YOU GUYS I CAN’T, I JUST EFFING CAN’T EFFING DEAL WITH THIS PLEASE SEND HELP AND CHOCOLATE AND ABS BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RECAP ANY OF THAT
ALSO JON SNOW WENT INTO A CAVE WITH ANOTHER WOMAN AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT ENDS AND I’M QUIETLY DEVASTATED
*Sob*... *gasp*... He… *sob*....went into…*indecipherable noise of suffering*... a…. CAVE. *Weeps tears enough to drown a Lannister*
Daenarys may have a good heart that Davos has spotted you staring at, my Beloved, but it’s nothing compared to mine. I have an EXCEPTIONALLY good heart, Jon, and it’s pumping Double Duty for you. Yes, that’s right, my DD-sized heart is busting right out of my chest, and frankly, I’m amazed you can ignore it bouncing there in a remarkably perky way.
We’ll get back to Jon’s inevitable-love-interest-with-Dany-storyline/shocking betrayal of our not-imaginary relationship, but my initial point stands: How am I supposed to recap THAT?
How is any recappespondent supposed to recap that ferocious scorching specter from the sky, coupled with a ground battle so intense it knocked my socks off (along with a poor horsie’s whole foot)?
The final sequence took the amazing cavalry charge choreography pioneered in Battle of the Bastards and LITERALLY SET IT ON FIRE.
Burn Drogon burn, Dothrak-inferno
Burn Drogon burn, it’s a Bronn beat down
Burn Drogon burn, crossbow Qyburn-oh!
Burn Drogon burn, now will Jaime drown?
Are your disco battle booties strapped on and ready to stomp the (k)night away? Because I may be unsure how I’m going to recap this one, but some gods damn style can only help. Let’s get cracking on another instalment of Raven On, the Game of Thrones recap series that doesn’t quite know how it flames its way into existence every week.
S7E4: The Spoils of War aka SRSL F***ING HELL YOU GUYS
The big takeaway I have from this episode is the sentiment AT WHAT COST?!?!?! We saw it in everything:
Jon can bend the knee and get Dany on his side to fight White Walkers, but at what cost to his pride and newfound place as leader of the North?
Bran can become the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future rolled into one, but at what cost to his human relationships?
Bronn can sell his loyalty to the highest bidder, but what use is gold in the midst and heat of the battle?
Dany can deploy her nuclear weapons, but at what cost to her chances of a safe and prosperous future rule?
And Podrick can receive the best possible fight training from Brienne, but at what cost to his reputation as the King’s Landing Casanova? The Westerosi Don Juan? The Errol Flynn of Fleabottom?
OK, that last one is less critical analysis and more American-style rooting for Pod to get some Australian-style rooting, but you get the gist of it.
My secondary observation about this episode is that in a series that prides itself on MEANINGFUL LOOKS, this episode really outdid itself. There were MEANINGFUL LOOKS all over the place. People couldn’t take their SERIOUS EYES off each other. If you’re a drinking type, take a sip every time we notch up a MEANINGFUL LOOK and get ready to have your stomach pumped.
It’s getting harder and harder to separate out the sections of this recap into distinct areas as the storylines are blending harder than Kim Kardashian’s contour. So forgive me if we bounce around like a dragon in turbulence.
It all starts innocently enough, with the victorious Lannister army marching out of Highgarden bogged down with loot. Commander Jaime stops the Fort Knox gold depository wagon in order to raid it for monies to pay Bronn, the most dedicated of sellswords. Ever perceptive, Bronn probes Jaime’s apparent bad mood, getting close by suggesting the Queen of Thorns gave him one last prick before dying. Jaime’s not keen to let on that said prick was his eldest son, who it turns out Olenna, not Tyrion, bumped off.
Bronn rather fancies himself the new Lord of Highgarden. He’s been easing up on smashed avo breakfasts and reckons he could take on the mortgage. But as much as Jaime enjoys some negative gearing with Cersei, he advises Bronn against property ownership at this point in the war. “Daenarys Targaryen could come and take it all away before you even moved in,” he suggests. I didn’t even SEE the GIANT CLOUD OF FOREBODING, because I am a SWEET SUMMER CHILD.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei has really given the Iron Bank a golden handshake, repaying their debt in one foul swoop. Mark Gatiss is very impressed with Cersei, who has swapped her swooshy black taffeta dress from last episode to something that can only be described as “Crocodile Goth”.
