"The Spoils of War" is the fourth episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. It is the sixty-fourth episode of the series overall. It premiered on August 6, 2017. It was written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Matt Shakman.
At Winterfell, Littlefinger meets with the recently-returned Bran Stark. Apparently hoping to exploit disunity among the Stark children, he tries to ingratiate himself with Bran, Ned Stark's last trueborn son and rightful heir to Winterfell. Littlefinger gives Bran a gift, the very same Valyrian steel dagger that a cutthroat tried to kill him with while he was in a coma right after he was pushed from one of Winterfell's towers. Bran is still emotionally detached, however, from all of his visions as the new Three-Eyed Raven, and is generally uninterested, only absent-mindedly asking who the dagger belonged to. With a wry look, Littlefinger responds that, in a way, this is the question which started the entire War of the Five Kings. Bran's mother Catelyn Stark took the dagger south with her to King's Landing to try to find who it belonged to, convinced the Lannisters sent the cutthroat to kill Bran (and left it there in Ned's possession, from whom Littlefinger recovered it). Littlefinger tries to manipulate Bran by remarking on how much chaos he must have lived through to get back to Winterfell. In response, Bran looks at Littlefinger and says, "Chaos is a ladder," quoting back Littlefinger's own words to him, which Littlefinger said to Varys in King's Landing years before and which Bran couldn't possibly have been physically present to hear himself. Visibly unnerved, Littlefinger is startled by Meera Reed entering the room. He takes his leave of Bran, calling him "Lord Stark", though again Bran insists he's not a Lord.
After Littlefinger leaves, Meera notices Bran's new wheelchair. He explains Maester Wolkan built it for him. She tells him that she has come to tell him she's leaving and say goodbye; she promised to keep him safe, and now that he's back in Winterfell surrounded by his Stark forces, he's as safe as anyone will be before the coming war. Meera explains that when the White Walkers arrive, she wants to be with her family, so she is heading back to the Neck to assist the Crannogmen. She says he doesn't need her in Winterfell anymore; Bran agrees with her and with blank emotional affect, simply thanking her for her help. Meera grows angry that this is all he has to say after everything they went through, when Hodor and Summer and even her own brother Jojen died for Bran. He then explains that he isn't really "Bran Stark" anymore, but the Three-Eyed Raven. He "remembers" the events of Bran Stark's life, but now "remembers" vast amounts of other accumulated memories from centuries upon centuries. Everything that once affected "Bran Stark" now seems distant and trivial to him. In horror, Meera cries that he "died" in the cave and leaves.
Meanwhile, Arya Stark finally returns to Winterfell, after leaving years before with her father, Sansa, and King Robert Baratheon's entourage, right after Bran's fall from the tower. Arya rides up to the gates and dismounts, but the guards don't believe her when she says she is in fact Arya Stark, convinced that Arya has been dead for years. Arya asks that they send word to Maester Luwin and Rodrik Cassel, hoping either can prove her identity but unaware they are both dead. The guards gruffly say that no one by those names is there, so Arya asks for Jon. The two say he'd just left Winterfell. Arya asks who is in charge of Winterfell then, and they say "Lady Stark" (who Arya realizes is her sister). They try to brush her aside, but she dodges them with her assassin's reflexes, and insists that one way or another, she's getting in. She explains to them that if she is Arya, they'll be in a lot of trouble for turning her away, and if she isn't, she won't last long in Winterfell anyway. Mildly concerned, they agree to at least let her in the courtyard but insist that she stay put while they consult Sansa so they can disprove her identity. As soon as they take their eyes off her, however, she slips away. The two guards go to inform Sansa and try to wave it aside as just some impostor, but when they mention she asked for Luwin and Cassel, she instantly realizes it must be Arya, and already knows where she has gone.
Sansa finds Arya where she expected, in the crypts looking over their father Ned's grave. They are happy to see each other but so much has happened to both of them in the past few years that they are at first awkward, unsure of what to say. Arya asks if she has to call Sansa "Lady Stark" now, to which Sansa firmly insists yes, and laughs. They smile and hug, though still a bit unsure. Arya notes that Jon left her in charge and smiles when Sansa says that she hopes Jon will be back soon. He will be both surprised and happy to see Arya, Sansa remembering how happy Jon was to see her when they were reunited. The sisters then look sadly on their father's grave statue. Arya says it doesn't really look like him. Sansa acknowledges that everyone who knew his face well is dead. Arya points out they're not.
Arya then asks if Sansa killed Joffrey as everyone believes. She explains she actually didn't, though she wished she had. Arya remarks that he was always at the top of her "list". This confuses Sansa, and Arya explains that she'd been keeping a list of everyone she was going to kill, at which they both laugh. Finally Sansa asks how Arya got back, but she only says her road wasn't a pleasant one. Sansa says hers wasn't either. They hug again, earnestly and warmly. Sansa then informs Arya that Bran is home too. Arya is elated, but her face falls when Sansa makes no mention of Rickon, immediately realizing that Rickon is dead.
Sansa brings Arya to Bran in the Godswood, where he is lost in thought by the Weirwood heart tree. Arya is saddened to see him so paralyzed. Still somewhat detached even at the sight of Arya, he says he isn't surprised she's alive because he saw her at the Crossroads. Arya is confused, and Sansa explains that Bran is having "visions" now. Bran says he thought Arya was going to King's Landing, and when Sansa asks why she would head there of all places, he again startles them both by saying it's because Cersei is on her list of names (which he can't possibly be aware of through normal means). Sansa asks who else is on her list, but she says most of them besides Cersei are actually dead already.
They then remark on the Valyrian steel dagger in his lap, and he explains that Littlefinger gave it to him, thinking he'd want it. Despite it being such a horrible keepsake that nearly killed him and indirectly set off a chain of events leading to his parents' deaths, he is still listless and disinterested in it. Arya is confused as to why a common cuthroat would have a rare, priceless blade of Valyrian steel. Bran matter-of-factly says that someone very wealthy wanted him dead, and gave it to the assassin. Sansa acknowledges she doesn't actually trust Littlefinger and he'd never give anyone anything unless expecting something in return.
Bran says that doesn't matter, because he doesn't even want it. Instead, Bran hands it to Arya and says she can have it, being "wasted on a cripple". Sansa looks down, dejected at how her brother considers his own physical state to be useless.
Sansa, Bran, and Arya - the three remaining trueborn Stark children - proceed back to Winterfell's castle courtyard together, with Arya pushing Bran in his wheelchair. Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne see them from afar, all three of Catelyn Stark's surviving children reunited. Pod says Catelyn would be proud of Brienne, but she chides that she did next to nothing. Pod says he disagrees with "my lady", and Brienne starts to correct him that she doesn't consider herself a "lady", but then stops halfway and just thanks him for the compliment.
Some time later, Brienne is going through a vigorous sword practice session with Podrick, knocking him down when he overextends himself. Impressed, Arya interrupts and says she'd like to spar with Brienne, the woman who beat the Hound in combat. Sansa and Littlefinger watch on silently from the walkway above. Brienne goes easy on her at first, but then Arya completely outmaneuvers Brienne using the Water Dance training she received from Syrio Forel, augmented by her training with the Faceless Men. Arya achieves many openings that would be a killing blow if she wanted them to be. Surprised that such a young girl is so skilled, Brienne stops holding back, leading to a more grueling sparring session. Brienne actually manages to knock Needle out of Arya's hand but she simply switches to the Valyrian steel dagger she had in her belt. Arya uses her speed and agility to compensate for Brienne's strength and size to overwhelm her - until Brienne actually manages to bring her brute strength to bear on a fast moving target by landing a kick on Arya's chest that sends her falling down. Ultimately, they reach a stalemate, with each of them holding a blade at the others' throat. Brienne asks Arya who taught her to fight like that, and she simply responds, "no one". Arya takes her leave of Brienne, both mutually impressed, as Sansa looks down baffled and concerned at how her sister reached such a deadly skill level. Arya herself then glares at an equally surprised Littlefinger.
In King's Landing
In King's Landing, Queen Cersei Lannister is happy to learn of the gold taken from the Sack of Highgarden. The Lannister army at Highgarden is currently transporting the gold ahead to the capital, though it remains in the north of the Reach seizing grain supplies.
Cersei meets with Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank of Braavos in her atrium containing a large floor map of Westeros. Tycho is pleased that Cersei will use the captured gold to pay off the Iron Throne's massive debts to the bank, and he engages in open flattery by saying that she is as cunning at military strategy as her father Tywin was, if not more so.
Now that the Lannisters' old debts will be mostly paid off, and the Iron Bank's faith in them somewhat reassured by their recent military victories, Cersei wants to take out new loans to strengthen her position in the war, so she can finish securing control over the rest of the continent. They discuss that Cersei wants to use the money to hire foreign Sellsword companies to bolster the depleted Lannister military ranks. Specifically, she reveals that she has had Qyburn make overtures to hire the best and largest private mercenary army in all of the Free Cities: the Golden Company. Tycho assures her that the Iron Bank will be delighted to help her with these future endeavors, once it receives the gold she is bringing them.
On Dragonstone, Daenerys Targaryen and Missandei make their way down to the beach to meet Jon Snow. Missandei is worried about Grey Worm because they haven't heard any news from Casterly Rock yet. Daenerys asks what happened between her and Grey Worm, and Missandei wryly says "many things", smiling. Jon then leads Daenerys on a tour of the long-abandoned Valyrian dragonglass mine that Samwell Tarly told him about. The mine is ancient and impressive, used by the First Men long before the Valyrians came to Dragonstone. But this is not why Jon asked Daenerys to come.
