In episode five of the eighth season of Game of Thrones, titled ‘The Bells’, viewers saw one of the greatest heroes through the course of the entire saga, Daenerys Targaryen, turn full villain as she laid waste to King’s Landing and viciously executed her enemies.
The Targaryens are renowned for fire, fury and cruelty in GOT lore, but the ‘Mother of Dragons’ was supposed to be different: a leader with compassion, who stood against cruelty and slavery. However, riven by the death of two of her closest counsels, Ser Jorah Mormont and Missandei, Daenerys allowed her base instincts to take over.
While the torching of the Iron Fleet and the Golden Company was fully justified, the slaughter of soldiers and civilians after the city had been surrendered brought to life the worst fears of Varys, who was executed earlier in the episode for the treason of trying to convince Jon Snow that he should ascend the Iron Throne ahead of Daenerys.
Tyrion had such faith in Daenerys that he informed her of Varys’ betrayal and convinced her not to burn down King’s Landing at daybreak, as he has a plan to end the siege peacefully.
He then meets with Jaime after learning he was caught sneaking into the city, telling him that he must convince Cersei to surrender while making arrangements for them to be smuggled to Pentos.
The next day sees the battle play out in all its fire and fury, and around Arya and Sandor Clegane, who had snuck into King’s Landing for their own ends. ‘The Hound’ fulfils his deepest wish by killing his brother Gregor Clegane, though it is at the cost of his own life.
Before his fight against ‘The Mountain’, Sandor convinces Arya not to kill Cersei. The Stark woman witnesses the destruction of the city first-hand while barely escaping with her life.
The episode ends with Jamie, having killed Euron, entering the Red Keep and reuniting with Cersei. However, the Lannister siblings meet a grim end together when the cellars collapse upon them, bringing to an end Cersei’s reign of terror – though, as this episode demonstrates, she and Daenerys have more in common than either would care to admit.