It’s not long now until we find out who is going to win the Game of Thrones and who is going to die. Sarah McDuling, Booktopia’s resident Game of Thrones lover and spoiler enthusiast, recaps Episode 4 of the final season, “The Last of the Starks.”
If you’ve missed our previous recaps, you can find them below:
HERE BE SPOILERS! You have been warned…
Game of Thrones returns this week for another killer episode. This one was full of devastating funerals, raunchy times, funny moments, splintered relationships, the odd Starbucks coffee cup (whoops!), and of course plenty of DEATH.
As always, the opinions about this episode are mixed. Some feel the plot is moving way too fast. Others feel that a lot of the characters have been broken in order to service the fast moving plot. It’s true some characters have undergone personality transplants in this final season, but overall I just don’t care! As a long-time fan, I’m so pleased to finally be getting some pay off after years and years of painstaking set up. I’ve been wanting a resolution to this story for so long, I’m more than willing to overlook some weaknesses in the plot. Plus, it’s all so dramatic and genuinely entertaining – I can’t help but enjoy the ride.
So long Theon, Jorah, Beric, Edd, Lyanna Mormont and all the Dothraki!
We open in Winterfell as Jon delivers an emotional eulogy for everyone who died last week. We see all our fallen friends (listed above) lying on funeral pyres. There are many touching scenes and tearful farewells, but I could not really focus on them because I was too overjoyed to see Ghost alive and well! Jon’s dire wolf, Ghost, miraculously survived the Battle of Winterfell and I couldn’t be happier!!
Everyone gathers in the candlelit great hall for a banquet/wake. In a clever power move, Daenerys names Gendry Lord Baratheon of Storm’s End. This is smart because it means that she will have a powerful lord on her team, who will always be loyal to her.
Sansa is worried about all this and gives Daenerys some major side-eye. Meanwhile, Brienne is getting drunk and Drunk Brienne is my new favourite character! We also see Davos chat with Tyrion about how much he wishes he could have killed Melisandre, and then Tyrion goes on to chat with Bran “I’m the Three-Eyed-Raven” Stark. Apparently Bran doesn’t experience desire for anything anymore because he lives in the past. It’s an extremely Bran-ish thing for him to say and I can’t help rolling my eyes and wishing he would display some small hint of human emotion.
Hooray for Arya!
Everyone cheers for Arya Stark, the hero of Winterfell. Tormund is drinking like a viking and being awesome. There is much talk about what a great hero Jon is. Tormund shouts loudly about how Jon is super cool for riding a dragon. “What kind of person climbs on a dragon?” he shouts with gusto. This is awkward because Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, is literally sitting right there! It’s kind of rude.
Daenerys quietly seethes as a bunch of drunk men congratulate her nephew/boyfriend for all of her hard work. Also worth mentioning at this point is the Starbucks coffee cup sitting on the banquet table. Someone somewhere is probably getting in huge trouble for this oversight! To that person I say this: “Thank you for providing this ideal opportunity for great memes!”
Drunk Brienne is so cute and funny…
Then Tyrion has to ruin her fun by calling her out for being a virgin. Brienne leaves the table. Jaime follows! Tormund sees them going off together and is heartbroken.
Meanwhile The Hound is being characteristically grumpy and antisocial. Sansa sits down with him and they have an interesting chat about how Sansa could have saved herself a lot of pain and suffering if she had been smart enough to leave King’s Landing with The Hound back in Season Two. Sansa agrees but points out that if it hadn’t been for all the hardship she endured she would have remained a silly “little bird” all her life. I think Sansa is selling herself a bit short here. She was always going to grow up. Her intelligence and strength are qualities she was born with – they are not solely the result of being tortured and manipulated by men. Let’s not forget she is Catelyn Stark’s daughter! Anyway, Sansa wins this conversation. (All Hail the Queen in the North!)
