Coming off the high of last week’s epic battle against the undead the bar was set unbearably high for the fourth installment of the eighth and last season of the wildly popular series. ‘The Last of the Starks’ is this week’s episode, and with David Nutter directin viewers were promised an episode as gory and shocking as ‘The Rains of Castamere’, you know, the one where the Boltons and the Freys stabbed a freshly pregnant Talisa (Oona Chaplin), shot a bunch of arrows into King-of-the-North-for-a-hot-minute Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and ended ‘mother of the year’ Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) by slicing her ear to ear.
Nutter also won an Emmy for Cersei’s (Lena Headley) naked walk of shame in ‘Mother’s Mercy’ in the finale of season 5. However, tonight felt like another filler episode, much like the calm before the storm of episodes 1 and 2 of this season. In this case the storm will be Cersei waiting for everyone in King’s Landing with her armies and giant murder machines.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) delivers a moving eulogy to the fallen of the previous episode focusing on the loss of Daenarys’ (Emilia Clarke) right hand man Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Watching her weep over his pale corpse could not be more touching until you see Sansa (Sophie Turner) shaking and crying over the completely redeemed Reek/Theon ‘You’ll Always be a Stark’ Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). The pyres are immense and a painful reminder as to how many lives needed to be sacrificed to save all of Westeros from The Night King.
For those that are expecting Daenarys to become as crazy as her father there is certainly enough of side-eye and crazy looks coming from her this episode. She goes from being clever enough taking Gendry (Joe Dempsie) out of the way by legitimatising him and giving him a Lordship at Storm’s End. Too bad the rest of the time she is trying to convince everyone else to keep Jon Snow’s true heritage a secret so she can still be the best choice for the iron throne. Instead it plays out like a bad game of teenage girls playing telephone, with the amount of people that know multiplying by the second. Her weakening claim to the throne coupled with even more losses to those she loves is driving her deeper and deeper into wanting payback instead of just being a queen.
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) consummate their feelings, and the golden-haired twin finally beds someone other than his sister. Alas, their love is not to last, and Jaime ships off to help bring down his sister, or join her — it’s hard to tell with his speech before he leaves about being just as awful as Cersei.
So many questionable decisions were made this episode. Arya (Maisie Williams) turning down Gendry’s proposal; no one listening to Sansa (again!) with wanting to rest the troops before going south; flying dragons in a way they cannot see a fleet of ships approaching with giant crossbows aimed at them; Jon and Dany not being able to get over their incestuous connection (everyone else is, come on!); Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) confessing to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) that he’s about done supporting Dany and ready to shift his alliance to Jon Snow, nodding his head in a way that you think Dany might not make it to the end of this show alive, let alone on any throne. Or maybe it’s Varys’ days that are numbered since Tyrion is looking blindly loyal these days to the Mother of Dragons.
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Bronn (Jerome Flynn) shows up and negotiates instead of killing both Lannister brothers. It was a nice surprise although he seems no closer to his lifelong dream of getting someone to give him a castle. He’s flip-flopped so many times now, his character has become less of an assassin and more of a punchline to a bad joke.
The whole episode builds to the strange negotiation at a high wall between what looks like Cersei’s whole army and ten soldiers behind Dany. Tyrion’s pleas to Cersei were gut wrenching and a strong argument for her to just tuck her tail and give up in order to save the growing baby inside her, whoever’s it is, and it looked like he just about was getting through to her. But this has been building all season and there are just two episodes left, so of course in pure Cersei style she’s going to choose violence – starting with a murder of the sweetest, most innocent character on the entire show, dear Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). Her death lights a fire, literally, in everyone at camp Dany and all plans to not burn King’s Landing to the ground are now off since she must be avenged!
Poor Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) with his twisted and pained face watching Miissandei suffer her fate was enough to no longer want a Clegane-bowl as viewers have been patiently waiting for, as The Hound (Rory McCann) moves closer south to finish his business with his brother. Instead Grey Worm seems to now have a pretty good reason to fight the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) to avenge his beloved. It seems like the Mountain is going to be very busy in the next two episodes with all the people heading towards him with death on their minds, plus he’s going to need to protect his queen and her foetus from the coming threats.
Everyone is getting into position for the greatest battle yet, and since we are so near the end of the series more bloodshed is imminent. The biggest answers are finally coming and who lives and who dies and who gets to kill who still remain. The true terror is that in two short weeks all of this will be over and there may never be another show as fun to watch as this one. Dracarys!