Game of Thrones: Recap of Season 8 Episode 4 – The Last of the Starks
The Great War is over. Episode 4 of the final season of Game of Thrones picks up in the morning of the aftermath of the fight against the White Walkers and the army of the undead, as our heroes are lined up to pay homage to those heroes who gave their lives to defend the realm. As the camera pans out, you can really tell how truly monumental their losses were, as funeral pyre after funeral pyre are shown on-screen. It’s certainly a somber opening to the episode, as Dany says goodbye to Jorah, as does Sam with Edd, Jon with Lyanna, Arya with Beric, and Sansa with Theon, who appropriately pins a Stark sigil on his body prior to the flames. Jon gives a touching tribute to those that sacrificed their lives in defense of others, and he promises to have their names and stories live on for generations to come.
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The story pans to inside Winterfell’s Great Hall where a sort of celebration feast is occurring, though happiness certainly has escaped this lot. It is awkward silence until Queen Daenerys proclaims Gendry as Lord Baratheon of Storm’s End for his heroics and accomplishments during the battle. For Gendry, this is certainly a golden ticket but for Dany, this allows her to show off some shrewd political maneuvering, which will surely put Gendry in her debt for his life. Gendry quickly runs off to find Arya and ask for her hand in marriage, but she politely declines and tells her “that’s not me,” a nice call-back to Season 1 when Ned says she can be a Lady of a large castle and Season 7 when she sees Nymeria’s pack of wolves.
Heading back to the Great Hall, the festivities and mood have picked up as the drinking has increased. Tormund has his heart broken as Jaime heads off to visit Brienne in her chambers, though luckily it appears he is too drunk to let this news crush him. After many episodes together for over six seasons, we finally see Jaime and Brienne end their sexual tension. It’s the first time sleeping with someone (or in Jaime’s case, sleeping with someone that isn’t his sister).
My favorite scene from this celebration montage though was the conversation between Sandor Clegane and Sansa. Honestly, it was a reunion that I had forgotten about, though the two certainly had a history back in King’s Landing many seasons ago. Both have taken a long journey to be back together, and it certainly would have been wildly different for Sansa if she would have left with The Hound during the Battle of the Blackwater.
I felt that much of the Winterfell plot (during the first half of this episode) circles around the tenseness between Jon and Dany and whether Jon’s secret will be revealed and who will rule Westeros. There is no scene that captures this more than when Tormund and other fighters are rallying around Jon as the savior of the world as Dany looks on. Their struggle comes full on as they argue in their chambers as they discuss what is next for the both of them.
Jon does not want the Throne nor to rule, but he feels a sense of duty to tell Arya and Sansa about his parentage. Dany is clearly anxious (for good reason) that the North and others will rally behind Jon instead of her because he now has a claim (and frankly, it is obviously the better claim than hers). The revelation is still shocking to her, though her entitlement to power outweighs the thought that they could rule together, side by side, as she begs him to tell no one. Having never been a true fan of Dany (I’ve always been more of a Jon stan myself), the writing is clearly on the wall as their relationship starts to fracture and hints of the Mad Queen start developing.
Of course, Jon’s honor that he got from his fath-…uncle, rings true. After the decision to have Jon and Davos lead some Northern forces and the remaining Dothraki on the kingsroad while Dany, Tyrion and the Unsullied head to Dragonstone, Jon meets with Bran, Sansa and Arya in the godswood to tell them about who he really is. Frankly, this was easily the most disappointing part of the episode for me as I would have clearly preferred to see Sansa’s and Arya’s reactions to the news. It was disheartening to see that we did not get their initial reactions (nor Tyrion’s nor Varys’ reactions later on).
As Jon is about to depart Winterfell, we see him giving several goodbyes in what is very possible our last time seeing these characters. Tormund is taking the Free Folk back north of the wall, to home, while Sam and Gilly announce that she’s pregnant and they’d like to name their child after Jon if it is a boy. Jon also asks Tormund to take Ghost north of the Wall, seemingly ending a criminally-underused character. I’m not that big of a dog guy, but come on writers, at least give Jon one more scene petting Ghost and saying goodbye!
As we cut to the Targaryen navy arriving to Dragonstone with Dany, Drogon and Rhaegal flying overheard, I couldn’t help but say out loud last night, “geez, let’s continue to waste the CGI budget on boring flying dragon montages.” Boy, was I wrong! This is where the episode has a tonal shift as the story is put back in to high gear, similarly to much of the Season 7 plot (which isn’t a great thing obviously).
