“Game of Thrones
“The Spoils of War”
August 6, 2017
Cersei and Tycho hang out in King’s Landing, have a few glasses of wine, casually chat about all the cool things they’re going to do just as soon as Jaime returns with all that cash money the Lannisters owe the Iron Bank. Cersei’s gonna rent the Golden Company of Essos to come fight for her, and maybe buy some new ships, and she’s going to import all the best wine and maybe she’s going to spruce up the Throne Room a bit, hire some more haircutters. And she’s going to have the Iron Bank’s support, right? “Absolutely,” Tycho assures her, “just as soon as your check clears.”
Littlefinger, in an attempt to cozy up to the new would-be Lord of Winterfell, offers Bran the catspaw dagger, the knife with which the assassin who unsuccessfully tried to murder Bran in season one was armed. Littlefinger then yammers on about how much he cared for Bran’s mom, how he would have taken a knife in the heart for her, how he’d do anything to protect her children, yadda, so forth. But Bran is doing that creepy impassive Bran thing, only wondering if Littlefinger knew to whom the dagger first belonged. HMM, GOOD QUESTION.
Littlefinger notes that this dagger instigated the War of the Five Kings and was the cause of everything that has happened to Bran since. Littlefinger muses at what Bran must feel, having gone through so much only to return home to find such chaos. But before Littlefinger can finish his thought, Bran coldly replies, “chaos is a ladder.” And Littlefinger is all:
That’s when Meera interrupts, and Littlefinger is like, “THANK THE SEVEN,” and books it out of there. Meera tells Bran that she’s leaving the show, and Bran’s like, “K, bye, whatevs,” and Meera’s feelings are all hurt, pouting that her brother, Hodor and Summer all died for him and she dragged his paraplegic ass across the entirety of the Lands of Always Winter and that’s all he has to say to her? “Peace out?” THAT’S IT? Crying, Meera declares that Bran died in the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave and Bran’s like, “I mean, that’s what I keep trying to tell you people…”
Later, Arya finally comes home, hooray! However, she is not allowed to just walk through the gates of Winterfell, and, in fact, is stopped by two very dumb guards who tell her to fuck off. This isn’t Arya’s first rodeo with dumb guards who won’t let her into her OWN DAMN HOUSE, and she convinces them to just let her inside the walls to wait while they summon Sansa. Once the dum-dums turn their back, she slips away.
However, when the dummies explain to Sansa that there was some girl claiming to be her sister and dropping names like Rodrik and Luwin, but she’s gone now, so no worries, Sansa knows exactly where she can find Arya: in the crypt.
There, the sisters are reunited under Ned’s statue after being apart for who even knows how many years at this point. TOO MANY.
Arya lightly teases Sansa for the Lady Stark business before noting that it suits her, and Sansa replies that she hopes Jon comes back soon, that when he sees Arya, “his heart will stop.”
The sisters then complain about how little Ned’s statue looks like their father, but Sansa correctly points out that everyone who knew Ned’s face is now dead. “We’re not,” replies Arya.
Arya then asks Sansa about killing Joffrey, and Sansa clarifies that she didn’t actually do the murderizing, but she wish she had. Arya mentions that she was angry that someone beat her to poisoning the little asshole, he was first on her list of people to kill. And Sansa laughs and laughs because she doesn’t know that her sister is a badass faceless murder machine … yet.
Sansa then asks how Arya managed to get back to Winterfell, and her sister assures her it is a long story, as she’s sure Sansa’s is, too. “And not a pleasant one,” Sansa adds.
“But our stories aren’t over yet,” Arya replies.
The sisters then head to the godswood to visit their brother the bird, who tells Arya that he saw her at the crossroads, he sees quite a lot now. He then adds that he is surprised to see her in Winterfell, he thought she’d go to King’s Landing. Sansa wonders why the hell Arya would go back there, and Bran explains that, “Cersei is on her list.” Sansa is all, “WAIT, THAT’S FOR REAL?”
