Super Stealthy Ships
Given how critical I’ve been of Game Of Thrones’ declining writing quality as of late, especially last season, I actually didn’t dislike last week’s episode. Whether this be because I went into this season with zero expectations or I simply got caught up in the tense fighting, direction and score of the episode, I was willing to give Game Of Thrones the benefit of the doubt. I also expected the undead army to make a return to the series given how easily they were killed off and the lack of character deaths in last week’s episode. Given the nature of the post-episode interview with D&D, this is now highly unlikely, with our characters proclaiming “The Great War Is Over” all but confirming as much on-screen too, leaving a pretty sour taste in my mouth.
With three episodes to go and 7 seasons of build up essentially resulting in one subverted expectation for the killer because, well, it was against expectations of it being Jon, we return to Game Of Thrones with its fourth episode. With leaks swarming around the internet hours before this went live, many people have been talking about what this entails for the series. After 67+ hours of screen time given to Daenary’s journey to Westeros and Winter arriving, we finally get a build-up to the final battle of Westeros. In the most disappointing manner possible.
The episode begins with Dany mourning Ser Jorah while Sansa cries over Theon. As all the remaining survivors look over the neat piles of bodies they’ve aligned to burn, Jon steps forward and says some last words. They then light the fires as one final goodbye and head inside for a celebration after defeating the Night King.
Dany then makes Gendry the Lord Of Storm’s End before telling Tyrion she’s smart for making this move. Jamie and Brienne grow closer too, engaging in a drinking game with Tyrion and Podrick but as the game turns personal, Tormund gets involves and watches as Brienne and Jamie walk off together. Arya fires arrows into a door in the dark before Gendry catches up her, asking for her hand in marriage. After professing his love for her, she tells him she’s never been a lady and that’s not the life for her. As Gendry watches on, visibly hurt, we cut back to Jamie and Brienne who wind up having sex together.
We then see Dany and Jon professing their love for each other too, kissing by the fire. The first signs of Targaryen madness begin to bleed through though, as she tells him so many people have looked at her with happiness but none have rallied around her quite like they have with Jon. She tells him he needs to hide his lineage from the people but Jon refuses, later telling Arya and Sansa the truth in the Weirwood. Only, we assume as much but the camera cuts away before we see this.
After 35 minutes of high school soap opera shenanigans, we finally get back to the conflict with Cersei. Sansa laments Dany’s lust for war while Jon agrees with his Queen, telling them they need to fight in King’s Landing. Jon and Ser Davos will go down the Kingsroad, Jamie will remain in Winterfell with Brienne while the rest of the troops head down by sea.
While Jamie and Tyrion drink together, Bronn shows up with his crossbow, lamenting his luck. However Cersei has promised him Riverrun so he intends to tip the balance in his favour by killing an army general or two. He then leaves the room, and the episode, following a swift jab to the mouth for Tyrion.
With their sights set on King’s Landing, our characters discuss their feelings over Cersei and the South. Jon leaves Ghost behind with little acknowledgment to his direwolf while Sam and Gilly are with child so they head off elsewhere.
As the fleet sail down to Kings Landing, the dragons are ambushed. By a boat. Hiding behind a rock. On the open sea. Euron shoots 3 ballista arrows perfectly into Rhaegal causing him to fall to his death in the water. He then turns his attention to the fleet and fires a volley of arrows at the ships after missing Dany from point blank range. Tyrion jumps to safety but not before their fleet come under attack. Before we can see anything though, we jump forward in time to the aftermath of this fight.
Varys tells Dany she’s making a mistake. “He killed my baby,” She rasps with tears stinging her eyes. She vows revenge (ignoring the fact she showed no emotion toward Drogon last episode). It’s not all bad though as her mad queen vibes begin to bleed through while Varys and Tyrion discuss her changed mood and battle tactics.
Back in Winterfell, Jamie speaks to Sansa and Brienne. They get word that one of the dragons has been killed and Missandei captured. Although this is news to us given we haven’t actually seen this. Outside the gates of King’s Landing, our heroes step forward and ask for Missandei back. Qyburn refuses of course but quite why Cersei hasn’t just killed them all right now is anyone’s guess. Still, Tyrion pleads with his sister but it falls on deaf ears as The Mountain steps forward and kills Missandei. We leave with one final shot of Cersei grinning while Daenarys walks off.
Say what you will about last week’s episode, the pacing in episode 4 is way off the mark, making for a really inconsistent watch. From 35 minutes of drinking and not much else to a 5 minute skirmish on the sea where Rhaegar is killed by 3 perfectly aimed arrows, this episode is incredibly inconsistent. While last week’s episode managed to nail some exciting action set pieces, this week it’s all about dialogue and if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from D&D, this is not their strong suit.
Given that I really liked last week’s episode, the fourth solidifies how far the quality has declined in this show when the action dies down. The tension last week was dissipated thanks to character plot armour but the score and general carnage was enough to overlook this. With no mention of the Night King, the Undead or quite what this means for the North, the only thing left is taking King’s Landing and the throne. Unfortunately this conflict has little emotional weight behind it thanks to the aforementioned plot armour and a lack of real urgency. I’ve said it before but Game Of Thrones is a shadow of the show it once was and it’s something that I’ve been giving the benefit of the doubt with for far too long.
There’s still time for one final twist in the tale but with contrived dialogue, questionable character motives and some illogical plot decisions, it’s hard to know quite what the writers have planned for the final 2 episodes. I do appreciate this is a show written for the masses now and not the same lore-heavy, richly political show of old but even with this in mind, unfortunately this episode is up there with one of the worst in the show’s history which is a real shame.