WARNING: This article is dark and full of spoilers.
After the blazing fire that was ‘The Long Night’, episode four of Game of Thrones’ final season had a lot of dust settling to do, but it was much more than just the aftermath.
Coming off the bat of two one-location, straightforward-plot episodes, ‘The Last Of The Starks’ was a mostly actionless hour and twenty minutes with a lot of plot advancement. Naturally, then, there’s plenty to get our teeth stuck into.
The After Party
It was important that the consequences of the Battle of Winterfell were not overlooked, so it felt right to start off with a powerful funeral for the thousands who lost their lives last week. Though the show lacked a little conviction in the number of major characters it killed off, and with more Unsullied and Dothraki surviving than the battle seemed to show, it was still an incredibly moving scene, largely thanks to a stunning eulogy from Jon Snow.
What followed was a surreal look into the post-fight celebrations. What starts as a sombre affair quickly becomes a drunken one. If Episode Two was pre-drinks, then this was the messy after party. The touchstones of every drunken night were all there. Flirting, cheering, renouncing bastardship, proposals, rejections and lots of hooking up. How else would Westeros celebrate surviving the long night?
Special mention to Tormund, who went through the whole spectrum of drunken emotions. From downing drinks and getting lovey with friends, to rejection from Brienne and crying his heart out to a less than helpful Hound. Poor guy. At least there’s nothing keeping him ‘down south’ anymore, so with Brienne off the table he heads back home with the free folk and Ghost, after sharing a touching goodbye with his favourite crow, Jon Snow.
The Brutality of Politics
Quickly moving on from the initial night of instinctive celebration, heads quickly turned to the next enemy, Queen Cersei. If the second act is planning for battle, then the third is those battle plans being torn swiftly in two. Another impressive showing from Euron Greyjoy and further destruction of Daenarys’ forces showed that Game of Thrones doesn’t need a huge battle episode to display some brutality.
In fact, while many felt last week’s battle didn’t live up to GoT’s ruthless reputation, it should be noted that the show rarely offs significant characters in battle episodes. Those are for mass destruction and violence, the big losses almost always come more unexpectedly, which is exactly what happened here. With Missandei taken and murdered in brutal fashion in front of her helpless lover Grey Worm, and the completely unexpected butchering of Rhaegal, the weight of loss is felt just as much this week.
Those losses only further the bleak situation Dany finds herself in. A beautiful shot during the festivities at Winterfell shows just how lonely the Queen is. The Wildlings and Northmen gravitate towards Jon, the Lannister brothers are back together and the Stark sisters are hardly friendly. Having lost the majority of her armies and her most loyal servant last week, now the Mother of Dragons has become the Mother of Dragon (or Drogon) and her second most loyal servant has lost her head.
The only person alive she can actually trust is now the heartbroken Grey Worm. With Varys seemingly losing faith and Tyrion facing a serious dilemma, could Dany’s claim to the throne be crumbling?
The Secret is Out
The biggest secret in Westeros is already dangerously close to becoming the worst kept secret since Jaime and Cersei’s love affair. It was only a matter of time before Tyrion and Varys were made aware of Jon’s heritage and, from Dany’s point of view, such information could not have fallen into more dangerous hands.
The greatest positive from getting rid of the Night King is the show’s return to politics, which allows the previously sidelined Master of Whisperers to enter the fray. It feels like the one true protector of the realm is going to have a huge part to play in the final two episodes. It’s nice to remember that you don’t need an army or dragons to have power in this world. Information could be the weapon which destroys the Dragon Queen.
Ah, good old Bronn. We could always trust everyone’s favourite sellsword to find a way around Cersei’s twisted orders. Tyrion always said he’d pay double and, if all goes well with the wars to come, Bronn has traded Riverrun for High Garden. Not bad from the man who came from nothing.
Jerome Flynn, as ever, completely stole the scene, even delivering a rather impressive analogy on privilege. Every great family starts with a cut-throat, he says, only to be slowly tarnished by his grandchildren and their grandchildren. He’s got a point, especially talking to those Lannister brothers.
The Hound & Arya 2: Electric Boogaloo
A delightfully murderous partnership looks to be reunited as Arya and The Hound make their way towards the capital with more on their minds than just ‘The Last War’. These two have their own personal battles ahead. I would be very worried right now if I was Cersei or The Mountain. Whether they will be arriving solo or fighting alongside Jon’s army remains to be seen, but don’t be surprised to see them sneak off to take care of personal business once shit hits the fan.
Yes Jaime! No Jaime!
Oh Jaime. Jaime Jaime Jaime. If ever there was an episode to represent the Kingslayer’s rollercoaster journey throughout this show, then this is it. He finally gives us all what we want and then takes it away before we even have the chance to sit it in for another week. One can only hope that his trip down south is actually a sister-assassination mission, but I fear he has made a fatal decision.
The sex scene with Brienne was done so well but the breakup was truly devastating. Both Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau have always had one of the show’s best dynamics, but Brienne begging for Jaime to stay in a rare outburst of emotion, while Jaime’s inner-conflict sees his dishonourable side come out on top. “She’s hateful, and so am I.” *cries*
With just two episodes left (TWO EPISODES!?) who knows which direction things could go. Nothing is certain in the world of Game of Thrones, other than the fact we’ll be analysing the hell out of it.