'Game of Thrones': 7 Favorite Moments From Season 7, Episode 4, 'The Spoils of War'

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Game Of Thrones

“The Spoils of War”, the fourth episode of the penultimate season of HBO’s  Game of Thrones, is the shortest episode in the history of the series. It clocks in at a scant 50 minutes -- this, despite being in a season that has shown no qualms about skating past the hour mark. While longer episodes mean more time in the show’s fantasy world, this leaner episode was all killer, no filler. Last week, “The Spoils of War” also became the spoils of leaks, when spoilers and a grainy version of the episode appeared the on Web. Whether you avoided the spoilers or not, the episode contained many moments worth the wait. Here are our seven favorites.

Littlefinger Fails to Manipulate Bran. Littlefinger gives Bran the Valyrian steel dagger that the cutthroat attempted to murder the lordling with in Episode 2, along with Littlefinger's version of the story. But Littlefinger has never dealt with a greenseer before. There are advantages and drawbacks to being the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran slices through Littlefinger’s claims of affection for Catelyn and her children with an old quote of his: “Chaos is a ladder.” Littlefinger is as unnerved as he’s capable of looking. But Bran’s clairvoyancy renders him incapable of offering Meera Reed the heartfelt goodbye she deserves; as Meera puts it, “You died in that cave."

Arya Parrying the Gatekeepers. Bran and Sansa had crowds at the door and hugs when they came back to Winterfell. Arya, unexpectedly, has two obnoxious, bumbling guards insulting her, followed by a nice throwback when she shows off Syrio Forel’s training by dodging a punch. Neat turn: the guards are actually scared of telling Sansa, when they should be afraid of Arya.

More Reunions. Arya and Sansa speak as near adults, finally getting along. We mostly saw sibling rivalry from them in Season 1, from two siblings who couldn’t be more different. Then there’s Bran, once again staring impassively over the shoulder of a sister embracing him after a long parting. It’s frustrating that he either can’t respond to everyone’s clear desire that he be emotionally present, or is incapable of doing so. And of course, later, there’s Jon telling Theon exactly why he hasn’t killed him. This is understandable; the only people more tempting to murder than Theon were Ramsey and the Sand Snakes, and possibly Joffrey.

Arya / Brienne Duel. Brienne and Podrick haven’t had much to do so far this season. Brienne and Arya are the two best female fighters on the show, and their match between fighting styles a terrific pairing -- Arya is light and quick with her sword Needle, while Brienne is all strength with her practice sword -- and Arya’s smirk is delicious.

Jon Shows Dany the Dragonglass Mines. The cave is absolutely majestic. The set designers, in a moment of brilliance, gave the cave murals of the White Walkers blue eyes. The drawings are primitive in style, but they explain everything about a backstory that takes numerous pages within Martin’s written lore. The Children of the Forest and the First Men fought the White Walkers together with dragonglass. There, that was easy. At least, it was easier to explain that than to get Dany to give up on expecting the North to bend the knee.

Dracarys. Nobody in Westeros has heard the sound of dragons approaching for 150 years. But they all know to be afraid. Bronn senses it first -- not surprising, since he’s also the most upfront about why battlefields smell terrible (Men empty their bowels when they die. Bronn’s known since he was five.) Over a minute of screen time passes between the moment that Bronn first senses that something is off, and the visible approach of the Dothraki screamers, and over another minute before Jaime sees Drogon, with Dany on board. This must be what the Mongol invasions looked like -- except that the Mongols didn’t have dragons.

Bronn for the Win. “The Spoils of War” was a showcase for Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, starting when he figured out the source of Jaime’s glum mood: “Queen of Thorns give you one last prick in the balls before saying goodbye?” Bronn is well aware that he’s a pawn and servant, even when riding beside Jaime, and doesn’t hesitate to reach for as much as he can get when he can get it --namely, Highgarden, which Cersei has already promised to the Tarlys. It’s presumptuous, and thoroughly in character for him. He has his priorities straight. While all the highborns are moving chess pieces around, Bronn demonstrates the real basics of survival: abandoning his gold on the ground, and shoving a man burning to death aside on the way to Qyburn’s dragon-killer scorpion giant arrow-shooter thingy.

Various reunions and meetings have been expected for so long that emotional satisfaction may wind up being hit-or-miss. We expect reunions to play a joyous cello with our heartstrings, only to see a blankness over a shoulder, It's the parts that we never scripted in our hears that keep us hooked. We should have known that, but we're surprised, in the case of the battle scene, because we're seeing it from Jaime and Bronn's point of view; they had no idea that Daenerys Targaryen would show up with both Drogon and the Dothraki screamers, or show up at all, so the battle scene is all the more arresting to watch. If there was ever a show that gave the viewer a sour aftertaste on getting what they wanted, it’s Game of Thrones.  The things we’ve been waiting for are not what we imagined they would be. We’re happiest when we get the ones we did not know we needed,