‘Game of Thrones’: Hell’s Bells

Game of Thrones
“The Bells”
May 12, 2019

SCHEMING, BETRAYAL AND ATTEMPTED POISONINGS! REJECTIONS! ROMANTIC REUNIONS! THE LONG-AWAITED CLEAGANEBOWL! MAD QUEENS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! DRACARYS! AND DID I MENTION DRACARYS!

So Varys is in his office, firing off texts to all the Lords of Westeros about how Jon is the real heir to the thrones and Daenerys is a bitch that shouldn’t be trusted, when a young girl comes to his room to tell him that Daenerys isn’t eating. And also, too, she’s pretty sure the soldiers are watching her. Varys sighs that they’ll try again at dinner, and he reminds Martha (MARTHA?) that the greater the risk, the greater the reward. See, because what is happening here is that Varys is trying to poison Daenerys, but she’s ruining that plan by having a hunger strike.

Later, Varys is the first on the beach to welcome Jon when he arrives in Dragonstone where he informs Jon that Dany isn’t eating. When Jon expresses worry for her, Varys is like, “GIRL, I AM WORRIED FOR ALLLLL OF US,” before telling Jon that, “They say that when a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin and the world holds its breath.” Varys doesn’t know how Dany’s coin has landed, but he’s quite sure about Jon. Jon is all, “I KEEP TELLING YOU PEOPLE, I DON’T WANNA BE KING, GAH,” before stomping off in a snit.

Tyrion, who watched this whole conversation, tiptoes into Daenerys’ chambers to tattle on Varys, but when he suggests that she’s been betrayed, she’s like, “I KNOW. BY JON. Because if that LITTLE BITCH had just kept his GODDAMNED MOUTH SHUT for FIVE MINUTES. But now Sansa knows and you know and as a result, Varys knows and now that bald asshole is trying to poison my potted hare and is blabbing to anyone who will listen that Jon — I’M SORRY, AEGON — has a better claim to the throne than THE TARGARYEN WITH THE ACTUAL DRAGON.” Tyrion argues that he’s glad Sansa told him — he’s her hand, he needs to know these things, as does her Master of Whisperers. Daenerys is like, “Let’s walk through why Sansa told you in the first place: she knew you’d go run and gossip. And what did you do? You ran and gossiped. Now look at where we are.” Tyrion protests that he and Varys only wanted what she wanted: a better world. But he supposes it doesn’t matter now. “NOPE,” replies Daenerys.

And sure enough, to that end, as he is writing even more letters, Varys is yoinked from his chambers by Grey Worm and dragged out to the beach where Daenerys, John, and Tyrion are waiting. Tyrion tells Varys he’s the one who tattled, and Varys is like, “Yeah, I hope I’m wrong about this crazy bitch but I don’t think I am.” With that, Daenerys of House Targaryen, First of My Name, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons sentences Varys to Dracarys.

R.I.P. Varys.

And Jon and Tyrion are like, “DAMN,” but buckle up, because there’s A LOT more of that where that came from, babies.

Back in her chambers, Daenerys gives Grey Worm Missandei’s only possession she brought with her from across the Narrow Sea, her shackle, which Grey Worm promptly throws into the fire.

Jon then comes to chat with Daenerys, and she’s like, “WELL LOOK WHO IT IS. BITCH, WHAT DID I SAY WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU TOLD YOUR SISTER? WHAT. DID. I. SAY. And now she knows what happens when people find out about you — they immediately start scheming to put you on the throne, because people in Westeros like you more than they like me. I don’t have love here. I only have fear.” Jon protests that he loves her, that she’s his queen, but when she kisses him, he’s unable to fake it and is all stiff (and not in a good way).

Daenerys:

“I GET IT. I SEE HOW IT IS. WELL THEN, LET’S FEAR IT UP IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER.”

In the throne room, Daenerys is laying out her plan to have the Unsullied sack King’s Landing, but Tyrion is like, “Orrrrr, we could not kill innocent men, women, and children, and instead wait for them to turn on Cersei?” Daenerys is all, “Nah.”

