Part of the reason Game of Thrones is so heavily revered lies in its writing. Often writing can be the one thing that makes or breaks a TV show, despite other elements like breathtaking cinematics and epic music scores. That’s part of the reason why episode five of season eight ‘The Bells’ will most likely go down as one of the worst in GoT’s history. If you have not seen the newest episode of the series, now is the time to avert your eyes!
Rushed is an understatement for how this episode felt. We had known for a while now that there would only be 6 total episodes in the final season. Yet, we all believed (or at least hoped) in the writing ability of co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to get it done and to do it well in the two years they were allotted to complete their project. So far, with only one episode left in the series, it appears we may have been wrong to trust them.
Arcs were seemingly thrown away and situations—albeit foreshadowed—were unforgivingly undeveloped. Ultimately in the episode (penultimately in the series), Daenerys’ army wins and defeats Cersei’s army. However, the entire “battle” only lasts within about 10 minutes as Daenerys and her dragon swoop down from above and destroy the entire Greyjoy fleet and the Golden Company from Essos. It was a moment we had been waiting for since the beginning and it was over in the blink of an eye. The rest of the installment was filled with terror as Daenerys decides against the better judgment of her counselors—one of which (Varys) she murders in the first 15 minutes of the episode—and persists to reduce all of King’s Landing and its many innocents to ash and rubble.
Already, on Twitter, and many other social media outlets, there exists staunch criticism over the descent into madness we see in Queen Daenerys. But the result cannot entirely be blamed as undeserving. “Entirely” is the key word here. It would be inaccurate to say her inevitable descent was not foreshadowed in the earlier seasons, and, if it weren’t for her advisors at the time, we may had seen it much earlier than just now. However, such an arc feels underdeveloped when it’s built up again within such a short range of time. It did not feel real, only forced.
The idea that only books can really deliver a deserving end to a story (especially one as dense as this one) is all but reinforced here. It even offers hope to see how the original writer, George R.R. Martin, inevitably chooses to reach the end of his written story. Along with that same sentiment, Jaime Lannister’s arc in the series was entirely ripped away as his role ultimately boiled down to serve as a mere reason for the rest of us to pity Cersei in her final dying moments. It was instilled in us from the beginning of the episode that they might’ve somehow stood a chance of escaping death’s grasp. But instead they were just trapped and died alone from the hailing debris above them.
It would not be true to say that this episode didn’t have its great moments, though. We do see a story arc that is actually deserving of its ending. It’s in none other than Sandor Clegane aka the Hound. After vowing to have been the one person to bring his brother, the Mountain, to justice, we’re gifted with an undoubtedly mesmerizing fight between the two abroad the background destruction brought down by Daenerys and her dragon. The Hound regrettably realizes he cannot defeat his brother in hand-to-hand combat and, just before he almost gets his eyes gouged out by the giant of a man, he heroically breaks the hold of his brother and charges at him as they both fall off of the Red Keep and plunge into the flames far below.
If there was to be a method to the madness of writing for this past episode, it may very well lie in the contrast we see through Jon Snow’s character and his reaction to what Daenerys does to the many innocents in King’s Landing. Realizing that the Dragon Queen is undoubtedly unfit to rule the seven kingdoms, this episode has taught both Jon Snow and Arya Stark that it needs to be Jon on the Iron Throne before we see a wrap for the epic series that is Game of Thrones. It’s said to be a bitter-sweet ending, and it’s only a matter of time before we see either Jon or Daenerys (or maybe even Gendry) on the Iron Throne next Sunday. The game of thrones is coming to an end.