The Bells – Reaction, Breakdown, Review – Spoilers

Warning!  This RBR contains spoilers!  If you have not seen episode 5, please proceed with caution.

Season 8 Episode 5 – The Bells

Rating –  I have no idea.  I’m still trying to wrap my mind around my feelings on this episode.  If by the time I finish another rewatch as I write this review, I should come up with a rating, I will put it at the end of the review.

Now it Begins!

Before I even get into the review of this episode I’d like to point out that, My episode 4 review ended with: “There will be no diplomacy.  There will be Fire and Blood.  Lady Olenna: You’re a Dragon! Be a Dragon!”  I have to say at the end of my initial watch last night I felt torn and confused.  As much as I wanted Dany to Be A Dragon, it was terrifying to watch as it occurred.  I had to get that off my chest!

The episode opens with Varys writing a scroll explaining that Jon is the son of Rhaegar, his identity was hidden by Ned and he is the true heir to the Iron Throne.  One of his little birds enters and tells him that Dany is not eating and she thinks that the Unsullied have been watching her.  He explains that the greater the risk the greater the reward.  The scene cuts to Jon arriving and Varys meeting him at the shore.  Varys explains Dany’s mental state is declining as she refuses to eat and won’t speak to anyone.  Varys then tries to encourage Jon to accept his birth right to which Jon responds Dany is his queen and he’s never wanted to rule.  Meanwhile Tyrion is watching this encounter and appears worried.  Varys is the only one that seems to have an unbiased opinion at this point.  Before Jon cuts Varys off, Varys tells Jon that he will rule wisely, let’s hope that’s the episode 6 ending.

Tyrion then goes to see Dany, who has not combed her hair and has dark circles under her eyes, of Varys’ treachery.  Tyrion truly believes that Dany still can be a just ruler in this moment.  He explains that Sansa did what she did out of trust that he would do the right thing.  I beg to differ, Sansa did what she did for selfish reasons and used Tyrion to serve those purposes.  As Tyrion tries to explain Sansa’s and Varys’ perspective, Dany lays the blame with Jon as he did what she asked him not to do by telling his family in the first place.

In the next scene, Varys leaves his rings behind as the Unsullied came to take him to his execution.  On the Dragonstone shore, Tyrion confesses to Varys that he was the one that told Dany.  Varys says that he hopes that he deserves this death and hopes he is wrong about Dany.  In the moment, I knew that he was right.  Dany then uses Drogon to execute him.  I suspect that the voices in the flames said Dracarys or something about this moment or maybe not but since the show didn’t fill it in for me, I’ll fill it in on my own.

Dany gives Greyworm Missandei’s only possession, her slave collar.  Greyworm throws it into the fire then leaves as Jon enters.  Dany explains she doesn’t have love in Westeros and him telling Sansa was a mistake as it makes further enemies for her in a place where she doesn’t have many allies.  She makes a final attempt to seduce Jon and as he rejects her she backs off with the Mad look in her eye.

In the Throne room, Dany meets with Tyrion and Greyworm preparing for the war to come.  Tyrion again tries to warn Dany against taking the city by Fire and Blood and Dany is clearly over all of the diplomacy.  Greyworm has no counsel for Dany and will do as she says.  In moments like these, I really miss Ser Jorah and Ser Barriston.  Tyrion has mentioned in the past that Dany elected him hand to curb her worst impulses; however, over the last 2 seasons, it has been clear that her trust in Tyrion has dissipated.   Tyrion is making a futile argument at this point.  In my opinion, Tyrion has always had a heart and it is showing in his efforts to save Cersei and the people of Westeros.  As Tyrion leaves, Dany tells him that Jaime was stopped trying to get to Kings Landing.  She warns Tyrion that the next time he fails her it will be the last time he fails her.  Tyrion’s plans have not gone the way that Dany’s hoped since she’s made it to Westeros and arguably somewhat in Mereen with the Masters.  However, I have to wonder, what are the job requirements for Hand?  Perhaps the failure is not Tyrion’s but the lack of having a War/Battle commander on the team.  Greyworm is a general but not a Commander.

In Kings Landing, we see the last of the Westerosi arriving to the city walls for shelter as Jon and Tyrion arrive to meet the rest of Dany’s army outside the city.  Tyrion asks Davos for a favor connected to his smuggling skills.  I’m still not sure if he wanted him to smuggle him into see Jaime or smuggle Jaime out of his make shift cell.  Arya and The Hound arrive at Dany’s line outside of Kings Landing and they’re stopped by a Stark guard.  She tells him that she is Arya Stark and she is going to kill Cersei.  The Hound backs her up explaining that if she kills Cersei, the guard may not have to fight and die in battle tomorrow.  The nervous guard says he has to ask his superior and the duo just keep riding through to Kings Landing.

