Game of Thrones Episode Review: The Bells

Season 8, Episode 5

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And so… The Mad Queen has arrived. Something that has been signposted for weeks still managed to remain shocking, not for the act itself but for the sheer extent of the violence and destruction that Dany going full Aerys Targaryen wrought on King’s Landing. Tyrion Lannister is supposed to drink and know things. This week he did neither. Varys tried to warn him and like so many others that have stood up to The Mad Queen, he ended up a smoking pile of ashes.

After The Battle of Winterfell was draped in an obsidian darkness, the taking of King’s Landing was illuminated in dragon fire. There were no shadows in which to hide here. It doesn’t matter if you are Dothraki, Unsullied or Jamie Lannister himself, everybody burns the same. Daenerys has always claimed to be fair – well, she favoured neither woman nor child as King’s Landing burnt. A decision that will be her legacy. You can’t un-ring a bell and just as the bells that should have brought salvation fell on deaf ears, any hint of justification that Daenerys might seek for her actions will be ignored. The lines are clear now. You either stand with her as a villain, or you fight against her for justice.

Elsewhere, CleganeBowl came and went in a flurry of fists, crumbling walls and brutality. It could never live up to its billing and it has arguably come a couple of seasons too late, but the finale was truly breathtaking. Seeing The Hound laughing at the futility of it all before plunging him and his brother into the eternal flames was one of the most visually memorable moments of the entire season. And just like that… they were gone.

This was a tragic, nightmarish episode of television that pushed the message that war is hell more than any other battle that Game of Thrones has attempted. There were no heroes here. No redemption. No hope for a better future. Just senseless, insane savagery and unforgivable cruelty.

Daenerys Targaryen is The Mad Queen. Tremble before her.


  • RIP: Qyburn, The Mountain, The Hound, Varys, Euron Greyjoy, Cersei Lannister and Jamie Lannister. My dream of seeing J-Lan sitting atop the Iron Throne where he belongs has sadly been crushed with him.
  • The problem with the loss of so many key characters is that we are still stuck with Jon Snow and Dany. This was the last episode in which we might have lost one of them forever. Aw well. Team Arya then I guess?
  • I’m all for slow motion but there was too much of it this episode. It was effective in bursts but it felt like director Miguel Sapochnik relied on this technique a little too much.
  • No matter what happens now Game of Thrones has firmly planted itself in the television hall of fame. It’s hard to imagine life without the Stark’s and the Lannister’s. Without Winterfell and King’s Landing. Drink it in while it’s still here. See you next week for the finale… Wow.

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