Well folks, here we are. We’ve arrived on the tarmac and the engines are revving for take-off. But before we get the last-minute safety instructions, I have a few things to say about this final season of Game of Thrones, episode 5, “The Bells,” in particular, while I still have a platform to say them. (I realize that I’m in the recap business, not in the in-depth navel-gazing analysis business, but humor me.)
Let me begin my last Game of Thrones recap by saying that I believe, in the fullness of time, most of us who have been invested in this show for all eight seasons will come to appreciate season eight and what it accomplished. (Using myself as an example, I really believe that each episode, with so much packed into it, bears repeat viewings to allow it to truly wash over us and sink in. Just my humble opinion.) Regardless, I will not be adding my name to any damn petition.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate how beautifully crafted episode 5 was. If the Battle of Winterfell was too dark for tv, the Battle of Kings Landing made up for it. The cinematography was gorgeous. Following the woman (who ultimately saved Arya) and her child through the city was very much like following the little girl in red during a similarly long tracking shot in Schindler’s List. But I digress.
The horse with the gorgeous hair was the subject of much debate in the Twitterverse this week. It belonged to Harry Strickland of the Golden Company. He was seen riding it just before all hell broke loose. As for how it just happened to be there for Arya, several people have posited that it was Bran, who warged into it. This makes more sense than if it just randomly wandered over so she could ride out of town on its back.
Many of the internet’s finest arm-chair-quarterbacks are arguing that though Harry Strickland was at the fore and absolutely did die, the Golden Company was not seen to perish by a combination of dragon fire, wildfire and exploding stone. I’ve re-watched 4x and I say they’re wrong. Assuming they are right, does that mean they will now fight for Daenerys? Is there anyone left to fight?
I have revised my theory again. I don’t think Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) will sit on the throne. The people of Westeros won’t accept a ruler named Lannister. While I still have faith in Tyrion (who, ultimately was right about Cersei all along, though he’ll never know it), he’s been ruled by his emotions lately (and has been since he killed the unfaithful Shae and his despotic father) and has made his fatal mistake with Daenerys. She won’t care that she won anyway. He’s toast. I am still curious if what he mysteriously asked Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) to smuggle had to do with Jaime or if he’s got one last trick up his sleeve.
As for the Throne, I think it will be Sansa (Sophie Turner). While Arya (Maisie Williams) could serve as Queen Sansa’s advisor, I truly believe she means to not go back to Winterfell. She may have expected to die killing Cersei, but since she chose life, I think she’ll go off to see the world.
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) will undoubtedly stay with Sansa and lead her army. There are two opposing theories floating around the interwebz regarding Sansa. 1. She did tell Tyrion Jon’s secret and set a lot of things in motion in a very Littlefinger-esque way. 2. She did not because she didn’t have to. We didn’t see the actual telling because Tyrion already knew. Bran told him when they had their also unseen chat the night before the Battle of Winterfell. I’m leaning toward number one since two would make his actions and his continued faith in Daenerys very puzzling indeed.
However, perhaps Bran did tell him exactly what was going to happen in the battle. If Tyrion wasn’t able to convince Daenerys to abandon her mad plan then the rest of it would play out as Bran predicted, so that’s why Tyrion told people on three different occasions about the bells, why he worked so hard, against his own self-interest, to free Jaime so that Jaime could somehow get Cersei out of harm’s way.
I have come to appreciate Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime’s deaths. I admit I wanted Jaime to stay with Brienne or to at least be going back to Kings Landing to kill Cersei but that was just wishful thinking on my part. He remained true to himself and the only woman he ever loved. I think that’s the real reason Brienne broke down. Not some silly romantic notion of happily ever after, but because she knew it was true, despite his efforts to the contrary.
I believe people are up in arms about C & J because their deaths were so quick. We knew Cersei had to die and we knew Jaime would play a part. But we all wanted some sort of on-camera retribution for the woman who’s been the main villain for nearly seven seasons. But there was no time. That does not mean that what the show chose to do was wrong. Cersei, when faced with certain doom, did worry about her unborn child as Tyrion knew she would. And Jaime got the death he’d always wanted, “in the arms of the woman [he loved].” (A last-minute theory currently circulating is that Jaime is in fact still alive. Their reasoning is that no one said goodbye to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on social media and no post-death interviews have been published. If he’s not dead, what could this mean?!)
