Game of Thrones Episode 5 Instant Take: “The Bells”


Game of Thrones Episode 5 Instant Take: “The Bells”

Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode, “The Bells,” was either one of the coolest things you’ve ever seen or a sure sign that HBO has completely lost control of George R.R. Martin’s incomparable realm.

Old scores were settled, true natures were revealed, and the entire CGI budget was spent. Gene Lyons loved it. Dick Ebert threw his hands up in frustration. And meme makers had a field day.

Catch the Instacast now, then tell us what you think at

The Storyline for Episode 5: “The Bells”
Varys attempts to convince Jon to take the Iron Throne, but Jon refuses to betray Daenerys. Tyrion informs her of Varys’ plot and she has him executed by her last remaining dragon, Drogon. Daenerys decides to burn down King’s Landing at daybreak, but Tyrion tells her he has a plan to stop Cersei. He meets with Jaime and tells him he has a plan to smuggle him and Cersei to Pentos after surrendering King’s Landing, but Jaime must convince her to agree to it. The next day, both sides prepare for battle as Jaime, Arya, and Sandor infiltrate King’s Landing. Daenerys arrives with Drogon and destroys both the Iron Fleet and the Golden Company, allowing her army to breach the gates and enter the city. The remaining Lannister forces surrender, but an enraged Daenerys attacks the city itself, burning both soldiers and civilians. The allied army follows her lead, slaughtering everybody in their way much to Jon’s horror. Jaime kills Euron and enters the Red Keep. Sandor convinces Arya to give up on killing Cersei and proceeds alone. Sandor engages The Mountain who in turn kills Qyburn when he attempts to call him back before sacrificing himself to kill the Mountain while Cersei and Jaime reunite. Their attempt to escape fails when the escape tunnel collapses on them, killing them both and their unborn child. Jon Snow gives the instruction to retreat as civilians flee the crumbling King’s Landing. Arya witnesses the destruction of King’s Landing firsthand and is barely able to escape the city alive.

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21 Responses

  1. ANGELE RYAN says:

    Love your podcasts and fun intelligent dialogs. In these recent episodes, my initial reaction tends to be surprise at the events, but on closer look, none of what has happened is much of a twist. The use of foreshadowing in this show is an art form. Dany’s use of fire when she is pissed goes back to the first season when she takes the witch with her into Drogo’s funeral pyre, and continues throughout the series. In the past, she only used fire more or less on those who (she perceived) wronged her, one could still argue it was unnecessary and excessive. She is acting true to character, but we are suddenly labeling her as the mad queen, when it is possible that her true sane nature is coming out but magnified as a result of her anger, losses, and betrayals.
    It’s fun to see how the clues and foreshadowing during the seasons are playing out. I am wondering about the repetition of Tyrion’s line about how he wants to die. It was repeated again in this season, likely for a reason, possibly a clue that he will survive to that age of 80. The other scene that is eating at me is Arya practicing with a bow and arrow along with her shooting a bulls eye in the very first episode. She didn’t use this skill in the last episode as I had thought, but there are a few targets left. Disappointed that becoming Gendry’s lady did not pan out, though. I had high hopes for Robert’s statement, ‘ I have a son, you have a daughter..’

  2. James D. says:

    Hey guys. Love the show, and your podcast makes it all the better. I have no investment in any particular outcome. None of my favorite characters have ever been in contention for the throne. I’m not even upset with Daenerys turning to the dark side. Just wish her descent happened more gradually. My only complaint with the amount of bloodshed in King’s Landing is how needless it, and all that led up to it was.

    I feel like Dany’s council really let her down. Over half of Cersei’s forces were very expensive sellswords, far more ruthless and powerful than depicted in episode 5. Currently, the Iron Bank is paying that cost under the misconception that Cersei is good for it. But she isn’t. She paid the crown’s debt, in season 7, with the wealth stolen from Highgarden because the crown and the rock are broke. As master of coin Tyrion learned of these debts and understood, as well as Tywin did, what the Iron Bank would do if the crown failed to pay.

    So why now, when on the other side of the conflict, did Tyrion not use this information. Send a raven to the Iron Bank, or better still send Dovos who already negotiated with Tycho Nestoris. He may not support Dany due to her costing the Bank in Essos. But he would likely stop funding of the Golden Company. Hell, they may even lock Cersei out of King’s Landing while they loot the keep for all the money she owes. Or they may simply send a faceless man to end her quietly, knowing the next ruler would rather pay than suffer the same.

    The Iron Bank will have its due. And forgetting this strategy, for me, is worse than all the other poor tactics, unfulfilled prophecies, teleportations, surprise saves, and regressive character development this season has given us. I’d be mad too if my council consisted of a cute linguist, her boyfriend and a bunch of forgetful westerosi dudes who’s combined knowledge should have ended this war a season ago had they just remembered their own storylines.

    Thanks for the hours of entertainment. Can’t wait for Westworld and Watchmen if you choose to do it.

  3. Michael says:

    Guys, first off thanks for all the fun commentary over the years, it’s a great treat to listen to the instacast every Monday and the deep dive every Tuesday.

