Game of Thrones: Let It Be Fear

Game of Thrones | Season 8 | Episode 5 : “The Bells”
Feature image





For a quick read, go to Review. For a complete summary, go to Recap.

KBear Recap [Read  time: 5-7 min]

“I hope I deserve this, I truly do. I hope I’m wrong. Goodbye, old friend.” Lord Varys

Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) is busy writing about Jon Snow’s rightful claim to the throne on a scroll. There’s a knock at the door, it is a little girl named Martha (Bronte Carmichael) who works in Daenerys’ kitchen, and is one of Varys’ ‘little birds’. Martha: “She won’t eat.” Varys: “We’ll try again at supper.” Martha: “I think they’re watching me.” Varys: “Who?” Martha: “Her soldiers.” Varys: “Of course they are. That’s their job. What have I told you Martha?” Martha: “The greater the risk, the greater the reward.”  Varys: “Go on. They’ll be missing you in the kitchen.” Varys goes back to his task.

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is standing on a hill over the beach, watching Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his entourage row ashore. Varys greets Jon and tells him about Daenerys not resting or eating. Jon: “Aren’t you worried for her?” Varys: “I’m worried for all of us. They say every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds it’s breathe. We all know what she’s about to do.” Jon: “She’s our queen.” Varys subtlety suggests that Jon should be king instead. Jon: “I don’t want it. I never have.”  Varys: “You will rule wisely and well, while she…” Jon stops him: “She is my queen.”

Tyrion goes into the throne room in Dragonstone to talk to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who looks rough. It looks like she hasn’t slept in a while and her hair is unkempt. [Missandei probably made sure Dany’s do was tight.] Tyrion: “There’s something you need to know.” Daenerys: “Someone has betrayed me.” Tyrion: “Yes.” Daenerys: “Jon Snow.” Tyrion: “Varys.” She feels like Jon has betrayed her because he told Sansa his secret after she begged him not to. She deduces that Sansa told Tyrion. Daenerys: “She trusted you to spread secrets that would destroy your own queen, and you did not let her down.” Instead of checking with her, Tyrion instead told Varys. So she feels like Tyrion betrayed her as well. Tyrion apologizes but Daenerys isn’t having any of it. She is withdrawn and fully paranoid now.

Varys is still writing when he hears soldier’s footsteps. He burns the scroll he was writing on and removes his rings. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) arrives with some soldiers to arrest him. They take Varys underneath the castle, where Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion await him. Tyrion sadly says to Varys, “It was me.” Varys nods and responds, “I hope I deserve this, I truly do. I hope I’m wrong. Goodbye, old friend.” Tyrion grips his doomed friend’s arm for a moment. Daenerys coldly recites the charge and condemns Varys to death, while she is speaking, Drogon emerges from the shadows and sets Varys on fire. {RIP Lord Varys} Jon and Tyrion watch in silent horror. Daenerys shows no emotion at all.

Daenerys and Grey Worm are alone in her chambers. She gives him the only possession Missandei brought with her to Westeros. Grey Worm tosses it into the fire. Like Daenerys, he has shut down his emotions. [Losing Missandei has destroyed both of them. Thanks Cersei.] Jon comes by to see Daenerys, she tells Grey Worm to leave them alone. Daenerys blames Sansa for Varys death. If she hadn’t shared Jon’s secret with Tyrion, this wouldn’t have happened. Sansa is getting what she wants. She wants the secret to spread so that Jon will become king. Daenerys: “Far more people in Westeros love you than love me. I don’t have love here. I only have fear.” Jon: “I love you. You will always be my queen.” Daenerys: “Is that all I am to you? Your queen?” Daenerys makes the moves on Jon, they kiss but Jon pulls away. Daenerys: “All right then. Let it be fear.”

In their last war counsel, Tyrion tries again to persuade Daenerys not to kill thousands of innocent people. He reminds her how she didn’t kill the slaves when she liberated Meereen. Daenerys reminds him those slaves rose against their masters. Tyrion tells her the citizens of King’s Landing are too afraid to rise against Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), she can’t expect them to be heroes. She should extend mercy to them. Daenerys counters that Cersei sees mercy as weakness. Daenerys: “Mercy is our strength. Our mercy towards future generations who will never again be held hostage by a tyrant.” Tyrion begs her for this, to call off the attack if they raise the gate and ring the bells announcing their surrender. She looks at Grey Worm and nods. [She never actually says she will call off the attack.] Daenerys informs Tyrion that her guards captured his brother, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) trying to sneak into King’s Landing to be with Cersei. Daenerys: “The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.”

