I need a moment – do you need a moment?
Maybe a moment is not enough, maybe I need like twenty five. Perhaps you do too. But we (or I) have to get this review done nonetheless.
Arya and Sansa reunited, at last. Bran is also home. We’ve gotten three Stark reunions, three. I remember the days when “We’re never, ever, ever getting back together” seemed more the Stark motto than “Winter is coming.”
But winter is here, and it’s been kind to the Starks, at least so far.
Even if Bran is not truly Bran. Even if Jon is away from his siblings, giving counsel to a Queen he’s trying not to let himself believe in.
Even if Arya still can’t let go of that list.
Even if Sansa is not being honest about what she truly wants – to rule the North.
For weeks, I’ve gone back to what the first trailer HBO released to promote the season said – the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. The Starks are now together. They’re a pack. And they’re going to survive.
I want to believe in that.
So, let’s get into the good, the great and the even better from “The Spoils of War”
Game of Thrones giveth, Game of Thrones taketh away.
Sure, we’ve gotten some of the good reunions – we got a few of them this episode (more on that later, including whether Bran’s reunion with anyone can actually be called good), but the bad reunions are, sometimes, just as appealing.
Especially when it’s with Theon-I-Will-Never-Forgive-You-For-Winterfell-Greyjoy.
Yara? I’m still mad about Season 2, Yara is just adding to the list. And though Ramsay, for a moment there, made me forget how much I disliked Theon, Season 7 has done a pretty remarkable job of reminding me.
It’s not about his issues – which he has, and they’re real, and must be respected – it’s about the fact that, even before those issues, Theon was always the guy who chose the easy road. He chose to betray Robb, no one forced him, and we felt no sympathy for anything that happened after. And, yet, you’ll say, he also chose to help Sansa.
But did he? Or did Ramsay just push him to the breaking point and Sansa benefit from it?
We’ll probably never know. Maybe that was the good part of Theon coming out, the boy who grew up with the Starks and loved them like a family. But that boy is long gone; he’s buried deep within this man, alongside the man who was meant to be his sister’s “protector.”
And considering who is now, I’m sorta sad that Jon has as much honor as he does.
“What you did for her is the only reason I’m not killing you,” Jon says to the man who was his brother, and it speaks volumes as to where Jon is, what he’s now allowed himself to feel. When Jon first learned of what Theon did he was at the Wall and honor compelled him to stay. Now he’s King in the North and honor compels him to stay his hand.
But Jon’s not alone now, and his personal honor isn’t what’s driving him. Instead, Jon is placing his sister’s well-being above his own feelings of betrayal and anger. Theon is a bad person, and Jon wants nothing to do with him, but Theon helped Sansa, Jon’s sister, and for that, Jon will forgive everything else. Not forget, no. He will never forget. But he’ll let Theon walk away.
Sansa means too much to him to do anything else.
Arya: Do I have to call you Lady Stark now?
Could the Stark’s sister’s reunion have gone any other way? Would we have wanted it to? The answer, for me, is no. This was quintessential Sansa and Arysa, with the love dialed up to 10 because they haven’t seen each other in so long, and though they’re still very different people, they’ve come to a place where they can appreciate the differences instead of resent them.
“I remember how happy he was to see me, when he sees you his heart will probably stop,” Sansa even tells Arya, about Jon and there’s no resentment in her eyes, no hint of the girl who was jealous about her brothers loving Arya better, just a sense of wonder at the realization that she and Jon are not alone in the world.
They have a pack, and the pack is back together.
The amazing thing about Sansa is that she’s grown into a leader, yes, but she’s also grown up into a confident woman, one who understands not just that Jon loves her, but is proud that he trusts her with the North – aka everything.
And she’s also grown into the woman who can look at the little sister she always fought with and could never admit to loving and run to hug her, because whatever stupid fight they had eons ago means nothing. They’re family, and they need each other.
Arya: Our stories aren’t over yet.”
Sansa: No, they’re not.”
Isn’t that the best thing about this reunion? About the reunion that follows, the one with Bran who isn’t really Bran? This is just the beginning. There’s still a reunion with Jon. There’s still countless seconds to spend together.
And yes – Bran is not exactly Bran, but then again, Arya is not exactly Arya, and you can argue Sansa lost a piece of herself as well. Hell, Jon literally died. They’ve all gone through hell and back.
Bran sees many things. Arya can be many people. Jon might be the prince who was promised. Sansa might one day rule the North. But they’re still family, and as cold as Bran is acting, it’s clear he realizes that. He can’t emotionally detach, not completely.
At least, not from his family. Can’t say the same about poor Meera.
MORE OF THE SAME
“The people who follow you know that you made something impossible happen. Maybe that helps them believe you that you can make other impossible things happen, build a world that’s different from the shit one they’ve always known. But if you use them to melt castles and burn cities, you’re not different. You’re just more of the same.”
