Game of Thrones TV TV Recaps

‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 5 Recap: The Bells Reveals The Shocking Final Villain Of The Series

Daenerys and her army storm King's Landing, while Cersei must decide whether to stand against her enemies or run. The final villain is revealed.

This is it. The penultimate episode. The second last episode of not only the season, but of the entire series. Game Of Thrones is nearing the end of its eighth and final season, and it’s pulling out all the stops.

These final episodes are pivotal for the series and how it will be remembered. And while some fans were disappointed with Episode 5, we cannot praise it enough. The Bells featured everything that Thrones is renowned for, everything that makes the series so groundbreaking. Politics, betrayal, heartbreak, destruction, and a villain unlike any other. It may seem a little late in the series to introduce a new villain, but somehow, Thrones pulled it off. There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, so sit back, relax, and let’s recap!

Episode 4 ended with Cersei executing Missandei while Daenerys, Grey Worm, and Tyrion watched. The whole event was very reminiscent of Season 1, when Joffrey executed Ned Stark while Sansa watched. Like Mother, like son! But this scene was more than just heartbreaking, it was incredibly telling. The last thing Missandei said was, ‘Dracarys’, and as any Thrones fan will know, it means Dragonfire in High Valyrian. She looks at Daenerys as she says it, and it is her final request of her Queen. This execution, along with Missandei’s last words, might be enough to do what fans have always feared. It might be enough to turn Daenerys into the Mad Queen. And the beginning of Episode 5 doesn’t give us much hope.

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While everyone who serves Daenerys is blind to the truth, Varys sees all too clearly. And as always, the Spider serves the realm above anyone else, and will do whatever it takes to protect the innocent, no matter the cost to himself. Episode 5 begins with Varys writing a letter. To whom, we’re unsure of, but it details the truth of Jon’s parentage, supporting his claim to the Iron Throne. He’s interrupted by a knock at the door. One of his little birds has come to visit him.

Martha, a young girl who works in the kitchens, has come to tell him that Daenerys isn’t accepting any food. She hasn’t eaten in 2 days. Varys looks concerned and disappointed. But this is not concern for her well-being. Though it isn’t said, it’s clear that Varys intended to have Daenerys poisoned. Cruel? Perhaps. But if it saves millions of innocents, her death seems a low price to pay, at least to Varys. And quite honestly, we can’t disagree with him, even if we want to. He instructs Martha to try again that night, reminding her that the greater the risk is, the greater the reward is. And that he will protect her, making sure the guards suspect nothing.

After Martha returns to the kitchens, Varys goes to the beach to greet Jon Snow, who has arrived just ahead of his army. The Northern forces should reach the gates of King’s Landing in 2 days. Jon asks how Dany’s been, since returning from her meeting with Cersei, and Varys is honest with him. She’s not well. And both are concerned for her in very different ways. Jon because she is his Queen. He loves her. But Varys fears her madness, as Jon should, too.

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The Spider takes this moment of solitude with the former King In The North to reveal that he knows his secret. To try and make him see that what Daenerys is about to do is wrong. Innocents will die.

Varys: “We both know what she’s about to do.”

Jon: “That’s her decision to make. She is our Queen.”

Varys: “Men decide where power resides. Whether or not they know it.”

Jon: “What do you want?”

Varys: “All I’ve ever wanted. The right ruler on the Iron Throne. I still don’t know how her coin has landed. But I’m quite certain about yours.”

But Jon, much like the man who raised him, is stubborn in his loyalty. He bent the knee, and he’s determined to stay true to his word, even if he knows what Varys says is true. Even if he knows that Daenerys is no longer the woman she was. It is his greatest fault, his unyielding loyalty and honor. But how long will it last?

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While he can’t hear the conversation, Tyrion watches Jon and Varys from a distance. He knows Varys better than anyone else there, and he knows what he must be planning. His intentions may be true, but Tyrion won’t see Daenerys killed. He goes to her chambers, and surprisingly, she’s expecting him. He’s the first person she’s seen in 2 days. And she guesses his news before he has a chance to tell her.

“Someone has betrayed me.”

-Daenerys Targaryen

She doesn’t look at him until he confirms it. And when she turns, the fear in Tyrion’s eyes is as clear as day. Dany’s hair is disheveled, her eyes puffy, yet sunken, her cheeks hollow. We have never seen the Mother of Dragons quite like this before.

