Reply All: A Game of Thrones Email Exchange – “Spoils of War”

If you missed last week’s email exchange, you can read it here. If you missed Matt’s top moments from this episode, you can see them here. More importantly, why would you miss this stuff in the first place? Be sure to check back for our podcast episode review this week. 

Here’s this week’s exchange for the fifth episode of season seven, “Spoils of War”.

NICK: Keith, I’d like to take this moment to officially announce that I’m changing my name to Dracarys after that episode, so please address me as such going forward. Thanks.

There was so much fire and I was so excited, and that battle scene at the end was so great to watch. It’s been so long since we’ve seen the Dothraki in any sort of action and Drogon in full, terrifying effect. The tracking shot of Bronn trying to outrun a bloodrider was reminscent of Jon during the Battle of the Bastards to a lesser extent. For him to be the one that senses the oncoming attack was wonderful and reminded us all how skilled of a fighter he really is. It gave Jaime and the Lannister/Tarly forces enough time to try and setup a defense, but they had no idea what was in store for them. The horde of Dothraki alone was enough to make a Lannister shoulder shake in his boots, but then, right before the onslaught, comes Drogon. Imagine seeing thousands upon thousands of fierce warriors, and then suddenly spotting a huge dragon soaring in the sky. How is there any semblance of courage left in a solder? How do you defeat something that shoots fire to clear the way for the deadliest warriors on horseback in the entire world?

We know Qyburn’s Qrossbow is strong enough to pierce a dragon’s scales, but he’s now down one. I think we’ve all assumed he made multiple units of this weapon, so it’s probably safe to say Dani and her dragons will face these land-to-air ballistics once again in the future. While Qyburn’s anti-dragon weapon worked, the scene of Drogon flying straight towards it made me as mad as when Rickon ran in a straight line while Ramsay shot at him. I mean, just give me a zig zag once. Just once.

There’s lots more to discuss of course, especially with this scene, but I’m going to to dish it off to you before I start rambling.

KEITH: Holy shit what an episode. I feel like we finally slowed down for a moment and got to focus on a few events playing out simultaneously rather than looking at things playing out over the course of several weeks. This let us really spend a lot of time letting scenes develop and it felt more Game of Thrones than some of the earlier episodes in this season.

Perhaps the best example of this is the amount of time that we spend with Arya on her return to Winterfell. I’ll go right out and admit that I was wrong in my interpretation of her words to Nymeria, but that’s cool. Her first appearance at the gates of Winterfell was a wonderful reminder of just how long she’s been gone (everybody thinks she’s been dead for quite a while now) and how much she’s changed. Her reunion with Sansa was a solid marker of this change, as the two seemed to understand that neither had had a pleasant time over the last couple of years and each had grown stronger as a result. Arya seems to immediately recognize that her older sister has become much smarter and much stronger than she was when last they saw each other, although it definitely takes Sansa a little while to grasp what Arya’s become.

I’m curious to hear what you thought of this reunion, especially because of how Bran’s reunion with Sansa was handled last week. It was interesting to have that addressed as Bran not really being Bran anymore, but something else. How did you feel about the sisters Stark’s time together?

NICK: After Bran’s chilling reunion last week, it was nice to see Arya show some emotion upon her return to the ‘fell. As you mention, both sisters sense that the other has been through a journey just as insane as their own without having to go into grave detail. The fact is, there hasn’t been this many Starks in Winterfell since season one, and it feels great and weird at the same time. We as viewers have witnessed each journey of the Stark children (except Rickon, RIP) so we know just how intense these years have been on the remaining northern royalty. When you really think about it, it’s amazing this many Stark children are still alive. Normally I’d call this blind luck, but Game of Thrones is so hooked on destiny that the near-misses were faces of fortune.

While Arya isn’t Cersei’s handmaiden from last week’s episode, there’s still something going on there. If it’s not Arya, could it be…Jaquen H’gar? I get the feeling we haven’t seen the last of him, and this show has made me paranoid that everyone minor is actually someone else. I just had to get that out since we know Arya’s back in Winterfell.

