Written by J.T. Johnson
Last Sunday, “Game of Thrones” released their penultimate episode titled ‘The Bells’. Afterwards, the reception for the episode was decidedly mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the episode received a 47% rating, the lowest for any episode in the show’s history.
It seems to have completely split the fandom in two. I’ve seen a couple of my friends complaining about the episode, but on the flip side of that, I have one friend that has defended it so much that I’ve seen more of his posts than posts from those complaining. So, the episode was divisive at best.
Originally, I wasn’t going to write anything about the episode, but I’m still seeing it in my newsfeeds and on my social media platforms. Therefore, since the last episode is on the horizon, I’ve decided to finally give my two cents on the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones”.
After seeing the episode, I must admit that I was slightly set back by what happened. However, it was not exactly what happened in the episode that concerned me, it was how it felt so anticlimactic and rushed even though plenty of it had been foreshadowed beforehand in previous episodes. Now, let’s take a look at the big elephant (or dragon) in the room. Warning, there will be spoilers for the episode from here on out.
In the episode, Queen Daenerys Targaryen went fully mental. Even after King’s Landing surrendered and she had won, she then proceeded to burn the city to the ground. This resulted in a very anticlimactic death for two major characters and it didn’t really feel like enough had happened to bring Dany back to crazy town.
Now, for full disclosure, the idea of Dany going nuts is admittedly nothing new. For a few seasons, people who remembered her father, the Mad King, wondered if she was like him. But through her actions, she showed that she seemed to be a just and able ruler, only willing to do questionable things when they were called for.
For a couple of seasons, everyone seemed to fully trust her and her right to the throne. Then, all of a sudden in this last season, people such as Varys started to wonder if she’s crazy even though she had shown no real signs of doing so and even Tyrion started to question her sanity and claim to the throne despite staying at her side. Then, in one single episode, the writers decided that yep, she’s crazy and even though there had been foreshadowing a few years earlier, it still felt like a thread that was once thought resolved came back out of nowhere.
I’m also not a fan for her motivations for going crazy. This is a woman that has been through a lot from taming the wild heart of her first husband Khal Drogo, dealing with her abusive brother and raising an army to cross the Narrow Seas. Now, she seems to immediately go nuts due to her boyfriend not liking her anymore and his newfound claim to the Iron Throne despite the fact that he claims he still loves her and doesn’t want the throne? Yeah, I’m not buying it.
There were other problems with the episode as well. Apparently, Dany went to all that trouble to raise and army and get them all the way back to Westeros just to have her and her one remaining dragon do 90% of the work. Her armies basically just went on an unordered rampage that wasn’t really necessary to her winning the battle.
Then, there is the problem that the episode seemed more intent on showing us the destruction of King’s Landing from a CGI dragon more than wrapping up character stories that we’ve been following since the beginning. Cersei, for example, was incredibly shortchanged through most of the season. Seriously, I feel like Lena Heady could have filmed all of her scenes in less than a week.
So, it should really have come to no surprise that Cersei went out in the most anticlimactic way possible. After Drogon started to tear King’s Landing up, she stayed in her room overlooking the city and, for a good while, it looked like she might have something else up her sleeve the whole time. Unfortunately, this was not the case as she tried to ultimately run away, but died in Jaime’s arms when the Red Keep fell onto both of them.
The episode wasn’t a complete travesty and there were some pretty great scenes, including the long awaited Clegane Bowl as the brothers known as the Hound and the Mountain finally squared off. Watching Arya try to escape the destruction of the city was also thrilling and may have set up a key moment for the last episode. Still, I have to say that I completely understand why this is the lowest rated episode of the season but not necessarily for the content.
It was a victim of great ideas with a rushed narrative and poor execution. Despite this, though, I’m still looking forward to the last episode of the series. Also, to anyone who enjoyed this episode, I’m glad that you did but every television series has its weakest moment. For “Game of Thrones”, that was ‘The Bells’ for me.