The Last of the Starks

It’s hard to believe that it was just a week ago that we went though that roller coaster that was “The Long Night.” It is quite the relief to just catch our breaths… well, for most of the episode anyway To the recap!

1.Starting off calmly gives the characters a chance to measure what was lost. Survivors pay special attention to people they especially cared about. In many cases, the fallen sacrificed themselves so the other might live. You see this as Samwell looks upon Edd, Arya with Beric, and Daenerys with Jorah. Sansa seems especially moved by Theon.

When the camera zooms out, we see the massive funeral pyres. There must be thousands of bodies to burn.

2. So after you survive death, what should you do right after? You celebrate in every way possible! So we gather in Winterfell’s great hall and have a feast! It starts in a rather somber tone, but Dany seeks to lift the mood. She is rather coy about it by calling for Gendry and reminding everyone that his father had started the rebellion that killed her father, but she turns things around and legitimizing him, naming him Gendry Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End. Tyrion appropriately comments, “A fitting reward for a hero.”

Gendry, you fled Dragonstone for your life, escaping the Red Priestess. You return to Storm’s End a lord!

Just keep swimming!

3. Jaime starts drinking with Brienne! Where will this lead to?

4. The feast has definitely reached a raucous state. Tormund starts to really carry on. Dany tries to play the role of the gracious monarch, but you can tell she isn’t fully comfortable.

5. We return to Jaime and Brienne. Tyrion has taken the role of his brother’s wingman. Pod is there for morale support. The game is a Westerosian version of “I never.” For the record, Brienne did tell Jaime the facts about her life that he is pretending to guess to win the drinking game. This happened while she and Jaime were the prisoners of the Boltons and Jaime was becoming delirious from the infection from having his hand cut off.

6. So back to Tormund “loving” on Jon. For as hostile as Tormund was when he first met Jon, he certainly loves the guy now. This brings Dany’s green eyed monster out. Yes, she is jealous. It is somewhat funny to hear Tormund be in awe of Jon riding a dragon. Jon isn’t actually that good at it. Dany is the Mother of Dragons and perhaps would like some of that recognition as well.

Diving deeper into Daenerys’ perspective, you can tell how alone she feels. Most of the Dothraki are dead. One of her most trusted companions Jorah is dead. Tyrion is buddying up with his brother. The northerners are singing the praises of Jon. This is not a good state for Dany at all.

7. Point of clarification. So in our last entry, I made the presumptive claim that all the Dothraki were dead. I’m happy to say that it’s been clarified that some are still with us.

8. Things get awkward in the “I never” game. Brienne uses this as her excuse to find some privacy. Before she leaves, Tormund arrives to greet everyone, especially Brienne. She excuses herself and before Tormund can follow, Jaime blocks his way, and in a very subtle way, stakes his claim.

Tormund retreats and is clearly distraught that his love for Brienne will go unrequited. I was really pulling for that ship to sail in. It doesn’t take long for Tormund to find another distraction. After all, everyone was almost turned into zombies the other night.

9. The other person who cannot seem to find a reason to be happy is The Hound. Sansa decides to explore this. Sandor is fairly bold pointing out what he knows of Sansa’s tribulations in some detail. Sansa isn’t phased and points out that she paid Ramsey Bolton back in full for having hurt her the way he did. She continues to explain that Ramsey, Littlefinger, and all her trials were necessary for her to become who she is now.

10. We can assume that since Gendry has been elevated that he has been looking for Arya. When he finally finds her, the excitement takes over. He tells her the news and shifts right into proposal mode. While this proposal of marriage doesn’t seem to be thought out, it is heartfelt and genuine, which makes it even sadder when Arya turns him down.

This is an amazing call back to the first season when Ned predicts that Arya will have a gallant husband and that she will live her life as a lady in a fine castle. Young Arya responds, disappointed that her father doesn’t understand her in this way yet, “That isn’t me.”

You see the same thing occur when Arya briefly reunites with Nymeria. Arya hopes that she can bring her dire wolf back as a domesticated pet. Arya soon realizes that Nymeria has been living wild for years. The life of a domesticated pet isn’t Nymeria.

Arya and Nymeria reunited

11. So while I was pulling for the Tormund/Brienne ship, I’m still good with Brienne and Jaime being together. I do find Jaime’s ploy, “it’s hot in here.” to be pretty amusing.

12. Jon and Dany find a private moment. Things begin to heat up, but it’s clear that while family relationships are common among the Targaryens, it causes Jon some pause. Dany laments that the knowledge of Jon’s lineage is denying her happiness, and then we get to what is the true issue. Dany notes that she recognizes how almost everyone in the great hall was looking at Jon. She says that others had looked at her that way before, but never on this side of the sea.

True to form, Jon points out that he doesn’t want the Iron Throne. Dany is correct to say that it doesn’t matter what he wants. She can sense where the wind is blowing. Should the people learn of Jon’s identity and his claim, they will pursue it with the utmost rigor.

