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 Cersei Lannister
Kit Harington as Jon Snow
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy
Marc Rissmann as Harry Strickland
Conleth Hill as Lord Varys
Anton Lesser as Qyburn
Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm

And a cast of thousands.

Premise:

Despite getting a surrender, Dany decides to remove King’s Landing from the map.

High Points:

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.

Low Points:

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.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6

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.

Production: 6/6

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.

Overall: 4/6

“The Bells” receives 33/42