Tyrion approaches the Unsullied guarding Jaime and attempts to speak in their tongue and does so poorly.  Hopefully this was not an attempt at comic relief because if so it was poorly done and probably overdone as we’ve seen it before.  Tyrion goes in and asks Jaime how he was caught and it was due to his golden hand.  Jaime recalls that Cersei once called him the stupidest Lannister and with his story ending here with him still trying to save Cersei, I will have to agree.  While no fan of Game of Thrones, including myself, wanted to see Jaime turn out to still after everything he’s been through to still be trying to save Cersei, I have to admit that I understand Jaime’s perspective.  Family can do some horrible things and their world and ours we see people defend and turn a blind eye to the injustice committed by family in the worst of situations.  That being said, it is not surprising but disappointing that Jaime is going back to Cersei.  It also explains Tyrion’s sadly also trying to save Cersei.  As far as the story line, Tyrion freeing Jaime from his prison was an expected story line (see previous post Jaime & Tyrion as well as Jamie Lannister).  Even though it doesn’t quite turn out as I thought for Jaime, I suspect Tyrion may still have to answer for his escape.  Tyrion thanks Jaime for making his life bearable and in that moment I knew this was goodbye for them.

The scene cuts to the city bell and Blackwater bay as Euron and the Iron-born preparing scorpions in anticipation for Dany.  The citizens are making last minute efforts to get to cover but there are still thousands outside of the city wall.  The Hound and Arya are among the citizens trying to get into the city walls as is Jaime, who walks by the Golden Company as they march out to defend the city.

Tyrion reminds Jon of the plan to call off the troops upon hearing the bells marking Cersei’s surrender.  Families are closed out of the city gate as the soldiers closed them as Dany’s troops have arrived.  The Westerosi locked out are begging, yelling and pleading to no avail.  The Hound and Arya make it in just before the gates are closed but Jaime is locked out.  Jaime makes an attempt to call out and wave his gold hand to the Lannister soldiers hoping that he would be allowed in but amidst all the turmoil they don’t hear him so he goes around the crowd for another way in.

Euron looks up at the sky shading the glare from the sun from his eyes and Drogon comes into view too late for he and his men to be prepared with the scorpions.  Dany dodges the spears fired and opens fire on the Iron fleet causing Euron to jump overboard.  She goes on to maneuver around the scorpion bolts while annihilating the Iron Fleet.  The Golden Company faces off with Dany’s army.  While I loved the roar and rumble and the walls coming tumbling down from the inside, I have to say I expected something big from the GC and this was not it.  After the center group of the troops go up in dragon fire, the rest are quickly overrun by the Dothraki and Unsullied.  This was my first underwhelming moment of the episode.    Harry Strickland on his knees and then getting a quick spear in the back didn’t do much for me.  As such, minus .25 for the episode.

I’ve just figured out how I can rate this episode.  Typically I can slap a rating on the episode by the overall excitement or even anger felt by an episode.  Episode 4 was not fun for me with all of Cersei’s antics but I still rated it a 10 because of the level of anxiety and appreciation for the true villainy that Cersei delivered.  Episode was awesome because Arya was a badass.  Episode 2 was great because it delivered a felling of rainbows and puppies.  You get my point.  Episode 5 just left me confused.  Therefore, I will take off points for the parts I thought should be different without completely attacking the episode for bad writing.  As I scrolled back up to see where I should’ve taken points, I think I will take Minus .25 for the bad translation joke because it was pointless.  Even though I’m upset about Vary’s death and him being the only one making sense I’ll only take Minus .25 not knowing what the voices in the flames said.  Okay back to the review.

Dany’s forces enter the city and the Lannister soldiers are no match.  Dany continues to take out all the scorpions that line the city while roasting Lannister solders.  Cut to Cersei overlooking the city and it is not clear what she can see but she clearly can see Drogon cleaning house and hear the roar as the city falls yet she is still in denial.  Qyburn tries to warn her that the city has fallen and she still has placed her last hope in the Lannister soldiers defending the city.  Meanwhile Dany’s army faces off with terrified Lannister soldiers who appear to be waiting for the order to lay down their swords.  Tyrion enters and stares at the bell as Jaime is dashing through the streets trying to get to Cersei.  Westerosi are terrified as Drogon swoops in and perches on a tower.  At that moment the Lannister soldiers drop their swords and someone yells “Ring the Bells”.    Cersei overlooks the city in the smoke.  Tyrion is terrified that no one will ring the bells in time.  The tension builds and there is an indescribable look on Dany’s face.  It is not the anger or triumph that we’ve seen on her face in the past.

