Bronn! Fancy Lad School! Pod resigning himself to a lifetime of Brienne owning him! Two of our favorite sidekicks return to Game of Thrones this week, but this episode firmly belonged to the ladies, with Arya showing off the mixed-martial-arts moves she learned from No One, Dany flying in battle on the back of a fire-breathing dragon, and Cersei paying off that Iron Bank debt in just one easy payment. Here are the 14 biggest questions we’re asking after Sunday night’s episode, “The Spoils of War.”
Was this the most feminist episode of GOT ever?
Half a season ago (eek, only three episodes left!), folks were arguing that “Dragonstone” was the most feminist episode in GOT history. Why? Well, mostly because Arya slaughtered an entire castle full of men in one go. My personal take is that ye olde poison-the-wine trick didn’t make a feminist statement, it just proved that we’re all so hungry for vengeance that we cheer when a young girl feeds some dude his sons. In this episode, however, women were shattering dragonglass ceilings all over the place. There was the Arya-Sansa reunion and the declaration that “our stories aren’t over yet.” There was Brienne handing Pod his ass. There was Arya and Brienne going head-to-head in a practice match that would shame the best swordsmen in Westeros. There was Cersei finally getting that lechy old dude from the Iron Bank off her back and besting her father’s famous efficiency in the process. And, of course, there was Daenerys bringing an A-bomb to a knife fight and turning the whole war around for Team Targaryen. It was hard to see anything past the double Xs that kept floating across my vision, but one thing is for sure: The women of Westeros are finally coming out on top.
If Bronn is alive, will he stay loyal to the Lannisters?
Assuming that Bronn did survive the episode’s closing battle — and it certainly looks like he did — it’s worth asking whether this will be the final straw for him. By nature, Bronn isn’t a second-in-command kinda guy. He’s served in that role for this long because he sees the gold at the end of the tunnel — and he’s forged a genuine bond with both Tyrion and Jaime, which has kept him about as loyal as a sellsword can be. But Bronn continually gets called on anytime there’s a job that requires an iota of intelligence but would also require a Lannister to dirty their hands. He’s clearly fed up at the beginning of the episode — after all, it’s been years since he was promised that castle and bride — and it’s hard to see him sticking with the Lannisters after near immolation-by-dragon. Bronn is an opportunist, and I’m betting he’ll do what he must to get on the other side of that dragon breath.
Why does the Three-Eyed Raven have to be such an obtuse jerk?
Bran’s awkward convo with Sansa in last week’s episode could have been a fluke. Maybe he was tired from being dragged across a frozen tundra that makes Hoth look like a weekend at Atlantis. Maybe he finds enlightenment overwhelming. But no matter the reason, his treatment of Meera is just inexcusable. If the Three Eyed Raven sees all, then he surely remembers the sacrifices Jojen and Hodor and Meera and Summer and the Children of the Forest made so that he could make it back to Winterfell intact. At the very least, she deserves a heartfelt “thank you,” right?
But Bran has become that friend who moved to L.A., went to one kundalini yoga class, bought a crystal, and now just oozes serenity from every mud-bath-cleared pore. Bran is the Amanda Chantal Bacon of Westeros. Bran has literally found his third eye. (Sansa’s sniffy admission that “Bran has … visions” is exactly how I would have handled it, too.) Which leads me to wonder whether it means something that he and Meera part on such poor terms. Certainly Meera wouldn’t turn on Bran, right?
Why can’t Bran see that Littlefinger is full of it?
That was my immediate question when Littlefinger sidled up to oh-so-casually hand a knife to a paralyzed boy he barely knows just because he wanted to play Father Christmas. Why isn’t Bran calling Littlefinger out? Bran KNOWS that Littlefinger arranged his near-stabbing. He KNOWS that Littlefinger has as many sides as one of those Scrabble dice. He knows the entirety of human history! Clearly, he’s playing along for some reason we can’t quite divine yet.
When Bran passed the dagger on to Arya, that drove the point home. Bran knows that Arya is the one who should have the dagger. He also knows that he can’t explain what he sees to her or Sansa because they won’t believe him. So he’s quietly setting the wheels in motion for … whatever it is that needs to happen so the Northerners can defeat the White Walkers. What Littlefinger is planning, however, is a whole different question.