Rather than celebrate with a rousing rendition of “This Corrosion”, Cersei insteads reels the massive banker into a plot to expand its investments in Westeros. She shows him her GIANT WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP and mentions something about Qyburn making contact with the Golden Company in Essos, who from memory are sellswords like the Second Sons (Maario Noharis’s group. I wonder how Maario is? I can only hope naked and slightly soapy). Her credentials are good, and the Iron Bank, like the scummiest of all deal-makers, is set to move on her like a bitch.
I tell you, bloody banks, moving in on everything. Honestly, forget your Valyrian steel and dragon glass, just send Mark Gatiss and his brown-robed homies up North. They’ll soon wither away the spirits of the White Walkers by yelling at them things like “Have you considered life insurance? You wouldn’t want to leave your wights to fend for themselves should anything happen to you!” and “Did you know the average terrifying zombie creature from beyond your nightmares doesn’t have enough superannuation to retire on?”
Let’s belt up the King’s Road to Winterfell for ANOTHER STARK FAMILY REUNION!
To be honest, they’ve lost a bit of their sheen since Jon and Sansa embraced at Castle Black last season. That was joyous, wonderous, and also had Jon Snow in it. Bran’s return last week was somewhat undermined by his new existentialist angst emo personality change, while Arya had two bozo guards try to stand in her way from getting into the castle.
What was up with that sequence? I get that it showed things have changed at Winterfell, and dropped the exposition bomb that Jon is away and Sansa is in charge. But of course Arya would give them the slip, of course the bumbling guards would go bumbling to Sansa to explain how they bumbled up. They weren’t menacing enough to be a real threat to Arya, but they weren’t funny enough to be comic relief. I kinda wished she’d just gutted them there and then.
While my heart yearned for a big, public hug-a-thon in the courtyard, I was still satisfied by the low-key Arya/Sansa crypt convergence. It fit well with their history of sisterly animosity, last seen played out in King’s Landing waaaay back in Season 1. You might remember the pair’s father, Ned, tried in vain to make his daughters get along. You might also remember that the two girls were the last Starks to see Ned alive. So their reunion in front of his statue was a spiritual nod to their lost Dad. They found their way back to each other, and after all that’s happened, it turns out he did his job of raising them pretty darn well.
Arya bemoans the statue’s lack of resemblance to Ned, which Sansa attributes to everyone who knew it being now inconveniently dead. “We’re not,” Arya flatly states. And it’s true... just. Both are now in the up phase of the Game of Thrones Wheel of Fortune, but both have unhappy stories about how they came to be there. There was a cost to their survival.
It was touching to see these two touching - not one hug, but two, in that sequence. However the most adorable moment was seeing Arya’s face when Sansa told her how happy Jon would be to see her. Now that reunion is going to be grand.
Bran, meanwhile, is busy winning a staring competition against Littlefinger in his brand new wheelchair. Baelish has gifted him the infamous Catspaw dagger, which was last used in an attempt on Bran’s own life. Where the f*** do you come up with these ideas, Baelish? For crying out loud, would you present Jackie Kennedy with Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun “for protection”? Have you no f***ing clue? No, of course you don’t, you irredeemable colonic irrigation.
Bran doesn’t need his spooky powers to know Littlefinger is a bullshitting pile of shitty shit, but he throws them down regardless. The moment in which Baelish is parroting on about how hard it must have been for Bran, ripped from his home, forced into the wilds, seeing things nobody else sees, then coming back to such chaos…
“Chaos is a ladder,” Bran declares in the deadest of pans.
This is of course the famous idiom by which Baelish lives his life, and seeing his reaction made the famous Australian idiom “You’re f***ed, sunshine” pop into my head - just in time for Meera Reed to pop in to say her farewells.
In an episode full of drama, this may have been one of the most tragic scenes of all, its domesticity undermining its gravity.
Meera is leaving - not because she wants to leave Bran, but because she wants to protect her family - and all Bran can say is “OK bye then”.
SRSLY, dude? Her brother and Hodor died to protect you, she nearly died, and all you can muster is an insincere “Kthxbai”? If you’re a philosopher, bro, you’re Soren Jerkegaard.
At that moment, Meera was all of us in high school, hanging around some floppy-haired boy at big lunch, helping him with his history homework because you’re a curly-haired nerd trying to impress him, but he’s too busy making googly eyes at your frenemy….
Um, sorry. I found out my high school reunion is next month and it’s brought up some memories. On an unrelated note if anyone knows how to lose 20 kilos and publish five award-winning novels, that’d be great, because my Facebook profile may not be entirely accurate.
“You died in that cave,” Meera tells Bran, making her peace with the idea that the boy she helped has become a man she doesn’t know. Bran has nothing to say to that, because Bran doesn’t get caught up in petty human emotions anymore.
