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The biggest can of fucking worms ever opened has just been opened (no pun intended). A Man brings you a recap of it.
If we’re being honest, that was probably not what you were hoping for. But now, it is what it is. You can choose to accept the story as it was told or you can choose to deny it and pass it off as bad writing, or fan fiction, or whatever else makes you feel better.
But we got what we got. And regardless of whether or not you agree, you have to admit that this episode was terrifying, and horrid, and surreal, and something that will make you reflect for a long time. In that sense, “The Bells” was monumental.
Ok… before we dive (behind that building over there because if we don’t, we gone die) in, let’s start with something we can all agree on: the ending of this truly remarkable TV series has been rushed. I don’t deal in absolutes because there are very few absolutes in this world, but I feel incredibly confident in this statement.
Having said that, I don’t lay blame at the feet of anyone. None of us are privy to every step that was taken in this journey and exactly why we are where we are (only one episode to go in what clearly could have been ten). I only know the shoes I have walked in. And to assume that I can pretend to even come close to comprehending the kind of sacrifice by so many that have made this incredible show what it is would be both conceited and pretentious, neither of which are glowing character traits.
We’ll have years to discuss the “what ifs” and “whys” and if this outcome is what the creator had in mind. But for now, we have the facts in front of us as they were presented to us. And that is what we will discuss here.
People sometimes agree to disagree on whether or not to even watch the lead-in for the episode. But this one gave away a lot as it relates to the mindset of Dany and the voices regarding Targaryen heritage: flipping the coin, waking the dragon etc. Not a good sign.
The Spider Writes a Letter
Varys is shown writing about the true heir to the throne (Ned anyone?) when approached by a little girl (the last of his little birds as it turns out) who reports that Dany won’t eat. Tyrion then observes Jon arriving to the greeting of Varys who explains his concerns to Jon about Dany. Again, Jon stands by his queen, and in voicing his opinion and his feelings Varys seals his own fate. Not a smooth move, Spider. He knew better. But it’s also fair to say that he felt he had to act quickly to try to avoid the upcoming slaughter, of which he felt certain was going to happen. And he was right.
Tyrion approaches Dany about the treason and Dany correctly traces back where the information about Jon originated. At this point we knew someone would be punished, but it could have potentially been anyone of those named, including Jon. For a moment, it appeared it was going to be Tyrion. But it was not…
Varys is retrieved from his quarters by Worm and is taken to Dany, Jon and Tyrion on the beach. Tyrion tells the truth about who told Dany and Varys proclaims that he hopes he is wrong. He wasn’t.
The Spider gets charbroiled and Jon gives Dany an obvious look of concern. Yes, his act was treasonous, but Varys’ entire concern was over the safety and the welfare of the innocent people of King’s Landing. If that is wrong, then burn me too. I can no longer defend Dany.
Afterwards, Dany and Worm remember Missandei and Worm throws her collar into the fire. Jon enters and Dany dismisses Worm who appears to be standing to guard her against anyone who enters. Even Jon. She trusts no one.
Jon again proclaims that he doesn’t want the throne. Dany states that Sansa betrayed Jon’s trust and that Sansa killed Varys as much as she did. She also says that now Sansa knows what happens when people know the truth about Jon. This is called character development. And it is far from the first sign of where it all would end up. Jon is understandably confused about his feelings. And then Dany flat out says it… “Let it be fear.”
Tyrion again pleads for the people of Kings Landing. Dany essentially says that mercy is their strength and that mercy is for future generations to never again be controlled by a tyrant. My translation: sacrifice the innocent people currently in KL. Tyrion makes a last-ditch effort to save them all by getting Dany to agree to calling off the attack if the bells ring and the gates open, signaling a surrender. She agrees. Or at least we thought she did.
As a parting gift, Dany lets Tyrion know that she captured Jaime as he attempted to get back to Cersei. And we all knew what Tyrion would do then.
I’ll be honest… at this point I was still doubting whether or not Dany would do the deed and held onto the hope that she would realize the repercussions of laying waste to the Keep and the lives of thousands of innocent people. But that admittedly was denial on my part. All of the signs were there and have been present for a while now. But still, a man was hopeful.
Tyrion and Jon and company arrive on the shores of KL with Davos waiting. Tyrion asks Davos for a favor.
Tyrion proceeds to find Jaime and set him free (we won’t talk about the ease in which this takes place). The Brothers Lannister have their final moment together with Tyrion ultimately wanting Jaime to be happy and for he and Cersei to escape. I don’t know what made Tyrion think that Cersei would just leave so easily, but considering what she was up against, the baby, and the fact that Jaime came back for her, maybe it was a possibility (Ozzette didn’t think so). Regardless, Jaime escapes and the brothers share their final embrace. (Oz very sad)
But it wouldn’t matter how many they had. Euron and the boys ready the scorpions as the troops line the walls and Golden Company prepared for battle outside the gates.
Arya and the hooded Hound would make it into the Keep, but Jaime would not and is forced to seek another way to get to Cersei.
The scorpions were fired as fast as they could be reloaded, but it was a useless effort. At first, Drogon and Dany’s attack seemed focused only on the weapons to be used against them with pinpoint accuracy, sparing the lives of the innocent people within the Keep and the City. Drogon was worth his weight in gold. The Golden Company wasn’t worth a gold dragon.
