Game of Threads: The Spoils of War

Sansa Arya and Bran reunited The Spoils of War

Episode 4 of Game of Thrones, while a pivotal point in moving the story forward, is steeped in sartorial parallels from the past.  A major theme that has been discussed for the past few costume analyses is the idea of the lead characters drawing on their experiences to create their present, fully evolved look, but it becomes all the more clear when they come face to face with a piece of the past that has molded them.

Sansa and Arya The Spoils of War

When Arya arrives at Winterfell, she is still wearing the looted Frey sacks and cloaks, but when she and Sansa reunite in the crypt, it brings to mind the differences in their dress in Season 1 when they first came to King’s Landing.  Sansa was a lady in training, and now she is the acting Lady of Winterfell.  Arya preferred to train with a sword and wanted more than a life of gowns and courtly affairs.  Now she is a great assassin.  They have both changed so much and yet not at all, and their clothing reflects their childhood goals that were put through the ringer in order to be achieved.

bran

Bran also calls to mind Maester Luwin in his new robe, another Season 1 theme coming full circle.  His childhood dreams of becoming a great knight were dashed, and he didn’t want to accept education in place of glory, but he is now the keeper of all the world’s stories- the ultimate Maester.  Still, there is a lofty element to the shape of the shoulders that Michelle Clapton has mentioned in the past as being a signature of the Stark look (the Northern fur cloaks, Sansa’s Season 5 wedding dress, etc…), so whoever made this for him, possibly even Sansa, is hoping he can remember and retain some of his former self.

arya

Brienne and Arya sparring the spoils of war

Arya also echoes someone else’s past when she spars with Brienne.  The doublet and leather skirt she wears is undoubtedly something that Brienne would have worn while growing up, and is a variation on the out-of-armor outfits Brienne wears in Season 4 over the course of Joffrey and Margaery’s engagement and wedding, as well as what she appears to be wearing under her furs earlier in the episode.  There is a kindred spirit there and I imagine Arya might someday emulate her further when she gets her own armor.

cersei cerseitycho

But Arya isn’t the only one emulating Brienne.  Cersei‘s gown is a direct take on the arming doublets that the great fighters of Westeros wear beneath their steel plate.  The square leather pattern is unmistakeable, and suits her as she speaks of war tactics and her spread of power.  Cersei’s square motif can also be seen stitched on Arya’s training vest- two women that are armed and out for blood, furthering the notion of Cersei’s influence not only on Sansa, but on Arya too.  Interestingly, the gown also has a reptilian, scaled element to it, perhaps as an offense to Daenerys, and perhaps as an unknowing evocation of the Mad King, himself.

Daenerys Missandei Spoils of War

Daenerys Jon Varys Missandei Tyrion Spoils of War

Over in Dragonstone, Daenerys and Missandei meet with Jon and head into the caves.  I’m not certain if we’ve seen a clear shot of Missandei’s leather armor from the back, but the circular back cutout is the same cutout from Dany’s blue gowns when she first took Meereen.  Dany is still wearing her toned-down ensemble from the last episode when she agreed to let Jon mine the dragonglass.  Additionally, the cape that is draped over her shoulder is now a blue-grey, instead of the imposing scaled Targaryen-red, signaling her softening towards the Northerner, but her royal chain and pin remains.  At this point, the chain almost serves as a personal reminder to her of how far she’s come, instead of an intimidation tactic.

Dany pulling out the spear

Dany with Drogon

Finally as Dany rides into The Reach, her battle garments, while a similar silhouette to her now-signature look, are lined in fur.  An interesting choice considering The Reach is probably still a lot warmer than Dragonstone, plus she’s about to lay siege with fire, making it even warmer.  Obviously she is immune to the fire’s heat, but unless the fur is providing more protection from weapons aimed at her, I don’t quite understand the reasoning, unless it’s a subtle hint that she’s now supporting the Northern cause, in addition to her claiming the throne.  It is also quite similar to Varys’ new asymmetrical Targaryen fur coats.

A few stray thoughts:

Macall B. Polay - HBO (Photo 9) (1)

Tyrion is wearing his “Tywin” costume while he looks over the massacre of the Lannister soldiers, and mentally pleads for Jaime to retreat before it’s too late.

Dickon Tarly Tom Hopper The Spoils of War

Dickon Tarly‘s armor is quite tarnished and beat up, considering the sacking of Highgarden was his first battle.  It would make sense, though, that Randyll would have no desire to create new and fanciful armor for his son.  He probably inherited the steel from an older family member.

randyll tarly the spoils of war

Furthering the idea of Randyll being a military man, it’s amusing to see the Tarly armor next to the decorated Lannister plates, let alone imagine what they must have looked like next their former lords, the Tyrells.

