Game of Thrones – Episode 8.05 “The Bells”

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Synopsis: Varys is writing letters out. Hard to make out all the words but “true heir” is certainly a focus. One of his little birds arrive. Daenerys isn’t eating, she says. Apparently Varys had someone trying to do his dirty work. Tyrion watches as Varys meets Jon who arrives at Dragonstone. Varys express his fears of Daenerys, but Jon confirms his loyalty to her and that he has no interest in the throne. Tyrion meets with Daenerys. She ain’t looking so hot. She says she knows someone has betrayed her: Jon Snow. Tyrion swears it’s Varys but Dany says that it was Jon telling Sansa that was the betrayal. Daenerys also blames Tyrion, but he swears his intentions were good. Later, Grey Worm comes for Varys. On the beach, Tyrion confirms for Varys that he was the one. Varys says he hopes that he’s wrong, and says goodbye to Lannister.

Daenerys, first of her name yada yada sentences Varys to death, and Drogon pops in and turns him crispy. Farewell, master of whispers. In her chambers, Daenerys gives Grey Worm Missandei’s former chain. Ever the sentimental, Grey Worm tosses it in the fire. Jon arrives and Daenerys says this is what happens when the truth is revealed. Daenerys notes that she isn’t loved in Westeros the way Jon is and without the proper birthright, she only has fear to rule. She tries to kiss Jon but he rebuffs her, and Daenerys says “fear it is.” In the throne room, Tyrion again tries to talk Daenerys out of ransacking King’s Landing. He says if the city surrenders and they sound the bells to call off the attack. She tells Grey Worm to ready the Unsullied. As Tyrion goes to leave, Daenerys tells him that they captured Jaime trying to return to his sister. She tells Tyrion if he fails her again, it will be the last time.

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Cersei has opened the gates to the Red Keep and commoners are shuffling in by the hundreds, hoping for safety. Jon and Tyrion meet up with Davos at the camp. Jon readies the troops, while Tyrion asks Davos for a smuggling favor. Arya and the Hound are leaving the camp when a knight tries to stop them. The Knight says he’s going to talk to his manager, but the dynamic duo just stroll on outta there. Tyrion sends the guards at Jaime’s tent away and meets with his brother. He offers him a chance at freedom. He wants Jaime to convince Cersei to abandon ship and there will be a boat waiting for them if they escape. He unlocks Jaime’s chains and the brother’s share a tearful embrace. Tyrion thanks his brother for never treating him like a monster.

In Blackwater Bay, Euron and his men ready the scorpions for battle. At the castle walls, the golden company stands ready to fight. As the citizens of King’s Landing lock their doors and windows or look for safe hiding places, Arya and the Hound stroll right into town, with Jaime not too far behind them. Arya and Jaime make it into the walls of the Red Keep, shoving a young girl and her mother aside, and the doors are shut before Jaime can get inside. On the battlefield, fratboy Golden Company leader Harry (really the lamest GOT name ever) stands poised for battle. Jaime looks for another way in. Up above in her tower, Cersei watches. Euron hears something and looks up to the sun and sees Drogon diving towards him. Daenerys has Drogon dracarys the shit out of the fleet. Euron jumps ship. With the Northern forces in facing the Golden Company, Drogon flies through King’s Landing to come out behind them decimating their forces. Harry watches as his men burn and retreats but not before Grey Worm puts a spear through him. The Unsullied and Dothraki, along with Jon, storm into King’s Landing while Drogon continues to burn Cersei’s troops. In the Red Keep, Cersei watches as the dragon destroys her army and the walls surrounding the city. Qyburn comes for Cersei and urges her to seek safety but she thinks they still have a chance. He updates her that Euron’s fleet has fallen and the scorpions have all been destroyed. Cersei assures him that the Red Keep has never fallen and won’t today. Jon, Davos, and Grey Worm continue through the city until they are faced with Cersei’s remaining army. Tyrion walks through the rubble and corpses into the city. Jaime searches for another way in. Daenerys lands in the city on Drogon. The men of Cersei’s army throw down their swords. Citizens shout to ring the bells, which Jaime is trying to get to. Dany surveys her victory, the kingdom she just won and glares at the Red Keep, still standing in the distance. Tyrion watches below. The bells ring. Jon exhales. Cersei blinks. But Daenerys glowers. It’s not enough. The victory was too easy, and they will not fear her. Not enough.

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Drogon takes off and as he nears the Red Keep and with innocent men and women running through the street, he burns a path for Daenerys. Tyrion looks on in horror. Cersei shows the first true signs of fear. Grey Worm throws a spear into Cersei’s army and the fighting resumes. Jon tries to keep his men from fighting, but Daenerys’ men start storming the streets of King’s Landing. Drogon continues to turn the city to ashes. Jon is also horrified, and is stunned back into attention as he watches one of his Northern soldiers try to rape an innocent woman. He kills the man and tells the woman to hide. As Drogon nears the Red Keep, knocking a tower down, Cersei watches her empire fall. On the beach, Jaime runs into Euron and Cersei’s lovers fight it out with swords and fists. Qyburn insists Cersei leave and she starts to cry as he is finally able to pull her away. Euron stabs Jaime a couple times, but Lannister gets a deathblow in Greyjoy. Euron dies thinking he killed Jaime. In the Red Keep, with the walls falling down around them, the Hound sends Arya away. He tells her that she will die if she stays there and that he doesn’t want her to be like him, fueled only by revenge. Arya concedes. She tells Sandor (yes, she calls him Sandor!) “thanks” as she escapes out. Clegane moves on. The outer walls are felled from the staircase as the Mountain, and Qyburn lead Cersei out. The Hound arrives at the bottom. He takes out the remaining knights and then says hey to his big bro. Cersei orders the Mountain to stay, and Qyburn jumps in the middle. The Mountain smashes Qyburn’s face in, tossing him aside. Cersei nopes on outta there and CleganeBowl is officially on.

Scurrying through the map room, alone, Cersei turns to see Jaime. She falls into his arms crying and the twins are reunited. Jaime pulls her out. The Hound gets all sorts of stabs in on the Mountain, but it doesn’t stop him, he merely pulls the sword out. Arya struggles to find a safe place in the streets, with walls falling and ash everywhere. She runs through the town, only to get nearly trampled on by the other townsfolk running by. This is intercut with the Mountain giving the Hound a pounding. Arya comes across the young girl and her mother that she saw earlier and tries to lead them to safety. The Mountain begins to crush the Hound’s head, as he stabs him in the eye. Sandor realizes the only way to stop him is to face his other fear and he knocks the mountain through the wall and they both plummet into the fire below.

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While Daenerys continues her rampage through the city, green fire begins erupting throughout, likely leftover from the Mad King’s secret stash. Jon and Davos sheathe their swords and command everyone to fall back as they run away from Drogon’s flight path. Arya wakes up, bloody and covered in debris. She quickly finds shelter with the young girl and her mom and pulls them out because if they stay behind they will die. As they run through the streets, they search for cover, but are unable to find it as Drogon fires down the lane. In the dungeon, Jaime and Cersei head towards the secret passage but as they round the corner, they are disheartened to see that it’s caved in. There’s no escape for them. Cersei begins to freak out, but Jaime calms her down. Nothing else matters but them, he says, as the walls crumble around them and they buried in rubble, going out of this world the way they were brought into it: together. Arya wakes up (again) with ash and debris around her (again) covered in blood (again). The little girl and her mom are just bodies now. Arya looks through the rubble and across the way is a white horse, bloodied, but alive. Arya suits up and mounts the horse, charging onward.

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Comments: Oh boy. I’m gonna have to categorize this to make it easier. We’ll do the big thing first. Overall, I will say that while I’ve enjoyed this season with some mild disappointment, this definitely feels closer to Game of Thrones of the first few seasons, and I harken, though there’s no way of knowing for sure, that this is more in line with where Martin’s books will end. But more specifically:

Dark Stormborn
It was always a theory, and one I didn’t fully believe, but really the seeds were sown the entire time. Much like with Walter White in Breaking Bad, we’ve been a watching the bad guy the whole time. We cheered along as she continued to destroy those that fought against her because they were bad people and she was good, or so we thought. This is perfectly in keeping with the Daenerys that burned the witch, that locked those people in the chamber in Qarth, that foiled the slave drivers plan in Astapor before laying waste to that city, before taking over Yunkai. We’ve seen before how when she loses those closest to her she reacts with violence. We saw it with the Dothraki leaders that she burned alive. This entire season, while admittedly rushed, has been about Daenerys losing everything. She lost her birthright when she learned of Jon’s claim on the throne. She lost her longest friend in Jorah, and she lost her best friend in Missandei, and after he rebuffed her, lost Jon Snow. She feels betrayed by Tyrion. She said herself all she has is fear, and at the point where the bells were sounding, there wasn’t enough for the people of King’s Landing to truly fear her. There wasn’t enough for the new prince of Dorne to fear her. There wasn’t enough to keep Sansa at bay. Her entire life has been about one thing and that thing was taken away from her by the man she loved and now she has no one. So, it may have been that she snapped or it was a push too far, but this has been who she was all along. It wasn’t out of the blue, so much as smack dab in the middle of the blue. We just didn’t want to see it.

The Ransack of King’s Landing
While the battle of Winterfell was dark and muddy, this was brighter and felt it was executed more logically. It also was back to the visceral Battle of the Bastards type action, with its blood and guts and randomness, where Winterfell felt overly filmic. It was tragic watching this city where the majority of the action of the series took place, just crumble under Daenerys’ charge, but it felt more real, and I definitely agree with the producers decision that this was a more interesting battle to end the series on than the one-sided good vs. evil battle that was a few weeks before. After getting blindsided before, it was nice to see Dany actually being smart about using Drogon as a weapon, even if they ended up on the wrong side. Taking out the fleet and the scorpions and crushing the Golden Company from behind were all solid moments.

Arya
Look, I’m here for it if Arya is the hero of this story. I kind of don’t feel like they are going to give her the two biggest kills in the series, but I’ll be fine if I’m wrong. They did do too many fakeouts that Arya was killed, but she certainly looked more damaged each time. The juxtaposition between her and Daenerys, especially in this episode has been great. They are both continually underestimated by the (mostly) men around them. They were both angry little death machines, but with the Hound’s help, Arya chose life in this episode. She let her revenge of Cersei go and opted for a different outcome, even if she may now be fueled by a different sort of revenge, it’s still well-earned. And props to Maisie Williams who has long been one of the best actors in the series, but has really been knocking it out of the park this season. Even without a lot of dialogue and lot of passive action, running away from dragons and what not, she’s still in full command of her character. The goodbye between her and the Hound was one of the series’ highlights and really their story will play so well in review.

The Twins
This was not the ending I wanted, but it felt more true and honest than the one I may have been hoping for. I wanted Cersei to get a better comeuppance. I wanted more suffering. And I wanted to believe Jaime’s redemption took. And who knows, maybe he was going down to King’s Landing to kill her but when he saw her he knew that he couldn’t or that it was futile to try. Of all the characters to get a romantic and poetic ending, I wouldn’t have picked Cersei, which is why it’s perfectly typical that she did. It’s a shame that Lena Headey hasn’t had much to do this season besides look out that balcony because it will really be a shame that she will end up without an Emmy win for this role. She can join Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Steve Carrell (The Office) as well as a host of other never even nominated actors (Lauren Graham, Kristen Bell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Katee Sackhoff, Mary McDonnell).

Varys
It was a fitting end for the man who served more kings and queens than anyone, but also switched allegiances quite handily. I will miss his wit and it’s a shame that he won’t have any more chats with Tyrion that were generally gold.

Finale
I have no fucking clue what I even want to happen, but I kind of like that. I expect we will unfortunately see Tyrion taken out, a shame, but he made it as the last Lannister. It just will be hard to keep him protected with plot armor for the last episode. I expect Sansa will play a huge part but I really can’t figure out how. In Winterfell? In King’s Landing? I can’t see either. I like that the preview probably only showed us moments from the first five minutes. It would be unfortunate if they couldn’t stick the landing, and while I know there are a lot of detractors this season, which I think is pretty unfair, but I’m also one of the few that loved the Battlestar Galactica ending so take that with a grain of salt. What’s interesting is that we will never know if Cersei was truly pregnant (though probably), or if Euron figured it out (but he sucks so who cares). Only five more sleeps!

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Quotes:
Varys: They say every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin and the world holds its breath.

Varys: Men decide where power resides, whether or not they know it.

Jaime: Cersei once called me the stupidest Lannister.

Tyrion (to Jaime): You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster. You were all I had.

Cersei: The Red Keep has never fallen. It won’t fall today.

Arya: Sandor. Thank you.

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Title: Obviously a nod to the bells ringing in King’s Landing, signaling their surrender, but triggering Daenerys to lay waste to the city.

Deaths: Varys, charred by Drogon/Daenerys. Euron, stabbed by Jaime Lannister. Qyburn, smashed aside by the Mountain. The Hound and the Mountain end CleganeBowl in a tie. Jaime and Cersei die together in the Fall of the House of Lannister. Oh yeah, and like most of Cersei’s soldiers, maybe half the population of King’s Landing, and a large percentage of Dany’s sanity.

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