Spoiler Alert !! There are tons of spoilers for the newest episode of Game of Thrones in here but really at this point how can you can you not be on the Game of Thrones bandwagon by now.
If you were wondering why the last few episodes seemed to have been holding back a tad—we didn’t see any combat at Highgarden and the Euron/Yara battle was barely visible for a reason—it was so we could bask in the glory that was the Loot Train Attack. Was it the greatest battle in GOT history ? I may venture to say that it was, as it had the same level of fantasy as Hardhome (dragons instead of white walkers) while still showing us the brutal, harsh and above all gruesome realities of combat as they did last year during the Battle of the Bastards. We got the best of fantasy and realistic combat in this one. Well, however realistic you can make a battle that involves a dragon. HBO explains just how they did it in the video below.
But before we get deeper into the epic Loot Train Attack (you could really call it a massacre though), lets take a look at what else happened this week. Not only did we get that amazing battle sequence, but the rest of the episode was chock full of Starks, and who doesn’t love them? Especially when they’re having their creepy reunions.
After a couple of blathering scenes where we see Jaime taking account of his spoils of war, Bronn complaining about his share and Cersei telling the Iron Bank that they will be getting their damn spoils shortly, we come upon an unlikely crossing of paths. Bran has yet another in a series of profoundly eerie and emotionally devoid conversations. In this one Littlefinger gives Bran (or kind of Bran) the dagger that was used to try and take his life and proceeds to attempt to show him compassion.
Bran’s obviously having none of it and goes full Sansa on Petyr Baelish as he interrupts Baelish’s slithering attempts to bond with him by throwing a Littlefinger mantra (which could easily be the Baelish house words) right back at the old schemer: “Chaos is a ladder.” The close-up of Littlefinger afterwards showed that clearly the guy knows these Stark kids ain’t nothing to fuck with no mo. Kudos Bran, Sansa would be proud.
..And then she wouldn’t. Right after making Littlefinger question his whole life, Bran gets a final visit from Meera, who’s been one of his main companions since season 2. She risked her life for Bran, her brother died so that Bran could link up with his mentor and subsequently torrent all of time and space in Westeros and beyond into his brain. All she got from the kid was a prefunctory “Thank you” that was so prefunctory he might as well have just said “Good riddance bud.”
To Bran’s credit, he does have some right to be a little peculiar considering—as he points out—he knows so much more than being Bran that the Stark prince’s story has become just one of many the Three-Eyed Raven knows now. This kid’s basically so knowledgeable that he doesn’t have time to be himself. Heavy shit, man.
Don’t get too down though because ya girl Arya ‘No One’ Stark is back in the mix after taking an undeserved and unwelcome week off last episode. Arya comes up on Winterfell after however many years and life-changing experiences it’s been and still has the charm to pull off a refreshingly funny scene with a couple of in-over-their-heads-but-don’t-know-it Stark soldiers. After using just her wits to gain entry into the castle she takes a minute or two to let her first reunion—with her home, which has changed nearly as much as she has—sink in before she gives the two worst guardsmen in the North the slip. The ‘Lady of Winterfell’ finds her long-lost sister down in the crypts, staring at a statue that definitely looks exactly like Sean Bean.
The sisterly hug Arya and Sansa shared after all these long years is much more satisfying than when Sansa basically hugged Bran’s emotionless corpse last week—but it was still a pretty awkward reunion. Sansa even points out exactly what I was thinking at the time: that the reunion between Jon and Arya would’ve been way more awesome.. And it will be.
But an awkward reunion would be nothing without the reigning champion of awkward meetings, the Three-Eyed Raven, who’s pretty much Bran but not really anymore. After Arya gets the same hug from Bran as Sansa did (no hug) it seems like a triply awkward reunion is about to unfold before Bran’s knowledge of Arya’s list is revealed, which makes the scene much more intriguing.
The best part of the scene—other than Sansa’s face when she realizes her siblings are pretty much an omniscient being and a skilled assassin—came when Bran (and the show) decided to give Arya the Valyrian steel dagger as he deadpanned, “I don’t want it, it’s wasted on a cripple.” I’ve always found it interesting to see which characters the show deems worthy of Valyrian steel’s great honour. Arya deserves the mythical steel more than anyone and I cannot wait until she uses it to slice a motherfucker up.
Brienne’s back this week too and when she sees what essentially amounts to a shooting star—three Starks together and alive—she finally and deservedly allows herself to feel the smallest sense of accomplishment and validation. Hearkening back to Brienne’s epic tiff with the Hound back in season three, Brienne and Arya share the most satisfying northern reunion of the week. After asking to train with Brienne using Needle, Arya promises she won’t cut her, which earns a scoff from Brienne.
The following swordfight was awesome for two reasons: because this is the first time we really see Arya’s Braavosi training in action and because it’s a swordfight in a medieval setting involving two women. The sequence is punctuated perfectly by Arya after she’s asked by Brienne who taught her to fight like that, to which Arya replies coyly: “No one.” It’s definitely one of my nominees for best Game of Thrones line ever.
Down south Daenerys and Jon are still squabbling about bended knees and ice zombies on Dragonstone…. though it was a little different this week. This week the squabble occurred within the dragonglass cave to the sound of Ramin Djawadi’s wondrous score. Oh yeah and there were some historical cave markings and glyphs that were pretty important. While the sexual and actual tension was high in the cave, the two monarchs came out with the same differences they went in with.