She guesses that it was Jon that betrayed her, but doesn’t seem the least bit surprised when Tyrion reveals that it was Varys. She knew that Jon would tell Sansa, despite her pleas, and that she would tell Tyrion, and that he, in turn, would tell Varys. But Tyrion tells her that it was imperative for both he and Varys to know the truth. If they’re to best further her aims, they need to be aware of all threats. But he should have received her permission before telling Varys the truth.

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His words don’t sway her. She believes that Sansa told Tyrion because she knew that he would tell Varys. And that the truth would spread and eventually destroy Daenerys. Tyrion tries as best he can to convince her that everyone wants what she wants, a better world. Varys more than anyone. But he sees it in her eyes. It doesn’t matter what he says now, she’s already decided the fate of the Spider.

Late that night, as Varys writes in his chamber, he hears the marching of the Unsullied echoing through the halls. He quickly burns the letter, hiding it in small container, and takes this last moment alone to remove his rings. He knows what’s coming.

Grey Worm secures chains around his wrists and leads him onto the dimly lit beach, where Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion are waiting for him. Daenerys doesn’t say a word, and neither does Varys. The two simply look at each other, neither one of them apologizing for their actions. Dany gives a slight nod to Tyrion, who then makes his way to Varys. This is his chance for any last words.

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In these final moments, of all the things that he can say to his old friend, Tyrion chooses to be honest. He reveals that it was he who told Daenerys. Varys looks betrayed at first, deeply hurt. But in the end, he simply nods. Tyrion was only doing what he thought was right, as he did. And so, Varys’ last words are not hateful, nor pleading. He doesn’t tremble or falter.

“I hope I deserve this. Truly, I do. I hope I’m wrong…..
Goodbye, old friend.”

-Varys

At these noble last words, Tyrion tears up. He can’t bring himself to say goodbye, so he simply looks at his friend with teary eyes and firmly grasps his arm. It’s all he can do to apologize. Because in this moment, though he isn’t ready to admit it, Tyrion knows that Varys is right.

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Once Tyrion leaves his side, Daenerys proceeds with her sentencing. Without hesitation, she orders his death. Drogon appears behind her and once she says the word we’ve all come to fear, ‘Dracarys’, the dragon rains fire upon him. Varys does not scream, and so we can only hope that death was immediate. He didn’t deserve to suffer. But if he did, he ensured that no one would hear his cries.

Afterwards, back in her chambers, Daenerys is alone with Grey Worm, both of them mourning Missandei. She offers him the only posession she brought with her across the Narrow Sea, the collar that she wore before Daenerys freed her. Grey Worm holds it in his hands, looking at it with a mixture of loss and hate before tossing it in the fire. This, too, is a telling moment. It is the moment that Grey Worm goes back to being nothing more than a loyal soldier, and the leader of the Unsullied. He can’t bring himself to feel anything more after he lost the love of his life.

The two are interrupted by Jon, whom Daenerys wants to speak to alone. And the palpable tension between them could be cut with a knife. Jon insists that he told Varys the truth, that he doesn’t want the throne or the crown. But Daenerys doesn’t care. All she speaks of is Sansa, and how Varys’ death is her fault. That this should be a lesson to her, of what happens to people who know the truth about Jon.

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Her voice shakes as she speaks. She knows she has no love here, not like she did across the Narrow Sea. In Westeros, people fear her. Jon tries to console her, telling her that he loves her and that she will always be his Queen. She stands at this, asking if that’s all he sees her as. What follows can only be described as an awkward kiss. She’s filled with passion and fire, but he pulls away. And that’s enough. She believes she knows where she stands now.

“Alright then. Let it be fear.”

-Daenerys Targaryen
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She leaves Jon to discuss battle plans with her Hand, Tyrion, and the leader of the Unsullied, Grey Worm. She is convinced that her plan is merciful. She intends to slaughter everyone in the city, believing that it will save future generations from ever again being ruled by a tyrant. I think she genuinely believes that what she’s doing is right. Tyrion knows that he can’t dissuade her, so all he asks is that if she hears the bells ringing, she call off the attack. It means the city has surrendered, and there will be no need for innocent blood to be spilled. She hesitantly agrees to these conditions, to Tyrion’s great relief. He fears her, and she can see that. So, she informs him that they captured his brother, who tried to slip past their ranks and into the city. She also warns him that the next time he fails her will be the last time. He says nothing as he walks away, leaving her alone in the massive hall. The throne will soon be hers, but she has no one to celebrate it with. Little does she realize that she was the one who pushed everyone away.