As they proceed deeper into the mines led by torchlight, Jon shows her cave paintings they discovered left behind by the Children of the Forest, filled with arcane magical symbols. Daenerys is stunned that the mythical Children stood where they are standing now, thousands upon thousands of years ago, long before mankind ever arrived in Westeros. Jon says this isn't exactly true, leading her into another chamber, this one filled with narrative drawings of the Children and the First Men. Daenerys wonders if the Children and First Men fought each other, but Jon then shows her ancient carvings of the White Walkers themselves, one of which Jon recognizes as an image of the Night King. Jon explains that the Children of the Forest and the First Men only managed to drive off the White Walkers the first time during the Long Night because they chose to join together to fight off their own extinction, and that is the choice between Jon and Daenerys now.
Jon still wants Daenerys to ally with him despite not submitting the North to her rule. He insists that the North won't accept a southern ruler again after everything that has happened to them. Daenerys urges that they will if their king does. If his point in showing her the cave drawings was that she should swallow her pride and ally with him because the White Walkers are such a world-ending threat, by the same token, the North should submit to her, because their survival should outweigh their pride.
As they exit the cave to the beach, they are joined by Varys and Tyrion, with grave looks on their faces. They inform her that the Unsullied succeeded in capturing Casterly Rock, only to then reveal the disaster which just occurred at Highgarden as Tyrion's military strategy fell apart. Casterly Rock was only a feint and the Lannisters didn't bother defending it, in order to make a surprise attack south which sacked Highgarden. Daenerys is furious and struggles to keep her temper, as now all three of her major allies in Westeros are gone and all she has gained is a castle with no supplies. She snaps at Tyrion, blaming his cautious strategy for losing them Dorne, the Iron Islands (Yara's forces), and now the Reach. She then accuses Tyrion of wanting to use a light hand against the Lannisters because they're his own people. Tyrion insists that they still have just enough ships left to at least shuttle the Dothraki from Dragonstone to the nearby mainland coast; even with the loss of all her other allies, her combined Unsullied/Dothraki forces are still the largest single army in Westeros. Daenerys fumes that her vast numbers are useless if she can't feed them all, as that was the Reach's true strategic value. Daenerys decides she has had enough of clever plans, and will use the Dothraki and her dragons in a direct assault to turn the tide of the war back in her favor. She desires to assault the Red Keep with all three of her dragons, intending to raze it to the ground with all her enemies inside it, but Jon argues against such a course of action when she asks him his opinion; by bringing dragons back to life and breaking the back of the slave trade, Daenerys has proven she might be capable of doing things differently. However, if she uses her dragons to "melt castles and burn cities", she will be no different from any of the more tyrannical of her Targaryen ancestors who came before her.
Later, Jon and Davos Seaworth proceed back up to the castle. Davos remarks that Jon seems somewhat attracted to Daenerys, but though Jon says Daenerys has a good heart, he brushes Davos' observation aside, saying he doesn't have time "for that" as he has seen the Night King and his horde of the undead. Jon stresses that they need to ally with Daenerys, because the North itself is largely depleted of soldiers after so many years of war (and the Red Wedding), so they only have maybe 10,000 soldiers or less left (to which Davos corrects "fewer").
They then run into Missandei again, who politely enquires why Jon's surname is "Snow" even though House Stark has ruled the North for centuries, and his father Ned and brother Robb both had the surname "Stark", while he doesn't. Jon and Davos explain to her the system of regional surnames used in Westeros for bastard children of the nobility. Missandei doesn't know what they mean, so they literally explain that Jon's parents weren't married. Davos asks if they have similar customs for bastards on Naath, Missandei's birthplace. Missandei explains that "Marriage" as such does not exist in Naath, so she finds the idea of a "bastard" to be quite an alien concept. Davos remarks that it sounds liberating. He then asks why she left, to which Missandei finally reveals that she was taken by slavers, to be freed only years later by Daenerys. When Davos suggests Missandei simply traded one master for another, she counters that she and all the freed slaves serve Daenerys because they choose to. Davos keeps pushing, asking what would happen if Missandei decided to return to Naath immediately. She responds that Daenerys would give her a ship and wish her good fortune.
While they are still on the causeway, they see a lone ironborn ship approaching the island, a survivor of Yara Greyjoy's fleet. Theon Greyjoy himself and some of his men come to shore on a rowboat. As Theon disembarks, he is stunned to see Jon Snow, whom he had had last seen leaving Winterfell to join the Night's Watch. Since then, Theon of course had betrayed House Stark, a factor (albeit not the only one) that nearly destroyed House Stark and contributed to the deaths of two of Jon's half-brothers, Robb and Rickon. Jon is stunned for a moment as well. Theon walks up to Jon and asks him if Sansa is all right, prompting a furious Jon to angrily grab him by his coat and shake him. Remembering all of Theon's past treachery, Jon tells Theon that what he did to save Sansa is the only reason that he is not killing him on the spot and releases him. Visibly relieved, Theon informs them that Euron Greyjoy attacked their fleet and took Yara prisoner. He says he has returned to ask Daenerys's help in saving her. Jon grudgingly tells him that Daenerys has just left.
In the Reach
At Highgarden, Jaime Lannister coordinates the soldiers loading up the spoils of war for transport. The Sack of Highgarden allowed them to seize all of House Tyrell's substantial gold stores, which they send ahead to King's Landing first, before moving on to securing grain shipments. Jaime procures a large bag of gold coins and gives it to Bronn as payment for his services. Bronn, however, is annoyed that this isn't the full reward he was promised, which included a wife from the nobility and a castle. He then half-seriously asks why Jaime doesn't just grant him Highgarden, as they need someone to rule it. Jaime waves this aside by saying they don't actually intend to hold Highgarden for long; it would be difficult for Bronn of all people to rule over hostile territory, and the war isn't over yet, so at this point he thinks Bronn should be satisfied with a more portable sack of gold than a castle he'll have trouble defending. Bronn, however, is not amused. Jaime remarks that they're going to continue seizing grain supplies in the northern Reach.
Some time later, Jaime's Lannister army has advanced much farther north, and reaches the Blackwater Rush. Lord Randyll Tarly comes to Jaime and says they should hurry to get all of their grain wagons over the Blackwater river to King's Landing, as they will be vulnerable if their formation is caught on both sides of the river. Jaime agrees, but Randyll suggests flogging the stragglers to motivate them. Jaime urges that his soldiers fought well at Highgarden, however, and he should at least give them a fair warning first instead of launching right into the flogging. Jaime and Bronn then encounter Randyll's son Dickon Tarly again. Jaime asks what he thought of his first taste of battle, and he nervously claims it was glorious, only to then dejectedly admit that he was quite conflicted. House Tarly had been loyal vassals of the Tyrells for generations; he knew many of the men they killed, even hunted side by side with them. Jaime earnestly advises the young man that the guilt is not his but Olenna Tyrell's; she was the one who chose to side with Daenerys's foreign army against Queen Cersei, so it is truly Olenna's fault they died. Dickon himself wasn't involved with the decision making process on either side so he shouldn't dwell on it. Dickon then outright confesses that the aftermath was horrible, particularly the stench of corpses. Bronn playfully taunts that Dickon, a sheltered nobleman, finally learned that men empty their bowels when they die.
The Lannister army and wagon train continue east, approaching a river. Jaime and Bronn are then surprised to hear what sounds like distant thunder, until they realize it must be approaching cavalry. Jaime and Randyll shout for their soldiers to form up, which they manage to do before the enemy crests over the horizon: a massive, 100,000-strong horde of Dothraki cavalry, armed to the teeth and ululating loud war cries. Bronn advises that Jaime ride ahead to King's Landing, but Jaime insists he will not abandon his men. Bronn bluntly tells him the Dothraki will quickly overwhelm the Lannister lines and Jaime is too valuable as a commander to stay and fight, but Jaime insists that they have a chance if they hold.
At that moment, the sound of thundering hooves and Jaime's determination is drowned out by a massive roar, a roar not heard on the battlefields of Westeros in over a century and a half. Above the approaching Dothraki the Lannister army sees a huge adult dragon heading straight for their lines: Drogon, ridden by Daenerys Targaryen herself. Drogon outpaces the Dothraki, and at Daenerys's command "Dracarys", he blasts a torrent of fire through the Lannister ranks in a straight line from front to back, punching a hole in their formation. The highly mobile Dothraki light cavalry immediately sweep through it and wheel around to catch those parts of the Lannister lines in an enveloping move.
The Lannister-Tarly lines around Jaime and Randyll, however, manage to rally under their leadership. The Dothraki charge into the Lannister lines head-on, but meet stiff resistance as their spear wall holds firm. Though they are outnumbered, the Lannister soldiers are better armed heavy infantry, highly disciplined and battle-hardened veterans from years of war. Dothraki horse-archers let off shots before charging into their ranks, but highly-trained Tarly archers return fire, doing as much if not more damage, as the Dothraki wear less armor.
The Lannister army holds their line for a time, but their enemy has the advantage of weight in numbers, and the tide turns slowly against them. For a moment it looks like Jaime might at least be able to force the Dothraki to a standstill - but then Daenerys wheels out of the air again, devastating the Lannister formations. No longer trying to punch mere holes through their lines, she switches to outflanking the Lannister ranks, burning a vast horizontal swath of men from left to right, obliterating much of the Lannister wagon train in the process. Men are flash-burned into nothing but ash which crumbles to the touch, or cooked alive in their own superheated armor as they struggle to rip it off, dousing themselves in the river.
Nonetheless, Jaime manages to rally his remaining forces a second time, desperately taking command of a group of surviving Lannister and Tarly archers and directing them to concentrate their fire at the dragon: Drogon might not be vulnerable to common arrow fire, but his rider is. If they can manage to kill Daenerys herself, who has risked appearing in open battle, the entire war could end in a day, no matter their losses. Daenerys sees the attack coming, however, and banks Drogon up so the arrow volley harmlessly bounces off the armored scales on his belly. He then blasts the archer formations with fire. Jaime avoids the flames and is surrounded by enemies, but he manages to carve a path through the Dothraki with his Valyrian steel sword Widow's Wail to try to reach safety. He gets in trouble for a moment when he locks swords with a Dothraki duel-wielding two arakhs, but Dickon Tarly stabs the Dothraki from behind, saving Jaime.
