Sunday, August 6, 2017

Game Night: A First Reaction To “The Spoils of War”


This post contains spoilers about the Game of Thrones episode “The Spoils of War”

After six seasons of following major characters who have existed in distant storylines, one of the pleasures of this current installment of Game of Thrones has been watching these actors finally converge. The episode “Spoils of War” contained a series of high-level interactions and one cliffhanger that continued one of the show’s most enjoyable seasons.

The fourth episode spent significant time with the Stark clan’s reunion. Sansa and Arya had not seen each other since the first season, yet both have grown in ways that neither could easily describe to one another. While Sansa’s evolution into Lady Stark could be predicted, Arya’s change has been the most unexpected and difficult to explain. Her swordplay skills have gone beyond a childhood hobby. Watching Arya prove her mettle as a trained soldier was important for her character because she was able to show off her abilities to her sister. Despite arduous journeys, both sisters are currently in roles that they were destined to attain. This episode was one of the most satisfying for both characters.

A part of Season Seven that is gradually becoming annoying is Bran Stark’s transition into becoming the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran’s journey has always been at a slower pace than the rest of the Starks, but unlike Sansa and Arya his newfound career is less defined. Although he will most likely play a sizable role throughout the next two seasons, Bran is currently behaving like a moody teenager in the gifted program. Bran’s scenes have become some of the most laborious on the show and he is in desperate need of a breakout moment.

One of the biggest interactions of the season has been Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s time together on Dragonstone. “Spoils of War” briefly seemed as if it would take the monarchs’ time together to a new level, but ultimately took a more reserved path. Daenerys has begun to know Jon as more than just a pesky usurper and her understanding of the threat beyond the Wall is now much clearer. This episode also showed that she trusts Jon and respects his abilities as a solider. It was also the most significant step forward in their alliance together.

The best part of the episode, and perhaps the most exciting part of this season, was Daenerys’ ambush of Jamie Lannister’s column as it returned from Highgarden. While the battle was significantly briefer, certain sequences were reminiscent of the Battle of the Bastards. Watching Daenerys unleash her dragons on the Lannisters was a thrilling moment as she delivered a devastating blow to Cersei. The most impressive scenes of the battle came from the incredible skills of the actors portraying Dothraki riders and the close camera work that followed them, Jamie, and Bronn. This show continues to produce these scenes in a way that reinvents what we expect from a television series.

The stunning final scene is a cliffhanger of the Jon Snow variety. It appears to be too obvious that Jamie was killed while trying to commit an act that was both brave and foolhardy. How could a one-armed man who is weighed down by armor possibly survive drowning? Game of Thrones has already saved Jon and the Hound after their characters appeared to be gone. This prediction has one week to fail, but it seems to be more likely that Jamie is next on the list of characters to make a narrow escape. 

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