But Tyrion pleads with Daenerys to give the people of King’s Landing a chance to surrender: when they do, they’ll ring the bells and raise the gates. That’ll be the sign that they’ve turned Team Daenerys: bells. Remember … Bells = good. BELLS MEANS DO NOT DESTROY THE CITY WITH DRAGON FIRE.

Daenerys is all, “Yeah yeah yeah got it, bells. By the way, our troops caught your brother trying to sneak into King’s Landing to be with your sister. And these two things are completely unrelated, but if you betray me again, by like, I don’t know, releasing a prisoner or something, it will be the last time you betray me.”

And so obviously, the very first thing Tyrion does upon arriving at the battle lines outside King’s Landing is to connive to get into the tent where Jaime is being held prisoner so as to release him. Tyrion tells Jaime that he needs to convince Cersei to cut this shit out, so that thousands won’t be killed. But Jaime is all, “Eh, I don’t really care about the little people.” So Tyrion suggests that he do it for their baby.

Jaime suggests that Cersei might just win, but Tyrion is all, “HAHAHAHAHAHA, NOPE. Now listen carefully. Once you get to Cersei, take her to the basement of the Red Keep, and then follow the stairway all the way to the beach where you’ll find a boat waiting for you. Then sail your asses to Pentos AND NEVER COME BACK. And on your way out, be sure to ring the bells. This is crucially important: bells.”

Jaime wonders that Daenerys is going to Dracarys Tyrion’s ass for this, but he’s like “I dunno, maybe not? If I can prevent wholesale slaughter in King’s Landing then maybe she’ll have mercy on me?” With that, Tyrion hugs his big brother goodbye, and crying, tells him he was the only reason he survived childhood, he was the only person who didn’t treat him like a monster. Jaime was all he ever had.

Of course, Jaime better hope he gets to Cersei before Arya Stark does, because she and The Hound have also arrived in the outskirts of King’s Landing, and she’ll tell anyone who’s listening that she’s there to kill Queen Cersei.

The Big Day is finally here, and people are pouring into the city walls of King’s Landing where they will be protected by the Lannister forces and the City Watch. Included among them: Arya, The Hound, and Jaime Lannister. Arya and The Hound manage to shove their way into the Red Keep, but Jaime and this one mother and child we are supposed to keep our eyes on, they are not so let’s call it “lucky.”

Outside the city walls, the Unsullied and Northern line up to firmly stare at the Golden Company.

But the real action begins out on Blackwater Bay, where Sea Pacey, the Iron Fleet and all of their scorpions are waiting to take down another dragon. However, Daenerys comes flying out of the sun and Dracaryses all these motherfuckers.

It doesn’t take long.

Meanwhile, Daenerys’ forces are patiently waiting outside of the City Walls, exchanging smirks with this Harry Strickland “character” and his forces, when the explosions begin.

The Golden Company:

And that’s when Daenerys and Drogon come Dracarysing through the city wall, destroying most of the Golden Company in an instant. So that was money well-spent on Cersei’s part.

The Unsullied and Northern troops march into the city, Grey Worm impaling this Harry Strickland guy on his way in, because why the fuck not?

R.I.P. Harry Strickland?

Daenerys and Drogon make short work out of the scorpions posted on the city walls before taking up a post in the center of the city. The Lannister forces take one look at this situation and are like, AWWW HELL NAH and immediately drop their weapons. Soon, people are calling out for someone to ring the bells and after a long while, the bells begin pealing.

Yay! It’s all over, and we can all enjoy the last episode which will be the joyous occasion of Daenerys’ coronation. The end.

No, instead what happens is after King’s Landing unilaterally surrenders to Daenerys after maybe all of five minutes of dragon fire, something in Dany snaps and she begins DRACARYSING ALL OF KING’S LANDING, BURNING IT ALL TO THE GROUND, STREET BY INNOCENT-FILLED STREET.

