TV Review – Game of Thrones: The Bells

TL;DR – The rushed final season is starting to show its issues … badly.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Game of Thrones: The Bells. Image Credit: HBO.


I have honestly been really happy where the final season has been going so far. I liked how Winterfell and A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms were these slow-burn episodes giving us some much-needed character development and interaction. I found The Long Night to be a really emotional experience as the dead came and slaughtered. I was ever really jiving with The Last of the Starks up until that last 15 minutes. It was like a speed boat suddenly threw out its anchor grinding everything to a halt. This means for the first time, I am coming into an episode of this 8th season, and the penultimate episode at that, with a lot of hesitation and I don’t know how to feel about that. 

So to set the scene, last week everyone was celebrating their win over the dead and the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) but there was still one big threat on the horizon. Cersei (Lena Headey) still controls King’s Landing, and with it the legitimacy of the throne. Just one problem Cersei captured Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and beheaded her in front of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and well that did not go down well. So we begin today with everyone getting ready for the final push but some people have reservations and one of them is Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) who is finally caught out. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. This week we are going to do something a little different and focus our review on different character relationships because it is through these relationships we see the very highs of this episode and the real lows.  

Game of Thrones: The Bells. Image Credit: HBO.
And here we are. Image Credit: HBO.

The first relationship I want to explore is Jon (Kit Harington) and Dany. Ever since John found out who his real parents are and then told Dany there has been a real thawing in their relationship more than the fact that they are aunt and nephew. John has the better claim to the throne, so he has become a threat, even though he has said over and over again he does not want the job. This reaches a tipping point when Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) lets her know that John told his family who he is. This leads Dany to realise that she can trust no one but herself and she ignores the surrender bells and destroys all of King’s Landing. While it was good to see that she discovered tactics that a large immovable placement is easily defeated by a more mobile attacker (much like the Maginot Line), if only she had worked that out last week. John tried to do the good thing, tried to let people surrender, tried to protect civilians, but he backed the wrong side, and we have another mad Targaryen king. In fact, she is completely the mad king because she did what her father tried to do. Indeed, even in the very loose definitions of this set down in this universe, Dany just became a war criminal.  

The next relationship is Arya (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann) and here we have a good example of what the episode got right but also one of its limitations. It was really great to see these two back together because both the actors and the character have an amazing rapport with each other. They also have probably the best character moment in the episode when The Hound as the castle is falling down around them makes Arya realise that her quest to kill Cersei would lead to her death. She wishes Sandor goodbye and tries to escape. This was a really strong moment and was highlighted as the show intercut between Arya’s escape and The Hound fighting his reanimated brother Gregor (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) in the Cleganebowl. Also having Gregor straight up killing Qyburn (Anton Lesser) by throwing him down the stairs like a bag of flour was amusing. This was the strongest part of the episode but it also shows its weaknesses. Because we have only six episodes last week they left Winterfell and today they are in King’s Landing, all of that character development that would have happened over that trip is never going to happen. There is also the clumsiness of using Sandor’s death through fire to be the closure of his arc, but he didn’t jump into the fire, he jumped off the side of a town, the fire was an afterthought. Also, I think that the use of 9/11 and Hiroshima iconography in some of these sequences, as well as dipping into Revelation is a choice, not sure it was a good one, but it was definitely a choice. There was also a recurring character in Nora (Laura Elphinstone) that was used well to show how the battle was progressing.    

Game of Thrones: The Bells. Image Credit: HBO.
Oh Jon, you really know nothing. Image Credit: HBO.

Finally, we have the low point in the episode and maybe the entire series, yes I am including Dorne here. This is the bland resolution to Cersei and Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). One of the shows biggest dropped balls is how they have handled Jamie’s redemption arc. After seven seasons of false starts, it looked like finally, they had gotten it right, only to nope out when sticking the landing. At no point did this character resolution feel anything more than forced. To start with we have Jamie getting caught trying to sneak back into the city. This leads to the only good part of this moment, and that’s a reconnection between him and Tyrion. Then he tries to sneak into the city only to get probably mortally wounded by Euron (Pilou Asbæk) the most boring character in the show. The moment when Cersei and Jamie reunited felt hollow and unearned, and the moment the maybe died (maybe until you see the bodies) I felt nothing. Maybe it would be best if he dies being hanged by Lady Stoneheart rather than what we have here.  

In the end, do we recommend The Bells? And well for the first time in the series the answer for that is no. It has become clear that this rushed final season has started to come off the rails, and no longer have much hope that they will stick the landing.       

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen Game of Thrones?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Directed by
– Miguel Sapochnik
Written by – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Based offA Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
Created for TV by – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Music by – Ramin Djawadi
Production/Disruption Companies – Home Box Office (HBO)
Starring in Season 8 – Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Carice Van Houten, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, Joe Dempsie, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, John Bradley, Hannah Murray, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Jacob Anderson & Iain Glen with Pilou Asbæk, Anton Lesser, Richard Dormer, Vladimir Furdik, Gemma Whelan, Ben Crompton, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Daniel Portman, Bella Ramsey, Rupert Vansittart, Marc Rissmann, Richard Rycroft, Megan Parkinson, Ian Whyte, Staz Nair and Laura Elphinstone, Marc Rissman, Alexis Raben, Matthew Wolf, Bronte Charmichael, Tipper Seifert-Cleveland, Frank Blake Ryan McKen Owen Whitelaw, Mairi Hawthorn, Oliver Devoti, Jim Tighe, Derek Dubery Luke McQuillan, Nicky Harley, Hayley McQuillam, Adam Devereux, Thomas Martin, Brian Patrick Kennedy, Luna Kalo, Caitlin Pharro, Louis McCartney, Rosie McClelland, Isaac Heslip & Jack Morgan         


1 thought on “TV Review – Game of Thrones: The Bells

  1. Pingback: TV Review – Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne and Season Six | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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