The Last War happened, taking with it our hope for a brighter future on Game of Thrones, but like Ramsay Bolton said, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” Here’s our review of “The Bells”!
“The Bells” was a lot, y’all. A LOT.
When I realized this was my episode to recap, my final episode of Game of Thrones to recap, Loki immediately popped into my head.
“I am burdened with glorious purpose.”
I can’t say that I loved this episode, and that hurts my heart. I feel like Game of Thrones has always been consistent with tying up loose ends in believable ways or getting characters to certain points or deaths that fit, but this wasn’t it.
“The Bells” fell short, and I think it will forever be known for ruining character development that took eight seasons to create.
Let’s start at the beginning…
At Dragonstone, Varys is doing what he feels is best for the Seven Kingdoms and is sending scrolls detailing Jon’s claim to the throne. We even find out that he’s attempting to poison Daenerys with the help of a child from Winterfell.
When Jon arrives, he attempts to sway Jon to his side. Daenerys isn’t the one who should be on the throne.
“What do you want?”
“All I’ve ever wanted. The right ruler on the Iron Throne. I still don’t know how her coin has landed, but I’m quite certain about yours.”
“I don’t want it. I never have.”
“I have known more kings and queens than any man living. I’ve heard what they say to crowds, and seen what they do in the shadows. I have furthered their designs, however horrible. But what I tell you now is true: You will rule wisely and well, while she–”
“She is my queen.”
Jon, in all his Ned Stark-ness, tells Varys that she’s his Queen, and he doesn’t want the throne. You can tell Varys is frustrated by this, but he lets Jon walk away. Meanwhile, Tyrion is watching it all from the ramparts above.
Afterward, Tyrion goes into the strategy room where Daenerys is looking out her window. She’s refusing to eat and looks beyond tired. When he tells her that someone betrayed her, her first response is Jon Snow.
Tyrion appears shocked by her comment and tells her it’s Varys, but she doesn’t see it that way at all.
“Someone has betrayed me.”
“He knows the truth about Jon.”
“Because you told him. You learned from Sansa, and she learned from Jon, though I begged him not to tell her. As I said he betrayed me.”
Daenerys goes in on Tyrion, calling him out for continually making mistakes. I can’t help by wonder when Tyrion got so blinded. He used to the person you could depend on for biting wit and accurate observations.
This season, he’s been reduced to wandering around burned out carnage and looking shocked by what he sees. He’s attempted to reason with Cersei when he knows there’s no reasoning with her. It’s been frustrating as a viewer to see his character change so much.
It wasn’t that long ago that he would have agreed with Varys.
That evening, Grey Worm and a few Unsullied soldiers go to Varys. He burns a letter he was writing and takes his rings off. He knows what’s coming.
After he’s lead to the beach, Tyrion goes to him and tells him that he’s the one who told Daenerys about his treason.
“It was me.”
“I hope I deserve this. Truly, I do. I hope I’m wrong. Goodbye, old friend.”
Daenerys steps forward and sentences him to death, then calls on Drogon to do the honors. As Varys burns, Jon watches Daenerys from the corner of his eye.
Back inside Dragonstone, Daenerys is sitting by the fire talking to Grey Worm. She’s holding Missandei’s only possession that she brought with her across the Narrow Sea. It’s her old slave collar.
Dany gives it to him, and he throws it into the fire.
Jon makes an appearance and she speaks in Valyrian to send Grey Worm away. I think this was a very conscious choice by the writers. Daenerys doesn’t speak a language Jon can understand. She’s put some distance between them.
Before he can begin about Varys, Daenerys tells him that his sister is just as much to blame for his death as she is. If Sansa hadn’t told Tyrion, Varys wouldn’t have betrayed her. She goes on to say that she begged him to keep the secret because in Westeros, she doesn’t have their love. Jon has that. She has their fear.
When he tells her that she’s his Queen, she pushes him to see if that’s all she is.
“Far more people in Westeros love you than love me. I don’t have love here. I only have fear.”
“I love you. And you will always be my queen.”
“Is that all I am to you? Your queen? All right, then. Let it be fear.”
This doesn’t bode well for the rest of “The Bells”, but in the scene that follows, Tyrion tries to appeal to Daenerys’ mercy.
“Your sister knows how to use her enemies’ weaknesses against them. That’s what she thinks our mercy is: weakness.”
“I beg you, my queen…”
“But she’s wrong. Mercy is our strength. Our mercy towards future generations who will never again be held hostage by a tyrant.”
