Game of Thrones – Episode 8.4 “The Last of the Starks”

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Synopsis: After the devastation of the last episode, we begin this one saying goodbye to the fallen. The good guys prepare a funeral for the men and women that died in the battle against the night king, dozens of pyre’s are set up, with Daenerys getting a final moment with Jorah, and Sansa pinning a Stark pin on Theon. Jon offers a eulogy, as the survivors look on, then they set fire to the bodies. In the great hall, there’s a quiet celebration until Daenerys spots Gendry and loudly proclaims him a true Baratheon and offers him Storm’s End. Everyone offers their cheers and the dinner grows more celebratory. Tyrion notes to Daenerys that making him Lord ensures his support. Sansa seems to have also put that together herself. Jaime toasts with Brienne. Davos and Tyrion talk of Melisandre. Tyrion sidles over to Bran, calling him the Lord of Winterfell, but Bran notes that he doesn’t want the position. He doesn’t want anything. Jaime, Brienne, Tyrion, and Podrick play a drinking game. Tyrion surmises that Brienne is a virgin, but she excuses herself. Tormund tries to get close to Brienne, but Jaime blocks him and follows her out. As Tormund celebrates Jon, Dany notes how much respect Jon claims in the North. Varys catches on. Sansa and the Hound reconnect. Clegane notes how much she’s grown since their time together in King’s Landing. Clegane suggests things might have been different if she left with him, but she says what’s happened made her who she is. The revels continue as Gendry searches for Arya. When he finds her practicing her archery, he tells her that he’s been legitimized and proposes to her. She kisses him, but lets him down gently. Being a lady is not her. Jaime finds Brienne in her chambers, and they consummate their relationship.

Jon and Dany meet in private. She says she loves Jon and they kiss, but Jon pulls back. They still haven’t talked about his heritage. She confesses her jealousy over how his men revere him, and says that the only for them to get through this is if he doesn’t tell anyone else the truth and swears Bran and Sam to secrecy. Jon says he has to tell Sansa and Arya. Jon promises the truth won’t destroy them, but Daenerys doesn’t believe that. She leaves. The next morning, the war council meets to discuss their plans to take on Cersei. They concede the plan is take on Cersei’s army in the field and not to destroy King’s Landing. Sansa worries the men are weak and tired and should recuperate before fighting another battle. Jon confirms loyalty to Daenerys. As they break, Arya tells Jon they need to talk. The Starks meet at the godswood. Arya and Sansa challenge Daenerys’ rule and Jon’s unwavering support. Jon admits he has to share something with them and swears them to secrecy before he will reveal it. They swear. Jon gives Bran the okay to tell them. As Jaime and Tyrion talk of Jaime’s conquest of Brienne, they are interrupted by Bronn, wielding the crossbow. He tells them of Cersei’s promise. They negotiate that Bronn will spare them in return for being given command of Highgarden. As the Hound rides away from Winterfell, he is joined by Arya. They both have unfinished business in King’s Landing.

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Tyrion finds Sansa. She questions his loyalty to Daenerys and asks what he sees in her. He pushes on her support and she wavers in maintaining Jon’s secret. She asks Tyrion how he would feel if there was another option. Tormund says goodbye to Jon, he’s returning north of the wall with the rest of the Wildlings. He asks Tormund to take Ghost with him. Jon says goodbye to both of them (but nary an ear scratch for Ghost). As Jon says goodbye to Sam and Gilly, he sees that she’s pregnant. Sam tells Jon he’s the best friend he’s ever had. Dany is flying with the dragons towards Dragonstone above the remainder of her fleet. Grey Worm and Missandei hold hands. Varys and Tyrion discuss the truth of Jon’s claim and what that means for the throne. As they near Dragonstone, a spear pierces Rhaegal, and another until he falls into the ocean. Daenerys looks down to see Euron and his fleet, armed with ballistas. As she flies out of range, Euron targets the fleet, and the ships are decimated, as Tyrion and the others fall into the water. As they swim ashore, Grey Worm calls out for Missandei. She is nowhere to be found.

