Game of Thrones 8.5 – The Bells

Previously! {Edited to add: I am UNSULLIED. We don’t talk book knowledge at all here, if you’re new. Show only! Thank you very much!}

Me, for the hour and change of this episode.

As has become my norm, I wrote this as I watched, so you’re getting my gut reactions to moments, but I promise I end with some thinky bits. Also, as a fan of Metallica’s old (prime) bits, THIS SURE REFLECTED FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS. (Time! Marches! On!)

“If you think you’re getting a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” I mean, we were told this a while ago…

So. I rewatched Season 7 this week. It was verrrrrrry interesting to rewatch Varys meeting Dany and agreeing to be burned at the stake if he ever conspired behind her back, seeing as last week ended with him… conspiring behind her back with Tyrion. So. Varys is on our kill sheet.

And I still love the Long Night being present in the astrolabe’s opening. (I know y’all aren’t really reading these, but jumping straight to comments to put your own thoughts down, and I get it. But I still have a job to do.) AND SO!

VARYS. UNDERMINING EVERYTHING WITH A SCROLL. I do still find it interesting to see how the Spider lures helpers into his web. Damn you, Uncle Fester. Jon returns to Dragonstone and this mystery of the “girl” who won’t eat. Dany? She’s no girl, however. And yes, it’s Dany to whom they refer. And now Jon knows Varys will throw Dany over for him, and he’s not okay with it.

Jon: DANY HAS THE JOB. I don’t want it.
Varys: But… but the Realm!
Jon: I SAID. WHAT I SAID. I want to live in a cabin in the woods BY MYSELF and raise wolf pups. :( :(

Meanwhile, can Dany fucking mourn the loss of another child? Because DAMN. AND HER BEST FRIEND. LIKE. Give her a FUCKING minute.

Dany wonders if another man she’s loved has betrayed her, but Tyrion assures her it’s not Jon. It’s Varys. (And seriously, my comment section each week is rife with intelligent, amazing content. Loads of you had great things to say about Varys, as did I, and seriously, if you’re not reading the comments here, you’re only getting 40% of the good stuff. Side note: I love you all.) BUT VARYS SAID: I SWEAR, IF I BETRAY YOU BY CONSPIRING, YOU CAN BURN ME. Just pointing out S7E2.

Dany reasonably points out that Sansa spilled the beans on Jon’s parentage, while Tyrion quickly points out that he’s glad to know, seeing as he’s HER RIGHT HAND. Knowing her secrets is quite literally his job. (Also, I would like to point out, Dany’s whole M.O. is that her family name is the most important bit about her, the name and what it means, WELL SAME FOR JON. If a Stark man isn’t telling thr truth to damn all consequences is he even a Stark? Oh wait, Jon isn’t a Stark. WELL YES HE FREAKING IS, MY GIRL.)

Tyrion also points out that talking to Varys before Dany was a mistake. And Dany is… not in a good headspace. And none of it matters now.

She looks like she’s aged 15 years.

Varys continues to write his letters until a door knocks, at which point he burns what he’s writing and rids his flesh of distinguishable marks. We knew this was coming. And so did he. Tyrion meets him on the beach in a callback to Season 2 and Stannis’ fervor. Welp. The takeaway is [desire of] absolute power corrupts absolutely?

Varys, the mensch that he is, says he wishes he was deserving and send Tyrion his farewell. This isn’t easy, not for Tyrion, not for us, the viewer. Varys is our POV. He’s our representative in the world of Kings and Queens and the games they play. It’s like watching a beloved politician devoted to worker’s rights being burned at the stake.

The look on both Varys’s face and Drogon’s is a thing of cinematic wonder. And there goes a central character. He’s important to us, but not to Dany, who is too preoccupied with Missandei’s death. (Me, tooooo.)

The face of a woman COMPLETELY out of fucks.

Jon visits her, and Dany points out that Sansa knows the truth and this is on her, which is unfair. She points out she only has fear here, not love, but GIRL. Girl.

Camera two.