No less than five seconds later, we see the scorpion pierce Rhaegal as its lifeless body freefalls in to the ocean. While the fact that Euron’s fleet can sneakily arrive without notice is a bit suspect, the shock value of Rhaegal being killed out of nowhere is enough to make me forget. Dany’s naval fleet is decimated, and Euron takes Missandei captive and brings her back to the capital. We discover that Cersei shrewdly allows the commonfolk of King’s Landing to enter in to the Red Keep for safety, as it now forces Dany to undoubtedly risk the lives of the innocent if she wishes to take the castle and city by force.
Feeling the range of emotions that come with Missandei being captured and Rhaegal dying, Dany now wants to win the Iron Throne with “whatever the cost.” Worrying about her emotional descent, Varys pleads with her to not put the innocents’ lives in jeopardy, but it appears that Dany will likely and ultimately have to use Fire and Blood to get what she thinks is rightfully hers. Varys urges Tyrion that something must be done with the Queen, especially armed with the new-found knowledge that there is another that could lead the realm; someone just, honorable, level-headed and a man with a solid claim. What he speaks of with Tyrion is of course treason, and the pollical maneuverings will certainly continue in to the penultimate and final episodes of this show.
The final ten minutes are certainly tense as Dany and her forces arrive outside the capital’s walls demanding Cersei’s surrender and the release of Missandei. Tyrion almost pleads with his sister by discussing her motherly attributes and surrendering for the benefit of her child’s future well-being. But instead, she wants to continue the war to decimate Dany and her enemies, and has the Mountain decapitate Missandei – obviously enraging Dany and Grey Worm and making the ensuing battle even more personal.
While there was a clear, jarring tonal shift in this episode, I did enjoy it much more than Episode 3. The episode got back to the roots of what has made Game of Thrones great; shocking twists and character interaction. Let’s hope that that continues as our characters continue to clash as we look forward to what should be another jam-packed episode next Sunday.
1) The Bronn scene really didn’t do it for me. I never expected him to kill Jaime or Tyrion, but the whole scene just felt off and a bit too rushed for my liking.
2) Are we ever going to see Meera Reed and the crannogmen again? At this point, it is unlikely, and I’m still surprised they did not help the Winterfell forces in Episode 3.
3) I guess there’s a new Prince of Dorne who may come to the aid of Dany and Jon? We’ll see what happens here, but I cannot imagine this will be a named character given that there’s just not enough time to introduce someone new.
4) I am looking forward to Arya and the Hound in the capital, as they have surely already arrived given the time jumps that occurred in this episode. I am fully expecting some great action sequences with the two, and hopefully we will finally be getting CleganeBowl as well as a chance for Arya to take down the last name on her list (Cersei).
5) Are we going to talk about Cersei’s pregnancy and how Tyrion knows? I thought we would have gotten a look at Euron, who should realize that Tyrion knew about the pregnancy (obviously from last season) which means that the child isn’t his. It’s something to consider as the madness will be turned up to eleven next week. Does the Crow’s Eye have one more wild card in him?
6) As soon as Jaime learns of what has transpired in the South, he of course headed out. He clearly still has conflicting emotions towards Cersei, and I think the show-runners were trying to convey that Jaime had to head south to be there, whether that means defending his sister or ending her. It is still clearly up for debate and up to the viewer to figure out what hem plans to do next. Brienne is obviously heart-broken but I would assume she quickly follows him south to be part of the action, one way or another.
7) I keep thinking back to Jon and Dany and how they could solve their situation so much better if she wasn’t so insistent of being a single ruler. She clearly loves Jon, so I don’t understand why the notion of a marriage and ruling together, side-by-side, has not been brought up. I think it is becoming increasingly clear that we are led to believe that Dany will go full-Mad Queen, and one of, if not both of Jon and Dany will not survive. As a Jon fan, it was a bit worrisome how he had so many goodbyes when leaving Winterfell.
A graduate of Xavier University, Chris began his writing career as a Xavier Musketeers Athletic Communications Intern where he wrote previews and post-game recaps for men’s basketball, women’s basketball and other Olympic sports. He has worked in the sports industry in various capacities for over 5 years. Chris is a fan of the Xavier Musketeers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles. Other hobbies and passions includes Game of Thrones and, as an Eagle Scout, volunteering as a Boy Scout Troop Assistant Scoutmaster. Chris was born in Baltimore, raised in Baltimore County and currently resides in Canton.