By Alexandra V. Maragha
Despite recapping the history of the series Game of Thrones, or the books, let’s focus on the commanding episode five in season eight. If you have watched to this point, then you are in it all.
The most astounding part of the episode, “The Bells,” is when Daenerys Targaryen rides on her dragon and burns King’s Landing, murdering thousands of its citizens and destroying every aspect of history and present life. The episode continued to the end to where the beloved Mother of Dragons left viewers shocked and disengaged from the series, even with some calling for HBO to re-make the entire eighth season.
Despite the negative backlash, it is perhaps the exact reaction that is needed going into the final episode of the series. The writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have not only triggered publicity for the world to hear about the series all over again, but they have provocatively incited the “Tyrion Lannister effect”, leaving a harsh lesson to be felt and realized by all.
The more overlooked character development for the episode is that of Tyrion. He is a man caught between two women, Queen Daenerys and Queen Cersei, two worlds of the past and present, two outcomes of Daenerys succeeding or not, and two beliefs. As he is the Hand of the Queen, he supports and advises Daenerys in every move, as he has done up until this point in the series. For the first time, Tyrion truly fears and doubts the uncertainty of his place in Daenerys’ council, if she will execute him at any moment, and the overall outcome of Daenerys as ruler on the Iron Throne. Lord Varys clearly communicates and reminds Tyrion of his own doubts of what is good for the realm to which Tyrion is aware of, but does not want to agree with out-loud. Tyrion re-states his belief in Daenerys, more to convince himself rather than Lord Varys- whom Tyrion ultimately sacrifices for his own sake and becomes the last to truly play the game.
This debate between Lord Varys and Tyrion on the stability of Daenerys reflects the last of any game to be played, reminiscing the past where councils and individual ambitions plotted for power even more than those of royal blood. The only difference in these discussions is the tragedy that Tyrion nor Lord Varys really mean any harm, as they both are trying to find a way for everyone to “win”. After Lord Varys is executed, Tyrion is the only man of wisdom, knowledge and first-hand experience of the ways of the past (aside from Ser Davos) of that generation.
Without further evaluating the shows intricate details and plot, the point of “The Bells” is not simply to further a storyline, but also achieved audience interaction and empathy; just not in the way most expected.
The audience walked with Tyrion, who was really the focal point, and now we are all in the same feelings of shock, disappointment, and maybe even disgust, just like he is left with at the end of the episode. We are turned away and reacting because our beloved queen turned on us and turned on good. We did see it coming. We knew the history and the experiences of Daenerys Targaryen, and that’s why we came to feel with her, love her, and root for her with all her best intentions, much like Tyrion. But at the same time, we knew and know all that she is and has become, and although we did not want to see the negative vulnerabilities, like Tyrion, we overlooked them to continue to support her. We felt relief seeing all our beloved characters come together for the start of season eight, even knowing Cersei would not comply, but we were okay with that and even expecting it. The joy and happiness of seeing humanity come together to fight the threat of the Night King brought hope, joy, adventure, and even in the real world, we enjoyed seeing great actors come together in one scene.
These actors all had and maintained great performances, and the show itself is a work of art, with production quality and capacity like no other. These actors and character portrayals have satisfied our inner desire to see communal purpose and sympathy to have a better second chance for all, even for those who encountered death.
After “The Bells”, we are now left with anger, disappointment, sadness, and even regret, much like that of Tyrion, to now come to terms, move forward, and have some sort of closure. We have been betrayed, but not by the writers nor the actors, but only by ourselves for allowing ourselves, like Tyrion, to only see what we wanted to see and not what is truly there.