But before Arya can elaborate any further, Bran shows his sisters the catspaw dagger, explaining that Littlefinger gave it to him thinking Bran would want the blade that was meant to kill him. For some reason. Arya is like, “HOLD UP. A cutthroat had a fancy Valyrian steel blade?” And Sansa is like, “HOLD UP. Littlefinger just gave you this expensive dagger? What did he want in return?” But Bran is all, “Nah, it’s cool, I don’t even want it,” before giving it to Arya.
Later, after Arya’s had a nice bath and pieced together a Ned Stark costume, she interrupts Brienne and Pod’s training session to ask if she can take a turn with the woman who defeated the Hound. Brienne is all, “Aww, that’s adorable,” and agrees to spar with her. And let me just tell you right now that if this episode had ended after this scene, I would have been totally fine with it, I loved this scene that much.
Totally, totally fine.
So they spar, and after showing off her moves learned from Syrio (water dancing), the Hound (go for an enemy’s vulnerable points) and from her time in the murder cult (that nifty little backflip she does after being kicked over by Brienne) it ends in a draw. “Who taught you to do that?” Brienne asks, to which Arya replies, obviously, “no one.”
Meanwhile, Sansa and Littlefinger watch the whole thing from upstairs with alarm. Sansa begins to realize that her one brother was resurrected from the dead, the other brother can time travel and now her sister is a motherfucking ninja, and her only major skill seems to be grain accounting; while Littlefinger is clearly thinking “HOLY SHIT, TINY NED IS TOTALLY GOING TO MURDERIZE ME.”
Yeah, she is, Littlefinger. Yeah, she is.
Over on Dragonstone, Daenerys is trying to get Missandei to give up the gossip about what happened with Greyworm, but Missandei is all:
Jon, having finally shed about 75 pounds of furs seeing how HE IS AT THE BEACH, calls to Daenerys, telling her he wants to show her what is inside the cave. Oh, I just bet you do, Jon “I know nothing” Snow.
Jon leads Daenerys through the cave, assuring her that it contains all the obsidian they could possibly need. He then leads her deeper inside to show her some Children of the Forest cave drawings he found. She’s all, “Oh cool! These are probably older than the First Men!” But Jon is like, “Nope! Because I have found some other drawings on this next wall of the Children of the Forest with the First Men! But wait, there’s more! Because if you look around the corner, you’ll see a much more intricate drawing of a bunch of White Walkers that Davos and I definitely did not draw ourselves, why would you even ask that?”
Jon, who clearly has a Masters of Westerosi Anthropology, interprets these drawings to mean that the Children of the Forest and the First Men joined together to fight the White Walkers way back when, and is like, “so you ready to ride those dragons North yet?” Daenerys agrees that she will fight for him and the North, but first:
Jon is all, “wah, my people, wah,” and Daenerys asks him if survival isn’t more important than pride. Fair question!
When the pair emerge from the cave, apparently without Jon Snow knowing any more than when he went in, sadly enough, Varys and Tyrion are there with some unfortunate news: they won Casterly Rock, but the fleet was destroyed and the Unsullied are now trapped there.
Daenerys is HELLA PISSED. WHY THE FUCK ARE WE JUST SITTING AROUND THIS DUMB ISLAND WITH OUR THUMBS UP OUR ASSES WATCHING ALL OF OUR ALLIES FALL WHEN I HAVE MOTHERFUCKING DRAGONS THAT CAN MOTHERFUCKING BURN EVERY MOTHERFUCKING LANNISTER IN THE MOTHERFUCKING RED KEEP? Daenerys then turns and asks Jon’s advice, and he’s like, “People might think your dragons are badass, but if you come riding into town burning everything down, you’ll just be one more shitty leader who let people down.”
Later, Davos is hard shipping Jon and Dany …
… but Jon is like, “UGH, NOT NOW.” Instead, Jon wants to talk about how many fighting men they have, “10,000? Less?”
The two men then have a long chat with Missandei about what it means to be a bastard in Westeros and she sings the praises of Daenerys as the queen she and the rest of the folks who followed her from Essos chose — not because she was some dude’s daughter, but because she’s awesome.
