Game Of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 5

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This was the most consequential episode in game of Thrones history. The penultimate episode of the series was an extremely tense visual stunner that had an enormous impact on most of the major characters. Several fan hâm mộ favorites are dead. Daenerys went Full Targaryen. Tyrion committed treason. The loyalty of Dany’s remaining supporters — including Jon Snow — is now in question. The Cleganebowl happened. And Arya decided khổng lồ choose life over vengeance.

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In a way, the episode — titled “The Bells” — felt lượt thích a response khổng lồ the criticisms of the Battle of Winterfell even though it was filmed at roughly the same time. “Episode 3 was too dark.” Oh, you think so? How’s this for some battle clarity? “The first battle was overhyped.” Okay, here’s a second battle that was kept totally secret. “Not enough major characters died in the first battle.” Well, buckle up buddy. (Both episodes, by the way, were directed by “Battle of the Bastards” helmer Miguel Sapochnik).


I have a lot of thoughts about this one, especially about Dany’s “Mad Queen” turn và Arya’s big decision.


On the beach, Varys intercepts Jon Snow as he arrives. Varys urges him lớn take the crown for himself and Jon, of course, refuses. “Every time a Targaryen is born the gods toss a coin,” Varys says. “I still don’t know how her coin has landed, but I’m quite certain about yours.”


In the castle, Daenerys looks unlike we’ve ever seen her before. The grieving Mother of Dragon’s hair và makeup team apparently went down with the rest of her fleet last week. She’s visited by Tyrion who informs her that somebody has betrayed her. “Jon Snow,” she says. In a way, Dany is correct. If it wasn’t for Jon Snow going against her wishes, Tyrion wouldn’t have found out about his parentage & then Varys wouldn’t have started maneuvering to lớn betray her.


Daenerys sees this as Sansa’s treachery. So many fans blasted Sansa last week for not keeping Jon’s secret. But notice what Dany is saying. Couldn’t this have been a clever Littlefinger-like plot rather than a moment of weakness confiding in a friend? Watching that scene, it was tough lớn tell. Perhaps it was a bit of both? Sansa was throwing a bomb into Dany’s inner circle and had to know it would explode.


For Tyrion, this is a tough situation. Tyrion likes Varys, who once saved his life. But Tyrion is also a survivalist. He’s already on thin ice with Dany & if he doesn’t tell his queen about Varys’ treachery, then when she finds out he’s dead too. Tyrion has made a lot of blunders the last couple seasons, but ratting out Varys isn’t one of them.


Later, Grey Worm gets Varys from his room. The Spider taking off his rings really got me. He’s brought khổng lồ the beach. This is where Melisandre once sacrificed heretics lớn the Lord of Light so many seasons ago. Now a different burning is about lớn take place, but the night is still dark và now it’s full of even worse terrors. “I hope I’m wrong,” Varys tells Tyrion. “Truly I do.” But you can see it in his face — Varys is certain he’s right. Tyrion gives him a kind touch, the last he’ll ever feel, and Varys looks surprised.


Dany executes Varys with a blast from Drogon, who emerges out of the darkness behind her lượt thích a beautiful demon. The mode of execution is rather fitting as castrated Varys’ genitals were tossed into a magical fire when he was a kid, inspiring his lifetime dislike & distrust of sorcery. Now the rest of him is consumed a magic-induced fire as well.


Why, exactly, was Varys executed? It’s not made perfectly clear. But Varys has been writing letters, possible trying khổng lồ out Jon Snow as the true heir to lớn various lords. His conversation with his young spy who worked in the kitchen suggested he might have been plotting lớn poison the queen, who had been refusing to lớn eat. Plus his conversations with Tyrion & Jon treasonous as well.


Later, Tyrion tries lớn convince Dany, one last time, khổng lồ show restraint and not attack the city. We’re supposed to be entirely on his side, morally speaking. But the residents of King’s Landing are Cersei’s responsibility & she can only hold them up as human shields while deliberately provoking a dragon-riding Targaryen khổng lồ attack for so long before she shares some blame too.


Tyrion also brings up Meereen, which is an important reminder of Mad Queen foreshadowing. Remember Dany’s first instinct when Meereen was under bombardment by the slave cities in season 6? “I will crucify the masters,” Dany declared. “I will set their fleets afire. I will kill every last one of their soldiers and return their cities khổng lồ the dirt. That’s my plan.” Tyrion talked her out of it. At the time we thought, Well, Dany probably didn’t really mean it. But she did. She’s said other things like this too along the way. In season 2, Dany likbellelook.vnise promised, “We will lay waste to armies and burn cities lớn the ground.” & in season 6, she asked the Dothraki lớn pledge to “kill my enemies in their iron suits & tear down their stone houses.” Time và again, we dismissed such talk as bluster. It wasn’t.


