Game of Thrones: Season 8 Episode 5 – The Bells (Recap & Review)

Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the entire fifth episode of season 8, as well as all preceding episodes. I won’t list the cast of the main characters, only the bit players or interesting additions.

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I don’t know if this has been in the opening credits before, but I liked it.

Alone in a dark chamber at Dragonstone, Varys writes a note, proclaiming Jon as Aegon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne. He is visited by a young kitchen staff, who tells Varys that Daenerys is refusing to eat, distraught over the death of Missandei, and Varys suggests the two “try again at supper” implying he seeks to poison Daenerys. When Jon later arrives on the island, Varys seeks to persuade Jon to take the Iron Throne, revealing to Jon that Varys knows his true heritage, but Jon refuses to betray Daenerys. Tyrion goes to tell Daenerys of Varys’ plot, and Daenerys has Varys executed for treason.

Daenerys gifts Grey Worm Missandei’s former shackles, and Grey Worm casts them into the fireplace. Jon and Daenerys discuss how Dany didn’t want Jon tot ell Sansa of his true heritage, because Sansa has now told Tyrion, who told Varys, who has been executed. Daenerys knows that if word was to get out, the people of Westeros would prefer Jon to take the Throne than she would. In the Dragonstone throne room, Daenerys informs Grey Worm and Tyrion that they are to attack King’s Landing. Tyrion implores Daenerys to call of the attack if King’s Landing surrenders, signified by the ringing of the city bells. Daenerys tells Tyrion that if he fails her again, he will be executed.

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Daenerys and Drogon, about to get lit with Varys (feat. Lil’ Jon)

Landing near King’s Landing, Jon and Tyrion meet with Davos, and it is decided that the Last War will begin at first light. Once alone, Tyrion requests a favour from Davos. The Hound and Arya leave the camp for King’s Landing, Arya intending to kill Cersei before the war begins, and THe Hound seeking out his older brother. Tyrion goes to Jamie, now taken prisoner as he attempted to return to King’s Landing, where Tyrion frees Jamie, with Jamie promising to take Cersei and leave King’s Landing via a secret doorway, escaping in a boat set up by Davos.

In the Bay of the Blackwater, Euron waits on his Flahship, the Silence, surrounded by the Iron Fleet. Separately, Arya and the Hound, and Jamie seek to enter the Red Keep, but only Arya and the Hound make it inside before the gates are shut, forcing Jamie to take the long way around, through the passage mentioned by Tyrion. On the back of Drogon, Daenerys tactically strafes and obliterates the Iron Fleet, before demolishing the scorpion ballistae atop the castle walls, and then destroying the front gate from the inside, massacring a huge portion of the Golden Company army outside. Grey Worm and Jon lead the foot soldiers into battle, with Grey Worm seizing the first kill, as he impales Harry Strickland.

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Dragons make for the most aesthetically pleasing screenshots. Must be the wings.

Entering the city, the remaining Dothraki cavalry and Unsullied sweep the streets, with the Lannister soldiers and Golden Company mercenaries no match for their force. From the Red Keep, Cersei refuses to accept the dire situation she finds herself in, and only concedes when Qyburn informs her that all the ballistae have been destroyed, the Iron Fleet is in flame and the gates have been breached. Jon and Grey Worm come face to face with the remainder of Cersei’s forces, who soon drop their weapons in submission and sound the bells across the city to indicate a surrender.

However, Daenerys ignored the bells, and begins a wholesale slaughter of eveyrbody inside King’s Landing, Lannister soldiers and civilians both. Seeing this, the Dothraki and Unsullied, and even some of Jon’s soldiers, begin to join the massacre, killing unarmed soldiers, and raping and murdering the civlians. Davos attempts to rescue whoever he can, and Jon manages to save one non-combatant, though he is forced to kill one of his own men to do so.

Jamie finally reaches the passageway Tyrion mentioned, but before he can get anywhere, he is interrupted by Euron, who has swam ashore following the destruction of his fleet. Euron baites Jamie into battle, and though Jamie is severely outmatches, and is severely wounded in the fight, Euron is left for dead, as Jamie heads up towards the Red Keep. In the map room of the Red Keep, The Hound sends Arya away, telling her that she deserves better than the life of revenge he has lived. As Cersei, Qyburn and Ser Gregor escape the crumbling Red Keep, the Hound comes face to face with his big brother, one final time.

