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Everything Burns

Game of Thrones “The Bells” Review

My head is still spinning from what I just saw, but I think I can still sum it up in a few words: what. The heck. Just happened? I will tell you what happened. We just saw one of our favorite characters on Game of Thrones cross the line from benevolent ruler into full-on tyrant. We saw an entire city burned to the ground, and a few of the show’s longest running characters die, some of them in a stupid and unsatisfying fashion.

First, though, let’s address the giant, fire-breathing elephant in the room: Daenerys Targaryen. As the show has progressed, she has become one of my favorite characters. We’ve seen her be ruthless towards her enemies, but we’ve also seen how kind she can be to those she calls her friends. She sincerely wanted to give the people she ruled a better life, and inspired genuine loyalty in people.

Ever since she came to Westeros, though, the show seemed determined to break her. She lost her main allies, then she lost Viserion, Jorah, Rhaegal, and Missandei in rapid succession. By the time we see her in this episode, she’s broken and vengeful. Most people would feel like that. But what she does in the climax of this episode makes her cross the line into becoming the very thing she swore she wouldn’t.

Varys spent the last two episodes trying to bring Daenerys to her senses, only for his pleas to fall on deaf ears. So when he learns that Jon’s the true heir to the Iron Throne, he goes behind Dany’s back and tries to back Jon. That leads to the spider’s demise, though, as Daenerys sentences him to death by Drogon. I liked Varys a lot; he was one of the few people on the show who stood up for the little guy. His death also made me think the spoilers I heard about on Reddit were true.

They were only half right in the end. On to the moment we’ve been waiting for: the fall of King’s Landing.

The last episodes made it seem like Daenerys and Cersei were more evenly matched: she lost a lot of her forces fighting the White Walkers, she lost most of her fleet, and then Rhaegal. Cersei, meanwhile, had the Golden Company, the Iron Fleet, and lined the city walls with Scorpions.

This is what said walls looked like after after Dany was done.

The plot for the episode may have been terrible, but it had some of the best cinematography in the show’s entire run.

Instead of getting another Blackwater, the “Battle of King’s Landing” is more of a total butt-whooping. The Scorpions suddenly become useless as Drogon levels the walls and Daenerys’ armies mow down the Golden Company. The Lannister soldiers are no match against the enemy and just get cut down until they decide to lay down their arms and surrender the city. For a brief moment, it seems like King’s Landing will be spared further bloodshed. But then Daenerys chooses to ignore that and set Drogon on the Red Keep, burning thousands of innocent civilians and prompting her army to sack the city.

Even Grey Worm gets in on it, killing the Lannister soldiers even after they surrendered. All Jon, Tyrion, and Davos can do is watch helplessly. It gets worse, though. Drogon ends up igniting the wildfire caches below the city, setting the city even further ablaze.

Amidst all this, Arya and the Hound make it inside the Red Keep to kill Cersei and the Mountain, despite that almost certainly leading to their deaths. This gave us one of the episode’s better moments as the Hound manages to talk some sense into Arya, telling her revenge isn’t worth what it does to people. It’s something Arya’s needed to hear for a long time, and the fact that its coming from the Hound give it the most impact. Arya decides to abandon her quest for vengeance and return home, but not before calling the Hound by his name, Sandor, for the first and last time. It’s a very touching moment that almost made me cry.

As for Sandor, he finally got to face his brother in the Cleganebowl. And honestly, it was anticlimactic. The duel between Oberyn Martell and the Mountain was cooler than this. As the Red Keep crumbled and burned, the two brothers dueled to the death, though there wasn’t anything left of the Mountain to kill. In the end, the only way Sandor could kill his zombie-brother was by throwing them both out the tower into the fires below.

First and last Cleganebowl. Winner: technically a draw, but I’d give it to Sandor since he’s the one who pushed them both to their deaths.

The worst part of the entire episode, though, was how it ended the stories of Jaime and Cersei Lannister. After throwing away all his character development to go back to Cersei, the two reunite after Jaime kills Euron Greyjoy (who died smiling because he thought he killed the Kingslayer). Instead of killing her like so many wanted to see, they just reaffirm their incestuous love for each other as they try to escape. Instead, though, they end up dying in the crypts as the roof collapses thanks to Drogon and Daenerys.

Ever since I started watching this show, I wanted to see Cersei Lannister die for her crimes, but with the way the show kills her, I feel robbed! Cheated! I wanted to see her face justice for what she wrought, but instead I felt pity for her crying about not wanting to die. It seemed like a lazy, rushed ending to one of the best characters in the show. That’s right, I called Cersei one of the best.

So it looks like nobody wins in the Last War, and everybody loses. King’s Landing’s in ruins, and it will take decades to rebuild the city. Two of the series big story arcs end up stumbling to the finish line, and Daenerys did just what her father would do. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO TO ROOT FOR ANYMORE!!

The one glimmer of light was the cinematography in the sack of King’s Landing. The overhead shot as Drogon was burning everything was a pleasure to look at, but the real highlight was the shaky camera moments seen through Arya Stark as she just tries to survive. The people who did that deserve an award.

Arya also manages to survive, and thanks to a Deus Ex Horse, she leaves King’s Landing behind. I want her to go back to Winterfell or just spend her life with Gendry, or find some measure of peace. But if the theories are to be right, she may have had added Daenerys to her list.

Its official: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark. I don’t know if it did it in the last episode or this one, but it has. Thankfully, the show has only one episode left, so we don’t have to worry too much about seeing it post-shark-jump. The downside is that there’s no way they can resolve all the show’s plot threads in that time. It’s impossible. I pray that the show can still end on a high note, but I don’t even know anymore.

There’s only one week left before the series finale which will decide where Game of Thrones will stand in the history books. As of now, though, I’m more looking forward to the series finale of Star vs. The Forces of Evil, which comes on that morning.

I Give “The Bells” a 2/5. Burn it All

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