Now people are calling for the death of Jon Snow (Kit Harington)! What’d he ever do to you people? Did the Lord of Light bring him back to life for the sole purpose of falling in love with Dany and convincing her to bring her dragons to Winterfell? Hmm, now that I type that out and considering the LoL’s track record, I suppose that’s more than possible. But sweet baby jeebus does EVERYONE have to die?
That said, I don’t think he will kill Dany. I think Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is pregnant and he won’t be able to kill her. I think she kills him. Or maybe no one kills anyone. I can dream.
Speaking of Bran (and we were a few paragraphs ago), seriously WTF is up with Bran? I know Weiss and Benioff are racing toward the finish line, but they’d better give us some sort of explanation for Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and all his mystical shit. What good comes from seeing “everything” if you don’t ever seem to use the knowledge to help anyone? Yet another GoT pundit has posited that Bran is the real villain of the series and will, in fact, become the new Night King. *insert eyeroll*
Finally, I’m not as convinced as some vocal observers that Arya’s decision not to go after Cersei nor her gallop away from the wreckage of Kings Landing was “inexplicable.” She had a… what? A moment of clarity? An epiphany? when Sandor held her back. These things do happen. And the same people who are up in arms for her decision NOT to try to kill Cersei after seven seasons of preparation, are probably the same people who complained that it was ridiculous that she killed the Night King, despite seven seasons of preparation. And we don’t yet know what it ultimately meant when she took off on the horse.
If she doesn’t mean to just leave Westeros for greener pastures, has she shifted her anger away from Cersei to Dany? I would not be at all surprised if she decided to kill Dany while wearing Jon’s face. But doesn’t that mean she’d have to kill Jon? I don’t see that happening. (And D & D only have 2 hours in which to convince me it’s possible.) Then again, it’s a lot stranger that the whole face swapping thing has not played a part, at all, in the final season. Unless Arya isn’t Arya and someone else is wearing HER face?! Oh please, someone stop me, I’m about to go down another rabbit hole!
A few lingering questions: Is “Torgo Nodho” Grey Worm’s (Jacob Anderson) real name?
Have we seen the last of Bronn? If episode four was it, I agree with the naysayers, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) deserved better. But I’m counting on him to show up tonight.
How about Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan)? Does she know about her little brother’s redemption and death? I think she does. If Dany’s Small Council knew she’d taken back the Iron Islands, then I think we can assume ravens fly both ways. Will we see her tonight, or has she served her purpose never to be heard from again?
Who was Varys writing to before he was killed? Does it matter or was the sole purpose of the shot to show us his treason made manifest? I missed the point of Varys’ convo with the little girl/servant. They weren’t discussing Dany’s lack of appetite out of concern for her well-being. He was trying to poison her! Did Dany find out? If she had she probably would have found a way to prolong his death somehow, since he’d have been treasonous with murderous intent.
If Kings Landing and the Red Keep have been destroyed, does the Iron Throne still exist for anyone to sit on? Maybe Drogon melted it. If Sansa rules, will Winterfell become the new Kings Landing?
I can’t with any more theories and guesses and punditry. Let’s just watch season eight episode six, shall we?
I can’t believe it’s the last time these amazing credits will open a new episode!
We open on Tyrion’s haggard face as he walks through the burning wreckage of Kings Landing. He sees dead children and shell-shocked survivors everywhere as he walks. Jon and Ser Davos are behind him as they assess the damage. Tyrion is looking for someone (or someones = Cersei and Jaime) and says he’ll find them later, “I’m going alone.”
Grey Worm is sentencing Lannister prisoners of war to death when Jon and Davos stop him. He tells them that Dany has commanded him to kill all prisoners. “These are free men. They chose to fight for [Cersei].” Ser Davos stops Jon from physically stopping Grey Worm. They go to find Daenerys.
