And just like that, Daenerys is back in the game. The fourth episode of Game of Thrones season seven sees the Dragon Queen take matters of strategy into her own hands after Tyrion's "clever plans" fail. After three episodes of hanging out in Dragonstone as her allies fall all around her, Daenerys takes Drogon and the Dothraki to attack the Lannister army as they are preparing to deliver their sudden influx of gold, courtesy of the siege on Highgarden, to the Iron Bank.
The move is a wise one for Daenerys to make because instead of raining fire down on King's Landing and the capital's citizens, she targets only the army. In this way, it can be seen as a clean battle with little to no civilian casualties, which is more than Cersei can claim since her first act as Queen is to blow up the Great Sept of Baelor and the surrounding area. Daenerys's attack on the Lannister army will have lasting ramifications for everyone involved. Let's take a look at what this fiery battle will mean for all of Game of Thrones's major players.
Daenerys Has Shown Her Strength
Up until this point, Cersei and her army have had the upper hand. When Euron attacks Daenerys's fleet, Cersei essentially starts the war between herself and the Dragon Queen. Since then, Daenerys has lost all of her major allies in Westeros as the Sand Snakes, the Greyjoy siblings, and the Tyrells all fall to the Lannisters. The Mother of Dragons needs a win, and she gets one by attacking the Lannisters when their guard is down.
By taking the army unaware, she shows both a mastery of strategy and the brute force of her Dothraki army. The people of Westeros have never had to fight anyone like the Dothraki before, and they certainly haven't dealt with dragons firsthand. Daenerys is truly the queen who can make impossible things happen, and by laying waste to the Lannister army so soon after their victory at Highgarden, she proves she's a true threat to the throne and sets up a scenario where she could be seen as a viable option to lead the Seven Kingdoms in the eyes of the people.
Yes, Cersei Can Still Pay Her Debts
Though it wasn't initially clear, the gold from Highgarden was sent ahead of time, so it's safe. The dragon only torched the food and supplies. Daenerys doesn't need gold to win this war, but the Lannister queen does. She's in debt to the Iron Bank, and if she couldn't pay back the money her father borrowed, she wouldn't be able to secure funds to build up her fleet or add more men to her army.
The Dragon Killer Is Destroyed
That fancy giant crossbow Cersei had built to kill Daenerys's dragons is officially gone. Sure, she can have someone rebuild it, but it isn't as effective as she had hoped it would be. The arrow does pierce Drogon's hide, but it doesn't kill him. More importantly, Daenerys will now know to expect to see the weapon on the battlefield and plan accordingly next time. Cersei has just lost the element of surprise.
Jaime May Be a Hostage
Jaime's fate is uncertain at this point, but Tyrion sees Bronn knock his brother into the lake before Drogon's blast of fire can kill him. The Kingslayer may be taken hostage as a result. As Cersei's lover and brother and leader of her Queen's Guard, he could be a valuable bargaining chip for Daenerys.
Tyrion's Loyalties Could Become Conflicted
While he loathes his sister, Tyrion genuinely loves his brother. He also owes him his life. If Jaime survives falling into the water in full armor and is taken hostage by the Dragon Queen, Tyrion's loyalty to Daenerys could be tested. The temptation to set his brother free will be high. After all, a Lannister always pays his debts, and Jaime has a favor to call in.
Daenerys Can Finally Speak to the People of Westeros
So far, Cersei is using fear to gain allies against Daenerys. Had the Khaleesi gone full scorched-earth on King's Landing, then the war would be over, but she would be forced to rule with fear. That's not Daenerys's style. By attacking the Lannister army in a secluded area, she ensures that most of the people who witness the bloody battle are soldiers and not civilians. In the preview for next week, she seems to be giving those who live a chance to join her. If she also makes sure the people in the southern area keep the grain and food supplies that the Lannisters were taking from them, then she will be seen as benevolent.
If she can sway members of the Lannister army over to her side and show the common people that she is a just leader, then she can begin to make inroads with the people of Westeros — and that will be the true key to winning this war.