The Spoils of War: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 Recap

Arya goes home, Jon goes spelunking, and Dany goes full-on Targaryen

By AT&T Digital Media Productions editorial team 



Season 7 of Game of Thrones is already at its midpoint, and it’s lit—literally. Clocking in at a tidy 50 minutes—the shortest “Game of Thrones” episode so far—“The Spoils of War” crisscrosses the continent at a breakneck pace, but surprisingly doesn’t feel rushed. Episode 4 is a turning point in more ways than one, with shifting alliances, long-awaited reunions, and one of the best—certainly the hottest—battles yet.

We’ll get to the scene that had the whole internet posting fire emojis in a bit. To set it up, we open with Jaime Lannister supervising his soldiers and their vulnerable supply train as it winds its way through the Reach, still reeling from Olenna Tyrell’s stinging last words. They’ve cleaned out the Tyrell coffers, and he’s eager to get that wagonload of gold back to King’s Landing—without it, the Crown is deep in hock with the Iron Bank of Braavos. It’ll totally tarnish the brand if word gets out that a Lannister didn’t pay their debt.

Bronn teases Jaime for his dour mood, aptly surmising that Olenna gave him “one last prick.” Jaime retorts that he’ll save his confession for the High Septon, who, Bronn points out, is also dead. The Bronn and Jaime show is almost as good as Bronn and Tyrion.

Even though he was paid in gold, Bronn was promised a castle for his service to House Lannister, and after Jaime pulled Castle Stokeworth out from under him, he’s got his eyes on Highgarden—reserved for Lord Randyll Tarly, who interrupts the banter to deliver an update on the food situation. Most of the grain is theirs for now, and Jaime dispatches Bronn to persuade reluctant farmers to “donate” the rest of their harvests to the war effort.

This is one of the few times we’ve seen Jaime in command, and he’s no Robb Stark (or Jon Snow, for that matter). Jaime’s always been more soldier than strategist, and he seems uneasy doing the dirty work required of a commander—unlike his twin sister, who has been waiting her whole life to rule and clearly relishes every moment.


Speaking of Cersei, she’s impressed Iron Bank delegate Tycho Nestoris with how quickly she plans to repay her loan. Tycho is keen to reinvest in the Lannister administration, which is music to Cersei’s ears. She outlines her wish list: armies, navies, and everything else a girl could want to crush her enemies and rule the continent with an iron fist. Tycho assures her that she can count on the Iron Bank’s assistance—once their gold arrives.

At Winterfell, Petyr Baelish sits with Bran, eager to tell another Stark child how obsessed he was with their mom. In full wannabe-stepdad mode, he promises “Brandon” to help him with whatever he needs, but not before presenting him with a morbid present: the Valyrian steel dagger once used in a botched attempt to kill him, first seen all the way back in episode 2 of season 1.

“Chaos is a ladder,” the new Three Eyed Raven intones, recalling a memorable throne room conversation between Baelish and Varys. Littlefinger is stunned. Between Sansa and Bran, his attempts at Stark subterfuge have lately been getting ripped to shreds.

Baelish slinks out as Meera Reed tiptoes in to say goodbye. But emotions are beyond Bran right now, and he barely manages a robotic, “Thank you, come again.” Meera is heartbroken—she almost died for Bran! Her brother, Hodor, and Summer did die for him! But “Bran” is no longer Bran. The Three-Eyed Raven confirms that he’s burdened with too much knowledge to experience human consciousness like he once did. “You died in that cave,” Meera says through tears. As if that’s not emotional enough…

In a scene years in the making, Arya Stark crests a hill over Winterfell, and the music sweeps and soars along with all our feelings. After heartache, trauma, and international travel, she’s home at last. She bluffs her way past the trope-tastic inept guards and heads to the castle crypts.


Sansa finds Arya at their father’s tomb, but the two hardly know where to begin after so much time. Arya mentions her Death List, and Sansa totally thinks she’s joking—until they meet up with Bran, who, of course, knows all about it. Sansa’s bewildered when she realizes that her little sister is deadly serious. It’s a headline we’ve seen more than once this season: Long-awaited homecoming turns awkward. On Dragonstone, there are Lord of Light draperies everywhere. In Winterfell, your little sister has turned into a serial killer.


Down south, besties Daenerys Targaryen and Missandei are mid-slumber party chat about Grey Worm when Jon interrupts, eager to give Dany a tour of the dragonglass mine. Specifically, he wants to show her an ancient art exhibit, clearly recalling the seductive power of his cave time from Ygritte in the season 3 episode, “Kissed by Fire.”