As night falls, the gates of King’s Landing remain open, and thousands of commoners pour into the city, seeking protection from the coming battle. Meanwhile, Daenerys’ army sets up camp outside the city walls. Jon and Tyrion are greeted by Davos, and the three waste no time in devising a battle plan. While Daenerys wants the attack to happen immediately, the rest of the army won’t arrive until daybreak. Jon makes the decision that the battle won’t commence until then, at the earliest. This may be their last chance to rest, but Tyrion needs Davos’ help. He needs the help of the greatest smuggler alive.

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Jaime is being guarded by a number of Unsullied, but luckily, Grey Worm is not among them. After some serious translation issues (“I drink to eat the skull keeper”), one of the Unsullied reveals that he speaks the common tongue, and that the prisoner is not to be left alone. But as Tyrion is the Hand of the Queen, he outranks any person who would’ve given that order. And so, he’s granted a few moments alone with his brother. And that’s all he needs.

Jaime is alive, and other than being tied up, he looks fine. They haven’t beat him, which is more than we expected. Tyrion asks how they found him. Jaime simply raises his gold hand in response.

Tyrion: “Did you consider taking it off?”

Jaime: “Cersei once called me the stupidest Lannister.”

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Jaime is convinced that everyone’s underestimating Cersei, as they always do. But there’s no way she’s winning this fight, and deep down, Jaime knows that. There’s no point in dying with her. Tyrion takes out the key from his pocket, much to his brother’s surprise. He begs Jaime to sneak into King’s Landing, into the Red Keep, and convince Cersei to surrender, to ring the bells. They could save tens of thousands of lives. But Jaime shrugs, claiming he never really cared about those lives.

This is a major revelation, and a true testament to how much power Cersei has over Jaime. After all, Jaime killed his own King to save his father, his family, and the entire city of King’s Landing. And now he claims he cares only for Cersei? She has a deep hold on him, but Tyrion knows there’s one innocent that he cares for, and that’s their unborn child.

The Lannister brothers know that trying to convince Cersei to surrender is an impossible task, but escaping won’t be. Tyrion tells Jaime that he can sneak out the same way he snuck in, through the room with the dragon skulls. He’ll come out near the sea, where a dinghy will be waiting for him. They can escape to Pentos and live a very different life, but they’ll live. Jaime agrees, promising to ensure that the city bells ring before he leaves. But as Tyrion unchains him, it sinks in that Daenerys will execute his brother the moment she gets a chance. Tyrion thinks she might spare him, if it saves thousands of innocent lives. Either way, it’s a risk he’s willing to take. He owes Jaime.

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This final goodbye between the Lannister brothers is perhaps the most heartfelt the show has ever seen. In their own ways, both of these characters have been underdogs, yet they’ve still managed to survive, thanks to each other. It’s what makes Tyrion’s final words to Jaime so tear-jerking.

“If it weren’t for you, I never would have survived my childhood. You were the only one…who didn’t treat me like a monster. You were all I had.

-Tyrion Lannister

They wrap their arms around each other, tightly embracing for the last time. Tyrion’s sobs echo though his face is buried in his brother’s shoulder. This is the last time they’ll see each other. We’re starting to feel the weight of the final season, and it’s even more heartfelt than we imagined.

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As Jaime escapes, the Hound and Arya ride into camp, also heading for King’s Landing. The Hound is determined to find his brother, while Arya is ready to kill Cersei. She tells the Northern guard as much. He blinks, confused, but the Hound persuades him to let them pass. After all, if Arya kills Cersei, there’ll be no need for a battle. They all can go home. But we have a feeling many characters won’t be so lucky.

Morning arrives, and there isn’t a single quiet street in King’s Landing. The Lannister soldiers position themselves on the battlements, in front of the Red Keep, and all throughout the city. They help people into their homes and through the city to the castle. There is no violence here, no brutality. The Lannister soldiers are trying to protect the innocent…this is a first.

Arya and the Hound manage to sneak into the city, with Jaime shortly behind them. Meanwhile, in Blackwater Bay, Euron and his men prepare the scorpions, loading them with arrows and searching for Daenerys and her dragon. So far, nothing. As for the Golden Company? The sellswords are placed outside the city gates, with Captain Strickland at the head of the army. They will be the city’s first defense, and they show no fear. Yet.