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This looks like a Dark Souls boss fight, and I FUCKING LOVE IT.

Disobeying Cersei’s orders, Gregor crushes Qyburn against the debris, before facing off with The Hound, as Cersei continues her escape. The brothers clash, with the Hound’s strikes having little effect on the undead brute, and the Mountain even shrugging off being impaled through the midsection. As Cersei arrives in the decaying map room, she is greeted by Jamie, and the two share a tender embrace before continuing their escape. In the city below, Arya attempts to escape as Daenerys continues to incinerate the city and its inhabitants. As the Mountain seeks to crush his younger brother’s head, the Hound accepts his fate, and ploughs through the ruined walls, sending himself and his brother into the inferno below.

Jon orders a full retreat, as unbeknown to him, Arya continues to struggle through the imploding city. Coming across a group of survivors hiding in a small room, Arya tells them to flee, but the majority of them do not make it far, as Daenerys’ rampage continues. In the crypts below King’s Landing, Cersei and Jamie find themselves trapped, and Jamie consoles his sister for the final time as they are crushed by by the ceiling. Arya awakes in the rubble to see the city destroyed, burning, and covered in ash. Finding one surviving horse, she rides out of the ruins of the once great city.

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+ the overlapping ramblings of various characters, as Daenerys twitched and scowled following Missandei’s beheading in the episode recap was fantastic, and as cheesy as it may have been, that should have been in last week’s episode
+ was the implication that the little girl with Varys in the beginning that she was attempting to poison Dany? Varys said “well try again at supper”.
+ how lovely to see Daenerys has learned to use Drogon, particularly his maneuverability, more effectively. SHame she didn’t feel like thinking too hard when the zombies were attacking…
+ there sure was a lot of blood once the “good guys” began their slaughter party. I guess they had some blood left over from the Battle of Winterfell, since none of the wights bled
+ Arya looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and hell(fire) was following with him.

– the recap for the episode had the line, “Every time a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin”, and then in the episode proper, Varys said this, but replaced “flip” with “toss”. It made me irrationally mad that they would bring up that line, just to have it misquoted.
– how was it that last episode, Euron was able to hit Rhaegal, a moving target, from behind a rock, from at least a kilometre away with like four ballistae, but this time, Drogon was able to dodge every bolt from every scorpion on the ships and the wall
– Arya’s entire arc, for approximately 7 season now, has been revenge on those on her list. Unless we are going to see Ser Ilyn Payne in the next episode (note: not likely), then she sure gave up that quest quickly and easily. I thought at least the Hound would choke her out, or knock her out Vegeta/Kid Trunks style from Dragon Ball Z
– I don’t quite understand why the Stark soldiers went bonkers in the city. Was it bloodlust, or did they just, in that moment, decide that raping and pillaging was a better way of life for them?
– first Stannis, now Euron. Not showing him die for real is just fuelling my fire that they will both be back at some point
– what a missed opportunity to have half of Arya’s face burned by dragonfire, in the exact way that the Hound wanted to avoid her becoming like him. Sometimes a show, and particularly an episode, like this need some cliches

> Basically, if this episode had happened before the Battle of Winterfell, and then at the very end of this episode, it suddenly started snowing, and the Night King arrived (because, oh no, we’ve all been too busy fighting over some silly chair that we didn’t focus on the real issue, climate chan- I mean, the Night King) things may have been better. As it stands now, the two largest wars in the history of Westeros, as we’re led to believe, have started and finished in one episode a piece.
> an entire episode without Sansa or Bran. Thank god those left alive – meaning Tormund, Ghost, Sam, Gilly, Gendry and Stannis – didn’t have to put up with that

Final thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this episode. Not because so many main characters dies, because I think we can all agree that’s not what the show is about any more, but because the people who died did so due to the situations they found themselves in. There was not (as much as usual) plot armour on display, with only Arya, really, getting out of things better than we may expect. All I know is I’ve been dead certain of two things for years and years now: one is that Cleganebowl was absolutely CONFIRMED and none of you had faith in me, and the other was that Dany was going to go Mad Queen, and my utter hatred of her character to this point was proof of that.

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