Previously, on recapping Game of Thrones…
This week, Sansa Snark presents:
Season 8, Episode 5: The Bells
EVERYONE DIED!? Whoa, crazy! And there’s been leaks that next week’s episode is just going to be 90 minutes of a black screen while Benioff and Weiss read the script for the pilot of Confederate? WILD.
Ha, just kidding, what I meant to say was:
Didn’t like this one either! I can hear my neighbors watching the episode now, should I go over there and warn them? Hang on…
They didn’t appreciate my intrusion and think I should go to sleep. Ha, fools! How can I sleep when there’s an extremely popular television show to make fun of as it bounces on its belly like a rotund seal across the finish line. Where do I even begin? Let’s just run through it and try to have fun…
So, Varys is dead. Guilty of wanting to do a treason when no one else was down. He felt unsure about Daenerys as a leader because she’s an unstable woman, while feeling very sure about Jon as a leader because he gave a good speech one time. Maybe if Varys had actually seen Jon’s sketchy-at-best leadership “style” out on the battlefield, he would have felt differently. Maybe he’d still be alive, maybe we wouldn’t be where we are at episode’s end. Let this be a lesson to everyone to perform due diligence and do a bit of research before casting a vote in any election, primary, referendum, Twitter poll, or Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards category.
Anyway, Daenerys finds out that Jon told Sansa told Tyrion told Varys about Jon’s secret heritage, and that Varys is trying to start a secret whisper against her. Tyrion actually does the snitching, tattling on his oldest and almost best — probably in the top three — friend out of duty to his Queen. Despondent and angry over everything that’s been happenin, Dany does a “dracarys” on Varys, instantly turning him into a roast. Bye Varys! Sure hope you were wrong about Daenerys being the incorrect choice to sit on the Iron Throne!
For his part, Jon silently reacts to Varys’ execution with a look that screams “Maybe I should have done a treason!” When he goes to see Daenerys later however, he continues to swear to Hardhome and back that he wants no part of the throne and that she is his queen.
“But honey, didn’t I tell you that this would happen if you told your sister.” All of this just reinforces for Daenerys that there is no love for her in Westeros, which means her only option left is fear. Jon tries to tamp things down by re-assuring her for the billionth time, “Like, I like love you, okay? You’ll always like, be my queen, y’know?” He of course, says all this while not making eye contact and kicking some dirt with his shoe. Of course, he means that he loves her like a family member, because when Dany wants to make out, he shies away from it. To which Dany figures, well, fear it is then. Ohhhh, the emotionally unstable woman turned evil because she got rebuffed by a man, got it.
Captured and made a prisoner by Daenerys’ men, Jaime receives a visit from Tyrion. Turns out, trying to sneak across battle lines when you’re the only person in the world with a gold hand makes you easy to recognize. Maybe Jaime should have put on that handy (pun intended) glove he utilized last season to cover the fake hand. That would be too rational though, and Jaime, well he’s not thinking too rationally right about now. Over the span of two episodes and like maybe 10 minutes of screen-time, Jaime has reverted back to being obsessed with Cersei and only Cersei. Sorry Brienne, see you again never!
For all his recent failings as a strategist and advisor, Tyrion remains loyal. Loyal to his Queen, but also — in spite of all the hell that it has brought him — loyal to his family. His direct pleas to Cersei last week may have failed, but Tyrion still wants to save the sister who has always reviled him. Through it all, he does not wish for her death. His pitch to Jaime: First, of course, ring those bells, signal the surrender. Second, get to Cersei and escape King’s Landing through the underground room with the dragon skulls. Third, escape to Pentos in a dinghy Davos will be mildly inconvenienced in acquiring. Fourth, start a new life. Fifth, swear to me you’ll do this. Jaime swears, and the two exchange a heartfelt goodbye (one that definitely marks the last time Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau acted in a scene together.) What could possibly go wrong?
