A Coin is Tossed, a Bell is Rung, and Nothing Really Matters Anymore (Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5 Recap)



“Every time a Targaryen is born, the Gods flip a coin.”

In the penultimate episode ever of Game of Thrones, titled “The Bells”, the show finally answers a question it has been asking since the beginning: where does the coin land for Daenerys Targaryen?

Spoilers Ahead

Apparently the coin lands on killing an entire city of innocent people for literally no reason.

The episode begins with Varys in his vain attempts to unseat Daenerys in favor of Jon Snow, as he can see her sanity beginning to crumble. Tyrion tells Dany, who apparently has gone into full crazy mode according to the dark circles under her eyes and her chilling recap of everyone’s betrayal. They sentence Varys to die, with him and Tyrion sharing a woeful goodbye before Drogon comes terrifyingly out of the darkness to burn Varys alive.

Dany gives Grey Worm Missandei’s last possession, which he promptly throws into the fire (um, I was just lending that to you). It’s clear they’re both blinded by revenge, which is a great way to go into battle with a clear head. Jon’s arrival does nothing to comfort Dany, especially considering his inability to return her affection (perhaps it’s the whole aunt thing). She decides no one will ever love her the way they love Jon, so they’ll just have to fear her instead.

Tyrion tries his best to get Daenerys not to burn the city but she uses moral acrobatics to justify killing innocent people as a “mercy” to future generations. He begs her to give the city a chance to surrender, asking her to call off the attack if the bells of the city are rung. She agrees, but tells him the next time he fails her will be his last.

He immediately fails her by freeing his brother, Jaime, who’s been caught trying to get back to Cersei. He asks Jaime to take Cersei and run out the secret back door (and ring the city bells of the city if you get a chance, please). They share a tearful hug, closing the arc on that relationship and probably sentencing Tyrion to die.

The people of King’s Landing rush to safety in the Red Keep, with Arya and the Hound slipping in just in time. Jaime gets caught at the door, and rushes to find the back way in. Cue the arrival of Drogon, who burns the entirety of the Iron Fleet, the Golden Company, and every last scorpion bow in one fell swoop (okay, it was several fell swoops). Apparently, even though last week air travel was impossible and Dany lost a dragon because of the scorpions, this week she gets rid of them almost instantly.

Daenerys perches Drogon on a building near the Red Keep, and waits. The battle is over practically before it began; the rest of Cersei’s army throws down their weapons and someone rings that bell (finally). Cersei and Dany stare at each other for a while (or at least in each other’s general direction, after all they’re very far away from each other). Dany sniffles a lot. Then, for absolutely no reason at all, Dany decides to burn the entire city. Instead of going straight for the Red Keep and taking out Cersei, who murdered Missandei and rightly deserves to die, she takes Drogon through the city and burns alive almost every man, woman, and child.

At this point the episode becomes a bloodbath with countless people burning alive and being brutally killed. Men get beheaded, women are almost raped, children witness everything, and it goes on and on ad nauseum. Jon watches in a state of shock, probably at his own decision to entirely defer to Daenerys even when she was so clearly unhinged. He tries to get his men to fall back, but is forced to start killing people as well. I guess we don’t have to worry about everyone starving to death during the winter, since everyone’s dead.

The Hound and Arya arrive to kill Cersei, but the Hound uses logic (the first person in the episode to do so) and tells Arya that Cersei’s dead either way so she doesn’t need to give her life needlessly pursuing revenge. She thanks him and goes to leave the city. The Hound leaves to find his brother, having long ago resigned himself to a life of revenge. He finds Ser Gregor on the steps with Cersei and Qyburn. Qyburn tries to get Gregor to stay but Gregor kills him (Frankenstein’s Monster killing Frankenstein!) Cersei politely excuses herself while the Hound and his brother have a long overdue fight to the death. Since apparently Ser Gregor just can’t die no matter how many times he’s stabbed, the Hound takes them both plunging over the edge of the Keep and into the fire below.

Jaime arrives at the back entrance only to be stopped by Euron Greyjoy, who picks a fight for no other reason than a chance to kill the “Kingslayer”. Both get mortally wounded, and as Jaime limps away to Cersei, Euron revels in the fact that he is “the man who killed Jaime Lannister”. This was a bit premature considering Jaime survives long enough to reunite with Cersei, who’s tearfully wandering the Red Keep. He leads her to the exit, which has been blocked off by fallen rocks. She cries that she wants her baby to live (is that it?) and then says she doesn’t want to die (that’s what I thought). He holds her and tells her nothing else matters but them, and they embrace as the ceiling collapses and buries the siblings alive.

Arya, who apparently has no limit of trauma that she can endure, tries desperately to flee the indiscriminate dragonfire and death of the city. She tries to help countless people on her way, but ultimately is left alone as she escapes the city on one randomly placed, perfectly preserved horse.