Warning! This article contains spoilers for Game Of Thrones season eight, episode five, The Bells.
Well. In the end, the bells for peace tolled, but Daenerys Targaryen was having none of it.
The deaths of Missandei and Rhaegal in last week’s episode did indeed prove to be the straw that broke the dragon’s back, finally transforming the once benevolent Khaleesi into the feared Mad Queen who had not-so-subtly been promising to unleash herself throughout this entire final series.
Jon Snow may not want The Truth, but he sure got to find out what happens when The Truth comes out.
If The Long Night was the most breathtaking episode of season eight visually (the long dark gripes aside), The Bells was the one that had your heart in its grip from the beginning and never let go.
Grittier, rawer and perhaps a little less Hollywood, this was bigger than the battle against The Night King and a far more emotionally charged war. Because that was clear-cut, good versus evil; this time, the good turned evil and set the world on fire.
With so much to tie up, so little time, there will undoubtedly be certain scenes, deaths and questions from this penultimate episode that will divide fans. But for sheer exhilaration, The Bells delivered. This is what Game Of Thrones is all about.
King’s Landing incinerated
With two dragons down and just one left, there had been much speculation about how Daenerys would fare against Cersei Lannister’s bigger and less battle-weary army.
With Rhaegal taken out so quickly (and conveniently) by Euron Greyjoy, would this fight to be more evenly matched than on paper? The answer was a resounding no.
Getting to grips with Drogon after infuriatingly retreating from Greyjoy and faffing about with Jon during the Great War before that, the Mother Of Dragons finally showed that swords and spears and massive crossbows are no match for great balls of fire, and not before time.
It quickly became apparent that who would win the Last War was never in question, with Drogon obliterating anyone standing in Dany’s path.
Oh, if only she’d thought to do this last week! Maybe BFF Missandei would still be alive and there would be no need for all this.
This had become about vengeance, and when Cersei’s soldiers waved the white flag, Dany carried on, incandescent with rage; destroying King’s Landing and killing the thousands of innocent people she had once vowed to rule over peacefully.
Goodbye, Cersei and Jaime
This was the episode where the mask dropped and we saw Cersei, the frightened mother-to-be, desperate to protect her unborn child as her city collapsed around her.
Reunited briefly with Jaime, she was reduced to tears as King’s Landing fell. Yes, she’s a monster and deserved everything coming, but you couldn’t help feeling sorry for her as that rarely seen vulnerable side came out.
As the walls caved in around them, the star-crossed twins/lovers died in each other’s arms in an ending that will no doubt enrage fans who wanted to see revenge served cold and torturously (to Cersei, obviously, but also to Jaime, who we can’t forgive for breaking Brienne’s heart).
But actually, this was a fitting end. Cersei didn’t die battling for the throne and proudly standing up to her enemies, she died helpless and weak – her biggest fear.
‘Someone has betrayed me’
The episode started with Varys, foreseeing his death it seems and committing Jon’s secret to paper.
Sure enough, Dany quickly ordered his execution by dragon fire, setting the tone for what was to come.
If that wasn’t enough for lovestruck Jon to have a polite word with the woman he has bent the knee for, surely the destruction of King’s Landing and its people will be?
Come on, Jon! Varys did warn you, mate.
With just one episode left, sadly the time for polite words has passed; now is the time to be the hero we have known and loved in seasons before. We know you’ve got it in you, even if you have been a bit rubbish this series.
The Night King is gone. Cersei is gone. The question now is about the final battle for the Iron Throne: now he’s witnessed the full scale of her penchant for burning people alive, will the last war be between Jon and Dany?
“Hello, big brother,” said The Hound, in the biggest TV reunion since Sharon witnessed the resurrection of Dirty Den.
This was the moment Game Of Thrones fans had been waiting for: The Hound versus The Mountain, and it didn’t disappoint.
Swords clanged as the brothers fought to the bitter end, with the superhuman and super-gruesome Mountain surviving everything his brother could throw at him, even a knife straight through the head.
As it looked like the Hound was about to become another of his poor eye-crush victims, little brother locked his grip and pulled them both from a wall and down to a watery death below.
Arya: She’s only human, after all
Before his death, the Hound and Arya Stark shared their goodbyes.
After arriving in King’s Landing announcing her intention to kill Cersei, once the city started to fall the Hound was quick to point out to Arya that continuing with him meant certain death.
After slaying the Night King and becoming the hero of Winterfell, and turning down Gendry’s proposal to pursue her quest for killing, the young assassin had become almost robotic in her search for vengeance.
But the Hound’s words resonated. “You think you’ve wanted revenge a long time? I’ve been after it all my life, it’s all I care about, and look at me. You want to be like me? You come with me, you die here.”
Suddenly, she was little Arya Stark again. “Thank you,” she whispered as she turned to flee, the understanding that this was farewell as the Hound left to meet his fate.
Before his death, Jaime also had a poignant reunion with his other sibling, Tyrion.
“If it weren’t for you, I never would have survived my childhood,” Tyrion told his brother. “You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster. You were all I had.”
It was an emotional scene.
Trying to do the right thing, Tyrion betrayed his queen and freed Jaime from capture, wanting to save him and also believing he was the one who could bring about peace.
He knew his fate should Daenerys find out.
“Tens of thousands of innocent lives, one not particularly innocent dwarf,” he said. “Seems like a fair trade.”
In the end, Tyrion was the last Lannister standing.
Viewers who kept up with other fan favourite Line Of Duty will have spotted a familiar face in King’s Landing this week.
Detective Inspector Michelle Brandyce, who popped up in the final episodes of the police drama, had inexplicably hot-footed it from AC-12 to Westeros.
What’s worse, you wonder: bent coppers and an OCG, or angry dragons?
Sadly for the DI, it turned out to be the dragons, and she met a fiery end along with her young daughter.
Oh, Ma’am. When DI Kate Fleming told you to “stop making a t*t out of yourself and p*ss off”, I’m not sure this was quite the punishment she had in mind.
So this is it. The end is nigh. Take a look at what’s in store next week in the very last trailer.
:: The final series of Game Of Thrones airs on Sky Atlantic at 2am and 9pm on Mondays.
:: Want to recap on the story so far? All episodes of Game Of Thrones from series 1-7 are now available to watch on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.