Macall B. Polay - HBO (Photo 8)

Always the badass, Bronn has no need for armor.  Ever.

45 responses

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    1. Dany really should have had actual armour for the battle sequence (akin to what Brienne wears), not a dress with some martial-looking elements. Female dragon riders of the past are said to have wore armour in battle, which makes sense, since there’s danger from projectiles.

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    2. One thing I haven’t seen anyone talking about…when Jaime gives Bronx his gold and Brown asks for Highgarden, Jaime tells him he doesn’t want it and says “the more you own the more it weighs you down.”

      I hope this isn’t foreshadowing to the puddle/deep water horizon…

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    3. Dany’s fur lining may be because its colder the higher Drogon flies???
      I do agree with Sean, the leather is fine if she is gonna stay above the action, but if she gets in the middle of it she needs a good set of mail/light plate for protection

      love Arya’s new warrior/ninja princess outfit 😀

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    4. I would imagine that Dany might have need for the fur lining since she’s flying at high altitude at great speeds. Might be chilly. Great read!

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    5. Sansa was a lady in training, and now she is the acting Lady of Winterfell.

      I thought Sansa was the Lady of Winterfell and the acting Queen in the North. Is that not right?

      Thanks so much for these lovely threads! I’m very much looking forward to them.

      There is a kindred spirit there and I imagine Arya might someday emulate her further when she gets her own armor.

      Eek! What a wonderful teaser.

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    6. selena,

      I thought Arya’s appearance in her new warrior princess outfit was the highlight of the episode; that, and when she twirled the VS dagger as she was showing it to Brienne.

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    7. Yep, I’m seeing the same numbers on spoilertv. Another new high!


      Maybe they’re saving Daenerys’ dragon riding armor for S8. It would be pretty cool to see her with one of those dragon wing helms like some concept art of Targaryen ancestors. 🙂

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    8. Daenerys’ lack of armor makes no sense. Also, Daenerys must have come over from Essos with just a couple of outfits, which look the same dull, muted black. Her grey cloak as she wanders along the beach makes no sense to me. 😀 I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t get any new clothes at all the rest of the series.
      The best clothes makers live in the Red Keep and Winterfell, and they too don’t have access to cloth that is not black or brown.
      The costuming is the one thing that continues to be poor in this show. IMO.

      Yay for the ratings! This episode deserved to be the highest rate to date.

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    9. For some reason, Arya’s outfit (and hair) really reminded me of what the young Lyanna wore the first time we saw her in the Winterfell courtyard. In fact that whole sparring scene with her and Brienne made me think of the tomboy Lyanna, and I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps her resemblance to Lyanna might have been one of the things Littlefinger was thinking about as he watched them spar, since he once said he saw Lyanna at the Harrenhall tournament.

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    10. I assume Dany wears furs when flying because she’s, well, flying! It’s cold to have wind whipping past you, even if the air temp is fairly warm (and I would guess it’s quite cool even near King’s Landing in late fall / early winter)

      It also occurred to me that Dany’s wearing a CLOAK in one of the Stark colors (light grey) in the in the Jon cave scene. Hmm… some foreshadowing there?

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    11. Daenerys needs to do what a WWII pilot might have done, she needs to be light and move around and be able to grip Drogon’s spikes (ok, the pilots had no dragon spikes to grip, but you get the picture) and not to freeze while going up and down into the skies of cold, winter-ridden Westeros. It’s not the Reach any more, it’s close to King’s Landing, and I don’t think that some light lining and a bunch of metal plating would do her any good, especially at this point.

      Poor Dickon is the very image of his father’s philosophy of life: frugal, utilitarian and to the point, an in-your-face statement that they hate bling. The armor is larger than needed, as Dickon is in his early 20’s and would surely grow bigger (should he survive), so no need to fuss around and make another armor for the future if the lad can wear an over sized armor for a few years (that’s how poor people dress their children for winter, I know as I’ve been one of said children; Tarly is not poor, but he’s a stoic if he’s anything at all, ergo the bigger armor). It looks rather as if it’s not polished at all to begin with (because that’s how we, Tarlys, roll!), as opposed to beaten up and old.

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    12. Interesting point about Bran’s cloak shoulders and I do hope it was Sansa that made it for him. Also the point about Cersei’s square pattern in her dress being the same as the garment worn under armor. As for Dany, she was warned that she needed more protection. Now that she has actually been in a battle she will realize she needs it and the next battle she will have some armor on. Ohhh, can’t wait to see that! Enjoyed the post!

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    13. Johnny Utah:
      One thing I haven’t seen anyone talking about…when Jaime gives Bronx his gold and Brown asks for Highgarden, Jaime tells him he doesn’t want it and says “the more you own the more it weighs you down.”