The bells are ringing and Jon sighs in relief.  Jaime is panicked that he won’t get to Cersei in time.  I can now recognize what is happening with Dany in this moment.  Dany is experiencing Adrenaline, a family history of mental illness, several defeats in a row, losing several loved ones within the past few weeks, being rejected by her love, being betrayed by that love and close advisers and realizing that it was a lie that she would be welcomed by loyal subjects who have prayed for her return to save them.  She has nothing to win and nothing to lose in this moment and the voices in her head are yelling “burn them all”.

My hope for this moment was that Dany was heading for the red keep.  We were going to get a Harrenhall 2.0.  Cersei would be roasted in the tower as she overlooked the city.  I did not expect what was coming and as Dany and Drogon took off I kept whispering to my self “no, don’t do it”.  There was a difference in wanting her to burn the city to the ground in an attempt to win the war but after the bells have been rung is an entirely different feeling.  As Dany takes off we see the image from Bran’s vision with Drogon’s shadow over Kings Landing.  Dany flies down low and begins to destroy Kings Landing street by street, every building, soldier, man, woman and child, even the little children.

Tyrion and Jon are horrified and Greyworm appears as vengeful as he throws a spear and activates the mob into full on pillage.  Jon tries in futility to stop his men from joining.  Greyworm is in berserker mode as are the rest of the army.  Davos is trying his best to usher citizens to safety and I couldn’t help but hear The Hound’s line he told to Brienne seasons back “safety, where the fuck’s that?”  Women and children are being killed and Jon is defending him self and others against his own men as he kills a soldier to save a woman from being raped.  Dany takes off and begins bringing down the towers one by one.

As the city falls, Jaime is still trying to make it to Cersei by going through some caves near the bay.  Euron has washed up on the shore and approaches Jaime to taunt him about having slept with Cersei.  The two have a one on one and this was probably one of my least favorite parts of this episode.  Euron has been just a waste.  I thought maybe he was stepping it up a little on the villainy scale last week but he remains a joke of a villain.  Whenever Joffery or Ramsey spoke you knew that they were truly despicable and horrible people.  While Euron is an awful person, he does not inspire fear.  I wanted Jaime to finish him and move on.  I’ll admit that I was angry when I thought he’s killed Jaime.  This scene just took up time that I’d rather be watching the city fall.  Finally, I would’ve preferred to see Yara and Euron fight. I did enjoy hearing what ever was crunching in Euron’s stomach as Jaime turned the sword.  I could’ve let that whole scene without taking points but because Euron says “i’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister” Minus 1, like Huh!?! *rolls eyes* and moves on.

Meanwhile, Qyburn has finally convinced Cersei that they need to leave the Red Keep as you see caches of Wild Fire exploding through out the city.  I would’ve thought they would cause more destruction but I’ll let that go. The Hound and Arya are making there way through the map room and The Hound tells her it is the point of no return and tells her to get out of there, saving her life.  I would’ve liked to see Arya attempt to kill Cersei; however, I appreciate some sweet in the midst of all this bitterness.  The Hound and Arya have one of the best relationships and it makes sense that he tries to save her once again.  I am also glad that Arya has shown some personal growth in that moment to realize that the circumstances are dire.  She is not just a faceless assassin, if she was, she would have kept on the mission to take out Cersei.  A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell. Thank you Sandor!

The moment that many have been waiting for, Cleganebowl.  Arya leaving puts a damper in my expectation for a tag team battle between The Hound/Arya verses The Mountain; however, I will take Arya staying alive over Cleganebowl.  One of the best parts of this scene that put a little smile on my face was Cersei’s voice cracking as she tried to get The Mountain to protect her and him smashing Qyburn’s head.  It was a little quick but I still liked it.

Cersei is in the map room and for a minute I thought Arya was still there.  Then when Jaime arrived I thought Arya has Jaime’s face lol.   However, it looks like Jaime is really trying to help her escape.  Per Lady Olenna, she will be the death of you.  Jaime could have saved himself.

