‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 5: Was the Daenerys Plot Twist Earned?

“The Bells” is the fifth episode in the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. It’s the episode Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) promised viewers to be “bigger” than any episode we’d seen thus far in season eight.

“Episode five is, I mean, four and five and six, they’re all insane, but like… Find the biggest TV you can,” she told Jimmy Kimmel.

And big it was.

Emilia Clarke and 'GOT' creators | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO
Emilia Clarke and ‘GOT’ creators | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

The first moment we hear of Dany, it’s made clear that the Mother of Dragons hasn’t been eating. When we first see her, her face is hollow, her skin white, and her hair tangled and out of place without Missandei to style it. We know, right away, our historically steady queen has taken a turn.

Betrayal is at the forefront of her mind. Clinging onto the power she’d come to know as her destiny with a chokehold so strong it’d make even Gregor nervous, she burnt Varys to a crisp with the emotionlessness of a serial killer. Jon, for the life of him (perhaps eventually literally), cannot be cool with sleeping with his aunt. Her hand is practically no good (and hasn’t been for some time). Dany realizes she is alone.

The series has been building up to a dark change in the Mother of Dragons for a while. Though her intentions have been rooted in goodness (freeing slaves and all that), she has always been ruthless in dealing with her enemies. She wasn’t exactly merciful with Mirri Maz Duur, the Essos slave masters, the Lannister army, or Sam’s father and brother.

In fact, it was Daenerys who promised to “lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground.”

Many Game of Thrones fans are suggesting that Dany’s quick slip (cannonball) into madness was unearned and uncalled for.

Some fans think it’s unfeasible for someone who was once so good, the Breaker of Chains, to be filled with such vengeance.

But the signs were there. They’d always been there, and the show’s been not-so-subtly nudging the plot to this “twist” all season.

The coin might have been up in the air for a very long time, but when it hit the ground, it spun, and landed on madness.

Viewers are mourning the death of Good Daenerys just as they mourned the deaths of their other favorite characters.

The theme of revenge

A central theme found in episode five was that of revenge. After traveling all that way, The Hound convinces Arya to let go of her need for revenge, at least against Cersei, because it’s going to kill her. He didn’t want her to live a life like he had, full of hate and obsession.

What ultimately snapped Dany into mad mode was her dragon-elevated view of the Red Keep. One of the show’s creators, D.B. Weiss, said during the “Inside the Episode” segment that Daenerys hadn’t decided to wreak havoc on innocent lives until she heard the bells.  

“I don’t think she decided ahead of time that she was going to do what she did. And then she sees the Red Keep, which is, to her, the home that her family built when they first came over to this country 300 years ago,” said Weiss. “It’s in that moment on the walls of King’s Landing, when she’s looking at that symbol of everything that was taken from her, when she makes the decision to make this personal.”

While The Hound convinces Arya that living a revenge-fueled life is painful and all-encompassing, Daenerys realizes it is all she has left.

When she was the Breaker of Chains, she had love.

“I don’t have love here. I only have fear.”