“The Spoils of War” is easily the best episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season thus far, with a much more focused and engaging plot than previous episodes. It also delivers a battle sequence that stands alongside Season two’s Battle of the Blackwater and Season six’s Battle of the Bastards and makes up for the largely off-screen conflicts that capped off last week’s “The Queen’s Justice.”
More than any other episode this season though, “The Spoils of War” truly feels like the opening salvo in Game of Thrones’ final stages, many of the events that fans have been years for have now taken place (it’s still surreal to see Arya, Bran, and Sansa together in Winterfell). Now that things are coming full circle, we can look ahead to the end and there are still some big questions to ask as Game of Thrones enters its final ten episodes.
9. Where Were The Other Dragons?
Daenerys finally stopped messing around and decided to take care of things personally this week, routing the Lannister army outside the gates of King’s Landing with the help of the Dothraki and dragon’s fire. It was certainly epic to see Dany fly Drogon into battle and lay waste to her enemies, but where were Rhaegal and Viserion? For whatever reason, Dany chose to bring only one of her three dragons to the fight and while Drogon proved to be more dragon than the Lannisters could handle, would it not have been wise for Dany to have brought backup?
The only reason I can think of for Dany leaving her other two dragons at home is that neither Rhaegal or Viserion have a rider (yet), so perhaps Dany was worried that the pair would get carried away and attack the city if left unsupervised? Or maybe the show’s budget just couldn’t handle three dragons all burning thousands of CGI men, horses, and wagons to ash? It’s not a big deal, but it’s hard to deny that three dragons would have been better than one.
8. What Will Happen To Jaime?
“The Spoils of War” ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, as Jaime Lannister is seen sinking to the bottom of a lake after being pushed out of the way of Drogon’s fire breath by Bronn (is there anything that loveable rogue can’t do?). Of course, it isn’t really a cliffhanger, in the sense that I’m 99% sure that this isn’t the end for Jaime Lannister, but it is true that his future looks uncertain at this point.
In the immediate aftermath, it seems a safe bet that Tyrion will be the one to pull Jaime to safety, thus repaying the debt he owes Jaime for helping him escape King’s Landing. This will be an awkward family reunion for sure, but it will be made even more so by the fact that Jaime will almost surely be taken prisoner by Daenerys, as the Queen’s brother/lover makes for quite the bargaining chip.
Could Jaime be used to get Yara back from Euron’s clutches? Or could Jaime even have a change of heart now that he’s back with his brother (assuming this is how the plot plays out, of course). Whatever the case, the Kingslayer’s arc doesn’t end here.
7. Will This Victory Hurt Daenerys In The Long Run?
After suffering several surprise defeats in the early stages of the war, Daenerys struck a major blow against Queen Cersei this week, decimating her army and destroying most, if not all, of the food and supplies that the people of King’s Landing so desperately need. While this is no doubt a good thing for Dany in the short term, could using Dothraki hordes and dragon fire to win the day come back to haunt her?
Technically, Dany followed the advice of the likes of Tyrion and Jon by not attacking King’s Landing — and thus, civilians — with her dragons, but burning thousands of men alive is still a pretty brutal show of force and one that Tyrion especially does not seem comfortable with (he may have forsaken his family, but you can tell it was hard him to watch his former banner men being burnt to a crisp). Cersei will no doubt be enraged by Dany’s victory, but it will make for perfect propaganda to further turn the people of Westeros against the “foreign invaders.”
6. Will Bronn Switch Sides?
While there weren’t actually that many important characters involved in the battle that caps off “The Spoils of War,” if any character seemed set up to die, it was Bronn. The fan-favorite mercenary looked to be heading for a big sacrifice moment, telling Jaime to flee the battle but death just wasn’t in the cards for Bronn, who not only bested a Dothraki warrior who had it out for him, but miraculously managed to get out of the way of Drogon’s attack on Qyburn’s ballistas. Clearly, Bronn’s story isn’t over yet, but where does it go from here?
The beginning of the episode teased Bronn’s wavering loyalty to the Lannister cause, as he complained about his payment being too low for what he’s accomplished. Now that his money is gone and the Lannister army is in ruins, could Bronn offer his services to Queen Daenerys instead? After all, Bronn is a survivor and after seeing what just one of Dany’s dragons can do, he could be ready to switch sides. As an added bonus, this would allow Game of Thrones to bring back its best character pairing — Bronn and Tyrion — and that’s just too good an opportunity to pass up.
