The Booty Train: Recap of Episode 4, Season 7 Game of Thrones

This episode finally revealed Daenerys for the true villain she is — or so I like to think. Theon and Jon finally see each other again — after Theon’s betrayal of  Robb Stark. Cersei may have made a promise that she won’t be able to keep. Arya finally makes it home to Winterfell. And, Littlefinger might have miscalculated.

Can You Ever Really Go Home?

Sansa (Sophie Turner) in the Godswood. (c) HBO.

Littlefinger gives Bran his Valyrian steel dagger, the one that the hired assassin (“catspaw”) used when he tried kill Bran so many years ago. After Littlefinger gives Bran the dagger, Bran says “Chaos is a Ladder.”
When Bran asks where the dagger came from, Littlefinger lies and says he doesn’t know.
Bran has seen Littlefinger’s life and misdeeds. One thing seems certain: whatever role Littlefinger had in bringing about the wars and orchestrating Ned’s death will be revealed to all the Starks soon.
Later on, Meera Reed says goodbye to Bran. Bran isn’t particularly grateful for her love, help, or sacrifices. Bran then reveals that he isn’t really Bran, “not anymore.” As Meera realizes, Bran died in that cave. This makes sense given that’s when Summer died – and the direwolves’ fates are tied to their owners.
Interestingly enough Bran is in a wheelchair. My first thought was “anachronism.” But, then I did some research and learned that wheeled furniture for transporting people date back to 5th to 6th century BCE. And, images of chairs with wheels are seen in art from 525 CE China.
**
Arya returns home to Winterfell. She’s stopped at the gate by the guards, who don’t recognize her. Everyone she once knew at Winterfell, such as Maester Luwin, is dead. According to the Dan Weiss & David Benioff, the inspiration for the scene is Odysseus returning after his long wanderings.

The guards tell her to wait on a snow-covered wall, but the moment they turn their backs Arya vanishes.

Sansa knows exactly where to find Arya: in the crypts, paying her respect to their father. The two sisters are now adults and have grown into different people. Sansa is a great lady, like she’d always wanted, but with a new definition of lady. Arya is the independent warrior she’s always dreamed of becoming. They are no longer the girls who fought over decorum and dolls.
Although once estranged after Lady and the butcher’s boy’s death, the reunited adult sisters reach a genuine connection based on a respect for each other as individuals. When Sansa hears Arya mention her list of people to kill, Sansa realizes that Arya has taken a very different path. When Arya nearly beats Brienne as they duel in the courtyard, Sansa appears to finally have respect for her sister’s skill and life choices.

Cersei & the Iron Bank

Cersei (Lena Headey) and Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss) (c) HBO

Cersei is still in King’s Landing meeting with the Iron Bank. Delighted by Jaime’s victory, she can now tell Tycho Nestoris that his gold is on the way for repayment. In fact, Tycho is already suggesting a new loan so the bank can keep making money on the interest. The one catch? He needs to have the gold in his hands first. And, you know what they say about never counting your chickens before they’re hatched…

Jon at Dragonstone

Jon shows Dany the Dragonstone mine. On the walls, there are cave drawings, possibly painted by the Children of the Forest. These drawings are somewhat similar to the Lascaux cave paintings in France.

Lascaux_painting

The Lascaux cave paintings are about 20,000 years old. Some anthropologists believe the drawings date back to Stone Age man, in a time before history or agriculture.

The cave etchings on Dragonstone show geometric patterns, including spirals. These patterns are similar to the first geometric patterns on the show.

The White Walkers derive these patterns from the Children of the Forest, for whom they have a mystical significance.

spiral-pattern-white-walkers

The white walkers created this spiral pattern from the bodies of the dead in the first episode of Game of Thrones. (c) HBO.

Jon urges Dany to fight with him like the Children fought with the first men. It’s the only way to defeat the White Walkers.
Dany offers to fight with Jon against the White Walkers, if he bends the knee.

**
Theon and a boat of the Ironborn arrive on Dragonstone to ask Dany to help rescue Yara. This is the first time Jon has seen Theon since Theon betrayed the Starks. Jon snarls that if it weren’t for the fact Theon saved Sansa’s life he would kill Theon right there.

Theon (Alfie Allen) (c) HBO

Theon and the Ironborn pull their ship onto the shore of Dragonstone. (c) HBO

Dany is Losing the War: Drogon vs. the Lannister Army

Dany is frustrated by following Tyrion’s conservative counsel – “Enough with your clever plans.” She is tired of losing. With all of her allies gone, Daenerys realizes she is losing the war and attacks the Lannister army.

When Dany learns that Casterly Rock was a decoy and the Lannister army took Highgarden, Dany decides to unleash the Dothraki hoard and use her fire power.
One of Dany’s motivations is the fact that she won’t be able to feed her massive armies now that the Lannisters have seized Highgarden.

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her counselors greet the Ironborn on the shores of Dragonstone. (c) HBO

When Dany arrives at Highgarden, we finally get to see the true horror of war. For the first time in the series, two sets of main characters are fighting against each other. It’s impossible to route for either side – and this is probably how either GRRM or the showrunners – whoever devised this battle – intended it. Perhaps war should be presented in its gory truth rather solely from the victor’s perspective.
Dany rides Drogon into battle and the Dothraki hoard attack some straggling Lannister soldiers.
But, is this even ethical? Is there a Geneva Convention against death by dragon fire? There should be.

