Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 is The Bells. It starts with Varys, writing letters about Jon's Targaryen identity. He's spreading the word and getting support for Jon to be King. Varys speaks with Martha, one of his spies or little birds. Apparently, she and Varys are trying to poison Daenerys . So Varys is betraying Daenerys, and now supports Jon. Varys tells Jon that he would be a good king , which might not be true. Jon is good at leading and fighting, but he has no experience with southern politics – with council meetings, plots and intrigue. Jon is a lot like his uncle Ned – an honourable honest northman. And Ned only lasted a season in the capital before he was outplayed and killed. Jon only lasted as Commander of the Night's Watch for a season before he was killed. Meanwhile Daenerys has been learning to rule for eight seasons. So why is Varys so sure that Jon would be a better ruler? Varys says “every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath” . It's a common saying, because while some Targaryen kings have been wise and good, others have been violent and cruel, like Dany's father the Mad King. Varys is worried that Dany might snap and burn King's Landing . As it turns out, he's right, but up until now, Dany's been very reasonable in her conquest of Westeros. She tried all of Tyrion's stupid plans to end the war peacefully, and she came north to save the world from white walkers, when she could've just taken the Throne. She's doing all the right things, so why is Varys is so certain she's nuts that he tries to poison her? Varys had once supported Viserys Targaryen, but Daenerys is too crazy for him? In the books, Varys has totally different motivations, that make a lot more sense – go watch that video. But here, he supports Jon over Daenerys. Jon says he's loyal to Dany, that she's his queen. But Varys says “Men decide where power resides” . This refers to Varys' riddle in Season 2 . The idea is that kings and priests and money only have power if people believe they have power. Jon sees power in Daenerys, but he could choose to see power in himself. Tyrion finds out about Varys' betrayal and tells Daenerys . And Daenerys is unsurprised, she's numb to any more loss. She had begged Jon not to reveal his identity, but he told Sansa, and Sansa told Tyrion, to Varys, who used it to betray Daenerys . All of her allies have failed her. Missandei Rhaegal and Jorah are dead. Dany feels there is no one she can trust – like everyone's against her, no matter what she does. Daenerys executes Varys, and he calmly accepts his fate. He was willing to risk his life for the sake of the realm. Tyrion tells Varys that he snitched on him to Dany . Tyrion feels guilty for betraying one of his only friends. They say farewell, and Dany burns Varys alive, just as she promised she would. Daenerys and Grey Worm grieve for Missandei. Grey Worm throws her old slave collar into fire – Missandei's last word was dracarys, which means dragonfire. So Dany and Grey Worm will express their grief in fiery violence. Daenerys confronts Jon for telling Sansa about his identity, even though she begged him not to. Can Daenerys rely on her lover Jon? She kisses him, but he pulls away. He was disturbed to see her burn Varys, so Jon's not too keen on macking his aunt. With even Jon rejecting her, Dany feels that no one in Westeros loves her. She decides to use fear to take power. Dany decides to attack King's Landing. Tyrion warns that that would kill thousands of innocents , but Dany says that's worth it if they can remove Cersei. And that's not an unusual attitude in Westeros. When the lords make war, common folk die. Like, twenty years ago, the Lannisters killed many innocent people in King's Landing removing the Mad King . But Tyrion hopes for Daenerys to take the capital peacefully – he says if the city bells ring, that means they've surrendered, so the attack can stop. Dany agrees, but she's clearly keen for fire and blood. Arya and the Hound pass through the war camp. Arya says she's going to kill Cersei. If she mentioned that earlier, Daenerys could have held off the attack. There'd be no need for battle and no dead civilians if Arya snuck in and killed Cersei. But Arya's too edgy and cool to share her plans with Jon. Tyrion frees Jaime – he was captured by Daenerys trying to get to Cersei . Tyrion wants Jaime to convince Cersei to surrender, so that the people of King's Landing won't die. It's funny that Tyrion is trying so hard to save these people, when in Season 4, he said wanted to kill the people of King's Landing . In the books, Tyrion's still in this dark, vengeful place, but in the show, Daenerys has changed Tyrion's worldview, inspired him to believe in a better world. Jaime doesn't believe in a better world. He says he never cared about the people of King's Landing – which is weird, because Jaime once killed his king to save the people of King's Landing – to stop the Mad King from burning the city. Maybe this is just Jaime using his Kingslayer persona again. He's acting cruel and careless to hide how conflicted he really is. Over the last eight seasons, Jaime's grown beyond that Kingslayer persona. He left Cersei and risked his life to fight for the living with Brienne. But now he's suddenly regressing back to the selfish person he used to be. Tyrion gets Davos to put a boat outside the Red Keep so that Jaime and Cersei can escape. Jaime once saved Tyrion's life, so now Tyrion tries to save his. The brothers have a heartfelt farewell. In the capital, Cersei prepares to defend her Throne. She brings common people up around the Red Keep – thinking that Daenerys won't wanna hurt innocent people . The Golden Company, and Euron's fleet are defending the city, until Daenerys attacks. She flies down from above, with the sun behind her, and wipes out