Jon’s speech to Daenerys, and their early scene in the caves point to a different understanding for these two people who had such a contentious meeting just a few days (how long has it been?) before. Daenerys asks Jon for advice not because she precisely trusts him, and he responds not because he truly believes in her, but one thing is for certain – they are getting there. They are moving in the same direction.
And they’re doing so together.
What they don’t realize yet – what Daenerys has yet to understand – is that it matters not who is in the Iron Throne, it matters not who is called King or Queen. If the White Walkers arrive, if they get past the Wall, if the attention isn’t turned on them soon, no one will survive.
So, sort of understandings are good, truce is good, but it won’t get them there. The only thing that will is for the two of them to be really partners.
(And no, I don’t mean that in the romantic sense, though the show apparently does.)
Jon knows this too, for in the caves, as they faced a drawing of the First Men and the Children of the Forest fighting the White Walkers, he had this to say: “They fought together against their common enemy, despite their differences, despite their suspicions. Together. We need to do the same if we’re going to survive.”
Back then, when they were having that conversation, Daenerys asked Jon if the survival of his people wasn’t more important than his pride? Question is: shouldn’t it also be most important than hers?
So the main issue in the three remaining episodes becomes: what will it take for Daenerys to be convinced that she has to be not Jon’s rueful ally but his true partner? Because I’m pretty damn sure Jon will do that and more.
FLEE YOU IDIOT
We’re all Tyrion as he stands there, watching Jaime run towards the dragon instead of away, as he should. You fucking idiot, he says, and he’s speaking for all of us, he is the audience. And yet, Jaime doesn’t die. Again.
It’s almost like there’s something Jaime has to do before he kicks the bucket.
*cough* Kill Cersei *cough*
The scene, however, says more about the Lannister brothers than it says about the sister they’ve both done a lot for – either to make her happy or to make her miserable. It reminds us that Jaime might not have a sword hand anymore, but he’s anything but a coward, and it also reminds us that Tyrion might have changed sides but he still loves his brother.
It also says a lot about the Queen who stands there for her dragon to protect, the queen who’s been dealt blow after blow and who’s now fighting back with the best weapon she has in her arsenal.
The scene was certainly stunning to watch, and yet, forgive me if I say that in an episode filled with so many emotional reunions and so much character development, it was, perhaps, my least favorite part of the episode. Game of Thrones is always great at sweeping battles and CGI, but we don’t fall in love with either of those.
We fall in love with people. With the little imp who loved his big, tall and beautiful brother. With the beautiful brother who never defended the little imp the way he wanted to, but who nonetheless loved him. With the two Lannisters who will, probably, bring about the end of Queen Cersei, the First of her Name.
All I ask is that, before they do, they get one moment together. I don’t necessarily think a happy ending is in the cards for them (especially not for Jaime), so, at the very least, let me have a few happy moments before the inevitable catastrophe.
Other things to note:
- Everyone is gossiping.
- It’s funny when Davos does it, to be honest, because he does it with a straight face.
- And fine, I get it show. You want me to ship Daenerys/Jon. Or, at least you’re making abundantly clear what your plans are.
- I see the chemistry, I do.
- BUT INCEST.
- Which, I guess this show doesn’t care about.
- BUT INCEST.
- If you say at least they’re not brother and sister, so help me God …
- The Arya/Brienne fight is everything I didn’t know I needed in my life.
- IMAGINE THE THINGS THESE TWO WOMEN CAN LEARN FROM EACH OTHER.
- I CRY.
- Also, did Arya checkmate Littlefinger or was that just me?
- Bran, that thing with Meera was stone-cold. She literally sacrificed everything for you. Everything.
- I know you think you died in that cave, but you didn’t. Not truly.
- Is the whole bend the knee thing going to come down to who’s more stubborn? Because Daenerys is gonna win that battle.
- At least temporarily.
- I don’t think the Jon is a Targaryen revelation is coming this season, though, so I can imagine a long year of speculation re: how that’s gonna happen.
- We still have three episodes to go and I’m already dreading it.
- May the Lord of Light, the Seven, the Old Gods and the Many-Faced God have mercy upon us.
- Dude, Jaime speaks sense, Bron. THINK OF THE UPKEEP.
- I have so many conflicted feelings about Jaime the good man who fucks his sister, throws kids off windows, saves Brienne from a bear and doesn’t want his men to be flogged.
- But if I start on Jaime we’ll be here all week.
- Are the Tarly’s dead? I really hope they’re dead.
- I might think Sam is boring, but loyalty.
- The Dohtraki are pretty awesome, I’m not gonna lie.
- Did anyone notice that the music playing while Tyrion was up there lamenting how much of an idiot Jaime is was a slowed-down version of The Rains of Castamere.
- IRONY, THY NAME IS GAME OF THRONES.
- So, who saved Jaime? And how many lives does Jaime have?
- Had to be Bron, common sense says, but this IS Game of Thrones.
- Because Jaime is alive, trust me on that. If he was going to die he would have gotten roasted by the dragon.
NEXT, ON GAME OF THRONES
So, what did you think about this episode of Game of Thrones? Share with us in the comments below!
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.