Warning: contains major spoilers for Game Of Thrones 8.5 The Bells.
If your memory of previous seasons is at all foggy, we’ve assembled the below to help answer any questions you may have following the Game Of Thrones season eight episode five, The Bells.
Varys (executed with dragonfire), Euron (in a fight with Jaime Lannister), Qyburn (Hulk smashed by The Mountain), The Hound and The Mountain (took a 30-foot jump off a tower into a sea of flames), Jaime and Cersei (crushed by falling masonry). And loads of soldiers and civilians. Loads.
That can’t have been filmed in Dubrovnik?
Quite right, it wasn’t. Though King’s Landing scenes have traditionally been filmed in Croatia, with digital extensions to Dubrovnik’s historical buildings and landscapes, this was all built at the Titanic Studios in Belfast. It was hidden behind a 5-shipping container-high wall to protect the set from drone and paparazzi photography.
Rather than build a perfect set and then destroy it, they built a destroyed version of King’s Landing first to film the attack scenes, then later clad that with an intact version of the city for the pre-Drogon scenes.
Were there any Easter Eggs hidden in the city design?
Bless you for asking. You might notice two ornate plaques flanking a city doorway, each bearing the letter ‘D’. They were the production design team’s little nod to showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss.
That must be a record for the number of stunt people set on fire?
Seems to be. They set fire to 22 people twice this episode, totalling 44 burns. In season seven’s Wagon Train attack, there was talk of a record having been broken for setting fire to a mere 20 stunt performers.
Why did that shot of Harry Strickland’s back before the battle look familiar?
If it really did, you’re a Game Of Thrones savant, so kudos. It was deliberately mirrored from the same shot of Jon Snow’s back as he prepared to face the Bolton army in the Battle of the Bastards.
The idea, as explained in the ‘Game Revealed’ featurette, was for this episode to totally blur the boundaries between which side is ‘good’ and which is ‘bad.’ We later see a Lannister solider (boo!) leading cityfolk to safety (yay), while one of Jon’s men slices a screaming woman’s throat (double boo). “If [episode] three was the final battle between good and evil then five is what have we become?” explains director Miguel Sapochnik.
What was Dany playing at?
When Dany decided to press on with the attack after the bells had been rung, showrunner David Benioff says it’s because she feels empty. Her entire life has been about invading Westeros and taking the Iron Throne and when it finally happens, she finds herself alone and still dissatisfied. “She is who she is,” says Benioff, “and that’s a Targaryen.”
What was Jaime playing at?
According to director Miguel Sapochnik, Jaime was motivated purely by “absolute unconditional love” for Cersei. “He goes back to her even though he knows that she’s going to die, he goes back to her even though he knows that she’ll never surrender. He goes back to her just to be there for her. He almost goes back to her I would say to prove that he was never going to leave.”
In the behind-the-scenes clip in this featurette, you can hear more dialogue in Jaime and Cersei’s reunion scene. She says “You came back to me” and he replies “Of course I did.” In the broadcast episode, that moment was played wordlessly and Cersei’s first words to Jaime were “You’re hurt.”
What was Varys’ plan with Martha, the Dragonstone kitchen girl?
Though it’s not made explicit, presumably he planned to use his “little bird” to poison Dany’s food, but because the Queen had not eaten in her grief for Missandei and Rhaegal, she hadn’t had the chance.
It wouldn’t be the first attempt he’s ever made to poison Dany – Varys was Robert Baratheon’s spymaster (or “master of whisperers”) and so was complicit in the plot to have her drink poisoned wine in Vaes Dothrak back in season one.
Why did Varys take off his rings?
To signify that he knows his death is coming. In season seven episode Stormborn, Dany told Varys “I swear this: if you ever betray me, I’ll burn you alive,” to which he replies, “I would expect nothing less from the Mother of Dragons.” By betraying Dany, knowing that it would lead to his death, Varys sacrifices himself for the good of the realm.
Varys also knew that he wasn’t destined for a happy retirement in Essos, because in season seven episode three, the Red Priestess Melisandre told him that he, like her, was fated to die in Westeros. “I will return, dear Spider, one last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.”
What’s the history between Tyrion and Varys?
They’re old friends. Both are men of intelligence and outsiders (Varys being a eunuch, Tyrion being a dwarf). Varys arranged Tyrion’s escape from King’s Landing after he was wrongly sentenced to death, and travelled with him to Essos, where he tried to convince him that Daenerys was a queen worth backing in the fight for the Iron Throne.
After Tyrion joins up with Dany in Meereen (and Dany disappears off on the back of Drogon), Varys appears and greets him with “Hello, old friend,” (the same words he used to say goodbye to him in this episode). He proposed to help Tyrion rule Meereen in Dany’s stead by commanding his vast network of spies. They’ve been Dany’s advisors and comrades ever since.
Why did Varys react that way to Tyrion placing his hand on his arm?
Because, according to actor Conleth Hill, that’s the first time in the series (and perhaps in his entire adult life) that Lord Varys has been touched by another person. He always keeps his hands behind his back or tucked into his costume and has no human contact. The reaction came as a surprise to director Miguel Sapochnik too, but he loved it.
What was the significance of Missandei’s only possession?