Dany is eventually told that she pretty much lost the Unsullied, who are presumably being besieged by Euron’s Iron Islanders at Casterly Rock. The Mother of Dragons is infuriated in general and at her hand Tyrion, and rightfully so. Tyrion has been out maneuvered pretty heavily by his brother and sister so far this season and maybe listening to his—and this time Jon Snow’s—words of caution again is the wrong move. Like Lady Olenna said, “You are a dragon. Be a dragon.”
The romance between Daenerys and Jon is slow to non-existent despite the energy in the cave. When Davos mentions the sexual tension Jon shuts that down with his typical icy, whiny, ice-zombie rhetoric. If anyone has a tough question for Jon, you can bet he’ll mention the Night King. While he’s not completely emotionless like Bran, Jon’s time beyond the wall has definitely left him with few emotions. Sadness, anger, hopelessness, you know, bastard emotions. If only he’d been born in Naath, amiright.
Yet another reunion that was a long time coming, that of Jon and Theon, was extremely emotionally charged. Theon sacked Winterfell, tried to murder Jon’s brothers, then got captured and tortured mercilessly before eventually helping Jon’s sister escape a psychotic rapist. It doesn’t really get anymore emotionally charged than that. Daenerys is noticeably missing from this beach reunion so Jon informs us dramatically that, “The Queen’s gone.” But where has she gone??? And with who???
Back on the road with Jaime, Bronn and the gang, we learn from Randyll Tarly—who’s also totally down with whipping his own men, no wonder he aligned with Cersei—that the gold for the Iron Bank is safely inside King’s Landing, even though they themselves are very much not. Why Jaime wasn’t with the gold is peculiar to me but that’s neither here nor there. We learn that the ‘head of the lion’ is across the Blackwater Rush—a large river that empties into Blackwater Bay—but the tail end of the marching army has yet to cross, leaving the army split in two. Damn, we’re pretty vulnerable right now guys, I hope no one ambushes us, said no one.
After Bronn did what we were all doing—laughing at Dickon’s name—the warriors discuss how men shit themselves when they die, which Bronn says he learned “when I was five.” It was at that precise moment that Bronn realized that shit was about to go down…
In fuckin flames. Daenerys’ horde of Dothraki screamers finally gets their moment of glory as they gallop up out of nowhere to Jaime and Bronn’s horror. Bronn correctly notes that they are about to get ripped to shreds in this battle and suggests Jaime get the hell out of dodge. “We can hold them,” Jaime says. And that’s when Drogon let’s loose a screech that could only mean “It’s me bitches!!!”
There it was: the enormous Dothraki horde, all of them screeching, all of them running as a monstrous, reptilian, fire-breathing beast flew over head with a queen on its back. It doesn’t get much more cinematically amazing than that boys. And that sound right before Drogon lays down his first sheet of fire. Spine-tingling.
As we saw—in some truly breathtaking shots—Daenerys + Drogon incinerating all of the food and supplies in the Lannister army’s baggage train (which gave the battle it’s name, the Loot Train Attack), these badass Dothraki dudes are literally standing on their horses shooting arrows as they charge full speed into a wall of spears. That’s my kind of warrior. But you know who else is my kind of warrior? Bronn, because he’s the scrappiest little fucker you’ll meet in Westeros.
After a pitiful volley of arrows does shit all to the dragons chest, and since Jaime’s short a hand, it’s up to Bronn to man the dragon-killing scorpion. As Bronn rides toward it, he comes upon a duel and is beaten by the Dothraki with a classically slimy Bronn move (below). But like I said though, Bronn is scrappy.
The sellsword escapes and manages to fight his way through the fire, the carnage and the Dothraki to get to the scorpion. It was a long, uncut shot very reminiscent of a similar one starring Jon Snow during the Battle of the Bastards that really put you right in the middle of the battle. I felt like I was right next to Jon and Bronn (hey, that rhymes!) during these two sequences. This one was even more impressive because it added the fire aspect and of course there was that dragon flying around up there making noises.
Bronn eventually dispatches his tormenter with a spear from the scorpion. Then he opens ‘err up for business as Tyrion and Jaime both watch the burning carnage in equal amounts fear, disgust, and anguish. The look Jaime gets when he sees three men burnt so bad they literally get blown away in the wind like dust was really a wonderful piece of acting by Nikolai Coster-Waldau.
And it might just be the last dramatic look he gives. Bronn connects with one of the spears on Drogon shortly after, but the dragon only screeches before calmly landing on the ground and incinerating the scorpion, giving it a wack with his rump for good measure.
As Daenerys attempts to remove the spear from her best dragon’s shoulder, Jaime gets some sort of burst of courage as he grabs a spear and starts riding headlong at Daenerys and her absolutely enormous dragon. I don’t know whether it was for Cersei so she’d win the war the quicker, or for his men whom he’d seen die so brutally because of this mythical beast and its rider. As Tyrion watches Jaime race at D+D and we swoon over Djawadi’s breathtaking musical accompaniment, the Imp says what we’re all thinking: “You fucking idiot.”
Thankfully for Jaime, kind of, Bronn jumps out of nowhere to save him from being cooked and instead throws him into the water where he seems to be drowning pretty quickly under the weight of his metal armour and golden hand. But personally, I’m almost certain Jaime’s not dead. A big character deserves a big death. Roasted by a dragon? Big death. Drowning because of your armour? Not so big. Here’s the entire battle if you just can’t get enough of that masterpiece.
After essentially four consecutive ambushes, expect the next battle to be a real head-to-head matchup, a la Battle of the Bastards. Who knows when that will come. Only nine episodes left people. SHIT’S GETTING HOT. And cold.