Now that the battle against the Army of the Dead has been won, Dany’s attention turns to taking the Iron Throne. But even with Jon’s support, threats emerge from King’s Landing and inside Dany’s own inner circle… read our review of “The Last of the Starks”!
I just need to start this recap/review by saying two things:
1. Arya Stark is the only Queen I recognize.
2. If there was an award for LEAST valuable player for the Battle of Winterfell, it would be a tie between Dany and Jon for their utter uselessness, even though they both had dragons.
“The Last of the Starks” begins in the direct aftermath of the Battle of Winterfell. The next day, those who remain are battle worn. However, they gather to pay homage and say goodbye to their friends, family, and comrades who have died. It’s thoroughly heartbreaking as we watch Dany say goodbye to Jorah and Sansa say goodbye to Theon (she places her direwolf pin in his lapel). Jon steps up to say some words of thanks to those who sacrificed their lives to defeat the Army of the Dead:
“Everyone in this world owes them a debt that can never be repaid. It is our duty and our honor to keep them alive in memory for those who come after us and those who come after them for as long as men draw breath. They were the shields that guarded the realms of men. And we shall never see their like again.”
The bodies are then burned.
Following this, Dany, Jon, and Sansa preside over a night of celebration with eating, drinking, and other forms of enjoyment.
Dany takes the opportunity to make Gendry a legitimate Baratheon and the Lord of Storm’s End (though it initially seems like he plans to punish Gendry for the betrayals of his father and uncles). Dany also toasts to Arya Stark, the Hero of Winterfell (which happens to be the only truth I recognize).
Tormund hails Dany and then Jon as a leader for uniting with the Free Folk. He speaks of Jon’s strength and ability to inspire even his enemies to join him. Jon has even conquered death. Dany overhears all of this, which only serves to heighten the lingering tension between her and Jon.
At another table, Brienne, Tyrion, Pod, and Jaime play a drinking game where they try to guess truths about one another. Things get awkward when Tyrion rightly (AND SHADILY) guesses that Brienne is a virgin. Brienne stands to leave the table and Jaime follows after her.
This makes Tormund sad because he thinks Jaime has taken Brienne from him. He laments about his heartbreak to the Hound. But Tormund isn’t sad for that long though, because he finds comfort in another young woman *snort*
Sansa approaches the Hound as he now sits by himself, drinking. They commiserate over their time in King’s Landing, with Sandor reflecting on a time that Sansa couldn’t even look upon his face. Sansa says that she has seen much worse since leaving King’s Landing. The Hound comments that he’s heard of her suffering, referencing Sansa being “broken in, rough”. Sansa assures Hound that she made sure Ramsay Bolton got what he deserved, by siccing his own hounds on him. The Hound is impressed, but if she would have left the city with him after he quit Joffrey’s Kingsguard, none of that would have occurred. Sansa takes his hand and says: “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.”
Clearly, the Hound has a soft spot for these badass Stark girls. Damn it, we do, too!
Speaking of the Stark girls, in the midst of the celebration, Gendry finds Arya outside practicing her archery. He’s very excited as he shares the news that he’s been made a lord. Now that he’s Arya’s social equal, he feels that he can offer for her. Gendry declares his love and makes a proposal. Unfortunately, Arya gently lets him down. She reminds Gendry that she has never been a lady and won’t become one for the sake of being his wife and Lady of Storm’s End: “That’s not me.”
Elsewhere, Jaime has followed Brienne to her room. They share a drink and make small talk about the North being so cold. Jaime then starts to take off his clothes, though he struggles with his one hand. When Brienne starts to help him, Jaime attempts to take Brienne’s shirt off. She realizes what he’s after…
J: “I’ve never slept with a night before.”
B: “I’ve never slept with anyone before.”
Then Jaime and Brienne share their first kiss.
Dany has also followed Jon to his room, and both are clearly distraught. They love one another, but Jon’s true paternity is a massive wedge between them. Dany says she wishes Jon had never told her, so she’d now be happy. Jon pledges himself to Dany again, saying that she is his queen, that he would never challenge her claim to the Iron Throne. But, for Dany, the only way forward is for Jon to keep this secret and convince Bran and Samwell to do the same. Jon is concerned because he wants to tell Sansa and Arya the truth, since they are his family. However, Dany is firm: “You can say nothing. To anyone. Ever. Never tell them who you really are.”
