Before you start reading, this post is dark and full of spoilers!!! Close it and come back after you have seen the episode if you don’t want to see anything before watching!
Every week when I write these posts I find I’m itching to dive into them. This week however, it’s been a little harder because I’m not quite sure how I feel about episode five of this last season of Game of Thrones.
I watched it this morning before work, and after having it floating around in my head all day, I think “The Bells” will go down as a stunning episode on it’s own, but when you look at it in terms of the overall show and everything that has built to this episode, it’s not one of the best! The cinematography, the score, the big set pieces were all incredible to watch and hear. But I think some character arcs came to not too satisfying ends after years of build up.
Here’s 8 points to talk over this week with your friends, family and co-workers until the series finale drops next week (can’t believe I just wrote that, the time has gone waaaaaaay too fast).
Varys was trying to poison Daenerys
It was no secret that Varys was not happy with the prospect of Daenerys on the throne. But did you catch the subtle reference to just how far he was willing to go to prevent her from being queen in that opening scene?
A little girl, Martha, visits Varys in his chambers at Dragonstone, and they have this exchange:
Martha: “She won’t eat.”
Varys: “We’ll try again at supper.”
Martha: “I think they’re watching me.”
Martha: “Her soldiers.”
Martha: “Of course they are. That’s their job. What have I told you, Martha?”
Girl: “The bigger the risk, the bigger reward.”
Martha: “Go on. They’ll be missing you in the kitchen.”
Varys is eventually executed for plotting against Daenerys, but she doesn’t know just how close he came to offing her. And it was a nice little call back to a conversation in season one between Ned Stark and Maester Pycelle, during which the following was said:
Ned: “I’ve heard it said that poison is a woman’s weapon”
Pycelle: “Yes. Women, cravens … and eunuchs. Did you know Lord Varys was a eunuch?
Check it out for yourself below around the four minute mark:
Did Melisandre know exactly how things were going to play out all along?
Varys death also throws up an interesting question…did Melisandre know exactly how he would die? She did tell him in season seven that they would both die during the battles to come.
If she did know how he would die, did she also foresee Jon being the rightful heir, and Daenerys descending into madness?
Or did she simply just see Varys would die in her fire visions, but didn’t know how?
It’s and interesting point to ponder over…
Tyrion freeing Jaime from his cell
There was another big callback to another season in this episode and it was an emotional one. Tyrion frees Jaime from his cell so that he can try and get to Cersei, and convince her to flee to Pentos with him so they can start a new life with their unborn child.
The scene is particularly emotional for three reasons: It acts as a final goodbye between Tyrion and Jamie, as one way or the other, they are not expecting to see each other again. It once again highlights the strong bond between the two brothers, with Tyrion remarking that Jaime was the only person who ever showed him any love or respect. And, it called back to the episode in season 4 where Tyrion is sentenced to death for the murder of Joffrey, but Jamie sets him free.
Tyrion will pay dearly for it though in next weeks finale. Once Daenerys finds out that Jamie was freed from his cell, she will automatically know it was Tyrion. She is sure to see it as treason and will absolutely sentence him to death. But will she actually get the chance to go through with it?
Jamie and Cersei’s deaths
The deaths of Cersei and Jamie Lannister weren’t exactly a shock, but her’s in particular did lack impact in the way it happened.
Jamie has been on a redemption arc ever since he pushed Bran out the window in season one. And it looked like he had finally atoned somewhat for the sins of his past, freed himself from Cersei and settled down in the north with Brienne after the Battle of Winterfell. But, he was unable to shake the love for his sister and went to King’s Landing in an attempt to spare her facing justice for her own crimes.
Olenna Tyrell predicted in her final scene in season 7 that Cersei would be the death of Jaime, and she was proved right in this episode. I’m not mad at it though. Jaime came into the world with Cersei, he always protected her no matter what, so it seems fitting for him that he would die trying to do that again.
Cersei on the other hand had an unsatisfying death in my opinion. Instead of paying for all she has done by being executed in front of the people of King’s Landing, she died in the arms of the only person she has ever truly loved, other than her children.
Her death was poetic for sure…she spent much of this episode saying that the Red Keep could withstand anything, and then it was the Red Keep collapsing on top of her that killed her. And this death does fulfil the prophesy that has long been associated with the character. In season five we saw a flashback to when Cersei was a child and had her fortune read by a woods witch, and one of the things she told her was: “You’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear.”
