A Binge Guide for Season 8, Episode 4 – “The Last of the Starks”
By Greg Enslen
Episode Number: S08E04
Original Air Date: May 5, 2019
Time: 78 minutes
Synopsis: The Battle of Winterfell is over and a new chapter for Westeros begins.
The updated animated map during the credits shows a few important locations: the Wall, Last Hearth, Winterfell, and King’s Landing. Updated in this episode: the blue tiles of the undead now stop at Winterfell and do not continue, and the Great Hall shows damage and the fireplace has gone out.
Ser Jorah Mormont is laid to rest along with thousands of other fallen soldiers and civilians in the aftermath of the battle with the white walkers. Daenerys Targaryen cries over the loss of her most trusted advisor and whispers something into his ear. Lady Sansa Stark cries over the body of Theon Greyjoy, who fell in the Godswood protecting Sansa’s brother. She gives him her Stark sigil pin, marking him as a true member of House Stark.
Nearby, the living have gathered near dozens of funeral pyres, which hold the bodies of the fallen. Sansa joins Jon Snow, Samwell Tarly, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, the direwolf Ghost, Ser Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, Tormund Giantsbane, Sandor “the Hound” Clegane, Gendry, Ser Davos Seaworth and others aligned with House Stark. Daenerys walks to join her group of followers: Grey Worm, Lord Varys, Missandei and Tyrion Lannister and others.
Jon Snow walks out to speak, saying a eulogy over the dead. He talks about how they gave their lives to protect the realm of men and would be remembered for generations to come. Afterward, they light the funeral pyres.
Notes: There are a lot of funeral pyres. In the section closest to our main characters, the pyres are set out in a grid of 12 by 8, each holding between ten and twenty-five bodies waiting to be burned. That’s 96 pyres and roughly 1,500 bodies being burned. Jon’s speech contains many lines from the funeral speech given for members of the Night’s Watch. Dany sets fire to Jorah’s funeral pyre, just as she set fire to Khal Drogo’s funeral payer in So1E10. Beyond the stacked funeral pyres is a massive pile of dark shapes—this may be where the Winterfell defenders have disposed of the thousands of undead corpses from the Army of the Dead.
Goofs: The funeral pyres would require an insane amount of wood, probably more than could be gathered and milled in one day. Each pyre is built from logs of fresh-cut trees, at least six layers of 20 to 30 trees each. Guessing that each pyre needs 150 trees, that’s over 14,000 full-sized trees felled for these funeral pyres, a veritable forest.
In the Great Hall, a feast begins to celebrate their victory over the white walkers. Dany recognizes Gendry, legitimizing him and giving him Storm’s End, the Baratheon ancestral seat. Sansa understands that Dany is trying to make allies, and Jaime and Brienne drink together to celebrate. Davos and Tyrion discuss the Lord of Light, and Bran tells Tyrion about his wheelchair, the same design that Daeron Targaryen built for his crippled nephew 120 years ago. Tormund toasts the “Dragon Queen,” and Dany toasts Arya, the “Hero of Winterfell.” Jaime and Brienne play a drinking game. Tormund and others talk about Jon’s heroic ride on the back of a dragon, making Dany jealous.
Notes: Tyrion mentions the saddle he designed for Bran back in S01E04. Bran doesn’t explain how he knows about the wheelchair design, and Tyrion doesn’t ask. In the background, Podrick goes off with two women.
Cameos: Executive Producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff appear in the feast scene as wildlings. They are standing holding white drinking horns and looking at Tormund as he says “he’s little.”
Goofs: Controversy erupted with a modern paper coffee cup was spotted during this scene by eagle-eyed viewers during the initial broadcast. The coffee cup sat on the wooden table in front of Dany at the 17:15 mark, while Tormund discusses Jon’s resurrection from the dead and splashes his drink. It was digitally removed by HBO and does not appear in the episode now widely available. Some viewers took the appearance of an obvious anachronism as a sign that the episode and others this season were “rushed,” allowing such an obvious mistake to occur.
Quotes: Tormund Giantsbane: “We have to celebrate our victory.” Jon Snow: “Vomiting is not celebrating.” Tormund: “Yes, it is.”
Gendry goes to find Arya and gives her the news: he’s Lord Gendry now. He proposes marriage, asking her to be the Lady of Storm’s End, but she’s not interested. “That’s not me.” Jaime goes to Brianne’s room with more alcohol, and they drink together and end up in bed.
Dany goes to see Jon, and practically throws herself at him, but he’s not interested. Now that he knows his true ancestry, he doesn’t think of her the same way. And Dany understands that people admire him—and would want to see him on the Iron Throne. She begs him not to tell anyone else.
Notes: Arya’s conversation with Gendry is similar to once she has with her father, when he tells her she’s going to marry a lord and become a lady. “No, that’s not me.” A wedding between the two of them would have fulfilled one wish: King Robert Baratheon proposed that he and Ned Stark “join houses” by having his son Joffrey marry Sansa in S01E01. This didn’t happen, obviously, and Joffrey wasn’t Roberts blood relation in any case.
