Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Game of Thrones - The Bells

While I can concede, and even understand, the logic behind the writers' plan with "The Bells" it's hard not to come away conflicted after the penultimate episode of the series. After a 20-minute lead-in during which Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) executes a traitor, mourns her personal loses, and is once again spurned by Jon Snow (Kit Harington) who cannot return her advances, the war with Cersei (Lena Headey begins. Isolated and alone, she chooses fear over the love now absent in her life and embraces the Targaryen name and a thirst for vengeance offering no quarter to Cersei nor any of the subjects taking refuge in her city. Although we've seen this level of viciousness in her before (remember Khalar vezhven?), never to this scale have we seen it unleashed. I couldn't get the words of Ron Burdgandy out of my mind, both in the rapidly-descending mental instability of Daenerys and in the attack on Kings Landing, each of which get out of hand in short order.

With the weight of recent loses, and the cooling of Jon's affections to her, Daenerys chooses a brutal reprisal to Cersei for the loss of her second dragon and closest friend. While the episode certainly sells Daenerys as the out-of-control mad woman, it can't quite sell Cersei as the victim (other than one of her own making). Bringing Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei together at the end makes sense, allowing the characters to exit the series together, but it robs the show's main villain of a more glorious death (although, even if Daenerys may earn an even greater victory in breaking Cersei's spirit and leaving her in tears). As for deaths, Euron's (Pilou Asbæk) is more glorious than he deserves (although there is no one around to witness it), and the show definitely goes for broke in the final reunion between the Clegane brothers as the pair meet a firey end among the destruction.

The fight over Kings Landing isn't so much a battle as an all-out slaughter and completely victory for Daenerys, whose level of brutality shocks and sickens Jon Snow likely pushing a reckoning between the two in the series finale. There were two visuals that stayed with me after the episode concluded, both showing the carnage of the battle through the eyes of a single character. The first is Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) framed trough the hole blasted by Drogon, and the second is a dazed Arya (Maisie Williams) coming back into consciousness after running for her life in a city on fire and struggling to take in the scene in front of her. If Jon doesn't seek out some justice, I'm betting another Stark shall. Speaking of Arya, she and Clegane (Rory McCann) steal one final scene together before the Hound faces his destiny in a nice moment that allows the character to show off what little humanity he has left and provide Arya with time to escape through the carnage, fire, and destruction all around.

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