Game of Thrones season 8 episode 5 review – stop moaning! It wasn’t that bad!

Maisie Williams as Ayra Stark

Maisie Williams as Ayra Stark - Credit: Archant

With the series finale just around the corner, this week's Game of Thrones went dark even by its own standards.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth. Pictures: HBO

Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth. Pictures: HBO - Credit: Archant

The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones was the best hour and a bit of television this eighth season has offered yet.

It was also, similar to the episodes that came before, a complete mess of awful plotting, years of character development being erased in minutes, and an utter disrespect for the show's own established logic.

However, unlike the four previous episodes, 'The Bells' was so off the wall ridiculous from one minute that there was enjoyment to be gleamed from its madness.

It's done nothing to redeem a final run that, barring a shockingly high-quality finale, will rank high on 'worst final season' lists for years to come. But for the first time this season things came together for an actually enjoyable episode, so long as you glossed over the many plot holes.

Where to begin? Dany became everything she loathed, taking her father's crown as the 'Mad Queen', we finally got Cleganebowl and Cersei at last met her end. There was so much crammed into 'The Bells', in fact there was too much.

This episode finally made clear the real problem with season eight, there's just too much story in too little runtime. Yes, we've had supersized episodes, but the events of this season should have been stretched across at least a dozen episodes not squeezed into six.

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Daenerys living up to the Targaryen name and raining fire and blood down on King's Landing is a perfect arc for her character. She's become everything she desperately claimed not to be for eight seasons, but her switch from compassionate conqueror to the destroy of the capital city felt thoroughly unearned.

This character shift needed to be slowly spun out over several episodes, maybe even a whole season, not rushed into little more than thirty minutes of screen time. She's always been impulsive and reacted harshly to challenges to her authority but her decision to literally torch a whole city, killing thousands, needed more development.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen. Pictures: HBO

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen. Pictures: HBO - Credit: Archant

Cleganebowl, the much-anticipated showdown between brothers the Hound and the Mountain, just about lived up to the hype, even if its conclusion was pretty predictable. The zombie-like Mountain killing Qyburn, his creator, was a nice Frankenstein like twist as well.

The less said about Jamie's duel with Euron the better, and Cersei's death was similarly disappointing. This is the big villain of the series, who's caused our 'heroes' so much pain, and in her final moments she was treated more like a tragic fatality of Dany's destruction than the wickedly evil monster she is.

Arya's run through King's Landing as the city collapsed around her, desperately trying in vain to save as many people as she could - in particular that woman from Line of Duty - were palm-sweatingly intense. Easily the single best sequence of the entire season, although Line of Duty woman didn't have much of a part, did she?

What really stood out though with this episode was how well put together it was compared to 'The Long Night'. The action was just as chaotic in 'The Bells' but it wasn't a chore to follow, and the daytime setting helped with visibility as well.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow

Kit Harington as Jon Snow - Credit: Archant

Ultimately, 'The Bells' was not a good episode of Game of Thrones, not even close. However, in a season of disappointment, expectations needs to be redefined and standards lowered.

With the benchmark of previous seasons were clearly never going to be met but in context 'The Bells' was the finest slice of Thrones we've had all year.

Next week's finale should be a television event to be savoured, but at this point after this slog of a season, frankly I'm pretty ready to get the whole thing over with.