A great thing about the truncated season seven of Game of Thrones is how everything appears to be happening faster. With only seven episodes rather than our usual ten this season, there’s less time for dilly dallying. Ravens travel miles in a scene change, people heal from greyscale in an episode. Oh and it only takes four episodes to get to the massive sodding battles, rather than nine.
Spoils of Wars could be one of the greatest episodes of all time, managing to combine huge action scenes with quieter character moments. We’ve already looked at how the reappearance of the catspaw dagger in the episode could mean big things for Arya and her new fighting style. We’ve also talked about how a certain someone probably isn’t dead come the end of Spoils of War.
But here’s a look at some of the more hidden references, callbacks and easter eggs hiding in one of the greatest episodes of Game of Thrones history.
1 Cersei’s about to get some help
Drogon may have laid waste to the majority of the Lannister army and resources, but Cersei won’t be defeated that easily.
Earlier in the episode, while in discussion with the Iron Bank’s Tycho Nestoris, the Mad Queen made mention of bolstering her army and navy with members of the Golden Company.
The Golden Company is a group of sellswords based in Essos who Stannis made mention of in Season 4. As Davos explained, the Golden Company were “10,000 strong and some of the most skilled fighters in the land.”
It’d be an interesting move for Cersei to go for hired help considering Season Sevens constant talk of “foreign armies” and their impact on the population's morale, but considering most of her army has just been flambeed, we reckon Cersei just might relent here.
2 Davos is a learned man now
Bless the Onion Knight. Davos delivered an excellent throwback to the departed Stannis Baratheon with an impromptu grammar fix to Jon Snow partway through this episode.
"How many men do we have in the North to fight him?" Jon Snow asks Davos Seaworth of the Night King. "Ten thousand? Less?"
"Fewer," corrects Davos under his breath.
Stannis was a stickler for correct grammar, originally correcting Davos on this same rule all the way back in Season 2.
It popped up again when Stannis and Davos popped up to The Wall in season 5 so now we should all know the rule. For those still wondering: Less for comparative (things you can't count), fewer for quantitative (those you can).
3 Arya Stark is bad with guards
Arya Stark - one of the best swords people in the continent - not great with doors. Arya’s first meeting with the guards of Winterfell is a lovely callback to Season one, where she tried to get into the Tower of the Hand to speak to Ned.
Like in Season one, Arya’s threat of “If I am [Arya] and Sansa finds you turned me away. . .” eventually worked, but maybe the former faceless woman should work on her introductions.
4 Jon has too much of the Wildling in him now
As Tormund pointed out in Season 6, Jon Snow has “spent too long with us [wildings], you’ll bow to no one now”. The King in the North rebuffed Dany’s “Bend the Knee” order again this week, causing her to ask “Isn’t their survival more important than your pride?”
It’s a good line: especially since Jon said it first in Season 5 opener….Jon begged Mance Ryder to bend the knee to Stannis lest he be executed. The words didn’t work out so well for Mance, will Jon see differently?
5 Those cave paintings are important
The artwork in Dragonstone may have been crude, but the cave drawings certainly were effective in convincing Dany the White Walkers exist. As Jon explained, the drawings depict how the Children of the Forest and the First Men came together to defeat the Night’s King and end the Long Night. But what was interesting is how the pattern on the drawings mirrors shots from the very first episodes of Game of Thrones.
What does the spiral mean? Reddit sleuths have theorised it could have something to do with the weird Westeros weather and changing seasons. We imagine Samwell Tarly will read a book and explain shortly.
6 King Robert knew his fighting
Robert Baratheon might have been a bad king, but he was an excellent fighter. Way back in season one, Robert was in discussion with Cersei about the thread of the Dothraki horde if they make it across to Westeros.
"I do know this: If the Targaryen girl convinces her horselord husband to invade and the Dothraki horde crosses the Narrow Sea . . . we won't be able to stop them," he says. "Let's say Viserys Targaryen lands with 40,000 Dothraki screamers at his back. We hole up in our castles. A wise move. Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field."
