This past week’s episode got a few mixed reviews from fans, and if you’re caught up on the latest season of Game Of Thrones, then you may know why. Some say the fights were lackluster, the story-line was dry, while others claim it was one of the best episodes we’ve seen to date. What do we at House TGON Think?…well. We think there’s nothing better than the sound of a dragon’s cry. Keep reading to get your recap on the latest episode.
The spoils of war indeed, as this episode actually kicks off with Jaime Lannister leading a huge caravan of soldiers, gold and grain east down the Goldroad — away from Highgarden, where his army had just sacked the castle and decimated the Tyrell men. As he pops open one of the carriages and glumly hands a sack of gold to Ser Bronn of the Blackwater for his part in the siege, Bronn tries to pry out the reason for his mood (namely learning that former ally Olenna Tyrell was responsible for his son Joffrey’s poisoning), but he won’t budge. Bronn instead uses this opportunity to ask for lordship of Highgarden as (more) payment, but Jaime refuses — noting that if Daenerys wanted to take it back it would be gone immediately. The two share some passive-aggressive barbs over payment and over how effective Cersei’s reign will be in the peace department, and when Randyll and Dickon Tarly ride up to update the gold-handed commander on the progress of emptying the granaries of the Reach, he doesn’t waste any time in offering them Bronn’s assistance to get him out of his hair.
Later, after much of the day has passed, Randyll approaches Jaime and Bronn, who are overseeing the loading of the grain, and advises them that the gold has made its way safely into King’s Landing, but that they need to pick up the pace on the harvesting so they can keep the train moving smoothly to avoid ambush. As a suggestion, the dick offers to flog the stragglers, but Jaime counters that they should give the men a harsh warning first and sends him on his way. Riding through the ranks, Jaime and Bronn stop upon Rickon– err.. Dickon Tarly, where they discuss the success of his first battle. While he fought bravely, he privately admits that he was disturbed by having to cut down some of his friends (remember: the Tarlies were Tyrell bannerman for ages) and his surprise that war smells so badly. Bronn laughs this off as a pretty-boy fancy-lad learning a lesson he knew since he was five — but pauses in horror, and asks everyone to listen. In the distance, a faint rumbling can be heard.
Jaime, fearing an ambush, hurriedly calls for all his men to arm themselves with spears and shields, and is soon joined by Bronn and Randyll, yelling at soldiers to fall in formation and hold the line. As the ranks form and the army waits in nervous anticipation, the rumbling grows louder… followed by the whooping war-cries of Dothraki screamers. The Lannister foot-soldiers drop their spears to protect their precious wagons while hordes of Dothraki on horseback swoop over the horizon in a din, wielding spears and whips and curved arakhs. Bronn quickly rides over to Jaime and urges him to return to King’s Landing — he’s a commander, not an infantryman, and their army stands no chance — but Jaime refuses to abandon his men and asserts his belief that they can hold off the Dothraki… that is, until a great roar is heard and a big black dragon swoops over the field, with a small blonde woman riding it. Dracarys, Drogon.
The Lannister men have no chance. Dragonfire engulfs soldier after soldier, and completely ruins their entire store of grain — and, to make matters worse, as the men roast alive in their heavy armour, fearless Dothraki horses trample through the flames to cut down the survivors. As they collide with — and push past — the vanguard of shielded soldiers, an epic battle ensues, complete with knights and nomads being killed left and right, horses being massacred, Dothraki men leaping off of their horses into battle (can we just give props to every stuntman in this episode?) and arrows flying back and forth in every direction. After another dragon attack on their stores, Jaime, undeterred, calls archers to the front of the line to essentially nock and loose toothpicks at a bear. Deftly maneuvering her favourite dragon-baby, Dany ensures that these do little more than bounce off of Drogon’s thick belly-scales. As a last-ditch effort, Jaime motions for Bronn to man the scorpion ballista — Cersei’s huge crossbow — as he is unable to fire it with one hand.