      I hope this isn’t foreshadowing to the puddle/deep water horizon…

      Good Foreshadowing possibility….

      I wonder if Jamie Lannister survives? 🙂

      If Jamie does survive 🙂

      Will Jamie Lannister (The Kingslayer) have an emotional meltdown in front of Queen Daenerys explaining why he killed Daenerys father like Jamie had with Brienne of Tarth?

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    14. Ten Bears,

      This reminded me so much of Hit Girl when she got her birthday present and flipped it (Balisong/Butterfly knife) in Kick Ass 1. Arya is small but amazingly deadly, just like Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz). I wonder if the show runners thought of the same parallel at all. Arya does some great flips of Needle and Catspaw.

      I loved Arya’s tight fitting leather gloves. It helped finish the total look.

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    15. mmk:
      For some reason, Arya’s outfit (and hair) really reminded me of what the young Lyanna wore the first time we saw her in the Winterfell courtyard.In fact that whole sparring scene with her and Brienne made me think of the tomboy Lyanna, and I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps her resemblance to Lyanna might have been one of the things Littlefinger was thinking about as he watched them spar, since he once said he saw Lyanna at the Harrenhall tournament.

      Good observation! What most people are talking about around the Net is actually Arya emulating Ned, whose appearance she knew well. The pulled back hair (a bit too severely pulled back IMO), the brown leather tunic, the sleeve-guards…pure Ned. It’s also the perfect outfit for a sword-fight and–judging from the sparring–does not inhibit her agility or acrobatics. Except briefly with Lady Crane, Arya hasn’t been around a woman since S1E8, yet the shape and length of the ‘skirt’ definitely has a feminine flair. which is also flattering. I wonder if designers will create a leather armor look for ladies in the next fall season. I also like how Dany and Cersei have martialised their garb, though obviously not adapted it for actual fighting. I do wish Dany would have a saddle made for Drogon.

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    16. Didn’t really initially notice but loved Arya’s outfit

      Generally speaking it’s been great to see the bedraggled Starks come home and then get cleaned up in great new outfits

      Cersei being masculine is no surprise, takes me back to the “love the metal work” conversation with the Tyrells in early S3

      Dany needs a leather armour that evokes a WW2 fighter pilot look, so the fur makes half sense

      That said the costume she is wearing is good for a post battle speech on top of a rock with Drogon behind her as teased in the credits

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    17. Love this series of articles!
      Any chance the management of this fine site would let you do a retrospective series? Maybe take an episode from early in a season and one from later? I’d also love to read your costume breakdown of the wedding episodes.

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    18. Ginevra,

      Well, we’re still not clear on whether she’s the actual ‘Lady of Winterfell’ because that would be odd as the king would have no seat. As for her being acting ‘Queen of the North’ – we can assume that she isn’t queen but is in some sense acting as ‘regent’ or ‘steward’ of the North in the king’s absence.

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    19. I want Dany to meet Ghost.

      It’s always an important moment when you get to introduce your new girlfriend to your dog.

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    20. Violator:
      Ginevra,

      Well, we’re still not clear on whether she’s the actual ‘Lady of Winterfell’ because that would be odd as the king would have no seat. As for her being acting ‘Queen of the North’ – we can assume that she isn’t queen but is in some sense acting as ‘regent’ or ‘steward’ of the North in the king’s absence.

      Yes, I was using the term “acting QitN” loosely. I’ve never heard that used as a formal title, to my knowledge, and “acting” in that sense doesn’t strike me as medieval.

      The official GoT website has proclaimed Sansa as “Lady of Winterfell” since the beginning of the season.

      http://gameofthrones.com/game-of-thrones/season-7/episode-4/people/131/sansa-stark

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    21. mmk:
      For some reason, Arya’s outfit (and hair) really reminded me of what the young Lyanna wore the first time we saw her in the Winterfell courtyard.In fact that whole sparring scene with her and Brienne made me think of the tomboy Lyanna, and I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps her resemblance to Lyanna might have been one of the things Littlefinger was thinking about as he watched them spar, since he once said he saw Lyanna at the Harrenhall tournament.

      Great point and good catch of the young Lyanna similarity! I tend to think she is sporting a Stark look, both Ned and now, as you point out, Lyanna and not Brienne. Although there are similar elements.

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    22. P.I.D.,

      Would love this too! Or maybe, character journeys through clothes.

      Or more in depth, as to which colors are used and why. For example, I have seen very few green dresses/clothes on the show. I wonder why that is.

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    23. Arya to Brienne; ” You swore to serve both my mother’s daughters” as a woman resembling Catelyn Stark simultaneously walks by the archway behind her. And then again about 30 seconds later the same woman walks by the opposite end of the courtyard.
      Circling the wagons?
      Another troll?