It’s here where you can see the further unhinging of Daenerys Targaryen. She refers to Jon taking what is hers. This is what’s getting scary about Dany, this idea of destiny. She is now looking at past allies as obstacles, and she has already committed to the idea of obtaining the Iron Throne at whatever cost. If she sees even friends and allies as impeding her way, she is about ready to eliminate them.

I am impressed by Emilia Clarke’s ability to put all this emotion into her facial expressions. It is a great way to measure the state of mind of Daenerys Targaryen. We will see other great examples of this before the episode is over.

13. We return to the war room to discuss numbers and strategies. Grey Worm reports that half of the Unsullied are left. The leaders of each of the different forces say the same thing. With the battle against the dead now aside, Dany is more than ready to take the fight to Cersei and unleash the full force of the dragons. Tyrion is quick to point out that the goal is to remove Cersei without destroying the city. This of course is less direct and will take more time. Dany bristles at this, but relents to this slower strategy.

Dany and Sansa nearly come to blows in reference to letting the soldiers recover before marching out for the next battle. Jon settles the argument by acknowledging that all the soldiers will obey Daenerys’ orders.

14. As the meeting ends, Arya lets Jon know that he needs to speak with the family. The discussion or argument centers on Jon’s oath to Daenerys and Arya and Sansa’s lack of trust for her. Arya points out that her allegiance is to the “Last of the Starks” (clever insertion of the name of the episode). Jon says, almost as an admission, “I’ve never been a Stark.” Sansa and Arya fiercely respond that he is just as much a Stark as anyone there. It’s easy to see the conflict on Jon’s face as he looks to Bran. As helpful as ever, Bran offers, “It’s your choice.”

As the scene ends, Jon instructs Bran to reveal the secret of his lineage.

15. Jaime and Tyrion find time to recap before everyone heads their separate ways. A joke about height is thrown out right before Bronn makes a dramatic entrance, brandishing a crossbow. While Tyrion tries to lead the conversation in a friendly direction, this is clearly not the jovial Bron we are used to seeing out of battle. It’s clearly time to speak business. This becomes apparent as Bronn’s fist finds Tyrion’s face. Jaime comes to his feet to defend his brother. Bronn’s response is menacing, but appropriately witty, “You couldn’t do it on your best day, you one handed fuck, and your best days are long gone.”

And now that the tone for this meeting has been properly set, Bronn, ever enterprising, begins the negotiating. Tyrion references the deal they made when they first met. “If anyone offered me money to kill you, you’d pay me double.”

When we were young.

Bronn, Tyrion, and Jaime (rather reluctantly, but he really doesn’t have a say in the matter anyway) agree that the price to stay alive is the lordship of Highgarden.

The last time Arya and The Hound traveled together.

16. Early the next morning, we see the Hound on horseback leaving Winterfell. He is met on the road by Arya who is headed to the same place. It’s interesting to note that Sandor explains that he doesn’t intend to return. Arya says the same.

17. As Daenerys’ dragons and soldiers depart for King’s Landing, Tyrion and Sansa have a serious discussion about loyalties. A few significant things are verified. The first being that Tyrion is afraid of Daenerys. The second thing, while not shown on screen, is that Sansa tells Tyrion the truth about Jon Snow and his claim to the throne.

18. Before Jon and Davos depart, Jon says his goodbyes to Tormund. Tormund says that he will take the Free Folk back to the north. He promises to bring them back to Castle Black when the winter has passed.

Jon also makes the decision to part with Ghost as well. This can be seen as a symbolic separating of something he had when he was young. It could also be seen as an affirming of his heritage outside of the Stark family.

Tormund says that they may still see each other again, but with two episodes left, are we now done with Tormund and The Free Folk?

19. Sam and Gilly say their farewells too. We discover that Gilly is pregnant. Is this too the last we see of Gilly and Sam? Perhaps there will be an epilogue?

20. We’re now with Tyrion and Varys below decks in Daenerys’ fleet. We learn that a total of 8 people now know the secret of Jon’s claim to the throne. Varys remarks, “If a handful of people know now, hundreds will know soon.” Playing damage control, Tyrion predicts that Daenerys will lose the North and the Vale. Varys points out that Jon’s claim to the throne is better, and while he may not want it, it does not matter. People are drawn to follow Jon.

Varys also points out that Daenerys does not like her authority questioned and that he has been worrying about her state of mind. Tyrion off handedly jokes that they all might die at Cersei’s hands and that will solve all these problems.

21. As the fleet arrives near Dragonstone, they begin to drop anchor. Daenerys is riding Drogon with Rhaegal nearby. The arrival home is launched into chaos when one of the large bolts from Cersei’s scorpion weapon strikes Rhaegal in the chest. One more bolt further wounds the dragon before the last finds its critical mark through his throat. Rhaegal crashes dead into the water.

A contingent from Euron’s Iron Fleet is revealed. Daenerys, clearly angered takes Drogon headfirst to meet Euron’s lead ship. At the last moment, Dany turns her last surviving dragon away towards shelter. This leaves the fleet exposed to Euron.