So you walk out that door Meera Reed, and you never come back, until you inevitably do because your Dad will probably need to back in Bran’s whole “Jon Snow Origin Story” and you will get zero credit for helping him with that French Revolution assignment, I mean, getting him back to Winterfell.
Bran has slightly more luck impressing Arya. “Bran has visions now,” Sansa explains in the kind of voice you reserve for telling your friends your partner has quit their corporate job to become a psychic.
But Bran does more than just horoscopes - he knows Arya has a List of People To Kill. Sansa had thought she was joking, and they’d laughed about it in an awkward “Yeah, funny joke” kinda way. But Bran’s not laughing, probably because Bran will never laugh again, because he knows all the punchlines before you can even utter a set up.
Being a Three-Eyed Raven, and a cripple, Bran has no use for Catspaw, and instead bestows it on Arya, who after all had to chase cats to become quick on her feet. Clearly we all hope she will gut Littlefinger with it, but it’s interesting to wonder who Bran thinks/knows she will use it on.
Brienne watches the reunited Stark siblings with a mixture of pride and fear. Pod tells her she should be proud of keeping her vow to the daughters, but Brienne doesn’t feel like she did anything.
That’s totally not true, of course, but Brienne is the kind of gal who beats herself up, and given her strength, she can give herself quite a bruising. There’s a lovely moment when she stops short of telling off Pod for calling her a lady, and simply says “Thank you”. Damn right, Brienne. You are the lady-est of ladies.
The fight scene between Brienne and Arya was pretty spectacular. Size and strength in Brienne, speed and nimbleness in Arya. Syrio Forel would be proud of his young charge, as she water danced around the Tarth warrior with ease. It ended in a beautiful draw, with both holding blades at the others neck.
The real battle though may be in Sansa’s mind - she seemed awfully concerned watching Arya fight. Is she simply worried about her impetuous sister’s safety? Or does she think Arya's presence could destablise what she's working for at Winterfell?
I’m inclined to give Sansa the benefit of the doubt. I think it’s plain to see that neither Arya nor Bran are interested in governing. But then there’s always Littlefinger, hovering around, that red wine stain you just can’t bicarb away.
Let’s head over to Dragonstone, where Missandei is missing Grey Worm and the “many things” they did together. Missandei’s not above a meaningful glance at Dany when Jon calls her to inspect the mighty dragon glass store tucked away in one of Dragonstone’s many crevices (oh gods). Naturally Dany follows Jon to inspect this crevice (OH GODS).
I don’t know about you but Jon Snow in reflected firelight might be even sexier than Jon Snow in the actual snow. The way the warm glow and shadows simmered on his noble brow… well, let’s just say I’ve bought a beginner’s course in spelunking and a lot of kerosene.
Anyways, it’s all very stirring, especially when Dany slinks up to Jon (what) and says she’ll fight for the North… if he bends the knee. Jon’s not keen, citing his people’s reluctance to be ruled from the South. But Dany points out that they would follow their King, and perhaps it’s Jon’s pride that is standing in the way. As we all know, my Beloved has always been pure of heart, and never wanted glory for himself. But Dany does have a certain way with words. It’s true Jon has used his newfound power to act quickly in defence of his people. But is he liking it a bit too much?
He shows Dany the cache of obsidian, then reveals something even more special - ancient Children of the Forest graffiti. These OG Banksys (Banksies?) left clues as to how and why to use the dragonglass, as well as the revelation that they fought the White Walkers alongside the First Men. Jon uses it to insist that he and Dany work together, clearly not in possession of the small fact that the Children of the Forest apparently created the White Walkers to BEAT the First Men. Whoops.
I’ve got to be honest with you, Beloveds. I’m not sure how I feel about the physics formula known as The JDBP (The Jon/Dany Boning Potential).
I mean sure, anything that gets Jon Snow looking broody and conflicted is good in my book.
But did there have to be sexual tension? Between relatives? And in a cave? FFS, this is the Jon Snow danger zone. I can’t be having them in that cave together too often, or tongues will wag. And that’s exactly what I’m worried about.
Some more unwanted talk comes from Tyrion and Varys, who have finally had news of How The Big Plan Went. There’s a fantastic glance between the pair after they tell Dany the Unsullied took Casterly Rock… but lost Highgarden in the process.
Dany is suitably miffed, and flashes real anger at Tyrion when he talks about their enemies. “Your family, you mean,” she spits at him, a wound just as sharp as any knife could deliver. Then she asks Jon why she shouldn’t just jump on her babies’ backs and fly them into battle.
Jon, being amazing, says her whole schtick has been built on showing people a glimpse of a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. If she deploys her dragons, well, that’s not unbelievable sights and indescribable feelings. That’s just the same old shit.