And that’s when Theonreek comes to shore, surprised to find Jon there. It’s one of the Winterfell kids’ less friendly reunions, what with Jon explaining that the only reason he isn’t currently in the process of stabbing Theonreek in the face right now is because of what he did for Sansa.
The Dragonstone group ask Theonreek where his sister is, and he explains that Sea Pacey has her, and he’s here to ask Queen Dany’s help in getting her back. Yeah, well, it’s going to have to wait, because Mom’s not home.
Jaime, Bronn, the asshole Tarlys and the Lannister and Tarly armies make their way across The Reach from Highgarden, having pilfered all of Highgarden’s food and loot. At a stop, Jaime tosses Bronn his share of gold, but Bronn has a pout that he hasn’t received his promised castle yet, and he’d like Highgarden, please and thank you. But Jaime tells him he’ll have to wait until the war is won to collect his prize because reasons.
Later, Asshole Tarly Sr. reports to Jaime that the loot wagon has made it safely to King’s Landing, now they need to hurry the rest of the troops and food along. Jaime and Bronn then chat with
Rickon Dickon about his first real battle experience and he has a sad that he grew up with some of the men they just killed. He also complains that the shit smell kinda took all the glory out of the battle.
And that’s when Bronn hears it: the low rumble of hoofbeats coming from somewhere over the horizon. Jaime begins shrieking at the men to fall into line, but I have news for you, honey, your lines ain’t gonna do shit against a horde of Dothraki screamers. As the riders come into view, Jaime has misplaced confidence that the line will hold.
That’s when Drogon comes into view.
Oh, y’all in trouble now.
Fighting fighting fighting fighting fighting, and Jaime sends Bronn to go man Maester Qyburn’s scorpion, seeing he can’t fire it with only one hand and all.
Meanwhile, Daenerys is going full on Dracarys on these Lannister motherfuckers and
Meanwhile, Tyrion arrives to watch the whole thing unfold from a safe distance, along with some Dothraki companions who laugh that Tyrion’s people can’t fight. Tyrion has mixed feels about this.
After having his poor horse’s leg chopped off by a Dothraki and after running around in the flames for a while, Bronn finally manages to make it to the scorpion, loads it up and shoots at Drogon … only to miss.
Bronn reloads, while inside the Winterfell crypt, Rickon’s ghost is screaming at Drogon to “ZIG ZAG YOU DUMMY!”
Bronn hits Drogon this time, but in the shoulder and this only serves to piss the giant fire-breathing dragon off. As Drogon swings back around and sets fire to the scorpion, because fuck yo wooden weapon, Bronn is able to somewhat improbably leap to safety in the nick of time. That plot armor is thick.
Dorgon then lands, and as Daenerys struggles to remove the spear from Drogon’s shoulder, Jaime starts getting ideas in that gorgeous head of his. From his distant perch, Tyrion urges his brother to FLEE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT while Jaime tries to sneak up behind Daenerys with a spear. Drogon sees him and is all, “Not today, bitch. I am not doing this with you today.” But before Jaime can be turned into a pile of pretty ash, Bronn knocks him into the nearby lake, saving him? Or possibly drowning him. We don’t know because that is where the episode ends, God dammit.
This was easily not only the best episode of the season, but it will go down as one of the best episodes of Game of Thrones ever, and for a reason: it was earned. The Stark Family Reunion and Daenerys’ attack on the Lannister forces were both so powerful because they were a long time coming. We’ve been waiting for these moments, and Show delivered in the most satisfying ways.
Obviously, the battle scene was spectacular, the highlight of the episode, but there’s not a lot to actually say about it. I will note that aside from the general awesomeness of a giant dragon laying an army to waste, the reason the battle was so terrific was that it was a solid piece of storytelling, and left the audience grappling with some very conflicted emotions. Essentially, it boiled down to Dany and Drogon versus Jaime and Bronn, and we the audience don’t want to see any of them die. Which is why it was a bit of brilliant writing to have Tyrion there, watching the whole thing from afar, torn between wanting his new Queen to win, but not wanting his brother or old friend to die in the process: he stood in for us, the audience.
