Game of Thrones S08EP4: "The Last of the Starks"
Plot - 6/10
Acting - 8/10
Overall - 7.4/10
User Review( votes)
Despite some high points, Game of Thrones takes some really gross turns this week.
This Week’s Game of Thrones Shows Us How Misogynistic and Racist the Show Can Still Be
So this was … an episode. Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4 “The Last of the Starks” is most definitely not the strongest episode of the season.
When you value shocks over characterization your characters suffer for it. It’s a trope that is lazy storytelling and just ends up annoying people. This is the final season and we can’t be privy to Jon Snow’s POV or the Starks’ POV when they’re the heroes of the story.
We have a relationship that is entirely toxic in which our hero is trapped. A paranoid Targaryen that everyone is pretending has a good heart. Honestly, the only ones that are smart in this show are Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, and Varys.
But let’s get into it.
Sansa Stark remains as the bright spot in every Game of Thrones episode. The best scenes of the episode include her (or are sparked by her). First, we have the beautiful sendoff to Theon Greyjoy. Sophie Turner was magnificent as she placed the Stark pin on him. It was heartbreaking and touching all at the same time.
The scene in the feast lets us know that Sansa Stark is very much in love with Jon Snow. It’s the only scene where we see the real Jon Snow emerge, even if it’s just for a second. It’s still a very cute scene between the two of them and Tormund. I also loved Arya telling Jon that Dany wasn’t one of them because she’s not.
Of course, Sansa would tell Tyrion about Jon, and no, this is not her betraying Jon; she’s protecting her family. She is protecting Jon from his crazy aunt-girlfriend. Remember when people said Sansa Stark couldn’t effect change? With one word she has two of the most powerful men in the kingdom thinking about treason.
Which leads us directly to Varys. Varys was magnificent this episode. I’m glad they finally gave him something to do. Varys has served many kings in his lifetime and he’s served crazy Targaryens. More than anyone, he knows how much the people suffer under their rule—how much they would suffer under Daenerys.
I like that Varys gave her a final chance and warned her that she’s going to hurt innocents but Dany just didn’t care.
I fully expect Dany to go off and burn people alive because that’s what she has wanted to do for seasons now. Varys has a few tricks up his sleeve, though, and I’m sure we’re going to see them come into play next week.
Has anyone seen Jon Snow? He’s been missing since he left for Dragonstone and I’m really worried about him. There’s a caricature standing in his place, pretending to be him.
I don’t know who that is, but it is not Jon Snow. A part of me still wants to believe he’s playing the long game, but at this point? It’s going to be bad either way. I can’t believe we’re 5 hours into the final season (which lasts 8 hours) and we still don’t have Jon’s point of view. Why is he acting the way he is? Is he really a northern fool? Nothing in season 7 gave the impression that he was actually into Daenerys. For all intents and purposes, he shouldn’t be, considering they have complete opposite moral compasses. He put an arrow through Mance’s heart to spare him the pain of being burned alive and he banished Melisandre for burning Shireen at the stake.
And the way he treated Ghost? Disgraceful.
Ghost is half of his soul. He is his best friend, he wouldn’t just send him North of the Wall! He’s the one that argued the Starks should have direwolves. If this is some way of showing his Stark angst, it’s a terrible form. Give Ghost to Sansa or Bran if you are going to have an identity crisis, but don’t send him away.
Like I mentioned in my previous review, I fear this is a rehash of the terrible Winterhell plot of season 7. Someone really needs to tell television writers to stop prioritizing shock value over actual characterization. Every time we get an actual Stark scene it’s cut off. The Starks are the heroes, but according to the writers we don’t even get to see their reaction to Jon’s parentage. If this is leading to some big reveal at the end it’s just lazy writing. The Starks deserve better than that.
Here comes the larger part of the episode which I call misogyny and racism. Yes, those are both things that Game of Thrones—and especially Dan & Dave—have been called out on. Well, they learned absolutely nothing.
I don’t know how to tell you that you can’t refer to a sexual abuse survivor as “broken into”. You’re grown men; I’m pretty sure you know that in any day and age that’s pretty messed up. I want to believe that what they meant by the scene was that Sansa knew how terrible the world was and adapted accordingly. She rose above them, she’s a survivor and had a hand in killing them. She’s a wolf of Winterfell rather than a caged little bird.
What translated into the screen was that women need trauma to grow. They need to be broken in every possible way to become a Strong Female Character™. There’s no way they would have developed without the trauma. Which is a really terrible message to send, even for Game of Thrones.
Women don’t need trauma to be strong; they don’t need to undergo mountains of terrible things so you can say they have grown and matured.
Also, can these grown men stop bothering Sansa Stark, please?
The other terrible part of the episode is racism. Repeat after me:
A Woman of Color shouldn’t have to die to further a white woman’s story.
A Woman of Color shouldn’t have to die to further a white woman’s story.
Repeat ad nauseam.
Not only is the death super racist (killing your one black actress to further the whitest character’s plot); it’s also really pointless. Not to mention completely gross. You’re really expecting me to believe her last word wouldn’t be to Grey Worm, but rather the battle cry of her white savior?
Daenerys’ storyline in Game of Thrones has always been wildly racist, but this takes the cake. As much as her fans love denying it, Dany was going to turn dark no matter what. We’ve seen hints since season 5; in season 7 she wanted to burn down King’s Landing, remember?
Missandei didn’t need to die for that to happen. Dany would have made the plunge with just Rhaegal’s death. He’s one of her “children”, after all.
What happened was that a woman of color, who barely had any agency, is going to be used to justify dragon Barbie burning innocent people alive. The writers didn’t even allow for Missandei to have a character outside of Dany; she was just there to mindlessly praise her master—oops, I meant mhysa.
Missandei suffered immensely during her life; she deserved to retire to Naath and be happy. Instead, she’s just another prop in the Daenerys cog. Just like all the other characters sacrificed at the altar of Daenerys’ POV.
Missandei died like she lived: in chains.
Tormund Giantsbane: What kind of person climbs on a fucking dragon? A mad man or a king!
Varys: Have you considered that the best ruler might be someone who doesn’t want to rule?
Tormund Giantsbane: All of it, come on!
Jon Snow: No, not in one go!
Sansa Stark: Go on, I believe in you.
Arya Stark: She’s not one of us.
Jon Snow: I’ve never been a Stark
Sansa Stark: You are
- Guys, there’s a goddamn Starbucks cup in the middle of the feast. How exactly did the cast and crew miss it?
- Cersei is a brilliant villain and if Lena Headey doesn’t win an Emmy for the final Game of Thrones season there’s no justice in the world.
- Brienne of Tarth showing emotions doesn’t make her weak or out of character, and that is an absolutely terrible take. Let women, all women, show their emotions. Especially normally “strong” women.
- Jaime is an idiot. I think this is the typical “I’m hurting you to protect you” trope but it doesn’t make me hate it any less. I really hope it’s the trope because I can’t take them screwing over Jaime’s characterization, again.
- Gendry darling, read the room. You skipped like a thousand steps. You’re not supposed to propose to a girl after you’ve had sex with her once.
- The irony in Dany claiming the throne is that it’s not hers—it’s not even Jon’s. Robert won the rebellion and was king and she just legitimized his son. So technically Gendry is the heir to the Iron Throne right now.
- Can you give me back Jon Snow, please?