And now we see Gendry laying his heart at the feet of Arya Stark, the hero of Winterfell. It’s incredibly awkward and I can’t help cringing on poor Gendry’s behalf! He proposes marriage (kind of drastic after only one night together). Arya lets him down easy. She isn’t a lady and never has been. She’s all about that independent, freewheelin’ assassin life. She can’t be settling down to married life as Lady of Storm’s End. She’s too busy running wild and killing things, like a dire wolf.
Meanwhile, Jaime is having much better luck than Gendry…
Jaime shows up at Brienne’s room and IT IS ON. These two have always had the most insane chemistry, ever since that emotionally intense bath they took together back in Season Three. I never thought the show would go there but I’m so glad they did! Jaime has never slept with a knight before. Brienne hasn’t slept with anyone before. It’s a perfect match! And as an added bonus, they don’t have any parents in common!
Meanwhile, Jon and Daenerys share a painful scene together. They are soooo very desperately in love and unfortunately sooooo very related-by-blood. Daenerys is jealous because Jon is being treated like a king whereas she feels like an outsider in Westeros. She asks Jon not to tell anyone the truth about his parentage. But Jon Snow cannot tell a lie! He is noble and honest and only speaks the truth (even when doing so seems terminally stupid). Of course he wants to tell his sisters about his secret identity. Daenerys says the truth will destroy them. (And let’s face it, she’s probably right.) She begs Jon to keep a lid on it. Daenerys Stormborn does not beg anyone for anything so this is kind of a big deal. Jon, however, is stubbornly determined to be honest… even if it kills everyone.
Time for more battle strategies!
Everyone is gathered around the battle board. Daenerys is determined to attack King’s Landing and basically burn everything to hell with dragonfire. This plan has the benefit of ensuring Cersei will die (yay!), but unfortunately means that loads of innocent people will also die (boooo!).
Queen Sansa points out that the soldiers are wounded and tired after so recently fighting the army of the dead, and maybe it would be a good idea to let them rest and recover before marching them across the country to fight another war? Daenerys doesn’t care for that idea. She isn’t in a mood for logic. She wants to strike against Cersei and she wants to do it NOW. Jon pledges the northern soldiers to Daenerys, who still has two dragons and whatever remains of the Unsullied and Dothraki (which means apparently some of the Dothraki must have survived? Who knew!?).
Time for another Stark reunion in the Godswood!
The last of the Starks (episode title check) are having a family meeting. Arya and Sansa do not trust Daenerys. Jon lurves Daenerys 4eva. Bran has no feelings about anything at all. Jon clearly wants to tell his sisters all about his secret Targaryen status. Bran stares blankly for about three or four centuries and then tells Jon “It’s your choice.” And so then Jon tells Bran to tell Arya and Sansa everything because I guess he thought the news would sound better coming from the Three-Eyed-Raven?
Interestingly, we don’t see what happens when Arya and Sansa learn the truth. Did they freak out? Were they angry or sad? Maybe they were happy to discover that their brother/cousin has a stronger claim to the throne than the Dragon Queen? We don’t know what happened because the scene ends abruptly. I wonder why?
Catching up with an old friend…
Bronn has arrived at Winterfell, carrying the same crossbow Tyrion used to murder his father on the toilet back in Season Four. As far as weapons go, it’s not quite as emotionally significant as Arya’s Valyrian steel dagger. But it’s still pretty cool! Ten points to Cersei for planning the murder of her brothers with such flare for poetic justice.
Bronn is looking to switch sides again and has come to bargain for a better Castle than the one Cersei promised him. (Hahhahahahaha! Sorry, just laughing hysterically at the idea of Cersei ever keeping a promise.) Bronn is getting kind of tiresome. I’m ready for him to die, but knowing this show he will probably be the only one left standing at the end.
After rudely punching Tyrion in the face, Bronn gets the Lannister Bros to promise him Highgarden after the war is won. It’s weird because as far as I know, Highgarden does not belong to Jaime or Tyrion and neither of them has the power to give it to Bronn… but who cares about minor details like that? At least Bronn didn’t murder anyone with the emotionally significant crossbow!