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The Unsullied march alongside Jon’s army, readying themselves to get into position. They stand across from the Golden Company, the soldiers staring each other down, waiting for their commands. Tyrion reminds Jon that if he hears the bells, he must call off his men. And Jon has a dark look in his eye, a worried look. This battle feels like no other before. Daenerys may be his Queen, but something about this attack feels wrong. Even the audience feels it.

Cersei looks down on her subjects from the Red Keep, who are still pouring into the castle by the dozen. Down below, the Hound lightly shoves a mother and daughter aside, making way for him and Arya to sneak into the castle among the commoners before the gates close. The mother and daughter meet Arya’s eyes, following close behind, but they’re not quick enough. The gates shut as soon as Arya and the Hound are through, leaving the mother and daughter outside, as well as Jaime Lannister. He tries to get the attention of the guards to no avail, so he pushes his way past the crowd, returning the way he came to find the back paths that Tyrion told him about. It’ll take much longer, but it’s his only shot.

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On Blackwater Bay, an unnatural wind begins to stir. Euron knows what that means. Daenerys is here, even if they can’t yet see her. She stays in line with the sun, so that by the time Euron spots her, it’s too late.

He lets the first arrow fly, which she easily dodges. And by the time they correct their aim, she’s on top of the ships, raining fire on all of them. One by one, both the ships and the scorpions are destroyed, and she’s heading straight for Euron next. His ship goes up in flames immediately, but he manages to escape into the water. She isn’t concerned.

With all the ships destroyed, she and Drogon head for the walls of King’s Landing, keeping low to the ground, making her a more difficult target. There isn’t a single close call. None of the arrows even nearly hit their target. Instead, Dany is able to burn every single scorpion that line the walls with ease. It’s a great victory for her, as the scorpions are the only things that pose a real threat to Drogon. So why doesn’t it feel like a victory?

As I said earlier, this battle feels different. Maybe it’s because we’ve started to see Daenerys go mad. Maybe it’s because we know that a lot of innocent people are in danger. But this victory, the one we’ve been rooting for since Season 1, doesn’t feel like we thought it would.

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With all the scorpions destroyed, Dany flies over the city and heads towards the gates. The Unsullied stand ready as the Golden Company looks to the skies in terror. Daenerys and her dragon are nowhere to be seen, but that’s because they’re coming from behind.

Amidst Dragonfire and smoke, Daenerys and Drogon burst through the gates and destroy nearly every soldier in the Golden Company. Strickland is flung from his horse, and when he stands, injured, he can see the army through the smoke. The Unsullied, the Northerners, and the Dothraki all charge towards him and the city, so he does what any sane man would. He runs as fast as he can. But it isn’t fast enough. Grey Worm throws a spear in his back, piercing his armor with ease.

Daenerys’ army charges into King’s Landing and kills every soldier in sight effortlessly. It was as Tyrion predicted. The city has fallen, and so far, it seems to have cost none of Dany’s soldiers. But it isn’t an easy victory to watch. The men who are slaughtered by the Dothraki and Unsullied have it easy. It’s a much slower, more painful death for those who fall victim to Dragonfire.

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Tyrion walks among the charred victims outside the city gates, as his sister watches the carnage from a tower in the Red Keep. She knows all they need is one good shot at the dragon, but Qyburn informs her that Daenerys has destroyed all the scorpions. She mentions the Iron Fleet, but that, too, is destroyed. Every soldier in the Golden Company dead. But they still have the Lannister soldiers, and Cersei has every faith that they’ll defend their Queen. The fear in her eyes tells us that she doesn’t believe a word of what she’s saying, but she uses all of her will to deny the horrible truth for as long as she can. She’s lost the war.

Jon, Grey Worm, and Davos lead their armies through the city, meeting a group of hundreds of Lannister soldiers about halfway to the Red Keep. Each soldier has their sword raised, but each looks as hesitant as the next. Daenerys lands on a wall nearby and Drogon screeches at the soldiers with all his might. The people hurry as far away as they can, while Jaime is still pushing past everyone to try to get to the Red Keep. The soldiers look at Drogon and then back to the army before them. They know as well as everyone does that the war is lost. So, they throw down their weapons.

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One by one, the swords hit the ground. And as they do, people begin to shout, ‘Ring the bells!’. The cries echo throughout the city, and they ring in Cersei’s ears as everyone waits in suspense. Daenerys sits atop Drogon, who looks ready to start burning the city at any moment. Tyrion waits outside the walls, fear in his eyes. And Daenerys…there’s no way to describe the look in her eyes. Anger? Anxiety? Madness? Perhaps a combination of all three.

Just as we begin to panic, someone gets there in time. We never see who, but the ringing of the bells echo throughout King’s Landing, signalling the city’s surrender. It’s over. The battle is won, the city belongs to Daenerys.

But it isn’t enough.

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Daenerys looks to the Red Keep and is not overcome with relief or joy, but an immense and overwhelming anger. This victory that she imagined for so many years doesn’t feel at all like it should. Was it Missandei’s death that changed everything, or something underlying? Something in her very nature that she cannot control? Whatever the case may be, this battle wasn’t satisfying enough. She isn’t looking to win, she’s already accomplished that. Now, she wants vengeance. Not just on Cersei, but on the entire city.

Dany flies over King’s Landing, making her way to the Red Keep. And as she goes, Drogon begins to rain fire down on the buildings, the soldiers, and the innocents alike. Tyrion gasps, Jon looks on in shock, and we watch in horror as Daenerys mercilessly kills tens, then hundreds, then thousands of innocent people. And it doesn’t end there.

While Daenerys and Drogon burn the city to the ground, Grey Worm is determined to follow his Queen’s actions. He throws a spear at the Lannister battle commander, the man who just minutes ago laid down his weapons. And as soon as Grey Worm attacks, the rest of the Unsullied and Northerners follow. Jon tries to hold his men back with no avail. They’re enjoying this, the killing of unarmed men. They’re enjoying killing just for the sake of killing.

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It’s this moment, as the battle rings in his ears, that Jon realizes his fatal mistake. The weight of the truth he denied finally hits him. Daenerys is not the Queen he thought. Not the woman who should sit on the Iron Throne. A good ruler would not condemn this killing, let alone be the one leading the charge. And now, on the ground, so far away from his Queen, there’s nothing he can do to stop it.

While Jon realizes the consequences of his actions, Grey Worm leads the Unsullied into battle, killing more mercilessly than we’ve ever seen. Soldier after soldier falls, and he makes it look effortless. There isn’t a trace of fear or remorse in his eyes, and we have a feeling there never will be again. In a way, he died with Missandei.

Innocents are dying by the thousands as Daenerys leads Drogon through every street in King’s Landing, burning everyone she sees. The agonizing screams of men, women, and children echo throughout the city as Drogon rains fire upon them. Davos leads as many people as he can to safety, but for every one person they save, at least another 50 perishes at the hands of Daenerys and her dragon.

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Jon continues to try to call his men off, but still, the effort is wasted. In a daze, he watches the horror unfold before him. Everything becomes clear in this moment. He watches his own men slaughter women while their children watch, covered in their blood, while Lannister soldiers try to lead the innocents to safety. But it’s when one of his own men drags a woman down a deserted alley that he’s jolted back to reality. He follows the two, shoving the man off of the woman and stabbing him through the chest. He orders the woman to find somewhere to hide, realizing that many of his men may try the same thing. This is not a noble battle. It’s a slaughter. And Jon’s disgust and horror is as clear as day.

As the war rages on within the city walls, Jaime has made it to the outskirts, and is about to make his way up the path to the castle when who should emerge from the sea but Euron Greyjoy. Sansa told it true, the bad ones always come back. Euron says what Jaime refuses to acknowledge, that the city is lost. There’s no saving Cersei. But Jaime doesn’t care, he’s determined to try. Of course, Euron isn’t going to just let him leave.

Easily the most arrogant man in the Seven Kingdoms, Euron taunts Jaime with the fact that he slept with Cersei, and that makes him a King. And as Euron suspected, that was enough to get the Queen’s brother to attack him.

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Jaime holds up surprisingly well in this fight. He’s not the soldier he used to be, as we all well know, but he uses his golden hand to his advantage, throat punching Euron and bashing in his head whenever he can. The men throw each other into the dirt, kicking, punching, body slamming, doing whatever they can to get the upper hand. And for a moment, it seems that Jaime might win. Until Euron gets a hold of his dagger and stabs him in the ribs.

