Hey everyone! I’m back in action but since we’re a week since the last episode of Game of Thrones’ played, I thought I’d do something different this time instead of a traditional review-because let’s face it, you know what has happened and you likely have strong opinions on the matter. Naturally, for this piece, there will be full spoilers for the episode The Bells, which is the penultimate episode of the whole entire show.
Before getting into the meat and potatoes, however, I will toss my two cents out there for the episode and the season as a whole. While the episodes are indeed longer, with four of the six clocking in at around an hour and a half, I think the shorter runtime from premiere to finale is hurting the final season of Game of Thrones. There are many moments that I find to be rushed and could have profited from slowing things down and fleshing certain beats out. Jamie Lannister’s story, in particular, felt out of place to me, as he was on a path to redemption but decided to throw it all away in the end and die as the man we knew in season one essentially. I thought he was going to try and kill Cersei but having him go back to her felt really out of place considering his arc over the course of the whole show.
But if you thought Jamie’s arc was bizarre then you may have a few choice words about Daenerys. I was on an internet blackout this week, so I had no idea what happened until yesterday. Once I saw it, I naturally turned to the internet and saw the reactions. People are very angry about what transpired with her, so much so that there is a Change.org petition with over 900, 000 signatures at the time of this writing, begging HBO to actually spend their money on redoing the eighth season with different writers. It’s The Last Jedi all over again, only that petition had less than 200, 000 signatures.
The cause for so much anger was the decision to turn Dany into a villain, forcing fans-some of whom have named their kids after her-burn hundreds of thousands of civilians, men, women and children, to a crisp with her last remaining dragon. No one was safe or spared. After the loss of her best friend Missandei, being left with no advisors to guide her, feeling unloved and unwelcome in Westeros and learning that her lover is actually her nephew, something that kind of freaks Jon out (naturally), Dany just snaps and torches King’s Landing. As evident by the like/dislike bar in the video below, people are fuming.
Fans took to social media and used the hashtag “Danydeservedbetter as a rallying cry. They stated that the act was forced, didn’t make sense with the context of the character and that turning her into a villain in the second to last episode was rushing it. While I certainly agree with the latter, I don’t with the first two moments. Game of Thrones has actually been alluding to this moment for years. In fact, they’ve outright told us this would happen in season two.
At the end of season two, Valar Morghulis, Danerys ventures into the House of the Undying to reclaim her stolen dragons. It’s here where she sees a series of visions. The first of which will now take on a new light after seeing what happened in The Bell. Upon walking through a door, she finds herself in the throne room of King’s Landing. Only the room and the castle itself are in utter ruins. The throne is of course, intact. Ash continuously falls from the sky. At first, this scene could have been perceived as something that could happen that Danerys should try to avoid, that by undertaking her quest to conquer Westeros could lead to this. Another idea was that this represented the White Walker threat, with snow falling from the sky signifying their victory. But the show was actually telling us that this is Danery’s legacy as she’s now the Mother of Ash, the one who massacred innocents and burned the city.
Season two wasn’t the only time the show outright showed us a moment from The Bell. Season four gave us a vision of things to come courtesy of Bran Stark, who touches the Weirwood tree and basically gets his mission to go find the Three-Eyed Raven North of the Wall. Spliced into this vision were shots of things that have already transpired, such as Bran getting thrown out of the window by Jamie and shots of the destroyed throne room from the season two vision above, along with a new shot of a giant dragon flying over King’s Landing and shots of the Mad King sprinkled in there for good measure. Seeing as how the dragons were not this large by the time of season 4, this was actually a vision of the future and we’ve come to learn that the power of the Three-Eyed Raven is quite impressive. Speaking of the Mad King, Jamie stated in season 3 that he killed him because the King loved burning people; perhaps Jon or someone else will have to do the same for Dany now that she’s crossed that line? It seems that the Targaryen line is destined to make the same mistakes over and over again.
The show has been highlighting for a while now that Danerys is a bit power hungry and doesn’t take well to people not listening to her. She’s always been strongwilled but seeing her go from liberator to tyrant has been difficult for many. For me, the point of no return for Danerys was when she burned Randyll and Dickon Tarly alive, against the council of Tyrion. From there, for me at least, it was only a matter of time as I watched her become more agitated, desperate and obsessive. Her veiled threat about Sansa early this season, implying that if Sansa doesn’t treat her like a Queen then she’ll be sorry, further highlighted that this was a character we should put into an intervention. There was also her burning the Khalasar and crucifying her enemies that should have been red flags to how ruthless she could be. Let’s not forget her casual remarks when her brother was killed back in season one-no remorse. There was further exploration and mentions of the Mad King in recent seasons as well, drawing a parallel between the two characters which may have initially come across as a warning for Dany as something to avoid at all costs, but was really more of a warning for the audience for her inevitable snap. Before she even launches the attack on King’s Landing, Daenerys is already looking pretty mad herself, no longer the regal and elegant queen she once presented herself as, but as a broken image of who she once was. How many times have we heard Dany promise to destroy tyranny then say something tyrannical right after it?
Now that being said, was the writing for this act particularly good? Not really. Six episodes have seriously harmed the storytelling of Game of Thrones as they rush to the finish line. The story is there, but the show no longer has room to breathe, slow down and tell the story properly. I buy that after all the crap she’s been through and the buildup over the seasons, Dany would torch the castle. But they could have spent more time showing her descent into madness and have had that happen at around episode five out of ten, not six. Dany has been one of the heroes since the beginning and many fans were rooting for her to claim the Iron Throne. But now we have but one episode left, which will likely result in the death of Daenerys as a result of her mad actions. The decision may not be abrupt to me in terms of characterization, but it sure is from a narrative perspective.
Also, can I just mention how lucky Tyrion is to be alive? He’s betrayed Danerys, betrayed Varys, made countless mistakes now and is no longer the smartest man in the room. By Dany’s own logic, Tyrion should have been burned by now. Furthermore, his steadfast loyalty to the Queen, despite seeing the writing on the wall, is out of character for a man who once was once known for his mind. Finally, another inconsistency comes thanks to a moment in season 5, Jon shoots an arrow into Mance Rayder, sparing the pain of being burned alive as an execution should be a bit more dignified and offer no pain on the sentenced and after seeing Varys get cooked alive, he was likely already feeling pretty uneasy being near Dany but still was okay calling her his Queen, which would be against his character arc.
There’s only one more of these episodes left and it airs tomorrow, where we’ll be back to review it and how it impacts the season and show as a whole. Will the final episode win over the fans angered at season eight or will this conclude in a fashion similar to Dexter or The Sopranos? Stay tuned to find out but until we get those answers, why not check out our reviews of John Wick: Chapter 3 and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.