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Sebastian Ross
Sebastian Ross

[S8E5] The Bells

Elsewhere on the beach, Tyrion approaches a group of Unsullied guarding Jaime's tent. He once again tries to speak Valyrian and order them away but fails miserably several times before one of the Unsullied reveals that they speak the Common Tongue. Tyrion tells them to get some rest for the battle, and when challenged about their orders, says that unless those orders came from Dany herself, he outranks whoever gave them. The guards leave, and Tyrion heads into the tent to speak with Jaime. He asks how Jaime was spotted, and a despondent Kingslayer simply holds up his golden hand, admitting that he didn't even think about taking it off. Tyrion can't believe that Jaime is heading back to Cersei only to die, and when Jaime says that Cersei might win, Tyrion cuts him off and flatly states she's going to die in the morning unless Jaime can change her mind. Jaime points out that he's currently chained to a tentpole, but Tyrion has the key. Jaime laments that he's never been able to change Cersei's mind, and Tyrion asks him to at least try, if not for himself or her, then for the innocent citizens. Jaime rather coolly admits that he doesn't really care about the peasantry, but Tyrion points out that Jaime and Cersei do care about one person: their unborn fourth child. Jaime still hesitates, pointing out Dany's losses of men and Rhaegal over the last few weeks, but Tyrion points out that Dany also has him, the only person outside King's Landing with intimate knowledge of the strength and weaknesses of its defenses. Jaime, still in a funk, has accepted his death, but Tyrion begs him to convince Cersei to flee by appealing to their child. The favor he asks Davos is revealed: a small boat is waiting on the smuggler's old approach, and he tells Jaime about the path under the Red Keep which leads to the stairs on the beach, saying they can make it to Pentos and live in safety. He asks Jaime to swear that he'll do it, and Jaime, given this glimmer of hope, does so. Tyrion frees Jaime, telling him that if Cersei agrees to this, to give the order for the bells to be rung and the gates of the city opened. Jaime cautions Tyrion that Dany will kill him for this betrayal, but Tyrion believes that if she can take the city relatively bloodlessly, she might let him off easy and that even if she doesn't, his life doesn't count for much against all the innocents who might die. Before they part, Tyrion tells his brother, "If it weren't for you, I never would've survived my childhood. You were the only one who didn't treat me like a monster. You were all I had." The two brothers embrace for the last time as Tyrion weeps, then he leaves the tent.

[S8E5] The Bells


From the vantage point of a bell tower, the Iron Fleet can be seen riding at anchor in Blackwater Bay. Ballistas on every ship are being loaded and primed while Euron keeps an eye out for Drogon, as do Lannister soldiers on the walls of the city. Archers take up positions behind the embrasures, and the people scurry inside their homes, closing their doors and shutters. Sandor and Arya have made it inside the city, and blend into the crush of people as easily as they can manage, then Jaime gets inside just as the Golden Company takes up position outside the wall, facing the Stark/Targaryen army. Captain Strickland rides up to the front row as the last straggling Northmen arrive, and Tyrion reminds Jon that if the bells ring, he should call off his men, to which Jon acknowledges before leaving to take his place with the army.

And once again, Tyrion gets Dany to hold back, or seems to. Tyrion says he'll sneak into the city and try to convince his sister to surrender one final time. If successful, he'll ring the city's bells signaling for Dany to stop the attack.

We get a standoff. Jon Snow, Grey Worm, and Davos with the Unsullied confront the remaining Golden Company troops. Dany on Drogon perched on the city ramparts. Cersei staring out from the Red Keep. Cries from the people to ring the bells.

Will Cersei ring the bells? No. She won't. But somebody does anyway. She looks fine about this, perhaps even relieved that the decision was taken out of her hands. The Lannister troops throw down their swords to surrender.

Character and substance were left by the wayside so that the plot could go where the writers wanted. The pace was rushed in the beginning, painfully lagging by the end. The script created plot devices and conflicts out of thin air (no really, when were the bells ever so important?), relished in violence and let a main character survive beyond any reasonable odds. (How many buildings have to fall on Arya before she stays down?) "Bells" is somehow both fan service and indulgence in all the tropes that fans hate.

