Friday, May 17, 2019

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones (Penultimate Episode)

Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 5 “The Bells” (B+)

Well, this was quite an episode. Despite all the death and brutality we’ve seen over the years, I’m not sure I’ve found another installment to be quite as disturbing as this one. I think it’s because all of the reckless collateral damage that cost so many innocent lives came as a direct result of the actions of someone who, up until this point, was a hero rather than a villain. Positioning Cersei as the last step on Daenerys’ ascension to the true throne was a red herring for this episode that allowed her to do very little, standing defiantly as her city was attacked and then crumbling like the walls around her when defeat was closing in. After sentencing Varys to death for his would-be treason, Daenerys ignored Tyrion’s pleas for a peaceful resolution that wouldn’t result in so much death, and after Cersei’s forces surrendered, she didn’t accept it and went on a rampage with her one remaining dragon. Jon doesn’t want to be a leader but he’s going to have to, using his rightful claim to the throne as a way to take down a ruler who, like so many before her, have given in to their primal instincts and allowed them to prove ruinous for their subjects. Arya’s continued survival felt endless, but I think that was the point – to show just how devastating the assault of Daenerys and her dragon was on the people, destroying everything around them rather than liberating them from the shackles of a tyrant. I think Jon has to be the one to ultimately kill Daenerys, but we’ll see. The Hound plunging to a fiery death with his unstoppable brother was far from my favorite part of the episode, but I suppose it was the only way for a character no one else could kill to be felled, especially since he was more concerned with not backing down from a fight than protecting his queen. It certainly seems like Jaime and Cersei are dead after being crushed by the rubble around them, but we didn’t see them die, and this show never likes to provide an unconfirmed off-screen demise. I’m ready for the finale this weekend – let’s hope it proves satisfying.

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