There’s a key phrase here that lets you know what Daenerys endgame is:
“Our mercy towards future generations…”
Daenerys has no plans to be merciful to the people inside King’s Landing. Her plan going in was to burn it all down.
Before Tyrion leaves the throne room, she tells him that they caught his brother trying to get past their lines. She tells him that it appears that Jaime hasn’t abandoned Cersei after all. As Tyrion leaves, she ends their conversation on an ominous note:
“The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.”
This isn’t great considering that Tyrion enlists Davos’ help in smuggling Jaime out of the camp later that night. Before he lets Jaime go, they have a really nice goodbye. Tyrion tells Jaime to convince Cersei to run away with him. They can get to Pentos and start a new life.
Jaime doesn’t seem to believe he can talk Cersei into anything, but Tyrion is adamant that he try. King’s Landing will fall tomorrow. Cersei will die. This is Jaime’s chance. Convince Cersei to surrender, have her ring the bells to signal surrender, and then run.
Before Tyrion unchains him, Jaime says that his Queen will execute him for this.
“If Daenerys can make it to the throne without wading through a river of blood, maybe she’ll show mercy to the person who made that possible. Tens of thousands of innocent lives one not particularly innocent dwarf it seems like a fair trade. If it weren’t for you, I never would’ve survived my childhood.”
“You would have.”
“You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster. You were all I had.”
Given the events of “The Bells”, this is especially sad. From this point in “The Bells” splits as it follows several characters in the destruction of King’ Landing.
Daenerys and her Army
Outside the gates of King’s Landing, Jon, Davos, and Tyrion look on as the Unsullied, led by Grey Worm, stand off against the Golden Company. Tyrion reminds them that when the bells ring, that it means Cersei has surrendered, and they need to stop fighting.
Meanwhile, Euron gets a serious eff you from Drogon, who blasts the Iron Fleet to Hell.
Daenerys isn’t playing anymore, and soon she’s burned all the Scorpions off the walls around King’s Landing. Her army is still outside the gates, and everyone can hear the explosions. The Golden Company is starting to look a bit scared, too.
Before, Daenerys told Grey Worm that he would know when it was time to attack, and she wasn’t playing. She blows through the wall, straight into the Golden Company. She kills a lot of them, and as soon as the fire burns out, Grey Worm and the Unsullied, along with the Dothraki, and Northern forces rush forward.
Harry Strickland tries to run away, but Grey Worm takes care of him fast. Daenerys’ forces storm King’s Landing, killing Lannister forces and overpowering everyone in the streets with ease. When they come face-to-face with Lannister soldiers, several tense moments pass. Daenerys lands with Drogon on a building. He roars, and the Lannister soldiers drop their weapons.
Everyone starts shouting for someone to ring the bells, signaling their surrender. Finally, after many moments, the bells chime.
Jon Snow is so relieved that his battle ended so easily, but that quickly changes to shock as Daenerys starts flying Drogon around King’s Landing, and tells him to burn it. Jon and Davos freeze as Daenerys kills innocent civilians, but when Grey Worm kills a Lannister soldier and pushes the Unsullied forward, they snap out of it.
Jon cries for his troops to stay back, but there’s no use. The remaining Lannister soldiers pick their weapons up and start attacking.
Daenerys destroys King’s Landing. She destroys The Red Keep.
She is the Queen of the Ashes.
The Hound and The Mountain
Sandor and Arya make it into King’s Landing with a crush of people after riding past Daenerys’ armies. It’s the best entrance this season, to be honest. When they make it inside the Red Keep, Sando turns on Arya and tells her she needs to go back.
The castle is crumbling around them because Daenerys and Drogon are wreaking havoc outside. Arya is determined that she’s going to kill the Queen, but he grabs her arms and turns him toward her. He even puts his hand on the back of her neck to keep her eyes on his.
“Go home, girl. The fire will get her, or one of the Dothraki. Or maybe that dragon will eat her. It doesn’t matter. She’s dead. And you’ll be dead too if you don’t get out of here.”
“I’m going to kill her.”
“You think you wanted revenge a long time? I’ve been after it all my life. It’s all I care about. And look at me. Look at me! You wanna be like me? You come with me, you die here.”
“Sandor. Thank you.”
He seems so relieved to know that Arya will get out alive, and it breaks my heart a little. Maybe that’s enough peace to get him through what’s coming for him. Drogon blows the roof off one of the towers, and several of Cersei’s guards are killed. Sandor appears at the bottom of the stairs, and the Queen’s Guard rush forward. Sandor kills all three, and Gregor makes a move toward him.