Even then all is not lost; Jaime commands Bronn to reach Qyburn's anti-dragon scorpion-bolt launcher (as Jaime cannot fire it one-handed). After a moment's hesitation, Bronn fights his way back, killing several Dothraki until one cuts off his horse's leg and sends him sprawling, losing his large bag of gold in the process. Bronn continues to fight his way back on foot, chased by the same Dothraki warrior, who follows him into the wagon he was looking for, just in time to stare down the business-end of the loaded scorpion. He barely has time to realize his fate before Bronn fires a bolt into him, flinging him twenty feet and pinning his corpse to another wagon. Bronn reloads the scorpion as fast as he can (it is meant to be crewed by a team of men), spots the dragon in the distance, and fires, but misses. Daenerys is startled by the scorpion-bolt flying a few feet from her head, scans the battlefield, and spots Bronn on the scorpion as he reloads.
Daenerys then leads Drogon on a direct charge diving straight down at Bronn on the scorpion launcher, who waits for her to approach close enough that he hopefully won't miss before she is right on top of him. He fires another shot, which impales Drogon's right shoulder. The mighty dragon lets out an awful screech and collapses in shock, helplessly dropping into a free-fall from hundreds of feet in the air.
Bronn is elated, only for Daenerys to quickly break Drogon out of his fall right before they hit the ground, which would have killed them both. The surviving Lannister soldiers then realize that not only is the dragon not dead, he is hurt and extremely angry. Hovering above the river, Drogon sets his sights on the device which did this to him and angrily sends a fire-blast at the scorpion, destroying it a matter of seconds after Bronn narrowly jumps out of the way to safety.
The dragon's armored scales are so tough that the scorpion bolt only managed to cause superficial damage. Nonetheless the flesh wound grounds him, and he howls in pain and fury, destroying any masses of enemy soldiers that are foolish or unlucky enough to get near him. Daenerys dismounts and desperately tries to remove the scorpion bolt.
By this point, the devastation caused by the dragon and the sheer number of Dothraki have totally overwhelmed the Lannister lines, and with the scorpion destroyed, their last hope is gone and the battle turns into an utter rout and massacre. Tyrion Lannister views the battle from the distance of a nearby hill, along with the Dothraki commander Qhono, who remarks that Tyrion's people can't fight. Tyrion looks gravely on the battlefield, realizing that these are in fact his own countrymen from the Westerlands and House Lannister being massacred. Many burning and dying men rush to the river to try to extinguish the flames.
Jaime, however, sees that Daenerys is grounded and immobilized, and realizes he still has one chance; if he can kill Daenerys, even now, he can end her invasion. Jaime grabs a spear and charges his horse across the flaming battlefield to make a death-run for Daenerys as she tends to her dragon. Tyrion swears under his breath, calling his brother a "fucking idiot", angry that he's going to get himself killed.
Just as Jaime is nearly on top of Daenerys, however, Drogon notices him amidst the chaos of the battle. Shielding Daenerys behind his head, the dragon lets out a blast of flame, but Bronn rushes over to tackle Jaime out of the way, saving him from certain death. They both fall into the river, where Jaime is weighed down by his armor, and sinks beneath the waters, in danger of drowning.
- 15 of 22 starring cast members appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Carice van Houten (Melisandre), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), and Joe Dempsie (Gendry) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- The episode title is a reference to the spoils seized following the Sack of Highgarden.
- The Oldtown and Sandor Clegane storylines do not appear in this episode. Arya Stark returns to Winterfell, her storyline merging back in with that one.
- In a post-episode interview after "Stormborn", writer Bryan Cogman stated that the way the producers conceptualized Season 7, after so many other seasons split amongst half a dozen disparate storylines, is that it is centered around three "axis" points, or sets of characters: King's Landing, Dragonstone, and Winterfell, plus a side-adventure with Samwell at Oldtown. King's Landing includes Jaime when he's in the Reach, Yara Greyjoy was part of the Dragonstone storyline even in her battle on the Narrow Sea, etc. The key point is that they used to conceptualize of it as the "Arya storyline", the "Stannis storyline", etc. In Season 7, Arya doesn't reach Winterfell until this episode, but it's broadly titled as part of the "Winterfell" storyline more than the "Arya storyline" at this point, as it merges back in with that.
- Both Cersei and Missandei refer to the eastern continent across the Narrow Sea from Westeros by name as "Essos", making this only the sixth episode to do so in nearly seven full TV seasons (after "Stormborn" two episodes ago). Essos is so large that people usually refer to major regions of it, such as "the Free Cities" or "Slaver's Bay". Missandei talks about her homeland, Naath, but doesn't mention by name that it's usually considered part of the third known continent, "Sothoryos". Similar situations exist in the real world: islands such as Sicily, Crete, and Cyprus are considered part of Europe because they lie closer to Europe than to Africa within the Mediterranean Sea, while Madagascar is considered part of Africa because that is the closest continent to it in the Indian Ocean.
- With a runtime of only 50 minutes, this is actually one of the shortest episodes in the entire TV series so far - particularly notable given that most episodes in Season 7 have been extra-length compared to prior seasons, due to the altered format of a shorter episode count.
- This episode's premiere broke the all-time viewership record for the TV series already set by the Season 7 premiere (thus becoming the highest viewed episode for any HBO drama to date). According to Nielson figures, 10.2 million people watched this episode live on HBO, surpassing the 10.1 million who watched the Season 7 premiere. This doesn't include streaming and DVR figures (for which the Season 7 premiere achieved 16.1 million viewers). EW.com speculates that this was due to trailers and leaked descriptions promising the major battle set piece featuring Daenerys riding her dragon into battle with her Dothraki against the Lannister army.
- Similarly, this episode also broke the day-after site visit numbers set by the Season 7 premiere, which up until this point had been the third-highest with 4.2 million - this episode surpassed it with 4.6 million site visits to the wiki. The second highest by this point is "The Door" (the episode that Hodor died) with 4.8 million, and of course the Season 6 finale "The Winds of Winter", which jumped to 9.1 million site hits (possibly due to the reveal of Jon Snow's real parentage).
In the North
- The Valyrian steel dagger from Season 1 returns, which the Catspaw assassin tried to kill Bran with ("The Kingsroad"). Catelyn brought it south to King's Landing to try to find its owner, then left it with Ned, and it was last seen on Ned's desk in the Tower of the Hand when Littlefinger was idly eying it while discussing that Cersei's children were all actually bastards of incest. Littlefinger betrayed Ned in the throne room soon afterwards, and the dagger was never seen again in the TV show - presumably, Littlefinger just picked it up again from Ned's chambers, given that it is a very valuable blade.
- The dagger originally belonged to Littlefinger, but he lost it in a bet on a joust. He deliberately tells Catelyn that he lost it to Tyrion, in order to turn the Starks and Lannisters against each other; that was the purpose he hoped to achieve by making Lysa write her sister about Jon Arryn's death, falsely blaming the Lannisters. In the books, Catelyn finds out too late that Littlefinger lied - he lost it to Robert (as Tyrion points out to her, Littlefinger admitted that Loras unexpectedly beat Jaime in the joust he betted on - but Tyrion would never bet against his own brother).
- In the books, during the brawl in the throne room, Littlefinger snatches the dagger from Ned and holds it to his throat. In the show he acts the same, but it is not clear which dagger it is. It later appeared in the second novel, when Tyrion arrived in King's Landing on commented on the fact that Littlefinger had it (both of them knowing he lied to Catelyn that Tyrion had won it in a bet). Littlefinger draws the dagger, glances at it casually as if he had never seen it before, and mischievously says that it's a very plain weapon (absurd, given how valuable it is) and Tyrion can have it if he wants. Tyrion realizes he's taunting him because he thinks Tyrion can't get to him, and wants Tyrion to know it. It's unknown what happened to the dagger after that, but Littlefinger presumably still has it in possession; in the third novel it is mentioned that he uses a dagger to cut food, but it is not specified which dagger it is.
- Bran refuses to accept the dagger for the same reason Jaime refuses to accept Oathkeeper in the books - a cripple has no use for such weapon. Bran's rejection is rather stoic, while Jaime reacted furiously, thinking it was a cruel jape of his father.
- Actor John Bradley-West (Samwell Tarly) explained in interviews that in the Season 7 premiere, when Sam is reading a book, he was specifically instructed to linger on a detailed sketch of the Valyrian steel dagger - as this was apparently intended to remind the audience about it. Given that there are less than 200 surviving Valyrian steel blades in Westeros it isn't unusual that there might be a codex somewhere containing a listing of all of them.
- As of this episode, the current list of named characters in the TV series who possess Valyrian steel weapons, which are capable of killing White Walkers, are:
- A few other Houses that are mentioned in the TV series have some of the 200 surviving blades in the books, e.g. House Corbray.
- Bran Stark quotes back the phrase "Chaos is a ladder" to Littlefinger, which he used in a speech he gave to Varys in Season 3's "The Climb", explaining that he doesn't have one vast plan like Varys does, so much as he stirs up trouble then seizes on the opportunities the resulting chaos creates.
- The use of this phrase might also frighten Littlefinger because he'll realize that if Bran has some magical ability to know his prior comments and actions, he might soon know and react to Littlefinger's previous direct involvement in the betrayal of his own father Ned.
- Littlefinger tries to manipulate Bran against Jon by addressing him as "Lord Stark", but Bran repeats that he isn't going to be a lord of anything.
- Bran explains that Maester Wolkan built him his new wheelchair so he can get around (as opposed to when he was a small boy who had Hodor to carry him around in a saddle). Meera didn't know what it was: wheelchairs are uncommon but not unknown in Westeros. Apparently they are only occasionally used by members of the nobility who lose their mobility and can afford them (and not to have to perform manual labor, etc.). Doran Martell also had a wheelchair in Season 5 (it's unclear if they re-used the prop). In the books, it is explained in more detail that Doran has a "wheeled chair" that his maester constructed so he can get around despite his crippled feet. Presumably, as trained healers who serve the nobility, maesters would have some training or knowledge in how to make such wheelchairs.