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Euron updates Qyburn and Cersei about his victory. Cersei tells him she’s pregnant, and Qyburn confirms it. They have Missandei in chains. Varys challenges Daenerys against storming the city. If she kills innocents, they will not support her rebellion. He thinks they will say she is mad like her father. Tyrion suggests she meet with Cersei to offer a truce. Daenerys thinks it will at least send the message that she tried to avoid bloodshed where Cersei will not. Alone again, Varys and Tyrion talk about how to handle the situation. Varys thinks there will be more support for Jon and that he will be a more just ruler. Tyrion thinks they are discussing treason. Varys admits his loyalty will always be to the realm, and that he will act in their interest. Back at Winterfell, Sansa and Brienne get word of Euron’s siege. Brienne updates Jaime. Jaime decides to return to King’s Landing and he tries to sneak off at night, but Brienne catches him. She begs him to say. He tells her that he’s not a good person. He admits to pushing Bran out a window and killing his cousin, all for Cersei. He leaves, as Brienne breaks down in tears. Outside the walls of King’s Landing, Daenerys, Tyrion, Grey Worm and a group of Unsullied stand ready to meet with weapons bearing down on them. Qyburn emerges to discuss terms and he meets with Tyrion in between the two armies. Tyrion asks Qyburn for help to putting an end to this fight. Qyburn will not concede anything. Tyrion marches towards Cersei, he begs her to let the fighting end, for the sake of her unborn child. Cersei grips Missandei, asking for any last words. Missandei says “Dracarys” as Cersei nods to the Mountain, who cuts off Missandei’s head. Daenerys walks away, full of anger and resolve.

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Comments: In a way, this elevates my admiration of the previous episode. It does make more sense with hindsight that the final episodes focus more on character than the pure embodiment of evil, so getting the Night King out of the way freed us up for more political intrigue. While I don’t necessarily care who ends up on the throne (personally, I’d rather see a different outcome entirely, like a new form of government), getting back to the messy reality of the characters is more interesting than just endless fighting, as well done as that was. Jon’s parentage, the fuel that has been an underlying plot point for the entire series, is being played out as awkwardly as it should. Even when he’s not on screen it’s being discussed and Varys and Tyrion do a good job of laying out why it’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if he wants the throne if the people demand he’s their rightful ruler. It doesn’t matter if he weds Dany if it’s not met with support from the North, or she manipulates the best out of him. Though it does seem uncomfortable for a show that’s had a strong feminist bent to turn the final battle into the crazy one versus the bitchy one. I do feel stronger that Sansa will end up with the most power at the end of the series, whether that means sitting on the throne or not is a different matter. While Euron’s ambush was a little problematic, the shocking death of Rhaegal was a stunning turn of events. After the relentless episode previous, I was almost too resigned that this episode would just be filler until the shot that took down another dragon. While I’m sure the death of Missandei will be viewed by some as “fridging,” I don’t think it applies. On a show where numerous characters are killed in viscious and brutal ways, we can’t have all female love interests exempt from this. It’s a shame we didn’t get any great scene from her before the end, but her support of Dany in the crypts when Sansa and Tyrion were talking shit about her, and her powerful “dracarys” were two great moments. And it was fairly obvious as she and Grey Worm talked about their retired life that they were not going to get a happy ending. The biggest question for me now is who will take out Cersei. Will it be Euron, after realizing she lied to him about having his baby? Jaime, in a final act of putting her behind him? Arya, fulfilling the list? Daenerys, to claim her spot on the throne? Grey Worm, for revenge on her murder of Missandei? It’s certainly coming, though for a show built on defying expectations, they could pull something else off.

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Quotes:
Tyrion: We may have defeated them but we still have us to contend with.

Jon: Vomiting is not celebrating.
Tormund: Yes it is.

Tormund: Which one of you cowards shit in my pants?

Arya: I’m not a lady. I never have been. That’s not me.

Arya: We’re family, the four of us. The last of the Starks.

Tyrion (to Jaime): I’m happy that you finally have to climb for it.

Tyrion: We still have to take King’s Landing. Maybe Cersei will win and kill us all. That would solve all our problems.

Varys: Have you considered the best ruler is someone who doesn’t want to rule?

Title: Said by Arya in reference to the four remaining Starks, right before Jon reveals his true parentage. And with Bran being the three-eyed Raven and Jon a legit Targaryen, it is the end of the Stark line. 

Deaths: Euron takes down Rhaegal. Cersei has the Mountain behead Missandei.

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