Jaime gasps for air as he falls back into the sand, shocked. A bleeding Euron smiles in victory, but praises the Lannister nonetheless. Saying he fought well, ‘for a cripple’. But Jaime isn’t done. He spots his sword a little ways away, struggles to his feet, and rushes over to it. Euron sighs and gets to Jaime as he picks up his sword, stabbing him again in the side. Jaime screams in pain, but as soon as Euron pulls the knife from his body, Jaime whirls around and buries his sword in his stomach. He twists it, making it as painful as possible for him, before removing the sword and stumbling off to the Red Keep. Blood pours from the wound, Euron must be in agony, but all he does is grin.

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“I got you! I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister.”

-Euron Greyjoy

It’s safe to assume Euron’s dead, as he’s left bleeding on the beach, but this is Thrones, after all. Anything could happen. But dead or not, Euron definitely had the most fun out of anyone this episode. You gotta give him points for his sense of humor.

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Meanwhile, back in the city, Daenerys has destroyed nearly half of King’s Landing. It’s time to move onto the big prize. Cersei looks on in fear as the Mother of Dragons flies closer and closer to the Red Keep, and when she arrives, she lays waste to the towers. Brick by brick, the castle begins to crumble, and it’s at this moment that Cersei realizes the Red Keep has finally fallen. Qyburn convinces her that it’s no longer safe, that she must wait out the storm far away from the castle, and with tears in her eyes, she agrees. It’s time to move on from her home. And as she leaves her rooms, we see a bright green fire explode throughout the city. Wildfire. No doubt Cersei’s own doing. If the innocents didn’t stand a chance before, they certainly don’t now.

Elsewhere in the Red Keep, narrowly avoiding the falling stonework, are Arya and the Hound, making their way to Cersei and the Mountain. But as Sandor Clegane watches the castle fall to ruin, he realizes that even if they both kill their enemies, there’s now way they’ll get out alive. And he won’t have Arya die for nothing. Cersei’s a dead woman. Whether it’s a Dothraki, fire, or Drogon, Cersei’s death is guaranteed. He orders Arya to go home, but she won’t budge, determined to kill the Queen. So, the Hound grabs her arm and pulls her close.

“You think you wanted revenge a long time? I’ve been after it all my life. It’s all I care about. And look at me. LOOK AT ME! You wanna be like me? You come with me…you die here.”

-Sandor Clegane
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Arya looks up at him with relief and sadness in her eyes, and a deeper understanding of herself than she’s ever had before. She’s more than an assassin, than a killer. She’s Arya Stark. A girl with a family. A girl who has people who love her, and who she loves, too. If she died today, it would be for nothing. And House Stark deserves better. As he walks away, she calls out after him.

“Sandor…thank you.”

-Arya Stark

The fact that she called him Sandor, not the Hound, is a touching moment, and a huge one for the character. And he can die knowing that he saved one of the Stark girls one more time. In many ways, he was their most loyal protector. And even on his way to greet death, he stayed loyal.

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Cersei and Qyburn make their way through the castle, with the Mountain and other guards protecting them. But nothing can stop Drogon, who burns his way through the ceiling of the Red Keep. Huge chunks of stone fall as the ceiling collapses in on itself, killing many of the soldiers instantly. But the Mountain stands over Cersei and Qyburn, getting hit multiple times but protecting them from any falling debris. And somehow, it works. The three of them, along with four other guards, make it out. And it’s here and now, after the sky has opened up, that the Hound appears.

On the steps of the Red Keep, with the ceiling gone and a dragon flying back and forth in the sky above, the Hound and the Mountain lock eyes. Cersei commands him to stay by her side. He has never disobeyed an order, it’s what he’s programmed for. But he simply looks at Cersei with those dead, red eyes, and then walks towards his brother. Qyburn steps in front of him, commanding him to obey his Queen, but the Mountain barely flinches as he crushes Qyburn’s skull against a rock, throwing his lifeless body down the stairs.

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The brothers’ gazes do not falter, so Cersei takes her leave and walks around them. Sandor doesn’t even look at her. She’s not the one he cares about.

With Cersei gone and much of the Red Keep destroyed, there is only one arc left for Sandor and Gregor. That’s right. It’s time for the Cleganebowl.

