“The Bells” are ringing and again we find ourselves watching 80 minutes of Miguel Sapochnik desperately trying to reanimate the corpse of Game of Thrones. This is another battle episode, ostensibly the last we’ll see in the show (though who knows — the finale is an enigma). Sapochnik and cinematographer Fabian Wagner dot this harrowing episode with some of the show’s most striking imagery to date. Here is a director who understands visual language trying to put a pretty face on writing that doesn’t understand its characters. Amid almost unwatchable suffering, we’re also treated to incredible shots like this:
This week, Esther and I are joined by film writer/podcaster/thinker Josh Lewis (of SLEAZOIDS Podcast) as we pore over this oftentimes infuriating juxtaposition in “The Bells.” Our rather supersized discussion covers montage, match cuts and other confounding uses of film technique from the episode. We also question how “The Bells” fares in the greater context of Game of Thrones versus as a standalone story. For my part, I argue it’s actually pretty compelling if you ignore seven seasons’ worth of build up
This season has finally seen most audience members catch up with how Stark Contrast feels about Game of Thrones. My social media timelines after the episode aired were rife with contempt. “Hot garbage,” they called it. “Trash writing.” But there is still a disconnect: where we felt the show jump the shark seasons ago, it’s only with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) razing King’s Landing that folks are turning on the series.
Folks, it’s been bad for ages, and Daenerys’s pivot isn’t even that out of character. Far graver is the show’s reliance on fan service, as seen in the unbelievably incongruous Cleganebowl sequence. Far more insulting are the vague callbacks to moments from five seasons ago between characters who have had almost nothing to do with each other for years now.
And for their sins, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been rewarded with Star Wars and, yes, their infernal Confederate show. What we can be grateful for at least is that Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) is now a mere week from freedom, Conleth Hill (Varys) can finally speak his mind and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) can breathe easier knowing the North is far behind him. Also Emilia Clarke/Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm)/Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei) can stop giggling at our misery, but they probably won’t.
I suppose Game of Thrones fans ought to count their blessings. It could always get worse.
It was great having Josh Lewis on for the episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to SLEAZOIDS Podcast and check out the SLEAZOIDS Patreon to support their work. Despite what they told you in the brochure, podcasting ain’t free.
Next week, it’s just going to be Søren and Esther watching the sun set on this series. This is our last hurrah, our final episode discussing the strange, tortured world of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Will the series’ conclusion salvage what we love(d) about this show, or will it culminate in a disappointing whimper?
…tune in to find out.