A couple of other things about the battle:
1. Daenerys seems to destroy the very thing she went to battle over: the food supplies that Cersei was taking for herself. Presumably this will create problems for Daenerys both during the war with the Lannisters and as Winter continues to bear down on Westeros. Of course, this will also create more problems for Cersei if she finds herself locked away in King’s Landing with a bunch of very hungry residents.
And 2. Keep your eye on
Rickon Dickon. They recast the original Rickon Dickon with this actor fresh from the pirate series, Black Sails, where he did some combat work. The fact that they keep reminding us of his name suggests to me that aside from an easy laugh, the writers want us to recognize somewhere him down the road. Might he reunite with his brother Sam who returns the family sword, Heartsbane, so that Rickon Dickon can fight in the battles against the White Walkers? Just a possibility.
What I am actually interested in with this episode are two items: prophecies and caves.
The cave as a symbol has multiple associations that are connected and contradictory all at once. We associate caves with cavemen and cave drawings, this point in time when our primordial ancestors became human: they represent our distant past, and the moment we started to become our future selves. Caves serve as shelter and protection, but they also are used as tombs. Caves represent an access point to the underworld, the lower half of the axis mundi, that great passageway between the earth and the heavens. And caves are extremely feminine, an intimate space, representing the womb itself. This dual meaning, of womb and tomb, make caves the ideal location for initiation practices: one enters the cave, performs sacred rites that kills the old self, and one emerges from the cave reborn, anew. Death and rebirth.
And so we have Bran and his transformation into The Three-Eyed Raven, which happens to take place inside a cave that is buried beneath a great tree in the North: a perfect axis mundi symbol of there ever was one. Meera is not wrong in this episode when she says that Bran “died” in that cave — he did, and that was always the point. To be born The Three-Eyed Raven, Brandon Stark had to die away, be left behind in that cave-wombtomb. Which, in this context, makes Summer’s horrible death in the cave even richer symbolically: As Bran trained to become The Three-Eyed Raven, and began shedding his old self, Summer remained the last bit of Brandon Stark there was. When The Three-Eyed Raven/Bran emerged from the cave that last time, he had to leave Bran/Summer behind to die.
Then there is the phsyical cave imagery: the dragonglass cave that Jon Snow leads Daenerys through, while cavesplaining the entire time.
First, let’s just talk about the story that Jon tells Daenerys that the drawings represent. In the books, we learn that the Children of the Forest and the Giants were the first and only occupants of Westeros until the First Men arrived some 12,000 years before Game of Thrones takes place. The First Men were real assholes and cut down a bunch of the Children of the Forest’s sacred trees with the faces carved into them because they didn’t like the way the trees were looking at them. This starts the war between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, which, according to Westeros’ Maester Luwin, only ended when both sides decided enough blood had been shed. Here’s part of the story Maester Luwin tells Bran, Rickon and Osha:
“… some twelve thousand years ago, the First Men appeared from the east, crossing the Broken Arm of Dorne before it was broken. They came with bronze swords and great leathern shields, riding horses. No horse had ever been seen on this side of the narrow sea. No doubt the children were as frightened by the horses as the First Men were by the faces in the trees. As the First Men carved out holdfasts and farms, they cut down the faces and gave them to the fire. Horror-struck, the children went to war. The old songs say that the greenseers used dark magics to make the seas rise and sweep away the land, shattering the Arm, but it was too late to close the door. The wars went on until the earth ran red with blood of men and children both, but more children than men, for men were bigger and stronger, and wood and stone and obsidian make a poor match for bronze. Finally the wise of both races prevailed, and the chiefs and heroes of the First Men met the greenseers and wood dancers amidst the weirwood groves of a small island in the great lake called Gods Eye.