Now we know why. We’ve seen glimpse of the Dothraki force before, but nothing like this - they are a phenomenal fighting unit, capable of archery on horseback, and thrashing hand to hand combat. The moment where a Dothraki soldier opted to cut Bronn’s horse rather than joust with the knight was key. The Dothraki can outsmart the smartest Westerosi fighters.
7 The battle at the end has a silly name
We’ve had the Battle of Blackwater. We’ve had the Battle of the Bastards. While we’d like to call this Battle of Drogon, or the Battle of Dothraki Fucking Everything Up, according to HBO this skirmish has a much tamer monkier.
“The Loot Train Battle”.
No, really. According to the webmaster on the HBO website and showrunner D.B. Weiss in the bonus post-credits episode breakdown, this skirmish is now the “The Loot Train Battle.” How humdrum.
8 The Loot Train Battle references a classical fight from the books
In the books there is mention of Field of Fire, a historic battle that was a turning point for Dany's ancestor Aegon the Conqueror in his quest for Westeros. The Field of Fire saw the Targaryens, led by Aegon the Conquer, obliterate a Lannister army with his three dragons. In the aftermath of the Field of Fire, the Lannisters to bent the knee to the Targaryens, as did the Tyrells who inherited the Kingdom of the Reach (the previous owners - the Gardeners were wiped out by the Field of Fire).
Knowledge of what happened at the Field of Fire was also partly what caused Torrhen Stark, the King of the North at the time, to bend the knee to the Targaryens also. Torrhen Stark was mentioned by Dany in conversation to Jon Snow in the previous episode, so this was a nice little nod.
9 Another celebrity cameo
Noah Syndergaard is a baseball player for the New York Mets and appeared at the start of the Loot Train Battle as a Lannister soldier hurling a spear. It was a blink and you’ll miss it moment, the way we prefer our GOT cameos *eyeballs Ed Sheeran*.
10 The Battle *probably* occurred close to King’s Landing
The exact location of the Loot Train is currently unclear, with Randall Tarly explaining they were at the back end of a convoy headed to King’s Landing. Which brings us to…
11 The Spoils of War are safe...
The Lannisters took a massive L this week, but they *could* bounce back. As Randall also mentioned, "All the gold is safely through the gates of King's Landing". The money is good. It’s just the grain and men that got flame grilled.
12 Dragon fire is hot. REALLY hot
Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff were bullish about a scene in season seven setting a world record for the most stuntmen set on fire and boy howdy did Drogon deliver. An interesting tidbit was how Drogon’s fire not only set Lannister men on fire, but melted bone and turned soldiers into a cinder. Reddit readers pointed out that bone melts at 2,517F, which is roughly a quarter of the temperature of the Sun. Cersei is going to need more scorpion balistas.
13 Bronn really *is* a knight
Greatness from small beginnings. Bronn may have been introduced to show as a drinking, philandering sellsword, but he’s slowly turned into one of the most noble(?) characters in the land. At least for Game of Thrones. Bronn was named a knight and quasi member of the Kingsguard at the Battle of Blackwater, but it was in Spoils of War where he acted truly knightly, begging Jamie to make a retreat and offering to cover his escape. Bronn ditched his sack of gold in order to get to the scorpion crossbow and then made that last second save (we think) to save Jamie from being torched. Give him his castle already Jamie, he’s earned it.
14 Dany may regret her actions
While it was lovely to see Daenerys be a dragon, her decision to do a Theresa May and destroy all of the grain may came back to bite her. Winter is coming and food stores are limited. With an added 10,000 or so Dothraki bodies now in Westeros needing feeding, things are going to get tense.
15 Jamie takes after his brother
Jamie Lannister ended Spoils of War in a tight bind, going for a swim in a river. However he can take comfort in the fact this isn’t the first time a Lannister looked doomed by drowning.
Back in season five, Tyrion found himself taking a dip outside Valyria in order to avoid a Stone Man. Could the ending of Spoils of War be another callback to a previous episode? A lovely mirroring of how the Lannister brothers are more similar than they think? Or is Jamie really dead? Let’s see...