People say my Beloved knows nothing, but come on, that was pretty smart.
Jon continues his knowledge quest with Ser Davos, as they question Missandei about just why exactly she and thousands like her are committed to Daenarys’ cause. “She is the Queen we chose,” Missandei replies. Sure, but you’re kind of her slave now, aren’t you? Davos asks. “Nuh-uh,” says Missandei, “I can go anytime I want to. Even though I’m her most trusted adviser. She’d let me go tomorrow. She totally would. It’d be fine. But I don’t want to go, and that’s the important thing here.”
This somewhat weak defence is interrupted by Theon Greyjoy, returning from the failed mission to lay siege to King’s Landing. Jon is in fine brooding form as he stares down the coward who caused Robb Stark’s death.
Theon, for his part, admits to personal failings, then attempts to mask his terror with some awkward small talk about Sansa.
I was waiting for a punch to the face, but instead, Jon merely grabs Theon by the neck, similar to his move on Littlefinger two episodes ago, and says the only reason he’s not dead is because of how he helped Sansa.
But Theon’s hope to get Dany’s help in rescuing Yara is misplaced. For, as Jon intones gravely, “The Queen has gone”. UH-OH.
It’s all quiet in The Reach, which seems to resemble a sort of verdant Monument Valley, as the Lannisters and Tarlys finalise the logistics of moving the gold and grain safely into King’s Landing.
Jaime even attempts some bro talk with the younger Tarly about how he’s dealing with his first battle, and the whole “we broke faith with House Tyrell” thing. Dickon (snort) is putting on a brave face for a big lad, and in a strange way, I see the resemblance to his brother Samwell. He perhaps didn’t inherit total steely discipline from his father after all.
Ever perceptive, it’s Bronn who first notices something has come over the valley. There’s a trembling in the ground, and a literal dark cloud hovering over a nearby ridge. Jaime immediately calls his men to form up, anticipating an attack.
The tension grew, until finally the Dothraki appeared, fierce, multitudinous and ready to get stuck in.
Imagine yourself as a Lannister foot soldier, seeing the approaching Dothraki horde for the first time. You’ve never seen arakhs before, you’ve never heard such wild battle cries. And you sure as heck haven’t seen riders stand atop their horses to launch themselves into the fray. As Bronn had so recently said “Men shit themselves when they die.” I imagine there was a fair bit of that going on at that point before any blood had been spilled.
In the confusion, Bronn urged Jaime to get out and save himself, but the Kingslayer stood firm. His army could handle the Dothraki.
And that’s when the GIANT FLYING BURNING LIZARD appeared.
“Be a dragon” were Olenna Tyrell’s last words of advice to Daenarys, and here she has listened. So I guess, you know nothing, Jon Snow?
Dany rode Drogon into battle fiercely, burning the Lannister lines before her. Even Jaime’s attempt to set his archers onto Drogon’s body came to nought - Dany hit the brakes like she’d been doing circle work in an abandoned car park her whole life, and the arrows simply bounced away.
But. BUT. Jaime urged Bronn to go get Qyburn’s Really Crossbow, the deadly gigantor weapon that could feasibly bring down a dragon. Apparently they called it “Scorpion” which “sting in the tail”, I get it, but wow, a little predictable?
Bronn smashed, slashed and skipped his way to the Scorpion’s wagon, losing both his horse and his precious gold in the process. What does it say of Bronn that he kept fighting after losing his cash? I suggest it’s less “Jaime’s my friend” and more “I like a fight and I like to live”, but maybe I’m wrong.
This was such a brutal but morally ambiguous battle. I cannot describe every hack and slash, but I can attempt to describe my feelings of watching it. Of course, that was mostly gasps, screams and exclamations of NO! And DON’T! And NOT THE CROSSBOW! But there was also deep internal conflict.
Ultimately I wanted Dany to win, to score a victory after successive defeats at the hands of the Lannisters. But I did not want to see Jaime or Bronn killed, even though both came close (and were saved, funnily enough, by Dickon). Jaime has many crimes to answer for, but as I said in a recap many years ago after losing his hand changed him…. I’ve grown accustomed to his face.
Finally, after a test shot to dispatch a Dothraki chief, Bronn wheeled the Scorpion around and took aim at a diving Drogon. PFFFT, the arrow loosed, and fired straight into Drogon’s right shoulder.
Bronn’s satisfaction in his aim was delightful. Dany’s confusion was palpable. She’d never experienced the wracking movements of a dragon falling out of the sky.
Over yonder Tyrion and a small Dothraki rear guard watched their Queen plummet to the ground before Drogon managed to right himself enough to land. Dany dismounted, and attempted to manually pull the spear from her beloved baby’s body.