Our favourite travel buddies are reunited once more!
Arya and The Hound, the most beloved Odd Couple in Westeros, are hitting the road together and I couldn’t be happier! Both have “unfinished business” in King’s Landing. I can only assume The Hound’s unfinished business is the long awaited confrontation with his semi undead brother/monster, The Mountain. (Are we ready for Cleganebowl?!?!)
Meanwhile, Arya’s unfinished business could be killing Cersei? After all she’s on a bit of a roll. Having killed the Night King, why not go after the show’s other major villain? Also, I could be wrong but I think Cersei is the last name on Arya’s Murder List.
As they ride out together, Arya casually mentions that she doesn’t plan on returning to Winterfell ever again, which is disturbing.
Wrapping things up in Winterfell…
Sansa and Tyrion have a final chat before Tyrion leaves to go to war. Sansa is still hating Daenerys with the ice cold power of one thousand glaziers. She points out that Tyrion is afraid of Daenerys (he doesn’t deny this), then also points out that the men in her family don’t do well in King’s Landing, which seems to be a bit of a prophetic thing to say. Will Jon die in King’s Landing, like Ned Stark did back in season 1?
Sansa then finishes by asking Tyrion to consider whether there might be an alternative to Daenerys – a better person to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Displaying a very Littlefinger-esque talent for Machiavellian manipulation, she tells Tyrion the truth about Jon’s parentage. The cat is well and truly out of the bag now. Let the plotting and backstabbing begin!
Bye Tormund, it’s been real! (Also I love you, please come back)
Tormund is leaving Winterfell, heading back north with the rest of the Wildings. (I miss him already!) He and Jon share a lovely farewell scene together, which makes me worried for the future. It feels like these two may not see each other again – but I’m sure Tormund will be back before the end of the series. He better be. He has taken Ghost with him and I definitely need to see Ghost again before this show ends!
Gilly and Sam (couple name = Silly) show up to say goodbye to Jon. Silly is pregnant, and for some reason Sam feels the need to explain to Jon how this pregnancy came about. Gilly fortunately cuts him off before he gets too explicit (Thanks Gilly!). Silly announces that they will name the baby Jon if it’s a boy. I naturally assume they will call the baby Arya if it’s a girl, considering every single person in Westeros is literally only alive because Arya Stark, the hero of Winterfell, is such a badass.
Meanwhile, Tyrion and Varys talk some more. Tyrion grimly notes that all the political upheaval and violent warfare they have endured over the past seven seasons – aka the deadly “game of thrones” – can be traced back to the fact that Robert Baratheon loved a woman who didn’t love him back.
Pfft! Toxic masculinity ruins the party again! Am I right?!
Bet you didn’t see this death coming!
Next we cut to the dragons, Drogon and Rhaegal, soaring majestically through the sky. Daenerys is riding Drogon as the Targaryen fleet sails for King’s Landing. The stirring violin music is building towards an uplifting crescendo when suddenly, out of nowhere, a giant arrow slams into Rhaegal’s chest. And then another one pierces his throat. A very dead dragon corpse plummets into the ocean.
Where did this sudden attack come from? It’s none other than Cersei’s main squeeze, Euron Greyjoy, grinning psychotically as he aims the giant crossbow at Daenerys. Giant arrows fly everywhere, ships are destroyed, Tyrion is forced to jump overboard into the ocean. The screen fades to black and I scream like a banshee, thinking that the episode is ending. Luckily, it isn’t over yet! We return to a scene of Unsullied soldiers being washed ashore at Dragonstone. Amongst the survivors is Greyworm, who searches frantically for Missandei. She is nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing…
Cersei and Euron are having a cute romantic moment. Euron boasts to Cersei about killing Rhaegal. Cersei shamelessly lies to Euron by telling him he is the father of her incest baby (classic Cersei shenanigans!) And then we see that Missandei is their prisoner. I’m glad to see she didn’t drown but not overly hopeful for the future of this beloved character…
Back to Dragonstone…
Varys and Tyrion are cautioning Daenerys against destroying King’s Landing with dragonfire. Daenerys isn’t interested in taking any advice, but somehow Tyrion convinces her to try talking to Cersei before she burns King’s Landing to the ground. This should go well!
