The Long Night is over, and the Battle of King’s Landing looms ahead. In ‘the Last of the Starks’, things start off with mourning, our characters saying goodbye to the people they lost in the war against the dead.
As they soon transition into feasting, they fall back into their old habits, as they decide what to do with some new, deadly information.
As Tormund and others praised Jon for his leadership and bravery, Dany bristled, keenly aware of the threat he posed to her own ascendancy. Jaime and Brienne consummated their brimming romance, much to Tormund’s dismay. Gendry- who is spontaneously rechristened Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm End- poured his heart out to Arya, who let him down gently, reminding him that she was no lady.
As the main cast focused once again on King’s Landing, Jon and Dany bid goodbye to many of their compatriots. Tormund and the Wildings left for the North, and the Hound slinked off on his own (but not before Arya caught up to him).
Dany, of course, tried to convince Jon to keep his lineage a secret; Jon, being the simple family man he is, promptly told Sansa and Arya about it. Sansa, in turn, let Tyrion know about it, and before you know it, Varys and Tyrion were discussing the finer details of treason, wondering if Jon would indeed make a better ruler than Daenerys.
This is some good writing on the show’s part, because Dany had proven historically to be a poor leader who makes rash decisions, often going against the counsel of her advisors. Jon, on the other hand, is much more stable, although he doesn’t desire the throne whatsoever (a point he reiterates to Dany).
Back in Winterfell, Bronn caught Tyrion and Jaime unaware, promptly changing his fealty back to both Lannisters, bartering his loyalty for Highgarden. Jaime, unfortunately, was still not over Cersei; he sneaked off Winterfell under the cover of night, bidding goodbye to a tearful Brienne.
After pressing on with her campaign, Dany suffers an immediate setback when the Greyjoy fleet sacks the entire Targaryen fleet, also downing Rhaegal in the process. Narrative wise, this is a smart choice because it neutralizes Dany’s dragon advantage almost completely. However, the execution of this scene leaves a lot to be desired: it’s hard to believe that Dany couldn’t spot the Greyjoy ships, especially since she was riding a dragon, an unique viewpoint from where you can see… literally everything down on the sea in your immediate vicinity.
Despite suffering heavy losses, Daenerys faced off with Cersei outside King’s Landing the very next day, with Missandei’s life at stake. Tyrion tried to appeal to Cersei’s humanity, which of course, fell on deaf ears. Even with Missandei dead, there’s little Dany could do except retreat, waiting for Jon’s forces to arrive from Winterfell.
Of course, there is plenty of problems with the show’s writing, but one thing that was especially egregious this episode was how the show handled its female characters. While Sansa has become a shrewd student of the game, she still continues to be petty in her feud with Daenerys. Meanwhile, Missandei, the only major female advisor on Dany’s side, is discarded to garner sympathy (and rage) from Greyworm and Daenerys. As storytelling devices, these still work, but the writers definitely could have gone a different way.
As it stands, the final battle between Cersei and Daenerys’ forces looks more or less even. Qyburn’s improved Scorpion bolts tips the balance in Cersei’s favor. Let’s see what tactics Jon and Daenerys use to turn the tide.