In the library, Jon, Grey Worm, Dany, Missandei, Lord Vary, Tyrion, Bran, Arya, Ser Davos and Ser Brienne regard the war map and discuss the current status of their troops. They lost half of the Unsullied, half the Northmen, and half of the Dothraki. The Ironborn and House Mormont’s troops were wiped out, and the Golden Company has arrived in King’s Landing. There is good news: Yara Greyjoy has retaken the Iron Islands in Dany’s name, and the new Prince of Dorne pledges his support as well.
Tyrion suggests a blockade to starve the city and get the citizens to turn on Cersei, avoiding civilian casualties. Sansa suggests time to rest and recuperate, but Dany wants to move on King’s Landing now. Jon and Ser Davos will lead the Northern troops and the bulk of the Dothraki and Unsullied down the Kingsroad to King’s Landing. A smaller group, including Dany, her advisors, and the dragons, will ride to the White Harbor and sail ahead to Dragonstone. Ser Jaime, Brienne, Sansa and Bran will remain behind.
The four remaining members of House Stark argue about whether or not they should be bending the knee to Dany. Jon reminds them that they would all be dead if she hadn’t brought her troops north. Arya says they don’t trust her and reminds Jon that they are family—and should rely on each other. Jon takes this opportunity to tell them the truth about his ancestry after making them swear to keep it a secret.
Jaime and Tyrion are discussing women, including Jaime’s new relationship with Brienne, when Bronn appears carrying the Lannister crossbow. He tells them he’s tired of dealing with their family and wants to hear their counter-offer to Cersei’s request that Bronn execute both of her troublesome brothers. Bronn hits Tyrion in the face. Cersei offered Bronn Riverrun, but Bronn wants to know what is double Riverrun. Tyrion offers him Highgarden as payment, and Bronn accepts.
Heading south from Winterfell, The Hound encounters Arya. They decide to travel together to King’s Landing because they both have “unfinished business” in the capital.
Dany visits her dragons and sees that Rhaegal is still injured from the battle. Sansa and Tyrion talk about Dany, and Tyrion says that Sansa will be the true power in the North. “She’s your queen, too,” Tyrion says, but Sansa has news and tells her about Jon’s true claim on the throne.
Notes: We actually see THROUGH the holes in Rhaegal’s wing, showing how injured the dragon really is. It also wobbles upon takeoff. The Hound’s unfinished business is with his brother, and Arya is traveling to King’s Landing to kill Cersei.
Quotes: Arya Stark: “You heading to King's Landing?” Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane: “I have some unfinished business.” Arya Stark: “Me too.” The Hound: “I don't plan on coming back.” Arya: “Neither do I.”
Jon and Davos saddle up, saying goodbye to Tormund, and Ghost. Tormund taking the Free Folk north to Castle Black and then on north of the wall. Jon asks Tormund to take Ghost with him. Jon also bids farewell to Sam and Gilly, who is pregnant with Sam’s child. If it’s a boy, they want to name him Jon. “I hope it’s a girl,” Jon says.
Notes: Fans were angry that Jon did not say goodbye to Ghost or pet him before leaving. According to IMDB, Director David Nutter commented on this, saying the visual effects budget would not allow them to create a CGI Ghost and insert him into the scene with Jon.
Dany’s ships ply the waters and King’s Landing looms in the distance. Grey Worm and Missandei ride together, hoping for a happy ending, while Tyrion tells Lord Varys about Jon’s true parentage. They discuss the wars over the past twenty years, all “because Robert Baratheon loved someone who didn’t love him back.” Varys is sure she’ll lose the support of the North as soon as enough people learn the truth. “He has the better claim to the throne,” Varys says. And it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want it or not—support for Dany will evaporate as soon as people find out. Tyrion suggests they marry but Varys doesn’t think it would work—and that Dany wouldn’t want to share power.
The Targaryen ships drop anchor off Dragonstone when the dragons come under attack and Regal is HIT three times with metal arrows. Eleven ships from Euron’s fleet, including his flagship The Silence, round a corner and appear—and each has been outfitted with a version of Qyburn’s Scorpion, the anti-dragon ballista. Dany flies out of range and Euron turns his Scorpions on the Targaryen fleet, firing into the ships and sinking several. Dany’s troops jump ship and Missandei is lost at sea.
Notes: Varys asks how many people know, and Tyrion answers “eight.” That’s wrong but he may not know it: in addition to Jon, Bran, Samwell, Sansa, Arya, Dany, Tyrion and now Varys, Gilly also knows the secret. It is also possible that a tenth person, Howland Reed, knows the truth. Euron’s flagship is called The Silence because he’s cut out the tongues of every member of the crew to reduce the chances that they mutiny. Euron’s version of the Scorpion includes curved arms decorated to look like Kraken arms, including a red “eye” at the center.