Dany? My girl? I get your background. Your obstacles. Your victories. But this is a bad ploy. Never ever pit a man against his blood. Never. If you have to do that, he was never yours in the beginning. (See: SER JORAH FUCKING MORMONT, THE ONE MAN YOU HAD FULLY ON YOUR SIDE.) I get it. You’re full of feels. But you are going about this the wrong way because your blood is up and your emotions are high. And Jon is SAYING you are HIS QUEEN. Come on. Come on.

Meanwhile, time for some aunt on nephew loving… or not. Which Dany takes as a slight. GIRL. THE FLOWERS DON’T NEED TO BLOOM IN THIS ATTIC. Which she senses by saying okay, not love?Then fear.

Dany is losing the point, and quickly. She’s conflating mercy with domination, and this is going to be a problem. She wants black and white, and that simply isn’t how things are. (Oooh, editorial note, it does end in black and white. More to come on that!) Tyrion puts his last chance in, but we’ll see if it works. Tyrion is seriously doubting his choice to stand by her. And then she mentions Jaime has been caught. So. No one is going to fail Dany again, and I’m mad about this framing.

I get she’s emotional, but this is a hard shift to Mad Queen these past two episodes, and I don’t like it.

Elsewhere, Arya and The Hound confront the Northern forces, explain that Arya is there to kill the Queen, and get their passage. Hahahaha. That keeps working for Arya and it cracks me up. If it ain’t broke… Tyrion gets a pass to see jaime, captured by Dany’s forces, because he’s the “stupidest Lannister”.

“All the worst things she’s ever done, she’s done for them.” Jaime, about Cersei’s children. God, if that ain’t the troof. Happy Mother’s Day!

Tyrion gives him an escape, a route, and a key. We’ll see if Jaime follows through. And Tyrion will burn for this act of kindness. He’s doing it for the brother who always stood by him. The only one. “You were all I had.”

Excuse me while I sob for a million years… (And ha, Dany is right. No man is truly honorable to her. And from beyond the veil, a throaty KHALEESI! can just be heard.)

We cut to the port of King’s Landing and how every ship has a harpoon-laden crossbow on its bow. Yikes. They’re even more impressive and decorated than we’ve seen before. Hatches: battened. King’s Landing is ready. And Arya and the Hound enter among the chaos. Jaime, cloaked, slips past the Golden Company, a device/group of people I’m sure were cool in the books, but is an afterthought in the show. Oh, well. No time! Hurry! Tie up loose ends!

A battalion of the wildlings, the North and Unsullied stand at the gates of King’s Landing. Cersei stands at a window, opposite the window where her last son stepped to freedom from her machinations. Jaime is trapped beyond the gates. Not even his golden hand will save him. The pieces are in place, it seems. Let’s play the game!

The show writers:

And from the clouds, Drogon emerges. …and burninates the ships in the bay. Including Euron’s. GOOD BOY!! Drogon blasts low, dodging projectiles as he destroys Scorpions along the wall and in the bay. GOOD. BOY.

The Gold Company and the Unsullied have a good, old fashioned standoff, waiting for orders. Meanwhile, dragonfire blasts through the gates, laying waste to most of the Gold Company. [#Capitalism] The Unsullied rush forward. (Note: The Dothraki cutting down the wealthy and privileged Lannister army was… [chef’s kiss])

It’s important to note that even ONE dragon is pretty damn destructive. (Point to Yara Greyjoy who advised last season to go ahead and attack KL because they would be ill-prepared. Also fifty million points to Yara, Sansa and Brienne for staying clear of this hot mess.)

I love the echo of the Septum/cathedral collapse/burn as Cersei watches the attack on King’s Landing, but it’s a fire that’s eventually spreading to HER. And she seems to realize it too late—seems like someone forgot about caches of wildfire, too… God, Drogon is a force of destructive wonder. The Scorpions have all been destroyed, it seems. And even Frankenmaester tries to explain to her that they’ve been out-maneuvered, but Cersei, for all her bull-headedness, refuses to see the trees for the forest.

Drogon blows a fiery demarcation line throughout the city as Cersei tells herself she’s still won. Somehow. (Girl. Ya toast.)

Boy bands hardened up since One Direction, whoa.

