TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4. “The Last of the Starks.”

Spoilers follow.

First off, let me address my Episode 3 review. Since I’ve written it, my opinion of that episode has just dwindled and dwindled, to the point that I have realised that I really didn’t enjoy it, therefore, my 7.5 rating is far too generous and I will be amending this at a later date to reflect my true feelings towards the controversial Battle of Winterfell.

But, that’s Episode 3, and we’re here to look at Episode 4. So, what did I think? Although it was an improvement, I still think that there are common flaws with this Season that keep occurring and I am growing every fearful that this Season is destined to fizzle out like a dying flame, rather than go out with the bang we all expect.

Much like Episodes 1 and 2, the majority of this episode is all build-up for the next big battle and it is more focused on character moments again. After a funeral for the very few secondary characters that met their end against the Army of the Dead, we get to see the celebrations that follow and the growing relationships and tensions between these characters as we begin to reach the end point.

Jaime and Brienne have the best arc of the episode, which will see fans elated and then crushed all within the same episode. The best scene, by far, in my opinion, is at the climax of the episode when Jaime leaves Brienne to go back to Cersei, it’s a very powerful moment and extremely emotional, even more so when you consider the deeper meaning behind his words. Many are angry at his actions, but when you look further into what triggers him and what he says, you start to get the vibe that he is in fact going back to end his sister, not save her. I certainly hope so, anyway, because any other route is going to feel like a complete betrayal of his arc over the entirety of the show’s run.

A large portion of this episode as well focuses on the true heritage of Jon Snow, with the “Mad Queen” seemingly getting closer and closer, with everyone starting to question the erraticness of Dany and even her closest advisors beginning to plot against her, or at least toy with the idea of Jon becoming King, I think it’s only a matter of time before things really start to get tasty. Although this is probably the least I’ve liked Dany, I can’t deny that Emilia Clarke has really shone these last few episodes and this is probably the best performance she’s given as Dany in a very long time, if not ever, seeing her inner conflict and watching her beg Jon to keep his heritage a secret is riveting viewing. You really feel for her, but at the same time you’re completely aware of the fact that her lust for power is progressively getting worse, and more dangerous.

These moments aside, however, I can’t help but feel that the lazy writing and the feeling of rushing is overwhelming this series. Yet again, characters seem to be making ridiculous decisions that seem completely out of character, in an attempt to fast-forward the plot. It may not bother the more casual viewer, but Game of Thrones is a show that thrived on taking it’s time with plot threads, treating them with great care and attention which would lead to fantastic pay-offs. So, when everything is being rushed through at a thousand miles an hour, it sticks out like a sore thumb and it just isn’t landing for me. In series gone by, the quest to King’s Landing would have taken a few episodes, but here, our characters are at the castle gates in a mere matter of minutes, despite the fact that their ships are obliterated by Euron only moments earlier. (In what was another Hollywood-esque moment which really took me out of the action, sure, it was unexpected, but how the hell did nobody see those ships?!)

Perhaps I’m being too critical, perhaps I’m still bitter about Episode 3. But for me, as we get closer to the end, I can’t help but feel like we as an audience is being shortchanged and deprived. When they announced Season 8 would only be 6 episodes, I was skeptical, and now my doubts have been proven right, because I am confident that there was enough left in this story to warrant a couple more seasons. It’s such a shame that after years of careful build-up, it’s all being thrown away in stupidly rushed moments.

It feels like those running the show don’t care anymore, and sadly, I’m starting to feel the same way. They’ve got two episodes to salvage this, will they do it? I hope so, but I’m not so sure.

Overall, I didn’t mind this episode, it’s filled with some strong character moments and it’s a relatively entertaining watch, with some powerful moments to come with it. However, you tend to remember the bad stuff, and I can’t shake how frustrated and upset I am that yet again, a lot of the writing was lazy, the plot was rushed and I found my own investment in the show dwindling rapidly. This isn’t the ending I envisioned for Game of Thrones, and I can’t help but feel it deserves better.

I give The Last of the Starks a 6.5/10. 

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