In Dragonstone, Grey Worm wants to storm the city, but Lord Varys warns that there will be too many civilian casualties. “These are the people you came here to protect.” Tyrion suggests they offer Cersei terms, asking for her surrender, her life in exchange for the throne. Dany agrees to “avoid bloodshed” if she can.
Later, Varys and Tyrion discuss what to do about Dany, skirting around a conversation that borders on outright treason. Varys thinks Jon will make a better ruler and will do a better job of protecting the smallfolk. “They’re just as real as you and I. They deserve to live.”
In Winterfell, Jaime learns that Euron ambushed Dany and her fleet, killing one of the dragons. This news spurs him to abandon Winterfell—and Brienne—and head south to either protect Cersei—or kill her himself. Brienne is heartbroken when he leaves.
Notes: While Cersei is talking to Euron, we hear a few notes from the “Rains of Castamere” song.
Outside the gates of King’s Landing, Dany and a small group of her followers, including her most trusted advisers, wait to negotiate with Cersei, who stands atop the gate with The Mountain and her captive, Missandei. The other towers of King’s Landing are topped with more of Qyburn’s Scorpions, all aimed at Dany and her forces. Tyrion walks forward and tries to negotiate with Qyburn, but he’s not having it. They each demand the other’s unconditional surrender. In the end, Tyrion pleads with Cersei directly, but she reject him—and Missandei is executed, beheaded in front of Dany and Grey Worm. Dany turns, her face writhing with anger.
Notes: Missandei last word is “Dracarys,” the same command Dany gives to her dragons to unleash dragonfire. This is also the word that set Missandei free from her slavery—Dany spoke the word in S03E04, killing Kraznys, the slaver in Astapor, and securing control of both Missandei and the Unsullied army. According to IMDB, the actress who plays Missandei couldn’t appear on set the day these shots were filmed of King’s Landing—due to the height of the tower, paparazzi would have seen her, so they filmed her parts separately and superimposed them into the shot.
Quotes: Tyrion Lannister: I don't want to see the city burn. I don't want to hear the screams of children burning alive. Qyburn: “No, it is not a pleasant sound.” Tyrion: “I... I don't want to hear it. Help me save this city.”
This huge episode moves the pieces around the board but doesn’t really get anywhere—it’s just the filler episode between what I’m assuming are two big battles, one for the living and one for the control of King’s Landing. And Dany is losing support on all sides: Lord Varys is opening conspiring against her, she’s lost another dragon and the love of Jon, and now the world is starting to learn the truth: there is another contender to the Iron Throne in Jon, a popular war hero and man of the people. Her distrust in the people of the North grows, causing her to rush south and ignore Sansa’s logical advice to let their combined forces—and her injured dragon—a few days to recover before moving on King’s Landing.
The opening funeral and feast are powerful examples of people moving on after loss. And Dany makes the old college try, legitimizing Gendry and toasting to Arya. But these people will never really trust her—or follow her. She’s a Targaryen and an outsider, no competition for a home-grown hero like Jon Snow. There are some funny moments at the feast, including Gendry’s proposal, which falls on deaf ears. Arya isn’t that kind of “lady,” Gendry.
We get a nice update on Dany’s forces and a quick overview of the coming plan, but the whole “siege” concept is silly. Seeing how excited Dany is to move on with things, it would take a complete idiot to suggest a plan where they all literally stand around and do nothing. Unless the whole point of the plan is to get Dany to reject it, slipping into “Mad Queen” mode and taking on Cersei’s forces, which now include the Golden Company, single-handedly.
And, of course, Sansa can’t keep a secret—it’s in her best interest to get Jon on the throne and get Dany out of the picture. She tells Tyrion, who tells everyone else. And while *technically* Jon didn’t tell his sisters about his parentage—he left that job to Bran—he did exactly what Dany asked him NOT to do, causing a cascade of problems that can only lead to bloodshed.
The ending is a little silly as well, seeing Dany and the mini-army she’s brought with her standing outside of King’s Landing. Ever since she landed in Westeros, people have been holding her back. Now, come to negotiate, she looks weak and her forces look underwhelming lined up opposite the walls of King’s Landing. It looks like she has about 80 or 90 Unsullied and her advisors. That’s it.
Tyrion’s negotiations fail, and Dany loses another long-time friend when Missandei is executed in front of them. Seeing the look on her face, I can only guess that Dany is barely keeping her anger under control, hinting at future madness...
The title refers to the Stark children in the Godswood discussing staying true to one’s family in the face of increasing odds. Arya says “We're family. The four of us. The last of the Starks.”
NOTE: All sites accessed on accessed May 23, 2019.
Game of Thrones Wiki, several pages. http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Game_of_Thrones_Wiki
HBO Game of Thrones synopsis. http://www.gameofthrones.com/game-of-thrones/season-8/episode-4
New Rockstars, “Game of Thrones 8x04 Breakdown.” https://youtu.be/r4_kMkmL59g
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