This is the showdown that fans have been begging for, and it was not a letdown. Sandor knows this will be the death of him, but he’s determined to take his brother with him. He swings his sword at him again and again, landing hits that would easily knock any other man down. But his brother stands tall, barely flinching. So, Sandor aims for the head, knocking his helmet off. And now, we see the Mountain for the first time since Qyburn revived him…and it is the most hideous sight.

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With pale skin and black lips, black cracks mark his skin. His cold, dead, red eyes almost seem to glow against his iridescent skin. But upon seeing his brother’s face, Sandor only smiles. His brother’s outward appearance finally matches his insides.

The strength of these two men is nothing short of astounding. And while the Mountain puts up a good fight, it’s Sandor that delivers the first killing blow. Or what should have been a killing blow. He thrusts his sword right through his brother’s gut, so much so that it comes out the other side. The Mountain simply looks down and smacks his brother so hard that it sends him flying, bashing his head against the stone. The Mountain pulls the sword out from his stomach and tosses away his armor, revealing a scarred, rotting, disgusting chest. This is truly the look of a monster.

The Mountain picks his brother up and throws him repeatedly against the walls. Sandor keeps getting up, but it’s no use. His brother pins him against the wall and punches him so hard he nearly knocks his teeth out. This is no longer a fight. Sandor’s getting beaten to death. The Mountain lifts him up and pins him against the column, holding him there by his throat, slowly choking the life out of him. But Sandor manages to grab his brother’s dagger and stabs it in his gut, his chest, his neck, everywhere he can.

“Fucking die!”

-Sandor Clegane
Credit: HBO

His brother barely flinches, but he does move his grip from Sandor’s throat to his eyes. If you cringed, you weren’t the only one. We weren’t ready to relive Oberyn’s death. But just as the Mountain begins to crush his eyeballs, Sandor gets a hold of the dagger again, and stabs it through his brother’s eye. It’s enough to send him stumbling backwards, but not to kill him. Sandor screams in agony as he tries to open his eyes. One is completely destroyed, but one eye remains. And it’s enough. Before the Mountain can remove the dagger and attack him again, Sandor lets loose a scream as he tackles his brother, sending them both flying out of the Red Keep, falling through the sky and into the raging fire below.

In a perfect world, we would have loved to see Sandor Clegane live. But Westeros is not a perfect world. And at least he got the closure he deserved. He saved Arya Stark one last time, and he finally got vengeance on his brother. He died doing what he always wanted to do. And in Westeros, that’s all we can really hope for.

Credit: HBO

Meanwhile, Cersei heads through the Red Keep, clinging to the walls for support as the castle shakes. We have never seen her more fearful. Nor have we ever seen her so relieved as we do when she sees Jaime come out from the shadows. He stumbles towards her as she falls into his arms, the two embracing more tightly, lovingly, and passionately than we’ve ever seen. There is not an ounce of hatred here, not anymore. It’s pure love.

This is a couple that few support. In fact, most people hate both of these characters! But in this intimate moment, as the two lovingly hold each other, gasping for air and clinging to each other for dear life, we can’t help but tear up. We never would have guessed this, but it feels right. It’s the first time Cersei has ever been so vulnerable, so raw, so real. She cries as she sees Jaime bleeding, and relies on him to keep her standing upright as he leads her through the castle. The prospect of death can bring out the worst or best in people. Who would’ve guessed that it brings out the best in Cersei Lannister.

Down below in the burning city, Arya makes her way through the crowded streets, desperately trying to avoid the falling buildings and the Dragonfire. She looks around in horror as she sees the burnt men who are still alive, the women who are literally gutted and left dying in the streets, the children…Arya has never looked so horrified. She knew she was right not to trust Daenerys.

Credit: HBO

She starts running as Drogon flies over the street, heading towards the main path that will get out of the city. And it’s flooded with people. She rushes as fast as she can, as they all do, but within seconds she’s pushed to the ground, being stomped into the dirt. Each time she tries to get up, someone else’s foot lands on her back, shoving her violently back down. But when things look most dire, a woman’s voice comes out of nowhere. She shouts at Arya to take her hand, lifting her up off the ground. It’s the same woman from earlier, the woman with her child, who the Hound shoved out of the way. Little did he know he was saving their lives at the time.

They clasp each other’s hands tightly, but seconds later the momentum of the crowd pulls them apart. Everyone’s running for their lives, when out of nowhere, an explosion hits. Most likely, the force of the Dragonfire hitting a building. And it seems to hit Arya hard, knocking her down. Possibly for good.

