Did You Catch All These References And Callbacks In This Week’s ‘Game Of Thrones’?
This show now requires homework.
Remember when we used to just sit back in front of the TV and relax, letting laugh tracks wash over our floppy faces until we fell asleep? Isn’t it funny how we’ve pretty much all agreed that communal viewing is dead, and yet each week without fail, hundreds of millions of us get together to obsess over a densely layered, quasi-medieval kill-fest that is now so ornate and complicated it warrants online reading lists after each instalment?
Anyway, here’s your homework from last night’s Game of Thrones ep ‘The Spoils of War’!
Patterns In The Cave
An easy one to start you off! Jon and Dany didn’t just find a big ol’ pile of dragonglass in that cave, they also found drawings from the Children of the Forest. The scene focused on the picture of the White Walkers themselves, but there was also a panning shot of some familiar patterns that have a broader resonance within the show.
These shapes date back to the beginning of the series and have been featured in most scenes involving the White Walkers.
In this week’s behind-the-scenes segment, GoT showrunner David Benioff noted, “the White Walkers didn’t come up with those images; they derived them from their creators, the Children of the Forest”. Though the shapes have “a mystical significance” — spirals, in particular, are featured in the iconography of cultures all around the world — we’re not sure what that entails just yet.
“Chaos Is A ladder”
I know, watching Bran right now is as much fun as it was to watch every indie guy you knew smoke weed for the first time in Year 9. But amongst all the muted talk about birds, murders and thoughts he’s had while listening to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, he actually delivered one of the episode’s most interesting moments.
Bran Stark has turned into 'guy most likely to bring a guitar to a house party.'
— TwistedDoodles (@twisteddoodles) August 7, 2017
When Bran tells Littlefinger “chaos is a ladder”, he’s firing a warning shot that harks back to a scene from season three. Back then, Littlefinger said the same line to Varys when discussing his philosophy on war and power. The fact that Bran knows this when he’s been trekking through the snow for the past 500 years (factcheck this) is a worrying fact for Littlefinger — a guy who whispers dodgy shit to everyone in the Seven Kingdoms and has been actively creeping on Bran’s sister.
Pride And Survival
The drawings may have been the most obvious callback in the cave, but a smaller one also came in Dany’s speech to Jon. While trying to convince him to pledge allegiance despite Northerners’ lack of respect for a Southern ruler, Daenerys asked, “Isn’t their survival more important than your pride?”
It’s a line which comes direct from a conversation Jon had with Mance Rayder back in season five.
Now… I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that Dany knew that in the same way Bran knew about Littlefinger’s past. Instead it’s more of a neat mirroring trick by the creators and a nod to the pair’s similarities. They are both rulers who care for their people, they take care in their methods of war… and y’know, they have other stuff in common too.
Turns out it’s hard to prove who you are when you’ve been on the run for years stealing people’s faces and calling yourself “no one”! Arya’s homecoming to Winterfell has been a long time coming and was delayed a little further this week by some dickhead guards at the gate (dudes, maybe run it by someone?)
But it’s not the first time this has happened. Arya was denied in a similar way back in season one — that time, by Lannister guards — when trying to make her way into the Red Keep.
Speaking about Arya’s homecoming, the GoT showrunners have also likened her journey to that of Odysseus. The legendary figure of Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus returned to his home dressed as a beggar after decades away in the Trojan War. When he returns his wife is being swarmed with unwanted suitors, so he goes on a big killing spree before convincing everyone of his identity and reasserting his place at home.
BRAN: i am a psychic raven god
ARYA: I have been straight up murdering people off my murder list
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) August 7, 2017
“Dothraki In An Open Field”
Last week the internet went wild about a Reddit user’s callback to a speech from Robert Baratheon in season one. The scene, which features the now deceased king theorising about how a Targaryen attack would play out in Westeros, seems eerily prescient considering recent events. And in last night’s ep, that connection became even stronger.
“If the Targaryen girl convinces her horselord husband to invade and the Dothraki horde crosses the Narrow Sea… we won’t be able to stop them,” Robert told Cersei.
“Let’s say Viserys Targaryen lands with 40,000 Dothraki screamers at his back. We hole up in our castles. A wise move. Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field. They leave us in our castles. They go from town to town, looting and burning, killing every man who can’t hide behind a stone wall, stealing all our crops and livestock, enslaving all our women and children.
“How long do the people of the Seven Kingdoms stand behind their absentee king, their cowardly king hiding behind high walls? When do the people decide that Viserys Targaryen is the rightful monarch after all?”
Only. A Fool. Would meet the Dothraki in an open field.
— The Ringer (@ringer) August 7, 2017
Grammar Nerds Of Westeros
You know what I’d like to see more of in this show of dragons and murder and treachery and war? Earnest discussions about proper grammar! I wanna know each ruler’s thoughts on the Oxford comma! Let’s talk conjugated verbs, bb!
This week, both grammar nerds and Stannis stans (often one and the same) got a shoutout through Davos’ quick correction of Jon Snow.
“How many men do we have in the north to fight? 10,000? Less?” Jon asked.
“Fewer,” Davos — the man who recently learned to read — offered.
Between having gross grunty sex, talking shit about his wife, and murdering his young daughter, this was one of Stannis’ favourite activities. He’s given the same correction twice across the series and earned his own YouTube clip called ‘Stannis The Grammar Nazi’.
Hopefully Davos didn’t take the rest of Stannis’ advice on board quite so well, as it didn’t help him much in the end.
Game of Thrones is streaming on Foxtel Now and airing on Showcase at 11am and 8.30pm every Monday. Mel Campbell‘s recap of last night’s episode will be up shortly.
Meg Watson is the Editor of Junkee. She tweets @msmegwatson.