“There they forged the Pact. The First Men were given the coastlands, the high plains and bright meadows, the mountains and bogs, but the deep woods were to remain forever the children’s, and no more weirwoods were to be put to the axe anywhere in the realm. So the gods might bear witness to the signing, every tree on the island was given a face, and afterward, the sacred order of green men was formed to keep watch over the Isle of Faces.”
–Excerpt From: George R.R. Martin. “A Game of Thrones.”
Bantam Books, 1997-08-04.
So what is interesting about this scene in the show is twofold: It appears to move the pact between the First Men and the Children of the Forest to Dragonstone Island rather than the Isle of Faces in the Gods Eye lake (which I had hoped to see in the show, but seeing as they haven’t introduced it by now, it and Lady Stoneheart will just have to carry on in my imagination, I suppose).
But the scene also does away with this version of the truce between the Children of the Forest and the First Men that at least the Maesters have been peddling for who knows how long, this idea that the two sides stopped fighting simply because cooler heads prevailed. Instead, as Jon theorizes, it seems that they stopped fighting because they needed to join forces against a common enemy, the White Walkers.
Now, that might seem perfectly obvious considering what we the audience and Bran know from last season: that the Children of the Forest were as recently as “The Door” episode, alive and helping The Three-Eyed Raven in his fight against the Night King, but this is might be news to everyone else on Westeros.
But it also begs the question what, exactly, happened between the White Walkers and the Children of the Forest? We learned in “The Door” that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers by shoving a piece of dragonglass into a man’s heart, as a means to defeat the First Men … but we never learn what happened next. Why did the Children of the Forest feel the need to strike a truce with their enemy against their own creation? I assume the answer is the obvious one: because the White Walkers were bad and raising the dead and making all sorts of trouble for everyone, including the Children of the Forest. But we aren’t really ever given an answer, and at this stage of the game, I’m not sure we will, especially with Bran back on this side of the Wall and Leaf, our Children of the Forest ambassador, long dead.
All we have to go on are these cave drawings, specifically those spirals and circles all over the place:
Now, I don’t know if the show runners intended for these symbols to actually mean anything other than to be a part of the Children of the Forest’s iconography, a way for characters and the audience to identify their mark. But if you are curious, spirals are a fairly universal symbol used to represent life force. Spirals are found in everything from galaxies to the tiniest snail shell to the double helix strands of DNA. Spirals also represent labyrinths, the mysterious journey to the afterlife and return; they can also represent balance, and the cyclical rhythms of the seasons and life and death. As for that ϕ symbol, in our universe, it is similar to the Greek letter Phi, which represents the Golden Ratio which can be found in some patterns of nature, including the spiral pattern of leaves.
Speaking of leaves and Leaf, we know that these are Children of the Forest patterns not just because Jon says so, but because we have seen at least the spiral from them the Children of the Forest before. In the scene where they turn the man into the Night King, we have an overhead glimpse of their sacred heart tree (under which Bran becomes The Three-Eyed Raven) and it is surrounded by stones placed in this spiral pattern:
But what is FASCINATING is that the first time we saw these patterns happened much, much earlier. In fact, the entire series begins with Will, a man of the Night’s Watch, discovering pieces of Wildlings’ bodies arranged in that Phi formation:
And in the first episode of the third season, we see the aftermath of the Battle of the Fist of the First Men:
It’s as though the White Walkers are sullying, defiling the iconography of their creators. And I am not sure how to read that: is this a deliberate message being sent to the Children of the Forest, an upside-down cross hung by a Satanist, a “fuck you” writ in horse parts? Or … or do the White Walkers themselves believe that these symbols are a part of them, that they represent them; that they are children of the Children of the Forest, or even Children of the Forest themselves, taking back this land from the First Men who stole it from them? And so I go back to that question I asked earlier, whose answer seems obvious, but is not: what happened between the Children of the Forest and the White Walkers that the Children of the Forest would turn against their own creation?
I don’t know, and I doubt we will ever know, but this is the kind of thing that keeps me up wondering.
