After hanging in for over seven seasons of Game of Thrones — about 72 hours of TV — fans’ beloved Mother of Dragons just devolved into a crazy bitch literally within sight of the Iron Throne. In “The Bells,” the second to last episode of the series that aired Sunday, Emilia Clarke’s celebrated heroine nosedived from “Mother of Dragons” to “Fascist Dictator of Fire & Blood.”
What? She couldn’t handle the pressure? She couldn’t be trusted to make the right decision in the heat of the moment? She let emotion triumph over reason? She’s become her father?
Is there a single woman in the Seven Kingdoms who’s smart, powerful, and can get things done without killing people? (R.I.P., Margaery Tyrell.)
Here are the top moments from Episode 5: "The Bells" 48%.
Varys dies in this strange land by dragonfire. Tyrion betrays Varys’ betrayal of Daenerys, telling her that the secret is out and Varys is Team Aegon. And starting now, and repeatedly throughout the episode, we think, Jon could’ve stopped all this madness by sleeping with her again. We weren’t alone:
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Drogon destroys the Iron Fleet, then the scorpions lining the walls overlooking Blackwater Bay, then the gates of King’s Landing and the Golden Company along with them, and more scorpions.
Daenerys pauses to catch her breath — she must’ve lost her voice saying “dracarys” that much.
The city takes a hair too long to ring the bells of surrender, while Dany stews in her vengeance perched atop the city walls.
Drogon next sets the streets aflame along with terrified innocent bystanders, and then begins destroying the Red Keep, which is beautiful and terrible to see. Dragonfire also sets off pockets of wildfire still hidden in the bowels of the city, sending green plumes up in the inferno that was once King’s Landing.
In the thick of the carnage, we have to say goodbye to Harry Strickland (dispatched care of Grey Worm’s revenge). We hardly knew ye!
Jon realizes the madness Daenerys’ fury has wrought. She promised him fear, and she did not disappoint.
Tyrion signs his own death warrant by letting Jaime go. At least the act gives us this touching moment between the two brothers.
“If it weren’t for you, I never would have survived our childhood,” Tyrion says. “You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster. You were all I had.”
They’re crying, we’re crying, you’re crying …
In a moment so fleeting in its treatment of a major showdown that it argues (again) for at least one more episode in this too-brief final season, Euron miraculously swaggers out of Blackwater Bay at the same time Jaime arrives at the spot to sneak into the Red Keep through the exit that Tyrion told him about.
Euron tells Jaime that he will be a legend if he kills a second king. Jaime: “You’re no king.” Euron has the title of king of the Iron Islands, so to a certain segment, he qualifies. Plus, he had sex with Cersei, so that makes him king of her boudoir – a petty king, by the tone of this absurd conversation.
Naturally, stabbing ensues.
“I got you,” Euron calls after Jaime, and with his dying breath: “I am the man who killed Jaime Lannister.”
“You come with me, you die here,” The Hound says to Arya when they get inside the Red Keep, shooing her off. Uncharacteristically, Arya agrees, notably calling after “Sandor” to say thanks and then departs.
Sandor meets his brother on the Red Keep stairwell. Cersei: “Stay with me!” Mountain eyes her. Qyburn: “Obey!” The Mountain throws Qyburn down the steps with such force that he instantly dies. (Qyburn was a brittle man.) Thus, the monster killed his maker.
Cersei exits quickly and Cleganebowl is on!
“Yeah, that’s you. That’s what you’ve always been,” Sandor says to Gregor after knocking his helmet off, then runs his sword through his Frankensteined brother, who removes the blade and comes at his bro.
Much sword-swinging later – and a tumble down some stairs, slamming against walls, gouging of eyeballs, stabbing in the face – and The Hound realizes that skewering The Mountain just won’t end him, so he body-slams Gregor right through the wall into the fiery hellscape below.
We’ve joked about Qyburn playing Doctor Frankenstein with Gregor as his monster, but the monster’s final words from Mary Shelley’s classic 1818 horror novel seem more fitting for Sandor than for Gregor:
“I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace, or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.”
Meanwhile, back in the map room, Jaime finds hysterical Cersei. We thought it was Arya sneaking up on Cersei or even wearing Jaime’s face, but no, it was a real moment between the twins.
“I want our baby to live,” she cries as they find themselves trapped by the walls collapsing in around them.
He calms her and embraces her: “Nothing else matters.” (Cue: Metallica.)
The Red Keep becomes Jaime and Cersei’s crypt – supposedly. We’ll believe it when we see their crushed skulls.
While Cleganebowl reaches its conclusion, Arya’s busy trying to save the city – or, at least, dodge the falling debris that may mean the end of her and the random people she’s tasked by the script with saving. (Unnecessary.) Finally, she wakes to an orgy of death save for one bright life standing before her.
“The Bells,” apparently, traded the kingdom for a horse.
What was your favorite moment of the episode? Tell us in the comments!
Game of Thrones season 8 finale airs Sunday, May 19 at 9 p.m. on HBO.