Cersei orders him to stay by her side, but he doesn’t move back. Qyburn then tells him to obey his Queen, and Gregor slams Qyburn into the stone wall and throws his dead body on the stones. Realizing that Cersei won’t get Gregor back, she passes by both of them, and the long-awaited fight between the Clegane brothers happen.
Cinematically, “The Bells” is glorious. This scene in particular. The wall and ceiling are gone. Drogon flying overhead, breathing fire. It’s an insane shot.
They begin to fight, but it becomes clear quick that Gregor isn’t going to die easily. Sandor stabs him several times, and runs him through with his sword, but Gregor just throws him down the stairs then pulls the sword out.
Gregor goes down the stairs, picks up Sandor, and starts choking him. After Sandor stabs him several times, he finally yells what we’ve all been thinking:
“Just fucking die!”
The Mountain tries to use the same move he did on Oberyn Martell and squish his brother’s head after gouging his eyes, but The Hound stabs him in the eye, causing him to drop him. Sandor watches as Gregor pulls the dagger from his eye, and he stands up.
There’s firelight shining through a crack in the wall, and Sandor runs forward and tackles his brother, knocking them both through the wall. They fall from the remains of the tower and into the fire below.
During this fight, Arya was in the streets below running with the common folk of King’s Landing. A mother and child she was helping are burned to death, and Arya is very nearly killed several times. When the dust settles, Arya sees a white horse and walks toward it. She’s able to climb up and ride it out of the city.
I see you what you did there…putting Death on a pale horse…
Jaime and Cersei
Denial is a powerful thing, and Cersei Lannister is in deep until the last five minutes of “The Bells”. Throughout this season, and this episode in particular, she’s stood at her window, watching. She’s not even really participating anymore. As Daenerys burns down King’s Landing, it’s almost like Cersei can’t believe what she’s seeing. She’s still certain that the Red Keep is safe. It won’t fall. It never has.
Cersei, Qyburn, The Mountain, and her guard get caught on the stairs. The roof caves in, and the wall falls behind them. Of course, we know what happens because the Hound arrives.
After Cersei gets passed the Hound, she makes her way to the map room. This is where Jaime left her last season, and where they are reunited this season. They hug, and Cersei allows herself to truly be afraid. She notices that Jaime is bleeding, but I’m not sure why she’s concerned. Did she forget she sent Bronn to kill Jaime and Tyrion a few weeks ago? Jaime was injured by Euron Greyjoy before Jaime killed him. More on that later.
Jaime gets Cersei to escape with him into the dungeons beneath the Red Keep, just like Tyrion said, but when they make it to the archway that will lead them out, they find it’s blocked by stones that have fallen due to the explosions.
Cersei breaks down, crying and holding onto Jaime when he gets close enough.
“I want our baby to live. I want our baby to live. I want our baby to live. Don’t let me die, Jaime. Please don’t let me die.”
“It’s all right.”
“Please don’t let me die.”
“It’s all right.”
“I don’t want to die.”
“Just look…look at me. Look at me.”
“Not like this. Not like this. Not like this.”
“Look…look. Look me in the eye. Don’t look away. Don’t look…look at me! Just look at me. Nothing else matters. Nothing else matters. Only us.”
The ceiling above them caves in, crushing them to death.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing Cersei scared and defeated. Her death was too good for her, though. She died with Jaime, being comforted by him. Neither one of these characters, who have been objectively awful throughout the series, deserved a better death than what the writers are about to give Daenerys after this episode. At the very least, Jaime shouldn’t have been there to comfort her.
Which brings me to my issues with “The Bells”:
I’ve always thought we’d go the Mad Queen route with Daenerys. We have seen glimpses of her instability, especially without her trusted advisors. I think this season is too rushed for me to believe her spiral into madness. If they wanted to do justice to this arc, they shouldn’t have jammed it into six episodes. That’s sloppy.
Euron should have burned. His fight with Jaime and proclaiming he killed The Kingslayer was a waste of time. He didn’t deserve to die on screen. I feel like the writers really wanted to make Euron happen, but we were all done with him when he arrived. That’s that on that.
I know that it some sense it’s supposed to be poetic that Sandor sacrifices himself to kill his brother, but I really hate that he died. I wanted him to survive, go North, and live near Winterfell. He’s always been so protective of the Stark girls, and I know they don’t need his help anymore, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t deserve some measure of peace.
What did you think of “The Bells” and what do you think we can expect in the series finale? Let us know your thoughts!