Jon, Tyrion, and Cersei:

Grey Worm, however, is ALL ABOUT IT, and he and the Unsullied begin slaughtering surrendered Lannister troops. Jon tries to tell his men to back the fuck up, but they are not listening, not after all the shit the Lannisters have pulled in the past eight seasons. RED WEDDING, MOTHERFUCKERS. THE NORTH REMEMBERS.

So, while all this chaos is happening in the streets, Jaime is desperately trying to find his way inside the Red Keep and decides to use the super-secret sea entrance that Tyrion told him about. Except! First, he has to fight his way past one Sea Pacey who, somehow did not die when a giant fire-breathing dragon blew up his ship. OK.

Fight fight fight and the battle for Cersei’s cunt ends with Sea Pacey getting a few good stabs in on Jamie, but Jaime ultimately stabbing Sea Pacey through the gut. We unfortunately do not have the pleasure of watching Sea Pacey die, however, and as Jaime stomps into the castle, Sea Pacey cackles that he got Jaime and that he’s the man who killed Jaime Lannister.

Narrator: He wasn’t.

R.I.P. Sea Pacey?

Inside the Red Keep, Qyburn urges Cersei to get out of the castle and go to Maegor’s Holdfast (which is where she and Sansa rode out the Battle of Blackwater) and she reluctantly agrees just as Daenerys finally gets around to attacking the Red Keep itself instead of all the strip malls and hotels and Whataburgers of King’s Landing.

As for Arya and The Hound, they have made their way inside the Red Keep, but shit is literally falling apart all around them. Arya still has that bitch Cersei on her list, but The Hound urges her to go back — Cersei is going to die either by a dragon eating her or her castle falling on her head. Arya is insistent, but The Hound tells her that her thirst for revenge will be her undoing as it has been his. If she stays, she’ll die, too. As he marches off to kill his brother, Arya calls after him: “Sandor, thank you,” and she leaves, having taken his advice.

The Hound finds FrankenMountain on the stairs, escorting Cersei and Qyburn. Qyburn orders FrankenMountain to protect his queen, but for his troubles, FrankenMountain crushes Qyburn’s head like a soft fruit.

R.I.P. Qyburn?

Cersei wants no part of what is about to happen here and slides past The Hound.

And the long-awaited CleaganeBowl, it finally happens. Fight fight fight but it’s kinda hard to fight a zombie, especially when putting your sword all the way through him does nothing, and putting your smaller blade into his eye and all the way through the back of his skull does nothing. The Hound is at a distinct disadvantage and nearly has his eyes popped a la Viper. Realizing what he must do, The Hound tackles his brother, knocking them both through the weakened castle wall and into the fire below.

R.I.P. Sandor Cleagane.

R.I.P. FrankenMountain. Again.

As for Cersei, she has a big romantic reunion with Jaime in the Map Room (NO.), where she worries that he’s been wounded. (NO.) The two hurry down to the basement where they try to make their exit, but it’s been blocked off by rubble. As Cersei panics and cries about how she wants their baby to live, Jaime tells her to just look at him, that nothing else matters, only them. (NO.) He embraces her as the building crumbles on top of them, killing them both. (NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.)

R.I.P. Cersei. You were a bad bitch in both meanings of the term.

R.I.P. Jaime.

R.I.P. Jaime’s character development.

Meanwhile, outside, Arya is trying to escape this goddamned city, and maybe save one or two people along the way — specifically that mother and child we were introduced to earlier, whom she repeats The Hound’s warning that if they stay there, they’ll die. Arya gets knocked down, trampled, she loses both mother and child to some dragon fire, and eventually she’s knocked unconscious.

When Arya comes to, the mother and child have been burnt to a crisp, as has most of the city. But! In the middle of all this destruction is a white horse just chilling out, so she gets on it and rides her ass out of King’s Landing. BYE, BITCHES.

amy-poehler-emmys-deuces-bye

Where to begin? Where to begin. Perhaps with a deep heaving sigh? A long primal scream? Tears?

