The 300s Breaks Down Game of Thrones S8E4: “The Last of the Starks”

Obvious Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t caught up on Season 8 of Thrones yet come back later.

“The Last of the Starks” was an A+ episode for Game of Thrones as the show got back to doing what it does best. Despite the less than glowing reviews of Episode 3 (second lowest rated GOT ep on Rotten Tomatoes), I rewatched it yesterday and actually enjoyed it more the second time. Once you get over the fact that its dark and chaotic and not as many central characters die as expected its actually a pretty good episode. However it has become clear that Thrones (at least the TV show) never intended to have the battle with the White Walkers as the end all be all. In fact in the Ep 3 Inside the Episode, showrunner David Benioff actually describes the dead as “one of the main storylines” of Thrones. The key word there is “one.”

Is that reason enough for Thrones fans to be upset? Sure. Especially because if the White Walkers were never going to be the central storyline of the entire show (its literally the focus of the first scene of the first episode of the first season), then the showrunners were at best creating the longest slow play of all time with the Night King arc or at worst intentionally misleading viewers until they could quickly finish that story in order to move onto the last geopolitical conflict; the final game of thrones. Maybe I’m too big of a Thrones fan to be properly pissed off about that entire scenario, but I have repeatedly said I am going to wait until the season is finished so I can see the whole picture before deciding one way or the other. Thrones is getting alarmingly close to LOST territory though with a whole lot of questions that could remain completely unanswered. We’ll see.

So now that they’ve defeated the White Walkers, Thrones was able to turn its attention back to its biggest strength; the actual game of thrones. The character dialogues, the plotting, the lying, the simmering tensions. This was the best episode we’ve seen all season.

Lets talk about that emotional opening as the survivors mourn the dead from the Battle of Winterfell. It was always going to be a tearjerker when Dany said goodbye to Jorah and we see the dead bodies of characters like Lyanna Mormont, Lord Commander Edd, Theon and the rest, but when the camera pulls back and we see just how many pyres there are being lit, we get a much better understanding of just how many lives were lost. I think its one of the best shots in the show’s history because it conveys so much without a single word.

I thought this was an excellent episode, but I’ve tried to be fair in my assessment each week and this season has been bordering on a Wrap It Up Box situation. After years of slow playing situations and storylines we are now moving at a lightspeed pace, which has me questioning the decision to only shoot 6 episodes for the final season. Granted the showrunners were undoubtedly waiting for George RR Martin to finish the books (which led to extended stays for Dany in Essos and Bran on his way to the Three Eyed Raven) before ultimately deciding to push past the books and finish the show with just some guiding points from Martin.

But this season has been pegging characters into some roles quicker than I would think is realistic. I’m not one of these assholes that is stomping their feet because Dany can get to Kings Landing in a ship in 5 minutes. I’ve played video games since I was a kid; fast travel and respawn points are a good thing guys. However, Dany is turned from savior to nearly becoming the Mad Queen in a span of 4 episodes. Now don’t get me wrong, she has all the character development points necessary to get there with her army being decimated fighting the dead, her role as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne being questioned, and now her best friend Missandei being unnecessarily murdered BUT it all just seems a little quick for a show that has been thoughtful and methodical with its pacing for years.

Remind me not to tell Sansa a secret any time soon because she blew up Jon’s spot about his true lineage in a matter or minutes. For some reason Sansa just does not trust Khaleesi and maybe she sees something that everyone else is blind to because they either love Khaleesi, they admire her, or they fear her. Sansa has none of those emotions towards the Dragon Queen so maybe its more than just being spiteful; maybe she really doesn’t believe she’ll be a good ruler. We’ve all come to agree that Sansa has become one of the best political minds in GOT having been trained by one of the best in Littlefinger, living a hellish life with the likes of Joffrey and Ramsay, and yet has come out on the other side as one of the power players in Westeros. So maybe we need to start treating her disdain for Khaleesi as more than just unnecessary drama. Either way, she confides in her former husband Tyrion saying “What if there were someone better?” and officially rings the bell that cannot be unrung. What if Jon isn’t only the *rightful* heir to the Throne, but what if he’s the best one too? He probably would make a better ruler being a lot more measured, unemotional, and of course loved by the people of the North at least.

However Khaleesi put her ass on the line and decimated her army and her dragons to save the North and probably Westeros as a whole, so you can’t discount that just because she’s come off as increasingly bitter in each episode. Shit, I’d be bitter too. A classic Thrones power struggle continues to grow, made only more interesting with the fact that Jon wants no part of it. As the great Tywinn Lannister once said “Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king.” Maybe we’re seeing shades of that coming into play as Khaleesi tells anyone and everyone that she is their queen, whereas Jon never wanted to be King in the North, yet his role as king literally saved the realm.

Khaleesi actually begs Jon to bury that secret, which is something we’ve never seen her do. She’s been enslaved, beaten, nearly assassinated, raped and endured all kinds of terrible times, but she’s never begged anyone for anything. Is she unraveling or this just her political hail mary because she knows if Jon tells Sansa the truth she’ll never have an iron clad claim to the Iron Throne.