    Question for you maybe for the small council – – – –

    Given the Dothraki, Unsullied, and Gold Company are all from Essos, is there any history of military conflict amongst those three? You’d think just given time and geography at some point they’d have opposing interests….

    Again thanks for all the great insight and fun takes.

    Michael M

  4. Tonya Cole says:

    I watched this episode again last night, hoping I would feel more upset when some of my beloved characters met their fates (bless you Tormund for heading North!). But when there is so much bloodshed, stampedes of screaming people and enemy fire raining down, my adrenaline turned up and I found it hard to focus emotions on the losing the Hound. The other thing is the Mountain has become an inanimate zombie creature. He can’t die, he doesn’t feel pain, nor any emotion other than evil pleasure at killing the Hound. So there isn’t much satisfaction with Hound’s kill attempts…they all fail. “Fucking die!” If the Mountain did kill the Hound, would he just continue walking around the King’s Landing rubble with that weird grin on his face? That being said, sad to see the Hound’s story arc come to an end….loved that c**t! (Too bad the peaceful village situation with Ian McShane didn’t work out a few years ago.)

    Still love the show despite it being a bit rushed this season.

    Love the podcast guys! It helps the GOT experience last a little longer when I get to hear about it during the week….and it always gets me thinking.

  5. David L says:

    Hey shat guys, love the pod and look forward to the deep dive and the small council. A little tin foiling right now but it seems in the shows history, foreshadowing has been its best. With this said if we look back to when Bran is learning his skill and goes back in time and Ned seems to hear him, what if since he has got better at his skill he goes back and alters time and this is all like a dream? Tin foil I know but definitely would shock us all. Keep up the great work!

  6. American Golem says:

    I hate that the show taints the audience against the Targaryens with the statement of the flipped coin in retrospect to the actions which other houses have produced, and this season exhibits that behavior more. Sure, Daeneys was undone by the end of the last episode; she lost missandei to the lannisters in a taunt, she lost two of her children although one was avenged, she lost her protective bear which loved her, and received contempt, suspicion, second guessed, and isolated. She wanted to form bonds with Sansa, and she sought insubordination. Her Hand has gotten their plans foiled in the efforts to appear as a ‘just ruler’ and later betrayed her confidence. She sought a love in Jon Snow, and he rejected her at the moment which she sought any love at her lowest.

    In fact, the only ones which haven’t betrayed her trust are the ones which have not spoken to her… and as she stated, ‘Then its by fear then’… because those around her didn’t understand how to give love, how to accept those which are not of themselves… she had a journey which we went on with her as she developed into the strong and stern leader that was compassionate, and they pulled the string for it to be undone in 5 episodes… they undone the humanization of Grey Worm by killing Missandei and that took 1 episode.

    Damn you Jon Snow, you truly know nothing… all you had to do was take one for the team and all that death would’ve been negated…
    Damn you Sansa… you hate on the woman which brought troops to your home to save it…
    Damn you Bran… you could’ve kept your trap shut until after the battle of Kings Landing…
    Damn you Arya… actually, you are cool you little spider monkey

  7. Edie Joy Williams says:

    I was hoping you’d talk of the white horse and Arya at the end of episode 5. Maybe you’ll talk about it on the deep dive!

  8. Rene House says:

    … … … Hey shat boys, come out to play-aye… … … … Shat Boys… Come out to Play-Aye… … … … SHAT BOYS… COME OUT TO PLAY-AYE!!

    Dudes, here’s a thought…

    We just saw what Mad Eye Moodie… err… Mad Queen Daenerys just did to the people who betrayed her or pissed her off. She turned Varys into a s’more, and nuked Cersei and Kings Landing. So who’s out there with betrayal debts still to pay?

    Well, first off, she warned Tyrion don’t fail me a third time and he just set Jaime loose so he’s a goner. I guess Drogon can make a McNugget out of him. Then, what about that snake in the North Sansa who’s treachery cost Vary’s his life? And last but certainly not least… she also accused Jon of betraying her too.

    Now that she’s in full on Maxine Waters mode what’s to say after killing Tyrion, she kills Sansa which would obviously cause Jon to move on her but she could move on him simultaneously. She knows he’s the only real threat to her reign so killing Jon, in her mad eye mind locks down her reign. Then, losing both Sansa AND Jon would push Arya into full on Dark Knight stealth mode where she could take Grey Worm’s face and get close enough to Daeny to slit her throat with the same cat’s paw dagger that just made ice cubes out of the Night King.

    The title of the next episode could be called “Unhinged” because EVERYBODY would lose it. Then, the last person with a claim to the Iron Thrown ends up being Gendry who ironically Queen Daenerys legitimized and Lorded. Gendry could take the thrown and the wheel that Daeny was so hell bent on breaking would roll on full circle starting with a Baratheon on the thrown and ending with a Baratheon on the throne.

    Valar Morghulis.

    • Gene Lyons says:

      Honestly, I’d rather see that than everyone ganging up on Daenerys in one last Avengers-style rumble.

