‘Game of Thrones’: S8E4 “The Last of the Starks” recap
As we predicted in our Funeral Crashers piece, there certainly were some hookups this episode of Game of Thrones. Just not the sexy ones we wanted to see – rather, creepy fanservice ones. Grow up, people.
Be warned, brave warrior: spoilers abound.
This week we’re picking up where we left off after HBO’s Game of Thrones S8E3 “The Long Night”. As you can imagine, everyone is super bummed in S8E4 “The Last of the Starks”. Even though Team Winterfell managed to defeat the army of the undead, there are long faces for those mourning the dead. Even power hungry Auntie Dany stops her scheming for a second join in. Of course, she’s still harboring a healthy thirst for the blood of Queen Cersei (Lena Headey).
The episode opens on an uplifting moment with a panning shot of the corpse of Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Dany looks pained and plants a big smacker on his forehead, probably thinking “there goes my only true believer”.
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) cries over the corpse of Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), slain by the Night King himself. She slips him a little Winterfell token before being burnt in the mass funeral pyre. You’re thinking “should have given it to the poor instead” – agreed.
The early-seasons Manchester flavor of Kit Harrington’s Jon Aegon Snow Stark Targaryen the Sixth accent has now shifted to a thick Yorkshire drawl. He’s probably been bingewatching Gentleman Jack. (We can’t blame him.)
Savoring every moment of denouement
We’re treated to nearly an entire funeral service, including the traditional Night’s Watch words for the dead. It’s not the first awkward, drawn-out scene in the episode.
The next happens as the Winterfell survivors gather for a dour funeral feast. Gendry unfortunately pulled the short straw on the seating chart: right across from the Hound, who teases him for wanting to tap some more Faceless Man (Arya) ass. Another drawn-out shot shows all the awkwardness of this typically Gendry moment.
What follows is a rather cheeky tete-a-tete in which Dany not only calls Gendry by the wrong last name (Rivers instead of Waters), but teases him into a roundabout granting of a lordship so awkward that Ser Davos has to step in and make a toast just to wrap it up. Everyone’s delighted, but the Hound just rolls his eyes and continues eating. Damn straight.
Auntie Dany is enormously pleased with her cleverness and once again refers to Tyrion’s intelligence, despite him not doing anything remotely smart, or even made a really good quip, for a good three seasons.
Elsewhere, the Three-Eyed Raven has a conversation with Tyrion so filled with new-age mysticism it could have been written by the editors at Goop.
No Northern funeral is complete without wanton alcohol abuse
The room toasts hero of the hour Arya Stark, but she’s still nowhere in sight. As Winterfell’s limited store of good wine flows, things start to get merrier. Jaime, Pod, Brienne and Tyrion are playing truth or drink, a callback to the first season when Tyrion and Bronn met Shae. (Tyrion murdered Shae a few seasons ago.)
Tormund, sh**faced on fermented goat’s milk and Southern wine, bloviates about that crazy dragonrider Jon Snow to his buddies. Auntie Dany gives him major side-eye, playing her own game of “F*** Marry Kill” in her head: “Which one does Jon deserve?”
Drunken Tyrion correctly susses out Brienne’s virginity, and she quickly bails the drinking game, followed by a concerned Jaime. Sansa and the Hound reminisce about good old times like getting raped by and then murdering Ramsey Bolton. “Without Littlefinger and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.” We miss that innocent little bird.
Gendry finally finds Arya at archery practice, which she appears to be carrying out indoors for some insanely dangerous reason. Naturally, the poor lord almost gets shot. He makes an ass of himself by proposing to her, and she refuses with the same “I’m not a lady – that’s not me” she gave her pops Ned back in S1.
Game of Thrones really is becoming Funeral Crashers
Brienne has created a cosy love nest in her quarters, which is good because Jaime is on the prowl for some giant Tarth bootay. They talk some blah blah blah, undress each other, and hop into the sack. We were horrified at this strange turn: a pure fanservice moment.
Auntie Dany comes to Jon’s room to see if he’s drunk. He looks pretty wobbly, but she proceeds to engage him in deep conversation anyhow. Auntie Dany is pure dominatrix in this scene. She’s got Jon so pussywhipped that dude can barely stop bending the knee in her presence.
