And We Shall Never See Their Light Again: Game of Thrones, ‘The Last of the Starks’

***Spoiler Warning:  This post contains Spoilers for Game of Thrones through Season 8, Episode 4. Spoilers***

Opening with an air of somberness that lingers far too long, with “The Last of the Starks,” the living ceremoniously burn the past in more ways than one. After a buildup to this long-awaited final round of only six episodes, it’s difficult to comprehend choices, both narratively and in characters’ poorly thought out moves. From the abrupt ditching of a faithful friend to terrible strategic moves; in quickly broken promises and inexplicable or utterly avoidable deaths, this hour’s tone veered wildly and left faith shaken.

Tribute paid, nervous drinking and feasting begin; it’s a time to regroup and let down the guard, as it were. The celebration heralds new Lord of Storm’s End, Gendry Baratheon, who swiftly makes use of his newfound confidence to offer a proposal — just as quickly (and sweetly) turned down. Reunions abound, especially for The Hound, though he may (like us) be waiting for a particular person (Mountain) to cross his path. As the menfolk pat backs and regale with tales of their dragon-riding would-be king, his queen feels the sting of her discriminatory shutout and despite Jon’s reassurance, fears her displacement; Spider and Imp carefully observe.

In a sweet, if not strange nod to fandom, Tormund is bested by the golden lion’s hand, and his quickly drowned sorrow is aided by another maiden fair. Though nearly thwarted by Bronn, realizing his nature and fate, Jaime heads back to deal with Cersei over Brienne’s objections (and tears); by hour’s end, he’s got competition. Poor planning, bloodthirsty queens and frivolously foolish writing lead the remaining northerners and company like lambs to slaughter. Having already lost one dragon and seen how vulnerable her precious children are does nothing that spurs Dany to prevent Rhaegal’s fall. Euron and the Golden Company easily best the group at Dragonstone, capturing (of all people) Missandei and setting up a ridiculous King’s Landing showdown.

While Sansa and Arya ponder Jon’s parentage, possibly (again) planning a secret coup, Tyrion and Varys attempt to broker a backdoor deal — “If we marry them, they could rule together” — but queens will be queens and the two remaining are vain and cruel, one as mad with power as the other. Their inevitable and unpreventable fates intertwining signal the impending doom, and like a barreling train headed for a stuck on the track vehicle, all anyone can seem to do is watch the wreck happen.

Thoughts:

I’ll try to find some positive here but honestly, that was disappointing beyond belief. What a waste of what should be brilliant final rounds in this overall glorious series. To have any filler or poorly plotted events happen at this point in the Game is inexcusable. That said, let’s first look at the good …

The Stark Sisters are on point to the end. Arya and Sansa — and Maisie and Sophie — deserve all the accolades for holding together just as we would want them to. They’re smart, they’re true to themselves, the actresses have done a phenomenal job throughout, and I have a feeling they’ve already set their own plan (as they did with Littlefinger) for dealing with the queens into action. I won’t be a bit surprised if Arya’s on her way to take out Jon’s competition for all the right reasons.

I don’t like seeing Brienne’s broken heart, but that she got to experience her first time with someone she’s clearly into is (especially for this show) a wonderful thing. We all have mixed feelings about Jaime, and he’s done a decent job of heading toward redemption (go Valonqar, go!), but he made succinct points about knowing exactly who and what he is. I have almost no doubt he’s intending to kill Cersei, and I truly believe Jaime is also going to die quite soon.

Arya and Gendry are so sweet and adorable, I’d almost love her to have accepted his proposal but of course, that is never what Arya would do. Good on her for letting him down easily and making no bones about who she is.

Tyrion and Varys’s discussions were great, though the clear MVP here is the Lannister. Peter Dinklage’s expressions carried me through the episode, conveying everything we needed to know about each scene he was in (we have a dragon down; Daenerys out of control; hopeful yet resigned; please don’t do it, Cersei …). He is simply the finest actor on the series, and one of the best in the world.

Bronn rang true (dude knows how to make deals), as always and likewise, Jerome Flynn killed every line. Of all that happened during this extended hour, it was his moments onscreen that felt truly exciting and unpredictable.

Smiling Pod! Adorable! And got lucky!

Loved The Hound with Arya and with Sansa, though that line he said to her about being “broken hard” was a little too devastating. Speaking of, it was old school Benioff and Weiss to write Sansa as almost thanking her experience of being raped by Ramsay to evolve from the little bird she started as. Yes, our experiences affect us, but the particulars of what Bolton did do not define this Stark. What defines her is her own courage, her own strength, and will.

