Tuesday 14 May 2019
As the sensational HBO fantasy drama TV series nears its end, we take a look at its penultimate episode, “The Bells”. Photo: HBO

Warning: Spoiler alert.

“The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.”

The show opens with Daenerys Targaryen looking positively wrecked, carting industrial-sized eyebags and her long, almost platinum-blond tresses in complete disarray. She first confronts Tyrion Lannister for arming Varys with the knowledge of Jon Snow’s true lineage, which Tyrion apologises for but of course, Varys will have to pay for using that information to persuade Jon to take the throne. In true p*ssed off Mother of Dragons fashion, Varys is sentenced to death, charred by the flames of her last remaining dragon. Daenerys has officially snapped.

Then, while cruising right into King’s Landing on the back of Drogon, Daenerys goes all, “Whee! Free fire!” turning everything that sails or stands in her way into soot. The Iron Fleet goes up in smoke as soon as she makes her dramatic entrance.

(1) Courtesy of HBO - Game of Thrones
Photo: HBO

Frankly, this is something she could’ve done an episode ago but nevermind that. In one swift move, she breaches the gates by secretly swooping in from behind just as the troops from both sides (Daenerys’ camp and the Golden Company camp) hold an intense staring competition.

And all fiery hell breaks loose.

“I’m Arya Stark. I’m going to kill Queen Cersei.”

More so now than ever, Arya is determined to slice Cersei Lannister’s throat. Together with Sandor Clegane, better known as the Hound, they make their way to King’s Landing. Arya for Cersei and the Hound for his brother, Gregor Clegane aka the Mountain.

In the background, Tyrion becomes a hero, risking his life and freeing the captured Jaime Lannister from the chains of Daenerys’ army at Dragonstone. Tyrion details his plan: get Cersei to surrender, Daenerys will hopefully back off, then Jaime and Cersei can run away and live happily ever after. So off Jaime goes to try to convince Cersei but not before the brotherly chat ends with an emotional last goodbye and a heartbreaking hug. “If it wasn’t for you I would have never survived my childhood. You are the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster. You were all I had,” Tyrion says to Jaime. Cue the tears.

(15) Helen Sloan - HBO - Game of Thrones
Photo: HBO

But they’re not the only ones who had a sweet moment. At the Red Keep (man, they sure got there fast!), Arya and the Hound has an exchange which would change both their fates.

In a bid to save Arya’s life, while debris is raining down on them, the Hound urges her to head back and let him go on alone to fight the Mountain. “You come with me, you die here,” he says to Arya, coming full circle from the last time he saved her life. She thanks him and we’re left with scratching our heads over how easily the fierce and feisty Arya could suddenly have a change of heart and start running helter-skelter in circles.

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Photo: HBO

She, the one who maimed the Night King and saved the world, went from confident to utterly terrified in 0.25 seconds. No clue what she was doing but she didn’t end up killing Cersei like she said she would. Maybe Cersei isn’t the Queen she is meant to kill after all? Just saying (hint hint).

“Hello, big brother.”

While King’s Landing is going up in smoke, the Hound and the Mountain come face-to-face. The Hound kills Cersei’s remaining bodyguards, Qyburn is smashed to pulp by the Mountain, Cersei casually tiptoes and slips away, and the Cleganebowl “layeth the smacketh downeth” is on.

Here’s where we get a good look at the Mountain sans helmet in a moment that’s eerily similar to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Safe to say, that rotting face is nowhere near pleasant.

(6) Courtesy of HBO - Game of Thrones
Photo: HBO

We learn very quickly that the formidable Mountain is invincible. No amount of stabbing, not even right through his sort-of-undead brain can take him down. But the incredibly violent Star Wars meets Mortal Kombat showdown ends with the both of them falling into the mouth of a fiery pit below. The Hound finally gets his revenge, thank you very much.

“If you kill another King before you die, they’ll sing about you forever.”

This was easily the most pointless “battle” in the entire episode, what came across as two little boys and their inflated egos at war. Apocalypse has hit and they’re literally just waving their little swords at each other. And what was with self-professed King Euron Greyjoy’s incessant jabbering? “I f*cked the Queen,” neh neh ni boo boo. Don’t you have more important things to do like, oh, I don’t know, scramble to save Cersei like you’re both supposed to?

(12) Helen Sloan - HBO - Game of Thrones
Photo: HBO

There is nothing poetic about this embarrassing scene. Euron dies, Jaime gets stabbed in the stomach twice but is miraculously alive. RIP Euron, but not really. Good riddance, more like it.

“The Red Keep’s never fallen. It won’t fall today.”

Jaime successfully rings the bell but Daenerys will have none of it. As the bells continued to toll out for surrender throughout King’s Landing, she’s still very visibly p*ssed. In the blink of an eye, the unhinged Targaryen descendant goes off to torch the rest of King’s Landing and then the Red Keep as Tyrion and Jon watched in abject horror. Drogon toasts men, women, children, horses, and soldiers from both sides of the camp.

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Photo: HBO

Clearly, this isn’t just Daenerys having a bad day. This is the Mad Queen, a legacy handed down from Daddy dearest. But why Daenerys chose not to fly straight to the Red Keep from the start where Cersei stoically stood while watching the disaster unfold and melt her to nothing will always be a mystery.

On the ground, the carnage is joined by Grey Worm who also went on a bloody rampage perhaps out of sheer grief, to avenge the death of Missandei. Jon is, of course, uselessly screaming for the soldiers to stop only to have it fall on deaf ears. Too busy, bro. Maybe next time.

“They will defend their queen to the last man.”

On the contrary, Cersei. Not when everything is going up in smoke and the forces are in raging slasher mode. Well, except for one man.

(13) Helen Sloan - HBO - Game of Thrones
Photo: HBO

The gravely injured Jaime finally gets to Cersei. He leads her to the crypts beneath the city streets in a feeble attempt to escape the devastation. Alas, it has all closed in and they’re trapped. With the Red Keep falling apart all around them, there’s very little time left. Especially when he’s bleeding all over. We see Cersei in her most vulnerable state, crying about how she wants to save the product of their incestuous relationship. “Nothing else matters. Only us,” he says as he pulls Cersei into an embrace and boom, the ceiling collapses on them. The things people do for love, indeed.

This attempt at a romantic moment fell a little flat despite it being one of the most highly anticipated deaths in Game of Thrones history. For eight whole seasons, Cersei ruthlessly killed a bunch of people including the big Sept of Baelor blow up and Jaime worked so hard at becoming a better person (so much so that he had people rooting for him) only to have him go back to his twincest and die under a pile of rocks.

(10) Helen Sloan - HBO - Game of Thrones
Photo: HBO

Considering how disgusted Jaime initially was with Cersei’s plan to hold on the Iron Throne by lying to Daenerys and Jon, wouldn’t it have made more sense for Jaime to kill Cersei? Seriously, why even bother with Jaime’s long-drawn character development? Let’s throw that right out of the window the same way Jaime shoved Bran Stark out of one.

Afterthought: Clearly, Tyrion’s grand plan tanked, which means he’s dead-toasted-meat when Daenerys finds out. Also, does this mean Daenerys is the last remaining villain? If so, your move, Arya.

Or maybe, the true villains here are Game of Thrones show creators David Benioff and DB Weiss for such sloppy writing. Well, one more chance to make it right.

Ready or not, the last Game of Thrones episode airs next Monday on 20 May.

Related: Game of Thrones: Bitter Romance and Broken Hearts