They launch these giant arrows towards Daenerys’ fleet, shredding several ships immediately. We see Tyrion on deck, not knowing exactly what to do as arrow after arrow nearly misses him. It becomes clear that his ship is lost and Tyrion jumps for the water.

22. From King’s Landing, we join Cersei who is now receiving the report from Euron about the blow they delivered to her opposition. It is clear that she is somewhat repulsed by Euron, but she tolerates his touch to further her plan. We see the citizens of King’s Landing being brought within the castle walls for protection.

We also see that Cersei has captured Missandei. In a similar situation, Sansa knew as soon as Ramsey had captured her younger brother Rickon that Rickon was as good as dead. I had the same sinking feeling when I saw Missandei in chains in King’s Landing. No matter how much of a bargaining chip the person could be used for, these villains know they can further goals best by inflicting pain on their opponent.

23. Daenerys meets in council with Varys, Grey Worm, and Tyrion. Varys urges Dany to take the longer approach and not to storm the city with Drogon and her army. Tyrion encourges her to offer Cersei a chance to surrender to avoid an unneccessary loss of life. Dany agrees to this point, but she seems determined to end this in the quickest way possible.

24. All the discussions between Tyrion and Varys are some of the more telling moments of the entire story. Varys has always pointed out that his first allegiance is to the realm, that is to say the people who are often forgotten as monarchs and generals draw up plans to further their holdings.

There is serious suggestion from Varys about supporting Jon’s claim to the throne. Tyrion points out that this is treason. While Tyrion seems ready to support Daenerys to the end, it is clear Varys is beginning to think that that support is a mistake.

25. Back in Winterfell, Jaime learns of the loss that Team Daenerys has just suffered. Unable to sleep, Jaime decided to return to King’s Landing. Brienne finds him before he leaves. She pleads with him to stay in Winterfell as she knows the city will be destroyed. She argues that Cersei is a terrible person (my words, not hers) while he is a good person. In response, Jaime recounts the litany of terrible things he has done for his sister. Jaime turns to go and leaves Brienne.

But what is the game here? Is Jaime returning to Kings Landing to make amends with his sister? Even he must know that Cersei doesn’t forgive easily or at all. Is it the bounty that is on his head that Bronn is pursuing? Will he head back south to secure his life by killing Cersei himelf? Or will he do it simply for spite? Cersei is a hateful person and so is he. Arguably, he became so to please her. Perhaps this revenge is for what she made him. Either way, the unpleasant departure happens to keep Brienne from following him? Does this keep Brienne safe from further danger? Or will she show up in the last reel to make things more complicated?

By the way, Gwendolyn Christie not only swings a sword pretty well, she can act! Leaving her in the mask the whole time in Star Wars was a waste.

26. The last scene is just outside Kings Landing. Daenerys has a small compliment of soldiers, plus her advisors. Cersei is atop one of the battlements with a much larger number of soldiers all along the walls. Missandei is shackled at the edge.

Qyburn exits the castle to meet with his counterpart Tyrion on the field. Tyrion grits his teeth as he walks closer into the range of the archers. Though, Daenerys is already very much in range of the multiple scorpion super weapons atop the castle.

Tyrion provides Daenerys’ conditions for surrender. Qyburn does the same. Qyburn’s list includes the execution of Missandei if Daenerys does not surrender on the spot. As Tyrion recognizes the impasse, he begins to appeal to Qyburn’s sense of rationale, emphasizing the bloodshed in the coming battle.

You have to admire Tyrion’s courage. As he recognizes he is getting nowhere with Qyburn, he abandons that avenue and takes the argument directly to Cersei, surrounded by all her archers and The Mountain. Tyrion attempts to appeal to her sense as a mother. As you watch Cersei’s face, it seems she softens a bit, but then steels herself with resolve and moves towards Missandei.

SIDEBAR: Would it have been a pleasant surprise if Missandei would have grabbed Cersei right there and dragged them both over the battlement to a likely death below? It looks high enough that they wouldn’t have survived? We would have a dead Missandei and I’m guessing Cersei’s forces would have launched their arrows at Dany’s soldiers. But talk about unexpected end?!

Cersei offers Missandei an opportunity for her last words. Missandei provides a defiant “Dracarys!” If you haven’t been paying attention, that means BURN THIS PLACE TO THE GROUND in Old Valaryan.

The Mountain does his duty. Grey Worm cannot watch. Cersei smirks. Tyrion turns away defeated, and Dany storms away, hellbent on the worst vengeance she can imagine.

There isn’t going to be a lot of protecting of realms happening next week.

BONUS: We all saw the footage of Dany’s cup of Starbuck’s coffee (excellent product placement Starbucks). I thought some of the memes noting that were pretty funny.

Grande Latte for Dany?

See you in a few days for Episode 72!
Justin Ledesma, Lord of the Rings

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