- Arya Stark returns to Winterfell for the first time since leaving in the second episode of Season 1. She doesn't know that Maester Luwin and Rodrik Cassel are dead, because they were both killed in Season 2 - after she fled King's Landing and was on the run in the Riverlands, out of communication with wider events in Westeros.
- The two guards at the gates of Winterfell not believing Arya when she says she lives in the castle is a callback to Season 1, when she slipped out of the Red Keep in King's Landing through the secret tunnels, then tried to come back in through the front gate, but the guards didn't know her so they didn't believe her when she said she lived in the castle.
- Arya switches to a Stark-style costume very quickly after returning to Winterfell. She of course doesn't wear a dress, but rather a martial outfit much like Jon's, or, for that matter, Brienne's.
- The last time that Maisie Williams (Arya) and Sophie Turner (Sansa) had a scene together was in Season 1 episode 6 "A Golden Crown", when Ned Stark is warning them that they have to leave soon, Sansa protests her love for Joffrey, but then Arya says that Joffrey is nothing like King Robert - inadvertently spurring Ned to check back in the lineage book, and realizing that Joffrey isn't really Robert's son. They were in the same episode once again after that in episode 9 "Baelor" when Ned was executed, but they were never on-screen at the same time (Sansa was up with Cersei, Joffrey, and Ned on the steps of the Great Sept, while Arya was hiding below in the crowd of commoners).
- Until this episode, the only one which had the entire Stark family together was the series premiere, "Winter is Coming", after which the family was completely split up. The only remaining Starks still alive are now once more together at Winterfell.
- Bran's vast amount of new memories, more than a normal human mind can normally handle, have made him emotionally detached from humanity. This is probably pure coincidence, but something very similar happened to a character played by Maisie Williams (Arya) in a recurring role in the British science fiction series Doctor Who. Williams played a human girl who (through gaining immortality) had so many centuries' worth of memories that she couldn't remember them all, because it was more than the human mind can handle, and she similarly became emotionally detached from the rest of humanity, realizing how transient their lives are. Unlike Bran, Williams's character, Ashildr, used written diaries to help her sort through her memories and managed to interact fairly well, if haughtily, with mortal characters.
- Meera reminds Bran that her brother, Summer and Hodor died for him ("The Children", "The Door").
- Arya recalls hearing that Joffrey died, and was sorry she did not kill him herself ("Mockingbird").
- Arya states that Brienne defeated the Hound ("The Children").
- Sansa believes that Jon will be even more pleased to see Arya again than her. In the novels and in the show, Jon and Arya had a very close relationship, which was among the closest relationships of the Stark children.
- This may also be a meta-narrative joke: Sansa remarks on how happy Jon was to see her, and he'll be even happier to see Arya. The TV production team has often remarked on how they considered non-verbal emoting of desperate joy that Kit/Jon and Sophie/Sansa had when they reunited to be one of the top highlights out of all of Season 6.
- With Arya's return, all the surviving Starks have returned to Winterfell (though Jon left again before the other two arrived).
- It's brought up that Sansa is being called "Lady Stark" now as the ranking Stark left to rule Winterfell. This brings up an issue about formal titles: when a new royal dynasty is created, either through civil war or an independence movement, the siblings of the new monarch have sometimes assumed the titles of "Prince" or "Princess", but at other times not. When Robert Baratheon seized the Iron Throne, his younger brothers Stannis and Renly explicitly did not assume the title "Prince". After Robb Stark declared himself King in the North, however, in both books and TV series, his younger brothers Bran and Rickon assumed the title "Prince". Bran should still be a "Prince" now that their independence movement has been revived again. Sansa and Arya technically gained the title "Princess", but both weren't in a position to claim it in book/Season 2: Sansa was a prisoner of the Lannisters who refused to acknowledge Robb's legitimacy as a rebel, while Arya was on the run in the Riverlands and hiding her identity. Presumably, all three of them should be using the titles "Prince" or "Princess" now, but it hasn't come up in dialogue so far this season.
- One way of reconciling this is that Sansa has assumed the title "Lady of Winterfell" (Jon seems to have been recognized only as King in the North, separating the title for the first time in millennia), and thus everyone addresses her in this capacity in spite of the higher title.
- Arya brings up her kill list, that Cersei is on it, but most of the rest are dead by now (in the TV version). At this point, the only people who seem to be left on it are actually Cersei Lannister, Gregor Clegane, and Ilyn Payne. She briefly put some of the Brotherhood Without Banners and Melisandre on it in Season 3 for taking Gendry (which doesn't happen in the novels), but she later dropped them from it by Season 4 (probably because others had done worse, and after all, Gendry came to no lasting harm). She actually never put Littlefinger on the list, in the books or TV series, because she was never aware of how directly involved he was in the betrayal of her father. Meanwhile, the TV series has at times left Ilyn Payne off the list, probably due to concerns that he will not reappear (his actor developed terminal pancreatic cancer in Season 2, but then near-miraculously recovered after experimental surgery).
- As of the current books (plus a sample chapter from the next), four people remain on Arya's kill list: Dunsen (one of the Mountain's men), Cersei, Ilyn Payne, and Meryn Trant (the TV show condensed this, the man she kills in Braavos in the books is another of the Mountain's men, called Raff the Sweetling). Joffrey was never the first on the list; almost every time Arya recited it, before learning about Joffrey's death, he was one before the last.
- Arya seems displeased to hear that Littlefinger is in Winterfell. It is unclear why: similarly to Jon, she has no idea about the full extent of Littlefinger's treachery, and about his role in her father's downfall in particular, even though (unlike Jon) she was in King's Landing at that time; otherwise, she would have added him long ago to her death list, and probably killed him without delay as soon as she saw him in Winterfell. She did see him working as Tywin's advisor at Harrenhal in Season 2 (a scene invented for the TV series), but even so, other people work for the Lannisters that she didn't feel the need to add to her kill list. Similarly, as the TV writers pointed out, she didn't try to kill Jaime in the Season 6 finale in part because she never added him to her list (he wasn't in King's Landing when her father was betrayed and killed).
- Arya's sparring match with Brienne mirrors both Arya's brief sparring with Sandor Clegane in Season 4, and Brienne's tournament melee duel with Loras Tyrell in Season 2 - also, for that matter, Oberyn Martell's duel with Gregor Clegane in Season 4, Jorah Mormont versus the Dothraki bloodrider Qotho in Season 1, and also a somewhat meta-example in Season 5 when Daario Naharis is watching the gladiatorial games in the fighting pits of Meereen and remarks on the contrasting fighting styles of when a large fighter with brute strength is faced by a smaller but faster and more agile opponent. In most of these cases, the larger fighter eventually wins as soon as they have one opportunity to bring their full strength to bear. Arya used water dance moves to move around the slow but armored Sandor, who ultimately pinned her sword against his armor then punched her (not out of malice but to teach her the point that armor may slow a man down, but for a reason). Similarly, Jorah wore heavy armor against the unarmored Qotho, who was faster, but ultimately pinned Qotho's arakh against his armor, then killed him with a single sword strike. Brienne herself fought the highly skilled Loras Tyrell - by no means small but relative to her huge size - and finished their match by simply tackling him to the ground with brute force. In the gladiator arena, Daario said he thought it was interesting when the smaller but faster fighter was able to outmaneuver a larger man, though admittedly that only happens about one times out of ten - at which, as if on cue, the larger gladiator decapitated the smaller and faster one with a single swing of his sword. In this episode, Arya outmaneuvers Brienne with speed and agility (and lands what could have been killing blows if she wanted them to be) much as she did Sandor, until Brienne - much like Sandor did, and in her own match with Loras - brought her greater brute force to bear with a heavy kick.
- The contrast between speed and raw power is an issue brought up to an extent in the battle scene in this episode: the Dothraki cavalry are highly mobile but lightly armored, while the badly outnumbered Lannister heavy infantry perform reasonably well against them for a time, until the Dothraki start outflanking them (and then Daenerys brings her own brute force to bear by attacking their lines with a dragon).
In King's Landing
- The Golden Company is a major subplot from the later books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, up until now thought abandoned by the TV series. This subplot is filled with major spoilers for the books, which will not be included in this article.
- The Golden Company actually was introduced previously in the live-action TV continuity, twice before, both back in Season 4: after Joffrey died, in "Breaker of Chains" Davos thought this meant Stannis should make a renewed offensive against the Lannisters, but he scoffed that he had no substantial army left to make such an offensive with. Davos then suggested that they could then try to hire sellsword armies from the Free Cities, such as the Golden Company, but Stannis equally dismissed that he did not like the general idea of hiring sellswords, and also did not have any gold left to hire such expensive mercenaries with. In "Mockingbird", Jorah Mormont remarked to Daenerys that he doesn't trust Daario Naharis because he is a sellsword, but Daenerys counters that Jorah himself fought in sellsword companies before entering the service of her brother Viserys, including some time in which he served in the Golden Company. That hasn't been specifically mentioned in the books, though Jorah did generally say that he drifted between various sellsword companies for several years after he first fled into exile from Westeros.
- As Davos said in Season 4, the Golden Company is the best and largest sellsword company in the Free Cities, with 10,000 well-equipped and highly trained men - essentially a moderately sized private army for hire. In the books, it is specified that the Golden Company currently consists of about 1,000 cavalry, 1,000 archers, and 8,000 infantry. About 50 of their archers are Summer Islanders, whose people are considered the best archers in the known world (who wield great bows made of Goldenheart wood) - the overall commander of all 1,000 archers is actually also a Summer Islander, named Balaq. On top of this, the Golden Company prominently fields a number of formidable war elephants.
- In the books, the Golden Company have their own motto of sorts: "Our word is good as gold". Their war-cry, however, is "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel!" in reference to their founder, a Blackfyre general called "Bittersteel" (Aegor Rivers, one of Aegon IV's Great Bastards). They have an excellent reputation and will always honor a contract once signed. They were founded by losing soldiers from the Blackfyre Rebellion who fled into exile in the Free Cities, augmented over the generations by other sellswords, exiles, etc.
- The books have never mentioned the Golden Company being directly hired by the Iron Bank - though of course, people have often taken out loans from the bank to in turn pay them. Their contracts go both ways, however: once, Qohor refused to honor a contract it had made with them, so in response the Golden Company turned on them and sacked the city.
- Cersei clearly states in dialogue, that Westeros is "a continent", not just a country or a large island, an important note for those only going by the TV series. Casual viewers can easily mistake Westeros for a Britain-sized island, especially with the time condensations and the seemingly speedy travel of several characters. George R.R. Martin has stated that his inspiration was essentially to make a fantasy-British Isles... upscaled to roughly the size of South America.
- Tycho Nestoris says that Cersei is proving to be as cunning of a politician and military strategist as her father Tywin Lannister. She actually isn't, but this isn't a major invention of the TV series - his words should not be taken at face value as sincere, he's blatantly just trying to flatter Cersei with excessive praise (similarly, in prior episodes, he complimented her on destroying the Faith Militant as religious fanatics, but she realized he didn't remotely care about that, he'd lend money to religious fanatics so long as they pay him back). Cersei is nowhere near Tywin in terms of strategy or politics, but as usual she fails to realize her own shortcomings.
- Tycho's conversation with Cersei is similar to the conversation he had with Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth. He first used diplomatic words and then changed to direct facts when debts and loans were discussed ("The Laws of Gods and Men"). He also states that the Iron Bank does not engage in betting and/or gambling ("The Dance of Dragons").
- Tycho repeats that the Iron Bank invests in people ("The Queen's Justice"). While the Westeros lords/ladys seen so far interpet the term investment as another word for gambling, Tycho may see the difference as a matter of long-term planning. Investment could be defined as researching the applicant's known resources (business credibility) and assets (territory). Seizing the person's mansion and lands will repay the debt.
- The question arises of how Cersei can vilify Daenerys for using a "foreign Dothraki horde" but herself hire the Golden Company and several other foreign mercenary groups. The difference is apparently that people in Westeros don't just fear the Dothraki for being "foreign", but additionally as conquering "barbarians" who can't be controlled; in contrast, kingdoms in Westeros have actually hired foreign sellswords from the Free Cities for many centuries, who in theory are more controllable and not "savages". Sellsword companies aren't as common in Westeros as in the Free Cities but they aren't unheard of: in the books, Tywin Lannister himself hired several sellsword companies to supplement his forces, such as the Brave Companions. The Lannister army besieging Riverrun at the Battle of the Camps also had a Tyroshi sellsword company in it, who afterwards struck their banners and briefly fought on Robb's side, without complaint.
- Cersei's use of half-truths in "Stormborn" focused on the Dothraki's Raiding culture and that the Unsullied were slave soldiers. Jaime also emphasized the Dothraki's fearsome reputation.
- Her alliance with Euron Greyjoy is an exception since the Ironborn have not been raiding Westeros and their attacks during the War of the Five Kings were similiar to the battles fought by the Great Houses.
- The issue of the dragonglass mine under Dragonstone island came up in prior episodes: Stannis told Samwell there was dragonglass on the island back in Season 5, making it unclear why Samwell's discovery in Oldtown's records was such a big revelation. Reading screenshots of the books Samwell was looking at, however, appear to explain the discrepancy: there is a long-abandoned main dragonglass mine on the island, used by the ancient Valyrians and by the First Men before that, which even the Valyrians considered the largest concentration of dragonglass in the known world - literally a mountain of it, beneath the island. Apparently, the explanation is that Stannis and Davos knew that dragonglass can be found on the volcanic island, just as loose rocks here and there, but even they never knew just how much dragonglass was truly there - the mine was forgotten for generations.
- The symbols that Jon and Daenerys see among the cave paintings are actually based on ones previously seen in the TV series. As seen at the aftermath scene of the Battle of the Fist of the First Men, the White Walkers arrange corpses in these symbolic patterns, and the flashbacks to their creation in Season 6 revealed that they are actually magical runes originally used by the Children of the Forest. The Weirwood tree where the Children of the Forest created the first White Walker (the Night King) was surrounded by a spiral pattern of stone monoliths. The spiral had seven spokes, spinning counterclockwise, and is seen on the cave wall. Also seen is a diamond shape bisected by a vertical line going through its top and bottom corners - this symbol was how the wildling corpses were arranged in the very first episode of Season 1.
- As the cave carvings that Jon and Daenerys see in the dragonglass cave depict events from the Long Night, they must be at least 8,000 years old.
- The novels actually do contain descriptions of the Children of the Forest leaving behind cave carvings. Specifically, this occurred in a preview chapter for the unreleased sixth novel, in which Arianne Martell (main POV narrator for Dorne, cut entirely from the TV show) and her companions, Elia Sand and Daemon Sand, discover some while they are taking shelter in a cave in the Mistwood of the Stormlands, while heading north. These cave carvings are described as faces, many of them with sad expressions.
- This isn't the first time that Jon Snow went into a cave with a girl and reached a new level of understanding with her as a result.
- Daenerys urges that Jon should just submit to her in exchange for her help, and not refuse due to his own pride. This recalls when Jon told Mance Rayder the same thing in the Season 5 premiere "The Wars to Come" - but Mance went on to explain that he wasn't refusing out of pride, but because even if he submitted, his followers would be so upset that he wanted to submit to a "southern ruler" (in that case, Stannis) that they'd just refuse his orders. Like Mance, Jon was acclaimed as the new King in the North, not as part of vows of fealty and hereditary right - they even made him king ahead of the rightful heir at the time, Sansa (and now Bran). All of Jon's supporters in the North and the Vale thought allying with Daenerys was a horrible idea: this may therefore be foreshadowing that they will abandon Jon if he announces his support for Daenerys (perhaps stirred up even more by Littlefinger).
- Daenerys has gone through a subtle costume shift, wearing the same outfit, but instead of her formal half-cape being Targaryen red as in the preceding episode when she first met Jon, she has switched to a grey cape - the color of House Stark. It appears that she wore a prominent Targaryen red cape to try to impress him on her throne when they first met, but now that she's trying to win him over to her side instead of browbeating him into it, she's going with a softer approach.
- Jon's argument that Daenerys should not burn King's Landing is ironic since Daenerys refused to burn the city after Ellaria Sand insisted that such an attack would end the war. Tyrion and Jon used the argument that burning the city would remind the Smallfolk of Aerys II Targaryen ("Stormborn").
- Daenerys's actions and threats are the fulfillment of what she said in "Garden of Bones": "When my dragons are grown, we will take back what was stolen from me and destroy those who wronged me! We will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground!"
- Missandei says that "We don't have marriage in Naath, so the concept of a bastard doesn't exist". This is an invention of the TV series, or seems to be - actually, nothing has been said in the novels about the societal patterns on Naath, one way or the other. So few characters appear from there (basically just Missandei) that no married people have ever been mentioned. It is possible that the TV series is conflating Naath with the Summer Islands, which neighbor it to the west, and which have a very "sex positive" society - but the Summer Islanders are described as having "marriage": characters are described as marrying - Chatana Qo, a warrior-princess, managed to unify the isles several thousand years ago, but this unification did not last long because while she was a good military leader, she "wed unwisely", leading to a political breakup. Not much is known about marriage in the Summer Isles - it's possible that they practice polygamy, or perhaps monogamy, but with sex outside of marriage common (like the Dornish paramours, or, frankly, like Robert Baratheon). There also isn't any information from The World of Ice and Fire sourcebook describing marriage on Naath - whether it exists or not. Patterns of Gender and Sexuality on Naath are still unrevealed.
- What little is known of Naath is that its people are utter pacifists, due to their religious beliefs, and they will not resort to violence even to defend their persons from bodily harm. Their religion also forbids them from harming any living thing, to the point that they will not eat the flesh of any animal and are strict vegetarians. Other than that, Naath used to be a major hub of the silk-producing industry, due to having a climate well-suited for insect life, but frequent slaver raids in the past few centuries have destroyed much of it.
- Other regions of the world, such as even the Free Cities, do not have a special system of surnames for bastard children, singling them out for shame (while still elevating them above commoners). It does make sense that Missandei, as just a foreigner in general to Westeros, would find this concept quite alien.
- Davos corrects Jon that he has "fewer" than 10,000 men left in the North, not "less" than 10,000 men. This is, of course, a reference to how Stannis Baratheon used to correct the grammar of Davos (and anyone else) when they said "less", but the appropriate term was "fewer" ("Garden of Bones", "Kill the Boy").
- Jon and Theon meet again for the first time since the Season 1 premiere (when they found the direwolves). In Season 2, with Winterfell surrounded, Theon told Maester Luwin he wouldn't take the option of joining the Night's Watch because Jon would probably kill him for his betrayal. Theon repeats this again in Season 6 episode "Home", when he leaves Sansa to return to the Iron Islands. When Winterfell is surrounded, Luwin succeeds in convincing Theon to surrender and join the Night's Watch. Before Theon can surrender, though, the Bolton forces arrive and attack Winterfell. It is unknown what would have happened had Theon joined the Watch - whether Jon would have killed him or not. Jon despises Slynt, although he is aware of his part in his father's downfall, but does nothing as a man is pardoned of all crimes when he takes the black; Theon, however, was not one of the Lannisters' henchman, who owed no loyalty to the Starks - he grew up with the Stark children and initially fought on their side, later he turned against them, and that makes him far worse than Slynt.
- Tyrion says that they have just enough ships to ferry the Dothraki to the mainland; apparently they were actually camped on small Dragonstone island, and didn't land farther south in the much wider spaces of their ally Dorne (which they had to pass to get to Dragonstone). This is probably a simplification of the narrative. Regardless, despite their main fleets being destroyed when Euron attacked Yara and then Grey Worm's fleets, Tyrion says they still have a handful left, which are suitable for just ferrying them off the island (perhaps to nearby Massey's Hook). Daenerys also probably wouldn't have sent literally all of her ships away from Dragonstone, but kept some sort of skeleton defensive fleet.