Will Arya kill Littlefinger?
There’s been a lot of speculation about this question ever since Maisie Williams appeared on the cover of EW carrying the Valyrian steel dagger that was used by the assassin who tried to kill Bran. If you recall, that weapon played a major role in season one: After Littlefinger told Catelyn that it belonged to Tyrion, she took Tyrion prisoner and sparked a huge conflict with the Lannisters that blew up into the War of the Five Kings. We never did find out who hired that assassin. Could it be Littlefinger? He’s certainly shown an eagerness to sow chaos in Westeros for his own benefit, and lying about its owner casts a lot of suspicion his way.
Now, for reasons unclear, Littlefinger has given the blade to Bran, who has in turn passed it on to Arya. Littlefinger isn’t on Arya’s list, but once she and Sansa do indeed catch up on their stories, she’ll soon discover the crucial role he played in selling Sansa to Ramsay like a piece of meat. If and when Arya she finds out what he did to her sister, she’ll be out for revenge.
Will Arya use that dagger to defeat the Night King?
The dagger is made from Valyrian steel, the only material aside from dragonglass that is able to take down White Walkers. Arya also happens to be better with a sword than almost anyone in Westeros. (I’d like to see her spar with Jon, but I think she’d beat him.) The fact that it ends up in her hands can’t be an accident. Although Sam got lucky and managed to kill a White Walker by accident, it will take real skill to bring down hordes of them, or more specifically, the Night King himself. It’s possible that all of her training — and this gift of Valyrian steel — will lead Arya to occupy a very important role for the fate of Westeros.
Who keeps all the candles lit in the Winterfell crypt?
They really nail the sorta spooky but actually kinda nice vibe.
Did Daenerys and Missandei just have a coded sex convo?
“Many things?” [eyebrow raise and smirk]
Will Pod ever learn to fight?
I really hope not. He has been a squire for years, and yet he still sucks. Watching him stumble and pant and grunt and never even come close to matching the talent of Brienne is one of the true pleasures in this world of misogynists, rapists, and grown sons.
Why did Sansa stalk off after watching Arya and Brienne playfight?
Sansa is dealing with a lot of conflicting feelings now that all of her (living) siblings are back under one roof. Bran reached nirvana and won’t even give her a synopsis of the past three years of his life; Jon is King in the North even though she is the rightful heir to the Stark title, and now he’s run off to woo some foreign queen; and now Arya is back and she’s nothing like the little sister Sansa last saw in King’s Landing. Let’s give the gal a break!
Is Jon going to hook up with Dany?
I’m praying to the old gods and the new that he learns about their familial bond before this goes any further.
Will the showrunners stop messing with time?
Others may disagree, but I find this newfound ability to zip across oceans and continents very disheartening. Some of the show’s most interesting and profound moments have taken place on the road: It’s where Arya met Jaqen H’ghar, where the Hound fell back in with Beric Dondarrion, and where Jaime and Brienne were so spectacularly smashed together. The decision to magically cart thousands of forces across sea and land not only inhibits that happenstance, it also jerks us out of the narrative as we ponder just how the hell Dany got from Dragonstone to Highgarden so quickly.
That said, the sudden battle between Jaime’s forces and the Dany-led Dothraki was one of the series’ best surprises. I wasn’t expecting a fight at all, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to see Tyrion watch his big brother and only protector face off with the queen he worships so soon.
Was it a good idea to light all those crops on fire?
No, no it wasn’t. Winter has arrived, Daenerys. You should know better.
Is Jaime really dead?
This is the big question of the day. It appears that Jaime is dead, or close to it: He’s wearing armor and has a golden hand, so drowning isn’t outside the realm of possibility. But ultimately, no, I don’t think he’s dead. Jaime’s potential role as Cersei’s murderer is too huge for GOT to kill him now. (Mark my words, one of them will kill the other. Or they will both die in each other’s arms.) My hope is that Tyrion pulls him from the water and is given the chance to repay the brother who freed him from the King’s Landing dungeons and saved him from execution. Tyrion is, arguably, the hero of GOT — even more so than Dany or Jon, who are ultimately much more one-dimensional in their aims — and one of the series’ central aims is to test his loyalties. Whom will he side with if he must choose between his brother and his queen? We’ll find out next week, I hope.