Tyrion begs for the lives of the people of King's Landing, and gets Dany to agree to spare them if they surrender by ringing the city bells. His obsession with saving commoners doesn't make much sense, but I suppose someone needed to foreshadow Dany's reign of terror. Dany also mentions that Jaime was captured trying to sneak into the city, and tells Tyrion if he fails her again, it will be the last time.

At this point the battle is basically won. Jon, Davos and Grey Worm's battalion comes across a group of Lannister soldiers who lay down their weapons. The soldiers and the civilians all start shouting for someone to ring the bells in surrender, and after a comical amount of buildup they ring, much to Jon and Tyrion's relief.

"You can convince her to surrender," he says. (Sigh. Forget that part about Tyrion being smart about things.) Tyrion frees Jaime and tells him to sneak Cersei out through the tunnels under the Red Keep. Oh, and to ring them bells, ya gotta ring them bells, ya gotta make 'em sing and really ring them bells.

Tyrion's got that "stop the attack if they ring the bells" bee in his bonnet, and he pesters Jon with it. Jon gets that look on his face like he's trying to remember the difference between pimientos and pistachios again.

Jon Snow, meanwhile, stumbled through the episode with his standard look of a a puppy that can't decide if it should be afraid or confused. Blindsided by Dany's decision (honestly, man, you didn't see that coming? Have you not been watching the show?) to go rogue after the bells started ringing and the Lannister forces threw down their swords, he was largely reduced to fighting his way into King's Landing then telling everyone to run aw... sorry, fall back. This guy would empathise.

Tyrion meets with Daenerys, trying to convince her not to burn King's Landing, pleading with her to not kill the innocents of the city. "Mercy is our strength. Our mercy toward future generations who will never again be held hostage by a tyrant." Oh, really? Seems like those words are spoken by a tyrant in the making. Tyrion makes one last plea, saying that if she hears the city bells ringing she'll call off the attack. Daenerys nods, seeming to agree, but I can't help but feel this is a half-hearted nod. Daenerys tells Greyworm to ready The Unsullied and prepare to sail to King's Landing, but to wait for her arrival.

Tyrion approaches where Jamie is being held (in chains again). "How did they find you?" Jamie holds up his golden hand and I had to laugh. Tyrion has a key to unloack Jamie. He wants Jamie to try and convince Cersei to surrender and allow the people, and the both of them, to live. "All the worst things she's ever done, she's done for her children." Jamie isn't convinced that Cersei can't win. Tyrion wants Jamie and Cersei to escape together by going underneath the Red Keep and sail to Pentos where they can start over. It turns out that Tyrion, ultimately, is a true Lannister after all, when it comes to his family. But, he's also a man of the people. He tells him to make sure they ring the bells and open the gates. Jamie warns Tyrion that he'll be killed for treason by his Queen. But, Tyrion has another perspective.

We see Euron and his Scorpion Spears ready at sea and at the docks, pointed to the sky. Archers gather along the battlements. The people close their doors and run for safety, buckling gdown for the onslaught. The Hound and Arya are seen casually walking in the streets, headed for the castle. Jamie, too, is in the mix, passing by the Queen's troops and the Gold Company as they ready for battle. What's left of The Unsullied, Winterfell's troops and the Dothraki form up. It's a beautifully cut moment of suspense, the music building to what is sure to be a battle of epic propertions; or wholesale slaughter. My nerves were notched up to a ten with so much waiting in the balance. Tyrion turns to Jon, reminding him that if he hears the bells ring then that means the people have surrendered. Jon walks off silently. Tyrion is hedging everything on those damn bells.

When the army of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) launched its attack on King's Landing in Game of Thrones season 8, the sound of the bells was supposed to represent surrender; however, that's not what it meant before the final season of the show. Game of Thrones season 8 proved to be extremely controversial for a number of major storytelling decisions, and chief among them was the villainous turn of Daenerys. Having been setup over the first seven seasons as one of the two main heroes of the show, alongside Kit Harington's Jon Snow, Daenerys made a sudden turn into the so-called "Mad Queen" following The Long Night.

Having lost those closest to her, including Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), and her dragon Rhaegal, it was understandable that she'd want to enact revenge on the enemies she had left. And while there had been glimpses of a darker side to the Khaleesi, few would've protected the fiery display she set upon King's Landing in season 8, episode 5, "The Bells". Fully unleashing Drogon, she rained her fury down upon the citizens of the city, including those who were innocent, and didn't stop even when the bells rang out to signal surrender. 041b061a72

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