Review: Game Of Thrones S8E5, The Bells
If Game Of Thrones S8E5 is any indication, we’re in for one epic series finale
Here we are, the second to the last episode of the series and what do we have? An episode that continues the rushed sense of season eight—but is admittedly better than episodes three and four.
Why is it that the show has become predictable and sometimes even skips logic entirely, with The Bells being no exception? I think it has something to do with the fact that we keep wishing the season was 10 episodes when it isn’t. The six-episode formula is not what we’re used to and it isn’t what we’ve come to like.
I chose to look past it and take it for what it is: a shortened version of what the show runners used to do. It took me five episodes to accept it, but at this point, here we are; let’s enjoy what we’re being given. The story is still there, maybe told a bit faster but it’s still being told. Besides, story-wise, it hasn’t disappointed (cough Lost cough).
My preface aside, the episode has hits and misses, of course.
WARNING: The article below is long and full of spoilers
Scale, massive gorgeous scale
Set continuity mistakes aside (yes, Starbucks cup; yes, Jaime’s hand), Game of Thrones has long had one of the most gorgeous looking productions and sets on TV. Many travelers the world over have booked tours just to see where GOT was shot. Granted that King’s Landing isn’t new, but this episode made me actually feel like it was real as could be. The show has always been immersive—from the walls of Winterfell and the gardens of Dorne to the white sheet that is The Wall—they’ve all felt like real places, but I would say that the show outdid itself this time. From Arya running around and avoiding death (Saving Private Arya, someone said—thank you, Mel!) and the Clegane showdown (more on this later) to the rain of fire care of Daenerys and Drogon.
I can talk about the Red Keep and the armies in the streets, but I think you get the point: It was set porn galore. If the Battle of Winterfell was supposed to be compared to The Battle of Helm’s Deep, I have to compare this one to The Battle of Minas Tirith (the white city of Gondor) from Return of the King. Unlike the Helm’s Deep and Winterfell, where one was a lot more memorable, this episode’s battle was definitely up there with its Lord of the Rings rival.
Cersei, I wish you spoke more
Admittedly, saying goodbye to Cersei, one of my most hated characters (in a good way), was more bittersweet than I thought. Her moment with Jaime was a tide turner more so because I actually like the Kingslayer. Jaime, who in the end stayed true to what the show has hinted at all along (I’ll mention “hinting” again later), was in love with Cersei despite her betrayal and malice. Not the exact ending I would have wanted for him but it was fitting so much so that Jaime actually foreshadowed this in a previous episode: to die in the arms of the woman he loves. Honorable mention as well to Tyrion who pays back the favor of saving Jaime; it was an excellent moment to end their relationship.
Now to the queen. I expected Cersei’s death to be along the lines of an Arya assassination, maybe being eaten by Drogon, death by Jaime’s hand (as many predictions laid out) or something equally grand, because at the root of how we’ve come to know her, Cersei is, by all means (except when it comes to her children), as wicked and cunning as they come.
In this episode however, Cersei hardly spoke, not to mention she barely did anything except watch the destruction of King’s Landing. This in itself was a bit of a letdown to me because her character has never been a wallflower. As one of the most potent and assertive personas in the whole show, she was barely given anything to do in this episode. Did she not think of an escape plan? Did she know her armies would be decimated? What was going through her mind? We’ll never know—a recurring theme of the season; another missed opportunity.
But in Game Of Thrones S8E5, she did have her final goodbyes with Jaime. It would have still been great to see an eked-out personality from Cersei in the middle of the events because, above everything—to me—it was her last appearance and maybe I thought I’d feel more when it actually happened. Instead, she was silent and dazed, which speaks volumes in itself but not usually in the language that Cersei speaks.
Clegane vs. Clegane
What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? Cleganebowl.
A line most recently made famous in The Dark Knight, I couldn’t stop thinking about it while watching the showdown. This fight felt large, not only because of the characters themselves but because of the awesome build up that was done right. It’s the fight everyone’s been waiting for—Ali vs. Frasier, Lakers vs. Celtics, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather—The Mountain vs. The Hound. When the two faced off (to a beautiful backdrop by the way), all I could say was “Oh damn, here weeeeeee goooooo!”
And disappoint it did not! I was as uneasy as a kid trying rollerblades for the first time. I reacted to every stab, winced with every hit; I almost shouted because I thought I was going to see an Oberyn-Martell remake! All of this because I was invested in their conflict and in the Hound. From Lannister bodyguard to redeeming Stark justice, to his final mission—he was consistent, interesting and, more importantly, flawed. Not simply a tool used to move the plot forward (I’m looking at you, Euron).
In the end, it was only fitting that the Hound’s arc ended in fire. It was how his hatred for his brother started and it became the end for the both of them. Well done, Game Of Thrones.
When GOT became predictable (and it was actually okay)
So the good guys are winning (which goes against the supposed logic because we’ve heard how depleted their forces were all along) and, against the agreement of allowing King’s Landing to surrender, Daeneryrs ignores the bells and goes on a rampage incinerating everything imaginable.
Some argue that her turn was just too fast; I chalk this up to the show’s pace. We might have been able to see this better if we had more than six episodes, but I’m not here to actually bitch about that. Take it with a grain of salt, as I myself have made peace with these six episodes for season eight. I’m actually saying this for me: Her turn to madness worked and I enjoyed it.
We’ve gotten so used to Game Of Thrones throwing curveballs at us that we try so much to expect the unexpected. The Red Wedding, the death of Oberyn, the death of Ned Stark—you name it—we were probably caught off guard. In a previous review I mentioned Dany’s predictability and hoped against it because, to me, predictability isn’t in Game Of Thrones style. Well surprise-surprise, call this predictable twist their revenge.
What, so you think we’re going to give you another twist because it’s what we do? Bam, take that! Dany is crazy; we’ve hinted at this all series long and we’re sticking to our guns.
In its most divisive season yet, Game Of Thrones gave us another doozy. If you let go of certain loopholes and rushed scenes, this episode actually has something really good to show. In the plethora of theories leading up to where the show is now, HBO has so far gone upfront, simple and predictable. We’ve just gotten used to twists and turns at every point and maybe that’s why this episode feels strange. In this case, being predictable has never been GOT, but maybe that’s what makes it unpredictable this time around. And that’s a good thing.
Words Yosu de Erquiaga
Art Alexandra Lara