How about what I liked about this episode, how about we start in a positive place. Arya and The Hound’s final moment together was an emotional moment that was well-earned by the show. Everything about this exchange, from The Hound’s genuine care and worry for Arya, to Arya finding the father figure she lost when Ned died in the first season, to her calling him “Sandor” instead of “The Hound” or even “Cleagane” and thereby humanizing him, it was real. And it felt right.

Now what they do next with Arya … but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The other thing that I genuinely appreciated about this episode was that the destruction of King’s Landing was spectacular to look at. If the Battle of Winterfell was too dark to see anything, this sequence certainly helped make up for it. It was gorgeous, and terrifying, and awesome in the literal meaning of the word: it filled one with awe.

But just because something was cool to look at doesn’t make it good storytelling. BUT WE’LL ALSO GET TO THAT IN JUST A MINUTE. OH YES WE WILL.

Before we go further, let me pause here to state that my problem with this episode, and this season as a whole, is not where the plot has taken us — I am fine with Daenerys going full Mad Queen and destroying King’s Landing with her dragon. I mean, if there is a dragon in the first act, it is going to destroy some shit in the third. My problem is that because the showrunners rushed this and last season, the character development required for these plot points to unfold in a logical fashion has been completely botched.

Let’s take Varys for starters. Why on earth does he (and to some lesser degree, Tyrion) suddenly change his mind about Daenerys ruling just because Jon is also a Targaryen? Like, I get the whole primogeniture argument and we will get to that in a second, but what did she do to make him worry that she was going crazy and becoming so dangerous that he needed to poison her? What was it? That she had a sad because HER BEST FRIEND AND HER CHILD HAD BEEN BRUTALLY MURDERED IN FRONT OF HER?

At the end of season six, Varys was up in here talking about FIRE AND BLOOD! And now he is having a worried that the dragon queen he is responsible for keeping alive long enough to return to Westeros, and whose return to Westeros he coordinated, might use her dragon to take back the throne he has long believed rightfully belonged to her? WHAT DID HE THINK THE DRAGONS WERE FOR?

I understand his argument that Jon would be an easier sell to the lords of Winterfell — he’s a dude for staters, and a war hero and everyone likes him, and he has the more legitimate claim to the throne. But may I point out one flaw in all of these arguments?

DRAGONS. You know who didn’t have a claim to any part of Westeros? AEGON TARGARYEN, THE FIRST OF HIS NAME. Aegon didn’t wait around for the lords of Westeros to vote him into office — he took Westeros because he had FUCKING DRAGONS. He was a conqueror, he conquered. It wasn’t a popularity contest.

And as far as I can tell, DAENERYS IS THE ONLY ONE UP IN HERE WITH A GODDAMNED DRAGON. So everyone else can SIT. DOWN.

But also, too, I have a hard time believing that Varys would genuinely believe that Ned Stark Junior would make a good king. Varys liked Ned, but he also knew that Ned’s goodness was his doom — HE TOLD NED AS MUCH. So why on earth would Varys think that Jon would be any safer, or less manipulatable on the Iron Throne?

Now Jon would be safer on the Iron Throne with the backing of a dragon, so why does Varys just shrug away the idea of marrying Jon and Daenerys? I mean, yes, I see that Jon is reluctant to be with his aunt, and Daenerys would be reluctant to share her throne, but the WHOLE POINT of characters like Varys and Tyrion is that they are master manipulators who through their cleverness and wit bend people to their will. It just doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to convince Jon to marry the woman he is in love with for the good of the realm, and it wouldn’t be difficult to convince Daenerys that she had to share the throne with Jon to make the people of Westeros love her. Back in Meereen, Daenerys was willing to marry Hizdahr zo Loraq whom she did not love so as to maintain peace; why wouldn’t she be willing to marry Jon, a man she does love, to do the same?

NONE OF THIS MAKES A LICK OF SENSE.

And then there are the Lannisters. All three siblings — some of the best-written characters on the show — have all been done a terrible disservice in this past season.

