Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4: Moments that will melt hearts and faces off

Adam Mathew 7 August 2017

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A word of warning: This is our spoiler-filled recap and review of Episode 4, "The Spoils of War".

SPOILER WARNING: Seriously, this is your last chance to turn back.

I don't think I'm imagining things here, but Melisandre's plan to bring ice and fire together – Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, respectively – is resulting in steam. Understandable, of course. He's a King. She's a Queen. They're both a couple of dragonstone-cold foxes, and this episode gives them a private moment in close proximity underground. The thermodynamic reaction between them is perfectly understandable in scientific terms, but you've got to worry about how far this is going to get before somebody digs up an old family tree.

At the moment, the only thing being excavated is dragonglass and ancient knowledge. Jon's mission to convince Dany of the Night King gets a little bit easier, thanks to some cave paintings. Yes, some Banksy-esque Children of the Forest tagger has chronicled an alliance between themselves and the First Men fighting their common, White Walker enemy. Seeing this, the Queen takes one large step towards belief, however, she balks when Jon suggests it's time for the modern players of Westeros to buddy up. Yeah, nah, Snow bro. Still gonna need that knee bend. Classic Targaryen.

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Back up North, Arya Stark has momentarily put aside all the Cersei-slaying in order to return to her old haunts. Literally, too: practically everybody she knew in Winterfell has become worm-food. Dropping their names only draws blank looks from the city guards, but, Arya being Arya, she gains entry and slinks into the Stark crypt anyway. Chalk that up to fast-talking and faster reflexes. She's basically a ninja at this point.

Sansa, currently Lady of Winterfell, puts two and two together and heads sub-level to join her little sister. Interestingly, Sansa's title is the first thing Arya draws attention to; a small challenge to see if old sibling rivalries still apply. They don't (at least not today) and the two have a heartwarming reunion, plus a catch up that shifts focus away from their more horrific memories and onto happier things that came to pass. Because who can't bond and celebrate together over the murder of Joffrey? What a prick that kid was.

Just as the two sisters are starting to fall back into old familial routines, Sansa suddenly remembers to tell her about Bran. Arya is overjoyed with the news... until she reads the warning on her older sister's face. The now wheelchair-bound seer is not who he once was. In a scene of nowhere-near-fond farewells, we watch Bran offhandedly dismiss his saviour and stand-in-Hodor, Meera Reed. Even though this is Winterfell, she's taken aback by how cold he is, especially when her reminder of Jojen's sacrifice doesn't bring Bran back into line. The Three-eyed Raven is beyond manners and other such trivialities now. By his own admission he tells her he's not really Bran anymore; he's a kaleidoscope of memories of what has, could and never did happened. For all he can see, it makes me wonder if he still truly has sight of what's important: humanity.

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And this is how Arya finds him later in the family Godswood. Having been tutored by faceless men and many Gods, the young assassin is worldly enough to accept his transformation, though, like Sansa, she's unnerved by how much he knows of her travels. Without much ado Bran re-gifts a Valyrian dagger to Arya – a blade originally intended to kill him, and recently handed over by the conniving Little Finger. Bran equipping one of the most lethal characters in Westeros with a knife that makes White Walkers explode? Solid plan.

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Speaking of, we're reminded of Arya's prowess in one of the best scenes in ages. Brienne is instructing Pod in the way of the sword (read: soundly kicking his arse) when Arya rocks up to offer herself as a better training partner. Brienne is surprised when she realises the diminutive young Stark means to sub in to take Pod's place, not hers. Much water-dancing and Needlework follows which impresses the hell out of all onlookers, Sansa and the bested Brienne especially. Less ecstatic with this display is Little Finger. He's noticed the dagger Arya could have killed with just now. The smouldering look he gets from the young wolf suggests he'll be getting it back soon. Very quickly, and not handle first.

The fan-service level of the aforementioned duel is high, but it's easily eclipsed by the wrap-up battle in Spoils of War. The victorious Lannister/Tarly forces are slowly making their way back to King's Landing, while Bronn is dividing his time between bitching to Jamie about his lack of a good castle and laughing in Dickon's face when he hears of his peculiar... handle. The sparkling repartee and merrymaking doesn't last long – because an ambushing horde of Dothraki cavalry with dragon air support tends to kill conversation. Everything else, too. The Lannister forces lock together in an impressive shield wall and the lions are promptly roasted like racks of lamb.

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All looks lost until Bronn – arguably the biggest bad arse in all of Westeros – runs the gauntlet of fire and death to unveil this medieval world's answer to a SAM site. Dany and Drogon narrowly avoid being hit by a crossbow bolt the size of God's own toothpick, but as the dragon has been heretofore impervious to arrows, they don't take the threat seriously. Big mistake, 'cause the next stake don't miss. 10 feet of sharp stuff smashes into Drogon's right shoulder and it's enough to ground the beast (after he destroys the giant crossbow and nearly melts Bronn for good measure).

As Dany leaps from her saddle to tear the bolt out, a still-mounted Jamie spots a rare opportunity to strike one Queen off the chessboard. Scooping up a lance, he charges in to skewer himself a Targaryen, only to be met with the angry face of Drogon and a fireball well on the wind up. In the very last instant the wannabe Queenslayer is tackled off his horse by Bronn. (See? Badass.) The two plunge into a nearby lake and the heavily armoured Jamie slips down into the dark abyss. I'm thinking that solid gold hand probably won't help his survival chances either...

VERDICT

Smashing episode that's must-watch stuff. Some of the best fan-service the series has ever seen, thanks to the most intense major battle scene since Hardhome. No expense (or extras) were spared. Just how I like it.

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