Jon and Grey Worm march on the city until they reach the shaking Lannister line where Tyrion joins them. Jaime makes his way through the city as Drogon flies overhead, striking fear (rightly) into the hearts of everyone who bears witness. The Lannister army throws down their weapons. There are still miles to go to the Red Keep, however. The calls to ring the bell sound among the people as Dany rides Drogon, hovering over the city.

Dany HAS tried to minimize human life here. I want to point that out. Up to this point, she did.

And the bell rings.

Ho, don’t do it.

Cersei sighs—this isn’t ringing for a wedding. Dany sees the Red Keep just ahead. Her family built that. It represents the wheel, though, and I have to say it: SHE SAID SHE’D BREAK THE WHEEL. Looks like she’s gonna break more than that and burn it all down. She leads Drogon to the Red Keep, blasting a few spots and people on the way, to Tyrion’s disgust and dismay. (Grey Worm, is should be noted, is okay with this.)

Jon, however, is totally not okay with this. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BONE FAMILY AND MAKE BABIES. Important things get lost in the DNA. Lort I can HEAR Dany’s prions misfolding as I type. The war continues, even after an honorable surrender. Jon forces his men to stop. Grey Worm has nothing to live for, and fights like it will bring his love back. (Spoiler alert: it won’t.)

There is absolute chaos on the streets, and this isn’t what Jon (nor Davos) signed up for. This is, however, war!! War is really awful! Thanks, I hate it! And this is why Jon wanted to retire in the North with Ghost and the Wildlings. And I support it! Save yourselves!

Drogon (and Dany) continue a path of destruction on their way to the Red Keep, with Cersei watching it all. Jaime runs through the secret places he knows to get to his sister and runs into Euron who can’t help himself but pull up his convos with Cersei to goad Jaime into a fight. It’s a brutal fucking street fight, but Jaime has his newfound honor (lol) to defend. He’s going out as a man who Brienne can sing about. (No, I KNOW this isn’t the case. LET ME HAVE THIS. But no, Jaime’s honor is to the first person he made a promise to, and unfortunately, it’s his sister.)

And if I may, Euron isn’t worthy of this battle. He’s a piece of shit walking dick pic. A usurper and a bit of human trash. And it isn’t clear who won, dammit.

Frankenmaester tries to encourage Cersei that it’s not safe and they should leave. He’s the one man left she trusts. Him and The Mountain. (More stores of wildfire begin to explode.)

MOTHER FUCKER if Jaime Lannister is bested by Euron fucking Greyjoy….. OH GOOD. GUTTED by SHEER WILL. God bless you, Jaime. He’s been stabbed, though. Fuck. (But we didn’t think Jaime would survive, did we?? I didn’t. Raise your hand if you thought he would make it.)

Jaime waves goodbye to his last shred of dignity.

The Hound wants Arya to leave. He knows this is all a death sentence. But he doesn’t understand that Arya is better trained for assassination and chaos than he is. She has the temperament. The Hound feels too much. Arya doesn’t feel anymore. Not like that, and isn’t that a neat flip of characterization from their first times together? She appreciates him caring, however. She came to die and take a life with her, and she intends to follow through. Oh, my sweet, precious Murder Teen…

The city falling around Cersei is amazing. And fitting. This is the future you brought, Missy. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? And FUCKING CLEGANE BOWL IS HAPPENING. I HAVE THIS T-SHIRT. Will the Mountain honor Cersei or his animosity???

ANIMOSITY FOR THE WIN. Also, farewell Frankenmaester as The Mountain throws him aside to get to his little brother, much to Cersei’s shock. Looks like The Hound came to die, too, and plans on taking out a specific life with him as Cersei passes them both in escape. (Smart.)

CLEGANE BOWL!! The city falls around them as they battle. Mountain doesn’t even look like himself, except Sandor recognizes him. He even impales his brother on his sword but… The Mountain is beyond normal laws of man. Oh god. You know what this means, right? Fire. It had to be this ending for the Hound. Had to be.

