank — Lannisters pay their debts, remember?
Eventually, Bron is sent off with Sour Face Tarly (aka Sam's dad) to coerce farmers to give up their harvests, which is basically what Sansa wanted to do in the North, let's call a spade a spade.
Elementary, My Dear Cersei
Mycroft Holmes, who is still posing as a representative of the Iron Bank as part of his latest secret mission, is pleased to hear that he's getting their loan repaid, and praises Cersei for her ruling prowess. In fact, the Iron Bank would be more than pleased to lend her more money! Cersei's role is pretty limited this week, and can be summed up with this handy one liner: "My only venture at this moment is reestablishing control over this continent and everyone on it." Sounds on brand.
Word Games
Back in Winterfell, Littlefinger hands Bran the dagger that almost killed him in season 1, which we know because they reminded us right before the beginning of the episode. I also appreciate Littlefinger giving the "I loved your mother" spiel to Bran, who as the Three-Eyed Raven can probably call bullshit. But two things are worth noting in this conversation:
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1) When Bran asks if Littlefinger knows who the dagger belonged to, he lies and says he doesn't. In fact, he told Catelyn Stark that it was it was his.
2) When Bran says: "Chaos is a ladder," he's actually repeating Littlefinger's own words back to him, Three-Eyed Raven style. The look on Baelish's face suggests that he's actually been caught off-guard, for once.
Meera interrupts, and finds out Bran finally has a wheelchair. Mazel tov! She's come to say goodbye, and as befits new Bran, he's kind of a dick. To be fair, he's not really Bran Stark anymore. He does, however, look regal AF. Isaac Hempstead-Wright is perfect casting.
Home Again
Alert: Arya can see Winterfell! My heart. THIS IS HAPPENING, PEOPLE. Of course, the guards at the gate are perplexed by this small girl seeking entry into the fortified stronghold, and tell her to fuck off. After a Tweedledee and Tweedledum bit that goes on for several minutes too long, they eventually let her in, only to lose her. Luckily, Sansa knows her little sister, and finds her in the crypt of Winterfell, where this family apparently likes to chill.
(Best reunion lines ever: Arya: "Do I have to call you Lady Stark now." Sansa: "Yes.")
But unlike the Jon/Sansa reunion that had me melting into a quivering mass of sobs, this one feels a little stale. Arya reacts a little like Bran, tbh. She's also not herself anymore.
Speaking of reactions, let's talk about Sansa's when she first hears that Arya has a kill list. The laugh is understandable — it sounds like exactly the sort of thing little girl Arya would have said, even before she became a killer for hire. Her face when she later realizes that her sister has actually been going around murdering people off a list in her head, suggests that someone in this world is finally concerned about Arya's well-being.
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The two sisters head to the Weirwood back to meet up with Bran, who pretty much just stares and says insightful things. Oh, and he gifts the Valyrian steel dagger to Arya, which almost definitely means she's going to have to fight and kill a White Walker sometime this season.
Look At These Photographs
Back on Dragonstone, Daenerys and Missandei have a little sex talk, which is lovely and cut short by Jon, because...duh. He wants to show her the mountain of dragonglass beneath her castle before mining it. Oh, and by the way, did she happen to notice these cave drawings by the Children of the Forest depicting their alliance with the First Men to fight the White Walkers a bajillion years ago? IT'S NOT CONVENIENT AT ALL, I don't know why anyone would think that Jon sent Davos to draw these in the middle of the night.
Nice try, Jon. Dany confirms she'll fight for the North — if he bends the knee. I am not the only one noticing a vibe here, right? We all know what Jon Snow likes to do in caves.
Sadly, these two exit the potential sex cave to news of Cersei's victory over Greyworm. Daenerys is discouraged, and lashes out at Tyrion. Davos and Jon clearly just want to leave this awkward situation, but she asks the latter's advice, and Jon, looking like he'd rather eat live eels than answer, tells her not to burn King's Landing to the ground: "If you use [dragons] to burn castles and melt cities, you're not different. You're just more of the same."
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Is it me, or does she not looked convinced?
No One vs. Brienne
All hail Arya, First of Her Name, who is seriously impressive with a sword. Brienne, who has defeated all the best knights in Westeros, has trouble sparring with this little water dancer, and it's kind of a joy to watch. On the other hand, it's clear that everyone from Littlefinger, to Sansa, to Brienne, is finally realizing that Arya has lost her damn mind.
And to cap it all off, an inside joke: Brienne: "Who taught you how to do that?" Arya: "No one."
Friendly Fire
Remember before, when I said that Daenerys didn't looked convinced? Well, she wasn't. She hopped on that dragon to give us one of the coolest battle scenes in the history of Game of Thrones, one we've pretty much been waiting seven seasons to see. (Although, can Daenerys do anything other than swoop in on her dragons? That's pretty much her only M.O.)
From what I gleaned from Sour Face Tarly's (his actual name is Randall, but he doesn't deserve to be called that) little military strategy powwow with Bron and Jaime, the Lannister army is outside King's Landing when Daenerys surprises them, mounted atop a dragon (I can't tell them apart), with thousands of Dothraki riders in tow.
Confession: I honestly don't know who to root for in this battle, but I'm leaning Lannister. I know, I'm not proud of it, but I'm Team Jaime for life.
The Lannisters learn the hard way that regular arrows cannot hurt a dragon, and pay for it by having their entire army set on fire. It's pretty spectacular, and probably busted this season's budget for future battle scenes.
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But luckily, Jaime just happens to have Qyburn's dragon-killing contraption handy, and sends Bronn and his two able hands to wield it. After much bloodshed and shots of men being turned to ash, Bronn finally manages to strike the dragon, who burns the weapon to bits. Hey, at least they know it kind of works. Daenerys will have to watch her back.
Wounded, the dragon needs to make an emergency landing to recoup its strength. And that's when Jaime sees his chance. Despite Tyrion's mutterings from his vantage point across the field, the Kingslayer grabs his spear and lunges at Daenerys, only to come face to face with the dragon.
At the last second, Bronn (?) leaps and pushes him out of the way of the incoming blaze, into the depths of the nearby lake, where Jaime sinks. And sinks. And sinks.
I AM NOT WELL.
Additional Thoughts:
1) Ned Stark looms large over the entire season, this time as a literal statue.
2) Who crowned Davos, King of Comedy? Did everyone notice that "fewer" grammar correction? Stannis lives!
3) "I've noticed you staring at her good heart!" Another great one from Davos!
4) More Rickon, I mean Dickon, please!
5) I guess Gendry is still rowing. He must be tired.
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