The tableau at this point was like a Renaissance painting. Fields of fire and ash. Burning men. By the side of a lake, Dany pulling desperately at the spear in Drogon’s body. Tyrion watching from too far away to help. And Jaime Lannister, still astride his white horse, rage building.
“You idiot,” Tyrion grunted, guessing what his brother was about to do before he did it.
Jaime grabbed a lance and kicked his mount into full gallop, racing towards Dany and Drogon.
“You f***ing idiot,” Tyrion grunted again, unable to do anything but bear witness to the impending death of his Queen.
Dany turned to see Death on horseback coming to claim her. She stared at Jaime, not scared, but certainly not defiant, before Drogon’s head rounded in front of her and his mouth opened.
Jaime screamed as the tables turned and he now rushed headlong into Death’s smoking gauntlet.
And then somebody - Bronn? - jumped up, knocked him off his horse, and sent them both tumbling into the lake.
And there was Jaime, still, descending, slowly, deeper, deeper, falling, into space, into the depths, into the womb, into nothing.
I think you’ll agree this should have been the song that rolled over the credits:
Hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because with my sister I am sleeping
Honestly there are some doubts creeping
And the thunder, from the dragon, in my brain
It was the sound of violence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Three children gone as per the crone
Wide awake it was Highgarden
We granted traitor Tyrells no pardon
Randyll Tarly led the charge with his son Rickon
Wait, it’s Dickon
That is the sound of nonsense
And in the naked light I saw
Troops marching home with spoils of war
Bronn demanding his big money
Wants the castle too he’s so funny
But there’s something wrong as tremors fill the air
What would dare
Disturb the sound of silence
“Shit” said I, “It’s Dothraki”
Their army finally crossed the sea
See them brandishing their big arakhs
Stand on horses to launch their attacks
We all floundered, as the dragon soared above
In my golden hand I found… my lance.
I belted down the field of fire
Kill the girl my one desire
I got close enough to get stabby
The dragon roared his head he’s real crabby
The end of the line was close but then snatched away
We still live with the sound of tyrants.
Yay! Best Moments
Oh, I don’t know, maybe the bit with the massive f***ing dragon battle?
Zing! Best Lines
Ser Davos keeping the Stannis Baratheon Grammar Olympic Dream alive.
Jon: I saw the Night King, Davos. I looked into his eyes. How many men in the north do we have to fight him? Ten thousand? Less?
It also tickled me when Missandei explained the concept of a “bastard” as unfamiliar to her, and Davos said “Well that sounds… liberating.”
And clearly Bronn laughing at “Dickon” was all of us. “Dickon”. Honestly.
BRONN’S HORSIE HAD ITS LEG DECAPITATED. OK, not decapitated… dehoofitated? Sure, hundreds of men were being brutally slaughtered all around with blood and guts and gore BUT FOR GODS’ SAKE DON’T HURT THE HORSIE.
Also Bronn shooting that Dothraki chief with the Really Crossbow was horrific, but in a very awesome way.
What, no gutter innuendo in your endo from Euron MacGregor this week?
Clearly this episode popped the pimple of pressure that had been building up so far this season, if not for many seasons. We finally saw an EPIC Targaryen/Lannister fight, Jaime and Dany saw each other for the first time, and we endured the horrible experience of a battle in which we weren’t quite sure whom to cheer.
Is Jaime actually dead? Will Tyrion rescue him and take him captive? Can the brothers unite against Cersei, or has her infection spread too far in Jaime?
Was it Bronn who knocked Jaime off the horse, or Dickon, or someone else entirely? Will Bronn be safe? Bronn has to be safe. Bronn is the cheeky, selfish id in all of us. We'd be lost without him.
Will Dany be changed by this encounter? Could this signal the start of a descent into “Mad King” territory? She did just burn them all - but perhaps it was a necessary step in her character's growth. Perhaps she was just walking the talk.
But what of the repercussions of this battle? The Iron Bank's gold appears safe, but what of the crops? Could this cause deprivation in King's Landing and the Crownlands, enough to spark revolt against Cersei?
And what of my Beloved Jon Snow, hacking out dragonglass to prepare for the real calamity from beyond The Wall? With proof of Dany’s superior dragon skills, will he be tempted to bend the knee?
Thank you for your patience, Beloveds - this was the biggest recap so far this season, and it’s been a slog. Of course, a special thank you to my Patreon subscribers, including Trent SJ, Katie D, Emma W, Natasha Le N, and the mysterious Lyds. Also a shout out to the marvellous Steph M for helping me with GIFs!