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'The Last of the Starks': 'Game of Thrones' Season 8 episode 4 recap

Celebration was in order in the latest episode of the final season of "Game of Thrones," as survivors of the war of Winterfell gather in victory. 

Image By: Image courtesy of HBO

After a gigantic episode involving the war at Winterfell between the surviving heroes and the Army of the Dead, episode four of the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” entitled “The Last of the Starks” offered both recovery from last week and a build up to the show’s spectacular finish. In one of the best-written episodes in the series, the show laid the framework for yet another battle and the show’s climax. 

We begin with a funeral for those who perished in battle in the last episode. Daenerys mourns the loss of Jorah Mormont after he died saving her, while Sansa mourns for Theon who saved her life in season five. Jon gives a eulogy speech dedicated to those who died. We then get to have a bit of fun and enjoy watching our surviving characters in the hall of Winterfell as they celebrate their victory. This was a wise tool used by writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss because it allows us to become invested again in the personalities and characteristics of the people on screen after an episode in which we saw consistent fighting and hardly any dialogue.

During the feast, Daenerys grants Gendry the title of Lord of Storm’s End, the ancestral castle of House Baratheon, legitimizing him as a Baratheon and no longer baring the bastard name Gendry Rivers. Gendry goes to tell Arya about his recent accomplishment, who instead of joining the feast is practicing archery alone. Gendry, on cloud nine, asks Arya to be his wife and be the Lady of Storm’s End, which she rejects. Arya stays true to herself and admits she has no interest in being a lady, just like she said in the first two seasons to her father and Gendry himself. She has always been independent and a fighter, and would not pretend to be someone she’s not for anyone. 

Tormund gets to be the funny man once again and makes several drunken jokes. We get an intriguing sequence in the midst of his drunkenness when Daenerys eavesdrops while Tormund proclaims Jon’s heroism and his continuous fighting for others, planting the seed in her mind that Jon could, in fact, be the more rightful heir to the Iron Throne and would gain more support than she would. Varys notes this; a key feature that plays more important later in the episode.

The most heartwarming scene at this feast involved a mean-spirited Sandor Clegane, who after drinking too much wine and scaring off a servant, is finally reunited with Sansa, who he saved in season two from a band of would-be rapists. Clegane always had a soft spot for Sansa because she was the only person who looked at him like a person and not a killer. The two reflect on the past, Clegane calling her “Little Bird” once again. Clegane notes how Sansa has been shaped into a much different person than when they last saw each other, no longer a wide-eyed little bird, but a smart political figure and strong woman. 

 Jaime, Tyrion, Brienne and Podrick play a drinking game in which they have to drink whenever someone guesses something correct about them. Tyrion guesses that Brienne is a virgin, leading her to leave. Jaime visits her later that night and the two end up sleeping together. The relationship between Jaime and Brienne has been one of the most fascinating duos in the series, and it was rewarding for their chemistry and respect for one another to come full circle.

Tyrion has a quick conversation with Davos before speaking with Bran, who tells Tyrion he will never be Lord of Winterfell. Tyrion notes how he envies Bran for not wanting power, to which Bran responds, “You shouldn’t envy me. I mostly live in the past.” This confusing line may seem unimportant, but I predict Bran will be involved with a major twist at the end of this season. We saw Bran stare at Tyrion several times and the two spoke offscreen in episode two. I feel as if Bran may know something about Tyrion’s future due to his Three-Eyed-Raven abilities, and I am still convinced Bran will become the next Night King or is still somehow connected to this seemingly defeated threat. 

Later that night, Daenerys visits Jon. After the couple begin to get intimate, Jon pushes away. Dany reveals her stress about her situation, wishing he hadn't revealed that he is, in fact, Aegon Targaryen and the true heir to the Throne. Jon tries to reassure her that she is his queen and that he doesn’t want the Throne, leading Dany to advise Jon to not tell anyone about his real identity and for him to ask Bran and Sam to do the same. She also warns him not to tell Sansa and Arya, for Sansa especially dislikes Daenerys and would want Jon over her on the Throne.

The episode then shifts gears to the endgame — the war for the Iron Throne between Cersei and Daenerys. While battle-planning, Daenerys learns that after fighting the Army of the Dead, more than half of the united army was killed. Daenerys is determined to destroy Cersei, eager to attack King’s Landing, which Tyrion advises against due to the thousands of innocent people who would be killed in collateral damage. Jon suggests strategically surrounding the city to draw Cersei out, which Daenerys agrees to. 

Sansa, however, is opposed. She wants the soldiers of the North and Vale to recover from the battle, leading to a tense disagreement between the two women. Jon intervenes and calls for obeying their queen’s orders. Jon and Davos will lead the remaining Northern army, Knights of the Vale and Dothraki down the Kingsroad to King’s Landing, while Tyrion, Daenerys, Varys, Missandei and Grey Worm will sail to Dragonstone before hitting King’s Landing with Drogon and Rhaegal. 