Back to the Stark reunion, and the Catspaw Dagger. After the attempted attack on Bran in the first season, Littlefinger told Cat that the dagger was his but lost in a bet to Tyrion. When he speaks with Bran, he says he doesn’t know who the owner is. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Bran vision, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we find more about the history of this Valyrian steel. As quickly as Littlefinger hands it to Bran (why does he, anyway? A sign of trust? Misdirection?), Bran passes it off to the newly returned younger Stark girl. I think at this point it’s a given Arya will use it on someone, but who?

You mention Bran not being Bran, and his conversation with Meera this week further established that he is so far from his former self that whatever connection he had to the Stark name is all but severed. Having the ability to see what Bran has seen, both past and future, is weighing so heavily that it voids any notion of emotion he could have for anyone, including the person that literally dragged him through the north to safety. It’s interesting that the change in Bran appeared to occur almost overnight, though. Throughout their time together, Meera and Bran grew incredibly close, then as soon as she gets him south of the wall, he’s incredibly distant and robotic. I’d be pissed too if I was Meera.

The good news is she’s going home to her family, so does this mean Howland Reed is about to make an appearance?

KEITH: I’m absolutely on board with your point about Game of Thrones’ fascination with destiny. I feel like we’ve spent so much time thinking about the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised that we maybe forget that destiny absolutely effects all of the characters in Westeros equally. All the almost-reunions throughout the years have absolutely served the purpose of putting these characters back in contact with each other once they’ve acquired a very particular set of skills. Jon and Arya have become some of the most fearsome fighters in the Seven Kingdoms, Sansa has become a smart and capable leader, Bran has become the Three Eyed Raven. They needed to have nothing to do with each other for several years in order to get to that point, despite the fact that we desperately wanted this reunion a few seasons back.

I’m not sure how much I agree with your point about Jaquen H’gar, but who knows? I was very clearly wrong about the handmaiden in the previous episode, and I have absolutely no doubts that I’ll be wrong several more times as this series works toward its conclusion. It would seem odd to have him there, especially considering both Arya and Jaime look like they would make more sense to be the one who takes down the Mad Queen, but considering this is Game of Thrones, I can’t make an absolute statement.

Nothing is less of an absolute than Baelish’s reasoning behind giving Bran that dagger. Part of me thinks that it was his attempt to garner some sort of favor with the newly returned Stark, but Bran was having absolutely none of it. Do you think that Sansa had let Baelish know about Bran’s newfound powers, or has she finally become smart enough to realize that she should probably keep him as out of the loop as possible? Did you see Littlefinger’s face when Bran threw his “chaos is a ladder” line back at him?

Bran’s decision to hand the dagger off to Arya was clearly based on his in-depth knowledge of who she’s become, and I loved nothing more than seeing Baelish’s face when he sees someone not named Brandon Stark wielding it in her sparring match with Brienne. Speaking of, how cool was that match? We’ve seen Arya fight before, but never really in such a protracted manner and never against an opponent like Brienne. She handles the master warrior with seeming ease, which was really quite surprising. Just how good has Arya become?

As far as Howland Reed is concerned, it might make a lot of sense for him to make an appearance. He’s the only other living person who was at the Tower of Joy, and seeing as Bran doesn’t really seem that hot to go about dropping knowledge bombs about Jon’s parentage, it might take an appearance from Lord Reed to finally move things along. I have a really hard time believing that we’ve seen the last of Meera, so it would only make sense.

One person we haven’t touched on yet is Cersei. She seems to be getting quite cozy with the Iron Bank, and now that we know the money (but not the food) taken from Highgarden has arrived safely in King’s Landing, it’s safe for us to assume that she’s going to be turning her attention to opening up a new line of credit and spending her way to ultimate power. She said that she has a number of things that she wants to bring back under her control. Do you think she’s speaking in terms of kingdoms, or do you think that there are physical items that she’s seeking out?