5. What is Sansa’s Path?
“The Spoils of War” not only contains one of the best battle sequences Game of Thrones has ever produced, but one of its most emotional reunions as well, as the Stark sisters are finally reunited after years apart (Arya gives Sansa not one, but TWO whole hugs!). Having the remaining Stark siblings together again under one roof is a good narrative device for taking stock of how much each one of them has changed: Arya is a trained assassin, Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven, and Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell.
However, while Arya still has her list to attend to and Bran is formulating his own plans (even if he’s struggling to articulate it with lesser mortals), Sansa’s path is considerably less defined. Yes, she’s the Lady of Winterfell and has been organizing preparations for the coming winter, but what role is she to play in the real war to come with the White Walkers? I’m enjoying Sansa’s somewhat enigmatic presence on the show this season and it feels like we’re on the cusp of her making a big play of some sort, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s going to be.
4. Should We Be Shipping Jon And Dany?
Coming off of their meeting in last week’s episode, it seemed like Game of Thrones was going to avoid any sort of romantic subplot involving Daenerys and Jon, as there just didn’t seem to be any spark between them.
How quickly things change.
While no declarations of love or even outright affection were made in this latest episode, there were definitely hints of some sort of romantic connection forming between the pair during their exploration of the cave under Dragonstone (we also had Davos giving Jon a wink and a nudge, which is pretty on the nose even by Game of Thrones standards). If Game of Thrones is really going ahead with a Jon and Daenerys relationship, is this something fans of the show should be rooting for? As much as it makes sense for two of the show’s most important (and attractive) characters to be hooking up, there is the small issue of Dany being Jon’s aunt.
While incestuous relationships are nothing new for Game of Thrones, the show has never endorsed the idea, so it would be kind of weird for there to suddenly be a case of incest presented in a positive light. Considering neither Jon nor Dany know about Jon’s true lineage, it’s not like we could judge either character for wanting to get together, but it sure would be an awkward relationship for viewers to get behind.
3. Will We Meet Howland Reed/Will We See Meera Again?
Poor Meera Reed. After spending seasons by Bran’s side as his loyal companion and bodyguard, she’s dismissed with nary a thank you by her lord, who to his credit at least admits that he isn’t the same person anymore. It would be unfortunate if this really is the last we see of Meera, as she’s always been a character whom I felt deserved more to do and to see her dismissed thus feels like a slap in the face. However, there is still hope that we’ll see her again, as she is headed home to see her father, Howland Reed.
If you’ll recall, Howland was with Ned Stark the day he entered the Tower of Joy and took his sister Lyanna’s newborn son home with him. Thus, Howland theoretically is one of the few characters who knows the truth of Jon’s lineage, meaning he could figure into events once Jon inevitably finds out that he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Even if that doesn’t happen though, Game of Thrones doesn’t often send characters away and never bring them back again (unless your name is Gendry, that is) so Meera could show up again once the war with the Night’s King finally begins.
2. Is Bran Ever Going To Tell Someone Anything Useful?
Bran Stark’s return to Winterfell has been fascinating to watch, if only to see how weirded out everyone is by his dead-eyed stare and lack of humanity. That being said, it’s starting to become frustrating to watch a character with tons of useful information not actually share it with anyone. Some of this can be explained away by the fact that Bran admits that things come to him in fragments and he’s still trying to prepare his mind for the Long Night when it comes, but would it not have made sense for Bran to tell his siblings that Jon is part Targaryen?
Some of the blame also falls on the likes of Sansa and Arya, as they don’t press their brother on what he knows. This is one of those cases where Game of Thrones seems to be deliberately holding back information so that scenes with Bran don’t just devolve into info dumps, but it stretches believably a bit to have a character who knows pretty much everything that’s ever happened not share any of that information with anyone.
1. Will Arya Kill Littlefinger?
One of the biggest surprises of “The Spoils of War” is the fact that the Valyrian dagger that was used in an attempt on Bran’s life way back in Season one shows up again, with Littlefinger actually handing the dagger over to Bran. It’s a curious development since we never did find out who hired that assassin to kill Bran, though most signs point to it being Littlefinger. In an interesting turn, Bran gives the dagger to Arya, claiming that he has no use for it, but could there be more to it?
Bran knows about Arya’s list and that she would have use of a Valyrian dagger (which we see her make skilled use of in her sparring session with Brienne) but will Arya end up using it to kill Littlefinger? It’s unclear if Arya knows about Littlefinger’s betrayal of her father but if she were to find out that it was he who hired Bran’s would-be assassin, she’ll almost certainly add Littlefinger to her list and make quick work of him.
As an aside, can we just make note of the fact that both Brienne and Arya now have weapons in their possession that can kill White Walkers? That definitely isn’t an accident …