Warning: Spoilers ahead for Game Of Thrones Season 8 Ep 4 – The Last Of The Starks
I really don’t know what to make of this one. This episode in all fairness, was kind of a mixed bag. The first two episodes gave us so many feel-good moments, with all the characters reminiscing, hugging, drinking and shagging it out one more time before the Great War. More like the Great Battle, to be honest.
As cool as the battle of Episode 3 was, The Last of the Starks was not the way I had expected or wanted the show to move forward. Right at the beginning, we get a touching funeral for the brave, fallen soldiers who died valiantly so that the Realm could be saved. A touching speech from Jon, farewells to characters like Jorah, Theon, Edd, Lyanna and so on, and the fire’s lit. Jump from there to a full-blown party where the whole of Westeros is drunk, hungry and horny at the same time. All is well for the good guys.
Or is it?
After the Apocalypse that they all survived, they get right back to the old Game of Thrones feel. Plotting, scheming and arguing their way towards booking a place on that uncomfortable metal chair thousands of miles away. Everyone loves the bumbling Jon Snow who seems to be stumbling his way towards the Iron Throne while that look on his face keeps getting dumber. Dany doesn’t like that her boyfriend/nephew is getting all the plaudits. Sansa doesn’t like Dany. It’s all falling apart.
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We’re getting towards the point where we sort of know what’s about to happen: the inevitable conflict between Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen and Danaerys Targaryen over who should rule. And now that the secret’s out, everyone seems to be taking Jon’s side.
Now, we’ve known this would happen for quite a while now. But what’s disappointing is the execution. Everything feels off right now. This isn’t Marvel, where the fan service mattered for Endgame. We don’t need fan service here. Well, maybe just a teensy bit, but not too much. We’ve gotten to a stage where we’re questioning the point of everything that takes place right now.
Game of Thrones tells us a lot of things. But they back it up with a plot as well. Everyone seems to say that Jon is the best candidate for King. Because he’s a nice guy who doesn’t lie, doesn’t cheat, fights for honour and is always loyal. That’s not a good King, that’s a good boyfriend. And while Jon is, undoubtedly, the best boyfriend in Westeros, is he a good ruler?
Moving on to Danaerys, we seem to be getting strong Mad Queen vibes from her. She’s lost one of her best friends and ally in Jorah, and seems ever-so-desperate to become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. She seems to be going over the edge, more so in this episode than in previous ones. While we admired her strength, judgement and tenacity in previous seasons, she doesn’t seem to be showing that this season. Is she fit to rule, or is she going to end up like dear old Dad, or worse, Cersei?
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But what disappointed me here was Tyrion. Tyrion happens to be my favourite character in the entire show. Doesn’t need a sword to be considered dangerous, but doesn’t shy away from battle either. Except for the Great War. Tyrion’s decision-making this season doesn’t seem to be helping him or anyone else around him. When Varys brings up (mostly) valid points about Danaerys’ capacity to rule, Tyrion seems stubborn, adamant, as if he’s trying to convince himself more than the people around him that things won’t go that far.
There are a ton of points that can be questioned in this show, so here we go. The best way for this to be resolved would usually be to marry off the lovers, Jon and Dany, and sit them on the Iron Throne together. But obviously it can’t be that easy. It’s GoT. Nothing is ever easy in GoT. But during an analysis session between Varys and Tyrion, Varys says, “She’s too strong for him.” He’s worried that Dany would be the one who wears the pants in the relationship. Tyrion, who seems to be in denial about almost everything at this point, tries to reassure Varys (and himself) that Jon would hinder her homicidal tendencies, one which Varys starts to become very concerned about.
Meanwhile, Jon and Dany try to sort out matters on their own, with no success. With Jon’s boy scout demeanour and his inability to lie, things pan out exactly as Dany feared, and the Queen who’s House words literally say, “Fire and Blood” seems to be gaining a bit of ice in her tone. What initially was a united front against Cersei and her forces is now an uneasy battle between Jon and Dany over who should be the one to sit on the Iron Throne.
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Now on to the fan service part of the segment. We got a few nice moments in this episode, like Gendry Waters who becomes Gendry Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End, courtesy of Dany; and Jaime and Brienne finally getting it on. Arya rejecting Gendry, which was not nice, but expected, since Arya’s a badass, independant assassin now. She eventually gets tired of all the revelry and leaves with the Hound, which restarts the Adventures of the Hound and Arya.
The Last of the Starks did have some poor writing, especially with the women characters. The fact that Cersei acknowledged a man raping her in response to the Hound’s remarks that she would’ve been safer if she escaped with him way back in Season 2, is disappointing. It seems like the writers didn’t get a strong enough understanding of Sansa’s character after she’d been through so much. All the women at the feast in Winterfell seem to be mercilessly bullied or ignored.
Missandei, coincidentally the only woman of colour on GoT, gets conveniently captured by Euron Greyjoy in a battle where the dragons flying miles above didn’t spot a fleet of ships hiding behind a rock, and didn’t anticipate any sort of conflict right from the get-go. She later gets killed in a show of trademark Cersei cruelty to push Dany even further over the edge. It’s not saving about the realm now. It’s personal. And on a completely unrelated note, whose plan was it for Ghost not getting a proper goodbye from Jon?
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Perhaps the show’s only saving grace was Jaime leaving Winterfell to do his part in the Last War, albeit in a tragic, unnecessary fashion that left Brienne in tears. Forget Breaker of Chains, you got the Breaker of Hearts right here. From Jaime’s final words to Brienne, it would seem that Jaime’s riding south to kill Cersei and end her reign of cruelty once and for all. Which is Shakespearean in a way.
I love Game of Thrones for its ability to evoke emotion from the audience, as well as take the character arcs forward, good or bad, even whilst facing ice zombies and fire-breathing dragons. This episode didn’t seem to do that for me. What we’re seeing right now is a triple threat for the Iron Throne: Aegon Targaryen v Danaerys Stormborn v Cersei Lannister in a winner-take-all match. While this episode was as far from perfect as we’ve got in this entire show, things can still be rectified. The Last of the Starks leaves us more uncertain than excited, but Game of Thrones can still bounce back.
Oh, and also the first Starbucks in Westeros opened too apparently. Come on, you know that one had to be addressed.
That was embarrassing. All nitpicks aside, Game of Thrones still can turn things around and get back to blowing our minds. The next episode is HUGE, or so Emilia Clarke says. Two more episodes till the end. Things are going to get a lot more intense. Let’s find out next week!
By Aditya Sarma
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