As Jaime and Dickon fight off screamers, Bronn’s horse’s leg is severed by one — and, falling to the ground, he briefly hesitates over reclaiming his dropped sack of gold before deciding to make a run for it from his attacker instead. Stumbling and fighting through fire, corpses and men, he finally makes his way to a miraculously un-engulfed covered wagon in the middle of the battlefield, with his Dothraki enemy hot in pursuit. As the Dothraki throws open the covers of the wagon, Bronn greets him with the pointy end of a spear, pinning him to a wall far back with a heavy arrow fired from the ballista. Pulling a pulley, the entire covering of the wagon ingeniously collapses, leaving the weapon free to rotate and fire at will. Losing many fans in the process, Bronn knocks and draws another jagged bolt and begins searching the skies for his target.
Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister climbs the hill with Daenerys’ Dothraki bloodrider, Qhono, to grimly witness the carnage that is being wreaked on his family’s army, and, likely, to search for signs of his brother’s survival. Jaime, still alive, pauses as well to take horrified stock of the mess going on around him — before realizing the dragon is bearing down his way and taking cover just in time, as the flames light up new men and turn old already-crispy corpses into ash. As Dany flies Drogon into view, Bronn takes this opportunity to take a shot… but he misses, as the huge bolt whizzes yards away from the Khaleesi’s head. (This concerns Tyrion anew, and now, like us, he’s not sure who he’s more worried for.) Looping back, Daenerys tries to take out the weapon that nearly got’er, but Bronn’s a fast reloader, guys. Just as Drogon opens his great maw to toast him, Bronn looses an arrow that connects — piercing right into the dragon’s great flank and causing him to spiral out of control toward the nearby river, Blackwater Rush. Bronn re-aims Qyburn’s scorpion, but just before the splash Drogon rights himself and lets out an angry torrent of flame, right at the weapon — and the spot Bronn was just standing, seconds before diving out the way to safety.
As Dany, temporarily dropping all concern for the war going around her, lands her dragon and attempts to tend to him on the bank of the river, Tyrion watches and curses from afar as his brother, doing the foolish heroic thing, hesitates before racing his horse forward to charge at the Targaryen, snatching up a spear from a roasted body along the way to use a lance. Once Jaime nears her (with more cursing and urging to turn back from Tyrion), she turns — just before her dragon does, and opens his mouth. Protecting his mama, flames bubble up in the back of his throat as Jaime is mere inches away from impact — and Jaime is tackled off of his horse (by Bronn? Dickon? Somebody?) into Blackwater Rush, seconds before the dragon breathes his fiery breath. The screen fades to black as our favourite Lannister twin, completely caught off guard and weighed down with heavy armour and a golden hand, slowly sinks deeper and deeper into the river without trying to save himself. The Battle of the Goldroad, folks. Doesn’t get much realer than that.
This week at Dragonstone, Jon Snow had an art show…(just kidding)…but Jon Snow did reveal some pretty important art to Daenerys. While checking out the Dragonglass caves, Jon found drawings done by the first men and the children of the forest depicting the White Walkers and how much of a threat they are. Of course, he wanted to show them to Daenerys, with the hope that it will be enough for her to believe him. And it was! She pledged her army and her Dragons to Jon Snow…if he agreed to bend the knee, which he’s still not prepared to do. To that Dany replied, “Isn’t [the survival of your people] more important than your pride?”
That question stuck with Jon because he said the same thing to Mance Rayder in season 5. Maybe that will make him bend the knee. Regardless of either of their pride and stubbornness, it’s clear they’re starting to like and respect each other to the point where Davos even alluding to recognizing that Jon is attracted to her! And on the beach, when Dany learned all of her strategic plans put in place by Tyrion were failing, she turned to Jon for advice. He advised against attacking the Red Keep; she represents magic and opportunity, so if she attacks and kills en masse, she’s no better than Cersei or Euron. So she decided against going straight to the Red Keep and did the next best thing.
Littlefinger gives Bran a gift: the Valerian steel dagger used in the attempt on his life. This is the dagger that basically caused the War of the Five Kings. Littlefinger is doing his usual ass-kissing, which includes ingratiating himself through his love and devotion to Cat. But Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven now and has seen more than Petyr Baelish ever has or ever will. He asks Petyr if he knows who the dagger belonged to, which he doesn’t, and while it’s not stated it seems apparent that Bran does know—that he’s not only seen it before in the past, but possibly knows what it may do in the future. Bran also knows things about Littlefinger. He says, “Chaos is a ladder,” which is a quote from Petyr himself. He said this back in Season 3 during a private conversation with Varys. Bran is basically letting Littlefinger know that he’s wise to all the shit he’s pulled over the years, including the role he played in their father’s death.
