“The Bells” Was the Worst Episode of ‘Game of Thrones’. Ever.


That was historical. A Game 7 buzzer beater the likes of which nobody has seen before.

It’s the law of conservation of energy that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transferred from one form to another.

I am of course talking about the NBA playoff game between The Philidelphia 76’ers and the Toronto Raptors which jaw-droppingly ended on a jump shot for Toronto that bounced on the rim three four times(!) before going in setting the score at a stunning 92-90, sending them off to the next round. I suggest that this week’s Game of Thrones had to suck in order for that franchise to be good, but even though I’m Canadian I feel like the 76’ers.

Daenery’s Targaryen burning down King’s Landing after hearing “The Bells” of surrender, even with her Mad Queen foreshadowing makes no sense. She had everything she wanted and no tactical reason to do it. Her ancestor the Mad King Aerys II had his pride after the city was being ransacked by the Lannister Bannermen during King Robert’s rebellion. His desperate actions were to leave nothing for his enemies. Toasting everyone and destroying the city as a show of fear in order to effectively rule is short sighted, even for her and gives her nothing to rule over. It lazily sets her up against all the remaining characters with only one episode to go rather than us get to see it play out for another one or two episodes. Less astute fans might not have taken notice of her antagonist position from the beginning, but the Meereen business did put a limit on her likeability. I just wanted to join in and see what we saw from her point of view all the other times she used Drogon and it was a choice to keep her away raising hellfire from above. All I can say is that it was the wrong choice with a lot of options on the table.

The episode starts off promisingly enough with Varys desperately plotting out in the open for the show to see. It is unclear whether or not he sends word to anyone about Jon Snow’s true lineage. If he did, my bet is on the new Prince of Dorne and perhaps the Iron Islands in order to start up the cycle of power struggle to occur after the show is over. It helps with Varys being caught after 8 seasons of being so sneaky that he is totally resigned to his fate, and the small council that awaits him shows how barren, gray and minimalist the show has gotten from the lush golden days of the first season. On top of that there is a very nice shot of Drogon sliding into the frame upon his death. The show gets plenty of mileage out of the classic effective closeup this week in order to serve a too-soon heel turn that’s an inevitable consequence of the rushed last two seasons.

 

 

I for one thought there were a few too many POV tracking shots that Game of Thrones has leaned on in the past, but they still worked their intended effect. The biggest problem with this episode is by far the writing. Daenerys burning of King’s Landing might make sense if it weren’t so rushed skipping a rung or two on Daenerys’ ladder of madness. Had she had a little bit more opportunity, Drogon taking out the bell tower first, igniting the mass wildfire then causing mass destruction would then drive the unsullied to disobey Jon it would have been more justified. And I don’t usually consider Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) very good actors but they and everyone else excellently sold the anguish amid the weakest material the show has ever seen.

I buy that Daenerys would go mad. I buy the very long time coming Clegane bowl. But the nature in which they were dispensed was done in such an uncommonly ugly manner that simplifies the more complicated nature of Game of Thrones. As The AV Club‘s Miles McNutt noted, the crumbling backdrop resembles (the end of) an Uncharted game. Euron Greyjoy coming out of the water (true to his character out of nowhere, at least he’s awful in his consistency) to fight Jamie especially when they should be on the same side is coincidental, dumb, and is far too convenient. One of two badly choreographed scuffles this week. We don’t need these final character beats to be bigger, had GoT decided to go smaller and deeper in these last episodes it would have been more impactful and a more appropriate end for a lot of these characters.

What I did like; how Qyburn was dispensed with by his own creation, the aforementioned cinematography, the effort by all the actors involved, the by-and-large structure that George R.R. Martin set up.

What I didn’t like; The Clegane bowl was a rushed mess. Can nobody ever greet and state their relationship to their enemy immediately before combat again? The tired “hello brother” line. He’s a zombie he hardly cares.

It serves Cersei right to die unceremoniously and Jamie the doomed right to die alongside her but give these characters a minute to breathe to payoff the emotional weight audiences have layed on them. Or upend it by giving Cersei one beat less. Maybe just 30 minutes instead of 33 of burning chaos. And why didn`t Dany just fly straight over to the Red Keep and toast her? -Because the writers say so I guess. I get that she was pissed because of Missandei (Dracarys) and her and Greyworm burning her shackles is a signal of future intentions, she wanted to burn King’s Landing. Sure but let’s dial in on her emotional POV during the moment the way the show always does highlighting the destruction. Pyrotechnics has never been this shows strongest suit only twice with “The Watchers on the Wall” and “Battle of the Bastards”. The largely overdone action puts distance between the characters we have grown to know for so long, rather than registering as a true consequence of their decision making. If bad things will happen we need to see clearer as it does.  Grade: D+

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