So back to that cave where we found these drawings in the first place … as I noted earlier, caves are this space that represent initiation, death and rebirth. Jon, of course, lost his virginity to Ygritte in a cave: an initiation rite of sorts, a transition for Jon.
Now, while Jon and Daenerys’ trip into the cave does not bring the sexy times, it does represent a turning point for Daenerys, the moment when she moves from one state of knowledge to another, from thinking that ice zombies are a bunch of hooey, to understanding that this thing might just be real after all. What is also interesting is that as soon as Daenerys emerges from the cave, she is confronted with the bad news regarding Casterly Rock, and she announces that she is doing away with Tyrion’s clever plans already. She then proceeds to ride Drogon into a decisively-won battle against the Lannister forces. Daenerys emerges from the cave as the dragon and launches her first real attack to reclaim her birthright in her birthland.
(Here I should point out that in the books, after Drogon carries Daenerys out of the fighting pits and rides off with her into the Dothraki Sea, he takes her to his cave on a hill which she names “Dragonstone” after the place of her birth. She is there for a long while, as she is unable to convince Drogon to obey her. Over time, she becomes ill and delirious and has some visions I discussed in a previous recap. Eventually, she comes to and Drogon begins obeying her, marking a significant milestone in the relationship with her dragons.)
The other thing that I wanted to mention about Daenerys and the cave, specifically the drawings, is that I found her fascination with their antiquity interesting. This is a strrrrrrretch, for sure, but it reminded me again of the prophecy Quaithe gives her — you know, the one that will never be on the show: “To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” It is just taken for granted by book readers that Quaithe is urging Daenerys to go to Asshai, this mysterious city on the edge of the known world where it is said dragons originated. But this idea that one cannot move forward until one addresses the past seems kinda relevant here. If Daenerys’ ultimate destiny lies in helping destroy the threat from the North, first she must learn of the past from whence it came.
Which brings me to Bran and this Three-Eyed Crow business. As I have pointed out so many times as to be completely tedious, there are a ton of prophecies in this series, from Melisandre’s misread ones, to the one Maggy the Frog gave to young Cersei, to Jojen’s visions, to the dreams young Bran has, to the things Daenerys is shown in the House of the Undying, to the Red Comet prophecies, to the Dothrakis’ prophecy of the “Stallion who will Ride the World” … and these are just the prophecies that are actually mentioned on the show — the prophecies in the books are almost too numerous to list.
And what is interesting about all of these prophecies is that they are examples of people predicting the future. Now, prophecy is a tricky business as Martin himself has said in multiple interviews, and which he put in cruder terms in one of the books: “Gorghan of Old Ghis once wrote that a prophecy is like a treacherous woman. She takes your member in her mouth, and you moan with the pleasure of it and think, how sweet, how fine, how good this is . . . and then her teeth snap shut and your moans turn to screams. That is the nature of prophecy, said Gorghan. Prophecy will bite your prick off every time.” (Marwyn to Samwell Tarly in A Feast for Crows.)
Often, the person receiving the prophecy misinterprets it, and either looks for things that suggest that it has come to fruition when they are actually looking in the wrong place altogether, like Melisandre and Stannis; or, in a more Oedipal fashion, in the attempt to thwart the prophecy, actually cause it to happen, ala Cersei.
And then we have The Three-Eyed Bran, whom we know can see the present and the past (and interact with it). But the future is a little hazier, as evidenced by the curious thing he says to Arya in this episode: “I saw you at the crossroads … I thought you might go to King’s Landing.” This suggests that Bran can see not the future as it will certainly unfold, but possible futures. Unlike the other prophecies that are shared on the series and in the books, Bran seems to tap into a vision of what might be, leaving room for an actor’s free will.
And this is interesting to me, and something I am trying to suss out the significance of. In all of his creepy exchanges with other people, Bran simply reveals something to them about their past that he shouldn’t know; he doesn’t warn or direct them towards their future. Whereas Maggy the Frog and the Ghost of Heart Hill give very specific, “this is going to happen to you” prophecies to Cersei and the Targareyns resepctively, and those events do appear to unfold exactly as were forseen, Bran seems to be staying out of the prediciton business. Is this because he can see a range of possible futures, and he is concerned that by choosing one he might unduly influence its probability of happening … or not happening?