NICK: Cersei suddenly has so many tricks up her sleeve, that it’s become hard to predict what she’ll do next. Obviously a chunk of her army has been wiped out, but money can buy anything, and her credit line with the Iron Bank is quite high. After receiving the Lannister debt in one sudden payment, he’s expressed his desire to continue backing Cersei’s financial needs for the war that’s begun. You can practically see the cartoon money bags in his eyes. The siege on Casterly Rock isn’t going to last long, so Euron may be back in King’s Landing making moves on the Queen in the near future. Does she end up marrying him? I don’t think so, but she’s certainly pulling him along and I’m anxious to see what sadistic mission she sends him on next.

I think there’s something more than the Seven Kingdoms that Cersei wants control of. When her sons were kings, she was their puppet master to an extent. Joffrey was too out of control and Tommen was turned by Margaery and the High Sparrow. She’s spent years trying to control kings to no avail, and now when she herself sits on the Iron Throne, things are one giant ball of chaos. She wants to get Jaime back in control, and we saw that with their bedroom shenanigans in episode three. She wants to control (i.e. wipe out) her enemies, and that battle is just beginning. She literally wants to control everything, and right now she’s on a fierce and murderous pace to get there. The question now is what will she do with this new financial investment from the Iron Bank. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy a lot of changed minds and bent knees. Even though she came out on the wrong end of the Loot Train Battle (terrible name, BTW), but now she knows that Qyburn’s weapon is effective in piercing dragon scales, and my guess is she’ll amp up production as she aims to gain more allies wherever she can.

Now all I can think about is that one of the dragons is going to meet its end, and I’m going to be so sad.

KEITH: Money can also buy lots and lots of really talented soldiers, which is exactly where I think it’s going. Cersei’s not about to take this loss lying down, especially now that she’s been dealt such a blow. She’s already fought herself out of one corner, I don’t think she’ll take too kindly to being backed into another.

I also doubt that she’s going to be doing much in the way of marrying Euron (or anyone, for that matter) anytime soon. I don’t think he’s the type to take kindly to being strung along, but he’s also just crazy enough to upend each and every one of our expectations of him. Heck, he might get so much fun out of tormenting Jaime that he doesn’t mind the fact that the queen doesn’t seem particularly interested in his attempts to woo her.

But speaking of the sea, I’m excited to see Eastwatch by the Sea in the upcoming episode. Not only will it be our first time at this castle, but it’s likely a prime target for the Night King and his army to come into contact with the Realms of Men and with our favorite Brotherhood dudes. It’s been way too long since we’ve spent some time with Sandor Clegane and I needs me some Hound action.

What are you most looking forward to in the coming week?

NICK: I’m jumping on board with hopes of Eastwatch by the Sea in the next episode, because that means Tormund and hopefully the Hound. Aside from that, the trailer shows a clip of Jon mentioning Bran and his vision of the Night’s King. This means Jon finds out that not only is Bran alive, but that he has visions. I’m curious to find out how this information is relayed to Jon. Is it a raven? Does Bran somehow reach through time and space to get to Jon? Does Bran travel to Dragonstone?

I’m also hoping to find out what happens with Jaime and Bronn. It’s hard to imagine they won’t be Dany’s prisoners, and I’m anxious to learn what plans Dany and her crew have in store for them.

Also there’s more Drogon, which is never a bad thing (unless you’re a Lannister).

Check out the trailer below for episode five, and be sure to come back after it airs for more Game of Thrones content.

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Nick Hershey

The author Nick Hershey

Nick was born and raised in Amish country, has a beard, but isn’t Amish. He’s a fan of winter as long as he’s at the top of a mountain with a board under his feet. He’s an avid sports fan, movie junkie, tv bum, and music enthusiast who still purchases CDs for some reason.