“Tens of thousands of innocent lives, one not particularly innocent dwarf. Seems like a fair trade.” Tyrion Lannister

People are herding into the city. Jon and Tyrion join Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and the northern army. They tell Davos that Daenerys is ready to attack tomorrow. Tyrion asks Davos a big favor that concerns his old smuggling skills. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane (Rory McCann) arrive in Daenerys camp. One of the guards asks them why they want to go inside the city. Arya: “I’m Arya Stark, and I’m going to kill Queen Cersei.” The Hound suggests he let them go, if Arya can kill Cersei, they might not have to fight. The guard tells them he’s going to get his captain, but they ride on when he leaves. Tyrion tells another guard to let him see the prisoner. Jaime is chained to a pole. Tyrion: “How did they find you?” [Jamie shows his golden hand] “Did you consider taking it off?” Jaime: “Cersei once called me the stupidest Lannister.” Tyrion is going to set Jaime free so he can convince her to leave the city. Jaime reminds him that Cersei doesn’t listen to him. Tyrion tells him she might to protect her unborn child. Jaime: “The worst things she’s ever done, she’s done for her children.” Tyrion emphasizes how important this is, it could save thousands. Jaime is concerned that Tyrion freeing him could get him in trouble with Daenerys. Tyrion thinks if he can prevent her from causing heavy bloodshed, she might forgive him. Tyrion: “Tens of thousands of innocent lives, one not particularly innocent dwarf. Seems like a fair trade.” Tyrion frees his brother and tearfully says, “If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have survived my childhood. You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster. You were all I had.” They hug and cry.

The scene shifts back to King’s Landing. Out in the bay, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) looks confident. The soldiers are preparing the scorpions that line the city’s walls. Archers take their places on the wall. The citizens are in a panic trying to find cover. Arya and the Hound have arrived, Jaime has also. The Golden Company marches into position. Cersei smugly looks down on the city at her perceived might. They begin to close the gates, causing a stampede of people trying to get in. Arya and the Hound push their way through. Jaime doesn’t make it, and he has to find another way to get in the city. Out in the bay it is quiet, Euron looks up in the sky squinting at the sun. Suddenly out of the clouds, behind the sun, he makes out the outline of a dragon.

The ships get off a few shots, but Daenerys and Drogon easily maneuver away from them. Drogon starts breathing fire and destroys the fleet. Once Daenerys is through with the fleet she heads towards the city’s wall, taking out all of the scorpions that line the wall. The Unsullied and Jon’s northern army stand outside the city facing the Golden Company. Tyrion reminds Jon, “If you hear those bells ringing, call off your men.” Both armies hear the explosions coming from behind them. Suddenly the city wall behind the Golden Company explodes, Drogon is behind them and lights them up. This is the que for Daenerys’ armies to attack. The remaining Dothraki cavalry charges in and makes quick work of the remaining Golden Company that is still alive. The leader of the Golden Company, Harry Strickland (Marc Rissmann) tries to run but Grey Worm spears him from behind. Cersei can hear Drogon and she can hear all of the explosions. She tries to maintain her confident veneer. Qyburn (Anton Lesser) gives her the bad news, the fleet is in flames, all of the scorpions have been destroyed and the Golden Company is defeated. Cersei tries to hold on to the false belief that the Lannister troops will fight to the last man to defend her. Cersei: “The Red Keep has never fallen. It won’t fall today.”