- The TV series appears to be abruptly wrapping up several subplots, without a full explanation: Daenerys laments that all of her allies have been destroyed: Dorne, the Iron Islands (Yara), and the Reach. Yara's fleet was destroyed so this isn't an issue. The TV series largely glossed over how the Reach was subdued, given their large army and resources, even if Jaime managed to make a decapitation strike against Highgarden itself. Dorne, meanwhile, has simply no explanation: Ellaria and the Sand Snakes were attacked while on a fleet heading to Dorne to pick up the Dornish armies. Dorne's armies were thus not destroyed along with Yara's fleet. Dorne hasn't been blooded in the past years of war at all (similar to the Vale), so its armies should be at full strength. It is unknown who is even ruling Dorne at this point. Assuredly, Dorne's armies continue to "exist" despite the fact that Ellaria is captured. On top of this, the TV show already mentioned that there are five younger Sand Snakes, all of them daughters of Oberyn Martell, who could potentially claim rule. The TV series might never provide an answer for this.
In the Reach
- Bronn is annoyed that he still hasn't been rewarded with a marriage into the nobility and a castle, as he was promised (in Season 4's "Mockingbird" and then in Season 5's "The House of Black and White"). In the books, he actually did marry Lollys Stokeworth by this point, but the TV series put that on hold to send him to Dorne with Jaime in Season 5.
- In the books, the husband of Lollys's older sister Falyse eventually challenged Bronn to a Trial by combat, in the form of a joust - not realizing that Bronn is willing to fight dirty to win. Bronn won the trial by intentionally aiming for his opponent's horse - which, while not technically an illegal or invalidating move, is seen as very dishonorable. In this episode, a Dothraki faces off against Bronn on horseback, but overcomes him by aiming for Bronn's horse and cutting off its leg - possibly a reference to Bronn's trial by combat with the Stokeworths in the books.
- It's a bit uncharacteristic for a sellsword like Bronn to keep fighting for the Lannisters even though they don't give him his full promised reward (in "Mockingbird" he refused to fight for Tyrion for similar reason) - but two mitigating factors might be that they are giving him some reward (he does get a sack of gold) just not all he wanted, and he might think they're still his best chance of advancement - given that it seems Cersei is winning at this point; by contrast, in "Mockingbird" Tyrion was in such poor position that Bronn had nothing to gain from helping him. It will be interesting to see what his choice will be after Daenerys's victory, if Tyrion simply offers him more gold up front.
- Bronn half-seriously quips that Jaime should just grant him Highgarden as a reward for his services. It's not sure if this is an intentional reference, but during the Dance of the Dragons, Rhaenyra Targaryen elevated several Targaryen bastards to be dragon-riders, but two of them later betrayed her to join her half-brother's side in the war. One of the reasons they switched sides is because they wanted to be rewarded with rule of Highgarden and Casterly Rock. It would have been very shameful and provocative to all of the other noble Houses to wipe out the surviving Lannisters and Tyrells and hand off their castles to lowborn, unacknowledged bastards, so Rhaenyra declined. As soon as they switched to the other side in the war, the two bastards once again wanted to be rewarded with rule of Highgarden and Casterly Rock.
- Jaime's comments to Bronn about Cersei's victory and reign are similar to what he said to Olenna Tyrell in "The Queen's Justice". This issue came up earlier, regarding how Robert Baratheon overthrew the Targaryens: in Season 1, Viserys Targaryen thought the Smallfolk would rise up to put him on the throne as their rightful king, but Jorah told Daenerys this was pure fantasy: the commoners are terrified of war and only want the nobles to leave them out of it, and wouldn't risk life and limb for some king they've never met - as long as it's not a tyrant who is mistreating them, but keeping relative peace. Daenerys brought up Viserys's skewed beliefs to Varys earlier in Season 7. Robert's reign was relatively peaceful and prosperous (albeit due to Jon Arryn practically ruling as Robert's Hand of the King) - so the commoners didn't feel the need to rebel against him (not paying attention to arguments that Robert's allies murdered Prince Rhaegar's two small children, etc.). Jaime says the people of Westeros won't care how Cersei wins if she ends up winning in the end and restoring peace - but that's a big "if". Bronn seems to roll his eyes at Jaime that there will ever be an and to the rebellions against Cersei, given how openly tyrannical she has become.
- Bronn mentions in passing that there is no High Septon anymore. When Cersei killed the High Sparrow in the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor she also must have wiped out most of the Faith of the Seven's leadership (the Most Devout, their equivalent of the College of Cardinals). Apparently, Cersei didn't bother to even install a new puppet High Septon. This raises the question of who is even running the continent-wide Faith of the Seven at this point: for months, Cersei hasn't controlled the Reach, the Vale, or even Dorne. Oldtown was the ancient seat of the Faith before its headquarters moved to the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing only a century and a half ago.
- If Cersei's destruction of the Great Sept occurs in the novels, which does seem likely, there will probably be much more complicated political fallout than this. The Faith Militant wasn't just confined to King's Landing, but had followers all over Westeros, so they couldn't be destroyed in one decapitation strike against their leadership. As with the status of the Tyrell armies or Dorne's armies after the capture of Ellaria, the TV series may just gloss over the issue rather than address it.
- In the fourth novel, while heading to Riverrun, Jaime observes scorched fields and burnt villages all over the Riverlands - the handiwork of his father's bannermen, the Mountain and Lorch - and that leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. He sympathizes with the residents of that region who were robbed of their food supplies, although they were the Lannisters' enemies; he does not offer them any compensations, just forbids his men to loot the leftovers from villages they pass through, and advises people to plant and pray for one last harvest. In the end of the novel, the sight of the falling snow worries him a lot: if it snows in the Riverlands, it may soon be snowing on Lannisport and King’s Landing as well; winter is marching south, and half of the Lannisters' granaries are empty; any crops still in the fields are doomed, and there would be no more plantings, no more hopes of one last harvest. In this episode, Jaime's army outright seizes grain stores from the Reach as spoils of war, even directing Bronn to help encourage resistant farmers to part with their stockpiles.
- It is possible that Jaime paid them but just didn't mention it - the bigger issue was that they wouldn't sell out of loyalty to the Tyrells.
- Jaime mocked the ironborn in "Dragonstone" for taking what they can't grow themselves: now the Lannisters are hypocritically doing the same thing, seizing gold and grain supplies from the Tyrell holdings. The difference between the Lannisters and the ironborn is that the Lannisters need the supplies since The Riverlands were burned and the Iron Bank must be repaid. Jaime's looting is an act of neccesity, not a cultural tradition. An additional difference is that Cersei is fighting a war, where the rules are changed. She is not raiding for the sake of raiding.
- We don't know if the Lannisters will fight the Tyrells like this in the next novel, though it does seem likely that Cersei will blow up the Great Sept, which would result in that (whether they'll take Highgarden itself is another matter). Unlike the Riverlands, therefore, this campaign in the Reach is outright war, in which case Jaime seizing their grain stores may not be seen quite as dishonorably as seizing the grain of nominally loyal subjects in the Riverlands who surrendered (even Lord Randyll doesn't shy away from seizing all the grain). Stealing the enemy's food stores often happens in wars - in the books, even Robb Stark's forces captured large herds of cattle during his campaign in the Westerlands.
- Jaime calls Dickon Tarly the wrong name again, the first time being in "Stormborn" two episodes ago. In "Stormborn" he thought his name was "Rickard", and in this episode he guesses his name is "Rickon" - both of which are actually names from the Stark family (Ned's father and Ned's youngest son, respectively).
- Dickon tells Bronn and Jaime that was his first battle. In the novels, Randyll Tarly is among the Tyrell vassals that march in Renly Baratheon's army, and Dickon accompanies him as a squire. Later, Randyll participates three battles - the Blackwater, Duskendale and Maidenpool (the latter two were omitted from the show); it is not mentioned whether Dickon also participated in those battles, or any battle..
- Bronn brings up with Dickon Tarly that men void their bowels when they die, but all the songs about how glorious war is leave that part out. King Robert Baratheon previously mentioned this in Season 1 episode 3 "Lord Snow", when remarking that he killed a boy in the Battle of Summerhall (who was actually in service to House Tarly), and how none of the romantic songs bring up how dead men shit themselves or the stench of it.
- Bronn also mentions that he first found out that dead men shit themselves when he was five years old. Bronn has made sporadic mention throughout the TV series of having a very violent childhood.
- In the Inside the Episode video, showrunner D.B. Weiss says of the battle between Daenerys and Jaime that it is "the first time we've ever had two sets of main characters on opposite sides of the battlefield, and it's impossible to really want any one of them to win and impossible to want any one of them to lose" - utterly ignoring that this is exactly how they also described the Battle of the Blackwater at the end of Season 2, in which Tyrion and Stannis Baratheon were on opposite sides of the battle, and it wasn't really clear which side the audience should be rooting for.
- The Battle of the Goldroad is fought between Daenerys's Dothraki and Jaime's Lannister-Tarly army in this episode: the location of the battle is somewhat unclear, but Game of Thrones Wiki had to give it a provisional name to make an article on it. The behind the scenes videos just call it "the Loot Train Attack scene" etc. Nonetheless it can be deduced with some level of reliability that it happens at the crossing of the Goldroad over the Blackwater Rush:
- Randyll states that they are crossing the Blackwater to head to King's Landing.
- If they took the Roseroad from Highgarden, it merges with the Kingsroad right before it crosses at the mouth of the Blackwater, where it is to have fords or even a bridge: the "crossing" of the Kingsroad has to be made with ferries.
- Following from the last point, King's Landing is nowhere in sight, but they would be able to see it if they were on the opposite side of the river. There are also no large cliffs or hills near King's Landing of the kind seen in this episode.