Tyrion is in the ruins of the Red Keep. Ash is falling like snow. He lights a torch to continue his search down below where he told Jaime to go. The passage is blocked on this side but there is a sliver of light. (Starting to think the internet was right and he’s about to find Jaime alive.) Tyrion sees the golden hand sticking out of the rubble and starts to dig it out. He’s a mess and sobbing for his lost brother and sister. There they are in each other’s arms. Jaime looks to be really truly dead. Poor Tyrion!
Arya is watching the Khalisar literally horsing around (so she didn’t leave yet!), still drunk with bloodlust. She follows Jon as he walks through the ranks of the Unsullied up the steps of the Red Keep. Grey Worm is at the top. (I thought they just left him slitting throats somewhere else?) GW is not happy with him. We hear Drogon and then Dany appears at the top of the steps, looking over the burning city, the Unsullied, and the Dothraki screamers.
She calls for quiet and speaks in Dothraki, thanking them for killing her enemies “in their iron suits” and tearing down their “stone houses” and delivering the Seven Kingdoms. Jon looks concerned. She names Grey Worm her “Master of War” and the head of her armies.
Addressing the Unsullied she calls them “liberators” but says the war is not over. They need to liberate all the people from “Winterfell to Dorne” and “Lannisport to Qarth.” Jon and Tyrion are glowering. Gotta say, Dany is looking a lot bonkers. She obviously is drinking her own Kool-Aid. Arya is looking on concerned as well.
Tyrion approaches Dany. She’s accusing him of treason for freeing Jaime. He agrees he “freed [his] brother while [Dany] slaughtered a city.” He pulls off the badge signifying that he’s Hand of the Queen and tosses it away. The armies are holding their collective breath.
Daenerys has Tyrion arrested. Tyrion gives Jon a look that says “I told you so” except that he didn’t. He kept telling everyone he “believed” in his queen!
Jon and Arya come face to face. He tells her to wait for him outside the city gates. Arya stops him and reiterates, “She knows who you are. You’ll always be a threat to her. And I know a killer when I see one.”
Jon visits Tyrion in his jail cell. Tyrion thanks him for the visit but wants wine. “The Queen doesn’t keep prisoners for long…I betrayed my closest friend and watched him burn. Now Varys’ ashes can tell my ashes, ‘See, I told you.’” Tyrion has accepted his fate because of all the things he’s done from Shae, his father, up to betraying Dany.
Jon says he can’t justify what he’s seen and won’t try but thinks the war is over now. Tyrion asks if he thought Dany sounded like someone who’s done fighting. Jon is still arguing that Dany had no choice and is in fact justifying the behavior he just said he wouldn’t. Tyrion is being rational and seems to be finally getting through to Jon. He says he knows that Jon loves her and confesses that he loves her too. And he believed in her with all his heart.
“Love is more powerful than reason. We all know that. Look at my brother.” He’s in tears. Jon replies, “Love is the death of duty,” quoting Maester Aemon. Tyrion says, “Sometimes duty is the death of love. You are the shield that guards the realms of men. You’ve always tried to do the right thing no matter the cost. Who’s the greatest threat to the people now? It’s a terrible thing I’m asking. It’s also the right thing. Do you think I’m the last man she’ll execute? Who’s more dangerous than the last heir to the Iron Throne?”
Jon, also crying says, “That’s her decision. She is the queen. I’m sorry it came to this.”
There is a knock on the door. Tyrion asks, “And your sisters? Do you think they will bend the knee? …Why do you think Sansa told me?”
“She doesn’t get to choose who will be queen.”
“No, but you do. And you have to choose now.”
Jon leaves Tyrion. It’s now truly snowing in Kings Landing. Winter is indeed here. Drogon rises from the snow in front of Jon but lets him pass.
Well, guess the Iron Throne survived the fire and Dany will finally get to sit on it. But the throne room is in ruins and there’s no one there to see it. Nope, there’s Jon.
Dany wants to tell him a story about when she was a child and the throne. Jon is not having it. He’s furious with her and asking her to forgive Tyrion and everyone else. “Make them see they’ve made a mistake.”
Dany says, “We can’t hide behind small mercies.” “It’s not easy to see something that’s never been before. It’ll be good,” she adds.
