After spending the first half of the season mostly setting up and wrapping up the great war with the White Walkers, “The Last of the Starks” needed to pivot hard to move the narrative back to the fight for the Iron Throne. Game of Thrones is strongest when it leans on political drama over fantasy, and the end of the existential threat of the White Walkers should have been a great opportunity for the show to get back to its roots and tell a better story. And while there were some moments that did succeed in ramping up the tension around this more human drama, the overall execution of this episode was a failure.
“The Last of the Starks” started reasonably enough with a mass funeral for those who died during the Battle of Winterfell. But from there, the episode clumsily bounced from scene to scene, dragging on before attempting to surprise us with major action in the final quarter of the episode. Virtually every scene felt removed from the one before it, and consequently, “The Last of the Starks” is probably one of the least entertaining episodes of the series. Structurally, Euron ambushing Daenerys’s fleet could have been the closing scene, but with the burden of this nearly 80 minute long episode, it feels like the entirely new thread of Daenerys plotting and then going to (unsuccessfully) negotiate with Cersei was just tacked on. The quick transition between these scenes means we didn’t even get time to process that Missandei was kidnapped before she was killed. This sort of plot point needs the space to have significance. And for whatever reason, we just aren’t getting this space. These long runtimes consistently ruin the chances of well-plotted and fully-formed story arcs and instead they cause rampant pacing issues and weird narrative and direction choices that seem to exist only to fill the allotted amount of time.
The especially clunky final scene might have worked better at the beginning of the next episode, after we’d have time to understand the gravity of Euron’s attack. Instead, it feels like an afterthought, and a corny one at that. Daenerys facing Cersei with Missandei’s life on the line (and the lives of everyone in King’s Landing) was clearly meant to be tense and nerve-wracking, but where the slow tracking shots and minimal dialogue worked beautifully in the opening scene of “The Long Night,” similar tactics made this scene boring. Half of it was closes-up of Daenerys and Cersei’s faces, both with completely unchanging expressions mind you. Is that supposed to be compelling? It seems like it’s just there to fill up time.
This scene also featured Missandei angrily yelling “dracarys” as her final word, which was actually kind of badass until I remembered she’s a literal pacifist from Naath where they don’t eat meat and don’t believe in war. Daenerys walking away with rage on her face made me think that the writers know that she needs to end up the “Mad Queen,” but now they have to work to set up events to get her to that point. Unfortunately, working backwards like this means you end up with something that seems like a good trigger in theory, but doesn’t make sense in practice. Missandei encouraging Dany to burn down the city and kill thousands of innocents is just illogical if you know who Missandei is, but makes fine sense if you only care about Daenerys’s endgame.
I haven’t minded all of the “Mad Queen” set up though. Daenerys’s reaction to Jon’s reveal was always suspect and her panic over not being the true heir really came to a head in this episode. She’s always been righteous and obsessed with her destiny, and you know how much she reveled in being seen as a savior in the “Mhysa” days. It’s legitimately great to finally see someone notice how power-hungry she can be. (Varys’s “I have served tyrants my whole life. They all talk about destiny.” sums things up nicely.) Honestly, I liked seeing Daenerys’s envy when Jon and Arya were getting the most attention post-battle, and I liked her somewhat frenzied energy when she was trying to convince a drunk Jon to not tell his family the truth about him. It seems Daenerys’s downward spiral is kind of humanizing and is one of the better plot directions we’ve seen recently. The friction between Sansa, Daenerys, and Jon has led to some of the most fruitful conflict this season, and “The Last of the Starks” was no exception. Bringing Sansa, Tyrion, and Varys into the fold was the best part of this episode. Sansa’s “What if there was someone better?” to Tyrion was just spectacular (Sophie Turner is just killing it as Sansa this season) and is the exact kind of drama we want. Though I do want to mention, completely skipping over both the Starks and Tyrion’s reactions to Jon being the true heir to the throne was a choice I don’t understand.
I would happily watch Tyrion and Varys scheme alone in fancy rooms every episode, and it’s no surprise this scene was where the real crux of fight for the throne appeared.
