"The Bells": One of the Best, but Also One of the Worst Episodes...
'Game of Thrones' Spoilers Ahead!
If you haven't watched Game of Thrones season 8 episode 5 just yet, don't read this piece because I am about to ruin and spoil every last inch of it for you! You have been warned.
Where do I even start with last night's cinematic masterpiece of an episode? I guess I will start by saying that I absolutely loved it, it was everything mad Daenerys should have been, and the details of war throughout the episode really gave it a harrowing edge. Rarely, do film and TV show how the little people are affected by the atrocities and disasters, focusing only on key characters so you almost forget that thousands of innocent, terrified people are also being murdered and wounded, left, right, and centre. The cinematography—oh my GOD, the cinematography was fantastic. Have you ever seen a more beautiful shot than Ayra and the white horse? (Theorists are suggesting that it was Bran in the horse, coming to rescue Ayra.)
So what was WRONG with the episode? Unfortunately, quite a lot.
Dany goes full on Mad Queen.
So let's start with the obvious: Daenerys burns King's landing to the ground out of nowhere and everyone is a bit like, "Oh LOL, we backed the wrong queen." Now, to ME, this is the ONLY way Dany's character could have and should have gone. She has always had a mad streak about her, from the moment she ate the stallions heart in front of the Dothraki as part of a pregnancy ceremony—and seemingly loved it. People that are shocked by her character's turn seem to have forgotten that she has burnt at least one character every season, with no emotion, and felt justified in doing so. She has always had the imprints of her father's pyromania, even when she tried so hard to be a "breaker of chains" and a good queen.
Whilst I love Dany's turn to the dark side, I understand why other viewers may be upset or confused. She has forever been the good queen, the one that wants her people to love her, and she's in love with endlessly boring, pouting, northern good boy Jon (who now happens to be her nephew and the last living male heir to the Iron Throne).
The turn seemed to happen incredibly fast. Just two episodes ago, Dany was celebrating the defeat of the Night King in Winterfell alongside Jon and his family. (Although she had just found out Jon could hop on her throne any second, and has this weird jealousy/power struggle with Jon's was half-sister but actually now cousin... Sansa Stark.) Until now, Thrones seasons have been a 10-episode buildup to a huge event, with interwinding, complex characters and storylines, shocking moments of violence, sex, and revelations... this season... the FINAL season (the one we've been waiting for... for TWO YEARS, might I add) just feels like the entire show is on fast forward. How many things can we pack into six episodes that are marginally longer than a usual Thrones episode. Season eight could so easily have been a build up to the battle with the Night King—an episode I am still disappointed by, largely because it was over so fast and so easily after the build up that has lasted eight seasons, and all that "Winter is coming" business. Then season nine... the FINAL season should have been about taking the throne back from a heavily pregnant Cersei, and maybe pregnancy has been kind to her hair, which seems not to have grown at all for a few years... there could have been more detail to Dany's maddening character so it wasn't such a shock for viewers.
Although the past seasons and the books have all pointed towards mad Dany following in her fathers footsteps, the pace at which it happened seems to be what has caused such an upset among viewers. Looking back at Dany's character, she has always had her more wild temperament pulled back by her loyal advisers and friends. The key people she trusted: Missandei, Jorah etc. She has suffered tremendous loss her entire life and has now lost or been betrayed by the people she most looked to, to help her.
Still, people are wondering why she would want to be "Queen of the Ashes," burning the city in which she wants to sit on the throne, the army that was surrendering to her, and all the people that would soon become her people. My personal opinion is that, on top of her looming madness that is in the Targaryen blood, she has been betrayed by Jon, the true heir to the throne, and she knows it would only be a matter of time before the word is spread that he is Aegon Targaryen and would have the throne—whether he wanted it or not. Why not destroy the kingdom he would rule so he has nothing left to rule?
The dragons are the most inconsistent plotline in the whole show...
The word spread around the Seven Kingdoms that Daenerys Targaryen was the mother of three dragons. She literally walked into a fire and came out with three baby dragons. She was feared, marveled at, and talked about by everyone. Throughout the show, the argument for Daenerys to win the throne always came down to the fact she had three full-grown dragons... and then two because the Night King turned one into a badass, blue-eyed zombie dragon.
However, I couldn't help but think "what was the big deal?" when, in the last episode, cock-sure and extremely dislikable Euron Greyjoy uses a contraption called a "scorpion" which was designed by Cersei's hand and is essentially a giant crossbow to kills Rhaegal in about three shots, that are all disgustingly and unrealistically on point, from a moving ship to a moving dragon... if her dragons could be defeated that easily, then why was everyone so worried in the first place? Yet in this episode, Dany's last remaining dragon "Drogon" burns the entire Iron Fleet, whilst dodging the scorpions, and then burns the entire city. It does beg the question: Why didn't she just take Drogon to King's Landing previously, burn the Iron Fleet, kill Cersei, and take the throne? She didn't even need an army of Dothraki and Unsullied, she just needed her one super powerful dragon, and she could have left Rhaegal at home, too...
Ayra doesn't really do anything...
After her epic defeat of the Night King—which I LOVED by the way, and am so glad it wasn't predictable like Jon killing him—Ayra heads to King's Landing with the Hound, and their weird father/daughter Leon-esque relationship. She gets all the way there to be told to go home by Sandor because she will die if she stays, so what was the point of her being there in the first place? Aside from to do that insanely gorgeous ending shot that is just, hashtag profile pic goals...
Cersei and Jaime's Death
I mean come on, this didn't annoy me at all because I was so sure that they aren't dead. My partner was SO upset that this was the way they went out and I assured him it isn't, but the more I think about it, the more I think he could be right. Are you serious?! THAT is how you're killing Jaime and Cersei? In an embrace, buried below the Red Keep? Not at the hand of Dany or Tyrion or Brienne or literally any key character?! What the hell?
It leads me to the next question: What the hell was the point of the Jaime and Brienne dalliance? What was that storyline for? If there was to be a further series or even more than one episode left, I may have suggested that Brienne was pregnant and had the last Lannister heir, but there is literally no time for that plot to play out, so it was just a pointless storyline altogether.
Also, the prophecy that Cersei would be killed by Tyrion just never amounted to anything. Unless you think, in a roundabout way, Tyrion killed them both by telling Jaime to take Cersei down under the castle, where they ultimately died.
At the end of the day, I can't fault the incredible acting, the luminous effects, and the outstanding cinematography displayed in this episode, but it all just feels so rushed and with such gaping plot holes. There were some amazing moments: Clegane Bowl did not disappoint and ended with the Hound and the Mountain toppling into the fire together, the Hound finally facing his biggest fear, in death. Tyrion, as always, was outstanding. So many times throughout the series, Tyrion has been my reason to keep watching. I also love how calmly Varys went out. He knew he was right and he accepted his death in a sort of "you can thank me later" sort of way. I just wish there was more time, more detail, and that it didn't feel like the directors just can't wait to get it over with!