Game Of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Review: The Bells

This was the most consequential episode in trò chơi of Thrones history. The penultimate episode of the series was an extremely tense visual stunner that had an enormous impact on most of the major characters. Several bạn favorites are dead. Daenerys went Full Targaryen. Tyrion committed treason. The loyalty of Dany’s remaining supporters — including Jon Snow — is now in question. The Cleganebowl happened. And Arya decided to lớn choose life over vengeance.

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In a way, the episode — titled “The Bells” — felt like a response lớn the criticisms of the Battle of Winterfell even though it was filmed at roughly the same time. “Episode 3 was too dark.” Oh, you think so? How’s this for some battle clarity? “The first battle was overhyped.” Okay, here’s a second battle that was kept totally secret. “Not enough major characters died in the first battle.” Well, buckle up buddy. (Both episodes, by the way, were directed by “Battle of the Bastards” helmer Miguel Sapochnik).

I have a lot of thoughts about this one, especially about Dany’s “Mad Queen” turn và Arya’s big decision.

On the beach, Varys intercepts Jon Snow as he arrives. Varys urges him lớn take the crown for himself & Jon, of course, refuses. “Every time a Targaryen is born the gods toss a coin,” Varys says. “I still don’t know how her coin has landed, but I’m quite certain about yours.”

In the castle, Daenerys looks unlike we’ve ever seen her before. The grieving Mother of Dragon’s hair & makeup team apparently went down with the rest of her fleet last week. She’s visited by Tyrion who informs her that somebody has betrayed her. “Jon Snow,” she says. In a way, Dany is correct. If it wasn’t for Jon Snow going against her wishes, Tyrion wouldn’t have found out about his parentage và then Varys wouldn’t have started maneuvering to lớn betray her.

Daenerys sees this as Sansa’s treachery. So many fans blasted Sansa last week for not keeping Jon’s secret. But notice what Dany is saying. Couldn’t this have been a clever Littlefinger-like plot rather than a moment of weakness confiding in a friend? Watching that scene, it was tough to tell. Perhaps it was a bit of both? Sansa was throwing a bomb inlớn Dany’s inner circle and had lớn know it would explode.

For Tyrion, this is a tough situation. Tyrion likes Varys, who once saved his life. But Tyrion is also a survivamenu. He’s already on thin ice with Dany và if he doesn’t tell his queen about Varys’ treachery, then when she finds out he’s dead too. Tyrion has made a lot of blunders the last couple seasons, but ratting out Varys isn’t one of them.

Later, Grey Worm gets Varys from his room. The Spider taking off his rings really got me. He’s brought to the beach. This is where Melisandre once sacrificed heretics to the Lord of Light so many seasons ago. Now a different burning is about to lớn take place, but the night is still dark and now it’s full of even worse terrors. “I hope I’m wrong,” Varys tells Tyrion. “Truly I bởi.” But you can see it in his face — Varys is certain he’s right. Tyrion gives him a kind touch, the last he’ll ever feel, và Varys looks surprised.

Dany executes Varys with a blast from Drogon, who emerges out of the darkness behind her lượt thích a beautiful demon. The mode of execution is rather fitting as castrated Varys’ genitals were tossed into lớn a magical fire when he was a kid, inspiring his lifetime dislượt thích & distrust of sorcery. Now the rest of him is consumed a magic-induced fire as well.

Why, exactly, was Varys executed? It’s not made perfectly clear. But Varys has been writing letters, possible trying khổng lồ out Jon Snow as the true heir khổng lồ various lords. His conversation with his young spy who worked in the kitchen suggested he might have sầu been plotting to lớn poison the queen, who had been refusing lớn eat. Plus his conversations with Tyrion và Jon treasonous as well.

Later, Tyrion tries lớn convince Dany, one last time, khổng lồ show restraint và not attaông chồng the đô thị. We’re supposed to be entirely on his side, morally speaking. But the residents of King’s Landing are Cersei’s responsibility & she can only hold them up as human shields while deliberately provoking a dragon-riding Targaryen to attaông xã for so long before she shares some blame too.

Tyrion also brings up Meereen, which is an important reminder of Mad Queen foreshadowing. Remember Dany’s first instinct when Meereen was under bombardment by the slave sầu cities in season 6? “I will crucify the masters,” Dany declared. “I will set their fleets afire. I will kill every last one of their soldiers và return their cities to lớn the dirt. That’s my plan.” Tyrion talked her out of it. At the time we thought, Well, Dany probably didn’t really mean it. But she did. She’s said other things lượt thích this too along the way. In season 2, Dany likredeal.vnise promised, “We will lay waste to lớn armies and burn cities to lớn the ground.” And in season 6, she asked the Dothraki to pledge to “kill my enemies in their iron suits và tear down their stone houses.” Time và again, we dismissed such talk as bluster. It wasn’t.

And once again, Tyrion gets Dany khổng lồ hold baông xã, or seems lớn. Tyrion says he’ll sneak into the đô thị and try to lớn convince his sister to surrender one final time. If successful, he’ll ring the city’s bells signaling for Dany lớn stop the attack.

Dany then reveals lớn Tyrion that Jaime Lannister was caught trying lớn sneak behind enemy lines. She warns Tyrion — just as she warned Varys last season — that she will exeđáng yêu him if he betrays her.

So what’s Tyrion going to do? Again, like Varys, he goes for broke. He visits his imprisoned brother and decides khổng lồ release him, just as Jaime freed Tyrion in season 4. Tyrion rightly realizes Cersei is far more likely to listen khổng lồ Jaime. The two have a very touching và emotional goodbye. “Tens of thousands of innocent lives, one not particularly innocent dwarf, seems like a fair trade,” Tyrion says. “If it weren’t for you I never would have sầu survived my childhood. You were the only one who didn’t treat me lượt thích a quái vật.” Tyrion also reveals a secret passage out of the Red Keep for the two khổng lồ escape.

We’re teased here with a happy ending for the Lannister twins: Sailing off to start a life together somredeal.vnhere far away, just as Grey Worm and Missandei dreamed about. Tyrion knows he’s never going lớn see his brother alive again, one way or the other.

And Tyrion now seems dead either way. If he marched inkhổng lồ the Red Keep to lớn have a chat with Cersei, she’d either kill hlặng or he would have sầu perished in the attaông chồng. But by sending Jaime in his place, Tyrion is committing treason. His best option would have sầu been to vì chưng nothing — stay at Dragonstone and keep Jaime locked up for his own safety và sit baông xã & let Dany be Dany. But doing nothing và risking nothing is also the selfish move sầu that Cersei would have done.

King’s Landing: At first, Daenerys’ attacking King’s Landing is super gratifying. She wipes out the Iron Fleet, figuring out what fans pointed out last week that, ohhh, you can circle behind the ships lớn blast the scorpions. Euron escapes to safety. She also takes out the scorpions on the castle walls (it would be wiser for Dany to attachồng at night, but after the Battle of Winterfell we’re happy for the daylight action).

For Daenerys, the battle for King’s Landing is now pretty simple. Once she gets all the scorpions, the thành phố is hers. So now what?

Red Keep: Qyburn gives Cersei the bad nredeal.vns. Cersei is in denial as always. “The Red Keep has never fallen, it will not fall today.”

So much of the lead up to lớn the big turn is directed with such gorgeous precision and suspense. Ramin Djawadi nail-biting score ratchets the tension khổng lồ another cấp độ.

We get a standoff. Jon Snow, Grey Worm, và Davos with the Unsullied confront the remaining Golden Company troops. Dany on Drogon perched on the đô thị ramparts. Cersei staring out from the Red Keep. Cries from the people to lớn ring the bells.

Will Cersei ring the bells? No. She won’t. But somebody toàn thân does anyway. She looks fine about this, perhaps even relieved that the decision was taken out of her hands. The Lannister troops throw down their swords to surrender.

But Dany has other ideas. She’s high on destruction. She doesn’t want peace. She’s staring at the Red Keep & looks furious. She could stop all this but … well…she just doesn’t want khổng lồ.

Dany flies inlớn King’s Landing & blasts away. Buildings, civilians, everyone. The Mad Queen has arrived. Her house words are “Fire & Blood” & she’s delivering both.

Tyrion watches this & realizes: He was wrong about Dany.

Jon Snow watches her and realizes: He was wrong about Dany too.

We watch Daenerys và … wait, were we wrong as well?

Did we already think Dany was capable of this? Or were we in denial about her murderous ways? Did we really think somebody toàn thân who crucified 163 people because she assumed they were all responsible for killing slaves was a good person? Or vì chưng we feel this is an unfair trick; that writers of GoT are pushing a Mad Queen narrative sầu against Dany’s character?

Rethành viên that scene in season 2 in the House of the Undying? Dany had a vision of walking through the Red Keep. The ceiling was broken open and there was this Trắng stuff falling into the throne room. We assumed that was snow và that winter had come lớn the South. In this episode, at long last, Dany really is in King’s Landing và the Red Keep really is being destroyed. But there’s no snow. We see that trắng stuff was actually ash, the ash that’s now raining across the city. Dany’s the queen of the ashes. So this turn was foreshadowed from the show’s very early days.



There were plenty of moments in previous seasons to lớn tư vấn Daenerys going Mad Queen. Has the show been a bit tricky in playing her murderous moments as heroic and only recently seemed to want us to lớn really question them? Perhaps. But I wouldn’t say GoT has been suddenly pushing the idea that Dany is bad so much as doing what a good drama does in its final act — putting its protagonist lớn the ultimate chạy thử of character. And in doing so, the thing that GoT is actually pushing is a debate about Dany’s morality, bringing that question into the foreground of the show after letting it sit quietly in the background for so long.

We think Daenerys is a good person because she’s happily made so many benevolent choices lớn try & make the world a better place. Those choices tended to be made when Daenerys was feeling calm and secure. When you have two armies & three dragons it’s easy to lớn decide you’re going to lớn banish slavery because you can. But the show has also pretty consistently shown that when Daenerys gets really-really angry she rather nimbly leaps lớn “kill them all in the most painful way possible” as the best solution regardless of whether it’s fully justified or not. And she’s never been angrier than she is now.

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Since season 7, Dany’s lost two dragons, her two most trusted friends and advisors (Ser Jorah & Missandei), & has gone from ruling a lvà where she was worshipped to a continent where — as she puts it — nobody loves her. Dany didn’t seem like she needed that big of a push khổng lồ nuke a thành phố, and the final season has given her a really hard shove sầu. What she does here is a lot lượt thích Aegon I Targaryen’s burning of Harrenhal khổng lồ conquer Westeros in the first place.

And yet…và yet…it’s definitely shocking that Dany opts lớn just start nuking civilians when it’s so clear she didn’t have to. That is rightly shocking. Characters hopefully sometimes vị shocking things otherwise they’re utterly predictable and dull. The debate is whether this is an earned “character surprises you” moment or — as one fan grieved on Twitter — “character assassination.”

I suspect the key is Dany’s quote earlier about ruling by fear. She doesn’t just want to win, she wants khổng lồ teach Westeros a lesson after all her struggle. No more traitors, no more lords refusing the bover the knee, no more perceived disrespect — all that’s over. If you mess with Dany, this is what happens & now everytoàn thân will fall in line. Of course, maybe this wasn’t about any kind of ngắn gọn xúc tích all. Varys warned about Targaryen predisposition khổng lồ madness. Perhaps we’re meant khổng lồ believe Dany just finally snapped.

If I’m pushed to lớn criticize, then I’d say that I wished season 8 had more episodes lớn play Dany’s arc out a bit longer, but I also know the production gave sầu the final season everything they had given the level of production required to lớn pull off its battle sequences.

One thing is certain: All those parents out there who named their kid “Daenerys” are going lớn super annoyed.

The Hound and Arya: The Hound talks Arya inkhổng lồ not entering the Red Keep with hlặng. “If you come with me, you’ll die,” he says. “Cersei’s dead anyway. Do you need khổng lồ die with her?” Cersei has been on Arya’s list of names for so long. But Arya decides she’s had enough of death và changes her mind.

I’m disappointed not lớn get an Arya/Cersei scene because that would have been amazing. I can’t help but imagine a scene where Arya sneaks in và confronts Cersei & then changes her mind.

But Arya killing Cersei lượt thích so many have sầu predicted would have sầu been a terrible ending for Cersei, reducing her death khổng lồ punishment for her season 1 sins và making irrelevant everything that Cersei has done since then. The “right” death for Cersei, narratively speaking, is that she dies due lớn having made one terrible leadership decision after another — which is exactly what happens and Cersei is literally crushed by the collapsing weight of the building that symbolizes her power (not entirely unlượt thích the way she up her enemies at the end of season 6).

And besides, I love sầu this turn for Arya and it really matters that her choice is made in the same episode as Dany torching the thành phố. Because I’ve sầu had some of the same concerns about Arya’s homicidal streak as I’ve sầu had about Dany. Arya, too, has engaged in increasingly indiscriminate killing — wiping out that hall full of Freys because they’re part of that group, regardless of each individual’s guilt or innocence. And just like with Dany, we’ve sầu cheered Arya’s murderousness và not questioned it because she’s another young anh hùng who’s gone through hell. But killing people has seemed lớn have sầu less & less meaning to Arya. And as that happens, life has less và less meaning too.

So Arya chooses to let go of her vengeance — the opposite of Dany. Instead, Arya devotes the rest of the episode lớn trying to lớn help others, journeying ash-covered through the streets of King’s Landing, a sequence with a notable 9/11 feel. Arya also calls The Hound “Sandor” for the first time, offering him bachồng a bit of his humanity too before the over.

The Hound, however, feels lượt thích he doesn’t have anything to live for. He’s been waiting khổng lồ fight his brother ever since Gregor held his little brother’s face inlớn the fire when they were kids.

The Hound finds The Mountain. I like that there’s little hesitation. As soon as The Mountain sees hyên, the giant silently knows & agrees that this is totally happening. Qyburn foolishly tries lớn stop The Mountain & gets killed. Cersei, in the only moment of levity in this episode, positively slithers past The Hound to lớn get out of the way. Cersei looks lượt thích she’s at least 40 percent convinced The Hound is going to kill her và really hoping to lớn just skate on by.

They fight and it’s beautiful. The scene looks like some kind of Renaissance painting come to life. We get khổng lồ see The Mountain’s Anakin Skywalker face. There’s a moment where we think The Mountain is going to lớn repeat his eye gouging trichồng but The Hound escapes. The Hound stabs The Mountain in the eye with a dagger, and that doesn’t stop hlặng. The Hound realizes the only way to kill his brother is to lớn sacrifice himself too — into lớn the fire. Sandor faces his two greakiểm tra fears, his brother & the flames, và pulls them both over the edge. Peace for The Hound at last.

After the CleganeBowl, we get The Dane Bowl — Jaime vs. Euron (both played by Danish actors). Everytoàn thân predicted CleganeBowl, but nobody toàn thân predicted this fight and it makes so much sense for both characters.

The fight tests Jaime’s left-handed sword fight training and Euron has a blast. Is it weird that I sort of admire Euron Greyjoy? Despite so many terrible qualities, Euron finds so much reckless joy in everything he does and there’s something appealing about that. He’s so thrilled to lớn be in this fight that he cannot really chiến bại.

Euron mortally wounds Jaime with several devastating stabs to lớn the gut. Jaime is still able khổng lồ finish him off.

“I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister,” Euron marvels with a smile on his face. He’s the only character on the show who’s ever been so thrilled khổng lồ perish.

Jaime finds Cersei who is in full panic mode as reality sets in. I can’t help but wonder what Tywin Lannister would have done differently if he was still in charge. It’s tough lớn imagine Tywin ever surrendering to lớn a Targaryen queen, yet I also can’t picture him letting King’s Landing get destroyed.

Jaime takes his sister down inlớn the cellars where Tyrion told hyên there was a secret exit. For a moment, we think they’re going khổng lồ escape. They find the passage blocked. The giant dragon skull seems to moông chồng Cersei — a living rồng is destroying the city above and here is a dead one down below, with Cersei about to join it.

“I don’t want lớn die, I don’t want our child khổng lồ die,” Cersei says, her icy composure breaking down completely for the first time in the show. (So, yup, still pregnant — Happy Mother’s Day everyone!).

Jaime realizes the over is near: “Just look at me, there’s only the two of us, we’re the only ones who matter.” Jaime soothes her by echoing her own words from years ago.

They’re staring at each other as the ceiling collapses, killing them both (yes, they’re really dead). They went out of the world as they came inlớn it — together. As I’ve pointed out before in these recaps, Jaime và Cersei — for all that’s twisted about their relationship — otherwise have sầu had the longest and most traditional romance on the show. Many thought that Jaime was going to return to kill Cersei. But Jaime has always loved her even if we bởi vì not. He’s the friover in the toxic relationship who won’t listen lớn reason. And while Jaime fought with the Starks và found some romance with Brienne, nothing happened in Winterfell that would make Jaime suddenly hate Cersei, so why would he risk his life just khổng lồ kill her? The best way to ensure Cersei’s death — if that’s what Jaime wanted — would have been lớn stay with Brienne.

Returning to lớn Cersei in her hour of need was one of those things…we do…for love…

What the show has done here is pay off the long-foreshadowed Mad King moment. Years ago the last Targaryen king wanted to lớn destroy King’s Landing while it was under attack from Tywin Lannister along with Ned Stark, & then Jaime Lannister killed hyên ổn. We’ve sầu been reminded of this so many times that proper storytelling insists trò chơi of Thrones had khổng lồ somehow revisit that conflict and those decisions. What the showrunners have sầu done is avoid simply repeating the past or opting for the most obvious paths. All the elements have sầu come baông chồng together: An invasion, a Targaryen, The Kingslayer, Tywin’s other children, a Stark and the city at risk of being destroyed by fire. Yet the elements have sầu been remixed lớn play out in an entirely và largely unexpected way. will have sầu four big interviredeal.vns about tonight’s episode. There’s one up right now with Conleth Hill, who plays Varys, & he gives a very candid perspective sầu (“Nothing could console me…”) about what it was like lớn find out his storyline was ending and has some thoughts about the show’s treatment of his character.

You can also read Lena Headey’s insight about Cersei’s final moments, in which she says it may be “the first time that Cersei has been at peace.”

We also have sầu an with The Hound actor Rory McCann about the CleganeBowl — this is an actor who, lượt thích his character, “isn’t much of a talker.” So I was pretty thrilled to lớn get this much insight, và there’s a rather touching bit in there from Maisie Williams as well.

Oh, and here’s HBO’s trailer for the series finale. Also here are 7 times GoT foreshadowed Dany’s Mad Queen turn.

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Here’s this week’s podcast on iTunes,, Spotify, Stitcher, or stream it below. Darren Franich and I probably disagreed more than we ever had on an epiosde in this one.