SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS EPISODES IN SEASON 8
At this point in the final season, the progression of events is getting simultaneously predictable, and impossible to predict. In a general sense, it seems clear that the battle with the undead is over (maybe?), so now everything has to move southward. The next battle for the Iron Throne is on, Cersei will be ousted, and either Jon or Danaerys will take over as the Queen/King of the Seven Kingdoms. But before all that happens, everyone has some very important kissing to do.
SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 4 INCOMING!!!
After the battle with the undead, emotions ran high. This episode opens with tearful goodbyes, soon to be replaced with lots of characters coupling up and enjoying their continued existence. While a few of these moments were nice in their own way (Tyrion & Davos definitely need more screen time together), the whole opening sequence felt a bit drawn out. Once again it seems like the 90 minute run time isn’t necessary.
After Jon revealed his true parentage to Dany, she is still unsure of how it will affect their future as a couple. Her anxiety mounts quite rapidly in this episode (perhaps it’s all the caffeine?) and she tries to make him promise not to share this bombshell with his family. Of course he does, and it will cause problems in later episodes.
The fallout from episode 3 has a major impact on the way The Last of the Starks was shot. A lot of characters had somewhat awkward close ups, as if to confirm that yes, they did survive the onslaught of the undead, and now that the sun is up we can show you proof. One surprising survival was Rhaegal. It seemed as though he did perish in the battle, but he makes a brief appearance in episode 4, only to be shot down and killed by Euron seconds later. It was a shocking death, though I’m not sure the physics of the thing made sense. If Euron could see the dragons, surely Dany or the dragons could have spotted Euron from their place in the sky.
As Daenerys and company wash up on the shores of King’s Landing, it becomes apparent that things can only go poorly from here on out. Dany’s list of allies (or perceived allies) grows shorter and shorter, and Cersei is intent on holding onto the Iron Throne in any way she can. The people of King’s Landing found refuge in the Red Keep with Cersei, but honestly that seems like going to stay with Jamie Lee Curtis on Halloween, but instead of a knife Michael Myers has a DRAGON. They have to know staying close to Cersei is a dangerous place to be.
Overall this episode, once again, feels like it’s missing some key storytelling elements. It doesn’t seem like the battle with the Night King is fully over. Can it really have been that simple to destroy him and his armies? Tormund is headed back to the true north, so he’ll know before anyone whether any undead remain north of the wall. Jon giving Ghost away was pretty brutal, he didn’t even give him goodbye pets! Darn you CGI budget.
Some characters had great short moments. Sansa telling Sandor she didn’t need him to save her, and Arya rejecting Gendry were some stellar strong-Stark-lady moments. On the flip side, we had to see Jaime revert to some awful and borderline uncharacteristic behaviors with Ser Brienne. Unfortunately, the negatives about the pacing, storytelling, and general structure of the episode outweigh the few positives.
At this point, I don’t have high hopes for the finale, but maybe the final 2 episodes will bring some of the disparate threads together in a more satisfying way.
If you missed them, here are my thoughts on episodes 1, 2, and 3 of this season: