“The Bells” did, in fact, toll during the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones. But then Daenerys decided to, um, kill everyone.
After she’d won.
After King’s Landing had been taken efficiently and neatly, with minimal loss of life and during a full surrender by its people.
And she didn’t go after the head of the snake, either. Perched atop a flying, flaming, gleefully destructive Drogon, she gazed over at the Red Keep—her family’s ancestral seat of power dating back 300 years, currently in the clutches of her archrival Cersei Lannister—and made a hard pivot to burning women and children in the street. Cersei was not the target.
I admit to being surprised by this turn of events.
Game of Thrones has been seeding the idea of Targaryen madness percolating inside of Dany for a few seasons, so this twist wasn’t unexpected. Dany’s been slipping for a while. But the decision and execution (pun intended) felt very … rushed. Very 11th hour. And frankly, pretty out of character. The Breaker of Chains just roasted the peasantry. Now it seems to fall to Jon Aegon “Ned Stark” Snow Targaryen to stand up to his girlfriend/aunt and set things right in a classic Northern way. But since Jon is utterly incapable of deft people management, I don’t think anything is going to end well. Which may be fitting for the show.
- Varys. Remember when he was a peerless puppeteer? Welp. So long, Master of Whisperers. You were kind of shouting out your intentions at the end there, so getting caught can’t have been too shocking. But I’m still sorry Drogon blasted you. Did your letter get out, though?
- The Brothers Lannister. It was good to see Tyrion—who’s become basically fully incapable of making good decisions—and Jaime have a last moment together. Both are playing out character arcs that don’t give them the full credit of previous seasons, but that hug at the end was touching. Family matters.
- Arya’s run. Making Arya the face of the devastation of the common folk as she fled through the incineration of King’s Landing was a bold, effective choice. Coming off the heels of the Clegane Bowl—way to get it done, Sandor!—it really put an exclamation point on the carnage. I worry for you now, Dany. You’ve made an enemy out of the most devasting killer in Westeros. Sweet dreams.
- Jaime and Cersei. Cersei and Jaime. Grand opening, grand closing. How did this incestuous nightmare pairing somehow still tug at my heartstrings? Rest well together.
One more episode to go before we say goodbye to the greatest entertainment event of our time not involving Thanos. Set your DVRs. And bring the Kleenex.