Game of Thrones did more than torch people with dragons last night
This why you don't piss off Daenerys Targaryen. If you're going to ambush her navy and empty your castle to destroy her powerful ally and kidnap her friends, she's gonna roll in with her Dothraki horde and dragon to mess up your entire army in 15 minutes. And that's exactly what she did in Episode Four, the shortest of the entire series so far. Despite its run time, the episode still included a number of scenes fans have been waiting years for: Dany destroying the Lannisters with her dragons, and at least three Stark children in one place.
Let's just get right to the dragons—even though I'm sure everyone's dying to talk about Cersei's dealings with the Iron Bank, and just how much interest they were collecting on the crown's debts. Loaded with gold after their conquest of Highgarden, the Lannisters' army is stretched thin marching home after battle. That's when Daenerys and her Dothraki swoop in to wipe them all out in a battle scene that more than made up for the mostly dull 40 minutes leading up to it. A few things about this battle: Robert was right back in Season One about how their army would fare in open field against the Dothraki. Granted, they are taken by surprise, but the Lannisters have no idea how to maneuver against Dany's mounted Dothraki. They almost don't need the dragons, but what kind of fun would this have been without dragonfire turning a bunch of lions into ash?You have to give Bronn, Jaime, and the Lannister army credit, though: The second any reasonable person sees a dragon torch 50 dudes in one breath, they'd get the hell out of there.
But the Lannisters fought and died and burned. Bronn loses his gold, Rickon (um, Dickon) saves Jaime. Though it's an easy Targaryen victory, it exposes a pretty obvious hole in Dany's battle strategy. She's a pretty important component to her entire becoming-queen-of-Westeros thing, and it's probably not ideal for her to fly into battle atop a dragon where she could be, you know, hit by an arrow. Also, the anti-dragon missile is pretty effective against Drogon, lodging a projectile into his right wing. Having landed safely (well, still pretty close to the battle—but alive) Dany decides to do some battlefield dragon maintenance. Jaime sees his chance, grabs a lance, and makes his way to kill the queen. Tyrion, meanwhile, watches all of this and tells his dumb brother he's an idiot for charging a dragon.
And, oh boy, is Jaime an idiot. As would be expected, Drogon notices the stupid little one-handed blond dude charging at him and prepares to torch the man with fire—but that's when Bronn dives in and knocks Jaime out of the way. Unfortunately, he also knocks him into an obnoxiously deep lake. Again, unfortunately for Jaime, he's also wearing at least 100 pounds of armor, which pulls him into the depths of the water. He'll probably be fine—seeing as fans expect Jaime to still have a big role to play in all this. But for at least one week, we get to fret over his fate. Also, he's the only one who knows who really killed Joffrey—information he's not likely to take to his grave.
How many years have fans waited to watch dragons torch the Lannister army? It's hard to remember much else from last night's episode. But among some of the slow, clunky scenes leading up to it, there were some key moments.
Most importantly, the Starks are back in town! After Bran—who's going through that awkward teenage Three-Eyed Raven phase—returned last week, Arya returns to the gates of Winterfell. She's weird now, too! Having traveled to Braavos and become a Faceless assassin, Arya's not quite the little girl Sansa remembers. Now Arya is a badass fighter who can now hold her own against Brienne of Tarth in combat. Everyone seems mildly surprised, but not impressed enough to see a little kid hand one of the most accomplished fighters in the land her ass. Here's hoping that Brienne, Pod, and Arya eventually team up for some misadventures. By the way, did you see dear, sweet Pod? He's still getting beaten up by Brienne, but he's looking better, bless his heart.
Bran's back, too, and he mostly just sits silently and says random demented shit to people, as one does. This time, Littlefinger brings Bran the infamous Valyrian knife (More on the knife here). If you remember, it's the knife that was used in the attempt on Bran's life, and the knife Littlefinger used to threaten Ned when he betrayed the Starks. It's also the one that sent fans into a frenzy when they saw it on Arya's hip in some promo photos. That knife, as Littlefinger tells Bran, started the War of Five Kings. And it did! After an assassin used it to try to kill Bran back in Season One, Littlefinger accused Tyrion of being the dagger's owner—which caused Catelyn to take Tyrion prisoner and Tywin to invade the Riverlands. The thing about the dagger is that it's not Tyrion's; we know that from some Tyrion point-of-view chapters in A Storm of Swords. It was more likely stolen from King Robert (by Joffrey possibly) or given to an assassin by Littlefinger. Regardless, the dagger is proof of Littlefinger's meddling. And as a typical rude teen, Bran doesn't say thanks or anything; he simply replies, "Chaos is a ladder."
It's a weird thing to say! But, he's actually quoting Littlefinger during a conversation Baelish had with Varys back in Season Three:
"Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is."
It's again proof that Bran is wise to Littlefinger's games. Oh, and also Bran was a total dick to Meera—you know, the one who has been dragging his ass through the snow for years. The one who sacrificed her life, her brother, and those long months sitting in a tree to keep Bran safe. Nope, not a big deal for Bran, who just responds with, "I remember what it means to be Bran Stark, but I remember so much else now." Okay, Bran. We get it, you're The Three-Eyed Raven now, you have some cool powers that will probably prove useful at some point. But damn, you're being a little shit.
Back in King's Landing, Cersei has already repaid the crown's debts, in a subplot I know you were just DYING to see resolved in two episodes. And back in Dragonstone before the big fight scene, Jon finds some cave drawings, which conveniently detail EVERYTHING he needed to explain to Daenerys right down to the very specific White Walker eye color. Conspiracy theory: Jon was actually down in those caves for weeks drawing them himself, then ran upstairs to Dany to say, "Oh hey, look what I found!"
It was a short episode to set the scene before the three concluding episodes, and they did with it what they could. Besides, anything can be saved with a little dragon war—hopefully, including Jaime.