For just 47 minutes — the shortest episode thus far this season — the "Spoils of War" managed to pack more action than the rest of Game of Thrones Season 7 combined. Between some fan-service reunions and duels going on at Winterfell and arguably the most captivating battle scene we've seen yet, there were so many Easter Eggs, callbacks, references and other treats hiding in this episode, it's going to take a while to get through them all. Let's get started, shall we? Spoiler Warning: In case you couldn't tell, there are more spoilers in this article than their are wights in the army of the dead. Proceed with caution!
If you missed last week's Easter Eggs, you can read them here or watch the video below:
1. Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
Bronn complains to Jaime for a well-deserved raise (he has been mercenary-ing for the Lannisters for free for the past few years), and Jaime echoes the sentiment of the late, great Notorious B.I.G.: the more wealth you accumulate, the harder life is going to be. Later in the episode, we watch Bronn spill his coins and choose to leave them behind rather than risk his life to get them back. Redditor NsRhea points out that in the very last shot, Jaime is literally being drowned by his heavy, golden Lannister armor. Is the idea of casting off wealth and privilege in exchange for life and freedom going to become a common theme for the men on Team Cersei?
2. The Golden Company
Speaking of money, as Cersei and Tycho Nestoris prattle on about sums and interests and arrears, the accountant from the Iron Bank takes the time to name drop the Golden Company. Book readers' ears will have perked up at this one, as they know that the Golden Company is the group of sellswords founded by Aegor Rivers (legitimized bastard of Aegon Targaryen IV). While most sellswords have a reputation for being unreliable, the Golden Company was said to have never broken a contract — that is, until they broke their contract with the free city of Myr in A Feast for Crows for a mysterious and unknown reason. There are 10,000 men in the company along with thousands of horses and elephants. If Cersei winds up enlisting their help, they could wind up being a serious match for the Unsullied or even the Dothraki on the field of battle. But then again, the Golden Company is led by the descendants of Aegon Targaryen, so if they make it over to Westeros, we could be in store for yet another surprise Targaryen reveal.
3. 'Chaos Is A Ladder'
As Arya is quick to challenge Brienne to a duel in the middle of the yard, Bran, too, is eager to show off his special talents to the first person to talk to him. When Littlefinger is trying to pry information out of him about what he's seen north of the Wall, Bran repeats Baelish's own words back to him: "Chaos is a ladder." Does Bran know that it was Littlefinger who sent that assassin to kill him, starting the War of the Five Kings? Almost certainly. The only question is, will Bran snap out of his magic-induced funk long enough to rekindle some pride in his family and take revenge on the most despicable scheming manipulator in Westeros?
4. Jon & Dany's Theme?
As Jon and Daenerys enter the cave together, we hear some unfamiliar orchestral music that rises in beautiful major swells, different from the minor chords we're more used to. Could this be our first listen to Jon and Daenerys's theme song?
Nothing in Game of Thrones is ever a coincidence. And the last time Jon Snow was in a cave with a lady — well, you know. Gives a whole new meaning to "bend the knee," doesn't it? Jon may never give up his title as King in the North, but if a Targaryen-Snow marriage (or Nath-style non-marriage relationship) takes place, then he may not have to. All the talk about Missandei and Grey Worm doing "many things," and that romantic torch-lit cave, and Davos pointing out that Jon has been checking out Dany's chest (ew?) feels a bit like being beaten over the head with foreshadowing. The only question now is not will they or won't they, but will Dany and Jon get it on before or after they figure out they're related? (Place your bets in the comments below.)
5. The White Walker Symbols
In "Inside the Episode," Benioff and Weiss comment on the similarity between the symbols on the inside of the cave and the geometric shapes we've seen the White Walkers create before:
"One of the things we learn from these cave paintings is that the White Walkers didn't come up with those images, they derived them from their creators: the children of the forest. These are patterns that have mystical significance for the children of the forest, we're not sure exactly what they signify..."
It's not only the Children of the Forest and the White Walkers that have a connection. We've seen these symbols before in connection with both Jon Snow and Daenerys. Could these be further evidence that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai?
6. 'Isn't Their Survival More Important Than Your Pride?'