- The Goldroad is the other major crossing of the Blackwater, much farther upstream where it is smaller (visually, the river isn't as large in this scene as it is at the mouth near King's Landing).
- While the Roseroad is the main highway from Highgarden to King's Landing in a direct line, no one ever actually mentions the Roseroad in dialogue (never confirming that's the road we see), and, Jaime actually did not say they were going straight to King's Landing. Instead, he remarked to Bronn that they would spend some time in the north of the Reach, seizing more grain supplies from reluctant farmers and their lords. It would actually make more sense for Jaime to want to steer his army closer to the north, not the south of the Reach, given that the Lannisters control the middle of Westeros, while going south would be going deeper into the Reach and near Dorne, lands which recently sided with Daenerys.
- Other major historical battles have been fought in this region: King Maegor Targaryen fought a major battle nearby during the Faith Militant uprising, in which he used the dragon Balerion to attack an army of the Faith Militant as it was crossing east over the river to march on King's Landing. Drogon is considered by Daenerys to be Balerion born again (his coloration pattern is the same, primarily black with red as a secondary color).
- The battle between Drogon and the combined forces of House Lannister and the Reach is reminiscent of the Field of Fire, a pivotal and highly devastating battle during Aegon's Conquest in which House Targaryen defeated Houses Lannister of the Westerlands and Gardener of the Reach using dragons, ending the Gardener line and making the Lannisters bend the knee to Aegon I. The Field of Fire was located a little farther west than this, however: Jaime appears to be in the northeast of the Reach, while the Field of Fire was in the center-north, stated to be where the Goldroad currently runs (Jaime is on the Roseroad which curves from southwest to northeast).
- Jaime confirms in dialogue that Qyburn's special anti-dragon bolt launcher is called a "scorpion", apparently a very advanced one. This is as opposed to a "ballista". A ballista is a huge stationary weapon that needs to be constructed on-site (either as a siege weapon or a defensive weapon for a castle). A scorpion is smaller than a ballista (technically a kind of ballista), which can be carried by armies on the move and set up comparatively easily. An army couldn't easily carry a full-sized ballista with them, nor hope to set it up in enough time to fight off a suddenly appearing dragon. The difference between a ballista and a scorpion is somewhat like the scale difference between a trebuchet and a catapult. Both ballistas and scorpions are mentioned in the novels as siege engines used in Westeros, but this is the first time a "scorpion" has been referred to as such in TV dialogue.
- Historically, scorpions were mainly used by the Roman Republic as an artillery weapon, which was well known as a sniper's weapon, and was both deadly accurate and powerful enough to easily smash through enemy shields from a considerable distance
- It is unknown if this was the only anti-dragon scorpion Qyburn was able to have constructed, or if he can replace it with one or more other scorpions for Cersei to to defend King's Landing with.
- The question has been raised of why Cersei and Jaime would deploy their anti-dragon scorpion with the Lannister field army, instead of keeping it at King's Landing to defend against a direct assault by Daenerys on her dragons. Actually, while not overtly stated, this is not implausible: even Jon Snow pointed out in the preceding episode that if Daenerys was going to make a direct assault on King's Landing with her dragons, she would have done it already. Instead her military movements seemed to be to prepare the armies of the Tyrells and Martells to besiege the capital city. If Jon realized this, it would probably be apparent to Cersei, Jaime, and Qyburn as well - in which case they correctly anticipated that Daenerys wouldn't use her dragons against the city, but would against their field army, so they deployed the scorpion where they thought she was most likely to attack with her dragons.
- New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard made a brief cameo in the battle scene as a Lannister soldier in the background. Showing off his pitching arm, he was actually the Lannister soldier who hurled a spear into a Dothraki's horse, knocking it and its rider backwards to the ground (see a clip at this link).
- The Dothraki horde's shouts, tens of thousands strong, can be heard before they even crest over the horizon. Dothraki warriors are often called "screamers" for their war cries (they've been called "Dothraki screamers" various times from Season 1 onwards).
- Regarding Dothraki battle tactics seen in this episode, they charge straight at the Lannister heavy infantry. Historically, the Dothraki have held infantry in contempt, thinking they are only fit for being run down by mounted cavalry. They also use their mobility to quickly envelop and outflank enemy infantry, due to being light cavalry not encumbered by heavy armor. Their riders are also armed with both arakh blades and bows, so the same riders can shoot volleys of arrows into the enemy then engage them hand to hand.
- This was seen at major historical battles such as the Field of Crows and Battle of Qohor. While it may seem foolhardy to directly charge enemy spearmen, the Dothraki are not entirely wrong in this respect: like most pre-modern armies in real life, most armies in Westeros and Essos are feudal levies who don't actually want to fight to the death for their lords: charging them head-on will very often make them panic and break formation, thus it is actually a fairly reliable military tactic. One Lannister soldier is shown shaking, a reminder of the Dothraki's reputation.
- The Dothraki are actually highly skilled tacticians, they just prefer to make frontal assaults - given that untrained infantry usually break under them. Even if they don't break, they will at least pin down the enemy spearmen, then the Dothraki's more mobile light cavalry flanks will quickly envelop and encircle them.
- The only times a Dothraki frontal charge against spearmen won't work is if they're highly disciplined, well-trained soldiers who will hold their formation. This happened at the Battle of Qohor about three hundred years ago, in which an Unsullied legion managed to hold off a massive Dothraki horde outside of Qohor, because they are robotically disciplined slave-soldiers who have no fear of death. For this reason, Unsullied are one of the only infantry soldiers that the Dothraki actually respect.
- The Lannister heavy infantry in this battle are like the Unsullied: disciplined veteran soldiers, under the capable leadership of Jaime and Randyll, who stay in their formation and manage to hold the Dothraki charge to a standstill for a time. The Unsullied at Qohor, however, were positioned with the city walls at their backs, so they couldn't be encircled. Jaime's Lannister army was caught out in the open field, so while they hold their own against a frontal assault for a time, the Dothraki start gradually outflanking them.
- Drogon's attacks add the problem of giving the Dothraki openings in the defense line and making formations a target. Daenerys's first flame attack created an opening that allowed the Dothraki start encircling them. Lannister formations that managed to hold against the Dothraki, like islands amid their swarm, only became concentrated targets for her dragon's subsequent bombing runs. Ultimately the Lannister infantry were faced with an impossible choice: break formation and get run down by the Dothraki cavalry, or stay in formation and wait for the dragon to pick them off from the sky.
- The battle also brings up dragon military tactics and counter-tactics:
- During the original Targaryen Conquest, the original three Targaryen dragons were considered to be invincible (they were also much larger than Drogon is now, and nothing could pierce their armored scales). Archers did try to shoot their vulnerable riders - Visenya Targaryen took an arrow to the shoulder at the Field of Fire - but in response, dragon-riders became more careful to shield themselves, the way that Daenerys banks Drogon up in this episode when she sees archers about to fire a volley at her.
- During the subsequent First Dornish War, Dorne resisted invasion with guerrilla warfare, but at Hellholt the garrison put up a defense using large scorpion launchers - one of which managed to land a very lucky shot through the eye of the dragon Meraxes, an adult dragon's only weak spot. It punched straight through to her brain and killed her instantly in mid-air.
- After this, such as during the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen dragon-riders shifted tactics in response once again: careful to take their dragons on quick dive-bombing runs and not to stay near the ground for too long, to make it harder for enemy scorpion-launchers to hit them (particularly in their eyes). Case in point is the Siege of Rook's Rest, at which Aegon II's army did try to shoot the dragon Meleys with scorpion-bolts and her rider with arrow volleys, but her rider was careful enough to avoid their fire. Daenerys does the same thing in this episode.
- Daenerys only deploys Drogon in this battle, not her other two dragons Rhaegal and Viserion - bringing up the issue that she can only ride one at a time if she wants to ensure their safety. Dragons are just animals, albeit intelligent ones, but without a rider they will let their anger get the better of them and charge headlong at enemy archers and scorpion-launchers - increasing the chance of killing them. A human rider is needed to deploy them using intelligent tactics, and keep them from needlessly risking their lives: i.e. Daenerys made Drogon turn his head away from arrow volleys, and managed to rouse him out of shock from the scorpion-bolt hit before the fall could kill him. Thus, if she had brought brought Rhaegal and Viserion with her and Bronn had hit one of them, he may well have succeeded in killing it. She previously used all three at the Second Siege of Meereen with the other two just following her on Drogon - but they were attacking a surprised naval force, unprepared for their assault.
- This may mean that Daenerys will realize she needs two other dragon-riders to use all three of them effectively, without getting them killed. It is a commonly held belief that only people from the Targaryen bloodline can ride dragons. During the Dance of the Dragons, a similar problem occurred, when Rhaenyra Targaryen had more dragons than current riders (six that had no current riders, or had never been ridden). Rhaenyra was even based on Dragonstone at the time, just like Daenerys. To overcome this problem, Rhaenyra put out a search for "Dragonseeds" - unacknowledged bastard children fathered by Targaryens in the past generation or two. This succeeded in finding four new dragon-riders.
- At this point, the only publicly known surviving person with Targaryen blood is Robert Baratheon's bastard son Gendry - due to intermarriage, Robert was actually Rhaegar and Daenerys's second cousin, and Gendry is the only surviving Baratheon in the TV series. Davos personally met Gendry in the TV series and would know to look for him.
- The Martells also have some Targaryen blood but much less, as they intermarried about one hundred years ago. In the books, one of Doran Martell's sons (cut from the TV show) tried to approach and master one of Daenerys's dragons but got roasted in the attempt. For that matter, even many of the dragonseeds in Rhaenyra's day who were confirmed Targaryen bastards ended up burned alive - dragons are fickle creatures.
- Of course, no one on Dragonstone knows yet that Jon Snow's secret real father was actually Rhaegar Targaryen, or that he's actually Daenerys's nephew.