After wiping out most of her opposition, Daenerys lands Drogon on a building where he screeches at everyone. Jon’s troops and the Unsullied stand before some Lannister troops. They look up at Drogon and throw down their swords. Soon you hear people throughout the city screaming “Ring the bells.”  There is silence for a longtime, and suddenly the bells start ringing. Cersei hears them, Jon looks relieved. Daenerys hears the bells ring but has a strange look on her face. Drogon takes off but he isn’t heading out of town, he’s heading towards the Red Keep and as frightened civilians run, he starts lighting them up. The Lannister troops see this and realize there isn’t a truce, they pick up their swords, but Grey Worm and the Unsullied are upon them before they can do anything. Jon tries to hold back his troops, but soon everyone is fighting again. Things begins to slow down for Jon and become silent as he looks in shock at what is going on. Daenerys is burning alive innocent civilians, including children. Daenerys armies, including Jon’s northern army become savages. Jon has to kill one of his own men to prevent him from raping a woman. What started as a battle is now a massacre.

Jamie has made it to the cove outside the castle’s tunnels. The dinghy Davos left for his and Cersei’s escape is there. Euron is also there. Jaime tells him they need to get Cersei to safety. Euron tell him the city is lost, there’s no fleet, no reason to even bother. Euron wants something else. He taunts Jaime, “If you kill another king before you die, they’ll sing about you forever.” Jaime tells him he isn’t a king. He says he screwed Cersei, close enough. The two men begin their futile fight. Euron does some significant damage to Jaime, but Jaime won’t quit. He finally plunges his sword into Euron. Euron: “Another king for you. [Long pause as Jaime walks away.] I got you. I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister.” {RIP Euron Greyjoy}

“You come with me, you die here.” The Hound

Everything is beginning to fall down around them, so the Hound tells Arya she should leave. Arya doesn’t want to. The Hound explains that Cersei is going to die anyway so there’s no reason for her to hang around and get herself killed. He’s lived his whole life for revenge and what has it gotten him, does she want to end up like him. The Hound: “You come with me, you die here.” Arya thinks about it and says, “Sandor…thank you.” The Hound continues to look for his brother. Qyburn convinces Cersei that she has to get out of there. Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane (Hafpór Július Björnsson) and her queen’s guard escort her and Qyburn out into the hall, where down the stairs the Hound awaits them. The Hound: “Hello big brother.” The other members of the queen’s guard are quickly slaughtered by the Hound. The Mountain prepares to leave Cersei to fight his brother. Cersei orders him to stay, Qyburn also tries to order him, but the Mountain grabs him by the neck and tosses him down the stairs. {RIP Qyburn} Cersei smartly walks around them and gets out of the way. Finally, the Cleganebowl begins! The two monstrous men throw down.

Jaime finally runs into Cersei. She is glad to see him and is distressed when she sees he is bleeding. Arya is in the streets running for her life from Drogon’s fire; she falls and is nearly trampled by the crowd. A kind woman offers her hand and helps her up. The Mountain is kicking the crap out of the Hound because basically he’s a zombie. The Hound runs a sword through him but it doesn’t kill him. The Dothraki are killing people around Arya. Buildings keep collapsing around her, while Drogon flies around in the distance destroying people and buildings. The Hound knocks the Mountain’s helmet off, he looks like Darth Vader without his helmet. The Hound: “That’s you. That’s what you’ve always been.” The Mountain grabs the Hound and tries to gouge his eyes out, the Hound is able to stick a dagger through his eye, but the monster still stands. The Hound: “Fucking die!” He rushes his brother and they go through a wall and fall to their deaths. {RIP Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane} {RIP Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane}

Jon looks up and sees the green flame of wildfire in the distance mingled with dragon fire. Davos is trying to help get civilians to safety. Jon orders his men, “We need to fall back! Get out of the city.” Arya tries to lead some people to safety, but they are surrounded by death. Jaime and Cersei make it to the tunnels but they are all blocked. Cersei panics and breaks down. Cersei: “I want our baby to live. Please don’t let me die, Jaime. I don’t want to die.” Jaime: “Look at me, just look at me. Nothing else matters. Only us.” He holds her to calm her down as the building collapses upon them. {RIP Queen Cersei Lannister} {RIP Ser Jaime Lannister} Everyone around Arya is dead, some burned into statutes. She is blooded and covered in ash, but Arya is still alive. She sees a white horse down the street, the horse is blooded and covered in ash, but still standing. Arya approaches the horse gently and mounts it. She and the horse ride out of King’s Landing. {RIP King’s Landing}

