"Every piece of their interaction is confusing and limited. Worse, it obfuscates each character’s growth," says Sonia Saraiya, who explains why the scene during the Battle of Winterfell victory celebration made no sense on many different levels. "It feels like a repudiation of both of their character arcs—and, as I have said again and again this season, a missed opportunity for growth and connection," she says.
"This is a lot to write about one scene, I know. But it goes to illustrate two points. One: these characters, for so long, have been so beautifully drawn that this compressed, sloppy conclusion is increasingly galling. It’s shortchanged their long-running, thorny, often quite moving transformation as characters. You could analyze nearly every scene in 'The Last of the Starks' in this way, and come up just as frustrated and confused as I am here. The way that I feel about Sansa is the way that other fans feel about Tyrion, or Jaime, or Jon, or Missandei. The show’s conclusion is crushing the nuance and movement out of each character, reducing them to bite-size takeaways. To me it seems as if Sansa sat down at that table not to speak to The Hound, but to tell the audience something they already know: she’s been through a lot, and she’s strong now. The way that she did that undermines her own statement—but at this point, Game of Thrones is entirely surface-level. We cannot read more nuance into this scene, even though eight seasons of backstory are there, waiting to be brought to bear into the scene. The other point is much simpler. If you want female characters in your show—if you want them to struggle and survive in a gendered world, if you want them to be stately queens or mad ones, if you want them to fuck or fight or cry or do all three at once—hire female writers. It will help."
This was Game of Thrones at its worst: "It's as if the writers, the entire crew, the showrunners got through the Battle of Winterfell and simply gave up," says Matt Miller. "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."
Does Game of Thrones have something against people of color?: "The disposability of POCs in Game of Thrones is something that we’ve had to get used to," says Hanna Flint. "Bye Khal Drogo! Laters, Oberyn! Farewell, Dothraki horde! See you on the other side, Sand Snakes! This is a show with a high kill count, of course, but, when there are already so few black or brown characters, seeing them drop like flies at the hands of white characters, in service to other white characters, makes it all the more frustrating."
Nutter on why he's so great with Game of Thrones actors: "Sometimes, when actors reach out to their characters, they’re nowhere in sight. They need to find something inside of them. And then the characters are right there. As a director, I want them to find the character that’s already inside them, instead of trying to manufacture or manipulate or make something up. That’s not really honest or true."