Warning: This recap contains nothing but spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. If you are reading this before seeing the episode “The Bells” or whatever they’re calling it, you are doing it wrong.
After last episode, we knew it was going to go sideways.
Varys is writing out spoilers about Jon’s identity to somebody. Probably a lot of somebodies, actually. One of his spies from the kitchen comes to tell him Dany is not eating, which confirms his suspicion that she’s starting to slip. Tyrion watches him greet Jon’s boat and attempt to turn Jon against Dany. Jon is still more like his uncle than his aunt, so Varys in unsuccessful.
Tyrion brings the news of Varys’ betrayal to Dany, who assumes Jon was the turncoat. She tells Tyrion that he was completely played by Sansa, which he was. Varys hears the approaching footsteps and burns his latest letter. He leaves his rings behind and goes with Grey Worm to face the music. Team Dany is all assembled on the shore for his execution by dragonfire. This unsettles Jon.
Dany and Grey Worm are having a joint grieve-n-seethe for Missandei when Jon comes in for a heart-to-heart. She blames Sansa for setting Varys’ death in motion and Jon once again assures her of his loyalty. I mean, it’s not like she’s a direwolf that can just be discarded, right? Westeros fears her more than loves her, unlike the superpopular Jon, and that’s really pissing her off. She goes in for a kiss to test him and his aunt-dar pings, squicking him out. So, with marriage out, she decides fear will have to do. If you picked “everyone catches fire” in the office pool, it’s looking like donuts are on you, Rockefeller.
Next, Tyrion is with Dany in her throne room, pleading with her to maybe not burn the shit out of everyone in King’s Landing. If the city surrenders, they’ll ring the bells and open the gates, so no mass murdering will be needed. She reveals that Jaime was caught trying to slip pass the lines. She also gives Tyrion his final written warning.
Jon & Tyrion arrive at the soldiers’ camp at dusk. They decide to wait for the rearguard to catch up before attacking at daybreak. Tyrion asks Davos to smuggle Jaime to King’s Landing so he can convince his sister to flee and surrencer the city. After trying to speak Valyrian again, Tyrion bluffs his way past the Unsullied guards. If you were holding out on the theory that Jaime was going to stop the war by strangling Cersei, per Maggy the Frog’s prediction, and maybe he wasn’t a shitty chump who fucked over Brienne, I’m sorry. He’s just looking to die with the love of his life, the worst person ever. Tyrion tells him about the secret passage out of the Red Keep, where there will be a boat waiting, and please remember to ring the bells. By the way, love you brother, thanks for being there for me. And ring the bells. Cuz bells. Ding ding, sisterfucker. Bells.
Aaannnd… look, a bell. Beyond the bell is Euron’s Iron Fleet, with their kraken tentacle scorpions all loaded for dragon season. The Lannister’s manning the wall have cute lionhead scorpions ready, loaded with the same barbed steel bolts. Civilians are either running to hide indoors or trying to get into the keep. Arya and Sandor push past a mother and her daughter to barely get in before the gates close. Jaime does not make it to the gates in time and runs to his plan B. Outside the city, Tyrion tells Jon bells bells bellsity bell bell. Bell.
Drogon comes in with the morning sun at his back, suggesting Dany read some of those blog posts about her shitty use of airpower last week. Euron and his crew miss and the fleet goes up in flames. Dany torches the seaward wall scorpions and soldiers. On the other side of town, the Golden Company have drawn their lines in front of the gate. Which explodes as a dragon flies through it. The Unsullied and Dothraki charge into the city, killing flaming mercenaries and scared Lannisters alike. Dany wheels around to torch the rest of the scorpions and some fleeing soldiers. Cersei looks a little worried, watching from the Red Keep. Qyburn tells her that, no, the scorpions and the Iron Fleet aren’t killing any dragons today. She remains confident her men and the keep will ensure her safety.
In the city streets, Jon and Grey Worm lead their forces to a standoff with the Lannister soldiers. Drogon lands on a building and roars at the soldiers, who drop their swords in surrender. Citizens and soldiers alike call out to ring the bells, and they begin to ring all over the city. Tyrion starts to show relief, until Dany takes flight and begins indiscriminately burning soldiers and civilians. Jon looks on stunned as Grey Worm leads a slaughter of the surrendered troops. He orders his men back (which earns him a vicious glare from Grey Worm), but the Lannisters have picked up their swords and the fight is on. Dany sweeps through town, murdering innocents from above as her (and Jon’s) ground troops kill innocents at street level.
In the hidden cove, Jaime is attacked by a soggy Euron, who gut stabs him twice before being run through. He smiles as Jaime limps off, happy to die as the man who killed the Kingslayer.
Cersei cries and Qyburn convinces her to retreat to Maegor’s Holdfast, the super-duper safe fortress di tutti fortress at the center of the Red Keep. They head there as green wildfire caches ignite in the burning city.
Sandor pleads with Arya to leave the city. Cersei will be dead anyway, but Arya doesn’t have to die. He convinces her that revenge isn’t the road to happiness and she thanks him.
Dragonfire and falling masonry takeout half the Queensguard as they descend a staircase, but Cersei and Qyburn are sheltered by the Mountain. Sandor kills the remaining guards and calls to his brother. Gregor ignores Cersei’s command to stay with her, squashing Qyburn and throwing him against the rock. Cersei scoots the fuck out as the Cleganebowl commences.
While Sandor is finding out mountain zombies are harder to kill than ice zombies, Cersei runs into Jaime, who is leaking all over the place. They have a tearful reunion and he tells her it’s time to go.
Gregor just won’t fucking die, no matter how many pointy things Sandor sticks through him. We switch back and forth from Cleganebowl overtime to Arya trying to escape the collapsing city. She falls and is being trampled when the woman who she pushed past earlier helps her up, but they are separated. Sandor is getting his eyes squished when he finally gets a dagger through his brother’s head, who just seems annoyed by it. Sandor tackles him and they tumble through the tower wall into the inferno below. That’s a series wrap on Sandor Clegane, folks.
Jon looks out at the orange and green fires engulfing the city and orders a retreat. Smoke obscures the city.
Arya awakes in the rubble, covered in ash and blood. More buildings fall on her, but she escapes again. She finds herself sheltering with a group of survivors, including the mother and daughter who saved her earlier. She convinces them they have to leave before the rest of the city burns and/or collapses, and they hit the street just in time to be run down by marauding Dothraki. The injured mother tells Arya to take her daughter to safety, but the girl turns back to her mom just in time for Drogon to incinerate them both.
Under the keep, Jaime and Cersei find the secret passage blocked by a wall of rubble. She cries that she doesn’t want to die and Jaime comforts her as the ceiling comes down on them.
Big flakes of ash fall like snow on Arya. She sees the charred corpses of mother and daughter, still holding a toy horse. She finds a riderless white horse that is covered in soot and blood. She slo-mo rides out of the burning town and the orchestra plays Rains of Castamere.
So, Dany has taken up the family business of being totally fucking crazy. Missandei told her to burn the shit down, and down the shit burned. Maybe picking a leader because she’s best friends with a giant fucking fire monster is NOT in everyone’s best interest. How long before Jon and Tyrion get dracarysed? And if anyone survives next episode, what the fuck are they doing to eat for the winter, since everyone in charge of anything was too busy murdering each other to grow crops for the last seven years. Man, Salladhor Saan was smart not to come back to this shitty continent.