We know now of course that this part of the prophesy refers to Daenerys, who did indeed take all she holds dear…her throne, her crown, her life, her lover/brother’s life and her child’s life. So, Cersei’s death this episode was a way of fulling the prophesy and subverting our expectations, but it felt sort of hollow to have her go out this way. At least the books appear to be leading to a more interesting end for the character…
Will Daenerys try to execute Sansa next episode?
There is no two ways about it…Daenerys went completely bat shit crazy in this episode. She heard the bells sounding that signalled the peoples surrender, yet she chose to burn the city to the ground regardless.
People are saying online that it was a sign of bad writing, because it was so out of character for her. But if you look back over the entire show, there has been many hints at her decent in to madness in her hunt for absolute power all along. Including this scene from season two, in which she has a vision in the House of the Undying, of herself approaching the Iron Throne in the ruined Red Keep, as ash falls around her. There is also snow falling in this scene, and the vision changes before she can actually touch the throne, but more on that later….
Daenerys has now claimed the Throne, and burned half of King’s Landing to do it. She also burned Varys alive for treason after he moved to install Jon on the throne instead of her. And though it was probably lost due to the gravity of the rest of this episode, in her early conversation with Tyrion at the start of the episode, she makes a concrete threat towards Sansa. She was responsible for Varys finding out about Jon being the rightful heir to the throne after all, because she knew Tyrion would tell him after she revealed the truth to him. This also technically implicates Jon, who told Sansa in the first place, but it seems Daenerys is not quite ready to make that call on executing him just yet.
But there is no love lost between her and Sansa. Could Daenerys, threaten Sansa’s life, leading to Jon finally waking up to her and taking her down? If you go back to that vision in the House of the Undying, as I mentioned earlier, Daenerys approaches the throne in the ruined Red Keep as snow and ash fall around her, and just as she is about to touch the much coveted seat, the vision changes. Could this be a nod to what has just occurred in this episode, and to Jon ultimately killing her to protect his family, and maybe even the Seven Kingdoms, and prevent her from holding the throne for long?
What was the deal with Arya and that horse?
Let’s leave the fact that Arya appears to have had a wasted journey to King’s Landing and the fact that she should have died at least three times during that attack on the streets by Drogon, to the side for a second.
What was that scene with the white horse supposed to represent? Could it be a nod to the line from the Bible book, Revelations: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on it was Death.” As we know, Arya is a lethal assassin these days, and Melisandre did tell her that she would shut a pair of green eyes, blue eyes and brown eyes forever. She’s already shut the blue and the brown eyes, and it seemed that she was going to kill Cersei in King’s Landing, who has (had) green eyes.
That obviously didn’t happen. But Daenerys also has green eyes, and we see from the trailer for next weeks finale that Arya doesn’t appear to actually leave King’s Landing.
So, will it actually be her that does it? I don’t think she will, I think that kill will go to Jon and Arya has already taken out a huge enemy in the Night King this season. And besides, have the writers forgotten that there is still one person on Arya’s kill list?: Ilyn Payne, the man who executed her father.
He should be still knocking around King’s Landing somewhere, and by the looks of the picture of the actor who plays him below, he has a greenish tinge to his eyes:
Maybe that’s who Arya will kill next week, and officially complete her list. Perhaps Daenerys will choose to execute Tyrion for treason the old fashioned way and Arya will save him by killing the executioner?
What was the significance of the tiny wooden horse?
At different points throughout the episode we see a mother and her young daughter trying to flee the chaos in King’s Landing. The little girl is clutching a little wooden horse, and we see it clearly focused on several times, most notably when Arya surveys the burnt bodies after Drogon/Daenerys attacks.
Could the little horse just be a symbol of the brutality of the episode, which saw women and children being burnt alive by a women driven mad by her thirst for power who once swore to protect them? Or is there something more to it?
As we saw, Varys was writing letters revealing Jon’s true identity and the fact that he is the rightful heir to the throne. Who was he sending them too? Powerful people across Westeros no doubt, but I would imagine that sending them by raven would be too risky. What if the notes were hidden inside the wooden horse toys, and the child at King’s Landing was one of his many young spies?
If it is, then that note is currently lying on the floor of King’s Landing, clutched in the hand of a child that was burned by the woman desperate to keep its contents secret.
It finally happened. It was epic. And the Hound went out like a boss. That is all!
What did you think of the penultimate episode of the season? What do you think will happen next week? Let me know below!