Lena Headly has been positively wasted this season. Cersei, one of the great villainesses ever written, has done nothing — NOTHING — but stare out of windows and occasionally smirk. That’s it. Even the one thing that she did that might have some consequence when all is said and done — send an assassin to threaten her brothers — even that she relegated to her Hand to take care of, because I guess she couldn’t be pulled away from all the important staring out the window business she had to take care of.

There was no nuance to her character, there was no exploration of her as queen or what she cared about as a leader or why it was so important for her to rule. In the books, we have insight into Cersei’s psyche and as such she is a much richer character. She is a woman who has felt underestimated and overlooked her entire life just because of her gender. She is not as clever as she thinks she is — she is always being out-thought and out-maneuvered by Tyrion. But she has a real reason for her anger and her spitefulness, and it would have been interesting to see that woman and how she ruled on the Iron Throne. But that’s not what we were given.

DOIN’ IMPORTANT WINDOW STUFF.

As for Tyrion, where did our clever Imp go? Ever since Tyrion hitched his wagon to Dany’s star (and ever since the book material was no longer available), he has made dumb blunder after dumb blunder. He tries to make nice time with the slavers and terrorists in Meereen in Daenerys’ absence; his military strategy in Westeros lost Dorne, the Reach, and the Iron Islands; and he is constantly dithering when it comes to Cersei, believing and trusting her to do the right thing when NOTHING IN HER CHARACTER HAS EVER SUGGESTED SHE WOULD DO THE RIGHT THING. EVER. SHE SPENT MOST SEASONS DEMANDING HIS HEAD. WHY IS HE BEING NICE TO HER NOW?

And then there’s Jaime, whose entire arc over the course of eight seasons had been bending towards hero, only to in the course of one and a half episodes undo all of that character work.

First of all, FIRST OF ALL, how is it that the same man who violated his oath as a Kingsguard and murdered King Aerys to save King’s Landing, and who left his sisterwife to go north to fight for the living, how is this SAME CHARACTER going to be up in here talking about how he never much cared for the common people of King’s Landing? Where did THAT come from?

But second of all, Jaime knew why Daenerys and Jon and the Unsullied and the Dothraki and the northern troops and his brother Tyrion and a MOTHERFUCKING DRAGON were going to King’s Landing, and it wasn’t to surrender to Cersei. So why would the news that Cersei had gained some sort of advantage over Daenerys in the form of killing her dragon make Jaime rethink his plan to stay in the north with Brienne unless he was worried that Daenerys might actually lose this, and he felt the need to play his part in taking down Cersei by being the only person who could get close enough to her to kill her?

Look, I know that Jaime didn’t care about Daenerys — that he went to join the fight at Winterfell because he saw the zombie threat, and was worried for what it might mean for the rest of the living in Westeros. But his entire arc, his entire relationship with Brienne and how it contrasted so sharply with his relationship with Cersei, was leading him towards being a heroic figure, to understanding that Cersei was an existential threat to the people that he just nearly died fighting to protect. And it just rings fucking hollow that he would turn his back on all of that development to go be with a woman WHO JUST SENT AN ASSASSIN TO KILL HIM IN THE PREVIOUS EPISODE.

My buddy Andrew Dansby made a decent argument for Jaime returning to Cersei, comparing him to an addict who slides back into bad old habits. And maybe that is what is happening here, but thanks to the compressed season we are dealing with, this explanation is never given enough breathing room and time to develop so that it makes sense. Had we had one or two more episodes where Jaime really struggled with his feelings or had Jaime really seemed conflicted rather than determined when he left Cersei for the north, maybe this would have made sense. It was just entirely too fast a reversal for a character who had changed so much.

