Game Of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 'The Spoils Of War': Review

Finally, some proper dragon action

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Listen! That's the sound of thousand screaming spoilers, running at you from across the hill...

A desperately slow episode with some worryingly wooden drama that, in true Game of Thrones style, ignited for the final twenty minutes into some of the most heart pounding television ever produced. 'The Spoils of War' was 80% filler and 20% killer – how much you enjoy it depends on how much that ratio bothers you.

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For me, the stilted action at Winterfell and Jon and Dany's ongoing bid to be the worst Westerosi double act ever was blissfully obliterated by the sight of Drogon finally doing what dragons are supposed to do, and some incredible, close quarters action sequences.

Seriously though – the dialogue is like a sword that needs sharpened at the moment. When even Bronn sounds like he can't be bothered, you know something isn't quite right.

All in all, a lightly charcoaled:

3 1

Some talking points.

'The Starks' would be the worst sitcom ever

The children of Winterfell have barely been back together five minutes and already cracks are starting to show. This week it was the Arya's turn to make a triumphant return, and while her and Sansa shared a hug or two in front of Ned's grave, the Lady of Winterfell was clearly perturbed to see her little sister has turned into a stone cold killer in the years they've been apart. (For a moment it seemed like her training bout Brienne was as exciting as this episode was going to get. How wrong can you be.) Bran, meanwhile, is still going through his smoking-too-much-pot phase and doesn't seem able to relate to anyone, even his own family. Hopefully he'll grow out of it.

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He did give Arya the Valerian steel dagger though, which will no doubt come in handy at some point - presumably when she plunges it into Littlefinger's neck. Though why Bran didn't use his Special Raven Powers to clear up the fact it was Baelish who tried to have him killed all those years ago, I'm not sure. Probably too busy thinking about what munchies he could find in the Winterfell larder.

The "You weren't there, man!" White Walker reference of the week

Were we supposed to pick up on a hint of sexual tension between Jon and Dany as they examined the cave drawings beneath Dragonstone? Not according to the Pouty King himself. Ser Davos tried to tease Jon about a potential romance and was told: "There's no time for that. I saw the Night King Davos, I looked into his eyes." Jesus, Jon. I'm starting to wonder if the only thing that scares him more than the Night King is sex.

The true cost of war (and we don't mean the CGI)

One thing Game of Thrones can never be accused of is revelling in its violence – at least, not anymore. Ever since the Battle of the Bastards, when Jon fought his way to the top of a sickening pile of bodies, there has been a concerted effort to try and show the horror and human cost of war.

And so it was when Daenerys, tired of listening to Tyrion's 'clever plans', decided to take matters into her own hands by ambushing the Lannister army as they transported their captured gold back from Highgarden. The thrill of seeing a horde of Dothraki screamers with a dragon at their back was levied by shots of the men Dany scorched alive running desperately towards the river in a futile attempt to save themselves. There was a hold-you-breath sequence where Bronn, being relentlessly pursued by an enemy on horseback, had to push his screaming soldiers away, the air thick with the smoke from their flesh. Not for the first time the show reminded me of Justin Kurzel's traumatic 2015 adaptation of Macbeth.

All of which was neatly prefaced in the moments before they heard the ominous rumble of the Dothraki war cry: "men shit themselves when they die," Bronn told Dickon Tarly matter-of-factly, and the Battle of the Blackwater Rush (that's what we're calling it, right?) took the time to show more or less that. The scene was tremendously exciting, but not entirely fun. As Tyrion looked across the battlefield from afar at the men he once led being roasted alive, Peter Dinkledge's eyebrows – which let's be honest, have more acting ability on their own than 90% of the cast – said it all.

Of course Jamie isn't dead

One niggling question about Game of Thrones I've had ever since Sansa fed Ramsay to his dogs is whether the show still has the cojones to kill off its favourite sons (and daughters). Plenty of secondary players have perished – most of them in the Great Sept – but really, the show is still dining out on the Red Wedding for its 'not even the big players are safe' reputation.

Which is why it was a bit disappointing to see Jamie Lannister saved at the last moment as he made a kamikaze lunge towards Dani and her dragon. The show ended with the sight of him narrowly avoiding a face full of fire by plunging into the watery depths with (presumably) Bronn in what was supposed to be a cliffhanger, but honestly, who expects anything other than a shot of him coughing up water at the riverbed next week? It felt like something from a normal TV show playing by normal rules. If Jamie Lannister was really dead, we'd sure as hells know about it. Game of Thrones has gotten bigger in the past two seasons, but I can't shake the feeling it is less brave than it once was.

Final thoughts

  • How good was it seeing Qyburn's giant crossbow blasted to smithereens? Although Bronn managed to land a blow, the shot of Drogon destroying the weapon that was meant to kill him like it was an annoying ant was laugh out loud good. That said, there might have been poison on that spear so Dany could yet be one dragon down.
  • Although the ambush has switched the momentum of the war back in Dany's favour, the Highgarden gold did make it safely to King's Landing, so the Iron Bank should still be on Cersei's side. For now.
  • Eunuch sex can definitely be good sex. The sly smile Missandei shared with Dany when they were talking about the 'many things' that happened between her and Grey Worm suggests the boy did good. All the more reason to suspect he's going to die next week, really.