‘Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 4: The Last of the Starks’ - TV Analysis

Prom Night in Winterfell / It Gets Real: GoT 8.4 in Nine Lines

The opening credits had a lovely moment.  The usual begins with the mechanical growing of the locales of the episode, except this time the gears of Winterfell don’t all work, reflecting the aftermath of the battle.  Nice touch.


“Everyone alive owes them a debt that can never be repaid.”

We open on a funeral for all who fell.  Jon delivers a single, mass eulogy, reminding those who survived that all alive owe those who died a debt.  They gave their lives so that the world would be free of the Army of the Dead.  Individuals light the pyres of folks who meant something to them.  There is a lot of smoke.

I have two questions.  I am curious as to why do it right in front of the castle.  There will be lot of cleanup after.  We couldn’t do this further away?  Second: Where are the bodies of the Army of the Dead?  There were many, many more of them.  They’re gone.  Most of them are dust, but that would still be a lot of dust, a lot of bone fragments, just a real mess to clean up.

Also, Ghost survived.  Yay.


“Dead are dead, You’re not.”

After the funeral, we have dinner in Hogwarts afterwards.  Interactions.  It’s prom night in Winterfell; everyone is drinking, dancing, hooking up.  It’s your last chance to party before the battle with Cersei, but tonight we celebrate.
Gendry sits with the Hound.  Gendry asks for Arya, Hound mocks him, then reminds him that he is not dead.


“See, you’re not the only one who’s clever.”

Dany asks Gendry if he is Robert Baratheon’s son.  He admits it without owning it: “I didn’t even know he was my father until after he was dead.”  Dany makes him Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storms End.  Everyone toasts the new lord.  He is overwhelmed but pleased.

Dany is pleased with herself.  Tyrion points out that she now has a new Lord of Storms End, and he will be eternally loyal.  She points out that Tyrion is not the only one who can read people and play with them.

The Hound keeps eating.


“We have defeated them.  We still have us to contend with.”

Everyone is happy and celebrating but Ser Davos Seaworthy.  He doesn’t want to be happy.  He is disappointed that he did not get the chance to punish Melisandre.  He is unhappy that the fighting is not over.  Tyrion, well into his cups, points out the above.  That, as with The Walking Dead, the living are, in fact, always far more dangerous than the dead.


“Vomiting is not celebrating.” “Yes, it is!”
    
Jon does not believe that one needs to get very drunk at prom.  Tormund disagrees.  He parties like a Wildling.  Tormund clearly admires Jon, loudly proclaiming it to the room.  Jon did not destroy the Free Folk; he befriended an enemy and died for them. (Look closely at the Wildlings with Tormund, and you will see showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.) His respect for and loyalty to Jon is obvious, and it leaves Dany jealous – and paranoid.  She sees the men admire Jon and call him king; she sees Tyrion sit with Jaime, laughing.  She is worried that the men that surround her are not truly loyal.  When you stop to think of it, Dany has never celebrated.  She has overseen celebrations of her victory, but she has never let her hair down and truly partied with joy.  

Meanwhile, Podrick, Brienne, Jaime, and Tyrion play Westerosi-I-Never.  She is a virgin; Jaime is intrigued.  She leaves.  He follows.  Tormund watches and then turns to the Hound for comfort.  The Hound is not having it.  Girls hit on the Hound.  The Hound is not having it. Sansa sits down with the Hound.  (Watch the background; Podrick leaves the room with two smiling girls, one of whom the Hound just rejected.  It’s a beautiful callback.).


“I’m not a lady. I never have been.  That’s not me.”
    
After the prom, couples find their way through the mess with different results.

Gendry, now a Lord, finds Arya and proposes to her.  She kisses him.  And rejects him.  Instead, she decides she has to leave.  She and the Hound will ride out together in the morning.  Both of them have unfinished business.  

Meanwhile, Jaime Lannister and Brienne in her room.  They strip. She is into it; takes control.  He says, “I’ve never slept with a knight before.” She responds, “I’ve never slept with anyone before.”  Then, they get busy.

Dany and Jon go to their room after prom.  She accuses him of being drunk.  They kiss.  They stop.  She wishes she had never told him.  At first, it seems like she might be upset that she is hooking up with her nephew, but no.  She is upset that she is hooking up with someone who has a better claim to the Iron Throne than she does.

No one in Westeros looks at her the way they look at him, she tells him.  She wants him to tell no one his true name or nature.  She demands he swear those who know to silence.  She doesn’t want him to take what she believes is rightfully hers.  He claims he owes his sisters the truth.  She begs him not to tell them.

