RECAP | GAME OF THRONES season eight episode four - "The Last of the Starks"
The ‘Great War of the North’ is over and the Night King is dead. But how do we follow on from the blood soaked ‘The Long Night’?
Game of Thrones has always been about power and with the Night King and his ‘army of the dead’ dealt with, we start to see the true ‘game of thrones’ played out.
But first, we need to deal with the fallen. Outside the gates of Winterfell, the dead are stacked in funeral pyres. The camera lingers as we say goodbye to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
In the great hall, things are a little subdued (until the wine begins to flow). As Gendry gets up to leave, Daenerys makes the first move in this new game of thrones by recognizing his royal lineage and effectively ‘buying’ his loyalty.
Jon smiles, but things are a little frosty between him and the Queen. Clearly, they haven’t had ‘the talk’ yet. Tormund unintentionally makes matters worse, when he loudly praises Jon for his leadership and dragon-riding abilities.
“I saw him riding that thing. That’s why we all agreed to follow him. That’s the kind of man he is. What kind of man climbs on a f*****g dragon? A madman? Or a king!”
Daenerys is not happy and probably realizes everyone is Team Jon in the North. Her response is duly-noted by Varys, who sees ‘everything’. Make no mistake, the Spider is playing ‘the’ game.
The Lannister brothers are cutting loose in a drinking game with Brienne. It’s ‘take a drink if it’s true’ and Tyrion, sensing a bit of sexual tension, says to Brienne:
“You’re a virgin. Have you slept with a man … or a woman?”
She doesn’t answer and as she tries to walk off, Tormund drunkenly arrives on the scene. It dawns on him that she has ‘feelings’ for Jaime, who follows her out the room.
Hearts are also breaking in the stables, where Gendry finds Arya. He’s always teased her about being a lady, but now they’re equals.
“I love you and none of it will mean anything if you’re not with me. So be with me. Be my wife. Be the lady of Storm’s End.”
What do we say to the God of Marriage? Not today.
“You’ll be a wonderful Lord. Any Lady would be lucky to have you. But, I’m not a Lady. I never have been. That’s not me.”
The internet cries out as one: no!!!!!
But minutes later it’s ‘yes’ as we follow Jaime into Brienne’s rooms. Oh. My. Stars. This has been promised since way back in season three.
They drink some more. They make cracks about the heat and then they undress each other. And it’s Brienne who takes the lead.
“I’ve never slept with a Knight before.”
“I’ve never slept with anyone before.”
It’s quite possible Jaime’s never slept with anyone other than Cersei. Just saying.
Meanwhile, Daenerys and Jon finally deal with the elephant in the room. Using a little emotional and sexual blackmail, she tells him they can still ‘be together’ if he just stays quiet about everything.
“I wish you’d never told me. If I didn’t know, I’d be happy right now. I try to forget. Tonight, I did for a while and then I saw them gathered around you. Saw how they looked at you. I know that look.”
Jon tries to re-assure her that she is his Queen and he doesn’t want her throne. But she demands his silence and that of Bran and Samwell.
Things are still tense as the Queen and her council discuss how to bring the war to Cersei. It leads to a confrontation between Sansa and Daenerys.
The Lady of Winterfell wants time for her forces to recover. The Mother of Dragons interprets that as reneging on their deal. So, Jon overrules Sansa.
“The Northern forces will honour their promise and their allegiance to the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Where you command, we will obey.”
In the God’s Wood, the ‘Last of the Starks’ have a family pow-wow. Jon eventually reveals all after extracting a promise that they will tell no one.
Back at the local pub, Jaime and Tyrion are having a beer, when in walks Bronn. The sell-sword reveals the Queen’s deal: kill her brothers and he’ll be made the Lord of Riverrun.
However, Bronn is a realist. He’s seen the dragons and knows she stands no chance in the war to come. So, what can they do for him in exchange for their lives?
Tyrion offers him Highgarden. It’s a step-up from Riverrun and Bronn is satisfied. He promises to come and find them when the war is done.
It’s not long before the survivors of the Battle of the Long Night begin to leave Winterfell. Tormund is leading the Free Folk to their homelands and will take Ghost the dire wolf with them.
Samwell and Gilly are on the move, but not before revealing they’re having a baby, which Gilly wants to call it Jon if it’s a boy. Jon’s pushing for a girl.
The Hound has left Winterfell and is joined on the road by Arya. Both have unfinished business in King’s Landing. Neither is planning to return to the North.
Which means, the Hound will take on his brother in Clegane-bowl, while Arya might finally cross Cersei off her list.
As Arya rides south, Sansa encounters Tyrion on the battlements. She really doesn’t like Daenerys and drops her bombshell.
“Tyrion, what if there’s someone else? Someone better.”
The information is soon shared with Varys, who’s having a bet each way: he’s working to deliver her the throne, but has growing doubts about her ‘suitability’.
Jon’s stronger Targaryen claim could give him another horse to back.
“He has the better claim to the throne. People are drawn to him: Wildlings, Northmen. He’s a war hero.”
As they sail towards King’s Landing, Euron Greyjoy springs an ambush and brings down Rhaegal in a barrage of giant arrows, which leaves Daenerys with just one dragon.
Her meagre fleet has also been destroyed with Tyrion, Varys and Grey Worm among the survivors, who’ve washed up on the beach. The Queen’s handmaiden Missandei has been captured.
At King’s Landing, Cersei ‘rewards’ Euron with the revelation that he is the father of her unborn child. The baby’s real father, meanwhile, is leaving Winterfell after hearing of the ambush.
Jaime breaks Brienne’s heart as he rejects her pleas to abandon his sister and stay at Winterfell. He looks dazed and haggard as he rejects her love.
“You think I’m a good man? I pushed a boy out of a tower window. Crippled him for life. For Cersei. I strangled my cousin with my own hands just to get back to Cersei. I would have murdered every man, woman and child in Riverrun for Cersei. She’s hateful and so am I.”
As he makes his way to King’s Landing, the two Queens are facing off with each demanding the unconditional surrender of the other.
Missandei is on the battlements, which can not be a good thing.
Tyrion tries to reason with Cersei with an appeal to her love for her children. It may have worked until he suggested her reign was over.
She looks towards the Mountain. He steps forward, draws his sword and executes Missandei. Her unexpected and brutal death now sets the stage for a ‘hell and fury’ showdown that could end two Queens.
With just two episodes remaining, we’re beginning to see what author George RR Martin had in mind when he began writing the fantasy series all those years ago.
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss now have just over two-hours of screen time to complete his vision.