He wants to know how she knows it’ll be good. Dany answers, “Because I know what’s good.” And yes, that’s bonkers. She’s begging him to be with her, to help her, and they can “break the wheel together.”
Jon says, “You are my queen now and always,” and they kiss passionately. As the music swells, we’re thinking he’s going to give…but wait…OH MY SWEET HELL!!! He’s done it!!! FUUUUUUUUK! Aegon Targaryen has killed Daenerys Targaryen!! The Queen is dead, long live the King! Except he’s devastated and Drogon is circling overhead. Now he’s there with them! He smells his mother’s blood! Is he going to incinerate Jon?!
Jon certainly thinks it’s possible as Drogon mourns Dany. He screams into the sky and there’s a fireball in his throat! He lets loose, but Jon is not harmed! (Proof positive he’s a Targaryen.) HA! Drogon’s melted the Iron Throne! (Damn, I’m good. I was kidding, but it happened!) Drogon lifts Dany’s body (seriously) and flies away with her.
Tyrion is still alive in his cell. Will he be rescued?! How long has he been there? His beard is much longer than it was the last time we saw it. Grey Worm comes for him and takes him to the Dragon Pit. We see a tribunal that includes Yara Greyjoy, the nameless new Prince of Dorne, Brienne, Davos, Gendry (Joe Dempsie), Arya, Bran and Sansa. Sansa wants to know where Jon is. Grey Worm says he’s also a prisoner. Sansa is trying to warn him of the danger of harming Jon. Various factions are sniping at each other because of Dany’s death.
Ser Davos is trying to make peace. Grey Worm isn’t having it. He says he wants justice, but he clearly wants revenge. He doesn’t want to hear Tyrion, but Tyrion talks anyway. He tells all assembled that “Jon Snow committed his crime here, it’s for his king or queen to decide his fate.”
When it’s pointed out that they no longer have a king or queen, Tyrion says, “You’re the most powerful people in Westeros. Choose one.”
Hey look, it’s Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies)! He’s putting himself forward for the job. LOL! Sansa says, “Please sit.”
Samwell (John Bradley) is there! Yay!! He wants to know “why just us” get to choose. He seems to be suggesting a democratic vote be put to the people. The old lords laugh at him.
Edmure asks if Tyrion wants the crown. Tyrion says everyone hates him for one reason or another. Davos asks, “Who then?” Tyrion says he’s done nothing but think “these past few weeks…. What unites people?” He gets to “a story” and names Bran the Broken. Says “he’s our memory, the keeper of all our stories. Who better to lead us into the future?”
Sansa points out that Bran doesn’t want it and can’t father children. Tyrion answers, “Good…from now on rulers will not be born, they’ll be chosen…” He wants to know if Bran will do it.
Bran answers, “Why do you think I came all this way.” Holy crap. There’s a surprise! I thought his deal was to be the Three-Eyed Raven and he had no ambition or wants or anything else. This feels unsatisfying. But everyone assembled says “Aye” except Sansa. She says the “North will remain an independent kingdom as it was for thousands of years.”
Tyrion says, “All hail Bran the Broken…Lord of the Six Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm.”
Bran names Tyrion his hand. Tyrion says he doesn’t want it. Bran says he doesn’t want to be king, but he chooses Tyrion. Grey Worm is still NOT happy.
Tyrion tells Jon that he can’t walk free and the new king has decided to send him to the Night’s Watch. Sheesh! Right back where he started! At least he’ll be where he wants to be.
Jon wants to know if what he did was right. “It doesn’t feel right.” Tyrion says, “Ask me again in ten years.” They embrace before Tyrion starts to go. Jon says, “I don’t suppose we’ll ever see each other again.” Tyrion answers, “I wouldn’t be so sure. A few years as Hand of the King would make anyone want to piss off the end of the world.” A nice callback to season one when Jon and Tyrion first knew each other.
There’s nearly an hour left! What the hell else is going to happen?!
Jon is let out of jail and prepares to set sail North. Grey Worm is watching from a ship. I don’t like the look of this. Grey Worm’s mouth has been pinched since Missandei’s death. But wait, Grey Worm is going to Naath! Oh man, now I miss Missandei again!