In the Godswood, Jon and Sansa debate over Daenerys. Sansa doesn’t want to kneel to her and have the North under her control, while Jon reminds her of the tremendous help she and her army had in defeating the Night King. Arya reminds Jon that he’s a Stark, the brother of Bran, Sansa and herself. Jon and Bran acknowledge each other, knowing the truth about who Jon is. Jon asks his cousins to keep a secret, to which they agree. Jon tells Bran to tell him the secret Jon was referring to, the truth about his identity being revealed to the two Stark girls offscreen.

Later that night, Bronn shows up in Wintertown and holds the two Lannister brothers at crossbow, informing them that he was sent by Cersei to kill them both in exchange for ruling Riverrun. Tyrion persuades Bronn to let them live by promising Highgarden, a far larger castle with more profitable lands. Bronn takes Tyrion for his word.

A wonderful scene involves Sandor and Arya riding on horseback together to King’s Landing. The two not only have a laugh together but reveal they each have unfinished business to do in King’s Landing and do not plan on returning North. The Hound is obviously referring to killing his evil brother the Mountain out of revenge for burning his face as a child, and Arya is referring to killing Cersei for her role in the destruction of House Stark.

It’s safe to say that Sandor will, in fact, get to fight and kill his brother once and for all, yet Cersei’s fate remains up in the air. While she will most likely die, many are wondering if it will, in fact, be Arya to kill the queen, or if Jaime will end up completing his character arc by killing his sister and former lover. A popular theory is that Arya will wear Jaime’s face and end up executing Cersei, which I happen to believe will be the case. However, I would prefer Jaime kill Cersei, for it would be more meaningful story wise and Arya has had enough glory after killing Walder Frey, Littlefinger and the Night King. 

Sansa watches the dragons flying and is accompanied by Tyrion. She questions him about why he supports Daenerys and the two end up discussing why they do and do not support her. Sansa gets Tyrion to admit that he fears Daenerys, leading her to end up breaking her promise to Jon and reveals to Tyrion offscreen that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark in order to let him know that a superior option to Daenerys exists. 

Jon’s best scene comes when he is departing Winterfell for King’s Landing. Tormund approaches him and informs him that he and the remaining Wildlings are returning North to live beyond the wall now that the Dead are gone. The two share a tender moment when they hug goodbye, the former enemies who have been through many battles together bidding farewell in a truly sweet manner. Jon tells Tormund to bring Ghost with him beyond the wall as Jon takes one last look at his loyal companion. 

This was a very poetic metaphor used by the showrunners to express Jon’s situation.  By leaving his direwolf, the symbol of House Stark, he is leaving his Stark identity behind and embracing his Targaryen roots. Jon has accepted who he truly is and is ready to embrace it despite his reluctance. The scene gets even more emotional when Jon bids farewell to Sam, who he has a tear-jerking goodbye with after Gilly reveals to him that she’s pregnant and that they plan on naming their baby Jon if it’s a boy. 

At sea, Tyrion informs Varys that Jon is Aegon Targaryen and the rightful heir. Varys notes how beloved Jon is, while Tyrion proposes that he and Daenerys rule together. We get a surprising turn of events as Euron Greyjoy’s fleet attacks Daenerys’ ships outside Dragonstone, Euron shooting down and killing Rhaegal from the sky with a scorpion crossbow. After Daenerys’ ships are destroyed, Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm and the Unsullied reach shore. Euron informs Cersei of their victory and we see Missandei is now their prisoner. Cersei thanks him by revealing she is pregnant with his child, an obvious lie for the audience to pick up on, for we know she said the same to Jaime last season. 

Varys warns Daenerys not to attack King’s Landing, for thousands of innocent will die. The Dragon Queen lacks soldiers and is down to one dragon, leading her to feel as if attacking the city directly is her only option. Varys and Tyrion later have a discussion in which Varys points out all of Daenerys’ flaws, for her army has been decimated and she doesn't have the patience or character to prevent the deaths of innocent people in order to get the Throne. Tyrion continues to try and persuade himself that Daenerys is the right option, but Varys is no longer convinced. Varys lays down all the reasons that Jon is the better option to rule Westeros, and we as an audience know we can’t argue with him. 

After receiving word about the attack on Daenerys’ fleet, Jaime rides south to join the fray, leaving Brienne behind. He admits to her that he, like Cersei, is hateful, leaving Brienne in tears and us to believe he is leaving to be with Cersei. However, Jaime is clearly not in love with Cersei anymore. I personally feel that Jaime was trying to keep Brienne at Winterfell and out of harm's way and is in fact determined to make sure Cersei’s cruel reign ends. 

In the final gripping sequence, Daenerys and her remaining Unsullied stand outside the gates of King’s Landing. Tyrion meets with Qyburn and tries to get him to make Cersei surrender, which he instantly rejects. Tyrion then speaks to Cersei who stands above him along the bannermen of the city. He tells her to not risk losing her next child and to prevent more violence from occurring. Cersei ignores Tyrion’s proposal, having the Mountain behead Missandei, leading Daenerys to express her complete rage facially as she walks away.

“The Last of the Starks” was a tremendous build-up to the penultimate episode of the series. It was rooted in our characters and left us anticipating the final battle of the show between Daenerys and Cersei. Several prominent characters will most likely meet their ends next week, and the fight for the Iron Throne may finally come to an end after eight seasons of fighting over it.




Dominic LeRose is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.

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