The next day, the forces at Winterfell meet together to reassess as they get ready to pivot to Cersei and King’s Landing… All around, about half of the manpower and resources have been depleted from the Battle of Winterfell. They plan to surround the city an essentially starve King’s Landing until they abandon Cersei. Sansa throws a wrench in the plans when, speaking on behalf of the ordinary people, she cautions that there needs to be time for soldiers to rest and recuperate.
Dany becomes incensed. She came to Winterfell to fight against the Army of the Dead with the promise of the Starks’ loyalty in claiming the Iron Throne. Are they backing out? Jon quickly speaks up and pledges the North to join Dany immediately. The plan is finalized: Jon and Davos will ride down from the North and the remaining Dothraki and Unsullied. A smaller group will sail to Dragonstone with Dany and the dragons. Jaime will remain in Winterfell.
As everyone leaves the room, Arya approaches Jon and says they she and Sansa would like to have a word. Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Jon meet at the Godswood. Ultimately, Sansa and Arya don’t trust Dany. Jon tries to speak on Dany’s behalf; they’d all be dead without Dany. Arya says that Jon did the right thing at the time, but now, they four of them, the last of the Starks, can only rely on one another. This prompts Jon, who now knows his parentage. Jon demands that Sansa and Arya swear to keep a secret. They do so, reluctantly. And then Jon tells Bran to disclose everything.
Meanwhile, that night Bronn has arrived at Winterfell, carrying the crossbow that Tyrion used to kill Tywin. Bronn confronts Tyrion and Jaime, telling them that Cersei has promised him Riverrun in exchange for killing her two brothers. But, given his belief that Dany will eventually win, along with the deal he made to Tyrion years ago, Bronn is here to give Tyrion to negotiate for a better offer. Tyrion immediately offers Bronn Highgarden. At first, Jaime isn’t convinced that Bronn will kill them… that is, until Bronn fires an arrow that just misses Jaime by millimeters. So, the three strike a deal and Bronn leaves to await the results of the coming war.
In the morning, Arya meets the Hound on the road:
A: “You’re heading to King’s Landing?”
H: “I have some unfinished business.”
A: “Me, too.”
H: “I don’t plan on coming back.”
A: “Neither do I.”
Welps, the Hound is going to kill is brother and Arya is going for Cersei. But what’s all this business about not planning to return?!
Everyone else is preparing to depart Winterfell, as well. Rhaegal is healing from his attack by the wights and is able to fly. Dany rides Drogon.
Tormund and the Free Folk are heading further North to Castle Black. Jon asks Tormund to take Ghost with him (*cries* because Ghost has been so loyal and doesn’t even get a goodbye!)
Sam and Gilly are returning to Oldtown, and when Jon hugs Gilly to say goodbye, he learns that she’s expecting another child! They plan to name the baby Jon if he is a boy 🙂
Tyrion approaches Sansa before leaving for Dragonstone with Dany. She’s very worried about Jon going south: “The men in my family don’t do well in the capital.”
TRUER WORDS HAVE NEVER BEEN SPOKEN, because OMG Rickard Stark (her grandfather), Brandon Stark (her uncle), and Ned Stark (her father)…
Sansa tells Tyrion she doesn’t think there’s any guarantee that Dany will be a good queen. But Tyrion doesn’t want to leave Winterfell without being sure that Sansa and Dany aren’t enemies. Why provoke her? When Tyrion comments that Dany wants to make the world a better place, Sansa suggests that there might be someone else better suited for the job. As expected, Sansa breaks her vow to Jon and tells Tyrion that he is a Targaryen and Stark.
And on the ride down to Dragonstone, Tyrion tells Varys. Varys knows that this information will soon spread… and Jon has the better claim to the throne. Even if Jon bends the knee to Dany, people are still drawn to him. Tyrion suggests a marriage between Jon and Dany, but Varys thinks Jon will be averse, given that Dany is his aunt. Besides, Varys is pretty sure that Dany would have no intention of sharing power.
