Game of Thrones went to war in its most recent episode.
This review contains spoilers. At this point, the alternative would be to black out 90% of the text…
…making it look like King’s Landing at the end of this episode.
Title: “The Bells”
Cast, Crew, and Other Info:
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Written by David Benioff
Based on novels by George R.R. Martin
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen Stormborn
Lena Kathren Headey as
Kit Harington as Jon Snow
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Rory McCann as
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as
Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
Pilou Asbæk as
Marc Rissmann as
Conleth Hill as
Anton Lesser as
Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm
And a cast of
Despite getting a surrender, Dany decides to remove King’s Landing from the map.
Some people will argue about the plotting and direction this week took, or say that the writers have gotten lost in the final season. No one, however, can deny the visual and visceral power of this episode. We see the dragon as a living, destructive thing and we experience the death of a city. The scenes of carnage recall less a medieval battle than Hiroshima or the Blitz or Dresden in World War II or the napalming of villages in southeast Asia. The show brought war to our screens in vivid colour. It’s a terrifying spectacle.
This show has increasingly resembled typical fantasy, but this is no typical fantasy battle.
The show has felt a little light since it divorced itself from the novels. They’ve set up Daenerys’s turn since the start, but I still felt she went full-on Mad Queen (to the point of not taking out Cersei immediately) too quickly. She’s using strategy with the dragons this week, which helps explain her success against the fleet, but not the ease with which she destroys the scorpions of King’s Landing. And that’s just some of the Plot Armor doled out to characters they want to use in the final episode.
I am kind of glad Arya survived. It does lead to a probable confrontation that I hadn’t predicted, though I cannot be certain how that will end.
Effects: 6/6 See “High Points.”
Story: 4/6 It will be interesting to see how the novels end. I suspect they may bear some resemblance to this season’s overall story arc, but it will play very differently.
Acting: 6/6 Tyrion doesn’t have so much to do this week, but Dinklage’s ability to look helpless in the face of what he helped create says as much about him as scenes where Tyrion plays a more central role. “Tens of thousands of innocent lives,” he says, and “one not particularly innocent dwarf. It seems like a fair trade.” Only later will he see the nature of the situation.
They put a good deal on Maisie Williams, and she handles it with a stark performance.
Emotional Response: 5/6 The intense response to the best in this episode must be tempered by a muted response to things that happen because the writers want them to happen.
“The Bells” receives 33/42
“They put a good deal on Maisie Williams, and she handles it with a stark performance.” Well, yeah. Aren’t they all? :)
I did think they tried to address the city wall scorpions a bit by showing Dany swooping lower than they could be pointed, then popping up to torch them, but only for the first few runs. The plot armour is definitely made of Valyrian steel now.
As for the probable confrontation, I’m leaning even more that way now than I was last week. The only thing missing that would make it a cert would be if they’d finished on a glare towards Drogon burning another section of city as she rode off through the fires. Regardless of the outcome, and even with the reduced cast, the likely fallout from that isn’t going to pretty.
One last thing – I’m not totally sure, but did they use the same square for the Stark/Lannister confrontation as they did way back in Season 1 when Ned was ambushed by Jaime and his men? Don’t have by S1 discs handy to check, but it sure seemed like a similar setup, and a nice call back if so.
I haven’t been a fan of the new way of just doing pretty much the same thing as every other show. We get long sorrowful looks before deaths, everything is predictable… It’s still a decent show, but it’s degraded to just ‘decent’.
Agreed. Even after jumping the Stark, it remains a show worth watching. But it started as much more than that, and I’m glad it’s ending now.
We are dangerously close to A Song of Ice and Fire: The Musical.
I dunno. I think a lot of the problems we’re seeing are down to the truncated seasons and much faster pace. GRRM was apparently pushing for 10 seasons to cover with all the material in the latter books, even with the show’s pruning of arcs, which would definitely have provided more time to better establish the “why” of what they’ve shown, as well as more time for things like Tyrion’s observations. To paraphrase one review, it’s not so much as a story arc as a handful of points joined up with straight lines.
Given some of the excellence of the earlier seasons, I’m feeling somewhat let down by this conclusion and I’m not expecting much better next week. It’s still visually stunning and can pack a punch, but it’s also no longer in a completely different league to almost all the other shows in the genre. Still, at least the next book can’t be *too* far off now… “Winds” *is* coming, right?
I expect GRRM to get annoyed with the show and get the next book out in a sort of “See, I could do it better!” move.
I definitely prefer the source books to the show, even discounting the additional material they contain, same as I do with Tolkein’s LoTR and Jackson’s movies of it, so that’s a given for me. Barring accommodating existing revisions, I’m not expecting too much of a divergence in the plot between the show and the applicable parts of “Winds of Winter” though. While the book might not have been finished when they started filming S7, it does seems likely that the general outline would have ben there and the show’s writers would have had access to it.
S8 and “Dream of Spring” on the other hand, those I can easily see as being quite different.
I was honestly expecting/hoping Jaime to kill Cersei as per the prophecy. That and the look of Euron Greyjoy being roasted were things that didn’t play out as expected.
I now thoroughly Varys to have had a contingency plan in effect so that when Arya kills Dany, Snow becomes the king or alternatively, the 7 kingdoms go to becoming at least 2 kingdoms.