Game of Thrones: S8E4
“The Last of the Starks”

Starring: Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, John Bradley, Joe Dempsie, Gemma Whelan, Gwendoline Christie, Rory McCann, Kristofer Hivju, Nathalie Emmanuel, Conleth Hill
Writers: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Studio: HBO

The survivors of the Battle of Winterfell formally burn their dead and move on to more important things, like taking Cersei off the Iron Throne. Of course, because Daenerys and her advisors are terrible at strategy, just about everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

Consider this your SPOILER WARNING.

A lot happens in this episode that garnered a good amount of chatter. Jon Snow being a terrible owner of Ghost (to be fair, he looked like it would be too painful to say goodbye). Jon Snow also being a terrible keeper of secrets (but he did the right thing). Another Stark rejects another Baratheon. Daenerys is down to one dragon now. And, of course, the coffee cup.

But there were two characters that stuck out to me in this episode: Daenerys and Jaime. Here’s a (hopefully) quick study as to why they left the deepest impression by the time the credits rolled.

Daenerys is Slipping Into Madness

Madness is kind of the Targaryen family trait, no? Before the Battle of Winterfell, Jon Snow spilled the beans that he has a better claim to the Iron Throne than she does. This doesn’t seem to be sitting well with her, especially because Jon is pretty popular with the soldier-folk. She patiently endures the celebratory dinner and then basically puts Jon in his place and demands his silence over his heritage and his total commitment.

Jon does neither. Of course, he doesn’t want the Iron Throne, as Varys and Tyrion observe. Doesn’t that mean he’ll be a great leader? We need more of those reluctant-to-lead types to replace those power-hungry snobs.

As all this is going on, Daenerys royally screws up her attack on the Red Keep and loses a dragon. Then, Missandei is captured and killed by Cersei in front of her (and poor Grey Worm’s) eyes. Daenny is NOT HAPPY.

We get the sense that she’s losing her grip on all that she thought she controlled. That doesn’t sit well with anyone, but when you have a family history of going mad and killing everyone with dragon fire, that makes Daenerys extra vulnerable.

It’s a fascinating character study in the nature-vs-nurture question. She doesn’t have any memory of her crazy family — other than her long-dead brother — but the show seems to be setting us up to watch her fall into madness. Does that mean it will happen? Will our expectations change course and we’ll see her defy her family history and show that she can direct her own destiny? It will be interesting to observe. My wild guess is that she will end up going crazy but nobly sacrifice herself at the last minute in a final act of redemption. But that seems a little too perfect for a show like Game of Thrones.

Jaime is the Addict

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Jaime has truly one of the best character arcs throughout all of Game of Thrones. I know a lot of people were upset at his treatment toward Brienne, and rightfully so. At the same time, what else can we expect?

As Jaime is riding away, he essentially tells Brienne that there is no escape from the sins of his past. He produced children with his sister, and he pushed a boy out of a window. Whatever good he thought he had done cannot save him from the man that he was.

When we meet Jaime, he’s at the top of the food chain and has no regrets for his horrible actions … or so we think. The more we see him hit rock bottom, the more apparent it becomes that there is a conscience gnawing at him. We’ve been watching him make the right choices, but, now that hope seems distant, he believes there is no salvation.

It’s heartbreaking to watch, just like watching an addict fall back into their habit. Where his story goes from here is anyone’s guess, but you really can’t help but root for him to stop the backslide and enter back into recovery.

Bonus: Please Let Sansa Win

I hated Sansa at the beginning, but I love her now. She’s been through hell, and she’s letting that help her become stronger. Plus, she can’t stand Daenerys, which tells me she’s become a much better judge of character. Please let her get the Iron Throne.

S8E4: The Last of the Starks


Nature vs Nurture


The Addict Storyline


Rejecting Tormund and Ghost


Daenerys and Her Advisors


Sansa Hates Daenerys

Michael Farris Jr.
Michael is a Virginia-born Idaho convert (stuck in Georgia) and a huge fan of sci-fi. He took time off from comics and sci-fi during the dark years of being a teenager and trying to impress girls, but has since married an amazing woman with whom he regularly can geek out and be himself. He's also a drummer, loves metal music, and can always be found in a melancholy state while watching all things DC sports.

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