And once again, Tyrion gets Dany khổng lồ hold back, or seems to. Tyrion says he’ll sneak into the city & try to lớn convince his sister to lớn surrender one final time. If successful, he’ll ring the city’s bells signaling for Dany khổng lồ stop the attack.


Dany then reveals lớn Tyrion that Jaime Lannister was caught trying lớn sneak behind enemy lines. She warns Tyrion — just as she warned Varys last season — that she will execute him if he betrays her.


So what’s Tyrion going to do? Again, lượt thích Varys, he goes for broke. He visits his imprisoned brother và decides lớn release him, just as Jaime freed Tyrion in season 4. Tyrion rightly realizes Cersei is far more likely khổng lồ listen to lớn Jaime. The two have a very touching và emotional goodbye. “Tens of thousands of innocent lives, one not particularly innocent dwarf, seems like a fair trade,” Tyrion says. “If it weren’t for you I never would have survived my childhood. You were the only one who didn’t treat me lượt thích a monster.” Tyrion also reveals a secret passage out of the Red Keep for the two to lớn escape.


We’re teased here with a happy ending for the Lannister twins: Sailing off to start a nbellelook.vn life together sombellelook.vnhere far away, just as Grey Worm and Missandei dreamed about. Tyrion knows he’s never going to see his brother alive again, one way or the other.


And Tyrion now seems dead either way. If he marched into the Red Keep to have a chat with Cersei, she’d either kill him or he would have perished in the attack. But by sending Jaime in his place, Tyrion is committing treason. His best option would have been to vì nothing — stay at Dragonstone và keep Jaime locked up for his own safety and sit back và let Dany be Dany. But doing nothing và risking nothing is also the selfish move that Cersei would have done.


King’s Landing: At first, Daenerys’ attacking King’s Landing is super gratifying. She wipes out the Iron Fleet, figuring out what fans pointed out last week that, ohhh, you can circle behind the ships to lớn blast the scorpions. Euron escapes to safety. She also takes out the scorpions on the castle walls (it would be wiser for Dany lớn attack at night, but after the Battle of Winterfell we’re happy for the daylight action).


For Daenerys, the battle for King’s Landing is now pretty simple. Once she gets all the scorpions, the city is hers. So now what?


Red Keep: Qyburn gives Cersei the bad nbellelook.vns. Cersei is in denial as always. “The Red Keep has never fallen, it will not fall today.”


So much of the lead up khổng lồ the big turn is directed with such gorgeous precision & suspense. Ramin Djawadi nail-biting score ratchets the tension to another level.


We get a standoff. Jon Snow, Grey Worm, & Davos with the Unsullied confront the remaining Golden Company troops. Dany on Drogon perched on the đô thị ramparts. Cersei staring out from the Red Keep. Cries from the people lớn ring the bells.


Will Cersei ring the bells? No. She won’t. But somebody does anyway. She looks fine about this, perhaps even relieved that the decision was taken out of her hands. The Lannister troops throw down their swords lớn surrender.


But Dany has other ideas. She’s high on destruction. She doesn’t want peace. She’s staring at the Red Keep và looks furious. She could stop all this but … well…she just doesn’t want to.


Dany flies into King’s Landing và blasts away. Buildings, civilians, everyone. The Mad Queen has arrived. Her house words are “Fire & Blood” & she’s delivering both.


Tyrion watches this và realizes: He was wrong about Dany.


Jon Snow watches her & realizes: He was wrong about Dany too.


We watch Daenerys và … wait, were we wrong as well?


Did we already think Dany was capable of this? Or were we in denial about her murderous ways? Did we really think somebody who crucified 163 people because she assumed they were all responsible for killing slaves was a good person? Or vì chưng we feel this is an unfair trick; that writers of GoT are pushing a Mad Queen narrative against Dany’s character?


Remember that scene in season 2 in the House of the Undying? Dany had a vision of walking through the Red Keep. The ceiling was broken open and there was this trắng stuff falling into the throne room. We assumed that was snow and that winter had come lớn the South. In this episode, at long last, Dany really is in King’s Landing và the Red Keep really is being destroyed. But there’s no snow. We see that white stuff was actually ash, the ash that’s now raining across the city. Dany’s the queen of the ashes. So this turn was foreshadowed from the show’s very early days.


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There were plenty of moments in previous seasons to support Daenerys going Mad Queen. Has the show been a bit tricky in playing her murderous moments as heroic & only recently seemed khổng lồ want us khổng lồ really question them? Perhaps. But I wouldn’t say GoT has been suddenly pushing the idea that Dany is bad so much as doing what a good drama does in its final act — putting its protagonist to the ultimate test of character. & in doing so, the thing that GoT is actually pushing is a debate about Dany’s morality, bringing that question into the foreground of the show after letting it sit quietly in the background for so long.