Also, Brandon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, the Three Eyed Raven, and last true born son of Eddard Stark has approximately 160 minutes left to not become the most useless character of all time. Up until now his most important contributions to the show include

  • Getting the Three Eyed Raven Killed
  • Getting Hodor, Jojen, and his direwolf Summer killed
  • Leading the Night King straight to Winterfell
  • Giving Arya the dagger that she needed to kill the Night King
  • Telling everyone about Jon’s true parents

Thats about it for the freshly minted Three Eyed Raven. I never really loved Bran’s storyline, but I figured the writers were building up to something bigger. Well that was a pretty big “nope” after the Battle of Winterfell. Sure I’ll give him partial credit for giving Arya the dagger, but thats considering I’m going out of my way to acknowledge that a dragon glass dagger probably wouldn’t have had the same affect. So here we are Bran. You have two episodes and 160 minutes to prove the dozens of hours devoted to watching you get dragged through the woods was worth it. Prove me wrong.

Bronn of the Blackwater is back! He basically makes a deal with the Lannister brothers that they need to pay the debts they so famously always pay or they’re both dead. It wasn’t exactly the bro reunion many had expected, but somewhere inside that cutthroat there is a heart of gold. It would have been shocking and unfitting for Bronn to just coldly murder his two best friends. Whether they have the pull to guarantee High Garden to Bronn as sufficient payment remains to be seem, but something tells me not all of these characters will be around to see that the debt has been paid.

Jon’s goodbye (or lack thereof) to Ghost was one of the sadder scenes of all time. This dog lost a goddamn ear fighting your war, Jon. Ghost was actually the first POP action figure I ever bought years ago so needless to say I feel like our canine friend deserved better. Now I fully admit I am one of those crazy dog dads, but come on Jon you’re not even going to give him a scratch behind his ear? That direwolf went beyond the wall with you and saved your ass on more than one occasion. Well, the internet was fully behind me and some are even completely off #TeamJon for the Iron Throne because of it.

At least he’ll be safe and in his element in the icy north, but boy was that sad. I guess if I’m going to wrap my own brain into a pretzel it was the right decision because we’ve seen how irresponsible Khaleesi is with her own animals.

Speaking of…holy hell we lost another dragon and I cannot emotionally handle it. Just one week after thinking another of Khaleesi’s dragons bit the big one because of her careless landing spot in a war zone, we were blindly led to its slaughter yet again. And I fucking called it. Probably because I am a Thrones psycho, but after seeing the dragon struggling to fly earlier in the ep and then seeing him back to full strength I knew something was off. Thrones never shows you something by mistake (except for that Starbucks cup). I literally said out loud “oh look the dragon is all better again” IMMEDIATELY followed by “oh no now he’s going to die–ARROW.” Euron Greyjoy ambushed Khaleesi and her fleet and gave us yet another heart wrenching dragon death. Jesus christ Khaleesi can you please keep these dragons a safe distance away from all possible dangers? Especially if the only thing that can kill them apparently are arrows and ice javelins, which have a pretty precise range of fire, and especially if you’re just cruising past the place you intend to destroy. Maybe be on the lookout for danger? Worst dragon owner of all time. She will probably get her last child killed next week too and I want no part of watching that.

I won’t spend too much time on the love circles, but Jaime gets with Brienne, which breaks Tormund’s heart in yet another scene stealing moment, but then Jaime leaves in the middle of the night to return to (kill?) Cersei. I don’t know if Jaime just can’t kick that toxic relationship or if he just feels responsible for her and thinks he needs to kill her himself. Either way I think Jaime will play a prominent role in the death of Cersei. Maybe he dies at the hand of Arya and has his face used to sneak up on Cersei or perhaps he is able to get past the Mountain (who nearly executed him last time he was in Kings Landing) and Euron (who thinks Cersei is carrying his child) to get to Cersei?

Now that the news of Jon’s lineage is spreading, people like Sansa and Tyrion and Varys are starting to wonder who might be the rightful (read: better) ruler of Westeros. Varys seems pretty keen on the idea of switching sides, openly discussing what Tyrion describes as treason. They raise a legitimate question about Khaleesi’s state of mind. She seems to be slipping further into mad king territory and is ready to destroy the very city she seeks to liberate. Is Varys ready to jump sides in the best interest of the realm or was he merely testing Tyrion’s resolve? I don’t know but I do know that Thrones is at its best when characters like Littlefinger (RIP), Tyrion, and Varys are plotting and scheming.

In another shocker, Missandei gets executed in one of the most unnecessary, ruthless and cold blooded moves in Thrones history. Cersei executed someone for the sole purpose of inciting Khaleesi’s fury. Its a move that Tywinn would have been proud of as we all know that emotional decisions are often the worst decisions. Khaleesi looks like she is about to do something reckless to avenge her beloved friend.

We do see that Jon and his army arrive for the next episode, but my god I did not realize just how undermanned the Unsullied army has become. While the show makes it a point to say Cersei and Khaleesi’s armies are now unsettlingly “even” in size it sure doesn’t look that way. Not to mention we have the whole Golden Company army waiting in the wings despite zero character development. I honestly don’t know how she’s going to take the city as her dragons have proven highly susceptible to the scorpion arrows, but Khaleesi is about to burn that bitch to the ground.

We’ve heard time and time again that the citizens of Kings Landing hate Cersei, that the common people don’t care which “high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace,” so its possible that if someone can take out Cersei the rest will welcome Khaleesi with open arms. Probably not if she starts raining fire on the city though.

My god am I jacked up for next week’s episode.

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1 Response to The 300s Breaks Down Game of Thrones S8E4: “The Last of the Starks”

  1. Pingback: The 300s Breaks Down Game of Thrones S8E5: “The Bells” | The 300s

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