Tyrion’s main concern with this impending battle is the innocent people of King’s Landing. Throughout, he keeps harping on the city’s network of bells, as their ringing will signal the city’s surrender, its casting aside of Cersei in hopes of mercy. He tells Dany on the eve of the battle, call off the attack if you hear the bells, give the people a chance. He tells Jaime to give the order to ring the bells and save the city. He tells Jon that when he hears the bells, it means that the city has surrendered. He tells so many people about these damn bells, you just know that the sounding of the bells is totally going to work!
On the morning of the battle — love me some high-definition daytime action — everyone is commencing final preparations. The Iron Fleet and the Lannister men prep their large crossbows, which as we know fire bolts at a rapid speed and are able to hit moving targets at a great distance with ease. Surely, they will play a big factor in this battle. Everyone from the Golden Company, who we know oh so much about coming in to this, take up their positions opposite Dany’s army. Goes without saying, surely they too will play a big factor. I mean come on, they’re the finest sellswords in the land. Cersei isn’t going to throw thousands of gold coin away for men who can be easily dispatched in one fell swoop, is she? Her incredibly thought out and well-realized master plan is coming together right before her eyes, as she stands at a window in the Red Keep looking very pleased and ready to chill.
Arya and The Hound — two very notable, noticeable faces — waltz in with no issues. Jaime is sneaking in too — you can tell because he has a hood on — and it’s the first recorded instance in Westeros history where his dumb, luminescent gold hand doesn’t immediately get him recognized and/or caught. Top secret stuff!
Now, our dynamic duo manage to make it through the gates and into the general Red Keep area, preventing a mother and her young daughter from doing the same in the process. Unfortunately for Jaime, he is too far back in the pack and never stands a chance of making it in, even as he waves his shiny prosthetic in the air. This hereby marks the second recorded instance in Westeros history where Jaime’s silly, metallic appendage doesn’t immediately get him recognized and/or caught. He’ll have to find another way to Cersei, who at this point is still doing a lot of looking at things. Lena Headey probably deserves an Emmy at this point for her portrayal of Cersei, least of all because she is very convincing at fake-looking at things.
Suddenly, a gentle sea breeze begins to blow and Euron looks up to the sky, knowing that dragon time is at hand. Woof, after killing Rhaegal with the proficiency and swagger of Damian Lillard hitting a 37-foot stepback buzzer beater, Euron and the boys turn in a Shaq at the free throw line-ass performance when it really counts. Every large-and-fast arrow misses Daenerys and Drogon by miles, as the entire Iron Fleet gets wiped out in like 20 seconds and Euron is launched into the sea.
Honestly, it doesn’t get much harder from there as Daenerys and Drogon also take out everyone stationed atop the walls. The Golden Company hear the rumblings and start to look concerned, as they should, because soon after, the gate behind them explodes in a massive fireball, killing them all. Well, pretty much all of them, save for that one guy (whose name I’m not even going to bother looking up because all he represents are false promises and a lack of elephants, so I’ll just make one up instead.) You know, Jared Golden, owner of the Golden Company? Yeah he lives, but is then dead soon after via a Grey Worm spear. So much Lannister gold just right down the drain here. Our heroes storm the city and it’s a total rampage. We get a horse-mounted camera shot, someone stabs a burn victim, it’s great television.
Cersei continues to look on as if everything is going to plan. Ah yes, Cersei’s master plan, this ought to be a doozy! Qyburn slithers in to break a string of bad news. In a dark and escalating game of one-upmanship, Qyburn tells her something important to their side has been destroyed, Cersei says “that’s okay, we still have X,” to which Qyburn tells her that thing also has been destroyed. The large crossbows, the Iron Fleet, the Golden Company, the gates to the city. No worries for Cersei though, the Lannister army will fight harder than sellswords ever could. The Lannister army throw down their swords soon after. Oh.
Huh, so actually Cersei was just delusional over her own chances this whole time? Hmm. Alright. Actually this makes more sense the more I dwell on it, that she would be totally overconfident and essentially look past Daenerys to a lifetime of Iron Throne sitting. It was just that we spent next to no time with Cersei at all in this truncated season with extra-long episodes, so we never really got a sense of where things were at in her head, so the moment kind of feels out of nowhere, leaving us with a sense of “I mean… sure, but” bafflement.
