In its strongest episode yet this season, The Spoils of War brings us what Game of Thrones fans love best: reunions, twists, and the threat of imminent mortal peril. I might have to eat my words from a couple weeks ago, because I think that the idea of dragons just became exciting again.

And I do mean ‘again’, because having spent the past few weeks watching them fly around a bit for fun has not been the best use of them in all their CGI glory. Finally, we got to see Deanerys use her dragons – for the first time in Westeros, and against Jaime. Our satisfaction regarding Cersei learning Olenna’s truth is going to have to wait, because this episode has left more hanging in the balance than we’ve seen so far this season. So much so, it’s worth running through the most important parts once again.

Littlefinger is once again up to no good, this time with Bran, but it’s hard to worry too much when Arya has finally made it back to Winterfell. Finally reuniting with her home, and her siblings, it felt so much more emotional seeing Arya return than anyone else from the Stark family, having been the furthest away during her long and fruitful travels. She has perhaps worked hardest to get to this point, and has been in control of her journey rather than being led ahead by chance and peril. After waiting for this moment for years, it was a perfect moment of satisfaction – something Game of Thrones tends to refuse its viewers.

Ah, Bran. I was so excited to have him play a bigger role in the past few seasons, and honestly his new-found powers are a pretty awesome way to bring in the history of Westeros into the mix. But, while some may say ‘Bran is off his nut’ (a direct quotation), what’s worse is that Bran is almost too sane. He is no longer Bran, he is the cold and somewhat annoying Three Eyed Raven, and unless there is some point to it I fear my patience might wear thin with his character. Perhaps his most interesting line this episode was when he quoted Littlefinger himself from back in season 3’s ‘The Climb’, with ‘Chaos is a ladder’. Ah Petyr, would you give it a rest with your games? How are you not dead yet?

an almighty mic drop warning us that we are not ready for what is to come

To the undeniably best part of the episode: that fight scene. Perhaps the best way to describe it is through my verbatim reaction to it all: ‘fucking epic horse moves’ (I’m not entirely sure how else to describe it?). On a more detailed note, however, it was one of the best fight scenes in Game of Thrones history. The entire episode was a melting pot of ‘epic horse moves’ – which felt like a more realistic Legolas fight sequence from Lord of the Rings, powerful music interspersed with the sounds of war, and a lot of fire. Everything hung on the line throughout, and we still don’t know what will happen to Jaime. It was stylistically phenomenal, and I was tense throughout the whole thing. And I’m sorry, if you’re not trying to work out how you can learn to fight while standing on a horse then did you even watch the episode?

I always think that the best episodes end with no sound, with the end credits beginning with your jaw still slack from having it open. When the silence ends the episode like a mic drop. And that’s exactly what The Spoils of War did, it was an almighty mic drop warning us that we are not ready for what is to come.

Clare Clarke

5/5

Image: HBO 2017

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