As the Anthropologist in the North explains, the petroglyphs depict the First Men and Children of the Forest working together to fight the White Walkers during the Long Night thousands of years ago. Dany is persuaded by the message—and possibly by the way torchlight illuminates Jon’s cheekbones. She agrees to fight for the North, provided their king—you guessed it—bends the knee.


Out on the beach, Tyrion and Varys deliver the bad news about Casterly Rock. Dany’s furious with her advisors, specifically Tyrion, whom she accuses of playing nice with his family on purpose. Somewhat surprisingly, she asks Jon what to do. Reluctantly, the King in the North advises her not to use dragon weapons of mass destruction. Though they’ve only just met, Jon is already a rational, tempering influence on Dany’s hotheadedness. There might be something to this “ice and fire” thing.


Back at Winterfell, Arya and Brienne spar in the training yard. Seasoned fighter Brienne promises to go easy...until Arya goads her into giving it all she’s got. Arya is electrified, but Sansa watches somberly, troubled by the implications of her sister becoming a deadly assassin. Arya’s talent isn’t lost on Littlefinger, and they share a “this isn’t over” look. Bran presumably knows that Littlefinger betrayed their father in King’s Landing; if Arya finds out, he’ll definitely make The List.

Back on Dragonstone, Davos ribs Jon about how much he stares at Daenerys’ “good heart.” Jon, you should have seen how she dressed back in Essos. They chat with Missandei about free love until Theon Greyjoy returns, which is sort of another Stark reunion. Theon and Jon grew up together, which didn’t stop Theon from being a giant jerk 24/7, or betraying the entire Stark family that time in season 2. Sure, Theon paid a steep price and lost a, um, valued possession, but Jon gives him a throttle for good measure. Theon’s here to enlist Daenerys’ help in rescuing his sister, but apparently the queen’s a little busy at the moment.


Back to the Lannister caravan, where the baggage train nears King’s Landing, Randyll Tarly is chomping at the bit to flog the stragglers. (Randyll sure did Sam a favor by sending him to the Wall all those year ago.) Even favored Tarly son, Dickon, flinches at the mention of his father, but Bronn and Jaime coax him into admitting that his first-ever military engagement was more horrific than heroic. As Dickon unpacks his first battle, the air fills with hoofbeats and war cries. Look out, kid, here comes round two.

The unprepared soldiers improvise a shield line just before Daenerys’ Dothraki horde descends. But in addition to the fiercest, most bloodthirsty warriors Westeros has ever seen, Dany has brought in the big guns. You can practically feel Jaime’s stomach drop when he sees Drogon flying over the ridge in all his glory, Daenerys mounted on dragonback.

“Dracarys,” commands the Mother of Dragons, and Drogon’s fire blasts the Lannister line, melting steel and turning men to ash. The Dothraki charge through the flames and set to carving up Lannisters while Dany provides aerial support.

From a nearby ridge, Tyrion Lannister watches in dawning horror as his family’s bannermen get burned and slaughtered. This is the first time he’s been physically confronted with the consequences of siding with his family’s enemies, and he doesn’t look entirely sure he made the right decision.

His brother Jaime, meanwhile, pulls together a squad of archers, but arrows bounce right off Drogon’s natural armor. Team Lannister still has a secret weapon: the scorpion Qyburn made for Cersei. Bronn, playing the hero for once—or perhaps trying to secure his greatest reward yet—fights his way through fire and Dothraki arakhas to the mega-crossbow and takes aim.

Bronn’s first bolt misses, but the second flies true, punching into Drogon’s shoulder. The massive dragon careens out of the sky, torching the scorpion on the way down. When an earthbound Dany attempts to extract the bolt, seasoned Targaryen killer Jaime sees his opening. With Tyrion muttering his dismay from afar, Jaime grabs a spear and charges, intending to skewer the Mad King’s daughter.

But Drogon isn’t about to let mom get hurt. For a moment it looks like Jaime will get roasted—until Bronn shoves him out of the way at the last second, plunging them both into the river. Weighed down by his armor and his failure, Jaime sinks, and we cut to black.

Wow. The grand opening of Drogon’s BBQ was everything we hoped it could be. What a battle, what an episode. And what an ending; surely, Jaime won’t sink to the bottom of Blackwater Rush…right? Then again, this is Game of Thrones. To find out what happens next, stay tuned every Sunday, exclusively on HBO.


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