Game of Thrones Review: “The Bells”

Author: Cameron Fairchild

Alright forget the writing, forget whether the character turn works upon reflection or because of foreshadowing or whatever, let’s look at the thing that makes the scene as a scene illogical: Game of Thrones’ fatal flaw for the last 2+ seasons and everyone’s favorite thing to talk about, spatial continuity.

We all know our heroes can teleport now and that’s what’s going to happen to expedite this mess, but the sack of King’s Landing by Daenerys Targaryen is a step even beyond that. To clarify: there’s a wide shot about 2/3 of the way through “The Bells,” GOT’s disastrous penultimate episode, which clearly lays out the configuration of King’s Landing. It’s a pretty clear line:

(South) Iron Fleet à Red Keep à King’s Landing Gates (North)

Dany comes in from the south, and destroys the Iron Fleet, which, with a dozen big crossbows can’t bring down her remaining dragon when they used to be really, conveniently good at that. Spatially speaking, so far so good, right? Benioff and Weiss are pretty good at starting things they don’t know how to finish. The trouble comes when Dany moves to the gates of King’s Landing.  None of the Golden Company (which meets a hilariously quick end) nor Jon’s men hear or see the dragon coming, which means Dany skipped over the Red Keep (which will become more egregious here in a minute) and also somehow avoided detection before positioning herself and her dragon inside the gate. We obviously know she didn’t do this as the city is swarming with people and not a soul sees the dragon after it destroys the fleet until it blows open the gate, but the only logical route it could have taken, based on the show’s own geography, would be to crawl through the city to avoid detection by the two armies. It would have already incurred a lot of collateral damage from doing that- it would’ve squashed people at the very least.

At this point I must turn to the creators of the show and allow them to annihilate themselves, which they have done on a weekly basis in the “Inside the Episode” featurettes, a series of talking heads by the two in which they compare their hatchet job of the A Song of Ice and Fire books to Dante, among other things. The featurette for this episode includes an instance of one of the two mentioning that when Dany sees the Red Keep mid-rampage, she is suddenly reminded of all the things her family lost when they were deposed by Robert Baratheon, and that sends her into double-down Sky Hitler mode. The reason this is a crock of sh*t is because Dany is already angry from destroying the Iron Fleet; she is primed and ready and feeling betrayed from the moment the battle starts, necessarily priming her for her turn the first time she sees the Red Keep, which would have absolutely happened on her implausible course from the Fleet to the Gates. Benioff and Weiss completely disregard their own spatial logic twice on the way to shamelessly turn Daenerys evil.

Now this might seem like a simplistic argument: Daenerys jumped the line to attack the army first, sure. A second critique, then: we don’t see Dany’s face once she’s taken out the Iron Fleet until she sees the Keep. We have no visual clarification for what’s going through her head for the majority of the episode. She ceases to exist as a character: she’s an entity, and a monstrous one. When Jon inevitably kills her next episode, which seems pretty likely given how sad his stupid face was this episode, we will believe she deserves it because the creators have gone out of their way not just to villainize her but dehumanize her. She’s an object, a WMD. Not even Cersei, who gets an extremely sympathetic death-by-rubble, was ever so denigrated by both the story and its formal composition. Even Ramsay f*cking Bolton got treated with more respect by the camera than Daenerys has for the last five episodes.

Anyways, Tyrion’s a moron, Varys was a moron, Sansa and Yara, the only two women given anything approaching empathetic consideration at this point, are nowhere to be found, Arya gets negged by the Hound right before he and his brother die together, and then she thanks him for calling her weak before getting subjected to like four buildings falling on her (she gets up each time in increasingly unlikely fashion and rides out on a white horse, why not), Jon has a stupid face that can’t accomplish anything, and Jaime and Cersei die in each other’s arms, not having to grow or change or do anything. Whatever, man.

Davos is still alive, though. Love that guy, or at least he was a great character in the books. Doesn’t do much but for some reason is leading the charge with Jon and Grey Worm? Did he get back to the front line after he smuggled Jaime into King’s Landing? Or did Jaime just teleport inside? I don’t know. Doesn’t matter.

Bring on the final massacre, GOT, and try not to completely annihilate the show on the way out.

RIP Corner:

The Cleganes bite it. Mhm.

Cersei and Jaime are gone. Yup.

Varys. Cool.


Euron Greyjoy. This is the death I remembered last. What a useless character.

Daenerys’ soul, and every person (?) in King’s Landing.

My hesitant respect.

Theory Corner:

  • Those Reddit leaks are probably right about the last episode. I’m not gonna put the leaks here, obviously, but they’re easy to find and they suck.
  • Winds of Winter is probably way better than this sh*t, and everyone who got all pissy at the “book was better” fans are getting what they deserved, as do the people who made fun of GRRM’s age and weight as possible factors in the book never getting released.
  • That last theory got pretty harsh there. I guess if I’m this mad about the thing it’s doing something right? Or something very, very wrong. Idk. Nothing matters.
  • This episode looked really good! Much as I hate the “Inside” featurettes, the “Game Revealed” featurettes are actually really fascinating because the only artists left on this show are the actors and the VFX people/set builders:
  • This is also hilarious:


CAMERON FAIRCHILD | It’s not like there aren’t individual moments of these episodes that aren’t okay – Tyrion saying goodbye to his brother was actually really touching, for example. It’s that these small moments, largely carried by the grace of the ensemble, can’t overcome the insidious superstructure of the season, which continually strips its character of personality and reduces them to avatars of either destruction or watching the Daenerys/Jon binary as it were. Spectacle reigns supreme, and everything gets flattened in its wake. | KXSU Arts Reporter


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