SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen Episode 4 of Season 8 of “Game of Thrones,” titled “The Last of the Starks.”
While “Game of Thrones” wrapped up the storyline of the Night King and the White Walkers in last week’s “The Battle of Winterfell,” this week’s episode threw fans back into the battle for the Iron Thrones at remarkable speed.
David Nutter, who directed not only “The Last of the Starks” but also episodes one and two of this season, said in an interview with Variety that the little moments during the post-battle celebration scene set up the tension that would fill the rest of the episode.
“It’s all about camera angles and points of view,” Nutter said. “You get a chance to see what these characters are focusing on and looking toward, which was really big when Dany calls out to Gendry and gives him the new status. Then you see how Davos and Jon react to that, how Sansa responds, and then of course you get into Sansa being jealous of Dany and Dany getting a sense of Jon being taken as this madman who rides dragons and kills people and she is being left out in some respects.
“Dany realizes that Jorah is gone and her Hand, Tyrion, is over laughing it up with Jamie Lannister, her sworn enemy,” he continued. “It’s really a feeling of her being quite alone. I called it an ‘epic emotional episode,’ because people were dealing with these emotions on quite an epic scale.”
This episode also saw Emilia Clarke give one of her finest performances as Daenerys, who must come to grips with the fact that taking the Iron Throne is not going to be as easy as she had originally thought.
“Her determination becomes more crystal clear,” Nutter said. “When she’s talking to Varys in the Dragonstone map room, she was so calm and cool and collected like she’s almost figured it out. She mentions ‘Do you believe we’re all here for a reason? This is my reason.’ There was a calmness in that I thought was important. But then when you see her in Jon Snow’s room, she kind of loses it in the sense that she’s trying keep him from spreading his secret around. What was most amazing to me was Emilia’s performance at the end of the episode in which her face almost morphs and you see this hate that I’ve never seen from this character before. You see this determination of what’s to come and it’s really quite frightening.”
Of course, few characters have proven to be more frightening on “Game of Thrones” than Cersei Lannister. The reigning queen of Westeros made several excellent moves against Daenerys this week, successfully killing one of her dragons, destroying part of her fleet, and capturing and killing one of her closest advisers, Missandei.
“It’s all about saving her position,” Nutter said of Cersei. “It’s about survival. She will do anything to survive. She’s spent time with our friendly boat captain, Euron, and she’ll do what it takes to survive. What really shakes her up at the end is Tyrion is reminding her she’s not a monster, she’s a mother. It almost cracks her, but she keeps going forward to what she feels she needs to do.”