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Game of Thrones Recap Season 7, Episode 4, “The Spoils of War”

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, “The Spoils of War”

Macall B. Polay/HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, “The Spoils of War”

As epic and satisfying as it is to finally see dragons and Dothraki face off against the Lannisters outside of King’s Landing, the more important battle of “The Spoils of War” is between Game of Thrones’s two types of storytelling. The first, which plagues the episode’s first 20 minutes, is the stuff of pure exposition: tactical discussions, cryptic premonitions, and theory. At best, the language occasionally crackles in the right hands, as with the way in which Mark Gatiss cloyingly portrays the Iron Bank’s representative, Tycho Nestoris. “Arithmetic, not sentiment” makes for the sort of too-calculated approach that can swamp an episode before it even begins. It’s not much better when Jon Snow (Kit Harington) invites Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to view the obsidian tunnels beneath Dragonstone. Sure, there are cave drawings that show the Children and the First Men fighting together against the wights, but that convenient bit of ancient history simply isn’t compelling.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 1, "The Wars to Come"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “The Wars to Come”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “The Wars to Come”

The fifth season of Game of Thrones begins like a fairy tale: Once upon a time, two girls walk through a forest, muddying up their fancy clothes in search of a fortune-telling witch. One of the two is terrified, and halting, but the other is confident and brave, leading her friend by the hand, and facing down the hag. However, the interesting thing about fairy tales, like history, is that so much weight hangs on the perspective of those hearing the tale, and so as we realize that this bold little girl will one day grow up to be Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), we notice that she didn’t lead her friend through the woods so much as pull and coerce her. She’s not Snow White in this story, but rather the Wicked Witch, the one who’s told “You’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another. Younger, more beautiful.”

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 3, "Breaker of Chains"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 3, “Breaker of Chains”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 3, “Breaker of Chains”

Joffrey’s death last week on Game of Thrones stood out from the show’s many past fatalities in that it marked the first time a major character’s demise prompted celebration rather than simply shock. So rapturously received was Joffrey’s demise that some even took to finger-wagging over the glee, casting aspersions on those who would revel in the death of a minor, even a fictional one who made a number of Russian tsars look well-balanced in comparison. But as “Breaker of Chains” demonstrates within its first 10 minutes, even Joffrey’s own family cannot muster much bereavement for the departed king. Standing over the boy’s posed corpse in a private chamber, Tywin (Charles Dance) tells the next in line for the throne, Joffrey’s younger brother, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), that Joffrey was not a wise or good king, and that his unfitness for rule contributed to his present state. For his part, Tommen appears far more nervous at being quizzed by his grandfather than he does standing over his brother’s prepared body.