Looks like Bran's not the only one that can quote people's own lines back to them. Daenerys asks Jon the exact same question he asked Mance Raider back in Season 5. This doesn't mean she's omniscient, however, just that she and Jon have nearly identical philosophies and ruling styles.
7. The Power Dynamic Between Dany And Tyrion Has Shifted
Earlier this season, one creator wrote a fan theory about the beautiful symbolism shown between Daenerys and Tyrion thanks to blocking and clever camera work. While most of his life, Tywin and Cersei have gone out of their way to physically look down on Tyrion, Daenerys has always afforded him a greater level of respect, either sitting to speak to him, or having their profiles more even with camera work. But now, Tyrion has advised her straight into two massive military failures, and Daenerys scolds him like a child (bringing up the very good point that maybe he doesn't want to hurt his family after all). She stops and towers over him, not quite shouting but rage-talking directly in his surprised face.
8. Arya's Odyssey
The Aryassey? The Arassey? Whatever. The point is, in the latest "Inside the Episode," Benioff and Weiss revealed that Arya's long-awaited return to Winterfell was inspired by the end of the Odyssey, when Odysseus returns home after his long and arduous journey and no one recognizes him. It also plays into Arya's habit of disguising herself as someone else, which she's been using to protect herself for the past seven seasons. She's been someone else — or no one — so often, it must have taken a toll on her identity.
9. Stannis's Grammar
Stannis Baratheon may never have gotten to sit on the Iron Throne, but he'll always be the undisputed King of Grammar, as he made a hilarious habit out of constantly correcting Davos's speech. Now, it looks like the once-illiterate Davos has retained much of what he learned from his former king, as he corrected Jon Snow's grammar without missing a beat.
10. Mets Player Cameo
There's always room for one more cameo in Game of Thrones. Although an honor typically reserved for musicians, Benioff and Weiss managed to sneak Mets pitcher Noah Syndegaard into Daenerys's barbecue as a spear-hurtling Lannister soldier with a conveniently raised visor.
11. The Sounds Of War
The tension-building tactics at the beginning of the battle scene were reminiscent of movies like Zulu (singing war songs before the battle to intimidate the other side) and The Lion King (the ground rattling before the stampede), but director Matt Shakman revealed that he took his inspiration from two specific battle sequences in cinema: Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now. Did you notice the parallel? He told THR:
"I did also turn to other references, primarily Apocalypse Now. I used a lot of [its imagery] as touchstone imagery: the idea of these helicopters flying through the smoke is very similar to Drogon flying through the smoke. I also looked at Saving Private Ryan and the opening sequence on the beach, when the men are on fire and Tom Hanks is overwhelmed and the sound drops out."
12. The Field Of Fire
The final battle scene drew inspiration from the ancient battle known as the Field of Fire. This was the final battle in the Targaryen Conquest, after which Aegon the Conquerer became the undisputed king of Westeros. In the battle, the Lannisters and the Gardners (the former lords of the Reach before House Tyrell), fought against Aegon and his sisters and their three massive dragons. House Gardner was completely wiped out, making way for House Tyrell to become the liege lords of the Reach. Loren Lannister survived, only because he chose to bend the knee to Aegon. Like House Gardner before them, House Tyrell is gone. Will Jaime Lannister choose to save his people and bend the knee to the Mother of Dragons?
13. 'Only A Fool Would Meet The Dothraki In An Open Field'
Robert Baratheon predicted this disaster way back in Season 1, when he explained to Cersei that the Westerosi armies would be no match for the Dothraki:
"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."
Since this part of his speech has already come to pass, this next part seems almost guaranteed to be foreshadowing of the impending rebellion against Cersei:
"They leave us in our castles. They go from town to town, looting and burning, killing every man who can't hide behind a stone wall, stealing all our crops and livestock, enslaving all our women and children. How long do the people of the Seven Kingdoms stand behind their absentee king, their cowardly king hiding behind high walls? When do the people decide that Viserys Targaryen is the rightful monarch after all?"
If you haven't seen it yet, check out the promo for next week's Game of Thrones "Eastwatch."
Which Easter Eggs, callbacks or references did you notice in the latest episode of Game of Thrones?