He tells them.  Or more accurately, he tells Bran to tell them.  They begin telling others.


“We’re the last of the Starks”

The four remaining Starks (Jon, Sansa, Arya and Bran) gather in the Godswood near the Heart Tree.  Arya gets to say the title of the episode.  The irony being Jon is a Stark, but not from Eddard.  His mother was a Stark.  So he is one of the last of the Starks, just not in the way everyone supposed.  We might also note in the face of this statement that most of the great houses in Westeros are down to “the last of.”  House Mormont has ended (RIP Lady Lyanna and Jorah). 
Tyrion, Jaime and Cersei are the last of the Lannisters.  House Frey is gone.  House Tully has been decimated as well.  Dany and Jon are the last of the Targaryens.  If you read the books then you know the appendix at the end of each volume lists the denizens of each house.  Go through the one in Game of Thrones and cross out the names of everyone dead or missing.  You’ll have more lines than names.  This is a lethal narrative for all great houses.

The next morning, post-prom, Jaime and Tyrion sit drinking, Tyrion quizzing Jaime about his night with Brienne.  Bronn shows up with the crossbow.  They promise him Highgarden in exchange for not killing them.  He doesn’t want to fight with or for them, he just wants a large estate.

Sansa realizes Tyrion is afraid of Dany.  Tyrion defends her: “She wants to make the world a better place.”  Sansa counters: “What if there’s someone else?  Someone better?”  Now Tyrion knows about Jon.

As Jon prepares to depart with the army headed south, he has a pair of cute conversations.  First, Tormund tells Jon he will take the few free folk who are left and go north, to castle black.  Tormund takes Ghost with him.  “He’ll be happier up there,” says Jon.  “So will you,” says Tormund.  He’s right.

Gilly and Samwell come to say goodbye.  She is with child.  Gilly says, “If it’s a boy, we want to name him Jon.”  “I hope it’s a girl,” Jon responds.


“Maybe Cersei will win and kill us all.  That would solve our problems.”

The fleet moves south with Grey Worm, Missandei, Tyrion, and Varys.  The last is troubled by the story he heard from Tyrion that he got from Sansa.  Jon has the better claim to the throne.  Jon does not want to be king. “It doesn’t matter what he wants,” is the response.  Tyrion proposes to marry them and problem solved.  Varys is worried about her state of mind. So he must be freaked out in the next scene.

Euron Greyjoy ambushes them.  Rhaegar is killed by ballista fire; as is the fleet. Missandei has been captured.  “So much for the breaker of chains,” snarks Cersei.


“Do not destroy the city you came to save; do not become what you have always struggled to defeat.”

Dany sees it as her destiny to rid the world of tyrants “no matter the cost.”  Tyrion and Varys go all Nietzsche on her – beware when you battle monsters, lest you become a monster, for when you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.  Tyrion and Varys are now unsure of their leader, though Tyrion remains dedicated and faithful.  Varys counters, “Each of us has a choice to make.  I pray we choose wisely.”

Brienne begs Jaime to stay and not go to King’s Landing.  Jaime gives the litany of his sins carried out for Cersei. “She’s hateful; and so am I.”

“I know you don’t care about your people.  They hate you and you hate them.  But you’re not a monster.  I know this.  I know this because I have seen it.  You’ve always loved your children, more than yourself.  More than Jaime.  More than anything.  I beg you – if not for yourself, then for your child.  Your reign is over.  But that doesn’t mean your life has to end.  Doesn’t mean your baby has to die.”

Tyrion is at the walls of Kings Landing.  The armies from the north have been decimated.  Cersei’s rent-an-army is still fresh and ready to tango.  The hands of the queens each ask the other to have his queen surrender unconditionally.  Tyrion approaches the wall and begs Cersei to stop this unnecessary battle.  Cersei wants him shot by archers, but in the end cannot do so – too public, heroic, and personal a death for Tyrion is not the in the cards.

In response, Cersei has the Mountain decapitate Missandei in front of everyone.  As usual, her cruelty and arrogant nastiness are on full display.  The showrunners are working hard to make her irredeemable.  It’s working.

We are now promised a one-dragon attack on Kings Landing.  Next week promises a siege at King’s Landing and more humans involved in the manufacture, production, and distribution of GoT . . .  Valar morghulis!




Kevin Wetmore, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor

Kevin Wetmore is an author and professor at Loyola Marymount University.  His books include The Theology of Battlestar Galactica, Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema, and The Empire Triumphant: Race, Religion, and Rebellion in the Star Wars Films.  For more information about Kevin, check out his website, Something Wetmore This Way Comes, and to purchase his non-fiction and fiction books, see Amazon.

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