It's almost becoming a cliche now to say that the latest episode of Game Of Thrones is the best one of the season so far, but in the case of "The Spoils Of War", no hyperbole is necessary. The episode was a stunning show-case of tense film-making, spectacular in scope, incredibly well written and crowned with an escalation of a final act that was breathless, brilliant and bonkers. It was everything you want from Game Of Thrones.
It was also another episode with huge ramifications for the season going forward, particularly for the Lannisters. And not just Cersei and Jaime - there was a stinger in there for Tyrion too, who was forced by Dany to watch the decimation of his brother's forces as punishment for his failings as an advisor. She intended for him to witness Jaime's death, and that's huge, even if the Kingslayer managed to escape death's clutches.
The most interesting of the lions to focus on, however is Cersei.
For the first three episodes, she has been in the ascendancy, stripping Dany of her allies one by one and finally getting her hands on the Tyrells' fortunes and food stocks to deplete her enemy and bolster her own forces. She was going to pay off the Iron Bank, and as this episode showed, she would have been able to count on more support from the Seven Kingdoms' chief financiers in the shape of gold to pay for sell swords (specifically the Golden Company).
But now that has all changed. The Lannister army (or the significant portion of it Jaime took to Highgarden) lies in tatters, Qyburn's anti-dragon scorpion is no more (and didn't really work anyway), Jaime is missing with Bronn (presumably) and the Tyrells plundered foodstock has been blasted to smithereens.
Cersei does have the gold (as it's revealed that it is delivered to King's Landing in a bit of dialogue very, very easy to miss) but she has no means to defy a blockade of King's Landing, as food is arguably even more important than the gold. Sure, she has the Iron Bank off her back (assuming she actually pays the debt) and she can hire the Golden Company, but she's lost Jaime (or she probably believes she has), she's lost Qyburn's weapon and she won't be able to feed what remains of her army.
In no uncertain terms, that battle was disastrous for Cersei. She has lost the Tyrell stores of grain (which Dany burned, rather than reclaiming for her own hungry army), she's lost her right-hand man and the leader of her army and she's wounded
This is precisely the reason we can expect Cersei to actually talk to Dany at the end of the season, rather than simply trying to destroy her. We know - as per Tyrion's advice - that Dany still has the numbers to besiege King's Landing, and without food that will work. Perhaps Dany seeing one of her dragons injured will eventually drive her back to that plan?
The next episode will presumably set up Jon heading to the North again on the mission that sees him unite with The Hound, Beric, Thoros and Tormund (at Eastwatch, probably), and will show some of the fall-out of the battle of this episode, setting the pieces in motion to come together.
For all intents and purposes, the war is probably now over. The key players just have to come to realise it now and turn their attention North.
What did you think of The Spoils Of War? Share your reactions below in the comments thread.