Not going to speculate about the approaching episode, have a feeling whatever is produced will feel rushed.
I immensely enjoyed episode four, however like many feel the episode should have been done as two episodes. The writers brushed over very important character dialogue and a wasted a very valuable opportunity to give insight into the characters before the end of the series. This is the kind stuff that used to be integral to series as recent as season six.
The shorter episodes in all series have been less than fifty minutes, therefore, twenty minutes of additional material would have sufficed to create two episodes. With minimal CGI how difficult /costly would this have been to do, guessing HBO would have had no issue with an additional episode. The only problem would be where to split the episode into two parts.
I have suggested additional scenes that would pad out the episodes and hope you agree with my choices.
Scene between Daenerys and Missandei – For someone who is supposedly Daenerys’s closet adviser, she has been nothing but decorative this season bar giving some sass Sansa way. Especially with the ending of the episode, a heart to heart between the two should have been shown. Perhaps with Daenerys beginning to question if the throne is worthwhile.
Sansa and Brienne discuss Jamie – Brienne worries that if Jamie goes to Kings Landing then Daenerys will have Jamie killed for murdering her father or that Cersei will have him killed for betraying her. Sansa worries that Jamie’s knowledge of Daenerys army could assist Cersei and believes that his loyalty is still with Cersei. Sansa realising that Brienne feelings towards Jamie go beyond mutual admiration between knights, agrees for Jamie to stay at Winterfell.
War meeting at Winterfell – Sansa speaks to officers who inform her that the northern army are still weary and wounds have yet to heal and that some may not even make it Kings Landing. Sansa references this (as she did the possibility in the episode), Lord Royce echoes her view and advises Daenerys that she is vulnerable and to await additional troops including the Iron Born (foreshadowing later events). Lord Royce’s intervention also shows his support for Sansa which Varys alluded to when talking to Tyrion.
Sansa and Arya react to Jon’s true parentage – they wonder how this affects their relationship with Jon, whether his loyalty is conflicted, which Arya flatly refuses to believe. Then Sansa compares Daenerys to Cersei, saying their only goal is the iron Throne and despite Jon’s fealty to Daenerys, his parentage is threat to her ambition of being ruler of the seven kingdoms. Regardless of her feelings for Jon, the Iron throne would come first and that Jon’s life is at risk.
With the additional scenes perhaps this would be a good place to split the episode as the war meeting came in about thirty five minutes into the original episode.
Lord Glover comes before Sansa – Sansa questions Lord Glovers betrayal, twice he has broken his oath. Not sure if he is given leniency/death but end result is majority of Glover troops replenish Winterfell, other northern houses and Daenerys army marching south. Used as a mechanism to show a greater period of time had passed since the battle – time period was not clear and seemed to have fought one day, got drunk the next, left for battle the day after.
Jon says a proper goodbye to Ghost – he’s been with him from the start (even beside him when was dead), so not to give him a proper goodbye was a failure of the writers. How much would it have cost to CGI a minute scene with him!
Jon, Sansa and Arya say goodbye – no one says it but this could be the last time they meet. Regardless this is a watershed in all their lives and although they found each other again, circumstances meant is was only temporary and that the past events had shaped their characters differently and set them on alternative paths.
Attack at Dragonstone – Basically they killed Rhegal to even up the final battle.
Not expecting any naval threat seemed lazy writing considering the two prior attacks by Euron’s fleet and the vulnerability of the dragons – being injured during the Long Night, Viserions death in Season seven and Dragon almost been killed in Season seven episode four. They didn’t even necessarily have to kill Rhegal, he could have been so injured he was unable to fly thus Daenerys was left to rely on just Dragon. Remember Season five after Dragon was injured in the fighting pits of Meereen and disappeared for a while to heal.
If they were going to kill Rhegal then at least Euron’s fleet should have suffered collateral damage. I agree with other comments that Euron has been almost untouchable. With his luck he shouldn’t be fighting but just sitting back and doing the Westeros lottery!
Missandei and Cersei – I agree with James Hibberd (EW) on this, there should have been a scene between Missandei and Cersei. Cersei is told some home truths, such as Cersei is a tyrant (make some comparison to Masters of Slavers Bay), Daenerys cares for her people, those who fight for Cersei do so because of fear or are paid mercenaries.
Then Cersei telling Missandei some home truths in return, that kind leaders didn’t last long in power, Daenerys is no different than Cersei, mentioning the killing of the Masters of Meereen and Randall Tarly – tie in somehow with the rise of authoritarian leaders in the real world.
This conversation would contrast with Arya and Sansa discussion regarding the similarities between Cersei and Daenerys and the discussion that Tyrion had with Cersei at the end the episode about her not caring about her people.
When Missandei fate is sealed when refuses to give Cersei her loyalty.
Daenerys asks for Cersei Surrender – some crew members and unsullied are executed prior to the discussions between Tyrion and Qyburn, it was strange that just Missandei was captured and the executions would have set the tone of the meeting.