‘Game of Thrones’ recap: A pivot and a huge misstep plague Episode 4

Spoiler alert! The following contains details from “Game of Thrones” Season 8 Episode 4, “The Last of the Starks.” Read our recap of Season 8, Episode 3 here. 

And then there were two. 

After last week’s long, dark and puzzling Battle of Winterfell, Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones” had a huge job to do: Pivot the series away from the apocalyptic White Walker story line it has focused on for years and back to the political, thrones-gaming narratives that, while usually strong stuff, now seem almost insignificant after a battle to be alive at all. 

“The Last of the Starks” tried to get us back to a place where who’s lord of Storm’s End or Riverrun or Highgarden matters and where giant crossbows are more dangerous to dragons than ice zombies, but it soundly failed at that task. It was a clumsy and overlong episode that tried to do far too much with far too little. 

Emilia Clarke as Dany on "Game of Thrones." (Photo: HBO)

Dany’s quest for the Iron Throne, and the wrench Jon’s parentage throws into it, just don’t have the same emotional wallop as not just the White Walker battle, but all the other skirmishes for control of the Seven Kingdoms that populated Seasons 1-6. Measured against Ned’s desperate attempt to cling to honor in the capital or Olenna’s poisoning of Joffrey to save Margaery or even the High Sparrow’s beatific smile, Dany’s furious face outside the gates of King’s Landing just seems like a meme waiting to happen. 

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As has been the pattern for two seasons now, the episode was filled with lapses in logic that were too irritating to ignore, plus a plague of idiocy on the part of most of its supposed heroes.  

There are now just two episodes remaining in this series, but it doesn’t feel like “Thrones” is heading toward any type of conclusion, let alone a satisfying one. Each episode seems to write the series further into a corner from which it can’t escape. With a little over two hours of screen time, one dragon and a few scattered stories left to care about, the series’ biggest enemy of all might just end up being itself. 

This recap will be updated. 

    For the throne: 

    • Recap: Battle of Winterfell is deadly, beautiful and disappointing
    • The two characters “Game of Thrones” fans would have saved
    • John Bradley (aka Sam) breaks down Battle of Winterfell
    • Where’s all the character death?
    • The “Thrones” stars on their favorite twists

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