As always, we’re recapping Game of Thrones, don’t miss reading about last week’s episode: “Queen’s Justice”.
I think we’re all going to need a bit of therapy this week. “Spoils of War” was one plot twist after the other. There are so many parts of the episode we could cover, and normally I like to do a pretty comprehensive recap of all the different plot threads tangling together in Season 7. There’s so much we could talk about for this episode, but I’m going to focus on something I find much more important: what is Littlefinger up to?
So, we’ll have a quick run-down of everything that happened, and then we’ll delve into the meta and attempt to answer this pressing question. Ready?
As usual, beware, for this post is long and full of spoilers.
(Almost) Everything That Happened in 7×04
There was a lot that happened in this episode. It didn’t even feel like an hour – it felt like three. This episode had one of the largest on-screen battles the show has ever produced, some long-overdue Stark sibling bonding, and an alliance that we’ve all been waiting for. Here’s the quick summary:
- Cersei is buddy-buddy with the Iron Bank, and they’ve agreed to fund her for the war…so long the gold she pillaged from Highgarden actually reaches King’s Landing. That may be problem.
- Littlefinger gives Bran the Valyrian steel dagger that was used in an attempt on Bran’s life in Season 1.
- Arya is reunited with her siblings after 6+ seasons of being apart. Finally.
- Jon and Dany seem to be getting along back on Dragonstone. Jon shows Dany some ancient carvings made by the First Men and Children of the Forest that prove the existence of the White Walkers. Dany promises to help Jon fight the coming army of the dead… if he bends the knee. Jon was just:
- Dany and Tyrion, on the other hand, have their first real fight. Dany is starting to lose her faith in Tyrion as Hand of the Queen, which is kind of understandable considering his strategies have lost her three allies so far. After learning of the sack of Highgarden, Dany asks Jon for advice. He sides with Tyrion, believing that she ought to take a gentler approach to conquering Westeros – and that she shouldn’t take her dragons to war just yet.
- Dany listens to absolutely no-one and rides Drogon into battle, ambushing Jaime and Bronn on their way back to King’s Landing with her army of Dothraki. Drogon sustains a serious wound to his wing from Qyburn’s Scorpion. Jaime attempts to kill Dany, but narrowly escapes being killed by Drogon. Bronn knocks him into the nearby river before they both are engulfed in dragonfire. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a battle in Game of Thrones where I’ve genuinely rooted for both sides. Watching Bronn and Jaime try and take on Danaerys and Drogon in a last-ditch effort to survive was gave me so much anxiety. Thanks, Thrones.
There are two moments in “Spoils of War” I think are worth spending a little more time on. That’s Arya sparring with Brienne, and Jaime and Danaerys’ interaction in the last battle.
Arya and Brienne
Arguably one of the most enjoyable moments of Episode 4 was Arya and Brienne’s sword duel. These two haven’t seen each other in a long time, and the last time they did it was in a much more dangerous position. Arya has a lot of respect for Brienne. Brienne fought the Hound and won. Brienne sees herself in Arya. The two immediately hit it off and impress each other with their badass skills. It’s a treat to watch.
Oh, and the other best part?
When Brienne asks Arya who taught her how to fight so well, Arya answers: “No one.”
Yes, girl, yes.
Jaime and Danaerys
Why do we have a shirt normally associated with Cersei under this section? You’ll see.
At the tail-end of Danaery’s ambush on Jaime and Bronn’s wagon train, things aren’t looking so great for the Lannisters. Jaime seems distraught and disoriented as he watches hundreds of men run around, engulfed in flames. It’s notably this moment, when he’s watching his men burned alive, that he decides to attack Danaerys head-on.
Danaerys is nearby and grounded. Bronn managed to shoot Drogon out of the sky. She’s struggling to yank the Scorpion’s lance out of his wing. Jaime takes advantage of her distraction and rides at her full-tilt, lance ready to plunge into her heart.
Many people think that Jaime was simply trying to win the war in one fell swoop, and that’s a fair assumption, but I think there was something deeper going on here.
A couple seasons ago, when Jaime explains why he killed the Mad King (Danaerys’ father), he tells the story of how, when Robert and Ned’s forces surrounded King’s Landing and all hope was lost for the Targaryens, the Mad King had one final order: Burn them all.
