Does "The Spoils of War" rank as one of Game of Thrones' best ever?

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Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 7 episode "The Spoils of War" written by executive producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Michael Shakman.

In short:  Dany's losses via the Lannister's pushes her to consider a more aggressive stance. Arya returns to Winterfell and there are many reunions inside its walls. The last act Battle of the Loot Train is unboxed and makes our faces melt like Drogon going to town on the Lannister army.

Highlights

Where do we even start with all the wonders packed inside "The Spoils of War"? It may have been the shortest Game of Thrones episode to date, but that's probably for our safety. A few more minutes and at least 50% of the fandom would have gone into cardiac arrest from too much tension, excitement and feels.

Let's get the minor stuff out of the way. Cersei played it smug with the Iron Bank toadie, Tycho Nestoris, 'knowing' that the Tyrell coffers were on the way with Jamie, and that money would allow her to pay her debts in the promised time frame. Tycho was all aglow like Scrooge McDuck as he floated perhaps investing more in her world domination scheme.  Simmer down, Wells Fargo, things are gonna get flipped by episode's end.

Jon found his cave of deeply convenient Children of the Forest drawings at the perfect time.  Turns out those wacky kids painted out the White Walkers ages ago from a previous war they waged on them with humans, and that was just what Dany needed to see to inch closer to believing Jon's tall tales from the North. Of course, she also required him to bend the knee to help to which he declined once more. Her counter of "Survival is more important than your pride" was totally on point, but that whole argument was moot upon learning from Tyrion and Varys that their Casterly Rock ploy was vexed by the Lannister ingenuity. With Lady Olenna's "be a dragon" still haunting her, Dany decided to be a tempered dragon.  

In Winterfell, the last of the Starks to return home - Arya - crossed the threshold of her family home once more. It was all perfectly acted out, from Arya looking at the castle from the distance to having to outwit two witless guards in order to reunite with Sansa in the family crypt. It wasn't exactly the warmest of moments after they got past their mutual appreciate the other still exists. It's ironic that Sansa, the poster woman of being underestimated, in turn, underestimates her always stubborn and resourceful little sister.

One of my favorite scenes ever for Arya or Brienne happened to feature the pair in an amazing sparring sequence. We haven't been privy to Arya's training to date, aside from her practice routines and some relatively unadorned moments of violence. To see what she can really do against a fierce adversary like Brienne was stunning. She moved like a pint-sized Neo. Their face-splitting grins of mutual admiration were far more appreciated - and 1000% less icky - than Littlefinger smiling down on them from his perch.  Laugh it up, Baelish. You're grinning at your imminent death.

And last, but not even close to least in any sense of the word, the Battle of the Loot Train. I haven't been on the edge of my seat like that since the "Battle of the Bastards." When the Dothraki started tub-thumping in the distance, my strategic brain screamed, "She listened to Jon. She's not going for Cersei and innocents, she's going to dragon up the Lannister army!" Sure enough, seeing the Dothraki leading the charge with Drogon laying a literal path of ash through the Lannisters was goose-bump inducing. The execution of the entire battle, from the battle blocking, the VFX of Drogon and Dany riding into war, and the intensity of the hand-to-hand combat was masterful.  It was even tragically beautiful to have Tyrion on the ridge watching the horrific carnage and see his own brother race towards his death trying to take out a vulnerable Dany as she desperately tried to take the arrow out of her injured dragon baby.

Lowlights

There was nothing wrong with this episode, so lowlights are just some character turns that gave me some whiplash. Like Bran's full turn into the Three-Eyed Raven now makes him about as likable as a dead fish. His reunion last week with Sansa was awkward, but his reaction to loyal Meera heading out the door tonight was ice cold. I'm glad she threw him essentially a "For real?!" for his weak "Thank you" for her service. She carted his sled all over the north, lost her beloved family members for him, and perhaps even felt a little chemistry from him as they traveled together. The poor girl!  "Chaos is a ladder," whatever, Bran. You're kind of insufferable now even though you can "see everything."  Even Arya's return only mustered a back pat for her and a Valerian steel dagger re-gifting.  Hope you like sitting in trees alone for eternity. (Tragic, I know).

I don't think I've ever done a 180 on a character as quickly as I did with Bronn tonight. I started the episode cheering that Bronn was alive, throwing snarky shade at Jamie, and laughing at his Dickon joke to then minutes later screeching at my TV, "Don't you DARE kill, Drogon!!!" as he loaded the scorpion to kill Dany and her dragon.  Yes, he's a hired sword and only loves the debauchery gold can buy him, but not the dragons! He doesn't even get redemption points if he's the guy who saved Jamie from becoming a pile of ashes and a molten gold hand.

Man, those poor Dothraki horses! I'm sorry for the Dothraki dead too but damn....

Oh, Theon. Is there a cat in the world that has more lives than you?

Things to Ponder ...

Jamie Lannister sinks to what looks like his watery grave! Can he be saved? Will Drogon fish him out of the drink as counter-collateral for Dany in her war with Cersei? Or like Lady Olenna foretold before he poisoned her, was Cersei's blood-thirsty heart and need for vengeance always meant to be the end of him? There's something sort of poetically right about that, but it also seems like there's more to his story, even if it's a more fully-realized death than his watery fade to black.

What did you think of "The Spoils of War"? Does it rank as one of your all-time favorites?