And don’t get me started on the valonqar prophecy. Red flags should have gone up when the showrunners removed the part of the witch’s prophecy for Ceresi that said, “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Clearly, the showrunners, for whatever reason, decided that whoever the valonqar was, Jaime or Tyrion, they were not going to be the one to kill Cersei and they just removed that entirely from the show. I always believed that Jamie was the valonqar because I felt that as twins and lovers it made sense for them to come into this world together and to exit it together. Also, killing Cersei to save the people of King’s Landing would be the ultimate sacrifice in Jaime’s hero’s arc — she would be his Nissa Nissa to his Azor Ahai.

(Also, it bothers me that they took out the valonqar prophecy from the series because it colored so much of Cersei’s hatred towards Tyrion. Cersei assumed that the little brother was him, and therefore she lived in fear, at least subconsciously, of him, worried that he would kill her. It’s a reason, in part, she was desperate to kill him, and why she always assumed the worst of him.)

BUT ALSO, TOO, WHAT WAS THIS ROMANTIC DEATH BULLSHIT? Even if you could sell me on the idea that Jaime returned to Cersei because he was in love and not because she needed some choking, neither of them earned that death. WHY WHY WHY should Cersei have the comfort of her brother in her dying moments? She is a GODDAMNED HOMICIDAL MONSTER who killed hundreds of innocents in the Sept explosion, killed her husband the king, caused the death of her youngest child, and left the people of Winterfell — in theory and in her mind, her people — to be attacked by ice zombies. SHE DOES NOT GET TO BE COMFORTED IN DEATH.

Also, is this the most boring Lannister death? Tywin: shot with a crossbow on the toilet by his son; Joffrey: poisoned at his wedding; Myrcella: the kiss of death; Tommen: suicide after watching the sept explode in wildfire with his wife inside; Cersei and Jaime: some rocks fall on their heads.

But even this, even this is not the most maddening part of the episode. That honor belongs to Daenerys and her becoming the Mad Queen.

I am not here to argue that Daenerys should not turn bad. Like I said, Chekhov’s dragon all but insured that she was going to destroy King’s Landing. I’m furious at the lack of buildup towards this inevitable outcome. I get it: she realizes that no one in Westeros likes her; she has this threat to her claim to the throne from the one person she loves, and who doesn’t seem to be able to love her back; she has been betrayed by her closest advisors; this bitch Cersei, she killed one of her “children” and her best friend; and she’s been itching to sack King’s Landing for a while now. But none of those are compelling explanations for why Daenerys would, after the people of King’s Landing had surrendered to her, go full crazy and start melting them with her dragon.

First of all, save your argument that they showed us Daenerys slowly becoming more dangerous over time. Things that people are pointing to as evidence that Daenerys was always thisclose to murdering innocents:

  1. She killed all those slave owners that one time.
  2. She killed the Tarlys via dragon when they refused to bend the knee.
  3. She killed Varys via dragon.

I will counter with:

BITCHES HAD IT COMING.

  1. The slave owners were FUCKING SLAVE OWNERS who killed women and children and eventually a lot of Daenerys’ people including the wonderful Ser Barristan
  2. The Tarlys should have bent the knee — killing them via dragon might have been harsh, but Daenerys wanted to make a point to any other Lannister allies who might get ideas about her not being taken seriously. ALSO, DON’T PLAY CHICKEN WITH A DRAGONQUEEN.
  3. VARYS WAS TRYING TO POISON HER.

I second all of these decisions on her part.

And don’t come at me with the Crazy Targaryen nonsense. I know, Targaryens be crazy. Daenerys’ father was crazy and he tried to burn King’s Landing, so obviously … Except the thing that is not shown on the show is that like Daenerys, her father wasn’t always crazy. However, he descended into madness after the deaths of three sons and being imprisoned for a year and a half. It didn’t overtake him in an instant. ALSO, also, his decision to burn King’s Landing, though certainly crazy, it least made a certain amount of cruel sense: he didn’t want to give his enemies anything. If he couldn’t rule King’s Landing, NO ONE WOULD.

None of this applies to Daenerys. She cracks in a moment, and instead of doing something that would make sense — turn her dragons on the Red Keep, and kill her only real enemy — she attacks the people of King’s Landing after they’ve surrendered to her. The only reason being because she’s sad that Jon doesn’t love her and stuff?