  9. Sean says:

    For me the overall feeling of watching this episode was very similar to the first time I watched The Phantom Menace. I wanted to love it, but as I continued watching, little things, and big things, that happened gave me a sinking feeling. I was hoping this episode would redeem itself somehow by the end but it just got worse. So disappointed.

  10. Nicole Henry says:


    It’s Monday morning and just like most of the world, my co-workers and myself are discussing last nights episode of game of thrones. The majority of us feel like last night’s episode was rushed and honestly a waster of character development, until….

    One of my co-workers ( Ryan M. ) said something that really helped me come to terms with what I watched last night. He said,
    ” The truth is, the writers have told us since season one who Danny was and we ignored it. This is great writing. They made most of us love the villain. WE wanted her to prove everyone wrong and for her not to be the “mad queen” but in reality, that’s who she’s always been.

    ( Remember season 1, episode 2, Robert Barathan was trying to warning Ned that Danny was a threat and needed to be dealt with , and then Ned Stark being his honorable to a fault self, made it clear that he didn’t know why they were speaking about it because she wouldn’t be a problem. In regards the John the apple has not fallen to far from the tree)

    Thinking back to this episode, I realized my co-worker was right, in reality, Danny has always been the person we saw in last nights episode. Some things are just fate. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, if Danny had it her way in the seasons past, she would have been burned Kings landing to the ground along with Cerci, but she listened to her advisors and tried to be a different ruler.

    As far as Cercei and Jaimes death , I wish there could have been more to it but it is ironic that the brother and sister who were born at Castly Rock , died under a bunch of rocks lol. They too died true to who there were this entire show, madly in love with each other and thinking of no-one else but themselves and their children.

    I will save the rest of my rant for the small council but its safe to say that I’m coming to terms with the end of this show and I think that the writers did the best they could, with such a short amount of time. I believe if they had more episodes left, many of our favorite characters would have the endings we feel they deserve but that’s not the way TV works. ( This is where the books come into play)

    Raise your glasses guys, heres to looking at the glass half-full and going into the final episode looking the truth in the face
    ( sansa voice ) and lowering our expectations a bit so that we can enjoy the end of a great series without disappointed. You guys are the best and I have enjoyed listening in every week.

    • Gene Lyons says:

      I’m with you, Nicole. The smart things that GOT did made up for some of the weirder decisions like Euron vs. Jaimer and Scorpion 2.0.

  11. Jerry House says:

    I loved it. Look, ever since the show left Martin’s books it’s been a completely different show. It’s now a fantasy/action show BUT there is still nothing like it.

    D&D have produced some of the most intense and amazing cinematography that I can remember from a TV show, THIS IS A TV SHOW! Plus, they’ve given us tons of comedic material to rip apart with good humor.

    While, I prefer the first four seasons of human intrigue and manipulation, I also love to watch shit get blown up.

    Once again, the series could have used more of Jamie’s Lannister in Cersi’s canister! THAT SHIT WAS HOT!

    Great work boys, can’t wait to hear this week’s shows.

    Lastly, Big D’s work on Top Gun is still my favorite moment in SHAT history. His reading Stallone’s lyrics of “playing with the boys” is all time great work!

    I Shat my pants laughing!

    Q: when does Weatworld start up again?

    • Gene Lyons says:

      I view GOT in a similar way. It’s not the show I fell in love with, but it’s still massively entertaining.

      Westworld should be back in 2020, if all goes well.

  12. Ruth says:

    ‪I don’t think you judge the whole season or show by one episode, last night’s. It’s obvious that this is a build to next week. My theory is that Dany is going to try to kill Jon. Either Jon will kill her or Arya will save him.‬

    • Gene Lyons says:

      I’m withholding judgment until all is said and done, but I think Game of Thrones ran out of trust with the audience at some point during “The Bells.” It’ll take a miracle to get that faith back.

      I didn’t think it was that bad, but I think I’m in the minority.

  13. cp says:

    Couple of thoughts…
    1) What will come of Tyrion? Will Dany burn him or will Braun get him for being unable to deliver Highgarden? Or will he escape with Sir Davos?
    2) Who will be Danys advisors now? Who will she be able to trust?
    3) Will Arya kill Dany in the end??

    • Gene Lyons says:

      I can’t imagine a scenario in which Daenerys willingly lets Tyrion leave if she ever discovers he let Jaime loose. Then again, how would she know?

  14. Anne Heffernan says:

    Oh my goodness was horrified that Dany would burn the city, innocent civilians and her own army as they were caught up in it too, I know as a character she’s been through a lot but I’m not a fan especially when she lists her “breaker of chains…” title, has she enraged Arya so much that she’ll be on her list, what will Jon do if he survived?! Seeing the devastation from Arya’s eyes reminded Carl (my hubby and recent convert to your fab podcast) and myself of September 11. Look forward to hearing your insta take shortly. Thanks as always for all your hard work creating such enlightening and thought provoking analysis of the show. Not sure if you need another tv show recommendation but if you do “Line of Duty” is worth a watch, one of the actors Owen Teale from GOT is in it too

    • Gene Lyons says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Anne. We’re excited to get back to Shat The Movies, spend some time with our family and friends, and gear up for “The Watchmen” this fall.

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