Within minutes, Cersei’s defenses were decimated, the gates were breached and the taking of KL seemed well in hand with minimum civilian loss of life. Observing from the tower, Cersei finally seemed concerned yet not enough to leave even on the advice of Qyburn.
Jon and his forces come face to face with Lannister soldiers in the streets of KL. Realizing their imminent defeat, the soldiers drop their swords and concede. The shouts of “ring the bell” can be heard numerous times and then finally commences. It should have been over. But it wasn’t over.
Book reader or not, purist or not, casual fan or genuine fanatic, what happened next will likely be discussed ad nauseam for years to come.
Dany allows herself to do what most of us hoped she would not do (but threatened to do on numerous occasions). She burned the city down.
Complete and utter chaos ensues with the Northerners and the Unsullied continue to fight the Lannister army while the innocent people run for their lives. Women and children are slaughtered and burned. Tyrion looks on in disbelief. Jon seems unable to comprehend what is happening.
Jaime and Euron would meet along the shore in what certainly going to be the end of one of them. Meanwhile, Dany and Drogon take aim at the Red Keep and Qyburn finally convinces Cersei to leave. Euron stabs Jaime in what looks like would be a fatal wound and then gets him again. But Jaime gets the final jab although Euron credited himself for killing Jaime. I kept waiting for one of them to bring up the baby.
Arya and the Hound enter the Keep and Sandor convinces Arya to leave or she will die. She thanks him and they part ways.
We’ve been waiting on the Game of Cleganes for years and we finally get it as the world crashes around them. The Hound confronts Cersei and company as they flee the crumbling building. Sandor takes out the other Queensguard and the Mountain takes out Qyburn’s head. Cersei is allowed to leave as the brothers are only concerned about their unfinished business.
The battle of the brothers is brutal as the Hound gets in shot after shot yet the Mountain is unfazed. The sword through the chest isn’t enough as the Mountain pulls it out to the background of the smoky sunlight in some of the best imagery of the episode.
As the Hound took the beating of his life, Arya fought for hers in the streets of KL while witnessing first-hand the agony and terror of Dany’s attack. The Mountain begins to gouge out the eyes of the Hound (a la Red Viper), when Sandor stabs the him in the head. As the Mountain steps back and begins to remove it, Sandor realizes the only way to kill him is take them both out into the fire below. And he does. I loved you, Hound. I hope you are enjoying a bucket of chicken in the afterlife.
Born Together. Die Together.
Jaime finds Cersei in the map room and the two lovers try to find their way out to safety. They make it to the bottom of the Keep but all of the exits are blocked. Jaime reminds Cersei that nothing else matters, only them. The Keep falls in on top of them and Jaime and Cersei die in each other’s arms.
Jon sees Davos in the melee and realizes he needs to get all of his forces out if any of them are to survive. Arya regains consciousness and again tries to outmaneuver the fire and falling buildings. She finds the recurring mother and daughter and tells them they have to keep moving or they will die. But the mother gets injured and when the daughter runs back for her, they are both burned to death by the unrelenting Dany and Drogon.
Arya would regain consciousness again to find the mother and daughter burned in the street and would randomly find a white horse (which I hope will be at least somewhat explained in the final episode) and rides off to safety (assuming she’s not already dead and this was some sort of vision from Planetos heaven).
Damn. Damn. Damn.
Episode 805 Personal Awards
Favorite Action Sequence: How do you pick one? Regardless of the underlying issues, the episode was filled with horrifying visuals, incredible CGI, and some spectacular imagery.
“I still don’t know how her coin has landed, but I’m quite certain about yours.” -Varys
“She trusted you to spread secrets that could destroy your own queen. And you did not let her down.” -Dany
“It doesn’t matter now.” -Dany
“I hope I deserve this. Truly I do. I hope I’m wrong.” -Varys
“I don’t have love here. I only have fear.” -Dany
“The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.” -Dany
“I’m not going to like this favor, am I?” -Davos
“You’re the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster.” -Tyrion
“You fought well for a cripple.” -Euron (always the smartass)
“Nothing else matters. Only us.” -Jaime’s attempt to comfort Cersei
The “Ow, That Shit Hurts Award” goes to: Jaime’s wounds, Euron’s sword in the chest, everything The Mountain did to the Hound, Tyrion’s shock, the Golden Company’s pride, Varys’ death, Qyburn’s head, and Dany’s tragic life experiences coupled with her genetic disposition.
Overall Thoughts: As a show-viewer only, I’ve got lots of questions but probably not even a fraction of what book readers have. I would speculate that it is much easier for viewers-only to take and accept the show as-is. But if you are reading this, that means that even if you have not read the books you are deeply invested in it. We will have plenty of time to dissect in the coming weeks. I hope you stick around for it.
That said, I think this was one of the best episodes ever, as tragic as it was. I personally had very little doubt in my mind that Dany was capable of such horrific acts, but I still didn’t think she would. And the fact that she had the opportunity not to while being able to achieve her goal only adds fuel to the fandom fire. If you are not caught up in the toxicity, I highly recommend staying out of it. It’s as ugly as the KL right now.
Next Week: The Grand Finale. Arya going after Dany after seeing the devastation first-hand? Jon vs. Grey Worm?
We are civil here. So civil your way through the comments and let’s discuss. Can you believe we only have one more?? What will we do when it’s all over? We’ll discuss that later this week.
Until the end of the end next week, hang out and stay awhile. Invite an Unsullied to join us. And may there always be peace in your realm. –Oz
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