Meanwhile, The Hound is being thrown around like a rag doll.  The Mountain is super human.  His helmet is knocked off and all I could think is what in the world was Qyburn doing, and in that thought I was glad again that The Mountain killed Dr. Frankenstein.  However, as The Hound is being tossed around, so is Arya as she tries to get through the mass hysteria.  Their injuries seem to be mimicking each other for a while and Arya is also in a similar position to Jon in the Battle of the Bastards as she is being trampled.  A woman with her child, whom we saw earlier get locked out of the city gates, help Arya to her feet but she quickly loses them in the crowd.  The Hound tries stabbing the Mountain in the stomach and nothing.  He tries the neck and nothing.  The Mountain tries his Oberyn head squish move on The Hound.  The Hound responds with a dagger through the eyes and out the back of his skull, like Arya mentioned in her plan to kill The Hound.  Nothing!   In that moment, The Hound knows there is no other way.  He tackles the Mountain in a suicide mission over the edge of the walls into the fire below.  It was visually nice to see but sad that The Hound had to face his fears in this way.

Jon and Davos realize that all is lost as wild fire and dragon fire burns around them and he finally gets the men to fall back.  Arya was knocked unconscious at some point and comes to on stairs and she is covered in blood and ash.  I suppose this is the scene Maisie Williams referred to about being pushed to her limits.  As she tries to get out of the city she runs into the woman and her child again.  Her daughter still clutches a toy horse, reminiscent of Shireen.  Arya struggles to try to get them to safety and the mother is injured and the daughter would not leave her mother.  The scene has a Pompeii feel to it and I also imagine this could possibly be how the Doom of Valyria and Aegon’s initial conquest of Westeros went down.  Aegon’s conquest was possibly worst as they had 3 dragons.

The scene cuts to Cersei and Jaime under the city where Balerion dragon skull is kept.  During the scene I was distracted for a minute by an interview i’d seen a while back where Nicolai Costa-Waldo talked about he and Cersei’s relationship had a Romeo and Juliet twist to it.  In the moment of him trying to escape and all the exist being blocked, I still hoped for a last minute effort on his part of choke her or maybe she had some poison in her pocket that they would take together.  Perhaps those paths would have been predictable since there has been much hoping for both options in the fandom.  I just really wanted a more horrific death for Cersei in the moment.  If I take a moment to think about how she actually died, with no way out, trapped in the Red Keep with the walls crumbling down around her and the city being decimated outside the castle walls, I guess it’s pretty terrifying.  Just a few hours ago she was so sure of triumph.  Again, I recall Tyrion’s words to her “A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid.”  Although, her undoing is not a direct action on Tyrion’s part, it seems he was right.  She was sure and safe, surrounded by the Golden Company and Scorpions, the city went up in flames and ashes ashes they all fall down.  I still give minus .5 for not feeling excitement at Cersei’s death on the initial watch.

Things have settled as much as possible and Arya sees the charred bodies, including the woman and her child she tried to save.  The little girl was now clutching a charred black horse rather than the white horse toy she had.  Arya sees a white horse covered in blood.  There is nothing else around living, only a pale mare covered in blood.  Arya is covered in ash and blood.  The horse looks like the one Harry Strickland had in the beginning but that seems weird it survived as it was outside of the gates.  However, I think where the horse came from is unimportant.  There is a book reference to a Pale Mare that was not referenced in the show.  In the books, Quaithe, who we saw in Qarth in season 2 makes prophecies, click here to view a video on Quaithe.  What also comes to mind is the Bible:

” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. — Revelation 6:7-8″

As Arya approaches the horse, and lulls it, I could not help to think about Lyanna Stark.  Lyanna is known to be a great rider, as we saw in the flashback as Ned accused her of  showing off.  Arya is compared with her in the books and while it is not said as much in the show, there is still some evidence in the show that Lyanna rejected gender roles as Arya did.  I’ve been waiting for a flashback this season to provide the full story of the Tourney of Harenhall.  This is less of a prediction and more of a wish for the final episode; however, this final scene would have more meaning if the show fully makes the connection between Arya and Lyanna as ‘righters’ of wrongs, which can be done with a Howland Reed/Tourney flashback of Lyanna.  Arya is most likely going to kill Dany in the final episode.  It would be heart breaking to see Jon kill her; however, it would make more sense for Arya to make the kill.  She is death on the pale horse.

Jon seems to have taken a back seat in season 8 and I have to think that is deliberate.  I don’t think he has become less important in the slightest, instead I think he is still the most important.  Varys may have been for the realm after all.

This episode was not perfect; but I think it may have a deeper meaning than is grasped on the initial watch.  Perhaps it is like the movie Vanilla Sky, that takes some time to absorb.  When I look at the points taken, 2.25, I’ll give this episode a 7.75 which is harsh for me!

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