The Mad King was obsessed with wildfire. He loved to burn people, and famously burned Ned’s father and brother alive in his throne room.
That’s why Jaime had to kill Danaerys. As he watched her light up his army with dragonfire, burning his men alive, he was probably thinking: “this woman is exactly like her father”.
This might not seem like that big of a deal, but it is when you remember the Valonqar Prophecy and Cersei’s own propensity for madness and her love of torturing people and burning them alive. If Jaime is willing to murder Danaerys in cold blood because of her love of fire…it may be a clue as to why he’ll eventually end up killing Cersei at the end of Game of Thrones.
Littlefinger, the Starks, and the Iron Throne
At the beginning of Game of Thrones, Petyr Baelish is an extremely dangerous, powerful man. He has eyes and ears all over King’s Landing, has made numerous friends and enemies whom he plays off of each other like chesspieces, and is the true catalyst of all the events of the War of Five Kings. He and Varys have been locked in a “cold war” – Varys silently working for peace and the “good of the realm”, Littlefinger composing events to create chaos so that he can use it to his advantage and take the Iron Throne for himself.
Season 6 and 7, however, have not been good to Petyr Baelish – and hell hath no fury like a Littlefinger scorned. Let’s zoom in on what’s really going on behind the scenes at Winterfell. He has to be plotting something, and it’s up to us to figure out what that is.
At the beginning of Episode 4, Baelish talks with Bran alone. He gives him the Valyrian steel dagger that was used in an attempt on Bran’s life. Why? What reason could he possibly have for giving a weapon away to Bran?
Well, it’s most likely a threat.
With Bran’s return to Winterfell, as Sansa said – he is now Lord of Winterfell. He’s Ned Stark’s last surviving trueborn male heir. That means that Sansa is no longer the key to the North. It puts Bran directly in the way of Littlefinger’s plans. Littlefinger is probably trying to scare Bran in to giving him some power. That might mean stepping down and allowing Sansa to be Queen in the North so Littlefinger can marry her and be Lord of Winterfell, or that might mean that Bran takes up his position and allows Littlefinger to be the one pulling the strings. We’re not sure.
Unfortunately for Littlefinger, his threat doesn’t go quite as planned.
In the middle of his somewhat threatening speech, Littlefinger talks about “chaos” being what killed Bran’s family. Bran looks him straight in the eye and says: “Chaos is a ladder”.
This is a direct quote from a private conversation Littlefinger had with Varys near the beginning of the series.
“Do you know what the Realm is? It’s the thousand blades of Aegon’s enemies…a story we agree to tell each other over and over until we forget it’s a lie. …But what do we have when we abandon that lie?”
“Chaos. A gaping pit waiting to swallow us all.”
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”
– Season 3, Episode 6.
Littlefinger knows there was no way that Bran could have known of this conversation except through his three-eyed-raven superpowers. If Bran knows about this conversation…what else does he know about?
For once, Littlefinger isn’t the one holding all the cards.
A Stark is.
More like Lord Baelishook amirite?
…I’ll see myself out.
It’s unclear what will happen next. Will Baelish kill Bran in order to get him closer to a position in charge of Winterfell? Can the Starks afford to kill Baelish before that happens? He’s acting Lord of the Vale, after all, and is a powerful ally. It’s unclear whether or not Sansa will be able to secure the Vale’s armies without him – and Winterfell needs that army in order to fend off the White Walkers and fight Cersei.
If Baelish makes an attempt on Bran’s life, all of the Starks will know exactly who did, though, and Baelish knows that now. Jon is barring his way to Sansa, and with Bran in the picture, Sansa is no longer the key to the North, anyway. Littlefinger does still have correspondence with Cersei, however. He still has one more string he can pull.
But, it seems that the situation in Westeros has gotten out of his control. Loss of control is Petyr’s worst fear – and at this point he has in some ways nothing to lose, and in other ways everything to lose. That makes him an incredibly dangerous player. If Seasons 1-6 have been any indication, he’ll do anything he can to get closer to the Iron Throne.
What do you think? What is Littlefinger really up to? Does he still have a part to play, or is his storyline wrapping up? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to take a look at our Kingsguard T-Shirt collection. We’re always adding new Game of Thrones tees to the site. Don’t miss a chance to find your favorite!
Can’t wait for Sunday’s episode? Me neither. Have you seen the trailer? If not, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered: