Sunday, May 19, 2019

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Bells

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Bells”

It's been a week since "The Bells," the next-to-last episode of Game of Thrones ever, aired, and I'm still extremely upset about it. I really didn't want to rewatch it so I could take some notes to write this recap, but my nerdiness for having a complete episode recap archive won out over not enduring this 80 minute cringefest again.

What made the episode so bad? The same annoyances that have been plaguing this last season— frenetic pacing, inconsistent characters, and bad writing.

I think it's easier to start with the things I did like about this episode, since there are so few of them:

  1. The montage of voiceovers before the start of the episode. We hear quotes from different characters about the Targaryens. I thought the most powerful one, which was also the last one before the opening credits began rolling, was from Viserys about waking the dragon. Daenerys's inner dragon has definitely been awakened and as angry as if she had been in the middle of a really nice nap.
  2. Varys still looking out for the realm. The Spider has always said that he does what he does to protect the people, and he maintains that until the very end, one of the few times on this show when a character hasn't done a complete 180. Varys almost made it to the end, but his treasonous talk in last week's episode sends Tyrion to Daenerys before the latter slips up one more time with his queen. From the interaction with one of his little birds in the beginning of the episode, it appears that Varys was trying to have Daenerys poisoned. Before Varys gets Dracarys-ed by Drogon, Tyrion confesses to Varys that he was the one who snitched to Daenerys.
  3. Jaime and Tyrion's goodbye. I almost teared up when Tyrion told Jaime, who was caught trying to get past Daenerys's army and back to King's Landing/Cersei, that he wouldn't have survived his childhood without him, and Jaime was the only one in the family who didn't treat Tyrion like a monster. One of the standout moments of this season, and definitely a callback to Jaime helping Tyrion escape execution after the disastrous trial by combat.

And now on to the rest of the episode, about which I have many gripes:

Jon Has Suddenly Lost the Ability to Say More Than Two Lines

Like, for real. There have been some great memes going around illustrating the two lines that Jon Snow, Abandoner of Pets (yeah, still very bitter about that), has pretty much been reduced to: "You are my Queen" and "I don't want it." ("It" referring to the Iron Throne, of course.) When Daenerys starts lighting up King's Landing and everyone and everything in it, Jon looks like a freaking extra because he's doing very little, except for a futile attempt to get Daenerys's army to stop fighting after the Lannister men throw down their swords in surrender.

Let It Be Fear

Much, much, much post-episode discussion has focused on Daenerys becoming The Mad Queen and how long it's been in the making. Personally, I think the books, which of course are nowhere near caught up to the show's timeline, have done a better job of showing Daenerys's flaws. My issue with the transformation of her character on the show is that while she's shown moments of ruthlessness, she's also been shown in a very heroic light. I'm thinking particularly of scenes like in the third season finale, when the freed slaves of Yunkai start calling her "Mhysa" (mother) and sweep her up onto their shoulders. And yes, she's now lost two of her dragons and her beloved friend. So she's had it. But her going loco in the coconut is symptomatic of what's been happening with this whole season: it's like D & D have a to-do list of story lines to knock out in six episodes, and they're checking things off just to get them checked off. Night King and White Walkers defeated? Check. Daenerys goes all-out crazy Targaryen? Check.

And Suddenly, Daenerys Remembers the Iron Fleet

One of my complaints about the previous episode that saw Rhaegal taken out by one of the Iron Fleet's scorpion crossbow things was how no one on Daenerys's side even thought about the possibility of the Iron Fleet waiting for them at Dragonstone. Euron and his ships are stationed in Blackwater Bay for this battle, and whaddya know, Daenerys makes them her first target, destroying them instantly. Then she and Drogon take out all of the scorpions lining the walls of King's Landing. Then they just start taking out whatever and whoever are in their path. The Golden Company sees zero fighting because they're all ablaze.

Meanwhile, in Cersei's Head . . . .

Cersei watches all of the annhilation from the Red Keep and tells Qyburn that the Red Keep's never fallen and won't today. Hmm. She might want to get a second, rational opinion on that. She also tells her Hand that the Lannister troops will fight to the last. Soon after, we see the Lannister men drop their weapons. Shouts can be heard in the streets for the bells to be rung in surrender. Someone rings the bells, but Daenerys decides to fly straight for the Red Keep, continuing to burn a path of destruction. Back in the streets, Grey Worm attacks a Lannister soldier, and fighting on the ground begins between the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and the Northerners on one side, and the Lannister troops on the other. Didn't most, like 99.9%, of the Dothraki die in the Battle of Winterfell? Where did all of these Dothraki in King's Landing come from?

Oh, Jaime

After getting locked out of the gates of the Red Keep, Jaime has been trying to find another way inside. Unfortunately, he runs into Euron, possibly the most tiresome character on the show with his cringeworthy dialogue and cringeworthy bravado. The two fight, as Euron spews his usual riduclous lines. King's Landing is burning, and these two have to have a fight right now? Gimme a break. Euron gets in two nasty stabs before Jaime delivers a fatal stab wound of his own. Aaaand Euron still manages to have something to say before dying.

Commence Cleganebowl

Qyburn finally convinces Cersei that they need to move and suggests they head to Maegor's Holdfast. Around the city, the signature green of wildfire explosions can be seen.

Arya and The Hound have survived the carnage thus far and are standing on Cersei's map. The Hound tells Arya to go home. Cersei is going to die today somehow, and Arya will too if she follows him. Arya calls him "Sandor" for the first time ever; it's also the last time as Cleganebowl gets underway.

The Hound finds Cersei, Qyburn, and The Mountain heading for safer ground. Both Cersei and Qyburn order The Mountain to protect the queen, but The Mountain picks up Qyburn and hurls him into some debris, in a scene that's llike Frankenstein's monster turning on his creator. For a second it looks like Cersei is worried The Hound is going to kill her, but he only has eyes for his brother. So she slinks off, and the Clegane brothers go at it.

No matter how much The Hound stabs his brother, The Mountain's zombie-like state seems to have made him invincible. We finally see The Mountain's face after his helmet gets knocked off during the fighting, and he looks like Anakin Skywalker post-Mustafar duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Foreshadowing, maybe this is? The Mountain seems like he's about to smash his brother's skull in like Oberyn Martell's, but The Hound manages to break free. Even stabbing this undead dude in the eye doesn't do anything, so The Hound takes The Mountain with him for a plunge over the wall and into the fire below.


Jaime finds Cersei—HOW is this guy still standing after the fight with Euron? The twins make their way down to where the dragon skulls are kept, but the exit has been blocked by rubble. They're trapped. So: Jaime doesn't kill Cersei, Arya doesn't kill Cersei, a bunch of rocks collapsing kills Cersei. And Jaime. I'm so done with this show.

What the Actual Fuck Is This Ending?

Since parting ways with The Hound, Arya has been trying to help people escape the King's Landing bloodbath and has barely been able to stay alive herself. Covered in ash and blood, she sees a white horse, hops on, and they ride away. The End.

In the Next Episode

I'm not really sure I actually care about the last episode ever.


  1. I thought the Jaime/ Tyrion moment was maybe the best part of the episode? Very well done. I didn't like how Tyrion just stood there and let varys get burned though- I kept waiting for him to speak up, do something. Jon too. And speaking of Jon- SOOO disappointing. This is the honorable son of Ned Stark? Good grief, man grow a backbone and say something! Haha

    And you're absolutely right about Dan'y turn to madness not feeling earned? I mean, in the books I think he's building it, carefully, and the (fake?) Aegon stuff might be a big part of that? But they haven't laid nearly the groundwork on the show for it- I totally agree w/ you.

    I had to laugh when Qyburn was like we should go to Maegor's. I was like- why aren't you already there considering Drogon is destroying the place??? And yes where did all those Dothraki come from??? It's sooo bad!

    "I'm so done with this show" lol. Yeah that ending for Cersei/ Jaime was pretty lame.

    1. I feel like Jon was practically an extra in this episode, with so little to do or say—yikes! I expected more from Tyrion in the Varys scene, too; I wonder who Varys was writing to? I guess we'll never find out. :(

      The Mad Queen thing could have been such a great twist if only they'd paced it better. Instead I feel like they went for shock value, not just with Daenerys's arc but also with the Night King and the White Walkers.

      I think there were *even more* Dothraki (and Unsullied) in last night's episode! That lack of continuity irritates me so much because it's so glaring. I might not notice a Starbucks cup or a water bottle as much, lol, but magically multiplying Dothraki is a whole other story.

      I still can't believe Jaime and Cersei went out the way they did. I never expected Jaime to be all "I love Brienne now!" but he deserved better than this. And he definitely didn't deserve having to put up with Euron.

    2. Oh my gosh the magically multiplying Unsullied and Dothraki thing was ridiculous! I got the distinct impression there were heavy losses in the Battle for Winterfell, and while they may not have lost AS many at King's Landing, there still shouldn't have been THAT many Unsullied? To the point where Grey Worm (and man, did HE become a jerk or what) was dictating terms about Jon and Tyrion. Jon had to go to the Watch because of grey Worm, essentially.

    3. I also thought the fight with the White Walkers wiped out a lot of the Dothraki and Unsullied- especially the Dothraki because didn't like one guy survive that initial charge?

      Oh man, I couldn't stand Grey Worm by the end. Dude, when people throw down their weapons and surrender, it's over. But there he was in the last episode still executing Lannister soldiers. And yet he didn't immediately kill Jon or Tyrion, in another instance of bad writing. I hated that Jon had to go back to the Night's Watch; eight seasons to see that go down! :(


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