Game of Thrones Simply Gave Up in Season Eight Episode Four
Editor's note: This story contains spoilers.
We've spent months hearing about the third episode of Game of Thrones. Fifty Five (55!) night shoots! Brutal conditions! They endured all of this for what was hailed as the biggest TV battle of all time. And all that work paid off. It wasn't perfect, but it was big. Then, after all of that immense effort we get an episode that leaves a modern Starbucks cup on a table in Winterfell's great hall. We get an episode where the writers don't even bother to name the "new prince of Dorne." It's as if the writers, the entire crew, the showrunners got through the Battle of Winterfell and simply gave up. This, sadly, was Game of Thrones at its worst—Episode Four is reminiscent of some of the lowest moments of Season Seven. It's nonsensical, lazy, and cringeworthy from beginning to end.
Episode Four begins with the Army of the Living mourning their dead. There are the necessary lingering close-ups of all our favorite characters: Jorah, Lyanna Mormont, Theon, Beric, and that one guy.
But there's little time to be spent on the dead, because we need to get to Real World Winterfell, where people stop being polite, and start getting real. I'm talking about Daenerys Targaryen, who can't take a moment from her conquest to appreciate the fact that they just defeated a legendary army of zombies and an ancient evil entity hell bent on destroying humanity. So she names Gendry a Baratheon and Lord of Storm's End. That's nice and all, but it was a tactical decision to get him on her side. Meanwhile, everyone else is looking to fuck after the battle. Big dick Pod walks off with a couple of women. Tormund—having been turned down by Brienne—takes a young lady off somewhere. Tyrion and Jaime and Brienne are playing a drinking game, where they find out Brienne is a virgin. It's all pretty juvenile stuff. All of this is just very bizarre, out of place, and weird.
Then, in the next scene, Jaime is knocking on Brienne's door. He's drunk and clearly trying to make a move in the most clumsy unromantic way. He even uses the most cliche move: "It's bloody hot in here," while trying to take his shirt off (to a point I understand why he's bad at this considering he's only slept with Cersei).
I don't have a problem with a strong female character embracing her sexuality. In theory, I don't hate the idea of Brienne and Jaime together. But this show so carelessly paired them up that it just feels entirely awkward. We've seen them build a respectful friendship over the course of this series. In a lot of ways, the relationship they had was more powerful than a romantic one. Yet, suddenly, here we are in Winterfell and they're just going for it. It's just so strange in its execution, so poorly written, that it ruins what could have been a nice moment.
The same goes for Gendry and Arya. After being named Lord of Storm's End he immediately proposes to Arya and gets shot down. All he's missing is a fedora. Again, it absolutely fits with Arya's character to turn down being a Lady of Storm's End, but the way this plays out is just lazy and cringeworthy. The Game of Thrones writers are simply pairing up anyone who's still alive like this is an episode of Love Island. I wouldn't have been surprised if Sansa hooked up with the Hound.
The only people not fucking are aunt and nephew Dany and Jon, who are having some relationship issues because he is her nephew and all. Dany isn't as much concerned that they're related as she is bothered by his claim to the Iron Throne. She wants him to swear that he won't tell anyone about his Targaryen lineage. Poor stupid Jon wants to tell Arya and Sansa, believing that it won't matter to them.
Once the pain of Real World: Winterfell is over, we get into some more idiotic battle strategy, which has become the hallmark of these later Thrones seasons. Dany and Jon's army is fucked. The dragons are injured. Sansa wisely advises that they wait a bit to take King's Landing. But Daenerys wants to march their tired, wounded army south to fight Cersei, who now has the Golden Company on her side.
Like operation capture a wight, like bait boy—this is an awful plan!
But before they go, Jon tells Arya and Sansa about his true lineage. And if you thought this would be a powerful, emotional moment that we've been waiting decades to see, then you're wrong. Because Jon tells Arya and Sansa: "I have to tell you something, but you have to swear you'll never tell another soul." He looks at Bran: "Tell them." [End Scene]
Yep, they don't even bother showing us Arya and Sansa's reaction to Jon being a Targaryen.
Of course, the next time we see Sansa she can't keep a fucking secret and tells Tyrion.
And speaking of Tyrion, he's talking with Jaime in Winterfell when Bronn just walks into their room with a crossbow. Remember last time we saw Bronn, Cersei sent him north to kill her brothers. How does he just walk into the room of two of the most powerful people in Westeros armed with a lethal weapon? Don't bother answering that—it doesn't fucking matter because nothing matters in this show. Bronn's quest also doesn't matter, because Jaime and Tyrion just talk him out of killing them. His days of fighting are done. He'll come find them when the war is over. And just like that Bronn is lazily written out of the show.
The same goes for Tormund, who is written out of the show because he and the wildlings want to return to the north. And tragically, after being absent for a few seasons, Game of Thrones also writes Ghost out of the show in a clunky way, with Jon telling Tormund to take the direwolf north for no apparent reason. It's truly a disservice to a fan favorite character. In fact, this episode as a whole is a disservice to the deep characterization George R.R. Martin brought to his books. Fans have spent decades with these characters. George R.R. Martin has spent decades creating them, writing thousands of words to create complex humans, and in an hour and a half, the Game of Thrones writers turn them into embarrassing caricatures like this is an episode of Big Bang Theory (no offense to Big Bang Theory).
Thankfully, the entire episode isn't spent in Winterfell watching these people make bad decisions. Instead, they magically teleport south, where they make more bad decisions.
Suddenly we're with Dany's half of the army sailing south. Tyrion and Varys are talking about the possibility of betraying Dany to ensure Jon sits on the Iron Throne. But, suddenly, Rhaegal gets shot down by a scorpion arrow fired by Euron "Deus ex machina" Greyjoy from a Golden Company ship. How did this happen? Wouldn't Dany have been able to see these ships from her viewpoint high in the sky? Seriously, how did she just not notice the large fleet of ships? Would she have really led her army blindly into a trap? If that wasn't dumb enough, she then swoops Drogon directly at the ships firing at her, which is truly the worst possible tactic in this situation. I fundamentally don't understand why it's not common sense to fly very high in the air then approach the ships from directly above, considering these scorpions can't fire straight up. But, it doesn't matter, because nothing matters and Euron fucks up her fleet.
And then, just like that, they're all safe and back in the castle and Euron is magically back at King's Landing. We don't see the ensuing battle if there was one; we're just supposed to assume that Euron killed a dragon then just left? Euron also kidnapped Missendei and only Missendei somehow. And Jon and Dany know that Missendei is captured and not dead or otherwise missing? Again, we're supposed to just fill in the gaps.
Upon hearing all of this, Jaime decides to ride south to save Cersei from getting killed, which breaks Brienne's heart. Gwendoline Christie does some phenomenal acting in this scene, and it would have been an incredible moment had this show dedicated more than two minutes on this romantic relationship.
Then we're at King's Landing, where Tyrion and Qyburn are delivering the demands of Queen Daenerys and Queen Cersei. As you'd imagine it doesn't go well and Cersei has Missendei beheaded in front of Daenerys and Grey Worm. It's tragic for all the wrong reasons, and it further pisses off Daenerys, who will probably do something stupid in the next episode, and at this point we're all just watching to finish the damn show. What a disappointment. What a waste.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.