And wow, King’s Landing cracking and splitting is something to behold. Cersei trembling in fear is another. And Jaime approaches in the map room. She looks relieved? Shocked? Happy? He goes to her, holds her, his twin, his lover, the mother of his children. When he sees her, he sees the worst in himself, a being to which he’s been entwined and trapped for his entire life. Well, looks like he is a man of honor after all: he’s honoring the very first commitment he ever made, which was to live, breathe and die by his sister’s side. He’s done too much to be granted a life with Brienne. And… and that’s why Brienne cried. She knew.

Arya makes her way through the city and we bear witness to the destruction of Dany’s war. (To be fair, it’s Cersei’s war, as well.) The Hound also struggles to move forward as Arya does. Our heroes are at their low. And in this show, we know it’s not always fair, the outcome.

True, Sandor fights to the end, his brother a metaphor for every evil in his life: a brutish outcome he can’t overcome. The Mountain bashes his head, Sandor withstands every stab, every blow, keeps fighting even as his brother begins to pop his eyeballs until Sandor gets in a head shot. Semi-blinded but knowing this is a now-or-never moment, Sandor tackles his brother and they fall into a city on fire, the one sure way to destroy the Mountain.

Well. We knew it couldn’t end with both surviving. At least Sandor went out with a fucking vengeance and killed his abuser. That’s a trend I like the show taking, for sure.

But like. Dany really doesn’t need to keep burning the city. At all. And the look exchanged between Jon and Davos tells us they know it, too. DANY, DAMMIT. You’ve become an:

Jon tells his people to fall back to save themselves. King’s Landing looks to be in ruins, as does Arya, covered in ash. (Awesome metaphor, by the way.) Her panicked face as she runs in terror from the ruins is something I won’t soon forget. She looks aged beyond her years. And as she looks at the survivors, she remembers who she is and what she came to do. She leads innocents to safety… Oh. Hmm. Maybe not. (The realities of war are pretty intense.)

Also, god dammit, Dany.

Jaime leads Cersei to the path Tyrion told him about, except it’s closed in and wow. I really thought… Jaime. JAIME. I REALLY THOUGHT LAST WEEK YOU LEFT HER. I DEFENDED YOU. I STOOD UP FOR YOU.


He and Cersei are trapped below the Keep. She admits she’s carrying his child. “Please don’t let me die.” Oh, you selfish bitch. You selfish, selfish woman. “Nothing else matters. Only us.”

I MEAN. He DID tell us who he was. He did. We just didn’t believe him.

Dragonfire blasts through the crypt and they’re gone. FUCK YOU, THAT’S IT!?

Okay, this is… I’m going to say it. This is poor writing. I NEVER SAY THAT, but I’m saying it for this. This is the one time I’ll say feels rushed. I truly could buy the other bits but. Cersei doesn’t deserve to die in her brother’s arms. Jaime doesn’t deserve to die with his true love in his arms. BOO HISS.

Arya comes to outside the city, shaken, covered in blood and ash, cut and damaged. Maybe marrying Gendry would have been better… She’s almost unrecognizable, as is the burned body of a horse. One still lives, and lol no way in hell a horse would stand still amidst all that destruction (unless Bran warged into it, and now I’ve decided that’s the truth). Will she take it and ride to freedom? She rides to… something.

Terrifying, this.

(Dany is noticeably absent among all of this destruction, I’d like to point out. She’s literally half a mile above it, safe on Drogon.)

I don’t even know what to think. Nothing I thought would happen happened. Which… is a good thing in many ways.

Tell me your thoughts.

Over/under on Jon blasting Dany with a harpoon at the end? The real enemies were the friends we made along the way?? UGH. THE ROAD TO VENGEANCE ALWAYS ENDS IN MISERY.

Guys, I’m one of the most RELENTLESSLY POSITIVE PEOPLE in fandom, and I’m… disheartened. Mostly because I thought Jaime’s character arc was real and that proved to be false, so take that for what you will. Like, damn. You really can’t trust a man, haha. And also I believed Dany would overcome losing everyone who grounded her because she’d learned from them along the way. But.


BONUS POINTS: Euron is dead? Ugh.

I mean, the joke’s on me because the show has TOLD US FROM THE BEGINNING it’s nihilism in cinematic form and ha, I should have listened. If you think there’s a happy ending… you haven’t been paying attention.

ME, TOO, TYRION. Me freaking too.