TL;DR – An episode of two
halves that don’t work together, but at least it nails the first part.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
One thing that always resonates in a good show is an impact. When you change the game what is the impact on the characters and the greater world. This is one area that historically Game of Thrones has excelled at, and this might be the biggest impact we have had so far. After the battle comes a moment of reflection, but then what if there is no time because there are still enemies on the board?
So to set the scene, we begin in the moments after the end of last week’s The Long Night. At the end of the battle, Arya (Maisie Williams) was the one who finally stopped the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) destroying all of his minions. However, this was not before thousands of lives were lost, including the leader House Mormont Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey). It was a major victory but also a stunning loss, one that might have set the scene for a safer world but at the cost of putting Cersei (Lena Headey) in maybe an unbeatable position. However, when you have gumption on your side (and also some dragons) anything is possible, maybe. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
feels like an episode of two halves, the first that was moody and full of
amazing character moments, and the second half that feels like a rushed
exposition dump to get everyone into position for the final battle, and I’m not
sure how to feel about that. This is especially painful when considering in the
rushed push to give people emotional closure they ambush the fleet, capture Missandei
(Nathalie Emmanuel), keep her a prisoner, and then execute her to piss off
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) all in 15 or so minutes. So today I am going to break
down the two halves to see how they worked, individually, because they did not
work as a whole.
For me, the first half worked so much better than the last and is what pulled me through the rest of the episode. In this first half, it was a series of goodbyes and posturing. In the aftermath of a great battle, you do what you always do in such a situation, and through a great feast. There are the usual banter and frivolities but there is also the undercurrent of tension, that is because this was a giant army brought together of different factions all to fight one enemy and now that enemy is gone. So what was once a united whole, can now be seen as something with factional lines drawn done and no one can see that more than Daenerys. She knows that Jon (Kit Harington) is the rightful heir to the throne and she sees how people flock to him and that is a threat to her.
was also time for some interesting plot developments, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is
now Gendry Baratheon, which was great for him until Arya (Maisie Williams)
turned down his marriage proposal, ouch, at least he didn’t do it in front of
people. Also, Podrick (Daniel Portman) got to have some fun and even Brienne (Gwendoline
Christie) had a moment of joy. However, it was also a section on goodbyes, Jon
is riding south which is never a good thing for a member of the Stark family.
Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) is taking the free folk back north to reclaim what
was lost and is taking Ghost with him. It was also the moment when Jon finally
told the rest of his family who he is, and if anything will have repercussions
it will be the ripple of that spreading out throughout the rest of the show.
Then we get to the second half that went from everything happening over one day to happening over a month. Daenerys took her retinue back to Dragonstone, as Jon marched south with the main army. It is here where the fleet was ambushed by Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) because it is clear that no one in the good guy’s camp believes in using scouts for goodness sake. Rhaegal is shot out of the sky by a new weapon and in one of the only good moments of this section Dany had the chance to stop it all, but she chose her life over those of her people’s with devastating consequences.
if the episode had ended there I think that would have been a fantastic moment,
but it doesn’t it keeps on going and going. From this point onwards the rest of
the episode feels like it is going at breakneck speed but also at the same time
it feels like it really drags. Honestly, I don’t know how they pulled it off,
but it was not great. All of this brings us to the end, where Tyrion (Peter
Dinklage) begs Cersei to think of her unborn child and surrender, and she
responds by having Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) behead Missandei in
front of them all. This was infuriating (last time I was this upset it was back
in Season Five and Shireen). Not only was this killing off the shows only main female
cast member of colour and in a way that felt rushed. It was also putting
someone in slavery into chains again before they killed her so that her boss
hold get mad. This is not commented on by characters in the show, and if they
don’t bring it up next week then frankly I feel that the showrunners might have
fumbled the football in meters of the try line.
In the end, do we recommend The Last of the Starks? Actually, this is a difficult one. The first half was this really moody character piece with moments of joy and tension, and that was where the show is at its best. But then it feels like a second episode was sort of jammed in there at the end, and it would have worked much better if it had been its own separate thing. As well as this, the ending left it with a bad taste in my mouth, that makes me warry of next week’s episode but not in a good way.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Game of Thrones
Directed by – David Nutter
Written by – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Based off – A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
Created for TV by – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Music by – Ramin Djawadi
Production/Disruption Companies – Home Box Office (HBO)
Starring in Season 8 – Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Carice Van Houten, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, Joe Dempsie, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, John Bradley, Hannah Murray, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Jacob Anderson & Iain Glen with Pilou Asbæk, Anton Lesser, Richard Dormer, Vladimir Furdik, Gemma Whelan, Ben Crompton, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Daniel Portman, Bella Ramsey, Rupert Vansittart, Marc Rissmann, Richard Rycroft, Megan Parkinson, Ian Whyte, Staz Nair and Alice Nokes, Danielle Galligan & Emer McDaid