We think Daenerys is a good person because she’s happily made so many benevolent choices to try và make the world a better place. Those choices tended khổng lồ be made when Daenerys was feeling calm & secure. When you have two armies & three dragons it’s easy khổng lồ decide you’re going khổng lồ banish slavery because you can. But the show has also pretty consistently shown that when Daenerys gets really-really angry she rather nimbly leaps lớn “kill them all in the most painful way possible” as the best solution regardless of whether it’s fully justified or not. & she’s never been angrier than she is now.

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Since season 7, Dany’s lost two dragons, her two most trusted friends and advisors (Ser Jorah and Missandei), and has gone from ruling a land where she was worshipped lớn a continent where — as she puts it — nobody loves her. Dany didn’t seem like she needed that big of a push to nuke a city, and the final season has given her a really hard shove. What she does here is a lot lượt thích Aegon I Targaryen’s burning of Harrenhal lớn conquer Westeros in the first place.


And yet…and yet…it’s definitely shocking that Dany opts lớn just start nuking civilians when it’s so clear she didn’t have to. That is rightly shocking. Characters hopefully sometimes vị shocking things otherwise they’re utterly predictable và dull. The debate is whether this is an earned “character surprises you” moment or — as one tín đồ grieved on Twitter — “character assassination.”


I suspect the key is Dany’s quote earlier about ruling by fear. She doesn’t just want to lớn win, she wants to lớn teach Westeros a lesson after all her struggle. No more traitors, no more lords refusing the bend the knee, no more perceived disrespect — all that’s over. If you mess with Dany, this is what happens and now everybody will fall in line. Of course, maybe this wasn’t about any kind of ngắn gọn xúc tích all. Varys warned about Targaryen predisposition lớn madness. Perhaps we’re meant to believe Dany just finally snapped.


If I’m pushed to lớn criticize, then I’d say that I wished season 8 had more episodes to lớn play Dany’s arc out a bit longer, but I also know the production gave the final season everything they had given the màn chơi of production required khổng lồ pull off its battle sequences.


One thing is certain: All those parents out there who named their kid “Daenerys” are going lớn super annoyed.


The Hound và Arya: The Hound talks Arya into not entering the Red Keep with him. “If you come with me, you’ll die,” he says. “Cersei’s dead anyway. Vày you need to lớn die with her?” Cersei has been on Arya’s menu of names for so long. But Arya decides she’s had enough of death and changes her mind.


I’m disappointed not to lớn get an Arya/Cersei scene because that would have been amazing. I can’t help but imagine a scene where Arya sneaks in and confronts Cersei và then changes her mind.


But Arya killing Cersei lượt thích so many have predicted would have been a terrible ending for Cersei, reducing her death lớn punishment for her season 1 sins and making irrelevant everything that Cersei has done since then. The “right” death for Cersei, narratively speaking, is that she dies due lớn having made one terrible leadership decision after another — which is exactly what happens và Cersei is literally crushed by the collapsing weight of the building that symbolizes her nguồn (not entirely unlike the way she blbellelook.vn up her enemies at the end of season 6).


And besides, I love this turn for Arya and it really matters that her choice is made in the same episode as Dany torching the city. Because I’ve had some of the same concerns about Arya’s homicidal streak as I’ve had about Dany. Arya, too, has engaged in increasingly indiscriminate killing — wiping out that hall full of Freys because they’re part of that group, regardless of each individual’s guilt or innocence. And just like with Dany, we’ve cheered Arya’s murderousness và not questioned it because she’s another young nhân vật who’s gone through hell. But killing people has seemed to have less and less meaning lớn Arya. And as that happens, life has less and less meaning too.


So Arya chooses to let go of her vengeance — the opposite of Dany. Instead, Arya devotes the rest of the episode to lớn trying lớn help others, journeying ash-covered through the streets of King’s Landing, a sequence with a notable 9/11 feel. Arya also calls The Hound “Sandor” for the first time, offering him back a bit of his humanity too before the end.


The Hound, however, feels like he doesn’t have anything to lớn live for. He’s been waiting lớn fight his brother ever since Gregor held his little brother’s face into the fire when they were kids.


The Hound finds The Mountain. I lượt thích that there’s little hesitation. As soon as The Mountain sees him, the giant silently knows and agrees that this is totally happening. Qyburn foolishly tries khổng lồ stop The Mountain and gets killed. Cersei, in the only moment of levity in this episode, positively slithers past The Hound lớn get out of the way. Cersei looks lượt thích she’s at least 40 percent convinced The Hound is going khổng lồ kill her & really hoping lớn just skate on by.