Elsewhere in the city, Jon watches in horror as every street erupts in both wildfire and Dragonfire. And he realizes that there’s no getting out of this alive, not if they stay in the city. He meets Davos’ gaze, and it seems to be enough to convince him. Jon gives the order he should have given long ago. It’s time to retreat, to fall back outside of the city gates. He grabs as many men as he can and they run as fast as their feet can carry them. Daenerys is paying no mind to who runs down below. Her own people or Cersei’s, she’ll kill whoever she sees. The faster they can get out, the better.

Credit: HBO

Screams of horror and fear wake Arya. She’s covered in ash and blood, wounded beyond belief, but she’s alive. She stands, stumbling and coughing through the smoke, walking as fast as she dares when a building overhead starts to crumble. She starts sprinting when it collapses on top of her. But this, too, she survives.

Arya Stark is nothing if not a fighter, and she finds herself more wounded than before, but still alive. She’s in a secluded room filled with wounded women and children, each covered in ash and blood. And one of them is the woman who helped her up, and her child made it, too.

As Arya hears Drogon still flying over the city, she realizes there’s no surviving if they stay here. She picks the woman up and tells all of them to follow her. Their only chance is to run for it. And they do. They give it their all. But there are still Dothraki left in the city, and as they ride past them, they cut down everyone they can. And one of their victims is the woman who helped Arya up.

Credit: HBO

Her child screams for her, and Arya quickly hurries over to them. The mother is alive, but she won’t be for long. Her back is completely sliced open. Arya tries to carry both mother and child, but she’s moving too slow. The mother pleads with her to just take her child, and leave her to die. She can die in peace knowing her daughter is safe. Arya tries to carry the girl, but she runs back to her mother. Before Arya can grab her, Drogon appears in the sky and rains fire on them all.

Back in the Red Keep, or more accurately, underneath it, Cersei and Jaime have finally made it to the dragon skulls. They’re nearly out. But as they dodge the falling stones and reach the entrances of the caves, they see that they’re entirely collapsed. They’re trapped. There’s no way out.

Jaime panics, looking around frantically for any opening. But Cersei knows. She can feel it. And with tears in her eyes, she can only manage to say one thing with a trembling voice.

“I want our baby to live.”

-Cersei Lannister

She weeps in fear as she pleads with Jaime to protect her. She keeps repeating that she doesn’t want to die, that she can’t die like this. She repeats herself over and over again in a panicked frenzy when Jaime yells at her, taking her face in his hands and pleading with her to look at him.

“Nothing else matters. Only us.”

-Jaime Lannister
Credit: HBO

She stops gasping for breath. She blinks away the tears. She only looks at him, and he only looks at her. In this moment, the moment right before their death, she feels at peace in the arms of the man she loves most. He holds her tightly, shielding her from the sight of their coming doom as the ceiling collapses. Death inches closer and closer and within moments, the stone crumbles, piling on top of them, burying the Lannister twins. And just like that, Cersei and Jaime are gone. Both of them. For good.

While two of the Lannisters are gone, a Stark remains. Despite everything, Arya is still alive. She managed to dodge Drogon’s fire. But no one else was as lucky. While stumbling through the city, she comes across the charred, black bodies of the woman and her child. They’re clutching each other tightly, but they’re unrecognizable. The only thing that gives them away is the burnt outline of the daughter’s horse figure.

Seeing them is more than Arya can take. Two innocents, two people who did absolutely nothing wrong, and were murdered by a woman who didn’t even know them. She’ll want her vengeance, no doubt, but first she has to make it out of the city. But she won’t be alone.

Credit: HBO

Among the dead bodies and ashes, a white horse stands. Dirty, covered in blood, and somewhat injured, but still he stands. She walks towards him, easing and calming him. Letting him trust her. And then she climbs atop him, and among smoke and ashes, she rides out of the city. Or what’s left of it.

And with that, the penultimate episode of Game Of Thrones ends. King’s Landing is destroyed. Thousands upon thousands slaughtered. Many main characters killed. And Daenerys, the Queen we all rooted for, has become the villain. The finale is going to be the biggest ever, so stay tuned for the final recap of Game of Thrones, coming next week!

For more on Game Of Thrones, including recaps and theories, visit our official Game Of Thrones page.

The Final Episode Of Game Of Thrones Airs Sunday At 9 On HBO.

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