Back in my “Battle of Winterfell” review, I said that HBO’s Game of Thrones was such a successful fantasy show because the tremendous character development trumps the shows magical elements. Welp, you can officially throw that out the window after episode five, “The Bells”. An episode which had all style and no substance.
The characters that have made this show so special all seem to be deviating from the philosophical beliefs they built over seasons 1-7. Whether it’s a result of plot convenience, lazy writing, plain old human error, or a combination of all these things, it’s left die-hard Thrones fans like me very frustrated.
After such an amazing build-up, this season has been a disappointment thus far, and his most recent episode was the biggest example. Let’s count the ways David Benioff, D.B Weiss and the other Thrones writers are making me punch the air in confusion and frustration after “The Bells.”
First and foremost is episode five’s biggest issue: the very underwhelming deaths of Jaime and Cersei Lannister. We knew these two would die this season, and quite possibly knew they would go together. But they die from collapsing bricks?
And we’re deprived of what seemed like an inevitable showdown between Cersei and those staking a claim to the Iron Throne.
I understand that Dany went nuclear on her city, but the dastardly Cersei Lannister- who terrorized her enemies through the entire series–deserved an unforgettable ending.
Speaking of out-of-character Lannisters, what the hell was Tyrion doing this episode? After all he’s worked for and suffered through, he’s going to try to help save Cersei and risk his own life in the process? I don’t think so. I know he’s attached to Jaime like none other in the show. But for him to free him from prison and suggest sailing away with Cersei to Pentos where they can start a new life with their newborn child is just silly.
Tyrion may be a reasonable man who doesn’t want to see the innocent people of King’s Landing burn. But Cersei’s subjects remember that it was Tyrion who put a bow through his father’s heart before becoming the hand of their greatest threat.
Fast forward a few seasons later and Tyrion decides an easy out for Cersei last minute? This doesn’t seem right at all. It’s like the writers wanted to use Tyrion and Jaime to save Cersei so that fans will sympathize with her as she crumbles to the ground. Hell naw! Cersei is a despicable character with no redeeming quality. We all wanted to see her die. But not in the emptiest, most anti-climatic way.
Jaime’s decision-making was puzzling too. He once told Ser Bronn of the Blackwater that he envisioned ending his life in the arms of the woman he loved. This ultimately happened. Even so, I don’t accept the way Jaime died either. He decided to set he and Cersei’s differences with the northerners aside to fight alongside them in the “Great War.” In a continuation of the show’s greatest character arc, Jaime once again made the selfless decision for the greater good.
After he helped in the victory over the wights, his slow-burning relationship with Lady Brienne finally sparked in episode four. They’re a quirky couple for sure, but hey, at least she’s not his sister! She’s not a terrible person either. Brienne brought the best out in Jaime, and the two are compatible and appeared to be building something.
But that budding relationship got dashed in a second because Jaime heard his sister/lover was in serious trouble (duh, we knew that was coming) and decided to jump ship to go save her. Cersei is who he loves, we get it. But for a character arc as crazy as Jaime’s, he deserved to go out in a sacrificial blaze of glory. Instead, much like Cersei, he’s now an unforgettable Thrones character who suffered a most forgettable ending.
There’s one more episode this Sunday. Let’s see how the Jon and Daenerys battle for the Iron Throne plays itself out before we call the season a disappointment. Maybe after Dany turned into the “Mad Queen” and committed so many war crimes on the innocent, Jon will rebel against her claim to the throne, sparking some interest in the finale. But given that Jon’s only dialogue in this season seems to be “she’s my queen” when he’s told the throne is his to take, it seems like he has no interest. I wouldn’t either at this point to be honest.
Kit Harrington, who plays Jon, was asked to describe the final season of GOT in one word a while back. He grabbed plenty of attention when he said “disappointing.” He quickly said “epic, one of those two” right afterward. Sadly for all of us he wasn’t playing a joke on us. Based on “The Bells,” I’m prepared for one of my favorite shows of all time to keep spiraling downward as it comes to a close.