Game of Thrones Final Season: ‘The Bells’ Review

tyrion-city-on-fire-the-bellsI am still reeling with shock a day after watching Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode “The Bells” because I just could not believe that the amount of drivel that showrunners are trying to serve up to the show’s fans, disguised in flashy dragon flights and massive destruction. Warning: Equally massive spoilers ahead so feel free to come back and commiserate after you’ve seen the episode.

Synopsis: After Cersei ruthlessly slays her dragon son Rhaegal and her best friend and confidante Missadei, Daenerys is out for revenge. She readies her troops to storm King’s Landing and by her own words, pluck Cersei from the Iron Throne root and stem. Tyrion advises his queen to hold back if the capital’s bells are rung as it signals surrender but the dragon queen has other things in mind.

When Game of Thrones was just starting out, HBO plunked down $10 million to reshoot the pilot because the original one was terrible. That’s a big deal and spoke of the show’s commitment to delivering quality programming. Yet, fast forward to 8 seasons and nearing its end, the show suddenly thought that it knew its audience better than they knew themselves and started going off track. I get it. They wanted to keep everything secret and a surprise for everyone involved so they must have kept the details close to their chest. I also get that they were operating on a major handicap, going into the last three seasons without the guidance of George RR Martin’s books simply because they haven’t come out. I have actually been defending the show from fans who expect too much from D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, but there is no excuse this time. “The Bells” is singlehandedly the worst episode of Game of Thrones ever, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I fear there is no recovering from all the problems they introduced with the second to the last episode of the entire series.

Me, a week before the episode:

fb-angie

Me, after the episode:

First off, I get that production wanted to pull all the stops when it came to delivering a visually arresting battle. The problem was for the audience to be involved entails that characters’ actions need to make sense. Fans of the show have known these characters for almost a decade (even longer for book fans) and writers can’t expect audiences to simply swallow up a major change even when its obviously a ploy to rush to the ending, no questions asked.

dany-drogon
DROGON AT NIGHT. I must admit that Drogon presents an arresting sight at night.

The first salvo when Drogon singlehandedly decimated the Iron Fleet and the Golden Company as well as all the Scropions that were the only threat to him, was pretty cool. The problem actually started when Dany went full Mad Queen and proceeded to raze the city even when her armies could have walked into the capital with no resistance from Cersei’s soldiers. Again, she could have went straight to the Red Keep to burn Cersei alive without hurting anyone else but of course, because she was built up to be the Mad Queen last episode, she HAD to go full Mad Queen. She also refused to honor her agreement with Tyrion to cease the attacks if the bell was rung. Pretty shady for someone who claims to want to free the citizens from a tyrant.

Some would justify that Dany has already been unstable from the beginning and I agree. But to the extent of killing innocents out of spite because they did not love her the way they did Jon? Congratulations writers, I would celebrate Dany’s death gladly next week. Better yet, kill them all and install a new leader. I could not care less about what happens to Westeros. What about Arya, dead set on killing Cersei for eight seasons only to abandon her goal when she is within arm’s reach? I get that the show wanted to play up the Sandor and Arya dynamic, but could they have not had this conversation on the days’ long journey to the capital? Seriously?

Cleganebowl was also a disaster. Who would have guessed that underneath that armor, The Mountain has morphed into Varys on drugs? It has been eight seasons worth of waiting for Sandor to finally get his revenge on his big brother, and they have their brutal reunion amid falling debris and fire falling from the sky, and it turns out that Ser Gregor was a one-trick pony. Eye gouging again? Seriously.

What about Cersei, who rose from the deepest pit to take the Iron Throne from everyone who stood in her way. Do the writers expect fans to believe that she had no back up plan  she deliberatedly and maliciously baited Daenerys to attack King’s Landing just last week?  I cannot accept that the baddest b*tch in Westeros transformed into a whiny, helpless waif overnight. Okay, some might argue that she was completelty taken aback by the strength of Dany’s attack. But seriously. A friend pointed out that she never even shed a tear during the Battle of Blackwater when  she was about to give poison to her son, yet by the episode’s end, she is rattled, disoriented and sobbing like a child.

As for Jamie, I would have expected him to do something noble given that he had the best character evolution in all of the show’s eight seasons, but it turns out that he was back where he began. Although his love for Cersei was indeed consistent, it was somehow disappointing the way he ended up. Cersei may still be alive though because they never actually showed her dead body. Jamie is a bit of a stretch because of the wounds he sustained from his fight with Euron but hey.

jonsnowFinally, after eight seasons of knowing nothing, Jon Snow finally wised up and realized when something was not right. After witnessing Dany going full Mad Queen and slaying countless civilians in the capital with the aid of the equally bloodthirsty Greyworm and the Unsullied, Jon makes the right choice in abandoning Dany’s crusade and taking the northerners with him. I liked the rapport that he and Ser Davos had going for them, sort of like Rick Grimes and Daryl of the Walking Dead. I hope in the end, Jon takes Tormund’s advice and heads north away from all of this chaos and politics and death, hopefully reunited with Ghost.

varysThroughout this whole disaster of an episode, I felt really bad for Tyrion. He has been conflicted about Dany being the right person to rule the Seven Kingdoms for a good long while but to see all of his efforts in saving all the innocents go to waste — it was such a pity. The only bright spot in this entire episode was Tyrion, his scene with Varys and his farewell scene with Jamie. The fact that it came full circle from the time it was Jamie’s turn to save him from the pits was very touching, especially with the depth of emotion that actors Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster Waldau were able to bring to the scene.

All in all, the entire episode was problematic from start to finish because it seemed forced, awkward, and for lack of a better word, stupid. It was a waste of good budget for CGI because everything that happened in this episode was not new. We’ve seen it all the before but once upon a time, it made sense. I don’t think anything they can pull in the finale can make up for the disaster that is “The Bells.” As a fan of this show, I already mourn it for what it could have been.

 

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3 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Final Season: ‘The Bells’ Review

  1. Just points to clarify: In a recent interview, GRR Martin confirmed that he talked to D&D about how he would end his books, extensively. There may be neither editing nor help writing the screenplay from the ASOIF author, but there was guidance to some extent. It’s funny how you mentioned the reshoot of the first season because I think D&D always had the tendency to go overboard with GoT. Except that this time, the original budget given to them was already staggering that reshoot is impossible.
    I agree to all these points you raised, and if I might just add one more; D&D as the writers of this particular episode was again lazy and painstakingly unoriginal: The Mountain squeezing The Hound’s eyeballs? He already did to Oberyn in Season 4. Sandor stabbing Gregor? He definitely copied Lyanna Mormont doing that to an undead giant in this season’s third episode.
    As a die-hard fan, I just want to get this show over and done with. It’s that frustrating.

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    1. I understand how it would be impossible to reshoot. Its just that I wished at least that they had someone go over it to give a. Impartial opinion on whether it would meet audience expectations. Very frustrating leading up to the final epi. FOMO it is

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