With four episodes down, the new season has not been disappointing so far. Three more to go and several loose ends that need to be tied — the makers are doing a fairly good job, bringing in reunions and setting off battles that need to be fought while still remaining unpredictable.
The fourth episode titled ‘The Spoils of War’ couldn’t be more apt — referring to the war simmering between two queens — Cersei and Daenerys and how it finally erupts in this episode. * Spoilers ahead.
As most episodes, this one begins slow but steady. Bronn wants a castle and talks of being a lord, a title that Jaime allegedly promised. He gets a bag of gold instead. While pestering Jaime to give him a castle of his own, Bronn and Lannisters’ men rob Highgarden of all its wealth. Wagons are being loaded with gold bars and money. Lots of wagons.
Miles away at the Red Keep, Cersei is having a discussion with the Iron Bank’s manager, Tycho Nestoris. He tries to pursue her into investing in a ‘venture’ that he doesn’t mention. “This is of course, once the debts are paid,” he says. Cersei looks on, awaiting those wagons from Highgarden.
At Winterfell, Petyr Baelish gives Bran a Valeryian steel dagger that was intended for Bran’s throat soon after he became crippled from the fall. He makes a promise, too. “I can do anything for you, Bran. Just like how I could do anything for Cat,” he says. He mentions the word chaos, just like in Season 3, Episode 6.
“Yes, I know. Chaos is a ladder,” Bran completes Baelish’s favourite metaphor.
The last time Baelish spoke of ‘chaos as a ladder’, he was speaking to Varys. To him, a world where chaos exists, is the only way for him to rise up and achieve what he wants. Varys would consider chaos as a pit while Baelish looks at it as a ladder, a ladder that he climbs even when lives are at stake – lives of people in the realm, lives of those you love. Much like what he suggests in Season 3, he abandons the people, abandon those he loves, and instead focuses only on the climb.
Meanwhile, after the talk on Baelish’s chaos theory, Meera Reed, Bran’s confidante from Season 3, leaves. Bran, still exuding no emotions, gives a limp ‘thank you’ while Meera is hurt with the lack of sentiments.
“Bran!?” she nearly screams at him for appearing so dead inside.
“I’m not really. Not any more,” he says, and looks on. Just like Hodor, Summer, and the children of the forest, Bran died inside that cave.
More happens in Winterfell. Arya returns and meets Sansa at her favourite spot — the crypts in the basement. Fondly looking at their father’s statue, they set aside their long stories and talk about their father.
To Game of Thrones‘ fans, it’s a fairly emotional moment, to watch Arya, Bran, and Sansa amble around in the Starks’ home. The last they were seen together like this was in Season 1. Years later, all grown up and having witnessed far too many deaths and heartbreaks, the siblings are back even though it’s all sombre and poignant now.
It’s different now, with Sansa taking charge and stocking up the granaries now that ‘winter is here’. Bran is… well, seeing things. Arya duels with Brienne of Tarth, and shows off her terrific skills. With their swords, they dance around the front yard, with many impressed by what Arya seems to have picked up over the years.
“Who taught you this?” says Brienne, after losing the duel.
“No one,” says Arya, and walks away with Needle. No one, indeed.
At Dragonstone, Jon Snow chances upon something that would convince Daenerys about the White Walkers. Taking her into the cave that houses all the Obsidian to fight the Walkers, Snow shows her paintings that the Children of The Forest made eons ago. They fought alongside the first men and not with each other. Together, they had their common enemy — the White Walkers, thus legitimising Snow’s claim that the Walkers are coming to get them all soon.
“I will fight for you. I will fight for the North,” she says, looking at Snow intently. “If you bend the knee.”
Meanwhile, Tyrion arrives bearing bad news about Casterly Rock. Dany isn’t pleased and has no time for people’s counsel. Taking matters into her own hands, she decides to fight this war herself instead of relying on her men.
And thus begins the ‘Spoils of the War’.
Riding on Drogon, along with her mammoth army of Dothrakis, Dany marches on towards Highgarden. Seething and fuming, Dany shows signs of being her father, the Mad King Aerys’ daughter.
“Dracarys!” she screams, and there’s fire all around. Highgarden men burnt alive, gold all melted, horses beheaded and killed – there’s mayhem every where. This is no Battle of the Bastards. Tempering with rage, there’s so much that Dany wants to avenge for. You can almost hear her scream, “This is for Dorne! This is for The Iron Islands! This is for the Reach…!” while setting people on fire.
Until, Qyburn’s ‘scorpion’ makes an entry.
On the ground with a visibly injured dragon, Jaime readies his sword. “Flee, you fool!” mutters Tyrion, watching the chaos.
A splash is heard and someone falls into the water. Along with the iron hand.