Again, I am not angry that Daenerys went full Mad Queen. This was always going to be where this show went. It makes sense both narratively and within the larger themes of this series. No, what I am angry about is that they took what should have been 20 episodes of material (or even 30) and condensed them into 14.

Allow me to make a short diversion into the books. During Robert’s Rebellion, The Mountain killed Prince Rhaegar’s (Jon’s dad) wife, Elia, and their two children, Rhaenys and Aegon, who was a baby. Except, in the books, there is a character running around known as Young Griff who might or might not be Aegon. The story he tells Tyrion is that Varys swapped Aegon with a poor man’s baby, and that is who The Mountain actually killed. Meanwhile, Young Griff was given to one of Rhaegar’s old friends, Jon Connington, who goes by the alias “Griff,” to raise as his own son.

When we meet them, the Griffs are on their way to Essos to try to marry Young Griff [or (f)Aegon — “fake Aegon”] to Daenerys. That doesn’t happen, but he does convince Harry Strickland and the Golden Company to support him in his efforts to retake the Iron Throne. By the end of the most recent books, he has landed at Westeros and taken Storm’s End.

Now, it’s very possible that in the books, (f)Aegon will be the one to take King’s Landing back from the Lannisters and be the king that Daenerys faces at the end of the series. If he, this probably fake Targaryen, is welcomed by the people of Westeros, if he is beloved by them, and if they reject Daenerys when she finally makes her arrival in the west after being this messianic figure in Essos, and after saving the people in the north at the loss of one of her dragons, I can see a scenario where she snaps and burns King’s Landing in a fit of rage.

I do believe it is true to Daenerys’ character that her trigger point would be that gulf between her expectations of being beloved in Westeros the way she was in Essos, and the reality that the people of Westeros like someone better, someone who supposedly has a better claim to the throne than she does. That is certainly what the showrunners are trying to get at. The problem is it fails to land because the only people who have so far rejected Daenerys in favor of Jon are the Northernmen and the Wildlings. So — crazy Targaryens be crazy or not — why would she punish King’s Landing for that?

The show decided for reasons of expediency and to avoid confusing viewers with even more characters to not include the Young Griff/(f)Aegon plot at all, and that’s fine — better, probably. But they could have arrived at the same place — with Daenerys, furious that Westeros loved someone more than her and choosing to burn it all down — had they not rushed through these past two seasons. (And maybe even added another season.)

For argument’s sake, if we’re going to keep the eight season model, season seven should have ended with the Battle of Winterfell, and the revelation of Jon’s parentage becoming common knowledge — not just to Daenerys, but to errrrrrrybody. Then, season eight would have been a lot more politicking and conniving, as the Lords of Westeros start to receive the news that Jon has this potential claim to the throne. (It also would have been useful to keep Littlefinger alive for all of this, making trouble, and possibly aligning himself with Daenerys to place wicked thoughts in her head.) We would see Daenerys slowly unravel as more and more houses agree that Cersei should be removed from the Iron Throne — but in favor of Jon. Ultimately, Daenerys decides she can wait no longer, she must take King’s Landing for herself before Jon has too many allies. She raids the city, the people cry out for Jon Snow — or she imagines them to — and she kills the innocent.

This also would have allowed more time for Varys to change his mind about her and be working behind her back, and for Jaime to either realize he wasn’t over Cersei and needs to save her — or that the situation is unsustainable and as long as she’s alive, she is putting too many innocent lives in danger. Either way, it would have given both characters more time for their choices and motivations to make more sense than they did here.

Oh, and also in my rewrite, JAIME AND BRIENNE DO NOT MAKE THE SEX.

As for what is going to happen in the finale — I don’t know and it’s probably too late to make any guesses. Not that it’s going to stop me.