Meanwhile, it’s a standoff in the streets. The Lannister men have thrown down their arms, and both sides are kind of waiting to see what happens next. After many calls to ring the bells, someone does ring the bells, and everyone kind of loosens up a bit. At last, the horror is over. Short-lived, but horror all the same. Now we can avoid any more needless bloodshed, the last thing the realms of man need at this point in their fractured history.
Ohhh, but. But, but, but. Daenerys gets that look in her eye, one befitting of a sudden but inevitable villainous turn. Yeah, Daenerys turns heel, breaks bad, whatever you want to call it, and starts burning down the city and incinerating civilians. Horrifying as that sounds, it only gets worse. Grey Worm takes Dany’s actions as a signal and throws his spear into a defenseless Lannister soldier. Cue the massacre as the Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northeners unleash a murderous rage. Jon attempts to hold some men back — earning a glare from Grey Worm — and Davos tries to help people escape, but the fact remains: the good guys are the bad guys now, you can tell because they’re doing bad things. Folks, it’s not great! Completely shellshocked, Jon is at a loss. MAYBE HE SHOULD HAVE DONE A TREASON.
While the destruction reigns down, Jaime — equipped with a sword he kind of just found lying around — finds his escape boat. He heads off to find Cersei but of course, OF COURSE, who stumbles onto shore at the last possible second but Euron Greyjoy. Delusional as ever, he let’s Jaime know that he “fucked the Queen,” which he thinks makes him King, meaning that if Jaime can kill him, Jaime will become the Double Kingslayer. If Euron wins though, don’t worry, Jaime’s head will be brought to Cersei so he can kiss her one last time. So, they fight.
Both lose their swords rather quickly, and Euron performs a sick spinebuster on Jaime, which is literally the only good thing he does in his time on Game of Thrones. Eventually, Euron thinks he’s won after stabbing Jaime multiple time, only for Jaime to grab a sword and stab Euron once, very fatally. Euron is still on his “I’m a King now” bullshit, and let’s Jaime know that he can add another King to his list of slayings. Sure. Then, in an episode full of baffling decisions, Euron says, “But I got you. I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister…” as he looks up into the sky and directly into the camera. Like what? Why is this second-rate pirate getting an ending befitting of like, a lovable scamp who’s good-natured wit we will all miss now that he’s been killed off? Makes no god damn sense.
Qyburn finally convinces Cersei they need to go. She’s now despondent at the window, her facade cracked. At this same time, Arya and The Hound get all the way into The Red Keep before The Hound decides to convince Arya she should leave. The Hound has been after revenge his whole life, does she really want to end up tall and scarred like him? And just like that, Arya re-discovers her humanity, because having a face that looks like The Hound’s is a fate worse than death. She thanks her friend Sandor (aww) and heads out.
Which of course means that it’s now time for CLEGANEBOWL. Hound versus Mountain, Sandor versus Gregor, Clegane versus Clegane, on A STAIRCASE. The Mountain is forced to abandon Cersei’s side to fight his brother, because this is apparently what their character arcs have been building to. The allure of CleganeBowl is too strong. This pisses off Qyburn who gets unceremoniously and matter-of-factly murdered. Okay then. Cersei wants no part of this and sashays past the brothers, right outta there. Wouldn’t want to get caught in the crossfire of two large dudes pounding on each other.
And pound they do. The Mountain gets his helmet knocked off, and we finally get to see that he looks like a Goomba from the 1993 film Super Mario Bros.
That or a really ugly baby. God, he looks so f’ing stupid, it’s so distracting. On a pure spectacle level, this fight is the most ridiculous thing to ever happen on the show. That being said, it’s also incredibly dumb.
Sandor stabs Gregor multiple times but it literally has no effect. He’s not mad about it. No, actually he finds all of this hilarious, and starts to crack up knowing that he’s definitely going to die soon. Gregor lifts his brother up and does his signature eye gouge move that got such rave reviews back when he smushed Oberyn’s entire head. Fortunately, Sandor’s head remains intact as he manages to stab Gregor through the eye, staggering him long enough to allow Sandor to tackle him through what remains of a wall. The brothers fall to their deaths in each other’s arms. Love wins!