Littlefinger takes his leave when Meera comes in to say goodbye to Bran. She’s leaving because she wants to be with her family when the White Walkers come. She’s very emotional about leaving him but Bran is no longer capable of normal human emotion. He thanks her for all she’s done to keep him safe but there’s no real feeling behind it. Meera is really hurt by the fact that Bran doesn’t seem to care that Jojen, Hodor, and Summer all died for him. This scene really hammered home that he is no longer Bran Stark. As Meera says, the Bran Stark we knew died in that cave. Only the Three-Eyed Raven made it out.
Then, FINALLY, Arya Stark returns to Winterfell, where she’s stopped by two idiot guards that don’t believe she is who she says she is. She’s very Arya about the whole thing, convincing them that they’d best go tell Sansa she’s here. They let her in and as soon as their backs are turned, Arya slips away to the crypts. When the guards tell Sansa about the “impostor,” Sansa knows it’s really her because she mentioned Ser Roderick – She also knows where she is, and goes to retrieve her herself.
The reunion of Sansa and Arya is my favorite Stark family reunion thus far. It was much more emotionally satisfying than the Bran/Sansa reunion (because Bran no longer has emotions) and beats out the Jon/Sansa reunion only because the two of them never had much of a relationship as children. Arya and Sansa hug in front of their father’s statue in the crypts and they seem very much at ease with each other even though they have both changed since they saw each other last. Then Arya starts talking about her murder list, and Sansa thinks she’s joking.
The three Starks in Winterfell convene in the Godswood and Arya gets her first taste of New Bran—not what she was expecting but she handles it pretty well. Bran tells her he saw her at the Crossroads and he knows about her list and Sansa starts to realize that her baby sister is all grown up and a bit more murder-y than she thought. But it’s a harsh world they all live in, and Arya isn’t the first woman warrior Sansa has met. She seems kind of into it, actually.
Bran takes out the dagger and tells them Littlefinger gave it to him, which sets off Sansa’s Petyr Baelish alarm and she wonders aloud what his ulterior motive is. Bran gives the dagger to Arya, who will make better use of it than he can. I wonder what he knows and if Arya was always meant to have it for some as-yet-unknown purpose. All I know is we’re not done with that damn dagger yet.
That very dagger sees some action in the courtyard where Brienne and Arya spar—some of the most satisfying stuff I’ve seen on GoT in a while. This scene was one of the most loved scenes by fans thus far, and we can see why. They are more than evenly matched and Arya almost bests Brienne. Sansa and Littlefinger watch from above and Sansa looks both impressed and maybe a bit jealous that Brienne’s attention and loyalty will now be shared with Arya. But Brienne did swear an oath to protect BOTH Catelyn’s daughters and I think Sansa is more shocked by her sister’s abilities than anything else. When she’s done sparring with Brienne, Arya looks up and sees Littlefinger. She doesn’t seem particularly pleased that he’s lurking around Winterfell. He may have sworn loyalty to House Stark but she knows he used to be a Lannister supporter. She even witnessed him making plans with Tywin back when she was his cup-bearer at Harrenhall and overheard their strategics against Robb. I think Littlefinger knows this, too, because he seemed to recognize her. With four (Three and a half? Are we calling Jon a Stark and Targaryen?) Starks now in the picture, Littlefinger’s goal of dividing their loyalties just got a hell of a lot more difficult.
Now, I’m aware not much happened in the way of action at King’s Landing, but I feel some vital words were spoken during the Queen’s brief screentime. While shit’s goin’ down across Westeros, Cersei and Tycho discuss their current financial situation and relationship, and while Cersei is trying to preserve her manners, Tycho dismisses them and tells her he’s only there “for the arithmetic.” He expresses concern that Robert’s debt won’t be repaid, though Cersei eases his troubles by telling him that the money is traveling to them with supervision from her brother himself. While they’re currently unaware of the situation, the duo discuss Cersei’s current ventures with the war – to which The Mad Queen responds that she only wants to expand her armies and naval forces. Little do they know…