For the last few episodes, Daenerys Targaryen really wanted to burn stuff and all the older people except for one cool grandma kept telling her ”you can’t burn this, you can’t burn that”. You could see the petulant question “What can I burn?” behind her entitled and impressively pliant eyebrows in every scene. This episode she heard about another ally biting the dust courtesy of an army led by one Lannister and the myopic plans of another and asked the question (no not that one) to Jon Snow and he said no, you can’t burn the Red Keep. “Well if I can’t burn castles or armies holed up inside castles, might as well burn them in transit” was the logical conclusion of that discussion and oh boy was it fun to watch. Well, not for Jaime but we’ll get to that.
It made strategic sense as well. Of course it might have been better if she burnt the Lannister army on the onward trip instead of the return one but for that you need scouts or spies for intel, you know the kind of thing Varys was supposedly good at providing. It’s actually quite unfair that Tyrion gets all the heat for failed plans. His job is to scheme and Varys’s job is to provide information required for those schemes. Otherwise he’s just a bald Eunuch who can’t fight but still hangs around the likes of Grey Worm who has completely gotten over being a Eunuch recently. But anyway that was so last episode. This episode absolutely killed it.
I like how the best laid plans of both sides are crumbling to dust when the other side makes a play. The episode was titled ‘The spoils of war’ – probably referring to the Tyrell gold Jaime was bringing back to pay the Iron bank but it looked like Drogon melted the spoils of war and then some, so the title has a nice ironic ‘twang’ to it (assuming irony has a sound reproducible on a guitar). Cersei just lost her army, gold and all the supplies they plundered in quick succession. A quick shout out to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s acting. Jaime’s expressions and body language while watching men get burned alive or turned to ash and blown away by the wind really made you feel the horrors of a dragon attack on infantry and cavalry. As a viewer I was torn between the two sides. On one hand you want to see Cersei’s plans crumble but it’s not her at the head of the army, it’s Jaime and bro-Bronn. Our sympathies keep switching sides just as fast as the camera alternates between glorious dragon fire and Jaime’s bravery on the field of fire. Side note – field of fire was the name of the historic battle in which Aegon the conquerer and his sisters brought dragons to burn the Westerosi armies.
I think I’m one of the few fans who really wanted Jaime to die in that charge. Not because I dislike the character but because I think he deserves a good death and this was probably his best shot at it. All his life Jaime’s wish to be a good knight was undone by his desire for his sister and everything else he held dear has been crumbling because of his loyalty to their unholy union. He seemed to regret not having any great deeds to write in the White Book of the Kingsguard when Joffrey mocked him about it. In the books he also asks himself how the boy who wanted to become Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of The Morning ended up being the man without honor. Being a warrior, the one thing he was good at was also taken from him when he lost his right hand. What better way to end the modest entry about him in the White Book than the tale of how Jaime Lannister charged a dragon alone and died. Even if he had just pricked Drogon’s toe with his lance the story would have been remembered for ages. Now instead of that he’s the suicidal fool who rushed at a dragon and got saved by Bronn, the second best wingman in Westeros after Davos. I have a feeling that the story requires him to die before the end but I wish the show-makers are keeping him alive for a better purpose than serving as a talking prop for Cersei and getting roasted by Euron.
Before Daenerys left for her barbecue, Jon Snow tried to woo her in the only setting where he knows how to talk to girls without being awkward- a cave. He even classed up his routine from last time with a cave art exhibition. Although he took her elbow instead of hand to show her around there still seemed to be some sparks in the air before she completely killed the moment as usual by asking him to bend the knee in a totally non suggestive way. She then proceeded to step 2 in the entitled brat’s standard operating procedure and talked to everyone about going and burning stuff.
Meanwhile or before or after a little while, which is hard to tell with all the recent disrespect for time and distance, Arya is back in Winterfell. Sansa seems tired of hugging long lost siblings who have turned weird and developed superpowers. Jon got resurrected, Bran is some kind of God who is a dick to women and Arya is a ninja assassin. All she got was a middle aged stalker. Littlefinger is currently showing us that his end game all along was standing next to Sansa’s shoulder and staring at her with unrequited love or lust. This guy used to be a mastermind who gave fantastic speeches about power. He did give her a good one about seeing and knowing everything everywhere at once and then her teenaged brother came back and turns out he can literally see and know everything everywhere so it’s quite understandable that he doesn’t have a clue what to do now. His move of gifting demigod Bran the Valyrian steel dagger he had sent to kill him earlier showed the same kind of ridiculously misplaced confidence I showed when I proposed a draw in mobile chess after my friend had chased my king and one soldier into a corner with his entire army. There are some situations you just can’t talk or parley your way out of.
Talking of Bran, looks like he ruined his chances with the one girl with whom he probably had a chance when she came to say goodbye. We did get some insight into why he seems off his rocker though. I guess its fair to have major PTSD if you remember the trauma of everyone in the world.
Overall, it looks like my prediction that the show will continue the trend of having strong episodes that make up for weaker episodes that set up the story is coming true. I think this is a direct effect of the show not being guided nearly scene by scene by the books. Say what you will about that the crazy old man but no one can accuse him of rushing his plot-lines. Thankfully most of the initial character and world building was already done back when the show was based on the books. All the show has to do now is finish strong, and by the looks of this episode and last season’s final two episodes, they know how to do that.
Final rating: 8.8/10 overall, 9.5/10 for CGI. Plot logic had too little screen time to judge
Edit: On a second watch, I noticed that Drogon didn’t really melt the gold. Just before they get attacked, Randyll Tarly tells Jaime that all the gold has passed through the gates of King’s Landing, which doesn’t make a lot of sense since their army and all the major commanders and generals seem to be loitering around with targets painted on their backs.