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

It’s the day before the Last War. Varys is busy trying to get rid of Daenerys by writing scrolls [that I would imagine would be sent to other houses] letting them know that Jon Snow is actually Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. It also looks like he is trying to poison Daenerys, but can’t because she isn’t eating. He approaches Jon about becoming king, but Jon lets him know he doesn’t want the job and is loyal to Daenerys. Tyrion rats him out to Daenerys, and Drogon barbeques him. Daenerys is completely paranoid now and believes everyone is out to get her. To be honest, she’s not far off.  She’s pissed off at Jon for telling Sansa his secret, and at Sansa for telling Tyrion who told Varys. Daenerys feels like they’ve all portrayed her. She’s ready to light up King’s Landing, but Tyrion begs her that if they surrender and ring the town bells to let her know, won’t she call off the attack. She doesn’t verbally say yes, but nods at Grey Worm. They’ve captured Jaime trying to sneak into the city, and she warns Tyrion this is his last mistake. Tyrion frees Jaime so he can try to persuade Cersei to run away with Jaime out of the city. The two brothers share an emotional goodbye. They both know it will probably be the last time they see each other again. Arya is with the Hound, Arya plans on killing Cersei and the Hound plans on participating in the Cleganebowl. Only one of them succeeds in their plan. In the last episode, Euron was able to shoot down Rhaegal with the Scorpions. This time around, a determined Daenerys and Drogon easily destroy the fleet and all the Scorpions lining the city wall. Drogon blows up the city wall behind the Golden Company, and these legendary fighters are easily defeated by Drogon and Daenerys’ armies. Daenerys lands Drogon on a building and the bells of the city start ringing. King’s Landing has surrendered, Daenerys has won. Daenerys goes full Mad Queen on everyone and destroys King’s Landing anyway. Her armies follow her lead and lay waste to the few remaining enemy soldiers and the civilian population. Jon and Tyrion are in shock, Varys’ worse fears are confirmed. Arya is caught up in the chaos in the city but survives. The Hound fights his brother and both die. Jaime dies with Cersei in his arms. So no one actually kills Cersei, a building collapses on her.

The episode itself was great. The director of The Long Night, Miguel Sapochnik also directed this episode, and he did a fantastic job. This battle was different than the one at Winterfell, but it was equally as good. It took place during daylight, so you could actually see what was going on. While the Battle of Winterfell felt like a horror movie, this one felt like a disaster film. Daenerys and Drogon were like a force of nature destroying a town. The smoldering bodies reminded me of victims of a volcanic eruption. Once they destroyed the Scorpions, there was nothing the people could do about them. King’s Landing was wiped out by waves of flames. It was epic and tragic at the same time. Before the massive disaster and within it, were many small character moments that lifted up the story. Varys bravely meeting his fate and the final moments between he and Tyrion. Jaime and Tyrion’s final scene together. Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were masterful in the scene. The final goodbye between Arya and the Hound. He really showed how much he cares for her, and it was nice that she recognized it. Even though I personally wanted to see Arya slit her throat or Drogon barbeque her, the final scene between Cersei and Jaime was touching. Even the worse person can be vulnerable in the end. Lena Headey really owned this role, and I hope she continues getting meaty roles like this in the future. I have to really commend Emilia Clarke for her portrayal of a crazed Khaleesi. The make-up people made her look tired, but she showed the fear, loneliness, paranoia, and anger bubbling in this woman. She was as scary as her dragon.

My major complaint isn’t with the episode, but the season itself. Even though they have shown why Daenerys makes this turn, and there have been hints that this was part of her character, it doesn’t feel right. They haven’t given this story about Daenerys becoming the Mad Queen any time to breathe. The whole season has felt rushed. They did seven episodes last season, and six this one. They should have done 10 episodes for both seasons, or did three shorter seasons instead of two.  They should have spent a whole season leading up to the Battle of Winterfell, and the last season on the sacking of King’s Landing. We could have spent more time with each character, and see the change in Daenerys be more organic. That’s not going to be the case though, because next week is the series finale. Who will sit on the Iron Throne? Who will be left alive? How many people are going to cancel their HBO subscriptions after the episode? See you next week.

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
Latest posts by Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief (see all)