I think it’s time for me to come to terms with the possibility that Game of Thrones might not go out on a high. Maybe the hype got too big, or maybe the show’s writers realized they had no idea how to bring everything to a close after surpassing Martin’s books (although he did divulge the ending to them). Whatever the reason, four episodes in, and I’m not exactly wowed. There have been some exceptional singular moments, but the show feels like it’s lost a lot of what made it so special in its earlier seasons. It used to be nuanced and elegant; the dialogue was always layered and thought-provoking, and the action carefully calibrated. But now? Now it’s just bizarre.
The Last of the Starks is a very strange episode that tries to balance a character-driven first half, with a whole lot of batshit craziness in its second. It’s also the kind of episode that spends 20 minutes with everybody getting wasted over a celebratory dinner, and then illogically cuts out Sansa and Arya’s reactions to Jon’s parenthood bombshell – one of the most important revelations the series has ever thrown at us. I get that you don’t want repetitive scenes of Jon telling people the truth about his lineage, but if you were to focus on anybody’s reactions to this gamechanger, it would be on the two women who grew up thinking they were his family. See, I told you this was a strange episode.
While Rhaegal’s death is harrowing and heartbreaking (yes I’m quite attached to those dragons), it’s also ridiculous to accept even in Game of Thrones‘s fantastical world. How could Dany not see Euron’s enormous fleet when she was FLYING OVERHEAD in the clouds. More importantly, are we truly expected to believe that Euron, the dumbest character in Westeros, is capable of taking out a dragon when no one else could? The attack in question barely has time to land; the show simply glosses over the fact that Dany just lost another dragon in the span of two seconds and it’s on to Missandei’s kidnapping. Here the show doesn’t even bother to show or tell us how she was kidnapped in the middle of the ocean, or how the rest of the characters found out about it. It’s just ludicrous.
The show’s treatment of Dany is also troubling. It’s far too predictable to have the Dragon Queen go mad like her father, but the show keeps painting her as an unstable dictator as compared to noble ol’ Jon. I’ll try to reserve judgement until I see how her arc plays out as Game of Thrones has always subverted my expectations in the past. Fingers crossed.
Criticisms aside, the episode’s final sequence is a stunner. There’s a whole lot of tension with the two queens facing off with Missandei’s life hanging in the balance. I was sure Cersei would push Dany’s confidante off the ledge, which makes her ordering The Mountain to behead her prisoner all the more horrifying. The look on Emilia Clarke’s face after Missandei is murdered is just immensely powerful. Clarke does a beautiful job unsheathing all that rage and it really sets up the final two hours in a magnificent way.
Bits & Beheadings
- So let me get this straight: last week we couldn’t see anything, and now we can see too much? (Hello Starbucks).
- Dany making Gendry a lord is especially cunning. It comes off as selfless when we all know that’s not the case as she tries to solidify her authority.
- Sansa telling The Hound that getting raped and abused made her stronger is really cringewrothy. You’d think after all the backlash that Thrones received over the years that they would handle this storyline with a bit more finesse. I guess this is what happens when you don’t have any women in your writer’s room.
- I’m a bit surprised that the show wrote Tormund off so quickly. Nothing ever happened between him and Brienne, and now he’s got Ghost for a buddy (thanks Jon for barely acknowledging your pet but I guess the CGI budget got blown last week).
- More ridiculousness: Jon making his sisters “swear” not to tell anybody about his Targaryen lineage. Really? Surely the show could have handled this better.
- At least Sansa kind of reacted to Jon’s news by spilling the goods to Tyrion. We saw nothing of Arya’s reaction to the revelation. Utterly idiotic writing choice as far as I’m concerned.
- Arya and the Hound together again! I love this duo. Clegane Bowl here we come!
- Does anybody actually believe Bronn won’t be involved in the final battle?
- I really need the show to give Bran something to do. He’s just so painfully useless.
- After years of buildup, Jaime and Brienne finally consummate their relationship. I’m not sure how I feel about Brienne sobbing like a schoolgirl at the end but Gwendoline Christie is terrific in the moment.
- Place your bets: Is Jaime going to kill Cersei or protect her? Would it be too predictable to have him be the one to off her? Should it be Arya?
- Gilly is pregnant again. If you actually care about that development, we can’t be friends.
- Why does Dany charge at Euron and not Dracarys him? Does she realize it’s too risky and thus swiftly turns around? It’s really not made clear.
- I honestly can’t wait for Dany to barbecue Varys. It’s been a long time coming.
- When will Tyrion stop having faith that his sister can be redeemed? His plea to her is just insanely naive.
- Isn’t Euron wondering how Tyrion knows about his supposed baby?
- Poor Grey Worm. This won’t end well.
- Missandei’s final words are “Dracarys” which means dragonfire. More importantly, it’s the word that Dany said to free her from captivity in season three. It’s just a beautiful moment.
- There’s a lot of hate online over the fact that Thrones killed off its only woman of color. I can’t say I disagree with that sentiment.
Kings & Quips
Jaime: I’ve never slept with a knight before.
Brienne: I’ve never slept with anyone before.
Tyrion: (to Jaime) I’m happy that you’ll finally have to climb for it. Do you know how long I’ve waited to tell tall-person jokes?
Bronn: (to Tyrion) That title’s worth as much as a blond hair from your brother’s ballsack.
Tyrion: You broke my nose!
Bronn: I did not break your nose.
Tyrion: How do you know?
Bronn: Because I’ve been breaking noses since I was your size, and I know what it sounds like.
Bronn: That’s how all the great houses started, isn’t it? With a hard bastard who was good at killing people. Kill a few hundred people, they make you a lord. Kill a few thousand, they make you king.
Hound: You’re the big hero.
Arya: Don’t like heroes.
Hound: It must have felt good sticking a knife in that horned fucker.
Arya: Felt better than dying.
Hound: You’re heading to King’s Landing?
Arya: I have some unfinished business.
Hound: Me too. I don’t plan on coming back.
Arya: Neither do I.
Hound: Gonna leave me to die again if I get hurt?
Gilly: If it’s a boy, we want to name him Jon.
Jon: I hope it’s a girl.
Varys: Do you think she wants to share the throne? She does not like to have her authority questioned.
Tyrion: Something she has in common with every monarch who ever lived.
Varys: I worry about her state of mind.
Tyrion: We are advisors to the queen. Worrying about her state of mind is our job. We still have to take King’s Landing. Maybe Cersei will win and kill us all. That would solve our problems.
Varys: I’ve served tyrants most of my life. They all talk about destiny.
Tyrion: She’s a girl who walked into a fire with three stones and walked out with three dragons. How could she not believe in destiny?
Tyrion: (to Varys) I don’t think a cock is a true qualification, as I’m sure you’d agree.
Much like last week’s installment, this hour has some powerful moments that are sadly let down by some unfortunate missteps.