Auntie Dany asks him to take the secret of his heritage to the grave, just like his dad took that same secret to the grave, and that he shouldn’t share it, even with his family. Jon’s uptight moral code wins out and cockblocks him for the remainder of the scene.
Downhill after the funeral
Auntie Dany’s armed forces are depleted. Dany’s got the Iron Islanders and Dorne ready to join her cause. She wants to go headlong into battle against Queen Cersei, while Sansa thinks everyone needs a spa day to recover after “The Long Night”. “In all seven kingdoms, all men will live without fear and cruelty under their true queen,” is Auntie Dany’s humble reply.
Jon shuts down Sansa with his hangdog stare and a stern, beta word about the edict of the Queen. When Arya pulls him up on this performance later, he starts things off with a big ol’ pinky swear. “I need to tell you something, but you need to swear you’ll never tell another soul.” So Jon chooses family over tang after all.
Over many cups of good Dornish wine, Tyrion gets Jamie to admit he climbed Brienne’s lady mountain, and just as Tyrion begins breaking out his tall-person jokes, they get funeral-crashed by Bronn (Jerome Flynn). Taking aim with the crossbow Tyrion used to kill their father Tywin, Bronn nearly breaks Tyrion’s nose to start the hang.
Cersei offered Riverrun to Bronn as payment for the murder of her brothers. Bronn reminds about Tyrion their deal from way back in season one: “If someone ever hires you to kill me, I’ll double it.” What’s worth double Riverrun? Highgarden. Bronn bails, promising to come and collect when the time comes.
Fanservice is stronger than blood
Another pure fanservice scene, this time just outside Winterfell, consists of Arya joining the Hound for the journey south to King’s Landing. Hide your chickens, smallfolk!
Auntie Dany shows off her dragon-flying skills as Sansa & Tyrion get deep about why the Northern lass despises her brother’s queen so much. Sansa can’t resist letting the cat of the bag about Jon’s parentage. So much for pinky swears.
Tons of slow, fond farewells ensue: Jon and Tormund; Jon and Ghost (with an injured ear); Jon and Samwell & Gilly (with child). Jon and Ghost share a final lingering look that is the most emotional scene of this season so far.
Dany’s fleet has set sail, with Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Tyrion, Varys, and the gang. Tyrion naturally has to tell the Lord of Whisperers, Varys, the hot gossip about Jon. Varys seems strongly Team Jon, while Tyrion for some bizarre reason likes the young psychopath Auntie Dany. (Pussywhipped seems a stretch for a political choice.)
That really snuck up on us
Suddenly, a giant bolt tears into Rhaegal. Somehow, the fleet of Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) has been able to target a dragon with ballistae from behind a promontory while Dany could not see him. Maybe he was flying a drone with a camera. Rhaegal hell breaks loose as the poor beast is mortally wounded and crashes into the sea.
Things kick up yet another notch as Euron’s gang opens fire on Dany’s fleet, destroying the ships and shipwrecking Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm and a few others. Missandei is missing – we totally called there would be no happy ending for her and Grey Worm . . . not in this dark tale.
Auntie Dany is pissed and wants to storm King’s Landing but Varys advises her against, arguing thousands of innocents will die. Dany says she’s trying to “make the world a better place” (like Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos), and she’s gonna fulfill her destiny (and ego) at whatever cost. Sounds like a psycho, power-hungry despot to us.
Dany teleports her troops to King’s Landing and then . . .
Tyrion convinces Auntie Dany to ask Cersei for a surrender, only the latest in a series of blunders in her regime. Varys & Tyrion secretly discuss treason in another Team Auntie Dany vs. Team Jon Snow debate, each party holding his original position.
Things are grim in Winterfell when the news about the naval defeat reaches Jaime, Brienne, and Sansa. Jamie rides off, hellbent on repeating his performance as a young man, saving King’s Landing by killing its ruler, this time his sister. Brienne, bathing in the afterglow of their weird but apparently good relationship, is devastated.
We jump forward to the initial meeting between Daenerys and Cersei’s forces. Each side asks the other for unconditional surrender. This goes about as well as could be expected, and Cersei punctuates the negotiations with poor, innocent Missandei losing her head. Grey Worm is not taking it well – we’re sure he’ll be using that to take his revenge soon enough.