It was her former slave collar, as worn in her first scene in Astapor, when she was enslaved to Kraznys Mo Nakloz and acted as his interpreter in his and Dany’s negotiations for the sale of the Unsullied. (An interpreter Dany didn’t need, as it turned out.) Dany freed her of the collar she’d worn since being enslaved as a child, along with the rest of the people of Naath.
What does ‘Torguo Nudho’ mean?
When Jon arrives at Dragonstone, Dany dismisses Grey Worm by saying “It’s alright Torguo Nudho”, which is Grey Worm’s name in Valarian. It just means Grey Worm.
Why did the woman who helped Arya up from the stampede look familiar?
If she did, it’s because you probably watched the most recent series of Line Of Duty. Laura Elphinstone played DS Michelle Brandyce in the last two episodes of the BBC crime show, and here, played the mother with the child holding a white horse toy, who tried repeatedly but sadly failed, to escape Drogon’s fire.
Is Davos the greatest smuggler alive?
Well, he smuggled onions into the siege of Storm’s End, Gendry out of Dragonstone and into King’s Landing, and Tyrion back into King’s Landing to treat with Jaime and Cersei, so, probably?
Is that the first time Tyrion’s spoken Valyrian?
No, but it’s a long-standing joke that he’s not very good at it. When Tyrion ordered the Unsullied soldier to let him see the prisoner Jaime, he made a hash of the language. In season six, he apologised to Grey Worm and Missandei for his Valyrian being “a bit nostril”, and Missandei politely corrects him to the word he meant: “rusty”.
What did Tyrion mean about “repaying the favour” to Jaime?
Jaime was the one who unlocked his chains and freed him from his King’s Landing cell when he was (wrongly) sentenced to death for the murder of Joffrey, allowing him to escape to Essos.
Remind me who that chap was on the white horse outside the city gates?
Harry Strickland, leader of the Golden Company mercenaries hired by Cersei. We saw him in the season premiere, when Cersei was disappointed by his lack of elephants. How differently this all would have gone had she got her elephants.
How did the Targaryens get the Iron Throne in the first place?
Over three hundred years ago, Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen king, united the Seven Kingdoms for the first time and reputedly forged the Iron Throne from the swords surrendered by lands of his conquest, using the fire of his three dragons.
How long has the Red Keep stood?
Three centuries, since it was built under the reign of Aegon the Conqueror’s son Maegar (of Maegor’s Holdfast fame, the place Cersei sat out the Battle of the Blackwater, and where Cersei reunited with Jaime, over the map where he’d left her at the end of season seven.)
“The Red Keep has never fallen, it won’t fall today,” she said this episode. Maybe Cersei is the stupidest Lannister?
Why wasn’t Grey Worm wearing his helmet?
After losing Missandei, he no longer has anything to fear from death. Also, it just looks cooler.
What were those flashes of green fire among the dragon flames?
That was wildfire (as used by Cersei to blow up the Sept of Baelor at the end of season six, and by Tyrion to destroy Stannis’ fleet in the Battle of Blackwater Bay in season two). Dany’s father the Mad King Aerys had hidden caches of wildfire all over King’s Landing so he could burn the city and its people rather than let Robert the Usurper take his throne, but thankfully Jaime Lannister killed him before he could enact his plan. When Dany set the city on fire, she set off her dad’s hidden cache.
Is Euron Greyoy a king?
Not anymore. He was the Iron King for a while, after being voted in at the Kingsmoot, having thrown the former king (his brother) off a bridge. But we heard last episode that his niece Yara Greyjoy had retaken the Iron Islands so technically he’s been usurped. When he goads Jaime into a fight this episode, he fancies himself as Queen Cersei’s consort but he’s definitely not that as she’s just having him on. So no, Euron Greyjoy didn’t die a king, and neither was he “the man who killed Jaime Lannister” – that honour goes to a pile of bricks.
Is that the first time Arya has called The Hound by his real name?
We think so, yes. When Arya took The Hound’s advice not to ruin her life with revenge as he had done, she told him, “Sandor. Thank you,” as a mark of respect and affection, treating him like a man instead of the fearsome beast connoted by his reputation as “The Hound.”
What led up to the fight between Sandor and Gregor Clegane?
Gregor was a cruel and brutish brother to Sandor, giving him the scarred side of his head when he held the younger boy’s face in the fire for playing with one of his toys. Gregor grew up to be a cruel and brutish man, a serial murderer and rapist who did the Lannisters’ dirty work regardless of ethics. Sandor grew into a fearsome fighter himself and swore that one day he’d take revenge on his brother. Unable to kill the undead monster (who’d been brought back to life by Maester Qyburn after he was poisoned by Oberyn Martell when both fought as champions for opposite sides in Tyrion’s trial) with a sword, Sandor sacrificed his own life to ensure his brother’s death. Though terrified by fire, he threw them both off the Red Keep and into a sea of flames.
Was that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers I spotted?
Blimey, you’ve got good eyesight. The special guest played a King’s Landing civilian trying to find cover from Dany’s attack.
What was Arya’s white horse all about?
It’s symbolism to do with beauty and innocence, two things lacking in that dreadful battle, according to actor Maisie Williams in this video.
The little King’s Landing girl who died in her mother’s arms was carrying a white wooden horse toy until her death, which also ties into the idea of the destruction of innocence. Remember Shireen Baratheon’s carved deer toy as she burned at the stake? Same thing.
Game Of Thrones concludes on Monday the 20th of May on Sky Atlantic.