Battle Breakdown: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4

By AT&T Digital Media Productions editorial team 

 

THE PLAYERS: Lannister-Tarly supply train vs. Daenerys Targaryen, Drogon, and the Dothraki horde.

THE SETTING: The Reach, in a field along the Roseroad from Highgarden to King’s Landing.

THE PLAN: Furious at the loss of her fleet, and Tyrion after his well-laid plans go awry, Daenerys throws her invasion strategy out the window. Tired of hanging back and proceeding with caution, she executes an impromptu ambush of Lannister forces in the Reach.

Though she’s initially eager to attack King’s Landing with all her might, Jon Snow cools down the hot-headed Mother of Dragons. The King in the North persuades her instead to engage the enemy outside of a major population center to avoid inflicting collateral damage. Jon correctly points out that using fire-breathing dragons, the WMDs of Westeros, won’t win the Targaryen claim much support from the people she hopes to one day rule. Besides, if she melts the Iron Throne, she’ll have nowhere to sit.

So rather than rain fire on King’s Landing (something Cersei had no problem doing with her wildfire bomb last season), Daenerys mobilizes her Dothraki army and leads them to the Reach on dragonback. The mounted Dothraki, expert horsemen who were practically born in the saddle, have no trouble intercepting the slow-moving and ponderous supply train. The horde joins battle with the unprepared Lannister infantrymen while Dany and Drogon provide aerial support.

 

With Drogon on their side, the Targaryen force is unstoppable. At his mother’s command (“Dracarys,” of course), Drogon’s fire melts a path through the Lannister shield line. The Dothraki horse lords, armed with arakh scythes and bloodcurdling war cries, charge through the flames and carve up the Lannister and Tarly bannermen. It’s so one-sided that even Tyrion, watching the battle from a nearby ridge, appears to have second thoughts about siding with Daenerys against his family.

The Lannister army does have one ace up its sleeve: the “scorpion” crossbow Qyburn designed to take down the dragons. Unlike puny arrows, which bounce right off Drogon, the scorpion fires with enough force to puncture the dragon’s scaly hide. Enter everyone’s favorite sellsword, Bronn, who displays a rare flash of heroism—or a predictable flash of calculation—by fighting his way through the scrum, where he takes control of the scorpion and fires a bolt that hits Drogon in the shoulder.

 

Daenerys’ favorite dragon goes down, wounded but still alive. Drogon torches and smashes the scorpion (sorry, Qyburn) and lands beside a lake, where Dany dismounts and tugs fruitlessly at the embedded bolt.

 

In a thrilling final showdown, Jaime Lannister sees an opening, and charges Dany and Drogon with a spear, intending to kill the Targaryen queen and end her invasion. But Drogon won’t let anyone hurt his mom. He opens his fiery maw, and it looks like Jaime is about to get incinerated, when Bronn (Dickon?) shoves him out of the way at the last moment, plunging them both into a surprisingly deep lake (though Jaime’s horse becomes barbecue).

 

THE VICTOR: Targaryen invasion, overwhelmingly. Finally, an unqualified win for Daenerys.

WHAT IT MEANS: After multiple setbacks and heavy losses since landing in Westeros, Daenerys finally holds a position of strength against Queen Cersei. She dealt serious damage to the combined Lannister and Tarly army, interrupted their supply train, and demonstrated Drogon’s might for the first time in a truly terrifying spectacle. If that’s just one dragon, imagine what can she do with three. Word of the battle will undoubtedly travel, and Daenerys could win some new allies through sheer intimidation.

The Targaryen army can now recover some of the Reach’s grain supplies, the most important strategic resource for any army as the continent heads into winter. All those Dothraki bloodriders must get hungry.

Perhaps most importantly: if Daenerys fishes Jaime out of the lake, she’ll have a priceless hostage to use as a bargaining chip. And if she doesn’t? Vengeance-loving Cersei won’t rest until either she or Daenerys or both of them are dead. One could say that the stakes depend almost entirely on Jaime’s fate.

Will the Kingslayer live to fight another day? Watch Game of Thrones on HBO to find out.

 

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