the entire Iron Fleet, even though the Fleet has dozens of scorpion ballistas . Last episode, Euron hit the dragon Rhaegal with three scorpion bolts. Daenerys and Drogon couldn't handle just eleven of Euron's ships. This time, Euron has over a hundred ships, and Daenerys destroys them all. She also burns the dozens of scorpions on the city walls , and not one scorpion bolt hits. The scorpions went from a huge threat to a non-issue in one episode. The same thing happens with the Golden Company. Cersei went to a lot of trouble to hire these guys, borrowing money from Iron Bank, having Euron ship them cross the sea. Cersei says they're “the most powerful army in Essos” . But Daenerys wipes them out before they can do anything. Her soldiers attack, and quickly overwhelm the Lannisters. So the show leads us to believe that we'll get a big epic battle between the good guys and bad guys. But the show subverts that by having Daenerys easily stomp Cersei's army. It leads us to question whether Dany and Jon really are the good guys. A lot of these shots echo the Battle of the Bastards, except now Jon is on the other side. And it gets worse from here. The Lannisters surrender, and the city bells ring. So Daenerys achieves the impossible. She takes the capital with very few deaths. She can just go to the Red Keep, arrest Cersei, end the war, so Dany can take the Throne as a peaceful queen, a liberator and protector of the people. This is what Daenerys always wanted, but when it happens, she doesn't feel happy. She only feels grief and anger. She's lost Missandei, and Rhaegal, and Jorah. Everyone's turned against her, despite all her sacrifices. She feels alone , and overwhelmed, and she snaps . She burns the city and the innocent people in it. She spends the rest of the episode systematically destroying King's Landing. By the end, most of the city is afire, and there are a million people in there. So Daenerys kills hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children, not for any strategic reason, but because she's angry. And sure, maybe she's inspiring fear to force people to follow her. But it's clear from the scene, and from interviews with actors and showrunners, that this isn't a political calculation, this is an emotional outburst that leads to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. This is more death and destruction than anyone has ever caused in Game of Thrones. Tywin and Cersei and Ramsay never killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. Only the white walkers are that bad – so Daenerys is arguably as evil as the Night King. He brought an apocalypse of ice, now she brings an apocalypse of fire – which nicely sums up the Robert Frost poem that inspired this series – the world could end in ice or fire, either would suffice. So there is meaning here – it's about how human conflict is just as destructive as magic white walkers – like, the humans defeated the zombies, but turns out that humans were real monsters all along. It's kind of a cliché, but author George Martin always said that Thrones isn't about good guys and bad guys , it's about “the human heart in conflict with itself” . Human nature is what destroys King's Landing, so this disaster does fit with the themes of the series. But how does it fit Dany's character? Is she really this evil? Daenerys has always struggled to balance violence and vengeance against peace and compromise. She wants to be a fair ruler, but sometimes she gets angry, and does violence that isn't politically smart or just. Like in Season 4, she crucified a hundred Masters . In Season 5, she fed Masters to her dragons, even though she said some might be “innocent” . And in Season 7, she burned the Tarlys. Some of these might be justifiable, but they were killings motivated by anger, a Targaryen urge for fire and blood. And Dany's often wanted to go further, to let her dragons loose and to burn all her enemies. In Season 2, she threatens Qarth, saying she'll “burn cities to the ground” . In Season 4, she decides to kill every Master in Yunkai , and in Season 6, to kill the Meereenese, to “return their cities to the dirt” . Both these times, Daenerys' advisors convince her not to wipe out cities. Jorah and Tyrion “check her worst impulses” . So in Season 8, when Jorah's dead, and Dany's lost faith in Tyrion, there's no one to hold her back. She expresses her grief and rage in fire and blood. When Aegon the Conqueror's sister died, Aegon burned every castle and keep in Dorne, the civilian deaths were “uncountable” . This is what Targaryens do, this is what dragons represent – destruction, fire, fury. But why would Daenerys attack civilians? Part of what defines her as a character is her sympathy for the common people, for the weak and innocent. Cause as a child, Daenerys herself was treated as a slave. Abused by her brother, sold to Drogo, used and raped. So as soon as she starts getting power, she uses it to protect the vulnerable. She saves Lhazarene women, she protects her khalasar. She spends three seasons liberating slaves. Daenerys once locked away her dragons to prevent them from hurting kids. So, angry or not, murdering hundreds of thousands of innocents goes against one of the foundations of Daenerys'character. If this happens in the books, we might see a more gradual progression into this violence, so we can better understand why she does this. Or the situation could be different, like maybe Dany will only kill the people at the Red Keep, who are in the way of the Throne. Or she could will accidentally burn the city, by setting off this wildfire – the wildfire's left over from when the Mad King tried to burn the city, so Daenerys is unknowingly ignites her father's legacy. Whatever her reasons, Daenerys has become what she came to destroy – she's queen of the ashes, a bringer of death, a tyrant.