Obviously, this review contains major spoilers! You have been warned.
Game Of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4, The Last of The Starks, is another weak entry in the weakest season of the show by far. That isn’t to say this episode or the show are completely irredeemable, or that you should completely write off all of your expectations. But if you’re expecting some grand twist to redeem the lackluster writing and constant predictable stupidity, you’re going to be disappointed or angry.
Game Of Thrones used to be defined by unpredictable and chaotic plots which hid a ton of depth behind deceptively simple setups. And now, mostly because the writers have written themselves into a time-based corner, all of that depth has been stripped away, and we’re left with the anguish of falling out of love with the story. Much like the unresolved tension between Jon/Aegon, Dany and Sansa, the audience gets to feel the anger and resentment building. And it couldn’t be more obvious that this song is going to end on a bittersweet final conflict between two lovers. Problem is, it’s going to be rather anti-climactic.
And the same can be said for this latest episode, once again you’re going to be rather disappointed. Benioff and Weiss have descended into a writing style that might as well be a soap opera, with tons of predictable “twists” and enough tropes to fill 100 anime scripts, there’s no shortage of things to be angry about with this show now.
For one, I’m rather angry about Rheagal, not only because it was incredibly predictable, but because it was incredibly dumb. Are we the audience really supposed to believe that Dany and co. couldn’t predict the ambush Euron laid for them? Or even physically see the ships while airborne? Jon riding to King’s Landing on horseback telegraphed this eventuality, but it’s still annoying to see how unbearably stupid characters are in this show. Dany nearly lost Drogon to a similar plan previously, so why would she be so reckless and commit them both to a dangerous situation? And that’s just the tip of the big dumb iceberg that’s sinking what quality this series has left. The “good guys” are consistently outsmarted by Cersei and Euron, and every character continues to show how one-dimensional they’ve become. Euron is a douchebag who helicopter-dicks around, protected by Cersei’s invincible plot armor. And all the other characters have been reduced to a single defining motivation, the ones that haven’t been completely written off that is. In short, everyone is really dumb.
The only moment of genuine intelligence in the entire episode is Varys and Tyrion trying to explain the folly of an attack on the city to the dragon queen, and of course, Daenerys has already made up her mind. The showrunners have now fully shifted her character to Mad Queen mode. What prompted this change? As far as the audience can see it’s the switch that flipped from sane to stupid the moment there was a chance Daenerys might actually take the Iron Throne over the last two seasons. Does it make sense when considered with the rest of her plot? Not really.
But let’s jump to another irritating character turn for a moment. I can’t be the only one annoyed by how one-sided Euron and his ideals are, right? It’s almost like the writers had to replace Jamie with someone as equally crazy and Big-Bad-Evil-Guy as Cersei has become. I genuinely feel like the writers have completely failed to understand consequences and how to apply them. Cersei has done terrible things, but her arc hasn’t moved at all, unlike almost every other character.
I’m also angry at the way Ghost was tossed aside. You might think it’s supposed to represent Jon tossing away his Stark identity, but that doesn’t make any sense. Because without that, Jon becomes Aegon Targaryan. So I guess he’s saying one thing and doing another, simply because the showrunners need to build that final conflict between him and his queen. The writers don’t seem to care about fan desires either, as they completely skipped the important reveal of the true parentage to his supposed family. Their reactions could and should shape the story and Jon’s own motivations, but the audience is denied that payoff. I’m willing to bet it couldn’t be written in a convincing manner and had to be glossed over, much like the nonsensical end of the previous episode.
This all boils down to a major problem that has become central to why I’m really hating this show, and it’s simple. The characters are completely plastic to the story that Benioff and Weiss want to write, they have no agency. It’s this flaw that translates to consistently stupid decisions, shallow motivations and a general “meh” atmosphere for what used to be one of the better HBO shows ever created.
With two episodes of Game of Thrones left, we’re not going to see many more real surprises, but I’m pretty certain I’ll continue to be annoyed by terrible writing.
Will Jon and his love reconcile? Are they doomed to fall like their dragons? Will this show completely crap all over the deeper meaning of the book series even more? Find out when the final season of Game of Thrones wraps in a couple of weeks.