Monday, August 28, 2017

Game of Thrones Watch 7.4: "The Spoils of War"

Read the previous entry in the series here. 
Read the next entry in the series here.

7.4 The Spoils of War
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Matt Shakman

So, at this point the show has completely given up any pretense of geography or reasonable travel times and is just moving people from point A to point B as the plot requires. Take this as a blanket “none of this makes any sense” statement and we’ll just move on. It’s sad that I have to set the bar this low, but there it is.

Lannister forces spend the episode moving across Westeros, escorting the spoils train full of gold and food from Highgarden to King’s Landing. While they’re at it, they steal everything from every farm they pass because that’s a great domestic policy. Jaime is generally unhappy with this whole thing, and with what he learned about Joffrey’s death, but unlike in the books, his unhappiness isn’t going to make him do the right thing and not help Cersei with this. Bronn complains that he wants more than the huge bag of gold Jaime just handed him, like, oh say, a castle. Jaime tells him he doesn’t want a castle, and Bronn begs to differ.

Over in King’s Landing, Cersei and Tycho Nestoris (from the Iron Bank) are eagerly awaiting the delivery of gold. Tycho says that the Iron Bank will be super disappointed that they’re not getting the interest payments on this massive loan anymore (Robert, Petyr, Tyrion, Tywin, and Cersei were paying interest?), and offers to throw more money at Cersei to help her—as soon as the gold shows up. Again, I ask, why would a smart banker give yet more money to the Westerosi, who took entirely too long to pay it back in the first place and had to beggar an entire kingdom to pay it? Where does he think they’re going to get the money to repay this loan?

Up in Winterfell, Bran and Petyr are having a creep-off. Petyr gives Bran the dagger that nearly killed him way back in season one (for some reason), and Bran has absolutely no reaction to anything. Petyr says something about chaos and Bran says “chaos is a ladder,” which freaks Petyr out because there’s no way Bran should know Petyr ever said any such thing. (And is a seriously heavy-handed reach on the part of the writers to give Bran something to say to show Petyr his omniscience.)

Petyr flees as soon as possible; luckily Meera pops in and gives him an excuse. Meera wants to tell Bran that she’s leaving, because with winter coming, she wants to be with her family. Bran’s all “kthxbai” and Meera’s like ?!!!! She yells at Bran because Jojen, Hodor, and Summer all died for Bran, but Bran’s like “oh, I’m not Bran anymore, I’m the Three-Eyed Raven so I have no more feelings and don’t care about anyone” and Meera peaces out. As she should.

Arya gets home at about that time and abandons her horse somewhere to come up to the gates on foot. I get that they’re trying to recreate that season one scene where she demands entrance to the Red Keep, but seriously, the stables are inside the walls and that horse is going to freeze to death. The guards at the Winterfell gate are just as suspicious of Arya as the guards at the gate to the Red Keep were and keep telling her to “fuck off.” Finally she points out that if she isn’t who she says she is, she’ll be in a lot of trouble, but if she is, Sansa will have their heads. They let her in, and while they’re arguing about who’s going to go tell Sansa about this (I don’t understand why this is a thing. Are they afraid of her? Just don’t want to waste her time? Benioff & Weiss thought it would be funny? Probably that last one), she disappears. They go tell Sansa there’s a weird chick claiming to be Arya in the castle . . . somewhere . . . and Sansa knows exactly where Arya is—down in the crypt with Ned’s body.

The reunion is equal parts awkward and sweet. Awkward: Sansa tells Arya that yes, she has to call her Lady Stark now. Sweet: hugs! (Actual hugs, not dead fish hugs!) Sansa can’t wait for Jon to get home and see Arya! Awkward: Arya tells Sansa about her List. Sansa tells Arya Bran’s also home and her face says there’s something terribly wrong.

Arya meeting Bran isn’t quite as awkward as Bran meeting Sansa; he actually puts a hand on Arya’s back when she hugs him, and the only creepy thing he does is tell her he saw her at the crossroad and thought she might go kill Cersei since she’s on Arya’s list. Nothing like what he said to Sansa. He also gives her Petyr’s dagger, because what does he need it for, and apparently Arya’s going to be fighting White Walkers (or will give it to someone who will fight White Walkers). As they wheel Bran back into the courtyard, Pod and Brienne see Arya, and Pod congratulates Brienne on fulfilling her vow of bringing Arya and Sansa back to Winterfell. To her credit, she admits that she had nearly nothing to do with it. Pod apparently worships at her feet and tells her she totally did, though, and she just says thanks rather than arguing with him.

