[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “Game of Thrones” Season 8, Episode 5, “The Bells.”]
On the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones,” Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) makes a decision that changes the show forever. Just before her forces face off with the Golden Company mercenaries fighting for Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), as her Hand, extracts a promise from her. If she hears the bells ring, which would be a signal of surrender, then Dany will halt her attack. To ensure that this happens, Tyrion even enlists his brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to sneak behind enemy lines and ring the bells.
When the bells actually toll, Daenerys only pauses briefly from the fire she’s been raining down to consider their significance. But with her goal in sight — the capture of King’s Landing and destruction of her enemy — and still smarting from multiple betrayals, she continues with the wanton destruction. Innocent people and whatever afterlife she believes in be damned, it seems that she is her father’s daughter after all and subscribes to the outlook of “burn them all.”
Dany wreaks havoc indiscriminately, even putting her own soldiers in harm’s way. As the city literally tumbles down around them, her forces must flee along with everyone else or risk their own lives. In the end, as the world burns, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and the rest are left in a daze. They survived battling the Night King, but this senseless loss of life is too disheartening, too difficult to comprehend.
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It now remains to be seen what happens next after the bloodbath. Daenerys has presumably achieved her goal: Her enemy is defeated, buried underneath the rubble of the Red Keep. The Iron Throne is hers… but for how long? Jon had backed her claim but that was before he realized she was capable of such cold-hearted murder on a large scale. This can’t be the type of ruler he wants, and with his own legitimate claim to the throne, he may decide that such a display of tyranny cannot be the best for Westeros. It’s not called Worst-eros, after all.
Series creators David Benioff & D. B. Weiss wrote and directed the upcoming grand finale. The episode will run 1 hour and 20 minutes, which is the same length as the previous episode, “The Bells.” That’s plenty of time to set up a new world order, whether it’s with Daenerys or someone else at the top.
Take a look at the sneak peek photos below:
Daenerys may be the Unburnt, but her new kingdom is not. This is not a good look (or smell) for the future of Westeros. And yet, as those in forestry understand, sometimes fires are necessary to make way for new growth.
Tyrion probably regrets many things by now, such as backing Daenerys and then ratting out Varys (Conleth Hill). If only the Master of Whispers succeeded in his plot to poison Daenerys, all of these lives might have been saved. But this is the future Tyrion wrought for himself and others. That pin indicating that he’s the Hand of the Queen probably feels incredibly heavy right now. She said that the last time he failed in his advice would be the last time, and at least this isn’t his fault. She went rogue. Then again, she might see that her own campaign was a big success and that his bid for clemency was a failure.
And the next photo is — oh wait there aren’t any more. HBO only released two photos for the finale, and one of them is just a screenshot of the trailer below. That means there is much, much more that isn’t shown. For anyone feeling discouraged about their favorite character making such a drastic heel turn, don’t worry. Things could get better… or of course they could also get worse. This is “Game of Thrones” after all.
Here’s the Episode 6 preview that shows a tiny bit more than the photos do:
”Game of Thrones” airs its series finale on Sunday, May 19 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.