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    24. I really enjoy these posts. Not many people pay attention to the clothing designs, myself included. But reading these posts really makes me want to pay closer attention to what the actors are wearing now. Thank you for your observations and your summaries.

      I like to similarities of Arya and Ned. I’m sorry I didn’t quote the OP who mentioned that, but well spotted! Good catch!

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    25. It may be that Dany doesn’t need to be kept warm while she’s flying because Drogon is giving off a lot of heat. He’s getting that fire from somewhere inside, right? Also, she’s a pretty small and moving target for a bowman, so wearing armor may be more constricting than it’s worth. Even if she gets grounded again, light armor isn’t going to do much good and I can’t see her flying in a full set of plate.

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    26. Like your comparison of the Tarly armor with the more flashy Lannister or Tyrell. Tartly is out for function not visual appeal. I wonder if it is lighter than Jamie’s?

      I think Cersi is using her appearance (hair and wardrobe) to make the statement that she is the boss and not just someone’s wife. And all the black is like everyone is in perpetual mourning.

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    27. I thought the Sansa + Arya reunion was dull. no emotion. they should be Crying with joy. Now they just looked like they hadn’t seen each other for a couple of months away on a holiday or something.

      And what was with that Jamie ??? the water was 5 inches Deep and then suddenly it was 50 FEET Deep.

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    28. Wonderful article again I look forward to it. Ayra looking like a female Jon to me and a good call about young Lyanna, as she was supposed to (I think)? But I have to say that Tom Hopper looks mighty fine astride the horse and was my choice for Rhaegar.

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    29. aukland,

      That was the Blackwater Rush. A strong river would go from bank to main channel in a few feet. The water has been flowing through and removing dirt and rocks for millions of years. Or that shot was an intentional red herring.

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    30. Let’s talk about Meera still wearing her rabbit skin patchwork outfit in her last scene with Bran. It was just another hurtful injustice for her character, who should be treated as a hero, but instead has been casually dismissed.

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    31. Hogan’s commentaries have become a post-show must-read, though he didn’t mention Tycho Nestoris’ clownish straight out of commedia dell’arte banker duds (that purse!) which for me stole the show

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    32. Violator:
      aukland,

      Oh no, it’s ‘Lakegate’ again.

      Yep, the same old shite! It really pisses me off 🙁

      Perhaps after Ep5 is aired, D&D when doing their episode summary will mention that Drogon came down beside a lake or river and Bronn saved Jaime with them both ending up in deep water to avoid getting toasted 😉

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    33. Black Raven: Yep, the same old shite! It really pisses me off

      Perhaps after Ep5 is aired, D&D when doing their episode summary will mention that Drogon came down beside a lake or river and Bronn saved Jaime with them both ending up in deep water to avoid getting toasted

      Yeah, I don’t understand why so many people ignore the details that are shown, and then complain about inconsistencies.

      It was mentioned earlier in the conversation between Jaime and Randyll that they were crossing the Blackwater Rush, and that the gold wagons (which were at the head of the line) had already gotten into King’s Landing.

      There was a very nice shot of Drogon flying low along the Blackwater Rush, low enough to leave a wake on the surface of the water.

      The shots of Drogon landing were clearly along the riverbank.

      Yet some people still complain that it doesn’t make sense for them to be near deep water. At some point, I just have to conclude that people are looking for an excuse to complain rather than honestly watching the amazing scene presented on screen.

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    34. Sorry, haven’t read all the comments and might be reiterating what everybody says, but…

      1. How come Dany had no armour when going to war? Didn’t she have armourers, craftsmen at Dragonstone? Did she leave so suddenly none of it was finished?

      2. Meera. When she came to say goodbye to Bran in that heartbreaking scene, she was still wearing the messy rabbitskins she aqcuired north of the Wall. I’m like, Lady Sansa! The daughter of the Starks’ most loyal bannerman Howland Reed brings back your brother from beyond the Wall… and you don’t even give her clean, new clothes!?!

      The show doesn’t need exposition scenes between Sansa and Meera, but having Meera in new garb in her scene with Bran would’ve confirmed the Starks’ appreciation and wouldn’t have taken anything away from the heartbreak of the Meera/Bran scene.

      Unless this is foreshadowing of the Reeds getting royally pissed off at the Starks, and who knows what they, or Howland Reed might do next. He knows the truth of Jon’s parentage. That’s explosive in the Northern political situation. So maybe there is a reason why Meera wasn’t given new, clean clothing, on a meta level.

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    35. talvikorppi,

      I share your sentiment regarding poor Meera… My only conclusion is that this is the last time we see her in S7 and they didn’t want to spend too much money in a costume she was going to wear for only a couple of minutes.

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