While we’re all distracted with Jon’s secret leaking and Dany, Drogon, and Rhaegal flying majestically, a giant spear comes out of nowhere and strikes Rhaegal in the chest and another in the neck. Euron and his fleet have been waiting for Dany and co. to return to Dragonstone. Plus, it looks like Qyburn has upgraded his Scorpion weapons and they are fucking deadly. I audibly screamed as we watch Rhaegal die and crash into the sea. Each of the ships in Euron’s armada is equipped with a Scorpion, and they try to take out Drogon. He’s able to weave, and he and Dany fly away in retreat. Unfortunately, Euron turns his attention to Dany’s ships, using the Scorpions to destroy them.
By the time Greyworm, Tyrion, Varys, and the remaining Unsullied wash up on the shore, there’s so much destruction. Greyworm’s priority is finding Missandei, but she’s missing.
We pivot to King’s Landing, where we see that Missandei is bound in chains, now Cersei’s prisoner. Cersei then tells Euron that she’s pregnant… successfully able to pawn off another child with Jaime.
At Dragonstone, Dany is made aware that Missandei has been captured and she’s ready to do anything to get her trusted friend back, including storming the city. Tyrion and Varys try to caution Dany about using extreme violence, particularly since Cersei has been moving innocent civilians into the Red Keep to deter Dany from attacking. Dany asserts that she will fulfill her destiny, no matter the cost. Tyrion seems to offer a middle path: negotiate with Cersei. Guarantee Cersei her life in exchange for stepping aside and releasing Missandei. They should at least make an effort to avoid bloodshed. Dany agrees, only so that the people will know that she did everything to prevent a slaughter and Cersei is to blame.
Later, Tyrion and Varys have an interesting conversation. If Dany is descending into madness, has the time come to take her out in order to protect the realm? Varys seems to think so, even though Tyrion has faith in Dany’s proclivity for justice. Yet, both recognize that there’s another option, perhaps a better one: Jon. “Jon is the one man alive who might actually be able to keep the North in the Seven Kingdoms.”
Back at Winterfell, when Jaime hears about the impending attack on Cersei and King’s Landing from Sansa and Brienne, he tries to leave in the middle of the night. Brienne begs Jaime to stay by her side, reminding him that he’s a good man, a better person than Cersei. Jaime disabuses Brienne of that notion, telling her about how he pushed Bran out of a tower window, strangled his own cousin, and is prepared to commit any act of murder, all for Cersei. He rides away, leaving Brienne in tears.
Dany, Drogon, and a contingent of the Unsullied arrive at King’s Landing, where Cersei, Euron, the Mountain, and Missandei wait. Tyrion and Qyburn, as the Hands, meet to discuss terms. Both want the other’s surrender. When Qyburn refuses to take a message to Cersei, Tyrion speaks to her, himself. He speaks of how Cersei might not care for the people, but she cares for her children. For the sake of her life and that of her unborn child, Cersei should step down. Cersei turns to Missandei and tells her to speak her last words. Missandei looks upon her friend and Queen and speaks one word: DRACARYS. (AKA, Queen Dany, burn allllllllllll of this to the ground.) Cersei gives a signal to the Mountain, who cleaves off Missandei’s head with his sword.
Greyworm is visibly shaken and Dany is DONE. She turns around and walks away.
1. Apparently, with Missandei’s death, we’ve witnessed the birth of the Mad Queen. I’m actually quite disappointed in this choice… it’s predictable and doesn’t do justice to Dany’s character that we’ve watched developed over seven seasons. And the idea of Tyrion and Varys assassinating Dany and making Jon king is even more unpalatable. I reallllllllly hope the writers will take us in another direction.
2. Literally, Arya is the only person who can take Cersei out now. She’s the only one. Just like she did with the Night King.
3. You think Euron is curious about how Tyrion knows Cersei is pregnant…? He just found out, right?
Game of Thrones, the final season, airs Sundays at 9:00pm ET|PT on HBO.