Now, there are two moments that might contradict the idea that he does not know the future for certain: his dismissal of Meera, assuring her that he doesn’t need her anymore; and his handing over the catspaw dagger to Arya. Either he just appreciates that as a trained assassin Arya will make better use of it, or he knows exactly what she will do with it, and he is leading her on that path by giving her the dagger.
In any event, it is interesting that on a series filled with predictions and omens of the future, the most powerful Greenseer on the show seems to be reluctant to share the future(s) that he can envision. Keep your own greensight trained on The Three-Eyed Bran and what he does with these curious almost-omniscient talents.
Finally, as I usually post these recaps hours before the next episode airs, I’m sure by now you’ve read about all the little callbacks and important details in the episode:
- Much has been written elsewhere about the importance of the catspaw dagger that Littlefinger gives to Bran. But hey! I’ll go back over it, just in case you somehow managed to miss the 80,000 think pieces out there about it:The dagger is made of Valyrian steel, an expensive and treasured material which along with dragonglass is the only known substance that can kill White Walkers. The method of making Valyrian steel was lost to history after the Doom of Valyria. In A Storm of Swords, Tyrion thinks to himself, “Valyrian steel blades were scarce and costly, yet thousands remained in the world, perhaps two hundred in the Seven Kingdoms alone.”The show made a point of showing us the dagger in the first episode of this season in one of Sam’s books, suggesting that it has historic value:
The second paragraph in the book reads:
When Aegon the conqueror forged his Seven Kingdoms, he and his descendants would often decorate their blades with dragonglass feeling a kinship with the stone. The royal fashion for dragonglass ornamentation soon spread throughout the Seven Kingdoms to those wealthy enough to afford it. Hilts and pommels were and are the most common decoration for dragonglass if too brittle to make a useful crossguard. Indeed, its very brittleness is what relegate it to the great houses and the most successful merchants.
This suggests that the dagger might actually be a Targaryen relic. Hence, when Bran asks Littlefinger if he knows who the dagger belonged to, he might not be asking who the dagger belonged to when it was used to try to kill him, but rather who did the dagger belong to originally.
As for the question of who sent the assassin, it’s never entirely been made clear. In the books, it’s suggested that it was Joffrey who gave the dagger to the assassin to kill Bran, either out of sheer cruelty and sociopathy or as in an attempt to impress his father Robert, whom he overheard saying, “We kill our horses when they break a leg, and our dogs when they go blind, but we are too weak to give the same mercy to crippled children.” The Joffrey theory is never definitively confirmed in the book, however.
On the show, it’s even more nebulous as to who sent the assassin. Instead, the more important point about the dagger is that Littlefinger used the question of its ownership to his advantage by claiming that it was his … and that he lost it to Tyrion in a bet, thereby creating the conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters and setting into motion the War of the Five Kings.
- “Chaos is a ladder,” the phrase that Bran says to Littlefinger, is what Littlefinger tells Varys in season three when the two men have a bit of a political disagreement. On the most basic level, Bran repeating this phrase is his way of telling Littlefinger that he knows literally everything, certianly including what role Littlefinger himself has played in killing off half of the Starks and making the other half miserable.
- When Daenerys urges Jon to bend the knee for the good of his own people, she is literally repeating the argument Jon made to Mance Rayder:
- Arya’s attempt to enter Winterfell was a callback to both the time she tried to reenter the Red Keep in season one:
and when she and the Hound tried to enter the Eyrie in season four:
Fortunately, she’s finally made it through the gates of Winterfell. The only real question is how long she’ll stay.
ALRIGHT, MY LITTLE DRAGONS! I’m off to pour a glass of Dornish Red and try to climb down from this Dracarys high I’ve been on since Sunday!
Game of Thrones airs on HBO on Sundays at 8/9 p.m. and I AM STILL SCREAMING.