We gave it an A
All the leaks in the world couldn’t wreck “The Spoils of War.” Game of Thrones’ shortest episode ever — and part of the show’s fastest-paced season ever — didn’t feel rushed at all, and the story’s impact remained incredibly strong no matter what you knew ahead of time. We got a hugely enjoyable and pitch-perfect reunion between Arya and Sansa, a joyous sparring scene between Brienne and Arya, some intriguingly intense Jon and Dany eye contact, and an incredible dragon battle sequence (if you watched the low-res leak’s copy, you did it wrong). We start with–
Winterfell: Littlefinger visits Bran and does his best to woo him, gifting him that valuable Valyrian steel dagger that an assassin once tried to kill him with back in the show’s second episode. “Do you know who this belonged to?” Bran asks Littlefinger, and we really wish he would tell us. Even in the relatively brief period of the show’s timeline, this knife has had quite the history.
(Here’s everything we know about this dagger, for those who want to know; everybody else skip this graf: First an unnamed assassin used it to nearly kill Bran. Then Catelyn brought the dagger to King’s Landing, where Littlefinger said he once owned it. Yet Littlefinger claimed he lost it to Tyrion in a bet, something that apparently wasn’t true. Littlefinger reclaimed the dagger after Ned was arrested and has held it until now. The dagger is Valyrian steel, which, of course, is the other substance — along with dragon fire and dragonglass — that can kill White Walkers. A very similar-looking dagger was in the book Samwell was reading earlier this season. So basically, if you’re still confused about the dagger’s importance, that’s perfectly okay — this scene suggests there might be more to learn…Oh, and one other thing: Arya was actually shown wearing this rather distinctive dagger in EW’s cover photo way back in May! A few sharp-eyed readers spotted it, and, no, it totally wasn’t supposed to be there. GoT insiders hoped fans wouldn’t notice this spoiler hiding in plain sight on the cover of our magazine and, for the most part, they didn’t.)
Anyway. So then Bran just shuts down all of Littlefinger’s salesmanship by saying, “Chaos is a ladder.” This is one of Littlefinger’s motivational speech declarations to Varys back in season 3. This worries Littlefinger, as well it should. It’s like Bran just started reciting Lord Baelish’s browser history. If Bran knows that about Littlefinger, what else does he know?
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They’re interrupted by Meera saying goodbye to Bran because she’s served her purpose (both for Bran and in GoT‘s story line). Bran’s cool robotic goodbye understandably upsets her, and he gives this rather eloquently simple explanation: “I remember what it was like to be Brandon Stark. But I remember so much else now.” Next: A lone wolf returns to her pack