SPOILER ALERT: The most shocking episode of the season has seen the fight for the Iron Throne descend into tragedy with a major plot twist.
SPOILER ALERT: This is a recap. That means we’ll be discussing all the juicy details from Game of Thrones season eight, episode five — “The Bells.”
If you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want to know what happens, leave now.
I remember, just a few weeks back, complaining that things were plodding along a smidgen too slowly in this final run of Thrones.
Even the Battle of Winterfell didn’t claim anywhere near the amount of scalps we’d expected.
But now we know why. It’s because episode 5 was going to take them all out.
If the start of the season was a slow walk to the finish line, this week’s instalment was a Usain Bolt sprint.
And finally, finally we got the sporting event we’d all been waiting for: Cleganebowl.
But let’s backtrack.
Last we checked in on Daenerys Targaryen, she was super mad because Cersei had just executed her BFF Missandei of Naath, via The Mountain’s sword.
It was clear more heads were going to roll.
… And roll they did.
THE QUEEN’S DEPRESSION
So as we’d expected, Dany’s very cut up about losing Missandei. She’s not eating, she’s not sleeping, and she’s definitely listening to Dashboard Confessional on repeat.
Meanwhile, Jon Snow’s finally arrived after trekking down there from the North.
Varys meets him on the beach, and again urges Jon to consider #Snow2020.
“What do you want?” a frustrated Jon asks him.
“All I’ve ever wanted. The right ruler on the Iron Throne,” Varys replies in a tone which implies that it is not Dany.
Around the same time as Varys is technically committing a bit of treason, Tyrion goes to dob him in to their boss.
He lets Dany know that Varys has been itching for a leadership spill and wants to see her replaced with Jon.
Tyrion’s intent is to throw Varys under the bus, but somehow, Jon also lands under those wheels.
Dany points out that Jon betrayed her as well because he’s the one who spilled the beans to everyone about his claim to the Iron Throne when she literally begged him not to.
“Why do you think Sansa told you? What does she hope to gain?” Dany asks Tyrion.
“She trusted you. She trusted you to spread secrets which could destroy your queen. And you didn’t fail her.”
It’s a sick burn — just the first of many during this episode.
Dany’s vengeance is swift, and she invites all the gang to The Roast of Lord Varys.
Before Varys gets barbecued, Tyrion owns up to being the snitch.
Varys looks at him sadly.
“I hope I deserve this. I hope I am wrong. Goodbye, old friend.”
Tyrion — who at this point has almost as many bad decisions on the board as Jon — finally has the wits to look a little worried about campaigning for the Pyro Queen.
Jon finally goes to catch up with his aunt Dany, but she’s mad that he told Sansa about the whole Targaryen bit.
In fact, she attempts to pull off some fairly impressive mental gymnastics to convince Jon it was actually Sansa’s fault that she had to execute Varys, even though the fire literally exited the dragon’s mouth at her command.
“This is a victory for Sansa. Now she knows what happens when people hear the truth about you,” Dany tells him angrily.
“I don’t have love here. I only have fear.”
Jon tells her he loves her as his queen, but she’s all, “yes, but do you like like me?” and goes in for a pash.
He brushes her away, saying something about keeping their relationship professional, and she handles it about as well as you’d expect.
“All right, then. Let it be fear.”
Later, Tyrion is starting to miss his days in service to King Joffrey as he tries really, really hard to stop Dany from burning the entire city to the ground in her quest to end Cersei’s reign.
But Dany’s all “mercy is weakness” — which, ironically, is the title of Cersei’s memoir.
Tyrion begs her to at least stop burning everything once the Queen’s armies surrender, but she’s got selective hearing and brings up Jaime Lannister instead.
“Your brother was stopped trying to get past our lines. It seems he hasn’t abandoned your sister after all,” she tells him.
“Next time you fail me … will be the last time you fail me.”
ON THE EVE OF BATTLE
After copping an actual death threat, Tyrion’s now gone all “f**k it” about his loyalty to the Queen, and asks Ser Davos Seaworth to help him smuggle Jaime out of captivity.
He then pops in to see his brother and convinces him to try and get Cersei to surrender so that they can save thousands of innocent lives.
Tyrion suggests they can flee and buy a fixer-upperer in Pentos and start a new life together, just a brother and sister in love.
Before they part ways, Tyrion reminds Jaime to make sure they “ring the bells and open the gates” so that the battle can end as soon as possible.
The brothers share an emotional moment.
“If it weren’t for you, I never would have survived my childhood,” Tyrion admits.
“You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster.”
ARYA AND THE HOUND
Arya and The Hound arrive at the army’s campsite outside King’s Landing and drop the classic “don’t you know who I am?” line to the gatekeeper.
“I’m Arya Stark. I’m going to kill Queen Cersei,” she tells the nervous soldier, who figures that’s probably fine with his boss and so lets them in.
PREPARING FOR BATTLE
The next day, the townsfolk have been given the hot word that there’s a dragon headed their way so they try and find cover.
But not these guys:
Tyrion’s still desperately peddling his “mercy” plan, and keeps reminding everyone to keep an ear out for those surrender bells.
Good luck, sweetie.
