13 May, 2019

Season Eight, Episode Five "The Bells"

Well folks – I will just say up front that I am turning off my "this is how it is in the books" brain and just enjoying the show for what it is.  Things are feeling very abrupt aren't they?  I will not try to explain how Cersei must have misheard Maggie, and that "valontar" is High Valyrian for "stone from above". The show remains visually compelling and well-acted in its headlong rush to a conclusion. I could wish for a more thoughtful and subtle progression, but I guess there are times in every game of thrones where brute force plays a dominant role.  Let's get to it.

Dragonstone

On Dragonstone, Varys writes to someone the news of Jon's true parentage.  He is interrupted by one of his spies, Martha.  Martha, a young kitchen drudge, reports that Daeny refuses to eat.  She also reports that Daeny's soldiers are keeping an eye on her.  Varys reminds her that the greater the risk, the greater the reward.  What risk is Varys asking her to take?  Perhaps something with Daeny's food?

Tyrion watches from the parapet as Jon arrives by boat, and is greeted by Varys.  Varys approaches the subject of treason obliquely, but acquiesces to Jon's impatience with riddles and says it plainly. "We both know what she's about to do" says Varys.  He wants Jon to rule, not Daenerys.  Jon is not hearing it.  Daeny is whom he is pledged to, and that's that.  Tyrion may not have heard the conversation, but he can't help but notice that Jon strides on while Varys remains behind, and it's not hard to draw the conclusion that Varys (who is usually more discreet and subtle...oh that's right – shut up brain!) has been thwarted in his aims, at least for now.

Tyrion calls on his queen.  He must tell her of betrayal.  Daeny, though, feels betrayed by everyone, and she raises some very good points.  Why did Tyrion tell Varys of Jon's parentage before discussing it with Daeny?  Betrayal.  Why did Jon tell Sansa about it when she begged him, as his queen, not to?  Betrayal.

Varys is back to his writing... but he hears military footsteps, and he knows what that means.  He burns what he was writing.  He strips off his jewelry in preparation.  Sure enough, it's Gray Worm and a couple of his men, and they are carrying chains for the Master of Whisperers.  They lead him down to the beach, where Jon, Daeny and Tyrion wait for him.  Tyrion tells him that it was he who tattled.  Varys says he hopes he deserves to be executed, because that will mean he, Varys, was wrong about Daeny.  He says goodbye to Tyrion, who can only squeeze his arm in goodbye.  Daeny then sentences Varys to die, and Drogon carries it out via fire.

Later, back in her chambers, Daeny gives to Gray Worm the only possession Missandei brought with her across the Narrow Sea.  It appears to be her slave collar, perhaps?  Gray Worm (Torgo Nudho in Valyrian) throws it into the fire.  Jon appears, and Daeny dismisses Gray Worm.  Daeny begins the discussion with a very reasonable take regarding Sansa – that Sansa, by spreading the word about Jon, had as much to do with Varys' death as she did.  Well, it's reasonable if you agree that people who know about Jon's parentage need to die.  Daeny is feeling vulnerable.  She wants to be Mhysa to those in Westeros, as she was to the slaves in Essos, but here people don't love her, only fear her.  Weird, huh?  (*cough* Tarley barbecue).  Jon protests that he loves her, and that she'll always be his queen.  Daeny wants more, and she tries to initiate romance.  Jon loves her, but he's not able to get past the fact that she is his dad's little sister.  "All right then" says Daeny "Let it be fear."

Tyrion tries to argue against Daeny's plans to burn down King's Landing.  He's concerned about the loss of innocent life.  Daeny proclaims that Cersei is trying to use Daeny's tendency toward mercy against her, and is putting up a human shield to prevent Drogon from lighting everything up.  Daeny has decided that it will be mercy to future generations to not cave to Cersei's tactics here.  Tyrion begs that, if the city surrenders (as evidenced by the bells ringing), it will mean that they don't have to burn everything.  Daeny agrees to call off the attack if the city surrenders.  She tells Gray Worm to take his troops to King's Landing and wait for her outside the walls.  He'll know when it's time to attack.

Tyrion begins to take his leave from her, but she mentions that Jaime was caught trying to cross over into King's Landing.  A bitter Daeny tells Tyrion that the next time he fails her, it will be the last time he fails her.

King's Landing

The folk from the countryside are moving into King's Landing ahead of the invading army.  A little girl is among the crowd, along with her mother.  We'll see her later.

Tyrion, in Daeny's war camp, meets with Davos and asks him for a smuggling favor.  We're not clear what that favor is, only that Davos isn't going to like it.  Tyrion also frees Jaime, at great risk to himself.  He begs Jaime to convince Cersei to leave the city and thereby stop a war she can't win.  He tells him to have the bells rung, and that will stop the attack.  He tells Jaime of the path he took out of the castle after killing Shae and Tywin, past the skull of Balerion the Black Dread.  When Jaime basically asks Tyrion why he's risking his life to free him, Tyrion points out that if he has to die to save tens of thousands of innnocents, it seems like a fair trade.  He also says he wouldn't have made it through childhood without Jaime protecting him. Jaime was the only one who didn't treat him like a monster. An emotional embrace ensues. Jaime agrees to make the attempt to get Cersei to ring the bells, and off he goes.

The next day, the city prepares for war.  Soldiers line the walls, the fleets prepare to go dragon hunting, and the citizens retreat behind closed doors.

