Game of Thrones: The Last of the Starks (S8 Ep4)

Game of Thrones was back with its fourth instalment on Sunday night, and it has severely divided opinion amongst fans to say the least. Before I continue with this post I have to say I’m a little disappointed by the GoT fandom for the negativity surrounding this season. Although I can understand complaints of the storyline feeling rushed, let’s actually appreciate the fact that writers had just six episodes in total to tie up a lot of loose ends. Would any of you write anything better in such a restricted time frame? I think not, so let’s just appreciate what we’ve been given. Now that’s off my chest, on with the review!

Noteworthy Moments

This episode kicked off with the commemoration and burning of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell, a gorgeous scene which underpinned some of last week’s tragic losses. Sansa and Daenerys were for once united in their grief and bickering temporarily ceased, both shedding tears for loved ones lost during Jon’s heartfelt speech. Shortly after this, drinking commenced in the halls of Winterfell finally allowing a bit of humour and lightheartedness into a season which has been thick with tension thus far, particularly during Tyrion’s old school game of ‘Never Have I Ever’. This scene also saw Gendry’s desertion of his bastard status, with Daenerys proclaiming him a true born Baratheon. This triggered a somewhat rash but adorable proposal from Genry, naturally rejected by Arya with her famous line “that’s not me”.

Jaime and Brienne are another pair whose relationship experienced some severe emotional turmoil this episode after Jamie turned up for a surprise visit at Brienne’s quarters, leading to the hookup all of us have been waiting for since they began travelling together back in season two. Although slightly fumbled and awkward, the majority of fans were delighted to see them get together. High hopes for the duo were quickly dashed, however, during Jamie’s midnight escape where he ruthlessly told Brienne he would always be loyal to Cersei before mounting his horse to ride south to King’s Landing. I sincerely hope this is some sort of ploy where Jamie will end up coming good – he’s come too far in his journey of redemption to return to his selfish ways of the past.

One of the biggest downfalls of this week’s episode was Jon failure to say goodbye to Ghost. Anyone who has read the books (or even if they haven’t!) understands the significance of the Stark’s direwolves. Jon parted ways with Sam and Tormund with heartfelt goodbyes, and yet he couldn’t give the wolf who has literally saved his life a pat on the head? To add insult to injury, a GoT spokesperson has actually announced since the episode that the only reason this was bypassed was because of the CGI budget. This was pure laziness on the producers part, and as much as I love Thrones I’m a little disappointed they skimped on this aspect of the episode.

Most important in this episode, however, was the revelation of Jon’s true heritage to his family and more importantly Varys and Tyrion. Sansa’s inability to keep a secret has led to some serious plotting behind Daenerys’ back and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Varys plays a hand in her death if / when it comes. It will be particularly exciting to see how this unfolds in the last remaining episodes.

Reunions

This episode saw the reunion of Bronn with the Lannister brothers in a tense scene involving the crossbow and a hefty ultimatum on Bronn’s part. Exposing Cersei’s plans to have him kill the pair, Bronn asks them to up the anti in terms of payment sparing their lives in exchange for Highgarden. After all these three have been through with each other, I would have liked to have seen a slightly friendlier reunion between the trio. That being said, when push comes to shove Bronn is a sellsword as corrupt as any other, constantly reminding us that all he wants is the castle he was promised. Would we really expect anything less from a man who is essentially just out for himself?

Deaths

I did not see the deaths coming in this episode, and the shooting down of Rhaegal seriously jarred me in a scene which I was expecting to bring me such joy (cause we all know the dragons are the best part of Thrones…). Underpinned by Ramin Djawadi’s excellent score, Daenerys moment with her dragons was building to be one of the happiest moments of season 8. The music cutting out so sharply alongside the arrow flying into Rhaegal really came out of nowhere and was excellently filmed. Despite logistical criticisms from fans that Dany would have seen the fleet coming from that height, we all know that this scene was in the episode purely for the shock factor and whether you liked it or not, most can agree that we were all indeed shocked. Daenerys is now treading seriously risky territory approaching the Battle of King’s Landing with just one dragon to her name and a seriously exhausted army. Her remaining character arc is another aspect of the story I’m very excited to see play out.

Missandei’s death really and truly broke me, especially seeing the impact it had on both Daenerys and Grey Worm. As one of the kindest characters in the series, her execution felt extremely unnecessary. I assume writers will use it as a factor to cause Daenerys to spiral into a rage, perhaps following in the footsteps of her own father the Mad King allowing her character journey to come full circle. That being said, Missandei’s final word being ‘Dracarys’ almost felt like a plea to avenge her death and give Cersei the brutal ending she deserves. I personally would love to see Grey Worm assassinate Cersei following the events of this week’s episode as payment for her cruel actions.

Looking Forward To…

Next week is going to see some serious drama, and as previously mentioned I really think Daenerys is going to lose it. Big time. She has suffered some heavy losses over the past couple of weeks and quite frankly, has every right to be angry. Still, the end of this week’s episode poses some other questions. What’s the deal with Arya and the Hound? Where is Jon? The lack of explanation of these characters’ journeys will definitely have a part to play in the upcoming episode. I just hope we see a painful, drawn out death for Cersei. She deserves a taste of her own medicine.

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