They fight & it’s beautiful. The scene looks lượt thích some kind of Renaissance painting come to life. We get to see The Mountain’s Anakin Skywalker face. There’s a moment where we think The Mountain is going khổng lồ repeat his eye gouging trick but The Hound escapes. The Hound stabs The Mountain in the eye with a dagger, & that doesn’t stop him. The Hound realizes the only way lớn kill his brother is lớn sacrifice himself too — into the fire. Sandor faces his two greatest fears, his brother và the flames, và pulls them both over the edge. Peace for The Hound at last.


After the CleganeBowl, we get The Dane Bowl — Jaime vs. Euron (both played by Danish actors). Everybody predicted CleganeBowl, but nobody predicted this fight & it makes so much sense for both characters.


The fight tests Jaime’s left-handed sword fight training and Euron has a blast. Is it weird that I sort of admire Euron Greyjoy? Despite so many terrible qualities, Euron finds so much reckless joy in everything he does & there’s something appealing about that. He’s so thrilled khổng lồ be in this fight that he cannot really lose.


Euron mortally wounds Jaime with several devastating stabs khổng lồ the gut. Jaime is still able lớn finish him off.


“I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister,” Euron marvels with a smile on his face. He’s the only character on the show who’s ever been so thrilled to lớn perish.


Jaime finds Cersei who is in full panic mode as reality sets in. I can’t help but wonder what Tywin Lannister would have done differently if he was still in charge. It’s tough to imagine Tywin ever surrendering khổng lồ a Targaryen queen, yet I also can’t picture him letting King’s Landing get destroyed.


Jaime takes his sister down into the cellars where Tyrion told him there was a secret exit. For a moment, we think they’re going to lớn escape. They find the passage blocked. The giant dragon skull seems to lớn mock Cersei — a living dragon is destroying the thành phố above and here is a dead one down below, with Cersei about to lớn join it.


“I don’t want to lớn die, I don’t want our child to lớn die,” Cersei says, her icy composure breaking down completely for the first time in the show. (So, yup, still pregnant — Happy Mother’s Day everyone!).


Jaime realizes the over is near: “Just look at me, there’s only the two of us, we’re the only ones who matter.” Jaime soothes her by echoing her own words from years ago.


They’re staring at each other as the ceiling collapses, killing them both (yes, they’re really dead). They went out of the world as they came into it — together. As I’ve pointed out before in these recaps, Jaime & Cersei — for all that’s twisted about their relationship — otherwise have had the longest và most traditional romance on the show. Many thought that Jaime was going to return khổng lồ kill Cersei. But Jaime has always loved her even if we vì not. He’s the friend in the toxic relationship who won’t listen to lớn reason. & while Jaime fought with the Starks và found some romance with Brienne, nothing happened in Winterfell that would make Jaime suddenly hate Cersei, so why would he risk his life just khổng lồ kill her? The best way to lớn ensure Cersei’s death — if that’s what Jaime wanted — would have been khổng lồ stay with Brienne.


Returning khổng lồ Cersei in her hour of need was one of those things…we do…for love…


What the show has done here is pay off the long-foreshadowed Mad King moment. Years ago the last Targaryen king wanted khổng lồ destroy King’s Landing while it was under attack from Tywin Lannister along with Ned Stark, and then Jaime Lannister killed him. We’ve been reminded of this so many times that proper storytelling insists game of Thrones had khổng lồ somehow revisit that conflict và those decisions. What the showrunners have done is avoid simply repeating the past or opting for the most obvious paths. All the elements have come back together: An invasion, a Targaryen, The Kingslayer, Tywin’s other children, a Stark & the thành phố at risk of being destroyed by fire. Yet the elements have been remixed to lớn play out in an entirely nbellelook.vn và largely unexpected way.


bellelook.vn will have four big intervibellelook.vns about tonight’s episode. There’s one up right now with Conleth Hill, who plays Varys, & he gives a very candid perspective (“Nothing could console me…”) about what it was like to find out his storyline was ending & has some thoughts about the show’s treatment of his character.


You can also read Lena Headey’s insight about Cersei’s final moments, in which she says it may be “the first time that Cersei has been at peace.”


We also have an intervibellelook.vn with The Hound actor Rory McCann about the CleganeBowl — this is an actor who, lượt thích his character, “isn’t much of a talker.” So I was pretty thrilled to lớn get this much insight, và there’s a rather touching bit in there from Maisie Williams as well.


Oh, & here’s HBO’s trailer for the series finale. Also here are 7 times GoT foreshadowed Dany’s Mad Queen turn.

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Here’s this week’s podcast on iTunes, Radio.com, Spotify, Stitcher, or stream it below. Darren Franich and I probably disagreed more than we ever had on an epiosde in this one.