With "The Spoils of War", we finally get an episode that has more structural balance than any of the previous episodes in this season. It's light on story but more than makes up for it with thoughtful dialogue and heavy character-driven scenes.
First off, Arya is finally
home. Seeing the three remaining Stark kids roam the grounds of Winterfell made
my stone-cold heart do backflips and the scene where Sansa and Arya reunite in
front of their father's grave literally gave me goosebumps.
The Stark family drama is entertaining yet heartbreaking at the same time. It's great to see them all home but it's obvious to everyone that they're not the same as they once were. Sansa's unease says it all. It dawns on her that this isn't the family reunion anyone (and that includes the audience) wanted.
On another side of the world, Dany
finally makes a decisive move that shows her commitment to play the game of
thrones. Actively retaliating to her loss in Highgarden was very smart.
Although I would've preferred it if she acted a bit earlier, using her dragons
was a huge announcement to Westeros that she is a force to be reckoned with.
The scene was gorgeous and immersive; the complete opposite of the set pieces from previous episodes. The stakes felt higher than what the display of power truly meant, especially if you consider that this would be nothing more than an initial skirmish between Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister.
It's worth noting that even though Dany won the battle, Cersei didn't lose a lot. Though it wasn't clear if Randall Tarly, Jaime, or Bronn would be prisoners, Cersei herself didn't lose the gold that was meant for the Iron Bank. She confirmed that with more of her ballistas and a now injured Drogon, Dany's dragons would be manageable in the field.With four episodes down and only three to go, I'm expecting the pace to pick up more steam as we head towards the season finale. The last three episodes might be longer, and with the way things are set up, an explosive finale is in order.