A Better “Bells”: How that last GoT episode should have gone

The second to last episode of Game of Thrones certainly brought the fire and the fury. It also received because it felt rushed and involved bizarre, unsatisfying, and arguably inexplicable character choices.

It didn’t have to be this way. Most of the main plot points and character arcs could have remained exactly the same, while not being so ham-fistedly delivered. Consider the following alternative plot:

  • Episode opens the same way, with Varys plotting against Dany. He’s caught. Tyrion turns him in. He’s executed.
  • Dany tells Tyrion that Jamie has been captured and threatens Tyrion that his next mistake will be his last.
  • Dany has her moment with Jon. He won’t return her affections, explaining that he can’t, knowing she’s his aunt. She tells him he’s a Targaryan, and Targaryans “do what they please with whom they please.” Rebuffing her, he says, “I’m more wolf than dragon. You will always be my queen, but nothing more.” Dany withdraws, saying “Alright then. Let it be fear. Do your duty.”
  • Tyrion goes to help Jamie escape. They have their heart-to-heart in the tent. When they leave, however, Grey Worm and the Unsullied are waiting for them. They bring both brothers to Dany.
  • Dany tells Tyrion he is utterly predictable. Jamie was bait, and he took it. Tyrion pleads for their lives, or at least Jamie’s. Dany says Jamie still has some use. She’s less sure about Tyrion. But she wants him to watch her take the throne without him. Tyrion tells her at least to listen for the bells, explaining that if they are rung, the city has surrendered and there’s no need for further bloodshed.
  • Grey Worm, her last trusted advisor, is named Hand. He says, “Of course I will serve. But I am a soldier, not a schemer.” Dany replies, “It’s a temporary and ceremonial title. I need no more advice.”
  • The battle begins. Dany attacks Euron’s fleet, which comes close to scoring a hit on Drogon. Just as Euron is reloading and has Drogon in his sights, he’s attacked from behind . . . by Yara and the reconstituted Iron Fleet. Yara and Dany lock eyes. Dany knew she was coming. Dany lights up several more ships then turns toward the city. Asked what to do, Euron yells to his crew, “Fuck King’s Landing — take the Iron Islands! Kill that usurping bitch!” A battle ensues. Yara boards his ship. They fight, and she kills him.
  • Dany lays waste to the Golden Company, and all the scorpions. Cersei is holed up in the Red Keep with Qyburn and the Mountain. The Hound and Arya are making their way through the city.
  • Jon, the northern army, and the Unsullied breach the gates. They arrive face to face with the Lannister Army in a large courtyard (not a street corner). A tense moment. Then the Lannister army surrenders. Dany waits atop a parapet. Tyrion and Jamie, shackled, watch the action from the camp. Finally the bells ring. Tyrion is visibly relieved.
  • Dany flies to Jon, perching between the two armies. Jon looks at her. “They’ve surrendered the city. You’ve won,” he says. She nods and looks at the Lannister forces, their swords down and hands up. “Will you bend the knee?” She asks. They do. “Good, but it’s too late for that. You’re all traitors. You’ll die on your knees.” To Grey Worm she adds, “Find their families —slaughter any son old enough to hold a sword. Dracarys.” She burns all of the surrendering soldiers alive. Jon, mortified, flees into the city, his forces scattering.
  • Arya and the Hound also witness the carnage. The Hound tells Arya that Cersei is surely doomed, but that, from the looks of things, Jon will need her help. They have their moment. She goes after Jon and he heads toward the Red Keep.
  • Dany flies to the Red Keep and starts blasting it to smithereens. Cersei is persuaded to leave. The Hound shows up. Qyburn orders the Mountain to stay by Cersei’s side. The Mountain chokes Qyburn and throws him to the ground, but doesn’t kill him. He and Cersei slip by as Cleganebowl gets underway. Cleganebowl ends in a tie.
  • Dany and Grey Worm intercept Cersei and Qyburn in the courtyard with the map of Westeros painted on the ground. The two queens lock eyes. Cersei has a brief flashback to Maggy the Frog’s prophecy about a younger, more beautiful woman casting her down. Cersei pleads for her life and the life of her unborn child. “You’re a mother,” she says, looking up at Drogon. “I beg you to spare my child.” “Lock her in the dungeon,” says Dany. Turning to Qyburn, she says, “Walk with me.”
  • As Cersei is taken away, Dany asks Qyburn, “You were the usurper’s hand?” “Yes,” says Qyburn. “What did you do, to help her hold the throne?” She asks. “Whatever needed to be done,” he replies. “And what would you do for the true queen of the seven kingdoms?” She asks. “That, and more,” he says. “Good,” she says. “As it happens, I need a new Hand.”
  • In the dungeon, Cersei is chained alongside the corpses of the Dornish princesses. She weeps, longing for Jamie.
  • Dany enters the throne room. Ash is falling, the result of her burning the Red Keep. She sits on the throne, savoring the moment she has long desired. Drogon perches above her.
  • Dany turns to Qyburn, who is now wearing the Hand medallion. Pointing to Grey Worm, she says “He is the head of my Kingsguard. See that he is honored as such.” Qyburn says, “It will be done, Your Grace. Euron’s fleet has been destroyed. Yara of the Iron Islands seeks an audience.” Yara enters, and kneels. “The Iron Islands are yours,” Dany says. “And perhaps more of the North as well.” Yara nods, understanding.
  • Dany turns to Grey Worm. “Bring me the Lannisters.”
  • The doors to the Throne Room open. Cersei is brought before the Queen. Standing beside the throne are Jamie and Tyrion, both in chains.
  • Seeing Jamie, Cersei starts to cry. Jamie takes a step towards her, and Grey Worm viciously strikes him with the hilt of his sword.
  • Dany addresses Cersei. “Cersei Lannister. You are a traitor and a usurper. You have committed crimes against the Seven Kingdoms, and taken up arms against your rightful Queen. You and your bastard children have befouled this kingdom. What is your response?”
  • “Everything I did, I did for my children. You must understand that. The realm, the throne, the people, they mean nothing and you’re welcome to them. All of my children are dead but one.” She touches her belly. “Leave me one child,” she pleads. Looking at Jamie she adds, “Leave us one child.”
  • Dany turns to Grey Worm. He brings Jamie before Cersei, face to face. “Jamie Lannister — Kingslayer — you betrayed my father and your King, a crime for which you have never been held to account. Then, having fought for the living, you rushed back to the dead. I, Daenerys Targaryan, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, sentence you to death.” Cersei breaks down in tears. Grey Worm unsheathes his sword and stands behind Jamie, who closes his eyes.
  • Dany turns to Tyrion. “Tyrion Lannister,” she says coldly. “Give the order.” Tyrion is stunned. “What? Me?” He asks. “A final test of your loyalty,” Dany says. “Give the order to execute this traitor.”
  • Jamie looks at Tyrion. A long pause.
  • Tyrion begins to speak. “I cannot,” he says. “I will not.” He turns to Dany. “Varys was right.”
  • Dany nods at Grey Worm, who severs Jamie’s head in a stroke. Cersei collapses, wailing in anguish. Tyrion runs to Cersei, and loops his hands, which are shackled together, around her neck. “I’m sorry, sister,” he says.
  • The two look up at Dany.
  • “Dracarys.”
  • End credits roll.

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Cody Harris

Cody Harris

Attorney, Instructor of Constitutional Law