Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4, The Spoils of War review: Leaking this was a shame
Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4, The Spoils of War review: Daenerys’ dragon set fire to the fourth episode of the season, even as Jon, Tyrion suggested her otherwise. Was it a wise decision?Updated: Aug 07, 2017 11:13 IST
Game of Thrones: The Spoils of War
Director: Matt Shakman
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams
360p can never do justice to the visual perfection that was the fourth episode of season seven of Game of Thrones, The Spoils of War. Too bad they chose this episode to leak.
The episode, shortest ever for the series at just 50 minutes, starts off on a rather awkward reunion but reaches a powerful crescendo as it hurtles towards the climax. The battle at Highgarden was one of the best ever executed on this show and not just because of the fire-breathing dragon.
Before we talk about that, here’s what didn’t work as well as we had hoped. Bran and his emo phase are really ruining the Winterfell storyline and several reunions that fans lusted for since the end of first season itself. Perhaps the one year that we didn’t see him at all is taking its toll on our understanding of the change he has been through. Even Arya is nothing like her old, goofy self who pranked her sister at every chance, unless you count turning someone’s sons into pies a prank. But we are unable to digest Bran as a detached Three Eyed Raven.
Talking about disappointments, how dull was Arya’s homecoming! After years of missing opportunities by a hair’s margin, she finally makes it back home and into the arms of a sister, who, frankly, seems jealous of her new-found sword skills.
At least Sansa seems hopeful Jon’s reaction will be better but now that she has said it, I am not too sure if it will ever happen.
Now back to the good part. It was almost made obvious, with all the stress laid on the treasure looted by the Lannister army in the initial few minutes, something will go south for them. The chests of gold and barrels of grain will not see the soil of Kings Landing. Things cannot be all roses for Cersei either.
Again, with almost poetic accuracy, Cersei’s spoils of war are brought to dust by Daenerys’ spoils of war: Her Dothraki army that she amassed during her many battles in Essos and the dragon she brought to life. Perhaps this is where building up so many storylines over the course of seven years pays off. Parallels can be drawn for so many characters that are, actually, converging in the bigger scope of things.
Talking specifically about the end scene itself, I wonder when was the last time I felt constant shivers run down my spine upon watching a television show. Matt Shakman did a stellar job of building up to an action scene everyone knew was coming. The rumble of the earth, the continued shots of the horizon, the nervousness of a heroic face, the expectation of something impossible, or the dread of it, created a moment so heavy that pay off was not an easy task. However, it paid off spectacularly.
We have seen the dragons grow in front of our eyes. We saw them perched on their mother’s shoulders as she rose from fire, melt a few slavers, kill a child, get banished to the dungeons, swoop in time to save the heroine and even take a petting from a dwarf, but somehow, as Daenerys rode a screeching Drogon to battle today, nothing could have been a more horrid sight for a soldier fighting for some royal house he no longer remembers the name of, with nothing but a measly spear in his hand. We are that man now, seeing a mythical monster come to life to take ours. Every time someone sees a dragon, be it Tyrion on a boat or Jon on a flight of stairs, it fills our heart with the thoughts of these people seeing it for the first time and losing all sense of what is real and what is not.
The battle (or the massacre) at Highgarden did not work only because of the dragons, of course. Shakman seems to have taken a page off Miguel Sapochnik’s Battle of Bastards from last season where the single shot following Jon Snow in battle was recreated for Bronn in The Spoils of War. While we followed Jon from behind last time, this time we were ahead of Bronn, watching his expressions as he pushed around flaming men and torched horses. How heartening it is that they did it for someone who is not one of the top-billed cast members.
Game of Thrones brought to screen one of the best, most well choreographed, emotionally charged and stunningly shot battle scenes with The Spoils of War and even left us with a creeping doubt about the fate of an anti-hero we have learned to love. The quality on this show and our expectations from it are only rising with every episode. Could the trend continue for three more episodes.