This article is dark and full of spoilers.
We open on Varys writing a scroll. He is sending out ravens to Daenerys is devastated by the fact that word of Jon’s heritage is becoming more well known. She perceives it as a betrayal and executes Varys. At the beginning of the series, it felt like the Spider had only been out for himself, but he really has done everything he could for the good of the realm and for the good of everyone around him.
Dany and Grey Worm are still very much in mourning after the death of Missandei. Dany complains to Jon that everyone loves him and no one loves her. Jon once again, claims his unwavering loyalty. It isn’t enough for her.
Tyrion goes his queen and begs her to withdrawal her attack on King’s Landing if the bells of surrender are tolled. Tyrion learns his brother was arrested for trying to head back to Cersei. Dany threatens to kill him and still wonders why no one likes her. Tyrion goes to Jaime and frees him. It is a wonderful moment between the two brothers.
Dany attacks from directly above and takes of the Iron Fleet pretty quickly. The Golden Company is not worth their market value apparently, because Drogon goes full metal kaiju and destroys the wall and most of the company, leaving the Dothraki and Unsullied to take care of the rest.
The audience really needed a little more setup to how many Dothraki, Unsullied, and Northerners are left alive. There was so much emphasize in previous episodes that the armies had been decimated. The seen in the Long Night implies that the Dothraki had been eliminated entirely. We didn’t need much, but a number would have been nice.
Daenerys has won at this point. However instead of stopping the attack and declaring victory and leading her armies to capture the castle. She sets the streets on fire, burning innocent civilians alive. Grey Worm makes the decision to attack men who have laid down their weapons and surrendered. Davos is attempting to lead people to safety. Jon takes in the chaos around him and tries to save as many people as he can. Daenerys sets the Red Keep aflame and is quickly destroying the castle. Qyburn convinces Cersei to flee with the Moutain in town.
Jaime is able to sneak into the basement of the Red Keep as per Tyrion’s instructions. On the way there he meets with Euron. The pair fights and, both are wounded, but Euron is left for dead. Arya and the Hound make it into the Red Keep before the gates are closed. The castle is crumbling around them. Sandor convinces Arya to abandon her revenge plot against Cersei.
One great scene was the long-awaited Clegane-Bowl. Sandor finds his older brother Gregor on the stairs with Cersei and Qyburn, as they attempt to escape the crumbling castle. The Hound dispatches the remaining kingsguard. Gregor kills Qyburn and Cersei runs away. As the castle collapses around the pair, they begin their duel to the death. Frankenmountain is revealed in all of his undead horribleness. The makeup is pretty fantastic. Gregor is stabbed several times, but pulls the steel from his body. After a vicious and bloody fight, both Clegane’s fall to their deaths into a pit of fire. Jaime finally makes it inside the castle and is reunited with Cersei. The two die together under a falling building. Arya survives, as well as Jon, Tyrion and Davos.
The practical effects in this episode were epic. Twenty-two people were set aflame- twice. Whole sets were built pre-destroyed and built up so that they could be re-destroyed. The set, makeup, fire effects were all fantastic. The weakest thing about of this episode was, unfortunately, the writing.
Dany for example, fell pretty hard from grace. She has been insistent that she did not want to be the queen of the ashes, yet she reduces King’s Landing to ashes. Of course, along the journey of the show, there have been some hints of her temper, but nothing like this. She spent a whole two seasons fighting to be the Breaker of Chains, then slaughters innocent people. She spent time in Essos listening to Tyrion and Selmy to become a more diplomatic ruler, when now she is just a tyrant. In a behind the scenes look, it was described by producers as Dany taking back her ancestral home and everything that was taken from her. So, why set it on fire? If this is the Throne that she has been fighting for, why burn it to ash?
Fans have not responded well, and as of today, this episode has some of the lowest ratings of the whole series. “The Bells” has a 7.1 this is in contrast to “Battle of the Bastards” and “Hardhome.” Both of which have a 9.9 rating. Interestingly enough, all three of these episodes were directed by Miguel Sapochnik.
Hopefully, the series finally will be a more satisfying conclusion.