REVIEW: Game of Thrones 7.04 ‘The Spoils of War’ is a spectacle
For months, we’ve complained about Game of Thrones reducing its season order from ten to seven episodes – but ‘Spoils of War’ showed us exactly why it had to be done.
There was a lot to enjoy in ‘Spoils of War’, but it’s the latter portion of the episode that will form the basis of water cooler conversation this week. The episode contains the kind of breathtaking battle sequence we’ve wanted since Game of Thrones began, complete with our hero Daenerys Targaryen controlling her army from atop a gigantic firebreathing dragon. The whole sequence is beautiful – showcasing the terror and desperation and hopelessness of a military ambush from the viewpoint of characters on all sides. Blowing the CGI budget on this battle might seem – on paper – like a disappointing decision, but on screen it is utterly spectacular. It’s a feast for the eyes, which will certainly be watching it again. In HD.
Despite all conversation almost certainly revolving around that scene, there was a lot of other plot manoeuvring taking place in ‘The Spoils of War’. Jon convinced Daenerys of the truth of White Walkers as the two grew closer, to the point where the Mother of Dragons asked the King of the North for guidance following a military disaster. Arya returned home to Winterfell, where she awkwardly reunited with Sansa and Bran and showed off her formidable fighting abilities in a sparring match against Brienne. Littlefinger tried to play games with Bran, only for him to meet the same emotionless detachment that has defined Bran’s interactions this season. Elsewhere, Cersei is on good terms with the Iron Bank – for now – following her successful sacking of Highgarden.
‘Spoils of War’ marks the middle point in a shortened season, and what a way to celebrate it. The argument that spreading the budget across fewer episodes will enrich the episodes is looking justified. It’s also filling me with eager anticipation for future episodes. If this is episode four, what can episodes five, six and seven achieve with an increased budget?