Drogon’s fire instantly incinerates rows of Lannister soldiers. This is hardly a fair fight and dragon fire is a terrible way to die.

 

Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) pause as they hear the distant thunder of hooves.  (c) HBO.

One thing that made me raise my eyebrows is that Dany aims Drogon’s fire at the loot train. Isn’t this where all the grain is stored that Dany so desperately needs? As Emilia Clarke said in an interview, the more Dany doesn’t get what she wants, the more Targaryen she gets.

Bronn manages to land a bolt from the Batista (named “Scorpion”) in Drogon. The dragon isn’t mortally wounded. He lands by the river so Dany can pull the massive bolt from his chest.
When Dany’s back is turned, Jamie charges at the queen and might have killed her if Drogon hadn’t swung his head around and unleashed his fire. Luckily, somebody grabs Jaime and pulls him under water before the flames can reach them.

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

10 Comments

  • Reply August 8, 2017

    Anonymous

    Not called “Batista” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballista
    They were also historically known as scorpions.

    • Reply August 9, 2017

      Jamie Adair

      Thanks. I should correct that. Recaps get written very very quickly. I didn’t realize they were called scorpions as well.

  • Reply August 8, 2017

    Mariana

    I know this seems like a weird question, but have you ever written or considered the inspiration behind the three eye raven to be mixture of the oracle of Delphi and oracle of Dedona? I know these two so called oracle did exist and where they were based can be visited by tourist. It seems as if there is some similarity that I has to go check to make sure I am not falling to any wrong conclusion.

    • Reply August 9, 2017

      Jamie Adair

      No, that isn’t a weird question. I have thought that Melisandre’s visions have a lot in common with Cassandra — eg the problems interpreting the visions, not being believed. But I know little about the oracles of Delphi and Dedona. How were you thinking they were similar to the three-eyed raven?

      • Reply August 10, 2017

        Mariana

        Well it was Bran’s personality shift that really sealed the deal to this theory. The reality is the use of people with psychic ability in stories isn’t a new concept in fantasy stories, and there wasn’t really any evidence that really caught my attention in the previous seasons. It wasn’t until last week episode where it was mentioned that a part of Bran died in the cave did I finally begun to become suspicious. You see while oracle are known to be individual who can see into the future, but they are also individual to whom a deity can speak through.. While it may be far-fetched to believe that a different being is inhabiting Bran’s body, but with him saying statements “I remember what it felt like to be Brandon Stark” does make me consider the possibility. Remember last season Bran was developing his foresight, but he was still capable of considering himself has Bran Stark at least until he became the three eye Raven. The only reason I am explaining this first is because I first want to establish what an oracle is before going into any similarity or differences between the oracle of Delphi and Oracle of Dedona. Is there any remarks that you want to mention before I continue?

  • Reply August 9, 2017

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    Wasn’t book Prince Doran in a wheelchair though Jaime? Well that’s one feature that book and show Prince Doran had in common.

    About the food supplies, I didn’t notice it on initial watching but in “The Queen’s Justice” a YouTube reactor called Unqualified Nerd wondered why the crowd were throwing vegetables at Euron’s prisoners – after all they would need the food if there was a siege. I thought of it as an example of people living in the moment and not really realising how careful they should be. I’m not really versed in the ways of preserving food in Medieval times though I believe salt was used a lot.

    I meant to say on the Dany as a Villain thread that by wanting to win hearts and minds Dany has weakened herself. If she had gone Full Metal Dragon Queen straightaway as Yara suggested it would have been a slam dunk for her (though admittedly less interesting TV). Admittedly she didn’t know about the Scorpion, but there was a book precedent, I think for the Dornish shooting down one of Aegon the Conqueror’s sister’s dragons with something similar back in the day.

    • Reply August 15, 2017

      Jamie Adair

      That’s a very good observation about the vegetables Watcher. I wonder… I’m still confused about the status of the loot train in general.

  • Reply August 10, 2017

    PHB

    We were told the gold to pay the iron bank had already passed through the gates of Kings Landing. As soon as I heard that, I thought… oh dear.

    Jamie was saved by Bronn. Whether either of them is alive is not certain at this point. Any other show and they are alive. Regardless, Jamie is captured or dead and that is going to make things difficult for Cersei.

    The fact that Danny got carried away does not look like a mistake to me, rather it looks like it was the point. Though it isn’t clear that the train was all loot or even if the bulk of the train was food. There would be a lot of arms, equipment, etc. Though Danny is going to need those as well.

    What is going to be a more immediate concern is the need for two more dragon riders. And the only ones who might qualify are Jon, Gendry and (if Aerys is their father) Cersei and Jamie. I don’t think Tyrion is a secret targ, I think Tywin suspected that and that was part of his motivation for setting off Robert’s rebellion but wrongly.

    Perhaps Bran is going to tell us who the targs are.

    • Reply August 10, 2017

      Jamie Adair

      On a slightly different note, I was just re-watching Season 2, ep8 and noticed that Sam found the dragonglass daggers under a stone with one of those spiral symbols on it from the children. The daggers were wrapped in a Night’s Watch cloak. I’d forgotten all about that.

    • Reply August 15, 2017

      Jamie Adair

      Gendry?? Why Gendry?? Who do you think his mother is?

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