Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the fourth episode of season 7, as well as all preceding episodes.
The Lannister Army, headed by Jamie Lannister, Bronn and Randyll and Dickon Tarly, is returning from the Fall of Highgarden. Jamie pays Bronn his gold (though Bronn says he was promised a castle), but Jamie is still shocked at Olenna Tyrell admission that it was she who poisoned Joffrey. Randyll and Dickon inform Jamie that the granaries are still being emptied, and Jamie send the Tarlys, and Bronn, to speed up the process.
At King’s Landing, Queen Cersei is still negotiating the repayment of her loans to Tycho Nestoris and mentions that Qyburn has made overtures to hire the Golden Company, the largest private mercenary band in all of Essos.
In Winterfell, Bran and Littlefinger are having a (rather one sided) conversation and Littlefinger gifts Bran his Valerian Steel dagger – the same dagger which nearly took Bran’s own life, following his “fall” from the tower. Littlefinger wonder how much chaos Bran had to endure to make it home, and Bran replies with a phrase Littlefinger himself used many years earlier: “Chaos is a ladder”. Littlefinger leaves, disturbed, and Meera enters. Bran is not surprised that Meera is leaving Winterfell, nor entirely phased, and Meera does not entirely believe the boy she knew is the boy in front of her, so she leaves.
Arya stark arrives at the gates of Winterfell, but is denied entry by two (not very good) guards, and she escapes them as they argue over who should inform Sansa. Sansa determines wheer Arya is, and meets her in the tombs below Winterfell for the first time in years. They both say they have a long story on what htey have done in their time apart, neither of them entirely pleasant. Sansa informs Arya that Bran is home, too. The sisters go to meet Bran, who knows of Arya’s kill list, and Bran gives Arya the dagger Littlefinger had just given Bran. The three return to the castle, and as the saying goes, there must always be a Stark in Winterfell – and now there are three.
At Dragonstone, Daenerys and Missandei are talking of the night Missandei and Grey Worm spend together, before they are interupted by Jon Snow. Jon shows Daenerys the mountain of dragonglass he is about to hack to bits, but he also wanted to show her something else: deeper in the cave, numerous paintings and scratchings line the walls, relics from the Children of the Forest. Jon says that he, Danerys and every other free man must work together to fight the real enemy, and Dany agrees – she will help Jon in his fight, if he bends the knee and swears fealty to her.
Leaving the cave, Jon and Daenerys are informed by Tyrion and Varys that the Unsullied have taken Casterly Rock… but Euron has destroyed the ships and her army is all but trapped. Daenerys is not pleased that Tyrion’s planning has lost her Dorne, the Iron Islands and The Reach, and she asks Jon for suggestions on what to do next. Jon states that Dragons shouldn’t be real, and he still can’t believe it, and Daenerys’ followers want a world different to the shit world they currently know. But if Daenerys uses her dragons to melt castles and burn cities, she will just be showing her followers nothing will change.
In Winterfell, Sansa and Littlefinger watch a sparring swordfight between Arya and Brienne. Arya uses her speed to outmanouvre Brienne early, but Brienne has superior tactics and the fight ends in a tie. Arya and Littlefinger lock eyes, and Littlefinger knwos Arya has the dagger.
Jon and Ser Davos talk with Missandei at Dragonstone about how she came to serve Daenerys when a greyjoy ship approaches. Theon lands at Dragonstone once more, and for the first time since betraying the Starks at Winterfell, comes face to face with Jon Snow. Jon says that Theon helping Sansa escape the Boltons is the only reason Jon doesn’t kill Theon now.
Returning from Highgarden back to King’s Landing, Jamie and Bronn are informed by Randyll Tarly that the gold they sacked is inside the walls. Suddenly, Bronn hears galloping, and Jamie and Randyll command the remaining troops to make a shield wall. Daenery’s army of Dothraki horselords storm over the hill – followed by Daenerys, on the back of Drogon. Drogon burns a path through the shield wall, and a long and bloody battle takes place. Jamie takes command of the still-living archers and they attempt to injure the dragon or it’s rider, as Tyrion watched on from across the ridge, with a hint of regret on his face. Bronn heads for the ballista and manages to land a shot into Drogon’s right wing. Seeing an opportunity, Jamie grabs a spear and charges towards the grounded Daenerys, but is knocked into a lake by Bronn, and the two sink into the darkness below.
+ as much as this season can sometimes feel like fan-service for the sake of fan-service, it is good that all the remaining name characters are important – essentially every major battle will involve the loss of (or threat of a loss of) a named character who is important to the story. Similarly, it is easy to forget sometimes that Jamie may be a good character, but he is still willingly working for a bad person in Cersei. “Lawful Evil” perhaps, but Evil nonetheless
+ we got more season-in-the-making reunions, as Arya reunited with Sansa and Bran, and Jon finally got face to face with the traitorous Theon. Just because we, the audience, see these characters and their stories most weeks it is hard to forget that these characters have not seen each other for years on end
+ that entire “Dany vs Lannister” convoy fight was fantastic, especially in it’s framing. There were so many good screenshots I wanted to take, because they all looked as if they were painting on their own. I’ve collaged a few, below, but it really does have to be seen to be appreciated in full
+ the long shot of Bronn battling his way to the ballista was the absolute highlight for me, including him pulling a sword out of a soldier stuck to a wagon, another soldier – on fire – being run down by a horse and Drogon swooping overhead. It was a fantastic shot
– Arya beating Brienne (and so casually) in a swordfight made me rage. Arya has spent the best of three seasons being beaten, stabbed, hunted and then finally deciding to use subterfuge, stealth and deception to take down her enemies, so why she is such an incredibly competent swordsman I don’t know
– Dany definitely has some mad Targaryen DNA in her, and it seems to be busting to get out. Her lambasting of Tyrion only proved she may be closer to Aerys that she wants to admit. As soon as she cries “burn them all” then we’ll have a real problem on our hands
– once again, there was no Hound storyline. The preview for the next episode indicates the Night King is heading to Eastwatch, which is where The Hound is headed, so hopefully we can catch up with him then
Final thoughts: Not just because of a phenomenal final scene, this was one of the best episodes so far. The reunions felt earned, characters acted appropriately to said reunions (Jon and Theon would not be on good terms) and there are enough cliffhangers for the next episode to be damn interesting.