Game of Thrones S8:E4 – ‘The Last of the Starks’ Review

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

This Review is Dark and full of Spoilers.

After the unrelenting action and excitement of last week, I was always very interested to see how they would follow that up. What type of episode would we get? The answer? A good one! ‘The Last of the Starks’ was pure balance, giving us everything we know and love about the show in equal measure. We had politics, great interactions, humour and death. This was probably one of my favourite episodes this season. If you were going to give a flavour of the show, to someone who has never seen Game of Thrones, this would be the perfect example to showcase the show.

With the ‘Great War’ now over, it was back to what made the show so compelling, the throne politics! I find myself enjoying the show more when you have the ‘kingmakers’ in play. When the likes of Tyrion, Varys and, in the past, Littlefinger get together to talk politics I really engage more with the story. I love this stuff. Luckily for me, this episode was packed full of it! So let’s get straight into the episode breakdown!

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We start with a mass funeral. Makes sense! All our characters get to say the final goodbye to a relevant character. We had Daenerys and Jorah, Sansa and Theon, Samwell and Edd, Jon and Lyanna. Jon gives an outstanding speech, which really sets the tone of the episode. It also had a real Ned Stark feel to it. This moment kicks off everything that would follow. At night they have a feast, this serves to bring moments of humour and drama in equal measure. Tormund is key in both of these instances. To kick off the drama, he tells tales of Jon’s greatness and achievements, which clearly irks Daenerys when she sees the reaction from others. She has this fear that they will love him more and thus losing her claim on the throne. In terms of the humour, Tormund would have some great one-liners, and even when he loses the prospect of a romance with Brienne , he gets over it very quickly. His performance was so subtle that it never felt out of place alongside the drama. Fans of the books got a little service also when Daenerys makes Gendry Lord of Storm’s End. While initially happy, his new title would blow up in his face when he asks Arya to marry him. She was never going to say yes. Like she says, she is “no lady”. I don’t think this is the end of this relationship, I just feel it will be approached after everything wraps up in the final episode.

We also FINALLY get Jaime and Brienne hooking up. I was so happy for both of them. But like everything good in Game of Thrones, it wasn’t to last. As Jaime would end up leaving to head towards King’s Landing. I hate this. Just stay at Winterfell with Brienne and live happily ever after. This is Jaime essentially riding to his death now. He won’t kill Cersei, but by her hand or another, Jaime will die in close quarters to Cersei. It seems to be where they’ve always wanted these two go out. I still think Arya will kill Cersei though, but think we will get a shot of both Jaime and Cersei dead next to each other as their final scene.
Jon tells Arya and Sansa about his heritage, though we never see their reaction. Arya was probably not that phased by it, but when Sansa tells Tyrion, you get the feeling she has taken it a different way. She wants him to be the ruler of the seven kingdoms. I liked how when Jon told his sisters or when Sansa told Tyrion, it was all off-screen. We don’t need to hear it, we know what the state of play is. I like when shows don’t keep repeating things.

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I mentioned at the start of the review that I enjoy ‘the kingmakers’ story aspects. It’s felt like an age since we’ve really had some juicy story focused around this. The same goes for Tyrion and Varys discussing and shaping the realm. The two clearly have differing opinions on who should take the throne. Varys is now full leaning towards Jon, as the best answer for the people, while Tyrion, at least on the face of things, remains loyal to Daenerys. I can easily see Daenerys finding out about Varys, and I do think he has started down a path towards his death. Whether or not this is used to enforce ‘Mad Queen Daenerys’ or not remains to be seen. But I feel they are starting to hint at that.

With the plan to move south and on to Kings Landing, they decide to split their forces. Jon will march down, while Daenerys will take her fleet and dragons down the coastal route. Arya and the Hound are also heading south, both of them proclaiming that they won’t be returning. I think Arya has plot armour at the same level as Jon right now, so I think she will complete her mission and finish the show alive. The Hound? Not so much. But at least it finally looks like we are going to get Cleganebowl!

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This episode had done a great job wrapping up the previous battle and started to push on with the main ‘throne story’. With such limited time, they have to move quickly and I fully expected them to end the episode on a high, marching towards Kings Landing ready for another epic battle. What happens next, I never saw coming. It was vintage Game of Thrones in terms of shock value. Out of nowhere, Rhaegal takes a barrage of scorpion arrow hits, killing him. We then see Euron’s fleet, with Euron as the one who killed Rhaegal. I love this guy! (#TeamEuron). Daenerys is enraged and charges at them, only for her own plot armour to see the barrage of arrows all miss. So turning sideways, making a larger target and all of the arrows miss? – I’ll pick this topic up more in our Spoiler Talk article. Euron sets his sights on her ships, and they are taken out.

With her fleet all but gone, and with one less dragon, Cersei seems to have the upper hand. She also now has Missandei. As Daenerys reaches Kings Landing, Cersei is waiting for her. And boy has she been busy! Not only has she stocked the city with human shields, but has the great bows now stationed on all of the wars. She has dragon-proofed the city! Tyrion pleased with Cersei to end any bloodshed, but you just knew that was never going to happen. I loved his speech here, it was so powerful that I honestly thought he was going to be killed, it had that feel about it. Missandei is killed in front of them, with the episode ending with a violently engaged Daenerys. Next week it’s all going to kick off and I cannot wait! Will they steer Daenerys down to the villain route? What will Arya do when she gets there? I feel next week we could see some BIG character deaths, though I said that about Episode 3…

Overall a fantastic episode. The politics is back and it’s a welcome re-addition to the show. We had more great character interactions and an engaging, well-paced narrative. Daenerys remains a wildcard character right now, she could go either way. And the writers are keeping their cards very close to their chest. I think from this point on, be prepared to expect the unexpected. Yes, the writing feels like heavy fan service, but it’s best to just go along with it and enjoy the ride.

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