Arya and Sandor make their way to the Red Keep, as (separately) does Jaime.

The Golden Company sets up shop in front of the walls (why? That seems particularly vulnerable.  Shut up, brain!).  Tyrion now tells Jon about the ringing of the bells, and what it signifies.  Call off your men if you hear the bells, says Tyrion.

Cersei looks out over the Red Keep, where the doors are being shut for security reasons.  The little girl, clutching a carved pony, and her mother are passed up by Sandor and Arya.  The latter two make it in before the gates are shut, but the little girl and her mom don't...nor does Jaime, who goes to look for an alternate entrance.

Out in the bay, Euron and his fleet are prepared for Drogon to arrive.  Their patience is rewarded when they see him dropping out of the sky toward them.  They fire their bolts...but when they miss, their ships are like matchstick houses in a tornado.  The Iron Fleet is no more...just like that.  The soldiers atop the walls, with their scorpions, are likewise torched.  Finally, the walls behind the Golden Company are destroyed by dragon's breath, and the Golden Company lasts a shorter time than the Iron Fleet.

That's the signal for Gray Worm and his men, who stream into the city.  Drogon continues to burn any threat, as well as a number of folks who are not any threat to him and Daeny.  Cersei watches it. She's still optimistic that it only takes one lucky shot.  Qyburn gives her the trifecta of bad news – all scorpions gone, Iron Fleet destroyed, walls breached.  Cersei says it's just a flesh wound.

In the city, the Lannister army hears the dragon and sees the army.  They throw down their weapons.  The bells start ringing...

...and Daeny rejects the idea of stopping the destruction.  The gloves are off – women, children – all are food for the flames. Gray Worm initiates a butchering of mostly defenseless men, those who had dropped their swords.  Jon tries to hold his men back, but he is attacked and then the fog of war comes down.

Tyrion can't believe what he's seeing.  Davos guides civilians away from where it's thickest.  Jon prevents a rape, killing an ally.  He's obviously having trouble processing what he's seeing.

Jaime finds the cavern that leads up through the catacombs to the Red Keep, but he is caught at the cave entrance by Euron (who swam all that way with his boots still on – shut up, brain!).  Jaime wants Euron's help saving Cersei, but Euron wants to brag about having sex with Cersei, and he wants to kill Jaime. They fight.  Jaime is stabbed twice, but guts Euron and twists the sword.  Well, at least Euron was a consistent character.

Cersei starts to realize she has lost.  Her castle is being destroyed around her.  Qyburn leads her toward Maegor's Holdfast, the last retreat.

Wildfire deposits start to blow up in the city, the green flames rising to mingle with the orange and yellow.

Arya and Sandor have made it to the map room.  Sandor advises Arya to go home.  He says Cersei is as good as dead, and there's no reason for Arya to die as well.  He says that his revenge, which he's nursed his whole life, has made him someone who is not to be admired or imitated.  He says Arya is going to end up just like him.  Arya thanks him...and she leaves.

On the way down the stairs, Cersei's men are largely wiped out by the building falling in on them.  Sandor appears at the foot of the stairs, and quickly dispatches all but the Mountain, Cersei and Qyburn.  Gregor starts to move toward his little brother.  Cersei orders him to stay by her side, but he disobeys.  When Qyburn protests, Gregor splatters his head against the rock.  Cersei edges past the two brothers, and then the Clegane Bowl kicks off.  Sandor is the more skilled fighter, but it turns out that impaling the Mountain doesn't really harm him that much.  Sandor is about to get the Viper treatment, when he thrust his blade into his brother's arm several times, and then finally his eye.  Even that doesn't kill Gregor, who starts to pull the dagger out of his brain.  Sandor bull rushes the Mountain, pushing them both through the crumbling wall of the keep to plummet many feet below into the flames.

Cersei, meanwhile, runs into a bleeding Jaime in the map room.  Their reunion is emotional, but short.  They flee to the catacombs.

Arya is trying to navigate the streets of King's Landing.  Walls are falling, people are fleeing every direction, fires are raging.  She loses her footing and is in danger of being trampled, when the little girl's mom helps her to her feet.  They get separated by the mob, and Arya is knocked down and out by crumbling masonry.

Jon orders his men to fall back and leave the city.

Arya comes to, covered in dust, the blood trail across her lip making her look like Inigo Montoya (Hello.  My name is Arya Stark.  You killed my father. Prepare to die.).  She narrowly avoids more falling buildings.  She finds the little girl and her mother again.  She convinces them to follow her to try to escape the city.  However, the Dothraki are riding rampant through the city, and the little girl's mother is injured.  Arya tries to help her walk, but the mother just asks her to take her daughter and go.  Arya does so, but the little girl breaks free and runs back to her mother, just as Drogon makes another strafing run.  She and her mother are burned to death, and she never let go of her carved pony.

In the catacombs, Jaime and Cersei find the exit blocked by a cave-in.  Cersei starts to panic like a cornered rat.  Jaime grabs her, makes her look him in the eye, and tells her that nothing matters except the two of them.  He holds her as the cave-ins take out the catacombs.

Arya, surrounded by fallen ash and corpses, burning buildings and heaps of rubble, finds a white horse standing amidst everything.  She soothes the beast, and rides him out of King's Landing.

Scenes From Next Week

  • Tyrion walks through the rubble
  • An angry looking Arya
  • Daeny in front of her adoring army

 

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