Later, Brienne “trains” Pod some more, and at least this time she’s giving advice instead of just spanking him and yelling “no.” (He’s not a puppy, Brienne.) “Don’t lunge. Don’t go where your opponent leads you.” The best advice comes from Arya, who says “Don’t fight someone like her in the first place.” Arya wants to train with Brienne because Brienne’s big and strong and defeated Sandor. Brienne’s not so sure about this, but Arya reminds her that she’s sworn to serve both Stark girls and this is what she wants. What follows is a sparring scene that looks cool until you consider that they’ve turned Brienne into a lumbering beast, hacking and only using her strength, not the nimbleness they’ve shown her with before, and the fact that Arya learned this kind of fighting entirely offscreen; the only training we saw was quarterstaff training, and there’s a big difference between fencing and staves. The fight ends in a draw because it wouldn’t really be fair for either one of them to win. Sansa watches it and is clearly shocked by Arya’s abilities, whereas Petyr’s brain-mice are chasing each other trying to figure out how to turn this to his advantage. (I have no idea what Petyr’s end game is anymore. He says he wants to rule Westeros with Sansa, but I don’t see him making moves toward that, just playing petty politics in Winterfell.)

On Dragonstone, Missandei lets slip about her relationship with Grey Worm and Daenerys has an expression! I really wish they’d give us more of Dany and Missandei being girls together, but this show isn’t exactly known for its healthy relationship between women, so I’m just glad we have one healthy relationship, even if we don’t get to see it a lot (and it doesn’t often pass the Bechdel Test). Jon’s the reason we don’t get more of it right now, as he wants to show Dany the dragonglass and some cave art he found, cave art that conveniently proves that the First Men and the Children of the Forest fought the White Walkers together. (The show hasn’t yet explained why the Children would help the First Men when they created the White Walkers as a weapon against the First Men. I guess we’re supposed to extrapolate that the weapon backfired and the Night King turned on the Children, but some clarification would be nice.) There’s actually some chemistry between the characters here, which Dany kills by once again putting the condition of Jon’s fealty on her helping him. Her reasoning, that his pride isn’t more important than the lives of his people, goes both ways; if you want them to be your people, Dany, don’t you think you could put your pride aside and show them you’re a queen by protecting them? That’s the lesson Stannis was supposed to teach us until he was culled to let Jon do his job for him. Nobody says that, though, and Jon just looks not-angry-just-disappointed at her.

Outside the cave, Varys and Tyrion are waiting with the bad news about Highgarden, and Dany flies into a towering rage. Tyrion’s loyalty is now in question because his “clever” ideas have failed and maybe he doesn’t actually want to kill his family. She spots the dragons flying around over the sea and decides it’s time to burn shit. But first she has to ask Jon his opinion because Dany can’t do anything without the permission of a man. Now, asking for advice from an outsider who hasn’t been part of any of this but knows enough to have an opinion isn’t a bad idea. The issue is that it falls right back in the pattern of other people making Dany’s decisions for her and pulling her back from the brink of going Full Targaryen.

In this case, Jon manages to talk her down from burning King’s Landing to the ground, though how she then decides to go attack the Lannister army in the Reach isn’t clear. Either way, when Theon shows up to ask for Dany’s help to get Yara back (and Jon manfully grabs him by the front of the shirt but doesn’t kill him for Sansa’s sake), Dany’s already gone.

Cue the big fight for the episode. The Lannister army is nearly to King’s Landing (it’s been, what, two days? Sorry, I said I wouldn’t talk about the wibbly wobbly timey wimey distances here anymore), and the gold is already safely through the gates. The train has gotten really spread out, so the tail end, where Bronn and Jaime are, is still a good bit away from the city, across the Blackwater Rush from it. Bronn suddenly hears something and the entire Dothraki horde bursts over the nearest hill to ambush the army because who needs outriders and scouts, amirite? The army freaks out but manages to get a (crappy) shield wall in place . . . until Drogon also sneaks up on them and starts belching fire all over everything and everything is bad.

The fight is a hot mess (see what I did there?), so here’s some observations I made:

  • Dany and Drogon blow up the entire supply train because apparently she’s decided they don’t actually need all that food to feed her armies.
  • For some reason, they’ve hauled Qyburn’s scorpion all the way out here on the off chance that a dragon might attack. The fact that a dragon does attack doesn’t make this any less of a ridiculous decision.
  • Tyrion’s also here, because we needed him to react to the battle for us? To see what destruction a dragon can do? To mutter under his breath at Jaime? I don’t know why he’s here.
  • Jaime appears horrified by the destruction, but didn’t seem to care when Cersei did something equally as bad by blowing up the Sept.
  • Jaime’s attempt to spear Dany and/or Drogon by doing a jousting run at them is heroic and brave but really stupid.
  • The Blackwater drops off really suddenly! Either that or Bronn has super strength and tackled Jaime a good twenty yards or so out to where the river gets deep.
  • For some reason, Dany only brought one dragon. I think she forgets she has three.

The episode ends with Jaime sinking impossibly far into the Blackwater, weighed down by his armor. He should totally be dead, but I think at this point he’s got plot armor until at least midway through season eight. They’ve hacked the cast down so far at this point they have almost no more redshirts characters left to lose.

So many Lannisters
So many Tarlys
So many Dothraki

Next week: Dany has lost my vote. Arya gets suspicious. Sam misses a major plot clue. Jon has a really bad idea.

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