Sansa asks Jon if he can forgive her. He is definitely struggling, but says, “The North is free thanks to you.”
“But they lost their king.”
“Ned Stark’s daughter will speak for them.” Sansa is crying as she embraces Jon (and frankly so am I).
Jon tells Arya that she can visit him in Castle Black. She says she can’t, and he replies, “Do you think anyone would dare tell you woman aren’t allowed?”
She says, “I’m not going back North…what’s west of Westeros? Where all the maps stop, that’s where I’m going.” Jon makes sure she still has Needle. She’s crying. I’m sobbing!
Jon kneels before Bran and apologizes for not “being there when you needed me.” Bran tells him, “You were exactly where you were supposed to be.” Being king hasn’t made him any less creepy, that’s for sure.
Jon gets in the boat as the sad music swells.
Brienne is reading about the Houses of Westeros and comes upon Jaime’s page. She finishes it for him, ensuring that history remembers him as a good man that died “protecting his Queen” and closes the book.
Tyrion is arranging chairs in the old Small Council Room and sits in his old chair. Bronn!! Ser Bronn of the Blackwater is a member as is Ser Davos and Ser Brienne. Sam is Grand Maester. He gives Tyrion a book, A Song of Ice and Fire, which is a history of the great wars. Tyrion’s concerned with how he’ll be remembered, and Sam tells him he’s not in it.
Bran arrives and says, “We appear to be missing a Master of Whispers and a Master of Laws and a Master of War.”
Tyrion tells him suitable prospects will be found. Bran asks about Drogon and says he can probably find him (just to remind us that he still has that all-seeing thing going for him.) Ser Podrick! (Daniel Portman) seems to be the King’s personal bodyguard.
After the King leaves, the Small Council gets down to the business of putting the kingdom back together again. Life is becoming the new normal.
Jon arrives at Castle Black and who’s there to greet him? Tormund! (Kristofer Hivju) Where’s Ghost?
We follow the last remaining Stark children as they prepare to begin their new lives. Arya is on a boat, Sansa is ruling over Winterfell, Jon is among the Free Folk… and there he is! There’s our good boy! YAY Ghost! (Oh, ye of little faith, they were saving that for the end!)
Jon looks happy, Arya looks happy, and Sansa is crowned Queen in the North and she looks happy. (Really? These people are getting happy endings? It can’t be that easy! I’m expecting assassins at every turn.)
Jon, Ghost, and Tormund are leading a party north of the Wall. Oh crap, are we going to see White Walkers?! Jon appears to be worried as he turns to watch the gate close on Castle Black. A new version of the gorgeous theme music swells as we watch the Free Folk move into the woods. Wait, that’s it?! I thought this episode was supposed to be two hours. Was I misinformed? I must have been because credits are rolling. Maybe that’s going to take 30 minutes. There are a LOT of people who’ve worked on this show all these years. But no, we’re done. That’s it. Game of Thrones is over.
…I’m back after a libation. I will probably need to watch a few more times so that I can savor every moment (and before I begin a complete re-watch of the entire series – again) but I feel pretty okay with this episode! If anyone is disappointed that Jon didn’t get to rule as Aegon, I’m not. He never wanted it. He got the life he wanted.
As for whether Dany deserved to die, or they spent enough time on her descent into madness, I feel like it was inevitable. There were so many discussions and calls back to all the things she’s said and done over the course of eight seasons. She finally got what she wanted, but she wasn’t fit to rule.
I love that so many of the good guys made it out alive! I’m kind of disappointed that Bran is the new King, but there were quite a few who predicted it. Guess I should have read all of those many, many, many articles and posts. In any case, Sansa does get to be a Queen so…
Now that it’s all over but the shouting, what did YOU think of the final episode of one of the greatest shows in the history of ever?
More on Game of Thrones:
- Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 ‘Dragonstone’ Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2 ‘Stormborn’ Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3 ‘The Queen’s Justice’ Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 ‘The Spoils of War’ Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5 ‘Eastwatch’ Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 ‘Beyond the Wall’ Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7 ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1 “Winterfell” Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3 “The Long Night” Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4 “The Last of the Starks” Recap
- Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 “The Bells” Recap