As much as I think Jon Snow should die at the end of this series (in large part because technically, Jon’s a zombie, too, and kinda needs to die, and also there’s a part of me that believes what Game of Thrones is really about is the end of the Targaryens) I’m leaning towards Jon killing Daenerys and then self-exiling to the north to go hang with the Wildlings and his poor neglected direwolf. This would line up with a few things, most especially the Azor Ahai story — he must sacrifice the woman he loves to end the “darkness.” (It also would help explain why Jaime didn’t kill Cersei — the writers may not have decided having two men kill their lovers in back-to-back episodes wouldn’t be well-received.) But it also has echoes of his great-great-uncle and Night’s Watch buddy, Aemon Targaryen, who rejected the Iron Throne and took the black so that no one would use him to challenge his brother’s reign.

As for who takes the Iron Throne if Daenerys does die: I don’t know, but it better not be Bran as a lot of people, including oddsmakers in Las Vegas, are guessing.

1. He has ABSOLUTELY no claim to the Throne — hell, Gendry and Tyrion both have a better claim to it. 2. Never mind the fact that he is not interested in being a ruler, HE’S NOT EVEN HUMAN ANYMORE, HE’S A FUCKING BIRD WIZARD. YOU ARE GOING TO TELL ME WITH A STRAIGHT FACE THAT A BIRD WIZARD WHO SPENDS ALL HIS TIME ZONING OUT AND WATCHING MOVIES IS GOING TO BE A BETTER RULER THAN SOMEONE LIKE SANSA WHO ACTUALLY GIVES A SHIT IF PEOPLE ARE FED AND HOUSED AND PROTECTED?

I SWEAR TO GOD, IF THEY CHOOSE BRAN, I’M GOING TO DRACARYS SOME MOTHERFUCKERS MY DAMN SELF.

Sidenote: speaking of Bran, quick question: IS HIS ABILITY TO TRAVEL THROUGH TIME ACTUALLY GOING TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING BESIDES KILLING POOR HODOR OR NAH?

All that being said, since Sansa is not going to be the one to take the Throne even though she’s the only competent person left, let it be Tyrion. It won’t be, but it should be.

As for Arya, there’s a lot of speculation that she will be the one to kill Daenerys, and I’m not opposed to it — she still hasn’t used her face-changing trick this season, after all. But I worry it would undo the one redemptive moment of this episode, when The Hound finally got through to Arya and she rejected death. To have her throw that all away to eke out some revenge on Dany would be to throw away all of her character development and they surely wouldn’t do that this late in the game, right?

That just leaves us with a handful of other characters: Sansa, who I guess will be the Lady of Winterfell, or even maybe Queen in the North; Tyrion who should go take over the family home at Casterly Rock or, like I said, sit on the Iron Throne, but will more likely continue to be someone else’s hand; Brienne, who I suppose will be Sansa’s Queensguard; Samwell and Gilly, who can now return to Horn Hill where he would be Lord; Yara is now the undisputed ruler of the Iron Islands; Bronn and his crossbow are going to return to make some trouble for Tyrion; Grey Worm, Davos and Podrick who … ???; and Drogon, who I worry will die if Daenerys dies, but who with all my heart I hope flies back to Essos to go lay some eggs.

Alright, that’s all I got. Good luck, God speed, I hope all your theories come true and you’re not left screaming at your television that you’ve been betrayed.

Valar morghulis.

Game of Thrones airs on HBO on Sundays at 8 p.m./9 p.m., CST/EST

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3 thoughts on “‘Game of Thrones’: Hell’s Bells

  1. Yes, everything just seems rushed, way too rushed and major plot points from previous seasons completely ignored. Next we’ll find out they were actually dead the whole time.

    Like

  2. The final words between Arya and Sandor were great … and I’m surprised we got them. B&W took an epic saga and turned it into a movie of the week. This last season has been too hurried and too poorly written. Characters have not been properly motivated, developed or explained. A few more episodes to build things out would have been nice, but they might have been more of the same, so maybe it’s better we didn’t get them.

    Oh, and definite agreement on the Jaime-Brienne sex thing. Cheapened them both and for no purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

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