WTF Jon, and WTF writers? Jon would not just walk away from Ghost like that, no proper goodbye. Among wasted moments with Euron Greyjoy, surely there was time for petting and a hug.

 

I really can’t with Dany, with her terrible decisions — especially flying right into Euron’s to-be-expected trap and getting another “precious” dragon killed. RIP Rhaegal. RIP anyone with a good battle plan. RIP too many people and creatures for no good reason. RIP all dragons, probably. (CPS needs to come in and take Drogon away while they still have the chance.) And that whole thing at the end, with the over-the-top expressions of anger after …

WTF with killing the one woman of color, as the impetus to driving Dany over the edge? That made zero sense in any world, least of all this one. Missandei? Tyrion was on that same boat and in the same overboard group. So was the military leader, Grey Worm. But sure, Euron nabbed Missandei, and the show gave the fabulous Nathalie Emmanuel an unworthy sendoff. That said, I loved her defiant final word.

So, even though the books have Jaime or Tyrion as the prophesied Valonqar who will choke the life out of Cersei, and I’d love/expect it to be Jaime, it could be Arya who’s on her way to do the same. Then again, some people think Arya is riding to take out Dany (if Jon doesn’t end up having to do it, himself). Either way, I’m expecting both queens to be dead soon, possibly in the penultimate episode next week.

It certainly looks as if Jon’s being set up as the reluctant king on the Iron Throne. I’m not sure how satisfying that is, and I have the thought that he might be able to pass it to Sansa — who I believe would accept, with Arya serving as her Hand.

Since Bronn mentioned only needing one Lannister brother alive, was that foreshadowing that he might be the one to take out Jaime? Just please, DON’T LET IT BE EURON. I couldn’t take it if Euron lives, or gets to kill Jaime.

Jaime’s going to tell Euron it’s not his child Cersei is carrying, right?

No one but Varys is capable of keeping secrets. Speaking of Varys, Melisandre told him he will die at Winterfell, didn’t she? “in this strange country.” [H/T Katie] So, here’s hoping he’ll at least make it through another episode.

Perhaps the writers should adjust the episode title …

Best Lines:

We can still smell the burning bodies and that’s’ where your head is at?

They’re dead and you’re not.

See, you’re not the only one who’s clever.

If this isn’t a time to drink, when is?

Vomiting is not celebrating.

Yes, it is.

To Arya Stark, the hero of Winterfell.

What kind of person climbs on a fucking dragon?  A madman or a king?

Which one of you cowards shit in my pants.

And after all that, fucker comes and takes her from me.

You’ve changed little bird.

I don’t know how to be Lord of anything

All I know is you’re beautiful, and none of it means anything without you.

How about Tormund Giantsbane, has he grown on you?

You sound quite jealous.

I do, don’t I?

Are you drunk?

No. Only a little.

It doesn’t matter what you want.

Arya’s the one who killed the Night King.

And we’re doing the right thing telling you we don’t trust your queen.

I knew your sister was dead as soon as I saw those dragons.

Only death will shut you up.

Highgarden, are you mad?

See you when the war is done. Until then, don’t die.

I don’t want Jon to go down there, the men in my family don’t do well in the capital.

Maybe Cersei will win and kill us all. That will solve our problems.

I am here to free the world of tyrants. That is my destiny, I will fulfill it at any cost.

I’ve served tyrants most of my life. They all spoke of destiny.

We’re discussing treason.

You’re drinking quite a lot

You know where I stand, you know I will never betray the realm. I will act in our interests no matter the cost.

I’ve spoken as honestly as I can. Each of us has a choice to make. I pray we choose wisely.

I always wanted to be there when they execute your sister. Seems I won’t get the chance.

You don’t have to die with her. You’re a good man.

You think I’m a good man? I pushed a boy out of the tower window, crippled him. I strangled a man … I would have murdered every man, woman, and child. She’s hateful, and so am I.

I know you don’t care about your people. Why should you? They hate you and you hate them. You are not a monster, I know this. I know this because I’ve seen it. You’ve always loved your children more than yourself. More than Jaime, more than anything. I beg you, if not for yourself, then for your child. Your reign is over, but that doesn’t mean your life had to end. Doesn’t’ mean your baby has to die.

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over nine years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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