Cersei sashays directly into Jaime’s arms, right on the giant floor map where they parted last season. That was under less than ideal circumstances, not that reuniting at the end of the god damn world is any better. Still, this is a tearful reunion for the two of them. Despite turning fully evil and unredeemable, Cersei seems to now be a completely sympathetic character, terrified for the life of her and her unborn child. A tough pill to swallow but I mean, sure, what’s one more fast forwarded character arc at this point?
The two head off together, towards the exit Tyrion told Jaime to take. Only, when they get there, it’s been completely covered with rubble! Fantastic! They embrace one last time as Jaime reminds Cersei of their old motto, “Nothing else matters, only us.” And then it’s the satisfying end for these characters we’ve all been waiting for: THEY GET PRESUMABLY CRUSHED TO DEATH BY FALLING CGI DEBRIS. Hell yeah! That’s the emotional payoff I crave! Love when I get too lazy to write full seasons of my hit television show, so I just speed through to an ending for top-billed characters that should be poetic and tragic, but instead feels rushed and unfulfilling. LOVE IT.
Even more rubble is falling outside as the city crumbles, and Arya tries to escape the ever-continuing carnage. Like, how much fire is one dragon able to breathe? Does Daenerys realize that she’s going to have to actually rebuild all of this stuff?
Arya keeps running into the mother and daughter she and The Hound accidentally doomed earlier on. She tries to save them, but ultimately they meet the fate of countless others. Things are beyond saving. It’s absolute chaos. By the end, Arya literally appears to be the last person standing, covered in soot and blood. She sees what appear to be the charred corpses of the mother and daughter and it’s crushing.
But then, out of seemingly nowhere, a horse. Where it came from, who knows, but it’s a pretty good looking horse! Like it’s body looks all messed up, but the mane is looking FRESH. Reaching out to the horse in a way that’s supposed to convey something artistic and deep, like that there’s still beauty in this world amongst the overwhelming darkness, Arya makes a connection, mounts the horse, and rides off. Okay. This is the end of the post and I feel insane running through this entire episode again. Here’s to them 65% sticking the landing next week. It’s about all we can ask for.
Spare thoughts to heal a nation divided over whether this episode was a masterpiece or total shit:
-If you liked this episode you’re wrong, but also my opinion on your opinion doesn’t matter. Enjoy the things you like.
-For me, another week where it’s clear Benioff and Weiss didn’t have enough ideas to write a full season’s worth of episodes and character arcs, so they just give us all these unearned BIG moments that are being held together by a bee’s dick of narrative. Meanwhile, we’re like “Uhh, okay thanks I guess, you got to where we thought things would be, but can you please show your work?”
-I seriously still can’t believe they almost let these writers make Confederate. Who better to handle the nuances of race in America than the two guys who have upended years of character development just to get to end of the story already because they’re bored.
-Cersei crying at the window was a lot like when Trump won the election in that we all got so cocky and were just drinking our way through the night, sitting, waiting for the assured good news of a breakthrough that never arrived, so the only thing left to do was cry.
-Apologies for that one paragraph where I decided to start calling The Hound and The Mountain by their actual names. Seemed more appropriate.
-Looking forward to the moment of calm after next week’s victory where Bronn shows up to murder Tyrion.
–Boy, Watchmen seems weird. What is it, a prequel, a sequel, what’s going on? Multiple Rorschachs, what’s the story there?
-I currently rate my anger at this show at a “Mad I’m awake at 1:30 AM writing about it instead of sleeping soundly after an evening of watching well-written shows like Barry or Killing Eve” out of 10.
-Speaking of well-written shows, the series finale of Veep was great!
I am dead, but only one more to go! Wow. Follow me on Twitter here and on Instagram here. If you want to read more of my work, I write about music for Tiny Mix Tapes and about pro wrestling for Fansided. Check out any and all prior editions of Sansa Snark here. Sorry for any weird ads, I don’t have enough money to pay for a premium WordPress. Until next time!