Tyrion and Varys take a moment to discuss the future. Is Daenerys really destined to be queen? Would Jon perhaps make a better ruler? Jon doesn’t want the throne, but maybe that’s the very reason he should have it? Also, let us not forget that Jon is a MAN, which obviously makes him the more popular candidate as ruler of Westeros because sexism!
Tyrion remains loyal to Daenerys, but Varys seems to be switching allegiances. He vows to act in the interest of the common people, no matter the cost. He’s obviously going to plot against Daenerys and will probably die for it.
Back to Winterfell…
Jaime finds out that Euron ambushed Daenerys and murdered one of her dragon kids. Even though he already knew that Daenerys and Jon were heading to King’s Landing to kill Cersei, for some reason this news causes Jaime to abandon his new life with Brienne and go right back to being Cersei’s boyfriend/brother.
I really don’t get it. I thought he was done with all that? This seems like a weird move for Jaime, running directly against his character arc. Then again, I suppose they have to find a way to bring Jaime to King’s Landing where all the action is. It seems to be his destiny to kill Cersei. But then it also seems like destiny for Arya to kill Cersei. Personally, I don’t care who does it. As long as Cersei dies, I’m happy.
And now for the dramatic conclusion!
Daenerys marches her army to King’s Landing and demands Cersei’s surrender, and the release of Missandei. Obviously this isn’t going to happen. Despite Tyrion’s best efforts to appeal to Cersei’s better judgement (LOL), Cersei refuses to cooperate and our beautiful, beloved, brave Missandei is given the chance to speak her final words. She shouts a defiant “Dracarys!” and is brutally beheaded by the Mountain. It’s awful.
This was a tough death to watch. I am upset and I want REVENGE. And so does Daenerys…
The final scene of the episode shows us Daenerys looking absolutely, blood-chillingly FURIOUS as she marches away from King’s Landing. The Dragon Queen is about to unleash holy hell on Cersei and I literally cannot wait to see how this pans out.
And that’s a wrap on Episode 4!
Phwarrrr. What an episode! I’m getting increasingly concerned that this whole thing is going to end with Cersei winning. They wouldn’t really do that to us, would they?? And yet, I keep hearing Ramsay Snow’s voice in my head saying “If you think this story has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
Best Dressed: Cersei is slaying in her military red and gold with the metal shoulder pads BUT she killed Missandei and I hate her so she doesn’t get to win! Instead, I’m going to give it to Theon’s corpse because of the touching moment when Sansa gave him her House Stark pin, shortly before lightning his funeral pyre. Who says you can’t win fashion awards when you’re dead? From what I could tell through my tears, Theon looked awesome wearing his House Stark pin, so he wins Best Dressed this week and that’s final.
Predictions: Death, death and more death! I literally have no idea what will happen next week but something tells me death will be involved.
A Game of Thrones - The Story Continues
George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series has set the benchmark for contemporary epic fantasy. Labelled by Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world, Martin has conjured a world as complex and vibrant as that of J.R.R. Tolkien, populated by a huge cast of fascinating, complex characters, and boasting a history that stretches back twelve thousand years.
Three great storylines weave through the books, charting the civil war for control of the Seven Kingdoms; the defence of the towering Wall of ice in the uttermost north against the unearthly threat of the Others; and across the Narrow Sea the rise to power of Daenerys Targaryen and the last live dragons in the world...
About the Contributor
Sarah McDuling is Booktopia's Category Manager for Children's and Young Adult Books. She has been in the bookselling game for almost a decade and a dedicated booklover since birth (potentially longer). At her happiest when reading a book, Sarah also enjoys talking/writing/tweeting about books. In her spare time, she often likes to buy a lot of books and take photographs of books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instragram @sarahmcduling
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