- However, unlike Aegon, who was outnumbered at the Field of Fire by a factor of nearly six and took a calculated risk by deploying his dragons all at once, Daenerys had numerical superiority. Outnumbering the Lannisters nearly 10-1, its possible that she didn't think she would need to bring all her dragons to bear at once.
- This may mean that Daenerys will realize she needs two other dragon-riders to use all three of them effectively, without getting them killed. It is a commonly held belief that only people from the Targaryen bloodline can ride dragons. During the Dance of the Dragons, a similar problem occurred, when Rhaenyra Targaryen had more dragons than current riders (six that had no current riders, or had never been ridden). Rhaenyra was even based on Dragonstone at the time, just like Daenerys. To overcome this problem, Rhaenyra put out a search for "Dragonseeds" - unacknowledged bastard children fathered by Targaryens in the past generation or two. This succeeded in finding four new dragon-riders.
- This is the second time Drogon has been injured, though not severely, following his fight in Meereen's gladiator arena in "The Dance of Dragons". Earlier in Season 7, Qyburn specifically referred to that first incident in Meereen as an example that dragons aren't invincible and can be injured - but Drogon was much younger than, this armored scales not as thick. In Meereen, even common spears were able to do a lot more harm to Drogon than he receives now in this episode from Qyburn's super-scorpion bolt.
- In the previous episode, Jaime states that he has learned a valuable lesson from the Battle of the Whispering Wood. In the fourth book, he uses that lesson in an opposite manner - he takes precautions even when it seems unnecessary, to prevent anyone from taking him unawares as Robb did to him. Had Jaime acted that way in this episode (by sending scouts and placing sentries around his host), he might have been forewarned in time and could have arranged the troops in a better position, and prepared the anti-dragon weapon. Under such conditions, it is uncertain the outcome of the battle might have been different, but Daenerys's victory might have been more costly than it was.
- Jaime's desperate victory-or-death charge against Daenerys at the end of the battle is entirely within character for him: in Season 1, the TV show had to leave the Battle of the Whispering Wood off-screen for budgetary reasons (Jaime actually mentioned it by name to Olenna in the immediately preceding episode). The books describe what happened: when Jaime's cavalry were totally surrounded in an ambush and all hope of victory was lost, he spotted Robb Stark himself on the battlefield, and much like this episode, made a desperate charge straight at him - thinking he still had a slim chance of ending the Northern rebellion then and there if he could kill Robb himself. A preternaturally skilled swordsman and considered one of the top two or three warriors in all of Westeros, Jaime did manage to carve a path through Robb's bodyguards which killed many, but eventually their numbers overcame him and they piled on to Jaime to take him alive.
- Jaime's attempt to kill Daenerys on the battlefield draws parallels to the fact that, as she has pointed out in prior episodes, Jaime is the man who personally killed her father, the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. Even Daenerys admits that her father was an evil tyrant, however, and probably deserved to die.
- Jaime has "met" Daenerys before in a sense - he actually knew her mother Queen Rhaella Targaryen when she was pregnant, as a Kingsguard in the Red Keep. At the end of Robert's Rebellion, when the rebel armies were advancing on King's Landing, the Mad King sent his wife away to safety on Dragonstone (along with Viserys), where she died giving birth to Daenerys.
- Production information on the battle between Daenerys and Jaime's armies:
- It was filmed in Los Barruecos, a natural monument near the village of Cáceres, and most of the nearby Las Breñas in Spain's Extremadura region.
- 450 extras were involved. They were briefed by members of the British army on battle maneuvers.
- The battle scene used no less than 20 stuntmen lit on fire at the same time, without any digital effects (they were wearing protective jackets, and extinguished as soon as the camera take ends). Other scenes have had one or sometimes several stuntmen set on fire, but 20 at once is a new record.
- The battle took one full month to film, from mid-November to mid-December 2016.
- Though Tyrion has effectively turned against his family and sided with Daenerys, it is obvious that he still holds a degree of familial loyalty for Jaime, as it was Jaime who freed him from the dungeons of the Red Keep, enabling him to escape Westeros before being executed for murdering Joffrey (which was done by Olenna Tyrell). In the novels, Jaime actually confessed his role in the annulment of Tyrion's marriage to Tysha, for which Tyrion swore revenge on Tywin, Cersei and Jaime, vowing to kill all three of them for (he murdered Tywin moments later) a lifetime of misery; in A Dance with Dragons, Tyrion is intent on killing both Cersei and Jaime. Recalling how much Jaime was kind to him as a child, it makes the betrayal even worse in Tyrion's eyes, because he trusted Jaime and never doubted him. Near the end of the book, however, Tyrion is asked "what do you miss?", and he muses "Jaime, Shae, Tysha"; it does not mean he has forgiven Jaime, let alone that accepted that Jaime was forced to do what he did by their father - but it may indicate that Tyrion begins to have second thoughts about Jaime. In this episode, Tyrion spots Jaime on the battlefield and silently begs Jaime to flee for his life, confirming that despite Tyrion working against his family, he does not want his brother to die (it is highly likely that he is indifferent towards Cersei dying, as Cersei effectively used Joffrey's death as an excuse to try and have him killed instead of trying to find the real culprits).
- With the destruction of the Lannister/Tarly army, combined with the loss of Casterly Rock, the Lannister sphere of power has essentially shrunk solely to The Crownlands. The Iron Islands alliance was an act of desperation and Euron Greyjoy is acting out of his own self-interest. The Riverlands are under Lannister control, but lack any value since the farms were burned during the War of the Five Kings. There will certainly be fights between the Noble houses over who gains control of the area and replaces House Frey. With the loss of Casterly Rock, the vassal houses may surrender as it has been constantly stated in the series that the noble houses will change sides if they perceive the balance of power has shifted.
- Cersei is now in a nearly equal position as Daenerys Targaryen was after her initial defeats. She has lost the majority of the Lannister army. Her alliance with House Tarly may collapse since Randyll openly showed his disdain for the dishonorable actions of the Lannister family. Euron may insist on more control as he has the only cohesive military force left. The soldiers that Cersei has left likely consist of a "home guard" and the soldiers that were escorting the gold train. The Smallfolk and the lords may view Daenerys as the superior option as she has won a major victory. Hiring Mercenary armies, such as the Golden Company, may be seen as a sign of weakness, something that Cersei cannot afford since she relies on fear. In addition, Tycho Nestoris may see Cersei as a losing investment and slowly withdraw his support.
- The ultimate fates of Randyll Tarly and Dickon Tarly are left unclear in this episode: Randyll vanishes soon after the battle begins, and Dickon isn't seen again after he saves Jamie. Thus, it's entirely possible that both of them were either killed or survived the battle. If they indeed survived, they will likely be forced to bend the knee to Daenerys, which will once again bring the Reach under her control. Even if they were both killed, House Tarly is by no means extinct, as power would simply transfer to Randyll's daughter, Talla Tarly. Their status will have to be confirmed in future episodes, as was the case with Harald Karstark.
- Ironically, if Jaime Lannister does in fact manage to avoid drowning, he will likely be taken captive by Daenerys's forces, the same situation he was in at the Whispering Wood. Actually, Jamie will be in much more danger as Daenerys' captive than when he was Robb Stark's captive: The Starks needed him as a hostage to attempt to trade with the Lannisters. Daenerys, on the other hand, will likely want to execute the man who not only executed her father, but had just attempted to murder her. It can be assumed Tyrion will try to save his brother, no matter how low the chances are; after all, Jaime has always been kind to Tyrion and saved him from death. Unlike in the books, Tyrion has no reason to resent Jaime (since the truth about Tysha is not revealed in the show).
- Bronn will have even lower chances of survival than Jaime: not only he invoked Daenerys's rage by injuring Drogon in attempt to kill him and Daenerys, but it is also doubtful that Tyrion will do anything to help him. Bronn saved Tyrion's life once ("A Golden Crown"), but he abandoned Tyrion when the latter needed him desperately, simply because it was not profitable ("Mockingbird"). Tyrion may intervene since Bronn did give Tyrion the chance to outbid Cersei, Bronn stated that he came since he had agreed to give Tyrion the chance to outbid those who wanted to hire Bronn. The fact that Bronn heroically risked his life to save Jaime may also prompt Tyrion to help him.
In the books
[This section will be updated with comparisons after the sixth novel is released.]
The episode contains influences from the following chapter of The Winds of Winter:
- Arianne II: Several people enter a cave of the Children of the Forest and discover ancient carvings on the walls.
Arya Stark: "Do I have to call you Lady Stark, now?"
Jon Snow: "They were here together, the children and the First Men."
Daenerys Targaryen: "Doing what? Fighting each other?"
Jon Snow: "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. Because the enemy is real. It’s always been real."
Missandei:" I serve my queen because I want to serve my queen. Because I believe in her."
Jon Snow: "How many men do we have in the North to fight him? 10,000? Less?"
Jaime Lannister: "The more you own, the more it weighs you down."
Bronn: "Oh, is that why you’re so fucking glum, eh? All your new riches weighing you down?"
Petyr Baelish: "Forced from your home, driven out to the wilds beyond the Wall. I imagine you’ve seen things most men wouldn’t believe. To go through all of that and make your way home again only to find such chaos in the world, I can only imagine."
Bran Stark: "Chaos is a ladder."
Daenerys Targaryen: "I will fight for you, I will fight for the North...when you bend the knee."
Daenerys Targaryen: "What do you think I should do?"
Jon Snow: "I never thought that dragons would exist again. No one did. The people who follow you know that you made something impossible happen. Maybe that helps them believe 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."
Brienne of Tarth: "Who taught you how to do that?"
Arya Stark: "No one."
Jon Snow (about Daenerys): "I think she has a good heart."
Davos Seaworth: "A good heart? I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart."
Missandei: "All of us who came with her from Essos, we believe in her. She’s not our queen because she’s the daughter of some king we never knew. She’s the queen we chose."
Davos Seaworth (to Jon): "Will you forgive me if I switch sides?"