REVIEW – Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4 – “The Last of the Starks”

(WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASON 8 EPISODE 4 OF GAME OF THRONES!)

It was one of the more epic battles in TV or movie history. Last week was the Battle of Winterfell, which is sure to be talked about for a long time. No need to turn up the brightness on your screens this week! It’s time for the aftermath of one battle, and what will be the start of another. The Last War is about to begin.

The episode starts off with a large memorial for those who lost their lives. I think this was just as much for us as fans to say goodbye as it was the characters themselves. It also serves as final confirmation of who lived. Getting confirmation that Ghost was ok was a huge load off of my mind! Jon delivers a speech at how they will all be remember for generations to come. For someone who doesn’t want the throne, this really was a kingly moment for him. As the bodies are set ablaze, we get an idea of just how many fell during the battle.

Sadness eventually gives way to celebration, with a lot of food and even more drinks. We get a few big developments from this. The first is the fact that Dany declares Gendry the Lord of Storm’s End. This seems like a popular choice for everyone except The Hound. Of course, Gendry rushes to tell Arya. She is celebrating in true Arya fashion, randomly shooting arrows. Long story short, Gendry proposes to her. Arya kisses him, but not for the reason he hoped. She basically says that she is no Lady, and that’s just not for her. As hard as it was to see Gendry get rejected, she’s right. Arya is different, independent and a fighter who would not be happy as the Lady of anywhere. I mean, we see her ride off with The Hound later on for some “unfinished business”. That is who she is, and she’s staying true to that.

There was one big relationship moment that seemed to work out. There was a game of “never have I ever” being played by Tyrion, Jamie, Podrick and Brienne. Things got a big awkward when the subject of whether or not Brienne was a virgin or not came up. She excuses herself, and Tormund tries to follow. Jamie stops him, and follows her instead. They finally end up having their moment, and spend the night together. Jamie even decides to remain in Winterfell with her while the army marches to King’s Landing. Is Jamie actually going to be happy? More on that in a moment.

Things are really starting to get tense between Dany and Jon. Tormund is talking about how much of a fighter Jon is, and Dany can see how much everyone is drawn to him. Even when they try to have an intimate moment after the celebration, Dany is still struggling with the truth about Jon’s identity. He thinks everyone will still follow her, but Dany knows better. Jon may not want the throne, but everyone other than Dany seems to feel differently. Dany actually begs Jon not to tell anyone, but he says that he has to tell Sansa and Arya because they are family. As if Dany couldn’t get any more paranoid. It’s incredible how much her mood changes at even the mention of Sansa’s name. There really is a bigger issue at play here.

I feel like Jon knows he has no choice in this matter, and he’s doing everything that he can do avoid it. He even goes against Sansa when she wants the troops to rest before going to King’s Landing and Dany wants to go now. He’s being very distant with everyone, like the burden is already weighing on him without the weight of the crown. You can see it when he says goodbye to Sam, you can see it when he doesn’t say goodbye to Ghost and just in general. Then he does end up telling Sansa and Arya the truth. Isn’t that a mixed message? Does he really think that Sansa will just sit on this information? She already doesn’t trust Dany, and now she might not have to. The interesting part is who she then tells herself.

She confides in Tyrion, who of course tells Varys. Now the whispers are starting, and Dany’s paranoia is becoming justified. Varys sees that Dany might be starting to lose her way, and slowly becoming the tyrant that she swore to protect the people against. Tyrion truly believes in Dany, and seems like he will back her until the end. The talk of treason is now in the air, and it’s only a matter of time before this information spreads. What happens next will not help Dany’s cause.

While Jon and Davos march the army to King’s Landing, Dany and Tyrion’s contingent is ambushed at sea. Euron leads this sneak attack from Cersei that even leads to the death of another dragon, leaving only Drogon as the last of the dragons. We would also find out that Missandei would end up being taken prisoner by Euron. After taking a hit that they could ill afford, Dany wants to press on now more than ever. Here’s the difference, innocent people will die if she does. I was Team Dany for a while, but now I’m starting to wonder if she’s too far gone. Tyrion even suggests that they try to ask Cersei to surrender, and she doesn’t go for it right away. Finally, she agrees and off they go.

I realize asking Cersei to surrender is ridiculous, but now her refusal makes her look like the bad guy all over again. She seems more determined than ever to remain in power. She also tells Euron that the child she is carrying is his, which I’m not sure that I 100% believe. She will say and do whatever is necessary to keep her throne. I wonder how much this story will change once Jamie turns back up in King’s Landing. Yeah you can go back to hating Jamie again. He leaves Brienne and talks about how much of a horrible person that he is. At least we agree on something, Jamie. Cersei has much more pressing issues to deal with right now.

After some Hand to Hand discussion, neither Queen is willing to surrender. Tyrion even tries to reason with Cersei himself, but all she does is decide not to fire 20 arrows at him. That’s about as warm and fuzzy as Cersei gets. She also gives Missandei a chance for some last words before chopping her head off in front of everyone. Dany is REALLY mad now, and it looks like the bloodbath is on.

You had to know that this clash was inevitable, but I’m not so sure that this is all about the Iron Throne. To me there is a “absolute power corrupts absolutely” theme brewing here. Look what this quest for the throne has done to Dany. Sure some of it was necessary, but now she is slowly sliding into that tyrant territory. Then you have Jon, and the question is, is he the most incorruptible of them all? He knows he could have the power, and he doesn’t want it. Is it the burden of it all or is there more to it than that? Does Sansa really want the power? She doesn’t seem to want to hold the power in the North, nevermind the Seven Kingdoms. While I understand the recent criticisms of the show, I am kind of looking at this differently. I also might be more invested in certain characters than others are. We’re also talking about a show that, despite it’s perceived faults, is popular enough to get a coffee cup trending for more than 24 hours. No matter what your perspective, this is a television event that continues to be one of the most compelling in recent memory.

Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

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