Meanwhile, a whole lot of danger’s just arrived at her doorstep but Cersei’s pretty chill.
Out on the water — and despite easily managing to take out a dragon in last week’s episode — Euron completely fumbles his clear shot at Drogon.
Dany burns up the entire fleet and Euron’s thrown into the water.
THE ARMIES MEET
Dany’s army and the Queen’s army come face-to-face at the city walls and it’s super awkward because no one seems to really know what to do next.
So they all just kind of stare at each other.
Dany’s got no such hesitations though, and Drogon’s flames suddenly burst through the wall from behind so, yeah, I guess it’s on?
THE RED KEEP
As the city burns, Qyburn begs Cersei to evacuate via the fire escape, but she’s convinced the people she’s bullied into submission will defend her to the death.
“They will defend their Queen to the last man. The Red Keep has never fallen, it won’t fall today,” she says defiantly.
Kind of reminds me of something else …
Jon Snow, Grey Worm and all their other soldiers again fall into a tense standoff with the royal army, while townsfolk are screaming and running away.
Eventually, Cersei’s men drop their swords and Jon is visibly relieved.
“Ring the bell, ring the bell!” can be heard all across the city and finally — they sound.
Thank God, now the battle can end and lives can be saved and —
Tyrion and Jon seem to finally realise that they may have again backed the wrong horse.
It’s never a great sign when the “hero” of the story is now actively murdering innocent people for no reason, and they’re getting a little worried about her mental state.
Grey Worm, however, is on board with Dany’s modus operandi, and starts slaughtering the surrendered soldiers for the hell of it.
Jon yells out, “guys, please stop fighting, kay?” but no one really listens and it’s absolute chaos.
EURON VERSUS JAIME
Jaime’s sneaking along the beach in his quest to get to Cersei when he spots the last person anyone wants to see: Euron Greyjoy.
Euron’s keen for a chat but Jaime’s not interested.
“Kingslayer! Listen! That’s the sound of a city dying. It’s over,” he tells Jaime, adding: “If you kill another king, they’ll sing songs about you forever.”
The two get into an intense brawl which seems like a huge waste of time while the world around them is literally burning to the ground, but boys will be boys, etc.
Euron stabs Jaime in the side, but Jaime manages to land the killer blow.
He then announces to approximately no one that he is now “the man who killed Jaime Lannister” and dies.
It’s here. It’s finally here.
Clegane versus Clegane — the fight to the death we’ve all been waiting for.
Before Sandor finally corners his zombie brother, Gregor, he convinces Arya to give up and ditch her Kill List.
“I’ve wanted revenge my whole life, and look at me. You want to be like me? You come with me, you die here.”
Arya’s at a bit of a loose end because revenge is sort of her bit these days, but she realises he’s actually saving her from herself.
“Sandor. Thank you,” she says, scampering off to pick up a new hobby.
When The Hound finally finds The Mountain, he’s hanging out with Cersei and Qyburn.
Before they clash, Gregor kills Qyburn, which isn’t that interesting but simply marks another named character who’s been cut out of next week’s finale.
Cersei’s got her own s**t to deal with so gets the hell out of there.
The Mountain’s hat falls off as the fight begins, and The Hound is shook at how crap his brother’s looking.
The next few minutes is a disgusting cocktail of blood and gore, but the upshot is that Gregor pulls off his signature eye-gouging move and Sandor gets more and more annoyed as his brother refuses to die from technically fatal stab wounds.
It ends the way we always knew it would: The Hound throws himself and The Mountain off the staircase into the fire below.
OK, BUT WHY IS DANY STILL BURNING EVERYONE?
As all the drama continues on the ground, Dany’s still using Drogon to shoot fire at everything and everyone and no one can really make sense of it.
THE LANNISTER REUNION
Jaime finally finds Cersei and she cries tears of joy, which I guess means they’re just not gonna mention their last meeting, which saw Jaime bail on her after she threatened to have him killed.
They share a lovers’ moment which almost seems sweet but then the fact that they’re brother and sister shoots back into my brain, like Euron’s huge arrow at Rhaegal.
Jaime leads Cersei down to the tunnel, but once they arrive, they realise all the banging around upstairs has caused the exit to become blocked.
Cersei’s had a really bad day and finally cracks it.
“I don’t want to die, not like this,” she cries, begging Jaime to do something.
But she’s accidentally confused him with some kind of mining expert and he’s not sure how to save them from the collapsing roof so that’s how they die.
Huh. Even nasty ol’ Joff got a more dramatic death than that, but here we are, racing towards the finish with two less Lannisters.
Worth noting Jaime would still be alive if he’d just stayed with Brienne in their cosy lodge up North.
Arya has largely spent most of her day trying to help the locals survive their “hero” Dany as much as possible.
As she dodges fire and falling buildings caused by her brother’s love interest, she — like all of us — is clearly wondering who the real enemy is.
Arya gets knocked out by some debris and wakes up later to a scene of total carnage and in comparison, her little tête-à-tête with the Night King seems relatively tame.
So it’s no real surprise that she spots a getaway vehicle in the form of a horse and rides away from all her problems.
Anyway, the world is burning and everything’s hot garbage so best of luck to our remaining contestants as they finally decide who gets to sit on the Iron Throne next week.