Tyrion: “A wise man once said the true history of the world is a history of great conversations in elegant rooms.”
In my predictions piece, I suggested that Tyrion was concerned that Jon would get in the way of Daenerys getting the throne. This is sort of holds true, but Tyrion openly expressing that he thinks Jon would be a better leader was unexpected. Like, how crazy is it that Varys is maybe kind of sort of planning on killing Daenerys (or at least making sure she doesn’t get the throne)? Varys has been plotting to get a Targaryen on the Iron Throne since season one. It’s wild that however many years later, he’s switching allegiances. But of course, he’s only interested in a good Targaryen. And it seems like Aegon Targaryen is just that.
-I straight-up fell asleep towards the end of the this episode, that’s how bored I was.
-Jon couldn’t have even given Ghost a little goodbye pet? Come on.
-The Tormund/Jon goodbye was really nice and it makes me miss the days of Jon running around north of The Wall. He was so much more interesting back then.
-How did Bronn just stroll on in with this huge crossbow?
-Jon is truly an idiot thinking that his parentage isn’t going to come out, and frankly, so is Daenerys.
-Gendry proposing to Arya was kind of sweet but also super embarrassing. At least he’s a lord now and Arya can get back to her kill list.
-Ok, I big time hated everything that happened with Jaime and Brienne. Not everyone has to hook up! Brienne had a perfect character arc that should have ended with her dying in battle. And Jaime going to King’s Landing to stand by Cersei seems off, so I’m assuming he’s actually going to be integral to taking her down.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c HBO.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk the From Season 2 finale
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale.] How’s everyone doing after that finale? While we wait and wonder and hope for a third season announcement, soon, here’s what Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders had to say about their parts of the finale, and where they hope they get to go next….
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk From Season 2 + A Season Finale Preview
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] It all comes down this, #FROMily. As Sunday’s episode wraps up Season 2, we begin with the aftermath of the terrifying onset of seemingly simultaneous attacks on Julie, Marielle, and Randall, which accelerate the “We gotta get out of this place” of it all. Sara comes…
Alison Sweeney Talks About What’s Next for Hannah and Mike After Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery
[Warning: Spoilers for Carrot Cake Murder.] Everybody OK after that Hannah Swensen Mystery twist? Thankfully, our favorite crime-solving couple is still on speaking term, even if they’re on a break (hopefully not that kind of break). Most importantly, we already know this isn’t the last film in the series. No…
Counting Down to From Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] We’re just shy of two weeks away from Season 2 of last spring’s obsession, From, which premieres at 9 pm/8c, Sunday, April 23rd, on MGM+ (formerly EPIX). If you never picked it up last year, now’s your chance, and you can do it for free, catching…
Thank Me Later: Will Trent
[Warning: spoilers ahead.] I’m on record as loving and losing shows over at ABC so I’m usually very reticent to pick something up on the network until it’s been renewed, and I seriously hope I’m not jinxing it, but I took a chance on the deeply odd and very sweet…
Dennis Heaton Talks The Imperfects
Longtime readers at TV Goodness will know that Motive is one of my ride-or-die series, and as such, I am fiercely loyal to its creator, Dennis Heaton. He followed up that fantastic reverse procedural with Netflix’s The Order and is back on our streaming screens with The Imperfects, which dropped…
Kelly McCormack Talks Favorite Moments in A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild spoilers for season 1.] Now that you’ve had a chance to watch A League of Their Own, here’s the rest of my chat with Kelly McCormack about her favorite moments of the season. Seeing the iconic Peaches uniforms for the first time wasn’t just a goosebump moment for…
John Griffin and Harold Perrineau Talk From Season 1 Finale
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we…
Elizabeth Saunders Talks From
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the things that makes EPIX’s From such a fun ride is the abundance of Canadian cast members. Elizabeth Saunders, who plays Donna, is a favorite from her turn on the third season of Mary Kills People [streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku…
Corteon Moore Talks From “Broken Windows, Open Doors”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…